What Size Truck Do I Need To Tow 20,000 Pounds?


What Size Truck Do I Need To Tow 20,000 Pounds?

When you’re looking for a new truck, one of the features you want is towing capacity. While many trucks out there can pull a boat or a camper comfortably, not all can tackle the heaviest loads out there. And, if you’re one of those drivers who want the comfort of knowing that 20,000 pounds are no match for your ride, then you need to read this article.

What size truck do I need to tow 20,000 pounds?

To tow 20,000 pounds, you need a medium or heavy-duty truck or a Class 6 or Class 7, according to US GVWR classifications. Trucks in these classes can haul from 19,501 pounds upwards, but you still need to check each individual manufacturer to see if the specifications for each model.

In the US, trucks are divided by classifications according to their Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), a rating based on the total amount of pounds a vehicle can move, including the trailer or towed vehicles. There are a total of 8 classes, and they are as follows, according to the United States Department of Energy:

Table of US GVWR classifications:

Truck ClassesDuty ClassificationWeight limit (GVWR)
Class 1Light Truck0-6,000 pounds
Class 2aLight Truck6,001-8,500 pounds
Class 2bLight/Medium Truck8,501-10,000 pounds
Class 3Medium Truck10,001-14,000 pounds
Class 4Medium Truck14,001-16,000 pounds
Class 5Medium Truck16,001-19,500 pounds
Class 6Medium Truck19,501- 26,000 pounds
Class 7Heavy Truck26,001-33,000 pounds
Class 8Heavy Truck33,001 pounds

As you can see, the amplest classification is the Medium Duty Truck, so if towing capacity is essential for you, be sure to verify the truck’s class with the manufacturer’s specification. We’ll dive into makes and models later, but just as an example, the Chevrolet Silverado comes Class 4, 5, and 6, but with different ranges within the model name.

Also, keep in mind that since you’re towing more than 10,000 pounds, you might need a specific license in some states. To know more about towing big loads and if you need a Commercial Driver’s License or CDL to do so, read our article on the topic.

So, now that you know how trucks are separated by class, one question might come up. Can you walk into a dealership and buy one of these? The answer is yes, and next, we’ll talk about the makes and models available out there.

What are some trucks that tow 20,000 pounds?

Four brands dominate the US truck market, and they also dominate the medium to heavy-duty truck category. GMC, Chevrolet, Ford, and Ram all produce competent vehicles with hard work in mind.

This data includes the manufacturers’ specifications, which can change from generation to generation. However, since they’re classified according to class, it’s easy to guide yourself when looking for new models.

It’s also important to note that many manufacturers offer special packages such as heavy-duty modifications to reach these impressive towing numbers. When pulling so many pounds, these upgrades include a different gear ratio, larger cooling systems, and either 4×2 or 4×4 configurations, depending on the package.

One upgrade that you might is the single or dual rear wheel. By adding wheels, this configuration increases a truck’s stability and strength, but keep in mind that some states might ask for a CDL if you drive a dual rear wheel.

To know more about towing packages and how they can improve a vehicle’s towing capacity, not only heavy-duty trucks, read our article on the topic.

The following table provides some examples of makes and models, and not all variants might be on it, but it will give a precise idea of what the market has to offer.

Also, we’re showing you each of the manufacturer’s Regular Cab versions for the sake of uniformity. But each make has more models to offer.

Ford Trucks that can tow 20,000 pounds (Regular Cab)

ModelEngineSingle or dual rear wheelGear ratio4×2 or 4×4Towing capacity (pounds)
F-3507.3L GasolineDual4.30:14×221,000
F-3507.3L GasolineDual4.30:14×420,000
F-3506.7L Powerstroke DieselDual3.55:14×221,000
F-3506.7L Powerstroke DieselDual3.55:14×420,000
F-4506.7L Powerstroke DieselDual4.30:14×421,200

Chevrolet Trucks that can tow 20,000 pounds (Regular Cab)

ModelEngineSingle or dual rear wheelGear ratio4×2 or 4×4Towing capacity (pounds)
Silverado 3500HD6.6L Duramax DieselDualNA4×220,000
Silverado 3500HD6.6L Duramax DieselDualNA4×420,000

GMC Trucks that can tow 20,000 pounds (Regular Cab)

ModelEngineSingle or dual rear wheelGear ratio4×2 or 4×4Towing capacity (pounds)
Sierra 3500HD6.6L Duramax DieselDualNA4×220,000
Sierra 3500HD6.6L Duramax DieselDualNA4×420,000

RAM trucks that can tow 20,000 pounds (Regular Cab)

ModelEngineSingle or dual rear wheelGear ratio4×2 or 4×4Towing capacity (pounds)
Ram 35006.7L Cummins DieselSingle3.73:14×221,010
Ram 35006.7L Cummins DieselDual3.73:14×220,670
Ram 35006.7L Cummins DieselDual4.10:14×222,670
Ram 3500High-Output 6.7L Cummins DieselSingle3.73:14×226,860
Ram 35006.7L Cummins DieselSingle3.73:14×220,570
Ram 3500High-Output 6.7L Cummins DieselSingle3.73:14×224,180
Ram 35006.7L Cummins DieselSingle3.73:14×420,580
Ram 35006.7L Cummins DieselDual3.73:14×420,230
Ram 35006.7L Cummins DieselDual4.10:14×422,230
Ram 3500High-Output 6.7L Cummins DieselSingle3.73:14×426,050
Ram 35006.7L Cummins DieselSingle3.73:14×420,220
Ram 3500High-Output 6.7L Cummins DieselSingle3.73:14×423,660

As you can see, many trucks can tow 20,000 pounds or more, and most of them fall in the Class 6 category.

But, thanks to its High-Output Diesel Engine, the RAM 3500 model line clearly runs away with first place, having an impressive 26,860 pounds, in a 4×2, Single rear-wheel configuration. It’s worth highlighting that, if you were to drive this RAM with a fully loaded trailer, then you would need a CDL, as it exceeds the weight limits for a regular driver’s license.

When you’re shopping for new trucks, you might notice that manufacturers offer models with a fifth wheel or a gooseneck joint for extra-heavy towing. These are features that increase safety and stability and, in some cases, might increase towing capacity slightly.

A gooseneck is a ball and coupler connection that you can fit on your truck’s bed. Its design allows for slightly improved towing capabilities since the hitch will rest deeper in the truck bed (rather than at the back) and helps instability. Thanks to its minimally invasive installation, it’s an excellent choice for those working with commercial and agricultural towing.

What Size Truck Do I Need To Tow 20,000 Pounds?

A fifth wheel is a hitch that fits within the truck bed but is removable. Thanks to its jaw and kingpin design, it’s easy to use and works great with recreational towing.

Should my truck be 4×2 or 4×4?

When you’re towing and want to get the most pounds out of your truck, you should opt for a 4×2 configuration because the engine has to send power only to the rear wheels.

This way, your vehicle can have the most power at the rear wheels, which will be doing all the hard work, as most of the weight will be resting on them.

In fact, as you can see in our table above, most of the trucks with the highest towing capability come in the 4×2 configuration. On the other hand, the 4×4 layout is ideal for those drivers who will continuously be towing in extreme conditions such as mud and snow.

Needless to say, these trucks aren’t the friendliest on fuel consumption. Their powerful engines and heavy bodies translate to low miles per gallon. But, if you want to get the most bang for your buck, remember that 4×4 trucks are usually thirstier.

Closing thoughts:

In this article, we aimed to explain what truck size you need for towing 20,000 pounds. Pulling such weights is no easy task, and you need the best trucks out there to do it, so we provided you with some of the models capable of reaching (and exceeding) such beefy cargo.

We also detailed how trucks are separated by class and that if you want to tow in the 20,000-pound range, you want to get trucks in Class 6 or above. Manufacturers have all the needed information to know in which class their models fall into.

Since these are medium to heavy-duty trucks, you might need a CDL in some cases, so it’s best to check your local regulations to avoid a hefty ticket.

We also dove into the specific modifications these trucks might need to achieve the most astounding towing capabilities. These include dual rear wheels for added stability, a gooseneck or fifth wheel, also for more stability, and increased towing capability, in some cases, and towing packages.

If you’re looking to tow the heaviest thing you can find, we hope this article provided you with all the information you need to make the best decision for you.

Kern Campbell

I've had a passion for four-wheel-drive vehicles since I was a kid riding in the back seat of my Grandfather's Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I have owned a lot of vehicles over the years. They each have their pros and cons and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you so you can find the vehicle that's just right for your needs.

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