A Look at the Best 2022 Heavy Duty Pickup Trucks For Towing an RV
Whether You're Pulling a Large Travel Trailer or a Fifth Wheel, These are the Trucks You Need
If you’re the owner of a large travel trailer or a fifth wheel, you already know the importance of paring your RV with a proper tow vehicle. The right truck can make all of the difference when pulling your trailer down the highway or maneuvering it into place at the campsite. On the other hand, driving an underpowered pickup can lead to unnecessary frustration and challenges.
Fortunately, If you’re in the market for a new tow vehicle, there are plenty of excellent heavy-duty trucks to choose from. The leading truck manufacturers offer models that are large yet surprisingly nimble and easy to drive. These pickups have plenty of power and torque while providing a refined cabin that is quiet and comfortable. Add in compelling technology features, good cargo space, and enormous towing capacities, and it is easy to see why these vehicles are in such high demand.
Truck Configurations and Towing Capacity
The manufacturer determines a truck’s maximum towing capacity based on a number of important variables. The size of the engine, type of fuel (gas versus diesel) used, length of the bed, type of drivetrain (4×2 versus 4×4), and other features can all impact how much weight a truck can pull. Additionally, most manufacturers offer a variety of tow packages that can increase the capacity by upgrading the truck’s brakes, axles, radiator, and other components.
Because there are so many variables to consider, not all models are created equal, even from the same manufacturer. A standard vehicle straight off the assembly line isn’t as capable as one that has an upgraded tow package with enhanced capabilities. Before buying a truck off the lot, go over its spec sheet carefully to make sure it has all of the features and power you need. In some cases, you may need to order the truck to your specifications to ensure it is the right vehicle to tow your trailer.
Standard Hitches Versus Fifth Wheel/Gooseneck Hitches
When a manufacturer provides a tow capacity rating, it typically refers to the amount of weight that can be pulled using a standard hitch ball mounted on the rear of a vehicle. A modern heavy-duty truck can haul an impressive amount of weight in this fashion, but the size and weight of the hitch—and its placement near the bumper—prevents the vehicle from reaching its full potential.
Adding a fifth wheel or gooseneck hitch to the pickup will allow it safely tow more weight. This type of hitch is installed in the truck’s bed over the rear axle, effectively changing the center of gravity and providing more support for the trailer. With this type of configuration, it is possible to tow thousands of pounds of additional weight and may be necessary depending on your RV.
These are the top heavy-duty pickup trucks to have on your radar for 2022.
Ford F-Series Super Duty
Ford’s F-150 pickup truck is the best-selling vehicle in America, but it isn’t necessarily the best option for pulling a large travel trailer or a fifth wheel. For that, you’ll need to move up to the Super Duty line of trucks, which includes the F-250, F-350, and F-450 in various configurations.
Ford’s Super Duty trucks feature a 10-speed automatic transmission and come standard with a 6.2-liter gas-powered V8 engine that produces 385 horsepower (hp) and 430 pound-feet (lb-ft) of torque. A 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel motor (475 hp/1050 lb-ft) and a 7.3-liter V8 gas engine (430 hp/475 lb-ft) are optional upgrades for those who need more power. Gas tank capacities range from 29 to 48 gallons based on engine type and cab size.
When it comes to towing a trailer and hauling cargo, the F-Series Super Duty trucks have plenty to offer as well. Payload capacities range from 9900 to 14,000 pounds depending on the configuration, with maximum standard towing ratings of 12,900 to 16,700 pounds when equipped with the 6.2-liter engine. Upgrading to the 6.7-liter diesel or the 7.3-liter V8 can bring that number as high as 21,000 pounds in the F-450 model.
As expected, adding a fifth wheel or gooseneck hitch to a Super Duty truck increases its towing capacity significantly. The pickup can safely tow a heavier load by moving the hitch off the rear bumper and over the rear axle. For example, a properly equipped F-250 can tow as much as 22,800 pounds. That number increases to 35,750 pounds and 37,000 pounds for the F-350 and F-450, respectively.
Starting Price: F-250: $36,495 – F-350: $38,010 – F-450: $52,675
Dodge Ram 2500/3500
With its comfortable and luxurious cabin, 12-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and impressive build quality, the Dodge Ram line of trucks has become a popular alternative to Ford and Chevy in recent years. Dodge has given its pickups a bold, distinctive look backed by impressive performance both on and off-road. The Ram even includes a tow-specific navigation system that can help drivers find the best route when pulling a large trailer.
Under the hood, the Ram 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty trucks come equipped with a standard 6.4-liter Hemi V8 engine mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission. That motor produces 410 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. A 6.7-liter I6 Cummins turbo diesel (270 hp/850 lb-ft) is an optional upgrade for both models, while the Ram 3500 also has the option for a 6.7-liter I6 Cummins high-output turbo diesel that offers 400 horsepower and 1075 pound-feet of torque.
The max payload for the Ram 2500 ranges from 2270 to 3910 pounds. For the 3500, those numbers increase to 4060 to 7680, depending on the configuration. Similarly, the max towing rating for the 2500 is between 13,419 and 19,990 pounds, while the 3500 tops out between 14,470 and 37,090 pounds. The Cummins diesel engines and optional tow packages are required to reach the higher towing capacities.
Dodge offers several technology upgrades to its Ram trucks that make towing more manageable and convenient. For instance, customers have the option of adding a trailer reverse steering control system that allows them to adjust the position of a trailer when backing up simply by turning a knob on the dashboard. Other add-ons include an electronic brake controller, a trailer sway control mechanism, electronic stability control, and trailer tire pressure monitoring.
Starting Price: Ram 2500: $37,050 – Ram 3500: $38,565
Chevy Silverado 2500/3500 HD
The Silverado 2500 and 3500 HD are Chevy’s entries into the heavy-duty truck market. Both models come in various configurations and offer a cabin that features best-in-class leg and headroom. Available safety features include active cruise control, lane departure and forward collision alerts, and automatic emergency braking. The pickup comes in standard and Crew Cab versions with either an 80.2-inch or extended 96.3-inch bed.
Chevy offers two options for the Silverado HD when it comes to engines. A 6.6-liter V8 gas engine with a six-speed automatic transmission is standard. That motor produces 401 horsepower and 464 pound-feet of torque. Upgrading to the optional Duramax 6.6-liter V8 turbo diesel bumps those specs to 445 horsepower and 910 pound-feet of torque—the more powerful engine pairs with a 10-speed automatic Allison transmission.
In terms of payload capacity, the Chevy Silverado 2500 HD can haul a payload of 3614 pounds when equipped with the diesel motor and 3900 pounds with the gas engine. Similarly, the 3500 HD can tow 4390 pounds under diesel power and up to 5518 pounds with the gas engine. Maximum towing capacities using a standard hitch range from 14,500 to 18,500 pounds for the 2500 HD and 14,500 to 20,000 pounds for the 3500 HD depending on the configuration.
Chevy doesn’t recommend pulling a fifth wheel with the Silverado 2500 HD but does offer specs for the 3500 HD when towing with a gooseneck hitch. Under those conditions, the truck can pull between 16,700 and 36,000 pounds, with the V8 turbo diesel offering the highest towing capacities.
Starting Price: Silverado 2500 HD: $35,300 – Silverado 3500 HD: $36,500
GMC Sierra 2500/3500 HD
Both GMC and Chevy are subsidiaries of General Motors, so it should come as no surprise that the Sierra 2500 and 3500 HD trucks offer nearly the same options and performance as the Silverado. However, the two brands differ in terms of trim levels, with GMC providing a more upscale experience. As a result, the Sierra pickups are slightly more expensive but have a more luxurious interior and a quieter cabin.
The Sierra 2500 and 3500 HD trucks use the same engines and transmissions as their Silverado counterparts. The standard model is the 6.6-liter V8 with 401 horsepower and 464 pound-feet of torque paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Duramax 6.6-liter V8 turbo diesel with 445 horsepower and 910 pound-feet of torque—along with the 10-speed Allison transmission—is also available as an upgrade.
Despite using the same engines, the Sierra trucks offer somewhat different performance levels compared to the Silverado. For example, the 2500 HD has a max payload of 3546 to 3715 pounds, while the 3500 HD can haul cargo weighing between 4013 to 6523 pounds depending on upgrades and add-ons. The trucks offer the same standard towing capacities as the Silverado, however, with the 2500 HD featuring 14,500 to 18,500 pounds and the 3500 HD coming in at 14,500 to 20,000 pounds.
GMC does offer fifth wheel towing capacities for both the 2500 and 3500 HD. When equipped with a proper hitch, the 2500 HD can pull between 17,850 and 18,500 pounds, while the 3500 HD has a capacity ranging from 21,210 up to 36,000 pounds when properly equipped.
Starting Price: Sierra 2500 HD: $36,700 – Sierra 3500 HD: $37,900
Outside of the vehicles listed above—which are all from domestic manufacturers—there aren’t a lot of other entries in the heavy-duty truck market. Both Toyota and Nissan offer large pickup trucks, but neither has a towing capacity that rivals the American-made models. Nissan’s Titan XD can tow as much as 11,040 pounds with the right options, while the Toyota Tundra tops out at 12,000 pounds. Those are respectable numbers, but not enough to pull most fifth wheels or other large travel trailers.
This article is a brief overview of the heavy-duty pickup trucks available for 2022. Once you select a brand and model that meets your needs, you’ll find dozens of options for further customizing the vehicle to meet your needs. With multiple engines, tow packages, and technology add-ons to sort through, finding the proper configuration and price point can take some time. The good news is, once you’ve found the right pickup for towing your RV, it will be a truck that will serve you well for years to come.