• Aug 23, 2010
Automakers have been on the honor system when stating the tow ratings of their pickups, and that has led to lofty numbers that could only be achieved under a very particular set of ideal conditions. Claiming the biggest number for any truck spec is a big deal, but maximum towing capacity is the crown spec. So it was only natural that these automakers – mainly Ford, General Motors, Dodge (Ram), Toyota, Honda and Nissan – would feel the pressure to keep coming up with better and better tow ratings.

Enter the Society of Automotive Engineers and détente: Five of the six truck manufacturers mentioned above have agreed to assess their trucks' tow rating based on SAE standard J2807. The new standard lays out several benchmark tests for pickups, so automakers won't be allowed to simply find the right conditions and produce the highest tow rating possible anymore. For the J2807 test, a standardized trailer is hooked up and the truck is put through acceleration tests on level ground and an incline, and its response to effects like understeer, trailer-sway and braking are measured. Only Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Honda and Chrysler will be employing J2807 now, but by 2013 all pickup truck makers will be obliged to adhere to it.

Someone had to go first, and today we learn that Toyota has adjusted its pickup's tow rating to the new standard, and so the Tundra can tow less on paper today despite not a single change being made to the vehicle. Its towing capacities were lowered anywhere from 400 pounds on the 2WD regular cab (10,800 to 10,400) all the way up to 1,100 pounds on the 4WD CrewMax (10,100 to 9,000).

This shouldn't be viewed as a knock against the Tundra, because we won't know where it really falls until we get revised ratings from each of the other five manufacturers, and we expect them all to shift downwards.

[Source: PickupTrucks.com]


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  • 27 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Tow ratings.
      Serious business.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This standard is long overdue and is great news for owners who use their trucks for hauling/towing. I wonder if this new standard addresses payload capacity as well as towing capacity.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Please end the 1/2 ton tow-rating wars.

      As an actual question though:
      'by 2013 all pickup truck makers will be obliged to adhere to it'

      How can makers be obliged to adhere to this? The SAE is a standards-making body, not a regulating body.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You are right, using the new procedure is voluntary. Even though the SAE can't force anyone to report figures based on their test, the FTC can prohibit the reporting of tow ratings in domestic advertising (unless the numbers were derived by whatever testing methodology they consider to be "correct").

        There was a stink several years back about SAE J1349 versus SAE J1995 horsepower reporting. The FTC provided guidance saying that horsepower figures in US advertising had to be cobnsistent with SAE J1349 (though they didn't require SAE to certify the values). The guidance went on to say that other measured values (like BIN, JIS, and SAE J1995) shouldn't be cited in US advertising. I would imagine the FTC could/would do something similar for the tow ratings, especially considering that auto manufacturers collaborated on devising the test procedure and parameters.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You are correct. SAE is not a government body and the J2807 standard is strictly voluntary.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I find it pretty messed up Toyota's are not a "tuff" as they advertised in the past. They should have been conservative with their numbers like Porsche for example. I am sure all of the other company's will have lower toe ratings because there is no way in hell most of these half ton trucks can toe 10,000 plus pounds. At least Toyota was first to tell the truth!
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ Carguy....GM is already using the guidlines that will be mandated for 2013, so you will most likely not see a decline in numbers. Where you will see a decline is everyone else including Ford who tests their trucks with one occupant @ a 3 degree grade, GM tests with 4 occupants on a 9 degree grade. Toyota doesn't even do an actual tow test, theirs is done on a computer. So lets see where the pieces fall and the dust settles when the truck with the highest towing capacity also can claim the best fuel economy and that will be the Silverado and Sierra.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @steved32

        Chevy has only applied this testing method to the 2011 Heavy Duty pickups, not all of its pickups.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well, pretty clearly at least the 2WD regular cab can indeed tow over 10,000 pounds even under the new SAE methodology so hopefully at least a few other pickups would post similar numbers.
        I will say that even after the numbers dropped with the new methodology that the tow numbers are fairly good. I mean if you look back like 5 years ago before everyone started randomly inflating numbers (the most ridiculous ones being when there was no redesign yet a truck magically gains several hundred pounds of tow capacity) these new lower tow ratings are still pretty good. And aside from the 4x4 Crewmax all of the trucks were only off by 400-500 pounds, which makes me suspect that the huge drop for the 4x4 Crewmax is because it's so heavy that it's eating into it's own tow rating.
        Hopefully the other manufacturers publish their new numbers soon, I'm quite curious to see who's filled with the most BS.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You don't know that Toyota was the first to tell the truth until the other manufacturers have been tested. It could be that Toyota was the only one exaggerating their tow ratings, or they could be the ones who fibbed the least.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think something similar happened with the new horsepower ratings. Most domestics were already using the more stringent ratings, whereas companies like Honda had to lower hp ratings because they were using the less stringent test procedure for crank horsepower.
      • 4 Years Ago
      You mean driving a Toyota with a fully loaded trailer on a see-saw isn't an SAE approved testing method?
      • 4 Years Ago
      One concern I have with the highlight on towing capacity:
      A big factor in how much a vehicle can tow is how heavy the tow vehicle is in relation to the weight being towed. One way to improve tow capacity (on paper) would be to increase the weight of the truck. You could overcome this by adding more horsepower too, which is all fine and dandy.

      Except this comes at the expense of fuel economy and handling.

      On the face of it, its pretty obvious, but the trends I've seen in the US for the last few years is that the larger, heavier, "more capable" vehicle is highlighted as "safer", and is rarely utilized to its limits of capability, while those factors that are highlighted as making the vehicle more safe and capable, actually seem to detract from its safety (higher ride height, diminished handling capability)

      I'm all for people buying the vehicles they want, but I am disappointed that fewer people value handling and efficiency over whether or not a vehicle can ford a river.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think these rating system ties into that a bit.

        Because long before you actually can't tow a load with a vehicle because it is too light, you run into problems with control. So even though you could get up to speed and take mild corners with the load, you wouldn't be able to safely stop the trailer in any reasonable distance (even taking into account the normal increase of stopping distances with a trailer).

        So hopefully by having one standard we can be more sure that car companies can't ignore reasonable rules of safety in order to add a couple hundred pounds to their trailering capacity.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I would think something in these ratings should indicate not just what the truck is capable of doing while retaining these reasonable controls - but also that it is capable of doing it over time without damaging the vehicle or greatly shortening its life.
        • 4 Years Ago
        That'd be so hard to quantify though, and some vehicles would probably have superior reliability at a certain load while others might do better at a different load setting which means it'd be near impossible to get everyone to agree.
        And the less reliable manufacturers would have zero incentive to agree.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well, to that, my owners manual clearly states that towing a trailer will shorten the life of the vehicle. Can you guess the manufacturer?

        does anyone have a copy of the standard they can reference?

        Some (dare I say) Govt. guidelines wouldn't be the worst thing either. Make the maximum allowed trailer weight 150% of GVW, at least for conventional trailer towing. Whats more, require weight distributing hitches for tongue weights over 10% GVW. Trailer towing needs to be about safety- an un-assisted braking distance for max GCW would make sense to me...
      • 4 Years Ago
      What's interesting, the Honda Ridgeline tow rating has always allowed the maximum tow Lbs, with two passengers and 150 lbs of cargo.

      I think all other trucks rate for ZERO passengers, and zero cargo.
      Somebody
      • 2 Years Ago
      Most probably, the reduced limit is due to being able to keep up with idiotic numbers for acceleration up a hill. The new J2807 has a completely stupid provision that states that a single-rear-wheel pickup must be able to accelerate at a certain meaningless rate. 0-30 mph in 12 seconds, 0-60 in 30 seconds, 40-60 in 18 seconds. That's for any pickup. Dual rear wheels get 14, 35, and 21 seconds, Dual rear wheels and GVWR over 13000 pounds gets 16, 40, and 24. ** makes no sense that these numbers be different. Also, makes no sense that these numbers exist AT ALL. Really, what's the big deal if it takes a single rear wheel pickup 35 seconds, or a minute, to make it from 0-60? And there's a bunch of other stuff about accelerating. None of which makes any appreciable difference.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Now that the bragging rights for highest towing capacity is diminished, how's about the truck makers go about bragging for highest mpg? Not everyone has to tow everyday.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Even among those who do tow, I doubt most approach the existing limits anyway.
      • 4 Years Ago
      As a result of their negligence on other safety issues, they are being proactive about this, in an attempt to actually tell the truth about the capabilities of their vehicles.

      As for the American trucks, since the new ratings guidelines will effective in a few years, I think they will just make the proper adjustments and upgrades to maintain their current tow ratings. Especially GM, since they will be due for a refresh in 2012.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @PAT: Sorry to burst your bubble, but Toyota (and almost every other manufacturer)have histories of confiming to new SAE standards and measures very quickly. I'm sure that their recent issues have made them eager to update everything as fast as possible to try to improve perseption, but the fact is that standards such as this are welcome from all manufacturers as it allows a proper comparison and far less creative marketing which can create lawsuits. Ford and GM and Chrysler have already agreed to impliment this testing now (reread the last paragraph of the article again) so their tow ratings will drop, the real question is how much?

        I would be surprised if every other manufacturer did not at least internally test their tow ratings to this new standard, as I would want the maximum amount of time possible to 'fix' my new tow rating if it goes down by a larger than anticipated amount.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Whoawhoawhoawhoa...whoa.

      You're saying the manufacturers' ratings are all going to be based on the same set of test procedures?!

      What is this silliness?
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's the automakers trying to find or create holes in the standard?
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