What Used Truck is Best for Towing? (Revealed!)


Searching for a truck with high towing and payload capacities can be a hassle since every automaker wants their truck to pull the most weight the most efficiently. 

Whether you’re new to owning a truck or have had several, the options are mind-boggling. 

What Used Truck is Best for Towing?

The 2020 Ford F-150 is the best truck for towing. It can haul a whopping 13,200 pounds and gets an estimated 20 miles per gallon, making it one of the most fuel-efficient trucks around. The Chevy Silverado 1500 and the Ram 1500 are decent second options.

Getting the job done right is everything for a light-duty pickup, and the 2020 Ford F-150 leads the pack right now. This light-duty pick-up blends powerful performance with class-topping towing capabilities. 

Its tremendous gas mileage makes it ideal when you have a heavy trailer behind you dragging down your fuel economy.

But what exactly makes the Ford F-150 so special? Has its full redesign for 2021 made a huge impact on more than just its towing capacity? Read on to find out.

The 2020 Ford F-150’s Max Towing and Payload Capacities

If you decide to buy the 2020 Ford F-150, you can pull anything that weighs about 6,000 pounds regardless of how the vehicle is equipped.

If you want to pull the biggest numbers, you will want to make sure you get a F-150 that is equipped with the 3.5-L EcoBoost V6 engine. This engine is equipped with optimized gear spacing.

This means that you get three overdrive gears plus the 10-speed automatic transmission.

The 10-speed is able to maximize shift points and gear ratios so as to optimize the truck’s power, create fuel efficiency, and deliver low-rpm torque.

You will need to make sure that you select the base rear-wheel drive (RWD) XL trim SuperCrew with the 6.5-foot bed, 20-inch wheels, and the Max Trailer Tow Package in addition to having the 3.5-L EcoBoost V6. 

On the Max Trailer Tow Package, you get a Class IV receiver hitch, a 4-pin/7-pin wiring harness, a 36-gallon fuel tank, 3.55 electronically locking rear differential, an integrated trailer brake controller, an upgraded stabilizer bar up front, and auxiliary transmission and engine oil coolers.

If you get four-wheel drive (4WD), the max towing capacity drops down to 12,900 pounds – still a respectable number.

You can get 12,000 pounds in towing from a SuperCab with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost, 2WD, and 6.5-foot bed configured. 

A 2WD regular cab with an 8-foot bed and the 3.5-L EcoBoost V6 will bump it up slightly to 12,100 pounds in towing capacity.

Note that going up to higher trim levels on the Ford F-150 will result in lower towing capacities. Since those trucks have exponentially more features, they weigh more, and that of course takes away from the truck’s payload or the trailer’s tongue weight. 

Going for, say, the King Ranch trim level with the 5.0-liter V8 engine means you’re getting 600 pounds more in vehicle weight. 

This trim tows about 1,700 pounds less and delivers about 70 lb-ft less of torque.

Now, the Raptor and Limited are the trim levels standard-equipped with the high-octane 3.5-L EcoBoost turbocharged V6 engine. 

This powerful engine churns out 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the base trim configuration that pulls the highest towing ratings, the Raptor and Limited are heavier vehicles. 

The Raptor is about 500 pounds heavier than the base trim, and both are absolutely laden with features. The Limited, which comes only as a SuperCrew with a 5.5-foot bed, can tow 11,100 pounds max. 

As a 4WD variant, it can only tow 9,400 pounds. Equipping the Limited 2WD with Max Trailer Tow Package will bring the price up. 

The Raptor SuperCab can tow 6,000 pounds while its SuperCrew configuration can handle 8,000 pounds. 

Truck Bed Sizes and Cargo Capacity

Choosing the right truck bed dimensions can result in a good max towing rating and plenty of cargo space for hauling your items. Let’s break down which truck bed size comes with which cabin:

Ford F-150 Regular Cab Bed Size Options

  • 6.5-foot Styleside Box
  • 8-foot Styleside Box

Ford F-150 SuperCab Bed Size Options

  • 6.5-foot Styleside Box
  • 8-foot Styleside Box

Ford F-150 SuperCrew Bed Size Options

  • 5.5-foot Styleside Box
  • 6.5-foot Styleside Box

Now, let’s take a look at those truck bed dimensons:

5.5-foot Styleside

  • 67.1 inches long
  • 50.6 inches wide
  • 21.4 inches high
  • Total Volume: 52.8 cubic feet

6.5-foot Styleside

  • 78.9 inches long
  • 50.6 inches wide
  • 21.4 inches high
  • Total Volume: 62.3 cubic feet

8-foot Styleside

  • 97.6 inches long
  • 50.6 inches wide
  • 21.4 inches high
  • Total Volume: 77.3 cubic feet

There are a few extra truck bed details that you should know about when considering your desired configuration. 

The military-grade, high-quality aluminum used in each F-150 truck bed makes getting the job done a cinch, but there are more utilitarian elements to it than that. Buyers can enjoy features like:

  • LED box lights
  • The BoxLink System
  • Stowable loading ramps
  • Lift assist with the integrated tailgate step
  • Deployable box side steps
  • A remote tailgate release

All in all, there are a lot of configurations you can choose from on the Ford F-150. It just depends on what kind of work needs to be done and how much you will need to be able to tow.

What Can I Tow With A Ford F-150?

The Ford F-150 can tow many types of trailers and campers. Towing a trailer between 5,000 and 8,000 pounds is something that most F-150 models can accomplish with ease. 

Just remember that the max tow rating does not account for any passengers or extra gear you have loaded up inside of the truck, so that must be taken into consideration before you decide to hitch up a trailer or RV.

If you plan on towing a fifth-wheeler, you will need to consider upping your purchase to the F-250 or F-350. Both are well-equipped for handling a large fifth-wheeler. The F-150 is more of a practical tower.

The F-150 has best-in-class numbers for casual towing, which caters to the needs of most buyers. 

Ford takes a lot of pride in its ability to create strong and capable trucks like this. Depending on which trim level you buy, the F-150 can do some pretty beefy towing for its segment.

Let’s first break down the trim levels. You have the base XL, the XLT, the Lariat, the King Ranch, the Platinum, the Limited Edition, and the off-road-oriented Raptor. 

The Limited is the trim level that is adorned with all the latest and greatest features and tends to be the heaviest in terms of Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). 

Likewise, the Raptor has a lot of heavy off-roading features equipped on it.

First, consider the engine, as we have already discussed. You will also need to think about the axle ratio. 

The axle ratio plays a major role in determining how a vehicle utilizes the engine’s torque, which is crucial for towing. Torque can perhaps best be defined as the force that makes the wheels move on your truck and trailer. 

Torque is best felt when accelerating from a dead stop. At full speed, you cannot really get a good sense of it. 

Your axle ratio essentially determines the number of times the wheels turn in order to optimally utilize power from the engine. 

The slower they turn, the more energy gets directed into pulling the truck and trailer along. The quicker they turn, the less efficient and productive the energy becomes.

RWD vehicles tend to experience a lot of axle tramping. 

It can negatively impact the trailer being towed. When sudden torque loads burden the suspension, the driven wheels will vehemently shake while rotating, then spring back. It makes for an uncomfortable ride at the very least. 

That’s why getting the right axle ratio is important for towing.

The length and width of the truck are also important, as are the payload capacity and the equipped towing package. 

You can opt for the towing package, which allows for towing up to 6,000 pounds on the 3.3.-L V6 or the 2.7-L EcoBoost engines. The trailer tow package adds on more helpful features, meaning that you can tow bigger trailers. 

The F-150 can handle an Airstream Caravel and pop-up campers without much fuss, given that you properly equip it.

How Reliable Is The 2020 Ford F-150?

Ever wonder what is the most reliable truck for towing? If the reviews from the past four decades are to be believed, then it is the Ford F-150. 

The 2020 model is garnering a lot of positive attention. Consumers enjoy how sedan-like the drive is and that they do not generally experience problems within the first year of ownership. 

Buyers note that the fuel efficiency numbers are excellent for this segment, even when the F-150 is laden with cargo items in the bed or towing a trailer. 

It just seems to have a knack for getting people where they need to go and helping them do the work they need to do.

Compared to the massive problems that Jeep and GM have been experiencing in the past few years, the problems being reported on the F-150 (rear camera failure is the “big” one) are relatively minor.

Gas Mileage

Again, the F-150 is the truck that delivers on fuel economy. The most fuel efficiency you can get is 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. 

With EcoBoost equipped, you can save even more on fuel by doing things like using cruise control, keeping your speed under 70 miles per hour, refraining from using the A/C, avoiding slipping into neutral, and keeping your tires properly inflated.

There are some competitors, such as the 2020 Ram 1500 (which gets 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway) that do slightly better than the F-150, but that also depends on how you equip and use them. 

There are also some competitors that do slightly worse, such as the 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 (which gets 23 city/30 highway on the base trim but gets 15 mpg city/20 mpg highway on the more popular Denali model). 

Buying any type of truck really involves doing your research on each configuration to know what kind of fuel economy to expect. 

And, as seems to be the case with most trucks, EPA estimates are always a touch higher than real-world numbers.

Is Diesel Better Than Gas For Towing?

Is there any advantage to getting one of the diesel engines allocated to the F-250 or F-350 trucks? 

Well, sort of. They do generally produce more overall torque and horsepower, which equals improved fuel efficiency. 

If you are going to be doing a lot of towing, this can be a good thing to have but is not truly a necessity for the F-150.

In a truck of this size, fuel efficiency and power differences are considerably minimal. There is also the fact to consider that diesel engines cost more than gasoline-powered ones. 

If you plan on only doing casual towing (like, maybe a few times a month), you will have to wait quite a while to see a return on investment on a diesel engine. Overall, the choice of diesel vs gas is a relatively easy one to make on the Ford F-150. 

The gas engine is a safe bet, but at least you have options.

Used Trucks For Towing

When considering which used truck is best for towing, check out some of the new-ish Ford F-150 models. 

The brand-new 2021 F-150 amps up towing numbers, but the older generation is quite capable and more affordable. 

The F-150 puts forth some impressive max tow ratings and is clearly capable of hauling a camper or trailer on a casual basis, which is what most buyers are looking for. 

Of course, if you plan on doing a lot of heavy hauling, the F-150’s big siblings – the F-250 and F-350 – are superb as well. But fuel economy is best on the F-150, which is why we give it a gold star for all-around capability. 

The 2018 to 2020 models are likely to best suit the average, contemporary buyer.

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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