2500 or 3500 for 5th Wheel Retirement Towing

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BadHemi2014

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I have an honest question, not being smart or anything, I just don't understand why anyone would choose a 3/4 ton for 5th wheel towing, or any heavy towing for that matter, over a 1 ton? Is it cost or ride quality or something else?
It just seems like going straight to the 1 ton makes sense. To me the only decisions would be gas/diesel and SRW/DRW.
I mean we couldn't have hauled this beast with anything less than our dually. OK not a 5th wheel so different topic but I do have plenty of experience with big *** trucks. Sure it is a bit bouncy unloaded, it rides like a truck. No air suspension, plus it's an '01 so not exactly full of the latest creature comforts. But the husband daily drives this truck most days! It's harder to maneuver because of the DRW, but a SRW is probably plenty for most towing and isn't any bigger or harder to park than a 3/4 ton.
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2003F350

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I have an honest question, not being smart or anything, I just don't understand why anyone would choose a 3/4 ton for 5th wheel towing, or any heavy towing for that matter, over a 1 ton? Is it cost or ride quality or something else?
It just seems like going straight to the 1 ton makes sense. To me the only decisions would be gas/diesel and SRW/DRW.
I mean we couldn't have hauled this beast with anything less than our dually. OK not a 5th wheel so different topic but I do have plenty of experience with big *** trucks. Sure it is a bit bouncy unloaded, it rides like a truck. No air suspension, plus it's an '01 so not exactly full of the latest creature comforts. But the husband daily drives this truck most days! It's harder to maneuver because of the DRW, but a SRW is probably plenty for most towing and isn't any bigger or harder to park than a 3/4 ton.
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Honestly it's more 'what fits the bill' kind of thing. Most 2500's today have a GVWR of 10k, some are de-rated (like the Power Wagon). For most of those trucks, that gives you 2500+ lbs of cargo capacity, which is more than enough for most fifth wheels under 35' long and almost all travel trailers/bumper pull trailers. I mean, I even pulled my in-laws' park model camper (something like 1700 lbs of pin weight DRY, and my MIL doesn't pack light so I know it was much higher than that), and with the WDH set up my truck only squatted maybe an inch? And I had full control over it with no sway issues.

That said, there are other things to consider as well, since the cost difference between similarly optioned SRW 3500s and 2500s isn't much up front (even a dually isn't much more). However, insurance rates are higher, especially for duallys, and as you mention duallys are harder to park, and are more prone to damage due to those big fenders.

Having towed various trailers/campers/truck campers with various trucks, I will say that I 100% agree with you, a good 1-ton dually or an F450 are the BEST vehicles for towing - they're the most stable, and give you the most control over your trailer in all situations. If I thought I needed one, I'd have bought one. But for what I currently own and what I'm looking at getting, a 2500 fits the bill for me perfectly.
 

jejb

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Honestly it's more 'what fits the bill' kind of thing. Most 2500's today have a GVWR of 10k, some are de-rated (like the Power Wagon). For most of those trucks, that gives you 2500+ lbs of cargo capacity,
Again, that's not likely unless you get a standard cab with the diesel 3/4ton or a gas 3/4ton. The chart below is from the 22 Ram sales brochure, the capacity listed are with no options and no passengers. My 22 Limited Longhorn CTD Megacab with Ramboxes only has a payload of 1750lbs. It's listed on the sticker on the drivers side B pillar.
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Can a 2500 diesel haul more than it's rated for? Sure, and folks do it all the time. There is really not that much difference between a 2500 and 3500 SRW. The legality of doing that is, at best, questionable. In an accident, you may be found liable because of an overload.

In the OP's case, where he's buying a truck to haul a fairly heavy 5th wheel, why take that chance (assuming he buys a diesel)? If he already owned a 2500, I could maybe understand the desire to push the limits. But there is only about $1000 difference between a 2500 SRW and 3500 SRW. And unloaded, the 3500 will be a stiffer ride, even with factory air suspension. Those are small prices to pay for the peace of mind, IMO.
 
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runamuck

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my '22 laramie 2500 6.7 tows our 31' 5th wheel pretty well. when I bought, the new ones were on a stop sale so bought slightly used and got a decent price plus got near what I paid for my '19 laramie 1500. there were few 3500's around here for sale and we use my truck for our travel vehicle even when not towing. it's roomy and doesnt ride too bad.
 

RamHondo

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Not necessarily true. I've pulled SEVERAL fifth wheels with 3/4 ton trucks. You're just limited in size, though for a retired couple with a dog or two, there are a LOT of options. You don't need bunks, you may want 2 couches, there are a LOT of options with that configuration that have less than a 2500 lb pin weight, which is more than doable with a 2500. Well, except the Power Wagon.
What’s wrong with power wagon??
 

stevenP

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Having both 2500, and 3500 dually for a fiver of that size no question do a 3500. Side note, had a LML duramax dually and the RAM. The cummins CTD pulls harder on my own RV pulling experience.
 

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Again, that's not likely unless you get a standard cab with the diesel 3/4ton or a gas 3/4ton. The chart below is from the 22 Ram sales brochure, the capacity listed are with no options and no passengers. My 22 Limited Longhorn CTD Megacab with Ramboxes only has a payload of 1750lbs. It's listed on the sticker on the drivers side B pillar.
View attachment 525477

Can a 2500 diesel haul more than it's rated for? Sure, and folks do it all the time. There is really not that much difference between a 2500 and 3500 SRW. The legality of doing that is, at best, questionable. In an accident, you may be found liable because of an overload.

In the OP's case, where he's buying a truck to haul a fairly heavy 5th wheel, why take that chance (assuming he buys a diesel)? If he already owned a 2500, I could maybe understand the desire to push the limits. But there is only about $1000 difference between a 2500 SRW and 3500 SRW. And unloaded, the 3500 will be a stiffer ride, even with factory air suspension. Those are small prices to pay for the peace of mind, IMO.


There is a substantial difference between a 2500 and a 3500. They made that happen with the 4th gens going to coils. The 3rd gens payload was 500lbs less and towing was close to the same as well. This is my 3500 and just payload from a 2500 long bed 4x4 it is doubled.

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ramffml

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What’s wrong with power wagon??

Nothing, it just has a different design/goal. The intent of the power wagon is to be a heavy duty offroad truck, so they intentionally softened the suspenion to give you better ride and travel off road. The compromise with that, is that it can no longer pull and haul the same loads that the other 2500's can.
 

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There is a substantial difference between a 2500 and a 3500. They made that happen with the 4th gens going to coils. The 3rd gens payload was 500lbs less and towing was close to the same as well. This is my 3500 and just payload from a 2500 long bed 4x4 it is doubled.
What I meant was that if you look at all the components of a newer 2500 and 3500, there is not much difference. Some for sure, but they are the same basic truck. Same basic frame, same brakes, (except for the HO) same drivetrain, etc. Yes, the 3500 has stiff leaf springs and I believe a more HD rear axle in HO trucks, so it can haul more and have more payload.
 
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2003F350

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What’s wrong with power wagon??
As said above, there's nothing WRONG with the Power Wagon, it just has softer springs and therefore can't haul or pull as much. The rest of the driveline is there, but unless you do a spring swap (which removes the articulation) it will bottom out long before a standard 2500.
 

18CrewDually

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Everything is wrong with the Powewagon in retrospect to the OP's question for a truck to handle the trailer he asked about in the first post:

" Looking at a 5th Wheel - 43 ft, 2150 hitch weight (2400 loaded) 11.7k unloaded trailer weight, 14k loaded trailer weight.
Specifically this 5th Wheel (there are a few similar / other brands but this has what I want) - https://www.forestriverinc.com/rvs/heritage-glen-fifth-wheels/369BL/6874 "

Let's keep it on topic. The Powerwagon is out!
 

Tony Stark

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Mine is a 2019 2500 with 6.4 and 4.10 rear. My fifth wheel is 36’ and 14K pounds empty. Pulls great. On long steep grades it shifts down to 5th and revs to 4500 but holds speed. I don’t think I have need for more truck.
 

Reuel

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3500 Cummins, 8 foot bed to avoid the whole slider hitch hassle. Personally i would go single wheel if its rated for the load. Duallys are great for full time towing but for everyday driving they are awful. Had a dually and sold it. Drive through windows, parking downtown or parking almost anywhere is real problematic. Have a 2500 now but will move to a single wheel 3500 diesel for my next truck. Just my opinion.
 

helmdog

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I agree with the dual rear wheel. Much more stability against sway. Heaver payload, bigger brakes, etc.
We have a 43' 20K fifth wheel. Had an older F350DWR and it struggled. Upgraded in 2021 to a 5500 with a flatbed. It pulls fantastically. Didn't find the cost any different from the 3500.
A plus for the 4500-5500 is the wider front axle which gives a much tighter turning radius. Again bigger brakes and more payload, though oddly enough, less towing weight.
A negative we didn't count on is that anything over 3500 is consider a commercial vehicle by insurance companies so higher rates.
One big advantage to diesel is the engine brake, not sure gas has that.
It always makes me cringe when I see a huge fifth wheel being pulled by a single rear wheel, but that's just me.
 

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My Father-In-Law has a single rear wheel quad cab diesel 3500 and pulls a 5th wheel trailer that's a bit bigger than the one mentioned.

When selecting a tow vehicle bigger is better. That way you know it can handle whatever you are planning to pull with capacity to spare. You don't want to be driving around at close to max weight all the time. Go ahead and step up to the 3500. Price difference between a 2500 and similarly equipped single rear wheel 3500 isn't that much.

You think dually would be better, but if you aren't pulling the weight where it becomes necessary having those extra wheels and tires is a huge PITA when it comes to maneuvering, plus that's two more tires you've got to buy when the time comes.
 

Aggie12

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Can't get the 4.10's with a gas engine, only the diesel. For this kind of towing, I would say diesel is the better option. As there's about $5K difference, do some homework on whether you need the high output or not. Get at least a handful of opinions on the dually / single wheel question, with guys that have more experience with similar trailers. I suspect they'll recommend the dually. Don't forget that after-market anti-sway bars front & rear are a big improvement, too.
 

James Winkelman

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I have towed a 10k 5th wheel with 6.4 gas, 8ft bed...it was adequate. Upgraded to 14k 5th wheel got a 6.7 diesel ho dually 8 ft bed. Now I understand why diesel owners love their trucks. The truck drives smoothest when towing and laughs at the light 14k it is pulling. Having an exhaust brake is awesome for towing. I would recommend the diesel and dually if affordable, for the added stability. Good luck!!
 

HM_SanDiego

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I went through the stepping stone approach with RV’s and tow truck vehicles - 1/2 ton with a 23ft Toy Hauler, 3/4 ton Cummins with a 30ft fifth wheel Toy Hauler, and finally a 3500 1-ton Dually Crew cab Cummins with a 35ft Toy Hauler……Buying once and crying once does come to mind, although this was a few years ago when trucks were considerably under $100k……

As many have offered, given your basic plan for an RV (length and weight), you really are best off to choose the 3500 1-ton with the Cummins - single rear wheel or Dually. Could a 2500 do it on paper, legally?? I am not so sure…..The concerns about accidents and being “out of class” or over weight limits is no joke…..simply not worth the risk imho.

The Dually will absolutely be the most stable and arguably most comfortable tow rig for the RV noted, and i would offer, if you plan on a lot of mountain terrain drives and or just a lot of towing/hauling (i.e. full time for awhile), I believe the DRW Crew Cab with a Cummins is your best bet.

I would absolutely own/drive/tow with a Dually again. The comment about higher insurance for trucks larger than 3500 is spot-on - 2 close friends both had F450’s - phenomenal tow rigs, and insurance was Higher.

As mentioned, buying a truck now and deciding later you want or need a larger or more capable truck (payload, towing capacity, cab space, etc…) could cost significantly more in the long run, swapping rigs and so forth can be awfully pricy these days…..

Yes, the Dually can suck in tight city traffic, drive through‘s are generally a no-go, no more drive thru car wash (unless you find one for large commercial trucks), buying 6 tires at a time is a big $ pill to swallow…..take your time and truly consider your best long term option.

Happy shopping
 
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