Tow Vehicles 2015

By John Tiger

Workhorse or family cruiser? Today's pickups offer surprising amounts of space and luxury.

For pure pulling power, it's hard to beat a pickup truck.

While there are some great new tow vehicles for 2015 as well as some solid improvements in the way towing vehicles are rated, the big news this towing season is at the pump. Fuel prices as of this writing are hovering about $2.50/gallon in many parts of the United States, and the forecast is for low prices through the remainder of the year. That doesn't mean we should all go out to buy big gas-guzzling trucks, but it sure does help if you're in the market for a tow vehicle. After all, a $50 fill-up hits the wallet a lot easier than an $80 one. If you needed further incentives, the newest tow vehicles continue the trend toward ever-greater fuel efficiency, and with new-vehicle loan rates still low, borrowing money remains pretty inexpensive.

Luxury Towing

The preferred tow vehicle today is a full-size pickup, and no wonder. Today's pickups are really more like luxury SUVs with big trunks; with a hard tonneau truck-bed cover, a pickup bed becomes exactly that. Even better, the car-like ride of today's pickups, coupled with sumptuous leather interiors, sweet sound systems, powerful connectivity, and navigation assistance make these vehicles ideal long-distance cruisers. As most come equipped from the factory with Class III tow-hitch packages and have more than enough power, cooling, battery charging, and braking capability to tow loads in excess of Class III gross trailer weight (5,000 pounds), they permit boaters to tick most of the boxes.

It's even easier to compare truck brands today thanks to a new Society of Automotive Engineers towing standard, coded J2807, that eliminates manufacturer-devised ratings and holds all trucks to a common measure. While this won't assist those who tow medium-sized loads, it's a helpful tool if you need the maximum truck capacity.

Smaller Trucks Resurgent

If your boat's a bit smaller and you don't need the bulk and towing capacity of a full-size pickup or SUV, downsized models are just the ticket. While these vehicles don't have the room inside or the ability to tow larger loads, they're just as luxurious as their bigger brothers and have just as many amenities. They're well suited for towing smaller boats weighing up to 3,500 pounds and, in some cases, up to 5,000.

A word about CUVs (Crossover Utility Vehicles) and cars. These are the bantamweights of towing; while they can be outfitted with top-of-the-line interiors and amenities, they're not built or equipped for towing large loads. Most are rated at 3,500 pounds gross towing weight or less and simply don't have the engine power, brakes, cooling, stability at speed, or chassis strength to tow more. These are best suited for towing smaller runabouts, fishing craft, and personal watercraft. 


— Published: Spring 2015



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