OK, hear me out. In this list you're going to see a lot of heavyweight trucks with dually rear-ends and gooseneck beds capable of towing a 32-foot horse trailer loaded with enough Percherons to film a beer commercial.
If that suits your need and your budget then I say go crazy. For me, I'd want something smaller, more practical and, frankly, more affordable -- thus giving me more money to spend on toys to tow. For me, I'd want the Honda Ridgeline.
The Ridgeline, in AWD guise, can tow a respectable 5,000 pounds. Sure, that's a third of what some of the other contenders in this list can manage, but it's more than enough for my toys.
A 2,500-pound Spec Miata racer on a 1,300 lb Featherlite trailer still gives me 1,200 pounds of headroom for spares and fuel. I could even lug my 3,300-pound 2004 Subaru WRX STI ice racer to the lake without too much trouble, or run off on a moment's notice to retrieve whatever four-wheeled bad idea I've found on Craigslist.
More importantly, for the other six days a week when I'm not towing, I'd have a perfectly tractable vehicle that drives as nicely as the Honda Pilot with which it shares a platform. An AWD 2019 Ridgeline Sport starts at $35,290 (plus $1,095 destination), making it among the cheapest options on this list and almost certainly the most comfortable and practical on the day-to-day. And just think of all the fun discussions you can host in the pits between track sessions about the definition of "real truck".
If ever there were an example of one-upmanship, you'll find it in today's heavy-duty truck world. The 2019 Ram Heavy Duty is available the harder-working 3500 series as a dually (that is, with dual rear wheels). There are three engines on tap, as well as a six-foot, four-inch box or an eight-foot box. 2019 Ram HD trucks have improved brakes, including a new master cylinder, calipers and revised boost rates for easier stopping of heavy loads.
In order to max out Ram's 35,100-pounds tow rating, you need a single-cab 3500 with rear-wheel drive, a long box and dual rear wheels with a 4.10 rear axle ratio. You'll also need the 6.7-liter high-output Cummins turbo diesel straight-six engine, putting out 400 horsepower and that massive 1,000 pound-feet of torque.
The Ram HD's interior is similar to that of its smaller 1500 brother. Ram's expansive 12-inch touchscreen running Uconnect is available across all trim lines and this infotainment setup is wonderful. Not only are icons large and crisp, the system can run two applications at once, and the package includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a Wi-Fi hotspot. USB A and C ports abound and there are 12 outlets, a wireless charging pad and up to three 400-watt -prong outlets for charging power tools or laptops on the go.
When it comes pulling heavy loads, the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD models currently sits atop the mountain in terms of capability and ease of use. It features a beefed-up ladder frame, axles, driveshaft, U-joints and ring gears. Combine that with an available Duramax 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 punching out 445 horsepower and 910 pound-feet of torque along with a new 10-speed Allison automatic transmission yields a tow capacity of up to 35,500-pounds. That makes the Chevy a smidge more capable than the 2019 Ram Heavy Duty (35,100 pounds) and the soon-to-be-replaced 2019 Ford Super Duty (35,000 pounds).
To help make towing a little less stressful, the Silverado HDs are available with a spiffy new visibility feature known as the Advanced Trailering System. It projects up to 15 different angles on the center touchscreen display from up to eight cameras, including an overhead view of the boxy nose, blind spots, bed, hitch and even the precious cargo inside the trailer.
The slickest view is the so-called invisible trailer feature , which stitches together multiple camera images offering drivers the ability to "see through" what they're towing.
Helping to make towing easier still, the Silverado HD offers a Trailer App allowing the driver to verify lights and tire pressures. The app is also compatible with the ASA In-Command Control system, which lets drivers monitor water tank levels, control HVAC and power slide-outs when they have an RV in tow.
Unless you tow huge, heavy objects on a regular basis (I'm looking at you, construction contractors), you'll probably be just fine yanking around your trailer or your powersports toys with a light-duty pickup. And the best overall light-duty pickup, friends, is the 2019 Ram 1500. It's not even all that close.
When properly equipped, a Ram 1500 with the 5.7-liter V8 can tow up to 12,750 pounds. If diesel's more your speed, the just-announced new-for-2020 EcoDiesel V6 model will tow 12,560 pounds with higher efficiency.
Regardless of which engine you choose, with available four-corner air suspension with automatic load-level function, available smart cruise control and the nicest cabin by a country mile, the Ram 1500 will keep you comfortable and confident whether you're towing something or not.
I'll admit, some other 1500-series rival trucks have pretty novel camera tech designed with towing in mind, some of which this Ram can't match. But there's still plenty of smart tech, including a blind-spot monitor with automatic trailer detection. Plus there's an available 33-gallon fuel tank to minimize fuel stops, which are a particular pain when you're towing a cumbersome trailer.
Whether you roll with a $34,440 base Tradesman or a loaded-up Limited model, the 2019 Ram 1500 is an impressively capable half-ton tow rig that just happens to be the nicest-driving pickup in its segment.
The SuperDuty trucks may not have all of the crazy gadgets that the new Silverado and Ram HDs have, but it's better looking than the Chevy and has more standard equipment than the Ram. It will also tow 35,000 pounds with a gooseneck trailer when properly optioned and it'll pull 21,000 pounds at its hitch. That's some serious utility.
Some of the cooler tech features included in the F-450 include adaptive cruise with automatic braking, both of which are integrated into the standard trailer brake controller. I also love that you can spec your SuperDuty with a snow plow prep package, just in case you get bored during a long Michigan winter and feel like doing some good. The fully-loaded F-450 SuperDuty Limited isn't cheap at nearly $90,000, but it's definitely pulling its own weight.
When equipped with Chevy's 2.8-liter turbodiesel I4, rear-wheel drive and the Z82 Trailering Package, the Chevrolet Colorado can pull an impressive 7,700 pounds. That's more than enough for your average boat or race car.
At the same time, the truck itself isn't exactly a penalty box. It's not the newest truck on the market, but it includes goodies such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, in addition to GM's always-excellent 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.
Just because you need to tow doesn't mean you need a full-size or heavy-duty pickup truck. If you're pulling smaller items, midsize pickups offer a surprising amount of capability these days, led by the new-for-2020, Wrangler-based Jeep Gladiator.
In the transition from Wrangler to Gladiator, Jeep gave the pickup a redesigned frame and a more sophisticated rear suspension. Because of that, when properly equipped, a Gladiator can tow as much as 7,650 pounds. A Wrangler Rubicon, by comparison, tops out at 3,500 pounds.
Need even more towing capability? The Gladiator will soon be available with a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine, which should up its towing prowess. Even so, no midsize truck can pull as much as the Gladiator. And no midsize truck is quite as cool, either.