Staff, Courtesy of CURT
When it comes to towing furniture, appliances, lawn mowers, boats, or just about anything on a trailer, a ball-style towing hitch is a must-have. You’ll also need a two-inch square hitch receiver installed by factory or aftermarket means. Together, these components allow many trucks and SUVs to haul loads of 6,000 pounds and beyond.
What to Consider
The first spec to look out for on a ball hitch is the actual size of the ball in diameter. A two-inch ball is the most popular option, and will suit most towing needs. However, some specialty trailers will require a differently sized hitch to mount up properly. Some hitches have multiple sizes built-in, or have a ball that can be swapped out. Another important factor is the hitch’s max capacity, or gross towing weight (GTW).
The GTW on the hitch may exceed what your vehicle or square receiver is factory-rated for, so be mindful of its capabilities just as much as any one component, and don’t push weight beyond these limits. Lastly, each hitch has a measurement called “drop,” which tells how many inches the ball sits below the vehicle’s receiver. Trucks with higher ride height will require more drop in order to make sure the trailer and hitch sit level with one another.
How We Selected
Popular Mechanics has picked these hitches based on a combo of personal towing experience, and expertise from sites like AutoGuide, OverLand, and CarBibles. Product prices and consumer scores are also taken into account to suit a variety of budgets and needs.
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Reese Towpower Starter Kit
As its name implies, this starter kit will get you a light-duty trailer hooked up very cheaply. It only comes with the common two-inch ball, but that can easily be removed and replaced using the bolt along the bottom. The hitch gives you another two inches of drop, which is also very typical, but won’t be enough for lifted trucks. The base shank of the hitch has a black powder coat, while the ball itself is chrome-plated, giving good corrosion resistance.
At this price point, gross towing weight maxes out a relatively low 6,000 pounds. A locking hitch pin also comes in the box, and won’t have to be purchased separately.
- Locking pin included
- One size included
- Low GTW
CURT Two-Inch Hitch
CURT right here provides a basic, but solid hitch for basic towing use. 7,500 pounds of gross towing weight allow for most small and medium-sized trailers. So the $10 premium over the previous entry gives you about 1,500 pounds extra capacity. Like the Reese hitch, it gives you a two-inch removable chrome on a powder coated shank with two inches of drop.
- Good for general purpose towing
MaxxHaul Triple Hitch
This MaxxHaul unit comes with three popular hitch sizes: two inches, 1⅞ inches, and 2 5/16 inches. To switch sizes, the square base can simply be removed from the receiver, rotated 90 degrees, and re-inserted. All three balls are welded right to the center shank, so cannot be replaced. Weight ratings vary depending on current size, with the 1 ⅞ ball able to pull 2000 pounds, 5000 pounds for the two-inch ball, and 7,500 for the 2 5/16.
Since the balls sit right on the shank, drop is effectively zero inches. The product is also powder coated top to bottom, and the balls will likely scratch more easily than if they were chromed.
CURT 2 5/16 Ball
At a glance, this product appears just about identical to the last Curt hitch, but it does differ in a few key categories. First of all, it features the larger 2 5/16-inch size, which can swapped out in favor of a regular two-inch. It also gives an extra two inches of drop, making four total. This should be perfect for trucks with a little bit of suspension lift.
Gross trailer weight is rated at 7,500 pounds, and it sports the same powder coated shank with chromed ball as its predecessor.
- Four-inch drop
- Large ball
Reese Tri-Ball Hitch With Hook
This second Reese entry is similar to the MaxxHaul triple hitch, but also comes with an extra tow hook on the fourth side. Combined with some recovery rope, this hook is great for off-roaders that want to get each other unstuck. Size is once again adjusted by simple rotation of the shank. The balls are still welded to the shank, but do get a little chrome plating for better protection.
GTW on the 1 ⅞ ball is a light 2,000 pounds, with 6,000 pounds on two-inch, and an exceptional 10,000 pounds for both the 2 5/16-inch ball and the tow hook. Zero drop is also in effect at each side.
- Adjustable size
- Bonus tow hook
- 10,000-pound max weight
- Welded construction
- No drop
Uriah Products Aluma-Tow
$149.99 (25% off)
This hitch is milled from solid aluminum with chromed steel balls, and features an adjustable drop height from zero to eight inches. This should give it the ability to suit just about any ride height. Three ball sizes are also included, though only two can be mounted at one time.
The 1 ⅞ hitch is capable of pulling a solid 5,000 pounds, while the two-inch does 7,500, and the 2 5/16 inch goes all the way up to 12,000 pounds.
Last in the box are a couple locking hitch pins with four matching keys. The aluminum construction makes the product relatively lightweight and naturally resistant to corrosion.
- Eight-inch drop
- Solid aluminum frame
- 12,000-pound capacity
- Can’t mount three balls at once
CURT Adjustable Hitch
$162.17 (39% off)
This CURT hitch uses a similar feature set to the Aluma-Tow, but comes with the typical powder coated steel shank. The balls themselves are made of forged steel, with a shiny brass-like finish.
Drop can be adjusted from zero to six inches, with two-inch and 2 5/16-inch balls included. The smaller hitch will handle 10,000 pounds, while the larger one is rated for a fantastic 14,000 pounds. “Anti-rattle” rubber padding is also inserted into the mechanism to help cut down on trailer noise.
- High GTW
- Forged steel components
B&W Tow and Stow
This B&W hitch is far and away the priciest option, at around $250. For that price, however, you get a unique folding mechanism that allows the product to tuck underneath the vehicle while not in use. Drop can be set up to five inches, and the shank comes with all three standard ball sizes mounted up.
The tri-ball piece rotates on its own, so the hitch does not have to be removed to change size. The smallest 1 ⅞-inch ball is rated for 3,500 pounds, while the two-inch gets a standard 7,500, and 2 5/16 can go up to 10,000.
B&W hitches are manufactured in the United States, with the shank receiving both electroplating and powder coating for maximum durability. The company will also honor a lifetime limited warranty if the product happens to be damaged under normal use.
- Two coats of protection
- Hideaway mechanism
- USA-made with warranty
- Less GTW than some others
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