Not every truck is well suited for towing a large camper. You want a reliable and capable truck to keep you and your family safe during your adventures.
Exceeding your vehicle’s towing capabilities will increase the wear and tear on your vehicle and create a potentially dangerous situation.
Today, we’re looking at the worst trucks for towing a large camper (travel trailer and/or 5th wheel RV) so you can avoid them. Let’s get started!
What Makes a Truck a Bad Choice for Towing a Camper?
Despite how tough a truck looks, some things make some trucks a lousy choice for towing a camper. Here are a few characteristics of a less-than-capable truck for towing.
Inadequate Towing Capacity
Vehicle manufacturers assign tow ratings to their vehicles. These ratings help you know the vehicle’s capabilities and ensure you’re maintaining a safe towing environment. Trucks with low tow ratings will require owners to stick to smaller loads for towing, whether a boat or an RV.
The towing capacity is often a unique number assigned to each vehicle and varies depending on upgrades. The suspension’s capabilities and other essential components significantly contribute to a vehicle’s towing capacity.
It can be incredibly difficult if you try to press your luck and tow anyway. You may experience reduced traction for steering, trailer sway, and even difficulties braking. Knowing a vehicle’s towing capacity and capabilities is vital before hitching up a trailer.
Pro Tip: Towing capacity is crucial when buying a truck for towing, but this is why Towing Capacity Is Only Half the Challenge.
A truck’s engine enables it to create the necessary power to get the job done. Some engines are more capable than others. Trucks with insufficient engines can’t produce enough power for optimal performance when it comes to towing.
Towing a trailer with an insufficient engine typically increases the wear and tear on the engine and other critical components. This will often cause the vehicle to run rough and require frequent visits to the mechanic.
Poor Gas Mileage
Towing decreases a vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Frequently stopping for fuel can not only leave you feeling like you’re spending all of your money at the pump but also be stressful. Getting fuel while towing can be difficult as not all fuel stations have long rigs in mind.
If you’re not excited about a truck’s fuel consumption when you’re not towing, you’re going to be even less ecstatic when you are towing. If you’re planning to tow regularly, this can result in a heftier fuel bill than you might expect.
Lack of Reliability
It’s hard to trust an unreliable vehicle. They tend to let their drivers down at the most inconvenient times. Having your vehicle break down is never convenient, but if you’re in the midst of a trip or adventure, you may require a tow truck for both your vehicle and your camper.
Depending on where your adventures take you, your options may be severely limited, and you could have to pay a premium.
Pro Tip: Don’t worry not all trucks are bad for towing! We found the The Best Small Trucks for Towing in 2022.
The Worst Trucks for Towing a Camper
If you’re in the market for a truck and plan to use it for towing a camper, here are some we think you should avoid. Let’s take a look!
2022 Nissan Titan
The 2022 Nissan Titan has a maximum towing capacity of 9,660 lbs and a payload capacity of 2,240 lbs. While this may sound like a sufficient amount, well-equipped competitors can tow nearly three times this weight. This means you’re going to need to stick to very light trailers to avoid exceeding the vehicle’s tow ratings.
The 2022 Nissan Titan is a good-looking truck, but good looks don’t help tow a camper. While it may turn heads, it has sub-par towing capabilities and will likely disappoint you.
The truck can be an excellent option for a big vehicle with plenty of cab and bed space for carrying cargo, but towing is not one of its strengths.
2022 Nissan Frontier
If you’re considering the 2022 Nissan Frontier as your tow vehicle, you might want to think again. With a minuscule towing capacity of 6,720 lbs, some beefier trucks have a higher payload capacity than this truck’s towing capacity. The payload of the 2022 Frontier is 1708 lbs, which restricts your ability to bring passengers or carry much cargo, especially if you’re towing.
The Frontier is a tough-looking truck, but that’s about it. It’s great for carrying cargo and getting around town. However, if you’re planning to do any serious towing, it’s not the truck for you. Those looking to camp will need to stick with very lightweight pop-up campers or even tent camping.
Keep in mind that the total weight of passengers is likely going to eat up a majority of your payload capacity. So to avoid wear and tear on your truck, you’re not going to be able to bring anything with a substantial weight.
2021 Chevy Silverado 1500
There’s no shortage of options when it comes to the 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500. There’s a wide range of capabilities among these trucks, with five different engine options for towing. The towing capacities on these trucks range from downright awful (7,200 lbs) to just shy of being respectable (13,300 lbs). You’ll need to get the 6.2L V8 with a standard bed and 4WD to get the best towing experience in this lineup.
The Silverado 1500 isn’t as bad as its towing specs suggest. It’s a capable truck, but not specifically a great towing truck.
The 2,280 lbs of available payload capacity is a bright spot for this truck, but that’s about as good as it gets. However, despite a higher payload capacity than other trucks in its class, you can quickly use it up once you hitch up a trailer and start tossing gear and passengers into the truck.
2021 GMC Sierra 1500
The Sierra 1500 from GMC got an upgrade from the 2020 model in some engine options. The 2.7L I4 Turbo saw a massive upgrade in towing capacity, but at 9,500 lbs, it’s still underachieving. The 6.2L V8 DFM engine provides 11,800 lbs of towing capacity but takes a 300-lb step back from the 2020 model.
With minimal capabilities, it’s obvious why the Sierra 1500 isn’t winning awards for its towing abilities.
It’s loaded with plenty of features to keep you and your passengers safe and comfortable, but towing just isn’t in this truck’s wheelhouse. This is a light-duty truck that’s most definitely for light-duty towing.
2022 Ford Maverick
Ford may make the 2022 Maverick, but there’s a significant difference between the Maverick and Ford’s F-series line of trucks. The F-series are workhorses with massive towing and payload capacities. The Maverick’s towing numbers fall well short of what you might expect from a Ford pickup.
With a maximum towing capacity of 4,000 lbs, it’s obvious Ford didn’t create this truck for its towing capabilities. The 1,500 lbs of payload capacity is another obvious sign you shouldn’t expect to haul much with this truck.
It can be a great option for a small family with a lightweight pop-up camper or tent to do some weekend camping adventures. However, that’s about as good as it will get in this truck.
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz
You don’t hear Hyundai’s name mentioned much when it comes to towing, and it’s obvious why. The towing numbers of the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz are comparable to a mid-size SUV.
However, the Santa Cruz matches the Hyundai Palisade, a full-size truck made by Hyundai.
The 5,000 lbs of towing capacity from the Santa Cruz is enough for a small camper trailer, but you’ll want to watch your tongue weight. The maximum of 1,906 lbs of payload capacity will likely be the biggest hurdle for towing with this truck.
Avoid These Trucks When Choosing a Tow Vehicle
Trucks are expensive tools when it comes to towing a camper. You don’t want to discover that you have the wrong tools to get the job done. Buying the wrong truck can be a massive waste of money. So make sure to avoid these trucks when shopping for a vehicle to tow your RV.
What’s your truck of choice for hauling your camper? Drop a comment below!
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And do not trust RV dealerships to give you the real scoop about what your truck can tow or not. As often as not, you will get bad info. I’ve known several RVers that got themselves into an overweight towing scenario because of bad RV dealer info. Always validate what you are told by contacting the truck dealers to get the capacities for your make, model and year of truck.