Choosing a truck

Dodge RAM 3500

This is the most popular choice for hotshot drivers. It is available with either a 6.4L gas V-8 or a 6.7 inline 6 Cummins diesel for a cool $10k more (or $13k for the high output version). We have an analysis of the gasoline versus diesel decision. The V-8 pairs with an 8 speed automatic for the gas V-8 or a 6 speed for the diesel.

6.4 L V-8 Gas6.7 L I-6 Diesel6.7 L I-6 Diesel
410 HP370 HP420 HP
429 ft-lb850 ft-lb1075 ft-lb
Available powertrain options for 2022 Dodge Ram Trucks

Note that the with all powertrain options, combined with the 10,000 pound GVWR give you up to the 26,000 pound GCWR limit for operating without a CDL.

Ford F-350

Ford trucks also have a following and the choice between trucks is as much about personal preferences as it is about objective differences. It is also about $10k more for the Diesel option on the F-350. The larger gasoline engine and diesel feature a 10 speed transmission that is the biggest differentiator between the completion.

6.2L V-8 Gas7.3 V-8 Gas6.7L V-8 Diesel
385 HP430 HP475 HP
405 ft-lb475 ft-lb1050 ft-lb
Powertrain options for Ford F-350
Chevrolet/GMC 3500

Again, choosing a heavy duty truck manufacturer between the big three is as much about personal preference is as it is about the objective performance of the truck. General Motors trucks seem to be somewhat less popular but if you are loyal to the brand or better yet, got a really good deal on a truck, a GM truck will be fine.

6.6 L V-8 Gas6.6 L V-8 Turbo
401 HP445 HP
464 ft-lb910 ft-lb
Powertrain options for GM heavy duty trucks

The GM trucks also feature a 10 speed transmission on the diesel engine only. As you can see, the specifications across all three truck manufacturers are close enough that it comes down to other factors like personal preference or better yet an ability to do some of your own work on the diesel engines.

The towing capacity of a particular truck varies so much on options that it is impossible to characterize here (or even from the manufacturer’s website!). The only way to know your truck’s tow rating is to look on the door sticker.

Recently, since 2019-2020, manufacturers have been moving to a model where heavy duty trucks are made to order as opposed to flooding the lots with prebuilt trucks. You will need to wait and shouldn’t expect discounts, but you can specify a truck with the options to get exactly the tow rating you need.

Keep in mind that a tow rating does not necessarily mean it’s legal for you to tow a load, there are a number of factors state by state that decide that. In most cases, due to the lobbyists of the recreational vehicle industry, you can tow a 35000 pound fifth wheel camper trailer with no special license but will be limited to about 15,000 pounds (including the 10,000 pound truck weight) on the trailer hauling commercially without a CDL.

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