Towing is big business when it comes to pickup trucks with an estimated 78% of vehicles at three years being fitted with a tow bar. With the long-running workhorse, the Land Rover Defender, now in retirement, many heavy-duty operators want to know which is the best pickup for towing.
Since the launch of the third-generation Ford Ranger in 2011, there has been an industry shift towards higher towing capacities with the maximum 3.5 tonnes now the benchmark. However, there are so many different aspects of the vehicle you have to consider when choosing a towing pickup, like pin weight, gross combination mass, engine torque, etc., which makes deciding the best pickup truck for towing a difficult choice.
8 – SsangYong Musso (3 tonnes; 5.8 tonnes GCM)
Despite rapid improvements made to the practicality of the SsangYong Musso in 2016, its towing capabilities are still pretty poor when compared to its rivals. The towing capacity of the 2016 SsangYong Musso Sports is rated at 3 tonnes (up from 2 tonnes of the SsangYong Korando Sports). The pin weight is rated at 117kg and the new 2.2-litre engine provides torque of up to 400Nm from 1400 to 2,800rpm.
The next generation SsangYong Musso will have a 3.5t towing capacity (see 2018 SsangYong Musso) and will be a strong contender for the best pickup for towing.
6 (joint) – Fiat Fullback and Mitsubishi L200 (3.1 tonnes; 5.95 tonnes GCM)
Many were surprised that the new Mitsubishi L200 and Fiat Fullback only came with a 3.1 tonne towing capacity when they were launched in 2015 and 2016 respectively. They’re the only all-new pickups to be launched in the past five years not to feature a 3.5t towing capacity, despite having an impressive 5.95t gross combination mass and a 120kg pin weight.
Read the 2016 Fiat Fullback review.
5 – Toyota Hilux (3.5 tonnes; 5.85 tonnes GCM)
Despite their reputation as a rugged workhorse, the Toyota Hilux has never been a strong performer when it comes to towing. The 2016 Toyota Hilux has a towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes (homologated up from 3.2 tonnes) but the gross combination mass of just 5,850kg. Given the heavy kerb weight of 2,150kg, this leaves between 150kg and 200kg for extras like a hardtop, passengers, bullbars, and any load in the back.
Read the 2016 Toyota Hilux review.
4 – Nissan Navara (3.5 tonnes; 5.91 tonnes GCM)
The Nissan Navara broke the mold when it was launched with coil, multi-link suspension in 2016. This arrangement was chosen thanks to the superior ride and comfort that coil suspension can offer, but they toughened the springs and joints so that practicality wasn’t compromised. However, there are still concerns with how multi-link suspension will cope after many years of strenuous towing.
3 – Ford Ranger (3.5 tonnes; 6 tonnes GCM)
Apart from a redesigned front-end and new technology, there were very few amendments made to the 2016 Ford Ranger – but why would you? The Ford Ranger was the first pickup to offer a 3.5 tonne towing capacity in the UK, and therefore the best pickup for towing at the time. The Ford Ranger comes with the option of a powerful 3.2-litre five-pot engine which, until the launch of the Volkswagen Amarok V6, was the most powerful and torquey pickup (200hp/470Nm). However, the Ford Ranger is heavy so, even with the 6 tonnes GCM, there is very little room left for payload.
Read the Ford Ranger review.
2 – Volkswagen Amarok V6 (3.5 tonnes; 6 tonnes GCM)
The Volkswagen Amarok performs very similar to the Ford Ranger in terms of towing. There is a 3.5 tonne towing capacity (up from 3.2 tonnes on 2011-2016 Volkswagen Amarok models), a 6 tonnes gross combination mass and there’s a gutsy 3-litre V6 which provides more torque than any other pickup truck (550Nm) but, just like the Ford Ranger, the Volkswagen Amarok is very heavy which eats into the payload and leaves around 200-300kg when towing the full amount.
Read the Volkswagen Amarok review.
Best pickup for towing – Isuzu D-Max (3.5 tonnes; 5.95 tonnes GCM)
The Isuzu D-Max is the best pickup for towing, in terms of the amount of weight left over for payload when towing 3.5 tonnes. Although the gross vehicle mass is 50kg less than the Ford and Volkswagen Amarok, the Isuzu D-Max weighs around 200kg less than both models, which means there’s still a payload of around 500kg when towing the full amount. The 2.5-litre engine also provides up to 400Nm of torque.
Also read: Pickup towing limits explained
Also read: Pickup truck speed limits