The best of the beasts.
U.S. News and World Report ranked 2018 vehicles by category and towing capability. Here are their top three for heavy-duty trucks and SUVs (per their scoring system), along with our own opinion. These are, of course, just a few of your options for consideration. If you’re interested in trucks specifically, check out our Best Trucks for Towing a Travel Trailer guide for a comprehensive look at the top trucks for towing fifth-wheels, pop-ups, and other RVs.
2018 Ford F-150
Towing capacity: 13,200 lbs.
The F-150 has excellent mileage for a full-size truck (25 mpg highway) and a comfortable cabin. Features like backup assist make towing easier.
We think: This is a comfortable truck and starts at a decent price point (about $28,000). This truck is a workhorse, but you won’t mind riding in it, even for long trips.
2019 Dodge RAM 1500
Towing capacity: 12,750 lbs.
U.S. News gave the RAM the same score as the F-150 in spite of its slightly lower towing capacity. The base model is a V6, so you have to upgrade to the V8 to get the best towing capabilities. Like the F-150, the RAM is a comfy choice, but reviewers note it’s not as fuel-efficient as other trucks in this class.
We think: The towing capacity difference with the F-150 is negligible, but fuel economy is an important consideration if you’re into RVing that takes you far afield.
2018 GMC Sierra 1500
Towing capacity: 12,500 lbs.
Reviewers note this truck has an upscale interior and doesn’t strain when towing, even uphill. It also includes a number of infotainment options to make the ride even more enjoyable. The one downside: handling isn’t great.
We think: For its price point ($29K) the Sierra is an excellent choice for comfort and capacity. There are also several engine options—including a hybrid—that can improve your fuel economy if you don’t need quite as much towing capacity.
If you’re specifically towing a fifth-wheel, we think it’s worth mentioning an additional recommendation from the folks at etrailer.com: the 2018 Ford F-350 Super Duty. Once we took a look at the features, we have to agree this is a fifth-wheeler’s best friend. This truck has seven cameras, including a high-angle camera perfect for hooking up your fifth-wheel. It also includes an integrated trailer brake.
SPORT UTILITY BEASTS
2018 Ford Expedition
Towing capacity: 9,800 lbs. (when you add the Heavy Duty Trailer Tow Package and opt for the rear-wheel drive version of the truck)
In addition to its tremendous towing capacity for an SUV, the Expedition features an EcoBoost engine for better fuel mileage and some useful add-ons for regular towers, including a trailer backup assist and an integrated trailer brake controller.
We think: This has the sort of capacity you might find in a light truck, but with the ride and comforts of an SUV. A great choice for families, and with the many towing assistance features, very helpful for the newbie RVer.
2018 Lincoln Navigator
Towing capacity: 8,700 lbs.
Another Ford family product, the Navigator also features an EcoBoost engine, but the vehicle’s configuration decreases its towing capacity. What it loses there, it gains in luxury, including infotainment system options.
We think: It’s beautiful, stylish, and—no surprise—expensive (more than $70K when it hit the market). With this vehicle, you can save all the “roughing it” for your destination. Glampers rejoice!
2018 Chevy Tahoe
Towing capacity: 8,600 lbs.
Like the Expedition, you’ll need the rear-wheel drive option as well as the towing package add-on to get the maximum towing capacity. The Tahoe comes equipped with a wiring harness, trailer receiver, and hitch platform. There are also a number of safety features that can be added, including lane assist and blind spot monitoring, that can be helpful when you’re towing.
We think: At about $25,000 less than the Navigator, if you’re not interested in all the luxurious add-ons, this is a solid choice for towing. Very comparable in mileage and performance to the Expedition.
THE RENEGADE OPTION
Not all of us can, or want to, invest in a heavy-duty truck or SUV. That doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the RV life! If your towing needs are small (like a pop-up camper), lighter vehicles can do the job. You might be surprised to learn that small SUVs like the Jeep Renegade, crossovers like the Hyundai Santa Fe, and minivans like the Chrysler Pacifica can accommodate your towing needs. Even some sedans, like the Volvo S60, are up to the task.
As with any vehicle, you’ll want to check the towing capacity in relation to your RV. Remember: weigh your RV fully loaded, and keep in mind you cannot tow a weight all the way up to your vehicle’s capacity. You need to allow some extra capacity for things like driving uphill or other road conditions that introduce tow vehicle strain.
As RVing continues to grow in popularity, automakers are keeping up with integrated features and comforts that make towing your RV not just easier, but a genuine pleasure. We like these options that make the joys of RVing more accessible and less intimidating even for newbies.