In this blog post, we will answer the following question: What is the best truck for a camper? We will review 10 of the best trucks that have the highest towing capacity and excel in performance.
What is the best truck for a camper?
The best trucks for a camper are, in our opinion, the following models:
- Ford F-150 – up to 13,200 lbs towing capacity
- Chevrolet Silverado – 14,500 lbs towing capacity
- GMC Sierra – 12, 200 lbs towing capacity
- Ram 1500 – 8,290 lbs towing capacity
- Toyota Tundra – 10,200 lbs towing capacity
- Nissan Titan – 9,400 lbs towing capacity
- Toyota Tacoma – 6,800 lbs towing capacity
- Nissan Frontier 6,720 lbs towing capacity
- Chevrolet Colorado / GMC Canyon – 7,000 lbs towing capacity
- Honda Ridgeline – 5,000 lbs towing capacity
Below we will review each model and explain why we believe these are the best trucks for a camper.
Best truck for a camper: Ford F-150
It’s no surprise that Ford’s popular F-150 pickup is one of the most popular vehicles for towing trailers and caravans. Available in multiple versions with one of the many engines on the catalog, the rear-wheel drive F-150 powered by the now acclaimed 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 combined with a 10-speed automatic transmission delivers 13,200 pounds of pulling capacity, the largest in its class.
Even its new turbodiesel V6 does not come close with its 11,400 pound capacity! However, at the moment, the F-150 is the only pickup to offer the Trailer Back-up Assist which consists of an automated system to place the pickup in the correct direction during a reverse maneuver with a trailer!
For more capacity, you have to switch to Ford Super Duty (F-250, F-350, F-450) but these are commercial trucks! As for the smaller Ranger, it won’t be available for a few months, and only then will its final towing capacity be known.
Best truck for a camper: Chevrolet Silverado
The most important competitor of the Ford F-150 is, without a doubt, the Chevrolet Silverado. Also offering several optional engines, its maximum towing capacity is 12,500 pounds depending on the version chosen but with a 6.2-liter V8 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
However, Chevrolet is on the cusp of launching an all-new Silverado pickup whose catalog will include an all-new Duramax inline-six turbo diesel engine with ten-speed automatic transmission that could cause quite a surprise.
Its towing capacities will only be known when it is introduced to the market. Again, if you are looking to pull more than the Class 1 Silverado 1500s, you have to look at the commercial Chevrolet Silverado (HD 2500 and HD 3500).
Best truck for a camper: GMC Sierra
GMC’s large Sierra pickup trucks are nothing less than Silverado twins except for the trim and finish. They therefore display almost identical towing capacity depending on the corresponding models with a maximum of 12,500 pounds with the 6.2-liter V8 and the eight-speed automatic transmission.
Obviously, just like the Silverado, the GMC Sierra will soon hit the market with a completely redesigned body that’s different from that of the Chevrolet. Of course, it’s only when it hits the showrooms that we will know its maximum towing capacity.
Note, however, that the Duramax 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbodiesel will be offered with a ten-speed automatic transmission. But you’d expect the 6.2-litre gasoline V8 to be most capable with the ten-speed automatic. And if you want to shoot more, once again you have to look at the HD 2500 and HD 3500.
Best truck for a camper: Ram 1500
Much like the GM pickup trucks, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ large Ram 1500 pickup has been completely redesigned for 2019. So far, it has only been announced with the 5 Hemi V8. 7 litres but a hybrid V6 with the help of an electric motor should soon be added to the options catalogue as rumours are more and more persistent than the 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6 returns under the hood of the Ram.
FCA Announces New Ram Has 12,750 Pound Towing Capacity! However, the current version of the Ram is still on sale and it may come with the 5.7-litre Hemi V8 that will allow it to tow trailers up to 10,640 pounds. As is the case with its competitors, if you want to get more out, you have to look at the commercial HD 2500 and 3500 versions of the Rams.
Best truck for a camper: Toyota Tundra
The Japanese manufacturer Toyota has not yet announced whether it will overhaul its large Tundra pickups (made in the USA) but it will have to be monitored closely since it has just appointed a new director at the head of its pickup truck operations and he’s an American pickup fan!
In the meantime, Toyota still offers us its large Tundra powered by a 5.7-litre gasoline V8 combined with a six-speed automatic transmission. As is the case with almost all manufacturers, this pickup’s most towing capacity is found in a less luxurious rear-wheel-only model and for the Tundra that means a maximum of 10,400 pounds.
There is no diesel engine (yet) in Tundra’s catalogue, nor a more robust Class 2 or 3 versions for heavier trailers or campers.
Best truck for a camper: Nissan Titan
At Nissan, we still offer the large Titan pickup built in the United States. This newly designed pickup truck is available in multiple versions powered by a 5.6-litre gasoline V8 combined with a seven-speed automatic transmission or, in its XD version, a combined 5.0-liter Cummins turbo diesel V8, to a six-speed automatic transmission.
As for the gasoline-powered Titan, its advertised maximum pulling capacity is 9,760 pounds. However, the diesel-powered XD can tow a trailer weighing up to 12,750 pounds. Note, however, that the XD is rather compared as a robust vehicle whose characteristics are more similar to Class 2 pickups like the F-250 and HD 2500! There are no other more rugged versions of the Titan.
Best truck for a camper: Toyota Tacoma
For many motorsports or caravanning enthusiasts, smaller pick-up vans are more attractive due to their manoeuvrability in urban situations. The Toyota Tacoma is the perfect example.
Available with a four-cylinder engine or a powerful 3.5-litre V6 with manual or six-speed automatic transmission (not to mention four-wheel traction on command), this hugely popular pickup truck can use the most powerful V6 with it tow trailers up to 6,500 pounds with the V6 while a Tacoma equipped with the 2.7-litre four-cylinder will have a towing capacity limited to 3,500 pounds.
Note that the Tacoma is available with a more advanced TRD finish which is more useful in the off-road situation than on the road.
Best truck for a camper: Nissan Frontier
In addition to the massive Titan, Japanese-born automaker Nissan offers motorists who prefer a smaller but equally useful mid-size pickup truck, the Frontier. Although this product has not changed for several years, it is still offered in multiple rear-wheel drives or four-wheel drive versions to order.
Under the hood, the interested buyer will find a 2.5-litre four-cylinder (except with the four-door Crew Cab) or a 4.0-litre V6 with a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic. Depending on the model chosen, the version with the four-cylinder can pull up to 3750 pounds while the one equipped with the V6 can go up to 6700 pounds.
If the midsize pickup truck market continues to experience a major boost, Nissan could present us with a renewed version of the Frontier in the coming months!
Best truck for a camper: Chevrolet Colorado / GMC Canyon
When General Motors relaunched its midsize pickup truck line in 2015, the automaker also rekindled the niche that had lost much of its lustre. Today, the Colorado and Canyon are offered in a few trims, including those powered by a 2.5-litre four, a 3.6-litre V6, or a small 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder.
The latter proves to be a real workhorse with a towing capacity of 7,700 pounds while the gasoline-powered four-cylinder is capable of only 3,500 pounds (still the most powerful in its class) and the V6 of 7,000 pounds. Obviously, it is better to consult Chevrolet and GMC dealers to check with what equipment this performance is possible.
Best truck for a camper: Honda Ridgeline
The newest Honda Ridgeline might not seem as tough as its mid-size pickup segment competitors, but despite looking like an SUV with a box, it is capable of some significant capacities like a 5,000 pound towing limit with all-wheel drive, ideal for small caravans or for recreational vehicle trailers.
The only engine available in this unique vehicle is a 3.5-litre V6 (380 horsepower) combined with a six-speed automatic transmission and, of course, all-wheel drive.
Conclusions and towing recommendations
If you are looking to tow the heaviest trailer possible, either the Ford or the Ram is the best truck for towing fifth wheel options. However, the GMC is close behind. Your final decision will likely be subject to price, and what other features you want or need with the vehicle. Just remember that the best truck for towing a trailer is not necessarily the highest towing capacity, but the one that best suits your towing needs.
When considering your options, diesel engine variants will provide as much torque as possible to pull a large trailer behind so factor that into the price. Also, inquire about your tow hitch options as if you want to tow very large trailers you may need the fifth wheel hitch which will add to the base price. Even the best tow bar hitches can’t tow more than 20,000 pounds.
The Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra are a step back from the Ford, Ram, and GMC, but will still make good tow vehicles for a mid-size trailer. The advantage is, in general, a lower price tag and better fuel economy, which makes the travel device less expensive.
One final tip worth mentioning is that most vehicles will come, or have the option of adding towing safety measures and a range of additional towing specific options. So if towing is your primary goal, it’s a good idea to ask the manufacturer to add as many towing options as possible before registering the vehicle for the first time. Accessorizing a vehicle after the first registration can be much more expensive.
If you are looking for more information on the best trucks for a camper, or if you have any questions on the content, please let us know!