Best Trucks for Towing Fifth Wheels (With August 2020 Deals)

When you want maximum living room while roaming the roads of America, nothing beats a fifth-wheel trailer for providing the comfort of home. With sliding pop-outs and plenty of amenities, the largest fifth-wheel trailers are virtual apartments on wheels, suppling genuine stretch-out space that you can take anywhere provided you have the right tow vehicle.

Heavy Duty Truck Towing Fifth Wheel Trailer

As is true when towing anything, the best trucks for towing fifth wheels are dependent on factors including the dry weight of the trailer, the truck’s maximum towing capacity and gross combined weight rating (GCWR), and how you plan to use the truck when you’re not towing the trailer.

For fifth-wheel trailering, you’ll want to consider cab style and bed length because these can impact setup costs and maneuverability when the trailer is attached to the bed-mounted hitch. The longer the bed, the greater the turning clearance between the trailer and the cab when the trailer is attached. Also, because the fifth-wheel hitch is mounted forward of the truck’s rear axle, a long bed accommodates a fixed hitch rather than a more expensive sliding hitch.

A heavy-duty truck with a diesel engine, a long bed, and a dually rear axle is best for towing fifth-wheels. But trucks configured like that are both expensive and harder to use as a daily driver. If you plan to tow infrequently, or your fifth-wheel trailer is light and small, you don’t need all of that muscle.

According to eTrailer.com, you can use a full-size light-duty truck for trailers under 30 feet long. If the trailer is between 30 and 40 feet, a heavy-duty 250- or 2500-series truck works well. Anything over 40 feet long requires a heavy-duty 350- or 3500-series truck. Therefore, this list of the best trucks for towing fifth-wheels will offer three recommended models based on different towing requirements, engine preferences, and useful trailering technologies.

Best Half-Ton Truck for Towing Fifth Wheels: 2020 Ford F-150

With a maximum gasoline engine tow rating of 11,900 pounds, the 2020 Ford F-150 SuperCab with an 8-foot bed is the best light-duty truck for towing a fifth-wheel trailer.

2020 Ford F-150 Towing Trailer

Equipped with a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine, the truck makes 375 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 470 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500 rpm. Add 4-wheel drive, and the max tow rating dips to 11,600 pounds.

If you prefer a traditional V-8 engine, Ford can supply a 5.0-liter with 395 horsepower at 5,750 rpm and 400 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm, but maximum tow ratings top out at 10,200 pounds with 2-wheel drive and 11,300 pounds with 4WD (ratings for SuperCab longbed).

You can also get a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6 in the F-150 SuperCab, but only with a 6.5-foot bed. Given this restriction, you might as well choose the more accommodating SuperCrew cab if you’re getting the diesel, in which it tows 11,400 pounds with 2WD and 11,000 pounds with 4WD. The diesel generates 250 horsepower at 3,250 rpm and 440 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,750 rpm, and gets up to 24 mpg in combined driving, according to the EPA.

Beyond towing capacity, the affordable XLT trim offers numerous features that can make towing a fifth-wheel trailer easier. They include trailer sway control, an integrated trailer brake controller, and telescoping trailer towing mirrors. A blind-spot warning system with trailer coverage is available, along with Pro Trailer Backup Assist and dynamic hitch assist.

During the summer of 2020, Ford is offering up to $4,500 in cash rebates or 0% APR financing for 72 months on the F-150. These deals could get sweeter in August and through Labor Day as Ford prepares for the arrival of the redesigned 2021 Ford F-150.

Best Three-Quarter-Ton Truck for Towing Fifth Wheels: 2020 Ford F-250

For fifth-wheel trailers of a medium size and weight, the best tow vehicle is a three-quarter-ton truck. Here, the 2020 Ford F-250 shines brightest among its competitors, offering a maximum of 22,000 pounds of towing capacity when properly equipped. And in XLT trim, it also offers value.

2020 Ford F-250 Crew Cab Towing Fifth Wheel Trailer

Ford offers an 8-foot cargo bed with both SuperCab and Crew Cab configurations. Get an F-250 Crew Cab with the standard 6.2-liter gasoline V-8, 6-speed automatic transmission, and 4WD, and you’ll need to live with the truck’s minimum fifth-wheel/gooseneck towing maximum of 12,500 pounds. At the opposite end of the F-250 spectrum, a SuperCab with the optional 6.7-liter turbo-diesel V-8 and 2WD can handle a 22,000-pound load. All other F-250 configurations fall somewhere between those figures.

With 385 horsepower at 5,750 rpm and 430 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,800 rpm, the Super Duty’s standard 6.2-liter V-8 tops out at 15,500 pounds of towing capacity. If you want more, try the new-for-2020 7.3-liter gas V-8, which churns out 430 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 475 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm, and can handle up to 19,300 pounds of trailer weight. The 6.7-liter PowerStroke turbo-diesel V-8 is the heavy hitter, with 475 horsepower at 2,600 rpm and 1,050 lb.-ft. of torque at just 1,600 rpm.

Additionally, the F-Series Super Duty comes with all of the same towing technologies Ford offers for the F-150, plus an exclusive Trailer Reverse Guidance technology that uses myriad camera views to show the driver both trailer angle and direction and to provide steering guidance, theoretically eliminating the need for a spotter.

As the summer of 2020 progresses, Ford is offering up to $1,500 in cash rebates for certain versions of the Super Duty, or 3.9% APR financing for 60 months. If those deals don’t sound sweet, you’re right. But Ford gave the 2020 Super Duty models a refresh this year, and the truck is a hot-seller, so big giveaways are not necessary.

Best One-Ton Truck for Towing Fifth Wheels: 2020 Ford F-350

For maximum capability and towing the largest of fifth-wheel trailers, you’re gonna want a one-ton truck. And among them, the 2020 Ford F-350 tows the most maximum weight.

2020 Ford F-350 Crew Cab Dually Towing Fifth Wheel Trailer

When it comes to minimum fifth-wheel/gooseneck tow ratings, however, the F-350’s standard 6.2-liter V-8 engine is a liability, offering no better than 12,000 pounds of capability in Crew Cab 4WD dually format. Maximum capacity, without resorting to a Regular Cab style, measures 35,400 pounds with a SuperCab 2WD dually, a 6.7-liter PowerStroke turbo-diesel V-8 engine, and a 4.10 axle ratio. All other versions, including the F-450 Crew Cabs, fall between these extremes.

The F-350/F-450 engine lineup mirrors that for the F-250, and the one-ton versions of the F-Series Super Duty are available with the same laundry list of towing assistance technologies. You can also get the same deals on these versions of the Super Duty.

Runners Up: Ram Trucks

Based on official manufacturer maximum tow ratings, Ford builds the best trucks for towing fifth-wheels. 

2020 Ram 3500 Crew Cab Dually Towing Fifth Wheel Trailer

However, it is important to note that in each segment Ram is not far behind in terms of maximum towing capability. Also, where the Ford Super Duty is more capable with the SuperCab model, the Ram Heavy Duty boasts maximum figures with a larger Crew Cab model. Additionally, the standard 6.4-liter V-8 in the Ram Heavy Duty can tow more weight right out of the box than the Ford Super Duty’s 6.2-liter V-8, so be sure to factor that into the equation if you’re planning to get a gas-engine truck.

Ultimately, while the Fords offer numerical bragging rights in terms of maximum capacity, the best trucks for towing fifth-wheels are the ones that meet both your wants and needs. And the solution might not wear a blue-oval badge.