Buying Guides

The 7 Best Light-Duty Vehicles for Towing

Have a trailer to tow? Nothing to worry about with these vehicles

Wade Thiel, Senior Staff Writer

You might think that when it comes to towing a pickup truck is always the answer. Have a boat to tow? Pickup truck. A camper to move? Pickup truck. A Uhaul moving trailer to pull? Pickup truck. Trucks are a smart option for towing, but they're not the only option. We could have compiled a list of only light-duty pickups and called it a day, but we wanted to mix it up and give you some additional options. We've included some of the best full-sized pickups on this list, but we've also made a point to include a couple full-size SUVs and a midsize pickup. If you have a trailer to pull, these are the vehicles you want to do it with.

2017 Ford F-150 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6

  • PROS: Rated to tow up to 12,200 lbs when properly equipped, comfortable interior and several trim levels to choose from.
  • CONS: Aluminum body panels can be pricey to repair or replace, can’t outfit the truck for maximum towing capacity in every trim level.

Ford’s aluminum bodied F-150 ($26,540 base MSRP) packs in quite a lot. It’s lighter than many other steel-bodied rides and offers impressive performance from the turbocharged V6 engine that puts out 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. This truck is fast, comfortable and can tow a whole heck of a lot when outfitted with the right engine and rear axle. If you go with one of the other engine options, you won’t reach the maximum 12,200 lbs towing rating but you will typically pay a little less. Outfit the truck in Limited, Platinum or King Ranch trim level and you have a vehicle that comes with features and seating that rivals some of the best luxury vehicles. Our only real gripe about this truck is that you can’t get the equipment that achieves the maximum towing rating on every trim level.

2017 GMC Sierra 1500 6.2-liter V8

  • PROS: Rated to tow up to 12,000 lbs when properly equipped, upscale interior especially in Denali trim.
  • CONS: Can’t outfit the truck for maximum towing capacity in every trim level, fuel economy isn’t the best due to the big V8.

The GMC Sierra 1500 ($28,205 base MSRP) is a seriously good pickup, and if you want V8 power the 6.2-liter V8 that puts down 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque is what will make you happiest. The big mill can really suck down the gallons, which is a shame, but you’ll forget about that as soon as you hear the engine roar. When properly equipped the GMC comes ready to pull 12,000 lbs, but not in every trim level. This is an annoyance the vehicle shares with its competitors. Still, even in other trim levels and even with one of the smaller engine options the Sierra 1500 is a beast of a truck. If you need a little luxury in your life, go for the Denali trim and you’ll feel like a king. Then hire a servant to keep all the chrome on your new truck shining. If you can’t bring yourself to buy a truck without a Chevy bowtie on the grille, opt for the Silverado 1500 and you’ll get a truck with basically the same equipment and capabilities.

2017 RAM 1500 5.7-liter HEMI

  • PROS: Rated to tow up to 10,700 lbs, beautiful exhaust note, and a comfortable ride.
  • CONS: Not the highest tow rating, shifter knob takes some getting used to.

When you look at the maximum towing rating for this truck, you might wonder why it’s included. The RAM 1500 ($26,145 base MSRP) doesn’t tow as much as the class leaders, but it still tows more than most vehicles on the road, and it does so with ease. This thing will have no issue towing your boat or camper and you’ll look totally badass doing it. The 5.7-liter HEMI V8 sounds wicked and puts out 395 horses and 410 lb-ft of torque. The RAM 1500 comes in a wide variety of trim levels, although, like the other trucks, you can’t outfit it for maximum towing capacity in every one. Still, no matter how you get your RAM, we’re sure if you like the brand’s styling, you’ll love the truck. The deep warble of the V8 and the butch looks make you want to go out and do things.

2017 Ford Expedition

  • Rated to tow up to 9,200 lbs, tons of seating and cargo space, attractive, big SUV exterior.
  • CONS: Lots of hard plastics inside the cabin, fuel economy isn’t great.

Ford likes to have the highest towing ratings in the segment and the Expedition ($46,225 base MSRP) manages to beat out the competition by a few hundred pounds. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 is the same one that comes in the F-150 though power output is a little different (365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque). Still, the big boy SUV manages impressive performance and a plenty-comfortable cabin with three spacious rows of seating. This is an awesome vacation vehicle or a good towing machine for those weekend lake runs with the boat. Upgrade to the higher trim levels and you quickly reach Lincoln Navigator price range (which tows almost as much as the Expedition), so keep that in mind as you add the options.

2016 Chevrolet Tahoe

  • PROS: Rated to tow up to 8,300 lbs, attractive, premium interior, smooth ride and powerful V8 engine.
  • CONS: Third-row seating is a bit tight, cargo space is good but not great.

The bowtie brand has done it right with the Chevrolet Tahoe ($47,000 base MSRP). This machine comes with an upscale interior, a beautifully tuned 5.3-liter EcoTec V8 rated at 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque and suspension that makes for a smooth ride. If the standard suspension package isn’t good enough, upgrade to the Magnetic Ride Control suspension package in the LTZ trim level and float effortlessly over bumps while pulling a heavy trailer behind you. While the Tahoe comes up short in the cargo area department and space for the third-row seating, it does everything else so well that if you don’t plan on using the third row much, you’re fine to overlook its shortcomings.

2017 Nissan Armada

  • PROS: Rated to tow up to 8,500 lbs, tech-laden interior, strong engine, and an upscale interior.
  • CONS: Numb steering, third row is tight for anyone but the kiddos, cargo space is just okay.

The Nissan Armada ($44,400 base MSRP), based on the global Patrol platform is a big three-row SUV that shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s attractively styled, luxuriously appointed on the inside and powered by a beefy 5.6-liter V8 that punches out 390 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque. With a towing capacity of 8,500 lbs it fits between the Tahoe and Expedition. The Armada comes with some nice tech features including standard navigation and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The third row, much like the Tahoe is best for kids or small adults and the cargo space isn’t cavernous. The smooth leather seats and high quality interior materials make up for it, though. Just don’t get a trailer behind this ride until you’re used to the numb steering. Once you’re used to it, you’ll have no trouble getting that camper or boat to its destination.

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax Diesel

  • PROS: Rated to tow up to a respectable 7,600 lbs, fits in your garage, and gets great fuel economy.
  • CONS: Front bumper and air dam make off-roading tough, not the quickest engine.

We felt we had to include one midsize pickup. It’s true that there are many other full-size trucks and SUVs out there with higher towing ratings, but if you want something a little smaller that still has the grunt to pull your trailer, the Colorado is the ticket. Chevy’s Colorado ($20,055 base MSRP) didn’t win Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year award in 2015 and 2016 for no reason. It features a sporty exterior, comfortable and attractive interior and a 2.8-liter Durax turbodiesel four-cylinder engine that chugs out 181 hp and a hearty 369 lb-ft of torque. It drives nice, tows like a boss and is looks good. If you don’t want a diesel, you have a choice between two gasoline options: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a 3.6-liter V6. If you get the 2.5-liter, say goodbye to a good towing rating, and if you get the 3.6-liter, say wave a farewell to impressive fuel economy. Get the diesel. You won’t regret it.

What's Makes a Light Duty Towing Machine

  • Can tow well over 5,000 lbs
  • Comfortable cabin and plenty of power
  • It still has to be a solid everyday driver