When it comes to towing, you need a reliable and powerful vehicle to do the job. Half-ton trucks are a popular option for those who need to tow a trailer or boat for recreational or commercial use.
But with so many different models and manufacturers to choose from, selecting the best half-ton truck for towing can be overwhelming.
We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you make the best decision for your towing needs. We will highlight some of the top-rated half-ton trucks available and explore the features and specs that make them perfect for towing.
Terminology Required to Determine Towing Capacity
First, it is important to understand the nomenclature and numbers to consider when deciding which half-ton truck is best for you and the trailer load you will be towing.
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) – the weight of the truck, plus its maximum allowable payload in terms of passengers, cargo and accessories within the truck’s cab or bed. It excludes any weight towed behind the truck on a trailer or fifth wheel. The GVWR for trucks can be found on the label attached to the inside of the driver’s side door as well as in the truck’s owner’s manual.
- Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating (GCVWR) – the maximum combined weight of your loaded truck plus the maximum weight of the attached trailer it’s towing.
- Curb Weight (CW) – the weight of the pick-up truck by itself, excluding any passengers, cargo, accessories or any other items added to the truck separate from that of the vehicle’s original manufactured parts and equipment provided on the day of purchase from the dealer. Curb weight does include the weight of gasoline, oil and other fluids necessary for operation. Curb weight is provided by the manufacturer.
- Payload Carrying Capacity (PCC) – The maximum allowable weight of all people, cargo, accessories, fluids, gear, etc. a travel trailer or fifth wheel can safely sustain for safe and normal operation. This is provided by the trailer’s manufacturer and provided on the label either on the driver’s side of the trailer’s exterior or near the main entry of the trailer. Payload Carrying Capacity (PCC) = Gross Vehicle Weight (GVWR) minus Curb Weight (CW).
- Towing Capacity (TC) – the maximum amount of weight your truck can safely tow behind with a trailer. Usually, your truck’s towing capacity is greater than its payload capacity since most of the towing weight is on the trailer’s axles. You can locate your truck’s towing capacity in the owner’s manual or calculate it (shown below). Towing Capacity (TC) = Gross Combined Vehicle Weight (GCWW) – Curb Weight (CW).
- Trailer Tongue Weight – the weight measured trailer’s hitch tongue will apply to a tow hitch ball.
- Maximum Hitch Weight – the maximum weight a specific tow hitch or hitch ball can safely withstand under normal operating conditions.
How to Calculate the Max Towing Capacity
For towing purposes, and to assist in determining which particular half-ton truck is best, you will need the following numbers as stated on the truck and trailer manufacturer’s ratings.
- Truck’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
- Truck’s Payload Carrying Capacity (CCC)
- Truck’s Curb Weight
A half-ton truck with a GCVWR of 15,000 pounds. If it has a curb weight of 5,500 pounds and its maximum PCC is 1,500 pounds of payload, then the truck’s maximum towing capacity would be no greater than 8,000 pounds.
5,500 pounds (CW) + 1,500 pounds of cargo (PCC) = 7,000 pounds
15,000 pounds (GCVWR) – 7,000 pounds = 8,000 pounds (TC)
Other Factors To Consider in Towing Capacity
There are there three other important factors with respect to towing a trailer with a half-ton truck that we must mention. Those are:
- Truck manufacturer’s specified maximum towing capacity
- Truck’s maximum tow hitch capacity
- Truck’s maximum tongue weight capacity
Understanding a Truck’s Maximum Towing Capacity
You shouldn’t assume that all trucks within a particular model line, such as F-150, Ram 1500, etc., will all have the same maximum towing capacity. This is definitely not true!
I could park my Ford F-150 next to a similar F-150 with the same model year, same trim package, same sub-model name (i.e., XLT or FX4), same number of passenger doors, etc., and both could have completely different towing capacities.
Because each truck’s maximum towing capacity may differ depending on that particular truck’s specifications. One truck may have a factory installed towing package which includes a trailer break system, factory installed tow hitch with a 1,000 pound max tongue weight capacity, etc.
While the other truck that has none of those options might have an owner-installed tow hitch with only a 500 max tongue weight capacity, a different rear-end gear ratio, and a completely different engine, such as a V8 vs. a V6.
The point is, you cannot use outward appearance or broad-sweeping general assumptions when understanding a truck’s maximum towing capacity.
You have to get very specific. We suggest using and researching a particular truck’s VIN to accurately confirm that particular truck’s specifications and towing capacity.
Top Half-Ton Trucks for Towing
Ultimately, the best half-ton truck for towing depends on everyone’s needs and preferences. There is a lot of great options on the market.
Determining towing capacity, fuel economy, features, and price are all important considerations when choosing the best truck for your towing needs.
Here is a list of half-ton pick-up trucks to consider.
The Ford F-150 is one of the best and most popular half-ton trucks for towing. It has been a top-selling truck in America for decades. And it is the one that we have chosen to use for towing our two different RVs.
The Ford F-150 comes with several engine options, including a 3.3-liter V6, 2.7-liter turbocharged V6, 3.5-liter turbocharged V6, 5.0-liter V8, and a hybrid V6.
Depending on the model, standard options, and trim package, its towing capacity ranges from 5,000 to 14,000 pounds, and its curb weight ranges from 4,069 to 5,697 pounds.
The F-150 offers multiple finish and trim options, including XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited.
This truck offers excellent towing performance, with features such as Trailer Sway Control, Pro Trailer Backup Assist, and Trailer Tow Package.
With its impressive towing capacity, the Ford F-150 is the perfect choice for those needing a reliable half-ton truck for towing.
Chevrolet Silverado 1500
The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is a popular choice when it comes to half-ton truck towing. With a wide range of towing capacities when properly equipped, it is ideal for towing travel trailers, boats, and other heavy loads.
It offers several engine options, including a 4.3-liter V6, 5.3-liter V8, 6.2-liter V8, and a turbocharged 2.7-liter four-cylinder.
The towing capacity ranges from 6,500 to 13,300 pounds, and its curb weight ranges from 4,502 to 5,374 pounds.
The Silverado 1500 offers various finish and trim options, including Work Truck, Custom, LT, RST, LT Trail Boss, LTZ, and High Country.
Dodge Ram 1500
The Ram 1500 is known for its smooth ride and luxurious interior. It comes with several engine options, including a 3.6-liter V6, 5.7-liter V8, and a diesel V6.
Its towing capacity ranges from 6,280 to 12,750 pounds, and its curb weight ranges from 4,798 to 5,372 pounds.
The Ram 1500 offers multiple finish and trim options, including Tradesman, Big Horn, Rebel, Laramie, Longhorn, and Limited.
The truck also has a comfortable interior, with generous storage space and a variety of advanced safety features. The Ram 1500 is a popular truck for towing trailers and other large loads.
For those looking for a powerful half-ton truck for towing, the Toyota Tundra is a great choice. The Toyota Tundra is a reliable and durable truck.
It comes with two engine options, a 5.7-liter V8 and a 4.6-liter V8.
Its towing capacity ranges from 8,800 to 10,200 pounds, and its curb weight ranges from 4,920 to 5,815 pounds.
The Tundra offers multiple finish and trim options, including SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, and 1794 Edition.
The Toyota Tundra also comes with advanced safety features such as trailer sway control, trailer brake controllers, and hill descent control, which make towing safer and easier.
It is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a reliable and powerful half-ton truck for towing.
The Nissan Titan is a powerful and capable truck. It comes with a 5.6-liter V8 engine.
Its towing capacity ranges from 9,210 to 9,400 pounds, and its curb weight ranges from 5,426 to 5,886 pounds.
The Titan offers multiple finish and trim options, including S, SV, Pro-4X, SL, and Platinum Reserve.
GMC Sierra 1500
The GMC Sierra 1500 offers a comfortable ride and an upscale interior. It comes with several engine options, including a 4.3-liter V6, 5.3-liter V8, and 6.2-liter V8. Its towing capacity ranges from 6,500 to 11,800 pounds, and its curb weight ranges from 4,513 to 5,350 pounds.
The Sierra 1500 offers various finish and trim options, including Sierra, SLE, Elevation, SLT, AT4, and Denali.