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How Much Truck Do You Really Need?

Since it’s a holiday weekend, lots of people will be putting their boats back in the water after a long winter of waiting. But do you really need that burly pickup to tow your boat or Jet Ski?

A 2011 Kawasaki 800 SX-R Jet Ski weighs 396.9 pounds with a full tank of gas and all its fluids, and a typical trailer made to carry two Jet Skis weighs about 365 pounds. Altogether, the trailer, two Jet Skis and 500 pounds of fuel and gear will weigh about 1,658.8 pounds. That’s about 1,800 pounds less than the 3,500 pounds a Saab 9-3 is rated to tow, and almost 8,800 pounds less than a Ram 1500’s towing capacity of 10,450 pounds. Clearly, Jet Ski owners can skip the pickup.

If you own a larger power boat, you’ll definitely need something larger than an upscale small car to tow it. This 18-foot 2011 Bayliner 175 Bowrider boat weighs about 2,247 pounds including its trailer, which is about 5,150 pounds less than a V8 4WD Dodge Durango’s tow rating of 7,400 pounds. Plus, the Durango gets better fuel economy than a V8 Nissan Titan with 4WD and adds two more seats. So, even if you have a big boat and lots to haul, you might not need that larger, gas-guzzling pickup.

If you’re considering buying a pickup because you need to tow your boat or camper a few times per year or haul some mulch every spring, you should think hard about the trade-offs you’ll face in fuel economy and price. In most cases, an SUV will be just as capable, and it will be cheaper to rent a pickup for a day to get those gardening supplies than to fill up a 36-gallon tank like the GMC Sierra  HD’s with diesel fuel every few days.

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