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5 Best Half-Ton Trucks for Towing RV Trailers

5 Best Half-Ton Trucks for Towing RV Trailers

There are lots of SUVs on the market that can adequately pull an RV trailer. There are even some crossover SUVs that are up to the job.

If your trailer is particularly big and heavy or if you just want to make sure you’re on the safe side, a half-ton truck might be the way to go.

These light-duty trucks are the most common ones, but they have their towing limits, too.

So it’s possible that, depending on the size of your rig, you could need an even bigger truck. It just depends on how much weight you’re pulling.

What type of truck do you need to safely haul your RV and give yourself a smooth, comfortable ride?

Let’s study our options as we take a look at the best half-ton trucks for towing.

What Qualifies As A Half-Ton Truck? 

First off, what does it mean when we say half-ton truck?

It’s not how much a truck weighs, but how much it can carry. This is also called “payload capacity.”

Historically, pickup trucks have been put into one of three categories.

Category one is those that can carry up a half-ton of cargo (1000 pounds).Category two is those that can haul three quarters of a ton or 1,500 pounds. And category three is the beastly one-ton trucks can move a full 2,000 pounds.

Truck technology has improved a lot in the decades since these classifications were put in place. Now, so many trucks can actually tow more weight than the label implies.

In other words, they’ve kind of outgrown their categories. Consult an owner’s manual for the specs listed online to find out how much a particular truck can safely tow. Manufacturers usually print or stamp the recommended towing capacity on the driver’s side door well, too.

Image Source: Nissan USA

What to Look For In Half-Ton Trucks for Towing

A truck’s towing capacity is based on a number of factors that include torque, suspension and horsepower.

Higher numbers are good selling points. Keep in mind that it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that some of these figures are exaggerated a bit.

For that reason and others, many experienced drivers of half-tons know not to ever push the towing capacity to the max. A good rule of thumb is to never exceed 80 percent of a listed towing capacity.

Here are some common terms that are good to know when you’re trying to determine what kind of truck you need for towing.

The Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) is the actual weight of the fully loaded vehicle or trailer. This includes all cargo, fluids, passengers and optional equipment.

For trailers, the Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) is the same thing, but in reference only to the trailer, not the vehicle.

And the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is the maximum number that the GVW or GTW should never exceed. You may also see this referred to as Maximum Loaded Trailer Weight.

Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) is maximum amount that the tow vehicle GVW (or GTW) should never exceed.

Gas or Diesel? 

Most truck manufacturers offer their most popular models with either a gasoline engine or a diesel option, and there are plenty of fans of both.

Gas is cheaper at the pump, for sure, and gas-powered trucks usually have a lower sticker price.

In terms of maintenance, it costs less to have a mechanic fix your gas engine. But, on the same hand, diesel engines are much less likely to need any work done. Diesels also have a much higher resale value.

In terms of performance, this is where diesel trucks move ahead.

Because of their better torque, diesel engines are better at moving heavier trailers like the bigger toy haulers and 5th wheels. They’re more reliable on hilly terrain, too.

But if you’re camping only occasionally or don’t go far from home, there may be no need for this better performance. Both gas and diesel make great half-ton trucks for towing.

5 Best Half-Ton Trucks for Towing RVs

2021 Dodge Ram 1500

With a towing capacity of up to 12,750 pounds, the Dodge Ram has power to spare for many towing tasks. Equipped with a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine, eTorque hybrid technology and an 8-speed automatic transmission, this one’s Ram Tough for sure. Its air suspension system and high-strength steel frame help reduce trailer sway at highway speeds. MSRP: $32,145

Image Source: Ram Trucks

2021 Chevy Silverado 1500

A MPG rating of 23/29 is just one of the factors that make the Chevy Silverado 1500 an attractive choice. Powerful and comfortable, the Silverado offers a 6.2-liter V8 that produces up to 420 horsepower, a 10-speed automatic transmission and a maximum towing capacity of 13,400 pounds. No wonder it’s neck and neck with the Ford F-150 as a top seller. MSRP: $42,270

Image Source: Chevrolet

2021 GMC Sierra Limited

Kind of a sibling to the Silverado, the GMC Sierra 1500 Limited with a slightly smaller 5.3-liter engine comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission, up to 355 horsepower and a towing limit of 10,000 pounds. Another feature is a carbon-fiber truck bed to reduce weight. Gas mileage is 17 in the city, 24 on the highway. MSRP: $31,000

Image Source: GMC

2021 Toyota Tundra

Toyota’s entry in the category has an impressive track record for reliability and performance as sophisticated engineering. The 2020 Toyota Tundra with a 5.8-liter V8 engine is rated for a 9,800-pounds towing capacity. It has a 6-speed automatic transmission and up to 381 horsepower. MSRP: $33,575

Image Source: Toyota

2021 Nissan Titan

The 2020 Nissan Titan clocks in a bit higher than the Tundra in terms of towing capacity, but falls behind the others. The capacity of 11,000 pounds combines with a 9-speed automatic transmission and a 5.6-liter V-8 engine to produce a smooth and powerful ride. MSRP: $36,190

Image Source: Nissan USA

This is our list of the 5 Best Half-Ton Trucks for Towing RVs and, really, all of them are winners. Some of them just happen to be greater than the others.

Most of the trucks on our list, especially the ones with the better mileage ratings, have the comfort level you’d want in a daily driver, too, when you’re not towing your RV trailer.

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  1. Douglas Smith says:

    Not sure what criteria you used for the list. F-150 now has one of the best payload and tow capacity coming close to the other MFGs 3/4 ton. The GMC also has a pro-grade trailer package that allows transparent trailer, integration with 2 cameras from the trailer.

  2. What about a Ford F150?

  3. Betsy Awni says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention a couple of differences I’ve identified:

    1) using a generator is easier in a pickup truck as one can leave it locked in the truck bed and use it there. In an SUV one has to lug it outside of the SUV to use and lock it up to one’s trailer. Those generators can be heavy to lift in and out of an SUV

    2) hauling bicycles. In an SUV – trailer set up you will most likely haul them on the back of the trailer. Then if you want to drive to a bike trail you will have to move the bicycle hitch to the hitch on the back of the tow vehicle. Since this is extra work, one could find themselves in town with an unexpected opportunity to ride bikes and the bikes still left on the back of the trailer. With a pickup truck the bikes can be carried on or in the bed of the truck and hence they will always be with you and available to use when an opportunity to bike presents itself.

  4. Ken Larson says:

    Everyone wants to say RAM, RAM, RAM. I say forget the RAM and Silverado or the others. Check out the Ford F150 with the 3.5l Twin Turbo charged engine (400 hp/500 ft/lbs torque), 10 speed trany, 14,000 lb tow capacity with the 3:55 rear end. I’m on my second F150 with these specs and would not trade for any of the other tow vehicles (TV’s). It has a comfortable ride, gets good mpg around town (19-20) and highway (24-26) and towing our TT (generally approx 5300 lbs) I get 12-14 mpg at highway speeds (65-70 mph).

    Now with that said I would not recommend any truck to tow their max GVWR with a towed trailer that significantly out weighs the TV is a hazard. A blow out on a trailer that weighs more than 150% of the TV weight can easily cause loss of control for most drivers. I’ve seen this time and again when the towed trailer is a lot heavier than the TV. The inexperienced TV driver invariably slams on the break when the trailer starts to sway which will just make things worse; ever see a trailer try to pass the TV? Always think safety when choosing a TV/Trailer combination; weight, hp, torque are not the only factors to consider.

  5. Deborah L Silliman says:

    Thank you !!! Looking forward to the information !