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Top Tow Vehicles For Boaters

Looking to get a truck you can use to tow a boat? These five picks are top tow vehicles.

If you want to trailer a boat, choosing the right truck to tow it with is incredibly important – you want a vehicle that’s reliable, keeps you comfortable, and has all the towing features necessary to prevent boat trailering disasters at all cost. But there’s no hard and fast rule as to which truck will be “best.” Choosing a truck to tow a boat is every bit as much a personal decision as choosing the boat you bought in the first place (though in our book, of course, your choice of the land vehicle is significantly less important). Things like your comfort level in the seats, navigational systems, and fuel economy will all come into play. So you may well not find your personal favorite tow vehicle on this list. And that’s fine; to each his own. That said, however, these five stand-outs will prove top picks for many of the trailer boaters hitting the highway with Mom’s Mink in tow.

tow vehicles
The Colorado isn’t exactly a beast of a tow vehicle, but will prove attractive to boaters with relatively small rigs.

Chevrolet Colorado –

The mid-sized Colorado is a surprise choice for a tow vehicle and certainly won’t be the first pick for hauling a heavy load, but if your boat isn’t terribly large and you don’t need massive towing capacity, it’s a very attractive choice. In fact, the Colorado’s popularity skyrocketed in 2018 – in the first half of the year sales of this vehicle went up by a rather amazing 38.9-percent. Tow capacity maxes out at 7,700 pounds with the 2.8L Duramax turbo diesel, which nets you a rather shocking (for a tow vehicle) 30 highway MPG. Even with the minimum 2.5L four-cylinder you can still tug 3,500 pounds, which will get the job done on many aluminum fishing boats or small, light fiberglass rigs like the Mako Pro Skiff 190 CC.

Price depends quite a bit on how the truck’s outfitted, though, with the bare-bones MSRP right around $22,000 but the Duramax version starting at $37,175.

dodge truck
When size matters, nothing can out-class the Dodge Ram 3500 HD.

Dodge Ram 3500 HD –

With an available 6.7L Cummins turbo diesel powerplant, six wheels, and a monster fifth-wheel towing capacity rated at 31,210 pounds, this will be the natural choice for boaters pulling a seriously large load. Think about that capacity for a sec – with this truck you have the juice to haul a fully loaded and fueled quad-engine Grady-White Canyon 456 center console yacht (setting aside that boat’s 14’0” beam for the moment). Heck, with the 7,350-pound load capacity you could even shove a Key West 263 FS into the bed and hit the highway (sort of). The down-side? Getting this truck rigged for maximum towing capacity means starting with an MSRP that’s a hair over $75,000, and that’s before you even begin checking the boxes for interior features. Plus, fuel economy is pretty atrocious (plan on getting in the low teens, and even less when you tow). Still, if you want the biggest, baddest, highest-rated tow vehicle around, the Dodge Ram 350 HD fits the bill.

ford truck
Over 450,000 people chose to buy a Ford F-series truck in the first half of 2018, which was up almost five percent from the year before.

Ford F-150 –

The Ford F-150 get the nod for being one of the most capable towers in its four-wheeled version. Even with the 2.7L EcoBoost V6 it can haul between 7,600 and 8,500 pounds, and with the 5.0L V-8, up to 11,100 pounds. That makes it perfect for towing a 20-something center console like the Sportsman 242 CC.  And those powerplants net you an average (city and highway) fuel economy of between 22 and 17 mpg, respectively, which is pretty sweet for a full-sized pickup with this level of ability. The F-150 also starts off at a very reasonable $28,155, although the minimal tow package brings price up to $30,490 and it won’t be difficult to get up over the $40,000 mark with a few options some people will consider necessities, like a crew cab and four-wheel drive. Year after year the F-150 is either the most popular or one of the most popular pick-ups in the country, which should tell you something too.

An unconventional pick for a tow vehicle? Youbetcha. But if it’s got enough oomph to pull your boat, how could anyone argue with it?

Land Rover Range Rover –

Let’s say just for the sake of argument that you wear a Rolex, live in a mansion, consider luxury to be of upmost importance, and you have a relatively small boat. Oh yeah, and that a base MSRP of $89,160 doesn’t cause you to blink. In that case, the Land Rover Range Rover might be your tow vehicle of choice. No, with tow capacity capped at 7,716 pounds you won’t be using this land yacht to haul any yachts, but if your boat is light enough to fit the bill you certainly won’t mind rolling down the highway in the Rover.

tow vehicles
If you want maximum reliability so you never miss a fishing trip due to mechanical difficulties with your tow vehicle, the Tundra will be a solid choice.

Toyota Tundra –

The Tundra offers a decent payload with a 6,800 to 10,100 maximum towing capacity (though that’s about 1,000 pounds less than the capacity of most full-sized pick-ups it competes with), but unlike many other trucks it comes equipped to tow in base trim. It also has a fairly high MSRP ($33,220) but again, includes many items as standard equipment that other builders charge extra for. Fans note that the Tundra’s oversized ventilated disc brakes with 4-piston brake calipers make stopping with a heavy load a piece of cake, and the Tundra’s reliability sits atop Consumer Reports reliability ratings, taking top honors eight out of the past nine years.

Might you make a different choice than those listed above?

Of course – everyone has their own tastes and preferences when it comes to tow vehicles, just like their choice of boats. But we’d guess that anyone would be happy, rolling down the road in one of these top picks.

Get more great boating tips, reviews and insights from Lenny Rudow on BD.

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Lenny Rudow …has been a writer and editor in the marine field for over two decades, and has authored seven books. He is currently the Angler in Chie...