There is a reason that the most popular automotive segment in the USA is the pickup truck. No other body style can work as hard. These rugged, dependable vehicles are designed to handle heavy cargo and rough terrain without batting an eye, all while remaining accessible and being versatile enough for everyday use.
At least, this is the aim of the mid-size category, which includes models like the Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, and the new Nissan Frontier. But, while their lower MSRP may mean that more shoppers can get behind the wheel of one of these burly beasts, they are far from being the most capable of their breed.
If you need the power to move small mountains, then it’s the one-ton category you should be looking at. Unsurprisingly, it is the American brands that dominate here since they know what their consumers want best.
Ford, Ram, GMC, and Chevrolet each have something to offer, and competition is fierce to see who will lead the pack. Toyota and Nissan also have horses in the race, but they are bringing up the rear, which may be why they are making a play for the top spot in the more economical, mid-size class. If you’re looking for the best truck for towing, though, here are a few names to consider:
The top-selling truck stateside, the F-150 is also one of the most affordable workers. It may be a one-tonner, but it is not too big to fit in your garage or feel at home on the city streets. Nevertheless, it can just as easily go off-road and never lose its footing, all while hauling impressive loads.
As with any vehicle in this classification, it is presented in a multitude of configurations and with a choice of six different engine options. The most capable of the lot is the EcoBoost V6, which empowers the Ford with a towing capacity of 14,000 lbs.
However, the automaker has also made a hybrid powertrain, which drops this figure to 12,700 lbs in exchange for better mileage. This growing concern regarding fuel economy is one of the reasons that Ford has been rushing to deliver the F-150 EV.
Ram is just as serious about strength as any of its rivals, but it also pays a lot of attention to quality and presentation. This is why, by comparison, Ram trucks are among the most appealing to look at and sit inside.
Though only four engines are on offer here, they are all very capable. The most powerful is the mild-hybrid V8, which delivers 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. This is sufficient to pull up to 12,750 lbs of weight. An available four-wheel drivetrain and up to 10.8 inches of ground clearance height make the Ram one of the most capable off-roaders in the segment.
Of course, it’s the interior that impresses most. Yes, the materials and hard and hardy, but the design of the cabin is thoughtful, and the build quality is outstanding. If you opt for the five-seater Crew Cab, back seat passengers will thank you for their 45.2 inches of legroom – quite luxurious for a pickup.
Chevrolet Silverado 1500
The middle ground between Ford and Ram, the Chevy Silverado, more often than not, takes second place in terms of yearly sales. It has slightly more capability than the Ram, as well as a lower asking price. However, it lacks an upscale interior and doesn’t get as many features as the more modern F-150. But, depending on who you ask, it is arguably more attractive.
In terms of capabilities, it slots between its primary rivals. The high-displacement V8 with 420 hp and 460 lb-ft is able to tow an impressive 13,300 lbs or carry a load of up to 2,280 lbs. Power delivery never feels lacking, and the automatic gearbox is smooth and decisive when you need a little extra oomph.
Rather than trying to please everyone, the Chevy Silverado focuses on its strengths and manages to impress where it needs to. It is capable and well-priced, with high-reliability standards and enough versatility to function as a daily driver.
When you need something a little tougher
If moving small mountains isn’t enough for you, there are definitely stronger trucks out there, so long as you are willing to pay. Each of the brands mentioned here also offers models in higher classifications, capable of towing astronomical weights. These include the:
Ford F-350 Super Duty
Ford F-450 Super Duty
Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD