OUR FIRST TRUCK: 2006 DODGE RAM 2500 DIESEL
Top Factors When Picking a Towing Vehicle:
This article is not intended to be an exhaustive comparison of towing vehicles. Instead, we want to give you the basics to help you get your search started, and let you know how we made our decisions. Someone doing weekend local trips will have different needs from someone going cross-country with a lot of towing miles, so let your own RVing needs guide you in narrowing your search.
Tow Rating: Seems kind of obvious, but factoring the weight of your fifthwheel/travel trailer is your first step in selecting the vehicle that you want to tow with. You need to know your gross trailer weight rating, which is the total amount of your dry weight plus the maximum weight for the stuff that you add to it. For example, our 26 foot fifthwheel has a dry weight of 7,200 lbs. Our gross trailer weight was 9,900 lbs. – the dry weight plus the maximum allowable total amount of our stuff. For choosing your towing vehicle, you want a vehicle that can tow your gross trailer weight with a 20% additional buffer. For us, that meant taking our 9,900 lbs. + 1,980 lbs (20% of 9,900) to give us 11,880 lbs. Once you have your number, then you can start shopping, ever mindful of the tow rating that you need. The tow rating of your vehicle is not a place that you want to skimp in your budget. Using the appropriate tow rating adds to your safety on the road. We chose a truck with a tow rating of 12,000 lbs.
Gas vs. Diesel: The next big question is if you want gas or diesel. Generally speaking, diesel vehicles will cost more up front and more for maintenance; but they get better gas mileage especially when towing and the engines are built to last. When making the decision for yourself, consider what type of RVing you will be doing. Someone doing weekend local trips will have different needs from someone going cross-country with lots of towing miles. For our situation, we knew we would be towing a lot of miles and crossing big mountain ranges, as newbies to RVing our main concern was reliability; so we chose diesel.
New vs. Used: We also recommend buying what you can afford. Period. Whether that is new or used depends on your situation. For our circumstances, we chose Used. We did not want any vehicle or RV payments on the road, so we bought our truck and RV outright.
Those are the main factors, but once you have chosen a make and model, there are several other points to consider…
Two Door vs. Four Door: In considering your truck’s cab, it is important to keep in mind the length of your RV. Choosing a two door truck will help to keep your overall length (truck + RV) shorter. Also, consider whether or not you will have guests visiting you. Chris & I knew that our families would be flying to visit us at different points in our trip; so we opted to have the four door truck in order to accommodate guests.
Short Bed vs. Long Bed: Again, you want to consider your over length in making your decision. Additionally, if you have a fifthwheel, keep in mind that if you go with a short bed truck, then a slide hitch is typically recommended. A slide hitch allows you to adjust your hitch to make sharper turns without the top of the fifthwheel hitting your cab. We went with a short bed to keep our overall length down (especially since we wanted the four door model) and a slide hitch, but we have not had to use the slide in our year and a half on the road. Still, it is nice to know we have the option.
Standard Tailgate vs. Drop Gate (Fifthwheels Only): If you have a fifthwheel, you will be attaching and detaching your RV to the hitch inside the bed of the truck; therefore, you will be contending with your tailgate. Keeping the standard tailgate is an option, and you will just manually drop the tailgate when you attach and detach. As an upgrade, you can replace your standard tailgate with a Drop Gate, which dips in the middle so that you can attach and detach without touching your tailgate. We kept our standard tailgate and have never had a problem.
After over 3 years fulltime RVing in our Dodge RAM, we replaced it with a GMC Sierra, which is our current truck. Learn why here.
Now, take a look at this two part video series all about our truck. We talk about how we made our decision to buy it, our pros and cons, our mpg, how we approach maintenance on the road, and give you a quick tour of our truck!
Got a question about our truck? Or wanna share about your truck choice? Leave a comment!