If RVing has taught us anything, it’s the importance of having the right tool for the job. When it comes to towing your rig, you don’t want just any truck. Today we’ll share our top five trucks for towing a fifth wheel. Let’s dive in!
What Makes a Good Fifth Wheel Truck?
Several factors determine how suited a truck is for towing. You must be mindful of both your truck’s strengths and its weaknesses.
It’s essential that your fifth wheel truck works when you need it. Having a reliable truck can save you from costly roadside assistance calls and trips to the shop. Add in the cost of having your vehicle towed, and you’re looking at a hefty bill. Multiply that number by two if you’re towing your fifth wheel when your truck breaks down.
Expensive repairs can ruin your trip. Investing in a reliable fifth wheel truck will help you avoid the hassle and expense.
The amount of weight a truck can safely and efficiently tow matters a lot for RVers. The truck’s owner’s manual should provide this information.
If you’re looking to tow a fifth wheel, that’s a massive amount of weight. Most fifth wheels weigh between 12,000 and 15,000 pounds, though some exceed 20,000 pounds. You should consider the weight of the fifth wheel and the weight of your supplies and gear.
Payload capacity trips up a lot of RVers. It lets you know how much weight your truck can hold on its frame and suspension. It includes things like cargo, attachments, passenger weight, and the fifth wheel itself.
The manufacturer will set the payload capacity of the truck. You should find it on a yellow sticker on the inside of your truck’s driver-side door jam.
The type of engine, gas or diesel, will impact your vehicle’s payload capacity. For example, a diesel engine weighs 900+ pounds more than a gas engine. Therefore, you’ll often see gas vehicles with higher payload capacities.
You will probably use your truck for things other than just towing. A smooth all-around ride will allow you and your passengers to adventure for longer.
Other Things to Look for in a Fifth Wheel Truck
Towing capacity, payload capacity, and the ride are vital factors when selecting a fifth wheel truck. However, they’re not the only things to consider.
The bed length can play an essential role in towing a fifth wheel. The shorter the bed length, the smaller the turning radius. Trucks with short beds often require sliding hitches to assist with tight maneuvering. Not having the appropriate hitch for a tense maneuvering situation can cause damage to your tow vehicle and fifth wheel.
Trucks with longer beds also create additional space for storage. You can put a fuel box in the bed for less frequent stops or store camping gear. Long-bed trucks also often have higher payload and towing capacities.
Gas Versus Diesel
Enter any online forum related to towing, and you’ll quickly find yourself in the middle of a gas versus diesel debate.
Many fifth wheel trucks come in gas and diesel versions. How you plan to use your vehicle will determine which fifth wheel truck engine type is best for you.
Fifth wheel trucks with gas engines are often cheaper and more readily available. While unhitched, these trucks will usually have the better fuel economy. However, miles per gallon decrease when towing.
It can be easier to find a mechanic for a truck with a gas engine. Oil changes and maintenance are less expensive. Gas engines also weigh less than diesel engines, which increases a truck’s payload capacity.
Trucks with diesel engines are often substantially more expensive but are built for towing. Despite a lower payload capacity, a diesel engine produces significantly more torque, which is beneficial when towing.
Diesel trucks can be more expensive to maintain but hold their value longer. It’s not uncommon to see or hear of diesel trucks with 200,000+ miles on them. You won’t find that as often in a gas vehicle.
Dually or Single-Rear-Wheel (Depending on Rig Size)
While you can choose between gas or diesel, you may not have much choice between dually or single-rear-wheel drive. The size of the rig may make this decision for you.
A dually truck provides an incredible amount of payload and towing capacity. It also carries heavier loads with a smoother ride. Whether you’re looking for a mid-size fifth wheel or a massive toy hauler, a dually can handle it.
However, for something smaller, a single-rear-wheel-drive truck can do the job. Plus, they can squeeze into an average-sized parking space.
Single-rear-wheels can also use standard car washes. Because of the width of the rear axle, dually drivers must seek out specifically designed car washes.
Should You Choose the Truck or Fifth Wheel First?
If you have the option, choose the fifth wheel first. That way you can be sure you get everything you want in an RV, as well as a truck that can handle it. A huge mistake RVers make is buying the truck first, only to discover that it can’t tow their fifth wheel.
Best Trucks for Fifth Wheel Towing
Whether you’re a brand loyalist or not, you need a solid truck. Let’s look at five of the best fifth wheel trucks currently on the market.
1. Dodge Ram 3500
About: You’ve probably already seen plenty of Dodge Rams at campgrounds you’ve visited. Ram trucks have earned a reputation for quality craftsmanship, luxury options, and getting the job done. The Ram 3500 checks off all the boxes when you’re looking for a quality truck for towing a fifth wheel.
The top-end Ram 3500 has an outrageous 7,680 pounds of payload capacity. Moreover, it can tow about 18,000 to 37,000 pounds, depending on the model. It contains mounting hardware and supports so that you can drop your fifth wheel hitch in the bed right away.
The Ram 3500 is a towing machine but also offers comfort and luxury. It’s almost impossible to miss your next turn with the 12-inch touchscreen with split-screen capability. You’ll feel like you’re adventuring in first-class when you select the Ram 3500.
2. Chevy Silverado 3500HD
About: Another strong contender for the best truck for towing a fifth wheel is the Chevy Silverado 3500HD. Chevy continues to grow and improve the Silverado’s performance and capabilities, and customers have noticed.
The Chevy Silverado 3500HD offers diesel and gas engines. It can tow up to 36,000 pounds and has a total payload of up to 7,442 pounds. The precise towing capacity will depend on how it’s equipped.
The interior features a 4.2- or 8-inch instrument cluster display with built-in navigation. The Bose audio system on LT models and higher will keep you entertained on long drives. Standard models include a 7-inch touchscreen.
3. Ford F-450 Super Duty
About: Ford’s reputation for quality has earned them respect among truck owners. No matter what trim you pick, it’ll come equipped to tow your fifth wheel.
Depending on the model, the F-450 Super Duty can tow about 21,000 to 24,000 pounds. It has a payload capacity of roughly 5,400 to 6,300 pounds.
The F-450’s 1,050 lb. ft. of torque gives you the power to climb hills or mountain passes with ease. It comes with 475 horsepower and a diesel engine.
4. GMC Sierra 3500HD
About: The GMC Sierra 3500HD can dominate any load you throw at it. GMC created a larger driveshaft and rear axle to add stability and strength. You can also breathe easier knowing you’re relying on improved brakes.
Depending on the specific model, the truck provides an impressive 4,534 pounds of payload capacity. The right model can tow up to 17,200 pounds.
The Sierra 3500HD comes in gas or diesel. Ride in comfort thanks to responsive suspensions. GMC even offers a specific fifth-wheel hitch package with a hitch platform.
5. Ford F-350 Super Duty
About: Ford is known for creating tough vehicles, and the F-350 is undoubtedly tough. Whether you’re looking for a gas or diesel, dually or single-rear-wheel, the F-350 line has a truck for you. Ford has built a stiffer frame and military-grade aluminum-alloy body.
The Ford F-350’s 6.7-liter diesel engine can produce up to 475 horsepower. It also has a generous payload capacity of up to 7,044 pounds. With a conventional setup, it can tow up to 21,000 pounds. However, using a gooseneck setup, that capacity increases to 32,500 pounds.
Selecting a fifth wheel truck is an exciting part of the process, but make sure you do your homework. Are you a brand loyalist? What do you think is the best truck for towing a fifth wheel?