Towing is a stressful action in any pickup truck. It puts a tremendous demand on the drivetrain and chassis of a vehicle as well as increasing driver tension. If you've got a camper, an RV, a boat, or any heavy cargo, you'll need to think about how much your truck can handle. And how well it will carry the load. Not all pickups are equal. Some are tow other vehicles extremely well. There are plenty of automakers who specialize in making heavy-duty trucks that can tow thousands of pounds with ease. Knowing the difference between them can help you find the truck that's right for you.
Ford F-450 Super Duty
For years, Ram and Ford have been in an arms race to see which truck could produce the highest towing capacity, and their competition has been a huge gain for consumers, as the quality of each ride has only gotten better. For 2017, Ford barely edged out Ram with the F-450 Super Duty, which took its tow capacity from 31,200 to 32,500 pounds thanks to its optional 6.7-liter turbodiesel V-8, which delivers 440 hp and 925 lb-ft of torque. To give you some context, 32,500 pounds is roughly the weight of two adult African elephants, 30 grizzly bears, or 70,000 hamsters.
The Ram brand has made a name for itself as the pickup truck with an attitude, and while it has plenty of trims and design versions to appeal to a wide range of buyers, it's heavy duty versions do not mess around. The 3500 had long been the king of the towing game until the F-450 unseated it last year, but don't be fooled by its second-place standing. The 3500 can haul a whopping 32, 210 pounds and it's sturdy body surrounds the legendary 6.7-liter turbodiesel six-cylinder engine by Cummins. The standard bearer in pickup engines, the combo produces 385 hp and 865 lb-ft of torque. How much does that look like in real life? Well, 32,210 pounds is approximately 30 grand pianos, 2,000 bowling balls, or 40,000 cans of soup.
GM Sierra 3500 HD
While it's towing capacity may be lower than the Ford or the Ram, the Sierra HD means business. Extreme towers can opt for the version with dual rear wheels, which will distribute the weight of a bed mounted hitch as well as providing additional stability on the line. The 6.6-liter V-8 turbodiesel engine is no slouch either, pumping out 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of torque to give you the option of hauling up to 23,200 pounds of cargo in a pretty sleek fashion. What can you haul with all that power? How about 15,000 basketballs, 65,000 hockey pucks or 250,000 golf balls. A must for sports fans!
Chevy Silverado 3500HD
Locked in its own race with the Sierra, the Silverado HD works its own magic with a 6.6 liter Duramax engine that blasts out 415 hp and 910 lb-ft of torque. The Chevy used to be marketed specifically to fleet buyers, but it's now available to individual buyers looking for a beast of their own. The latest figures have the Chevy towing up to 23,300 pounds, edging it ever so slightly up on the Sierra and making GM a veritable powerhouse of heavy-duty pickups. And just in case you need to measure, 23,300 pounds is roughly 16 cows, 75,000 baseballs, and 9,500,000 jellybeans.
It's not all about the heavy-duty pickups, and plenty of consumers won't need to haul around 60,000 hamsters or nine and a half million jellybeans. Light pickups can be a huge asset to car buyers, and the Toyota Tundra is a great example of a versatile vehicle that works for a wide range of consumers. The Tundra offers great offroad capability along with a towing capacity of 10,500 pounds, edging out other 4x4 trucks that have a lower tow capacity and feel more strained when driving. And don't turn up your nose at 10,500 pounds either: that's still 11 Arabian horses, 1,500 bricks, or 3.5 million paper clips.
The Nissan performed extremely well for reviewers and drivers alike, and its smooth ride quality and transmission performance earned it a place on many a top ten list of light tow pickups. A powerful 390 hp V-8 engine can tow up to 9,390 pounds when fully equipped, which makes it a compact truck with considerable power and a very attractive price. For those who like a user-friendly experience that doesn't feel intimidating but can still pack a punch, the Titan ticks a lot of boxes. Plus, if you're hauling 150 Dalmatians, 500 Dachshunds, or 2,000 Chihuahuas, this is the truck for you.