Towing Capability in Pickup Trucks: What You Need To Know

October 15th, 2022 by

When you need to tow an oversized item like a boat or RV, your first instinct might be to head to the nearest truck rental place and book the biggest truck on their lot. But what if we told you that your own personal vehicle could be up for the task? Mount Airy Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram has everything you need to know about towing with a pickup truck!

Towing Capacity Ram 1500, Ram 2500

How Much Can a Pickup Truck Tow?

This is probably the question we hear most often from customers. And the answer is: it depends. There are a few factors that can impact your pickup truck’s towing capacity, including:

  • The type of pickup truck: Full-size, mid-size, or light-duty?
  • The engine size: The bigger the engine, the more powerful it is and the greater its towing capacity will be.
  • The transmission: Automatic transmissions typically have higher capacity than manual transmissions.
  • The axle ratio: A lower axle ratio means more torque and therefore a greater towing capacity.

A 2022 Ram 1500 with a 5.7L HEMI® V8 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission has a maximum towing capacity of 12,750 pounds! That’s enough power to tow smaller RVs, boats, and even some horse trailers.

Of course, it’s always important to consult your owner’s manual before hitching anything up to your pickup truck. Every make and model has different capabilities, and you don’t want to accidentally overload your vehicle.

Common Terms Used When Comparing Towing Capacity

If you’ve ever looked up your pickup truck’s towing capacity online, you’ve probably come across some strange terms and numbers that left you scratching your head. Here are a few standard terms used when discussing towing capacity that may help you be a more informed shopper:

  • GCWR or Gross Combined Weight Rating: This is the total weight of your fully-loaded vehicle (including passengers and cargo) plus the weight of whatever you’re hauling behind it.
  • Payload: Payload refers to how much weight your vehicle can carry in its bed without overloading. It’s important not to exceed your payload capacity when packing up your truck for a trip because it can impact braking ability and increase wear and tear on suspension components.
  • GVWR or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: This is the maximum amount of weight your vehicle can safely carry — again, including passengers and cargo plus whatever you’re pulling behind it. If you exceed your GVWR, you risk damaging your engine, transmission, brakes, and tires. You get the idea: not good!

What Determines Towing Capability?

Now that you have the basics of towing down, let’s take a deeper look into the various factors that ultimately determine how much a specific pickup truck can tow, including the weight you’re carrying and your truck’s cab size, bed length, engine, transmission, gear ratio, and more.

Towing Capacity = Weight + Cab Size + Bed Length + Engine Size + Transmission + Gear Ratio

The Weight

Regarding towing capacity, the item’s weight is one of the most important factors to consider. The heavier the item you’re trying to tow, the more strain it puts on your pickup truck, ultimately leading to damage or even failure. That’s why it’s crucial to be mindful of your vehicle’s weight capacity and the weight of whatever you’re hauling.

For example, if you’re trying to tow an RV that weighs 5,000 pounds and your pickup truck has a maximum towing capacity of 7,000 pounds, you’re already at risk of overloading. Add don’t forget humans.  If you add four good-sized men and their gear to that equation you may have a real problem. And if you try to tow something even heavier than that RV, you could seriously damage your truck. So be sure to do your research and consult your owner’s manual before attempting any heavy-duty towing!

Cab/Bed Configuration

Another important factor to consider is the size of your truck’s cab and bed. A larger cab typically means a higher towing capacity, as there’s more room for a bigger engine. Similarly, a longer bed will also provide more space for a bigger engine, meaning more power and a higher towing capacity.

So if you’re looking for a pickup truck with a high towing capacity, pay attention to the size of the cab and bed. It’s also worth noting that crew cab trucks (trucks with four full-size doors) typically have higher towing capacities than extended cab trucks (trucks with two full-size doors and two smaller doors).

Extended Cab Ram vs Four Door Ram Photos


The type of transmission a pickup truck has will also impact its towing ability. Automatic transmissions are typically better for towing than manual transmissions because they can handle heavy loads more efficiently.

Naturally, the specific engine-transmission combo of a truck influences its towing capability. For example, a truck with a V8 engine and automatic transmission can tow more than a truck with a V6 engine and manual transmission.


6.4L V8 Heavy-Duty HEMI MDS Engine

6.4L V8 Heavy-Duty HEMI MDS Engine

Pickup trucks come in all shapes and sizes and with different engine options. The engine size and type will help determine how much weight a truck can tow. For example, a V8 engine can tow more than a V6 engine. Additionally, diesel engines are usually more powerful than gasoline engines and can tow more weight; this is because diesel engines have more torque, or rotational force, than gasoline engines.

Suspension and Brakes

Pickup trucks must have reliable suspension and brakes to tow large loads. Without good suspension, it will be difficult for the truck to keep the load level and stable. Not to mention, the truck could sway from side to side or even flip over while towing. And when a pickup isn’t equipped with the appropriate brakes, the driver won’t be able to stop quickly when necessary.

Gear Ratio

Your truck’s gear ratio is also essential to its towing capability. The gear ratio is the number of times the driveshaft turns for each revolution of the wheels. A higher gear ratio means that the driveshaft turns more times for each revolution of the wheels, which is better for towing.


Finally, your tires play a significant role. Tires with a lower profile are better for towing because they have a larger contact patch with the ground. This provides more traction and stability when towing.

As you can see, there are many factors to consider regarding towing capability. Be sure to research accordingly before buying your new pickup truck!

RAM Trucks vs. Jeep Gladiator

If you’re like many other drivers, towing capability is critical when it comes to choosing a pickup truck. As we’ve discussed, many factors determine what and how much a specific truck can tow. RAM and Jeep Gladiator models are some of the most popular on the market, and not just because of their impressive towing capabilities.

RAM 1500

The RAM 1500 is a popular choice for drivers looking for a truck with a high towing capacity. The truck has a maximum towing capacity of 12,700 pounds, making it perfect for towing large loads. The engine is a 5.7L HEMI® V8 with eTorque that produces 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. This provides plenty of power to tow heavy loads with ease.

The RAM 1500 also comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission and an electronic stability control system. The suspension is designed for towing, and the truck features Trailer Sway Control to keep the load level and stable while towing.

The brakes are also reliable, ensuring that the driver can stop quickly when necessary. The tires are all-season and have a low profile, providing extra traction and stability when towing. Overall, the RAM 1500 is an excellent choice for drivers looking for a truck that can easily tow large loads.

RAM 2500

The RAM 2500 is a powerful pickup truck capable of towing up to 13,600 pounds. It has a 6.4-liter V8 engine that produces 410 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. It also has a RamBox cargo management system that helps you organize your cargo.

The RAM 2500 and RAM 1500 are both capable pickup trucks, but they have some primary differences. The RAM 2500 has a more powerful engine and can tow even more weight than the RAM 1500. It’s also bigger and has a more rugged design. The RAM 1500 is smaller and a little more fuel efficient. It’s a good choice for someone who needs a pickup for slightly lighter tasks.

RAM 3500

The RAM 3500 is the most powerful pickup truck in the RAM lineup. It has a 6.7L Cummins® V8 turbocharged diesel engine that produces up to 420 horsepower and 1,075 pound-feet of torque. This provides more than enough power to tow even the heaviest loads. The truck also has an Aisin AS69RC six-speed automatic transmission and a BorgWarner 4462 transfer case. It has a maximum towing capacity of 37,090 pounds and can easily handle the most demanding jobs.

The RAM 3500 also provides an electronic stability control system, trailer sway control, and a hill start assist system to keep the truck moving safely and smoothly. The brakes are powerful and reliable, and the tires have a robust tread design for extra traction when towing. This truck is the cream of the crop if you need something to handle the most daring towing jobs.

Jeep Gladiator

Jeep Gladiator Towing CapacityThe Jeep Gladiator is a popular choice for drivers who need to navigate off-road terrain. It has a maximum towing capacity of 7,650 pounds and comes with a 3.6L V6 engine that produces 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The truck also features an electronic stability control system and an all-wheel-drive system that provides superior traction when driving on treacherous surfaces.

The Jeep Gladiator is designed for off-road use. It comes equipped with Dana 44 front and rear axles, Tru-Lok locking differentials, and an electronic disconnecting sway bar. This gives drivers the power and stability they need when driving on rough terrain. The truck also has an approach angle of 43 degrees, a departure angle of 37 degrees, and a breakover angle of 20 degrees, making it one of the most capable trucks on the market for off-road driving.

The Gladiator also has many features that make it a respectable choice for towing. It has a Class III trailer hitch receiver and comes with a four-pin and seven-pin wiring harness. The truck also has LED tail lamps and fog lamps that provide better visibility when towing in low-light conditions. Overall, the Jeep Gladiator is an excellent choice for drivers who need a truck that can handle both off-road driving and towing.

Which Truck Should You Get?

RAM and Jeep maintain stellar reputations for manufacturing the toughest, most capable pickup trucks available. The RAM 3500 is a great choice if you need a powerful truck that can handle the heaviest loads. If you’re looking for a truck that can handle off-road driving and towing, the Jeep Gladiator is an excellent option. And the RAM 1500 is a superb fit if your priority is to drive a versatile truck that’s capable of light towing. Whichever truck you choose, make sure it has the power and features you need to get the job done right.


Now that you know a bit more about what goes into determining your pickup truck’s towing capability, we hope you feel confident about choosing the best model for your needs (or using your current truck for hauling jobs big and small). If you have any questions about whether or not your specific vehicle is up for the task, our team at Mount Airy Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram would be happy to help. Give us a call  336-789-8105,  or stop by our dealership today!

Need a brochure?  Want more pictures?  Start Here.