The Ford F-150 pickup truck is like the Swiss Army knife of automobiles, mixing on-road comfort with off-roading prowess. Towing is another major factor that defines the capabilities of a pickup truck and should be considered by any buyer who is thinking of purchasing one. So, how much can a Ford F-150 tow?
Today, we’ll be exploring the answer to this question in detail. Not only that, but we will discuss some other major factors that affect the towing capacity of a vehicle.
In short, the maximum weight that a Ford F-150 can tow is 14,000 lbs. As engine choice, transmission type, cabin configuration, and gear ratio significantly impact towing capacity, keep an eye on them before hitching a trailer to your tow hook.
How To Calculate the Towing Capacity?
Before exploring how much can a Ford F-150 tow, you need to have a clear understanding of how vehicle manufacturers calculate the towing capacity. So, let us teach you how it’s done.
Pickup truck manufacturers like Ford use a special formula to calculate the maximum towing capacity of their vehicles. For this, they first take the gross combined vehicle weight rating (GCVWR) and subtract the weights of the passengers and cargo from it. Other vehicle-specific factors are also considered, which we’ll touch upon later on in this article.
If you would instead calculate the towing capacity yourself, you first have to find the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GCVWR) from the vehicle owner’s manual. Simply subtract the truck’s curb weight from it, and voila! You have just calculated the towing capacity.
Now that you know how this capacity is calculated, we will now look into how much can the latest 2023 Ford F-150 tow.
How Much Can 2023 Ford F-150 Tow?
With the 2023 variant being the most technologically advanced Ford F-150 yet, you shouldn’t be surprised when we mention that it has some of the best towing capabilities the pickup truck world has ever seen.
The 2023 Ford F-150 variants with the lowest towing capacity are the RWD regular cab and the AWD long-bed regular cab. Both these models are powered by the base model 3.3-liter V6 and are also hindered by their rear axle ratio of 3.55. All these factors lead to a towing capacity of just 5,000 lbs, which is still on par with the maximum tow rating of some highly specced mid-size pickups.
On the other side of the spectrum, you have the 2023 F-150 SuperCab and SuperCrew models with the powerful 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 under the hood. When equipped with the optional Max Trailer Tow Package, these F-150 models are capable of towing an astronomical 14,000 pounds. So, if you want to tow around a trailer full of horses, now you know which truck to spend your hard-earned money on.
As you might have already understood, several factors about the F-150’s configuration affect its towing prowess. We’ll explore these factors in the upcoming section.
Common Factors that Affect How Much Ford F-150 Can Tow
When discussing how much can Ford F-150 tow, it is important to know the factors and features that affect its towing performance. Some key aspects that determine towing capacity include,
- Engine Selection
- Transmission Type
- Gear Ratio
- Suspension Setup
- Wheels & Tires
- Cab and Bed Configuration
Let us go through each of these to find out how they affect the towing capacity of the Ford F-150.
In the past, pickup trucks only used to come with the most powerful and torquiest engines vehicle manufacturers had to offer. But, we have seen a departure from that approach in recent years, with pickup trucks offering a vast array of engines with their focus set on both efficiency and performance. The same applies to the mighty Ford F-150.
However, this doesn’t change the fact that more powerful and larger displacement engines can tow more weight than their smaller counterparts. Although forced indiction throws a spanner in the works sometimes, this largely applies to modern-day F-150s, too.
For those who are looking to extract the maximum towing performance from a pickup truck, diesel engines are the way to go. These hold an advantage over gasoline engines as they produce more torque, thanks to their higher engine compression ratio.
Just as we have already discussed, the weight of your particular F-150 plays a massive role in determining how much it can tow. Not only does the weight of the vehicle matter, but you’ll have to account for the weights of the occupants inside the cabin as well.
Also, pay close attention to the weight of the item you are trying to tow. Overloading and exceeding the maximum towing capacity is not recommended, as it can cause some serious internal damage to the F-150.
Similar to the engine choice, the type of transmission in your Ford F-150 also affects the maximum weight it can tow. Contrary to popular belief, automatic transmissions have the edge over manuals when it comes to towing. Their pre-programmed nature allows manufacturers to design the transmission more efficiently for towing and carrying heavy loads.
When talking about transmission systems and their effects on towing performance, we can’t gloss over gear ratios. In the simplest of terms, the gear ratio refers to how many times your F-150’s driveshaft turns for each wheel rotation. The gear ratio and the towing capacity are directly proportional, so the higher the gear ratio – the higher the towing capacity.
Without a proper, towing-optimized suspension setup, you’ll find it difficult to keep the pickup truck driving in a straight line and stable with a heavy trailer attached to the back of it. Bad suspension may cause your truck to swerve (more commonly known as fishtailing) and sometimes to filp over on its side.
Just like the suspension, your pickup truck should have good brakes that can bring both the weight of the truck as well as the weight of what’s being towed to a safe stop. Ford considers both these factors when determining how much your F-150 can tow.
Wheels & Tires
At the end of the day, no matter how capable your truck is, it relies on four tires to keep it firmly planted on the road. Tires that have a larger contact patch with the road provide increased traction, allowing you to tow heavier loads.
Cab and Bed Configuration
Did you know that the cab and bed configuration you decide to opt for in your pickup truck indirectly affects how much it can tow? Bigger cab/bed combinations increase the overall vehicle weight, and manufacturers sometimes offer specific engine combinations only with certain configurations.
If you plan on purchasing a truck specifically for towing, keep it in mind to pay close attention to all these areas.
Ford F-150 Towing Capacity Through The Years
As we mentioned at the start of this article, the maximum towing capacity of the 2023 Ford F-150 is 14,000 lbs, which is a class-leading figure. Furthermore, the F-150 Tremor can tow 10,000 lbs while the high-performance 450 horsepower Raptor can tow a respectable 8200 lbs of weight.
The 700 horsepower Raptor R is the baddest F-150 on sale, and it can tow 8700 lbs using the 640 lb-ft of torque produced by the monstrous 5.2-liter V8 under the hood. On the other side lies the all-electric F-150 lightning, which can tow a maximum of 10,000 lbs when you pair the Trailer Tow package with the extended-range battery.
For comparison, the towing capacities of the 2018-2019 Ford F-150 lineup ranged from 5,000 lbs for the Raptor and Limited models to 13,200 lbs for ones equipped with the extra towing package. Furthermore, the 3.5-liter inline six reigned as the model to get for those looking for the maximum towing performance.
Going further back, the maximum towing capacity of the 2015-2017 F-150 topped out at 12,000 lbs. This was the first Ford pickup truck generation to be made completely out of aluminum, which aided in improving the towing performance from the previous 2011-2014 generation, which topped out at 11,300 lbs. But, the history books tell that the 2011-2014 generation offered more packages designed for towing, namely the Heavy Duty Payload Package and the Max Trailer Towing Package.
Turn the clock back to the start of the new millennium, and you’ll find the towing capacity of the 1999-2000 Ford F-150 topping out at 8800 lbs. The transmission choice played a major role in determining the towing capacity of this generation, with the aforementioned figure being applicable only for automatic transmission-equipped F-150s. Those who opted to have manual transmissions only had 3600 lbs of towing performance to play with.
Now, you know the exact answer to the question, “How much can Ford F-150 tow?” Don’t forget to use what you learned here when the time comes to purchase your next pickup truck.