When choosing a truck for towing and launching boats, there are several aspects to consider, not the least which are the size of the truck and the size of the engine. If you don’t do much towing, you might want to skip the big engines and go for one of the more economical options. Conversely, if you tow your boat through hilly terrain, you probably want to upgrade to a more powerful engine or a diesel. If you tow a huge boat, a 1-ton truck would be best, but for smaller vessels that might be overkill. To take out some of the mystery here, we present the Autobytel roundup of the 10 Best Trucks For Towing Boats.
10 Best Trucks for Towing Boats
Photo Credit: Toyota
10. Toyota Tacoma
The Toyota Tacoma is one of the few compact pickups still available, and while it remained unchanged for quite a while it has recently received some much-needed updates. Power comes from either a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine with 159 horsepower or a 3.5-liter Atkinson-cycle V6 with 278 horsepower and 268 lb.-ft. of torque. Towing capacity ranges from 3500 lb. for some of the 4-cylinder models up to 6800 lb. for 4x2 Tacomas with the V6 and tow package. Towing features include a Class-IV receiver, engine oil and automatic transmission fluid coolers, and trailer sway control. We’d avoid the 4-cylinder engine, even if you don’t plan on doing much towing, because it has no better fuel economy than the powerful V6, which makes the Tacoma completely at home towing boats.
Photo Credit: Chevrolet
9. Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon
The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are GM’s compact pickup trucks, and both are available with a 200-horsepower 2.5-liter inline-4, a 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V6, or a 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel inline-4 that makes 181 horsepower and an impressive 369 lb.-ft. of torque. Towing capacity ranges from 3500 pounds with the 4-cylinder all the way up to a class-leading 7700 pounds with the diesel. To help keep your trailer in line, the Colorado and Canyon are available with an integrated trailer brake controller, a tow/haul mode and trailering equipment. The diesel, with its massive torque and 31 mpg EPA highway fuel economy rating, makes the Colorado/Canyon a particularly smart choice for towing boats.
Photo Credit: Toyota
8. Toyota Tundra
While the Tundra may not be quite as contemporary as its proven rivals (this Toyota pickup was last updated in 2014), it is still a capable truck and one of the best for towing boats. Engine choices are limited to a 4.6-liter V8 with 310 horsepower and a decently powerful 5.7-liter V8 with 381 horsepower and 401 lb.-ft. of torque, neither of which is particularly economical. Towing features include an integrated trailer brake controller, trailer sway control, a tow/haul mode switch, supplemental oil and transmission coolers and a transmission fluid temperature gauge. Towing capacity ranges from just over 6000 pounds with the 4.6-liter V8 all the way up to 10,500 pounds in properly equipped 5.7-liter trucks.
Photo Credit: Ram Trucks
7. Ram 1500
The Ram 1500 is available with three engines: gasoline-powered Pentastar V6 that makes 305 horsepower, an EcoDiesel V6 that puts out 240 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque, and a gasoline Hemi V8 with 395 horsepower. Towing capacity ranges from a paltry 4150 pounds for some gasoline V6 models up to 10,800 pounds for the Hemi. Our choice, however, is the EcoDiesel. Its rated at 29 mpg highway by the EPA, and it has a stout 9300-pound tow rating. Helpful towing features include the Active-Level four-corner air suspension, trailer sway control and an integrated trailer hitch. With this truck having so many possible configurations, it's easy to find the right Ram for your needs.
Photo Credit: General Motors
6. Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra
While the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra use traditional pushrod engines, GM has regularly updated these two workhorses, so they remain some of the best pickups in their class. Engine options include a 4.3-liter V6 with 285 horsepower, a 5.3-liter V8 with 355 horsepower, and a 6.0-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque. Towing capacity ranges from 5600 pounds in some V6 models all the way up to 12,000 pounds in properly equipped 6.0-liter V8 versions. The available trailering package includes a hitch, receiver and wiring, plus an integrated trailer brake controller.
Photo Credit: Ford
5. Ford F-150
The Ford F-150 is unique among pickups in that it has an aluminum body. This helps to reduce the truck's weight while increasing its towing and payload capacities. A wide array of normally aspirated and turbocharged engines means that towing capacity ranges from 5000 pounds for the base V6 up to 11,100 pounds for the V8. If you order the turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, tow capacity climbs to an even more impressive 12,200 pounds. Trailer sway control, a tow/haul mode, an integrated trailer brake control, and a smart trailer tow connector are all available. Also available is Ford's Pro Trailer Backup Assist, a nifty system that makes reversing a trailer simple. It's just one of the many reasons why the Ford F-150 makes our list of 10 Best Trucks For Towing Boats.
Photo Credit: Nissan USA
4. Nissan Titan XD
The Nissan Titan XD is a heavy half-ton pickup targeted toward those who aren’t quite ready to step up to a three-quarter or one-ton truck. Powertrain options include a gasoline-powered 390-horsepower 5.6-liter V8 backed by a 7-speed automatic transmission, or a 5.0-liter Cummins turbodiesel V8 that sends 310 horsepower and a whopping 555 lb.-ft. of torque through a six-speed Aisin transmission. Towing capacity for gas models is around 11,000 pounds, while the diesel models are rated at 12,314 pounds. Towing features include the Remote Trailer Light Check system that let’s you easily test the trailer’s lights on your own, a tow-haul mode, an integrated trailer brake controller, and trailer sway control.
3. Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500 & GMC Sierra 2500/3500
The Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD siblings are both available with either a 6.0-liter gasoline V8 that makes 360 horsepower or a 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V8 that pumps out 397 horsepower and an earth-moving 765 lb.-ft. of torque through an Allison 1000 transmission. Towing capacity is at least 13,000 pounds, while diesel 3500 models are rated up to 23,200 pounds. Available towing helpers include trailer wiring provisions, trailer sway control, an integrated trailer brake controller, a hitch package and a gooseneck and fifth-wheel prep package. As such, these GM HD trucks have powered their way onto this Autobytel roundup of 10 Best Trucks For Towing Boats.
Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
2. Ram 2500/3500
The Ram 2500 and 3500 are both very capable trucks, available with a selection of gasoline-powered Hemi engines with up to 410 horsepower or with a powerful 6.7-liter Cummins inline-6 turbodiesel that makes 385 horsepower and an astounding 900 lb.-ft. of torque in 3500 trim. Most models have a towing capacity of at least 11,000 pounds (although the CNG models are rated significantly lower), while some Cummins-powered models can tow up to 31,200 pounds. For this tough duty, the Ram is available with an Aisin automatic transmission, a tow/haul mode, a trailer harness connector, a fifth-wheel and gooseneck towing prep group, plus a 25,000-lb. direct-mount fifth-wheel hitch. If the Ram can’t tow it, no other pickup will be able to either.
Photo Credit: Ford Media
1. Ford F-250/F-350/F-450
If you own a big boat, the Ford Super Duty line of pickups is a smart choice, as even the lowest rated model has a towing capacity of 12,100 pounds. Stepping up to the F-450 means a conventional tow rating of 19,000 pounds and a fifth-wheel gooseneck towing capacity of 31,200 pounds. Available towing features include trailer sway control, an integrated trailer brake controller, a tow/haul mode and a fifth-wheel and gooseneck hitch trailer tow prep package. While a gasoline-powered 385-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 is available in some models, we’d recommend the 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V8. Its 440 horsepower and 860 lb.-ft. of torque make light work of heavy loads.