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Best 2020 Heavy Duty Trucks for Towing a 5th Wheel

They're here. The first pickups of the new decade. And they're the biggest, baddest, smartest trucks you've seen yet. If you're in the market for a heavy-duty truck to tow your fifth-wheel trailer in 2020, you've got a tough choice ahead, but the great thing is that all of these trucks are more than capable of towing your fifth wheel. However, only one will provide that perfect fit we all look for in a vehicle, whether it's the most comfortable ride, the engine we can brag about, the coolest new tech toys, or the sharpest style on the block.To take an even deeper dive into trucks this year, we sat down with JD, producer of the popular YouTube channel Big Truck Big RV (BTBRV), to get his thoughts. Not only does JD have years of experience in the world of trailers, trucks, and towing, he's personally test driven just about every new HD truck on the market.Join us for an in-depth look at 2020's top trucks, including towing specs, ride comfort, engine power, new trailer technology, and more. Find out which truck impressed JD the most and which truck called to us (spoiler: we couldn't agree on a favorite—we chose rival trucks!) Will our favorite truck also be the truck of your dreams, will you fall in love with JD's first choice, or will your pick be one we overlooked?If you're towing a smaller trailer, check out our breakdown of the 2020 half-ton segment here.For more information on choosing between payload capacities, gas vs. diesel, SRW vs. DRW, and more, check out our Guide to Choosing the Best Truck for 5th-Wheel Towing. You can also check out our comparison of past truck model years:

How We Rate Each Truck

Below, we've broken our ratings into four main categories by which we'll judge each truck: power, interior comfort, ride quality, and technology. At the end, we'll pick the overall winner. We also want to point out that certain features are, of course, only available on certain trim levels.Let's get started below!TOP 1-TON TRUCKS IN THE RUNNING
FORD F-350 & F-450
6.7L Power Stroke® Turbo-Diesel V8
Ford Super Duty - BTBRV
Max 5th Wheel Towing
32,500*
Diesel Engine Specs
6.7L Power Stroke® Turbo-Diesel V8
1,050 torque; 475 horsepower
RAM 3500
6.7L HO Cummins® Turbo-Diesel I6
Ram HD - BTBRV
Max 5th Wheel Towing
35,100 lbs**
Diesel Engine Specs
6.7L High Output Cummins® Turbo-Diesel I6
1,000 torque; 400 horsepower
CHEVROLET SILVERADO 3500
6.6L Duramax® Turbo-Diesel V8
Ram HD - BTBRV
Max 5th Wheel Towing
32,000 lbs*
Diesel Engine Specs
6.6L Duramax® Turbo-Diesel V8
910 torque; 445 horsepower
GMC SIERRA 3500
6.6L Duramax® Turbo-Diesel V8
Ram HD - BTBRV
Max 5th Wheel Towing
31,180 lbs*
Diesel Engine Specs
6.6L Duramax® Turbo-Diesel V8
910 torque; 445 horsepower
TOP 3/4-TON TRUCKS IN THE RUNNING
FORD F-250
6.7L Power Stroke® Turbo-Diesel V8
Ford Super Duty - BTBRV
Max 5th Wheel Towing
18,000*
Diesel Engine Specs
Power Stroke® Turbo-Diesel V8
1,050 torque; 475 horsepower
RAM 2500
6.7L Cummins® Turbo-Diesel I6
Ram HD - BTBRV
Max 5th Wheel Towing
19,780 lbs**
Diesel Engine Specs
6.7L Cummins® Turbo-Diesel I6
850 torque; 370 horsepower
CHEVROLET SILVERADO 2500
6.6L Duramax® Turbo-Diesel V8
Ram HD - BTBRV
Max 5th Wheel Towing
18,500 lbs*
Diesel Engine Specs
Duramax® 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V8
910 torque; 445 horsepower
GMC SIERRA 2500
6.6L Duramax® Turbo-Diesel V8
Ram HD - BTBRV
Max 5th Wheel Towing
18,510 lbs*
Diesel Engine Specs
6.6L Duramax® Turbo-Diesel V8
910 torque; 445 horsepower
*When properly equipped**When properly equipped. Gooseneck tow capacity used (no 5th-wheel capacity listed from manufacturer)
Power
Overall Winner: Ford HD
The numbers don't lie: Ford has clearly not grown complacent as the producer of America's bestselling pickup and continues to drive forward in their truck advancements and innovations. If you want the most powerful truck of 2020, you want a Ford Super Duty.To start with, the available Power Stroke® Turbo-Diesel V8 engine puts out a massive 1,050 lb-ft of torque and 475 horsepower. These trucks also boast the best fifth-wheel-specific towing capacity at 32,500 lbs. This beast of an engine is available in both the F-350 and F-450 Super Duty models.That's not to say Ford's competitors aren't right on their heels, however. The RAM 3500's 6.7L High Output Cummins® Turbo-Diesel produces 1,000 lb-ft of torque and 400 horsepower, so it's just barely behind the Ford Super Duty in terms of power. The RAM has a max capacity of 35,100 lbs, but this is not an exact weight limit. Typically, manufacturers differentiate between gooseneck and fifth-wheel towing capacities, since gooseneck capacities are heavier. However, RAM does not differentiate between the two, so the 35,100-lb gooseneck weight limit does not indicate the exact fifth-wheel capacity. However, we can assume it is close to Ford's, and it's unlikely that you'll surpass such a hefty fifth-wheel capacity anyway.Chevrolet and GMC bring up the rear with their Duramax® Turbo-Diesel V-8 engine. This engine's horsepower is actually right up with Ford's at 445, and it produces 910 lb-ft of torque. This may not be 4-digit territory yet, but honestly, it's most likely more than sufficient for anything you want to tow. The GM twins have also stepped up their game this year with a 32,000-lb (Chevrolet) and 31,180-lb (GMC) fifth-wheel capacity, which is a huge improvement from their 23,000-lb capacity in 2019. Ford may be the clear winner this year, but everyone is here to play the game.
Interior Comfort & Space
Overall Winner: Ford HD
2020 Ford Truck Interior - JD BTBRV
Trucks are the vehicular symbol of hard work, but for the price tag, we want a bit of luxury in our ride.So which of these trucks offers the most in terms of interior comfort? Although JD appreciated the RAM's interior style, he found Chevrolet and GMC had the most comfortable standard seats, with Ford and RAM tying for second place due to their lack of seat bolstering.Ford does have one wild card the other manufacturers don't, however: available Multi-Contour Seats, which include a massaging feature. These aren't brand new to the 2020 model year, but it's worth pointing them out. If you can spring for these seats (available only on the upper King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited Trims), Ford provides the most comfortable perch behind the wheel.Of course, ride comfort isn't all about the cushion under your rear end; it's also about the roominess of the cab. Whether it's just you and your partner or the whole family on the road, you need the room to spread out on long trips.Out of the four, the Silverado and Sierra offer the most headroom and legroom for the driver and front-riding passenger. JD notes that RAM falls behind its competitors in terms of rear seat spacing this year, although the RAM's Mega Cab® model offers an extra 8" of storage space behind the forward fold-flat rear seats. If the kids are tagging along for the ride, you may prefer the more spacious Ford or GM trucks. However, if you just need as much space as possible to load cargo (not humans), it's worth taking a look at a RAM.
Ride Quality
Overall Winner: (Tie) Chevrolet and GMC HD
SRW trucks:For JD, the GM twins come out ahead in this category, too, at least in terms of SRW 3/4-ton and 1-ton trucks, due to their independent front suspension. RAM and Ford ride similarly to one another, but RAM is hindered by its lack of a telescoping wheel, which would seem like a no-brainer to include in a modern luxury truck.The harshest ride in SRW territory is (as you might expect) the biggest beast: Ford's F-450. This is due in large part to the thick commercial tires (19.5") on the F-450. However, the wide front axle provides tighter turning, which can be a big benefit if you're towing a long trailer. So all things considered, it might be worth the tradeoff.DRW trucks:If you're going for a dually, all are pretty similar in terms of ride quality. No matter which brand you choose, the stiffer rear suspension will make for a harsher ride. A dually will offer more stability if you're towing a large fifth wheel, however, so once again, it might be worth the trade off.
Technology
Overall Winners (TIE) - Ram and GMC HD
Ram 12" Uconnect Touch Screen
Ram 12" Uconnect Touch Screen
We folks here at etrailer as well as JD were impressed by the array of technological features offered this year. Pretty much every manufacturer offers a handful of similar safety features at this point, such as braking assist, blind spot monitoring options, 360-degree camera systems, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, tire pressure monitoring, and more. Convenient tech like keyless entry, push button start, and remote capabilities are pretty much ubiquitous as well. Yes, you'll have to pay more for these options, but they are at least available from the big 3 manufacturers. However, there are some stand-out tech features between the brands.GMLet's start with GM, because they've got a lot going for them.GMC and Chevy take the lead as far as camera systems go, with up to 15 available cameras providing every view you could wish for. Just note that some of these are designed for conventional trailer towing, such as the industry-first "invisible trailer view," so these cameras are an even bigger deal if you tow a conventional trailer as well. Still, there are plenty of cameras to help with a fifth-wheel load, like a bed view camera to ease the hookup process.The ProGrade Trailering System lets you test your trailer lights, customize different trailer profiles, and use built-in pre-departure checklists so you never miss any crucial steps. It gets even better if your trailer came with an ASA iN-Commmand™ control system. WIth GM's Smart Trailer Integration, you can control your iN-Command™ system from your dash. (Not that you couldn't already control it from your phone, but it's nice to have another option.)If you plan on using your truck bed for more than just fifth wheel towing, you'll love GMC's Six-Function Multi-Pro™ Tailgate, which can be used as a truck bed extender, load stop, step, work surface, and more. (Note that this is not yet available on the Chevy Silverado, so this is a point in GMC's favor.)Ultimately, if towing technology is what you're after, you'll be happy with a GM truck in 2020.FordThe great thing about Ford trucks is that they work hard, but they also allow you the comfort and luxury you deserve. Those Multi-Contour Massaging Seats are fit for a king—a King Ranch®, that is. JD was a fan during his test drive (although we do have to admit, the massage feature isn't for everyone—definitely give it a go before you buy). These are only available starting with the King Ranch® trim, which has an MSRP about $25k above the base level trim. They may not be worth the extra coin on their own, but they are a nice perk of those upper trim levels.Ford also provides a decent set of cameras to help you tow. The Ultimate Trailer Tow Camera System gives you a four-sided view of your truck. Part of this feature is the Trailer Reverse Guidance system, which is now compatible with fifth wheels and provides visual guides in the center dash screen to make backing up a breeze. (This multi-camera setup is another King Ranch®-minimum feature.)You can also outfit your truck with a trailer camera and a high-mount stop lamp camera that lets you see the pickup bed (perfect for hooking up your fifth wheel). If you know you'll also be towing a conventional trailer at some point, the Pro Trailer Backup Assist package lets you just turn a knob and let the system do its job.RAMRAM's 12" Uconnect Infotainment System is basically a tablet in your truck—it's by far the most advanced infotainment system, offering the most in terms of multitasking, accessory connection points, and user customization (plus, it just looks so sharp!).Perhaps one of the best features is the split screen view, which lets you choose two applications to keep open at once. As someone who likes to listen to music while I drive but who also relies heavily on the GPS, I love that I can have both screens up at the same time. You can even pay for food and gas from your truck using Uconnect Market. These may seem like small features in the grand scheme of trucks, but it's so often the little things that sway our decisions one way or the other.Although JD was impressed by the 12" screen (it's hard not to be), he acknowledges the endless navigation options can be a bit distracting on the road. After all, there's a reason we aren't supposed to text and drive—swiping through our truck's giant tablet screen is hardly better. The long list of options is great while you're parked; it's just not the easiest thing to manage via muscle memory while you keep your eyes on the road. Also note that the 12" touch screen is only available for the Laramie trim and up (the Laramie model starts at $15k higher than the base model).We've gone on about the impressive Uconnect screen, but that's not the only feature RAM has to offer entertainment-seeking truck drivers. RAM also offers a staggering 17-speaker premium audio system and 750-watt, multi-channel amp with surround sound (that's more speakers than any other heavy-duty truck).RAM also offers a 360-Degree Surround View Camera with Trailer Reverse Guidance View, which offers a 5-camera setup to help you back up your trailer safely, and Trailer Camera Wiring (which allows 2 more cameras to feed directly to your Uconnect screen). So there's no shortage of camera views here either.So which truck has the best technology of the year? Honestly, it just depends on what you want most from your truck. For road-trip convenience and comfort, or if if I was going for a daily driver and was only going to tow a fifth wheel occasionally, I'd be mightily tempted by RAM's insane infotainment setup.If I was frequently towing a large fifth wheel, or if I was looking for a work-ready vehicle, I'd probably go with a GMC truck, which provides plenty of convenient technology for towing as well as innovative features like the Multi-Pro™ Tailgate.
Awards & Recalls
Ford Super Duty
Ford Super Duty Grill
Awards:
  • Truck Trend Network Pickup Truck of the Year: Ford F-250
Recalls
  • Reduced Seat Back Strength/FMVSS 202 & 207NHTSA #: 19V633000ISSUE: Ford Motor Company (Ford) is recalling certain 2019-2020 F-250, F-350, F-450, and F-550 Super Duty pickup trucks equipped with driver and/or passenger's manual front seat back recliner mechanisms. The recliner mechanisms may be missing the third pawl required for seat back strength, resulting in a loose seat back. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) numbers 202, "Head Restraints" and 207, "Seating Systems."POTENTIAL # OF UNITS AFFECTED: 639,137
Ram HD
Ram HD Grill
Awards:
  • Vincentric Best Value in America - (Full-Ton Category): RAM 3500
  • Vincentric Best Value in America - (3/4-Ton Category): RAM 2500
  • Vincentric Best Value in America - (Truck Brand Category): RAM
  • Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) - Best Powertrain: RAM Rear Air Suspension
  • Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) - RAM UConnect System & Touchscreen Display
  • Motor Trend Truck of the Year: RAM HD
GM Silverado & Sierra HD
GM Silverado and Sierra HD
Recalls
  • Fire after Seat Belt Pretensioner DeploymentNHTSA #: 19V814000ISSUE: General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain 2020 Silverado 2500, Silverado 3500, Sierra 2500, and Sierra 3500 vehicles equipped with carpet floor covering. When the front seat belt pretensioners deploy, hot gas may vent through an opening in the pretensioner bracket, possibly igniting the carpet.POTENTIAL # OF UNITS AFFECTED: 556,399
Overall HD Winner:TIE: Ford Super Duty & GMC Sierra
Ultimately, we fell on a different side of the big truck dilemma than JD (at least in part). A big part of the decision comes down to what you're towing, but ultimately, our top overall favorite trucks were the 2020 GMC Sierra HD and the 2020 Ford Super Duty. We'll walk through our reasoning below.
2020 GMC Sierra and Ford Super Duty
Pictured: 2020 GMC Sierra HD (left) and 2020 Ford Super Duty (right)
Ford Super Duty
JD's Favorite HD Truck: Ford F-250/F-350JD prefers the 2020 Ford F-250 or F-350 Super Duty in terms of 3/4 and 1-ton SRW trucks. There's no denying that the Super Duty is all the truck you'll ever need, with its powerful diesel engine and innovative trailer reverse technology. With more trim levels than any of its competitors, there's a Ford truck for everyone. (And did we mention those massaging seats?)All things considered, we'd be quite happy to drive away in a Ford truck any day of the week.
2020 GMC Sierra HD
etrailer's Favorite HD Truck: GMC Sierra 2500/3500However, just because Ford offers everything you need doesn't mean it has everything you want. We found ourselves drawn to the comfort and style of the GMC Sierra. No, the Sierra doesn't offer the industry-leading torque and towing numbers that Ford does, but it still provides more kick than you're probably ever going to need. Once you have a fifth wheel hooked up, you won't notice the marginal 140 lb-ft difference in torque.What you will notice is the comfortable spaciousness, the quality interior, and the smooth ride. Plus, that 15-camera setup gives us essentially every conceivable trailer view we could want, which really takes a lot of stress out of towing. The ProGrade Trailering System and iN-Command™-compatible tech may not be necessary, but they're the kind of tech toys that are handy once you have them.Why the Sierra over its nearly identical twin, the Chevrolet Silverado? To be honest, these trucks are so similar it almost doesn't make a difference. The one deciding factor between them came down to that Six-Function Multi-Pro™ Tailgate, exclusive to GMC. When two trucks are so similar, every differentiating feature makes a big difference. And since a truck's primary draw (besides the ability to tow a fifth wheel) is the ability to haul cargo, the tailgate is too useful of a tool to pass up.
Ford F-450
JD & etrailer's Favorite HD Truck For Long Trailers: Ford F-450There was one thing we did agree on—for particularly long fifth wheels, you're best served with the larger Ford F-450.That tight turning radius and maneuverability is just too beneficial to pass up, and then there's the unmatched torque numbers and crazy tow capacity with the diesel engine. For mid-size or smaller fifth wheels, you're probably better off with the superior ride quality and relative affordability of a 3/4-ton or 1-ton truck. But for those massive fifth wheels, JD and etrailer are in agreement: the F-450 is your best option.
*Vehicle images provided by Big Truck, Big RV**Recall information provided by NHTSAStill have questions?Give our experts a call at 800-298-8924, or contact us online. We're happy to assist any way we can!
Amber S.
About the AuthorAs a content writer for etrailer, I might spend my morning loading and unloading a bike on five different bike racks to figure out which is easiest to use. I might be in the parking lot, taking pictures of an impressive RV battery setup our techs came across in the shop and discussing the benefits of the setup with the owner. I might spend an afternoon in a manufacturer training classes for some hands-on experience with new products, and then sit down to assemble all this information into a coherent article.At etrailer, one of our core values is that we are always learning, and I learn something new every day. I start each morning with the goal in mind of taking all of this information and figuring out the best way to answer the questions people ask us (and the ones they don’t know to ask yet), and helping people get the solutions they need to make their lives easier, safer, and more fun. I’m a DIYer at heart, so it brings me great joy to help a fellow DIYer find what they’re looking for, whether that’s a product, an answer, or a community.
Related ArticlesRelated ProductsWritten by: Amber S.Updated on: 3/9/20

John

6/21/2020

All of the information is all subjective to which truck you favor. I have had the opportunity to work with all three in the older versions. I find a Dodge guy will boast that His truck is the best and the same for all the others. I tend to say all the trucks are very capable of doing the work required. You can write all you want but it is very hard to choose a winner. When you purchase a truck and it gives you the least amount of trouble you are going to stick with that brand until it does something to change your mind. I don't favor one over the other but I own a ford for now and its been a good truck don't know if I will purchase another later so we will just have to see.

Paul

6/12/2020

Why did this article review the same truck twice (and twice again) as the Chevy/GMC are twins....And then exclude a single mention of Ford's new 7.3 litre gas motor in their heavy duty line up?

Etrailer Expert

Chris R.

6/16/2020

For the sake of comparison we decided to only highlight diesel engine trucks for the "heavy duty" towing article. That's the only reason why we didn't call out the 7.3L gas F-250.

Rj

6/12/2020

We all win because they make better (?) vehicles every year. You better have some deep cash to wrangle whichever your choice comes to in your garage. My 96 F350 with 123xxx miles doesn't win anything, but my checks go in the accounts with my name on it. Loans are for land.

Etrailer Expert

Chris R.

6/15/2020

I definitely agree with that. We all benefit from the manufacturers trying one-up each other each year. Not having a car payment is a beautiful thing too....

Bill

6/12/2020

Neither one ford or GM have got it do away with DEF system the only engine out there is Cummins for a 6 cylinder it does one hell of a job ford and GM have 8 not made in USA Go Cummins.

Ken A.

6/12/2020

I wish you had done some tests/evaluation on the Ford 7.3L gas (Gaszilla) in the F250 or F350. It is a huge gas engine with HP close to the diesel (lower on the torque) and about $8K cheaper than the diesel so how does it compare towing etc.



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