2013 Trucks: Best Bets From the Big 3

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Bruce W. Smith and Stuart Bourdon
December 18, 2012
Filed under Trucks For Towing

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With a renewed spirit permeating the nation, those who enjoy the outdoors and the freedom of the road are again enjoying weekend getaways and extended road trips with family and friends.

Along with that renewed wanderlust may come the realization that the pickup you’ve been driving is probably more than a decade old. Time and miles have taken their toll and it’s time to step up to a new truck that’s more reliable, comfortable and functional.

They say timing is everything, and 2013 couldn’t be a better year to make such a move. The new pickups are more refined, powerful and fuel-friendly than ever before.

We have spent seat time in the new four-doors from the Big Three (Chevrolet, Ford and Ram) during the past few months. Improvements that range from engine and transmission technology, interior design, ride and handling, as well as overall comfort is at an all-time high.

So is the integration of today’s wireless technology and advanced computing power. Whatever you need to enjoy time spent in the vehicle is often at your fingertips or can be controlled from the sound of your voice.

Trying to compare a 2003 pickup to a 2013 is like comparing a basic flip phone to a smartphone: Both are functional, but the latter integrates seamlessly into your lifestyle and allows you to do things the old phone wasn’t capable of.

Today’s pickups are almost like smartphones with a lot of towing power.

A few pickups caught our attention as being the ideal package for those who enjoy the recreational trailer lifestyle. Whether you are brand-loyal or not, we think you will find one or more of these particular 2013 pickups will do the job quite nicely. 

FORD

Ford F-150 Super Crew

Ford F-150 Super Crew

Quiet Muscle

We like Ford’s F-150 Super Crew 4×2 EcoBoost Lariat 365hp 3.5L with the 6-speed automatic and 3.55 axle.

The twin-turbo V-6 puts most V-8s to shame and delivers 22/16 hwy/city mpg. Order it with Equipment Group 502A and enjoy HID headlights and the MyFord Touch electronics package while towing up to 9,800 pounds using a weight-distributing (WD) hitch (5,000 pounds conventional). Its towing package has the best mirrors in the industry. The back-up camera is a nice bonus.

2013 Ford F-150 King Ranch

2013 Ford F-150 King Ranch Interior

Style Points

Higher up is the F-250 Crew Cab Platinum Long Bed 4×4, 400hp 6.7L Power Stroke diesel, 6-speed automatic with 3.55 axles.

This F-250 is filled with all the amenities for serious towing use. The FX4 off-road package adds hill-descent control. It’s ideal for towing trailers up to 14,000 pounds with a WD hitch, 15,200 pounds when towing a fifth-wheel.

Statement Maker

At the top end, is Ford’s F-350 King Ranch Crew Cab Dually 4×2, 400hp 6.7L Power Stroke diesel, 6-speed automatic and 3.73 axle. Ford doesn’t make one-tons any nicer than this model. You’ll be the envy of any RV park. Its long wheelbase helps smooth out a cross-country trip. The rich southwestern-styled interior soothes the soul. And it offers a 16,000-pound towing capacity with a gooseneck or fifth-wheel hitch.

CONTACT: Ford trucks; 800-392-3673, www.ford.com

Chevy/GMC

2013 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD LT Crew Cab Pickup

2013 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD LT Crew Cab Pickup

Half-ton Muscle

GM’s Silverado/Sierra 1500 Crew Cab Short Box LT 4×2, 403hp 6.2L Vortec, 6-speed automatic and 3.73 axle is ideal for light-duty work. Although most buyers gravitate to the 5.3L, those who want serious towing performance order the NHT maximum trailering package and get the benefit of four-wheel disc brakes and GM’s strongest pickup small-block. The NHT package also brings on 10,600 pounds of towing capacity when using a WD hitch. The 6.2L pickup has guts, but still touts 13/18 city/hwy EPA numbers. Its mid-level cloth trim is nicely appointed and comfortable.

2012 Vortec 6.2L V-8 VVT (L9H) for Chevrolet Silverado LT and LT

The GM Vortec 6.2L V-8 VVT (variable valve timing) gas engine produces more than 400 lb-ft of torque.

Polished Performer

The Silverado/Sierra 2500HD Crew Cab Long Bed LTZ 4×2, 397hp 6.6L Duramax diesel with the 6-speed automatic and 3.73 axle is a solid do-it-all choice. With strong grade-braking performance, built-in trailer sway control and 16,700 pounds of towing capacity, this package is a favorite for mid-size trailer owners in mountain country. It also has the ability to pull a 13,000-pound trailer on its conventional hitch. The LTZ trim coddles occupants in luxury.

The Big Dog

Heavy-duty users should check out GM’s Silverado/Sierra 3500 HD Crew Cab Dually 4×4, 397hp 6.6L Duramax diesel, 6-speed automatic with 3.73 axles. The ability to tow an 18,000-pound trailer on the ball or a 22,500-pound fifth-wheel makes this truck a great choice for the full-time RVer. The 1LT trim package and NavTraffic option brings advanced functionality and richness to the interior.

CONTACT: General Motors; 800-222-1020 (Chevy), 800-462-8782 (GMC), www.gm.com

Ram Truck

2013 Ram-1500

RAM 1500 SLT CREW CAB

The Fuel Miser

Ram’s 1500 SLT C­rew Cab 4×2 with a 5-foot, 7-inch bed, 305hp 3.6L Pentastar V-6, 3.55 axle and 8-speed automatic is a high-value choice. It’s a V-6 that feels like a small-block V-8, thanks to the new automatic. It offers an estimated 25 hwy/17 city mpg. Its towing capacity is almost 6,000 pounds so this is an excellent package for towing lightweight trailers while keeping the best fuel economy for daily driving.

The Outdoorsman

2013 Ram Heavy Duty

RAM 3500 HD CREW CAB

The Ram 1500 Crew Cab Outdoorsman 4×4 5-foot, 7-inch bed, 383hp 5.7L Hemi, with 3.92 axles and 8-speed automatic is ideal for moderately sized RVs. Order it with the optional air suspension and you have the most technologically advanced Ram half-ton — a sporty, stable towing platform for trailers up to 9,950 pounds.

The Towing King

Ram’s 3500 HD Crew Cab Long Bed Dually 4×2, 370hp 6.7L Cummins, with the 6-speed auto and 3.55 axle is a good choice. If your lifestyle revolves around extended trips with a fifth-wheel, the plush Laramie Longhorn should be capable of towing more than 17,000 pounds, and might be just what you’re looking for.

CONTACT: Ram Trucks; 866-726-4636, www.ramtrucks.com

Truck Comparisons

Ford

Ford Comparison

Ford Comparison

GMC

GMC Comparison

GMC Comparison

Ram

RAM Comparison

RAM Comparison

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Comments

3 Responses to “2013 Trucks: Best Bets From the Big 3”

  1. Don Williams on January 20th, 2013 11:36 pm

    I know the folks at Trailer Life like to push the Ford trucks but…
    GMC, Silverado/Sierra and Dodge make a truck that is every bit as completive in the truck arena as any Ford would like to be. I like to read about the three trucks and see the specifications for each truck. Thanks Trailer Life for publishing this information in the January 2013 issue. However, the information is a lot more useful when the comparisons are equal. IE, F-250 tow rating 15,200 lb. (fifth-wheel) compared to the GMC 2500HD tow rating 13,000 lb. (conventional). A check of the GMC website shows this trucks’ tow rating 17,500 lb. (fifth-wheel).

    [Reply]

    Trailer Life Reply:

    Hi Don,
    These were not meant to be comparisons, but instead they were “picks” of some of our favorites for various reasons. Thanks for reading and commenting! We’re always happy to listen and try to make our product the best we can for our readers.
    Best,
    -TrailerLife

    [Reply]

  2. William Scott on May 19th, 2013 3:34 pm

    I am not reader of trailer ife magazine. I have just bought a 2013 dodge 3500 truck with the fifth wheel option on it. I have not been able to find a fifth wheel hitch or an adapter for fit the husky hitch that I TRIED TO PUT IN THE DODGE FROM A CHRO

    [Reply]

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