2011 Tundra Tow Ratings Decrease

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A few weeks ago, we mentioned that the 2011 Tundra was going to adopt the new SAE J2807 towing rating standards. This new standard – which likely won’t be adopted by most manufacturers until 2013 – will force all manufacturers to use the exact same tests and criteria to come up with an official tow rating.

Last Friday, PickupTrucks.com published the new Tundra tow ratings. As you can see in the table below, they’ve dropped as much as 11% on some configurations:

Model 2010 Tow Rating 2011 Tow Rating Decrease
5.7 Regular Cab 2wd 10,800 10,400 -400 lbs
5.7 Regular Cab 4wd 10,500 10,100 -400 lbs
5.7 Double Cab 2wd 10,600 10,100 -500 lbs
5.7 Double Cab 4wd 10,300 9,800 -500 lbs
5.7 Crew 2wd 10,400 9,900 -500 lbs
5.7 Crew 4wd 10,100 9,000 -1,100 lbs

Here’s why the Tundra’s ratings have fallen:

1. The new standard requires manufacturers to assume their vehicles are carrying more weight. Under the old system, manufacturers could get away with rating a brand new truck assuming that it was only carrying one person, no extra equipment, no gear, etc. The new standard requires manufacturers to account for the weight of a driver, a passenger, common options, and popular after-market equipment. This will add about 500 lbs (on average) to a vehicle’s curb weight, reducing the tow rating accordingly.

2. New ratings assume a standard trailer cross-section and frontal area. If you’ve ever tried to tow a really big boat, you know that weight isn’t the only factor to consider while towing. A trailer with a large frontal surface are can be impossible to tow at or near highway speeds because of aerodynamic drag. The new standard specifies a common cross section and frontal area for all trailers, accounting for drag.

3. The ratings must be backed by severe duty tests. It’s not enough to use a standard size trailer and to account for a “normal” payload – the ratings also require all manufacturers to conduct extensive testing and prove that their truck can withstand severe conditions.

As of today, the 2011 Tundra will be the only half-ton truck on the market that adheres to the new SAE towing standards. All the other trucks available in 2011 (again, as of this posting), may or may not meet the standards (pending announcements).

Ram Double-Talk on SAE Standard?

A Ram spokesperson was quoted in the PickupTrucks.com story as saying that the 2011 Ram 1500 “meets the key elements” of the new SAE standard. However, I contacted Ram PR person Nick Cappa about this very question a few weeks ago, and at that time he told me that the Ram 1500 did not meet the SAE standard.

Dodge ram trailer tow ratings

It is certainly possible that the Ram 1500 “meets the key elements” of the standard using the existing tow rating, but it seems highly unlikely. Ram’s website has a disclaimer on their 10,450 lbs max tow rating that states the rating is calculated assuming a 150lbs driver and that any additional equipment must be deducted from the rating. This disclaimer doesn’t follow the new SAE standard requirements, which dictate that tow ratings should be calculated assuming both a driver and a passenger, common equipment, etc. Because of this fact, it would be expected that the Ram 1500’s tow rating would decline once the new standards are adopted.

Ram’s statement the 1500 “meets the key standards” seems to contradict the obvious.

This isn’t the first time Ram has made some suspicious tow rating statements. The Ram 1500’s max tow rating increased from 9,100 lbs in 2009 to 10,450 lbs in 2010, yet according to this PickupTrucks.com story, the 2009 and 2010 Ram 1500 are “identical” and a Ram PR spokesman at that time said “the 2010 Dodge Ram increased its gross combined weight rating by 1,500 pounds without any component or calibration changes to the vehicle.”

So, what’s the read? Did Ram under-rate the towing capacity on the 1500, or is this simply double talk? Comment below.

Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. BobG says:

    The 10100# tow rating on our CM 4×4 always did seem a little out of balance with the relatively low 1515# payload spec. Since normally you would like ~10% of the trailer weight on the tongue, that would be over 1000# right there, before adding passengers or anything in the bed. Our trailer is only 6000# GVW, so it has never been an issue though.

  2. rich says:

    I agree with Bob, the old tow ratings don’t match the payload restriction for all of the half ton trucks. By the time you figure in fuel weight, occupants, and any luggage/cargo…you max out the payload way before you get to the max tow ratings. SAE ratings force dealers and owners to recognize this fact. The Tundra’s power plant can handle that weight without a problem under flat conditions, which still could tempt owners to tow over rated loads. Personally, I crunch the numbers before the family bets into the truck.

  3. Jason says:

    BobG – Agreed. It’s a hell of a thing to tow 10k lbs with a half-ton truck…not on my to-do list. I think that all trucks are over-rated, but at least now there’s some sort of official standard that we can have confidence in (assuming the other manufacturers adopt the standard soon, anyways).

    rich – Smart. BobG is a number cruncher too – it’s a great idea and very wise. “Half a pound of cure is worth a half an ounce of prevention,” or something like that! 🙂

  4. Mickey says:

    I agree with you. I don’t tow anywhere near that. If I’m lucky 4,000# on my 18.5ft boat.

  5. Jason says:

    Mickey – We agree on a lot, don’t we? 🙂

    I would tow a trailer that weighs 150-200% of the tow vehicle, provided the tow vehicle was a recreational pickup. I would lean towards the 150% mark on a half-ton…which could put as much as 9k behind the truck.

    Of course, that still seems like too much, so maybe I’m just being a “Mary.” LOL

  6. Mickey says:

    Jason if I had top tow 10,000lbs it wouldn’t be for a long time or distance. It has nothing to with being afraid or scared to do it. It’s just common sense not to exceed the limits. I rather drive vice having the load drive me.

  7. Jason says:

    Mickey – I hear you. I think we’re probably both a little too conservative, but I’d rather be safe than wrong, LOL.

  8. Paul says:

    I think everyone on here is smart . Most people don’t pay much attention to weights . I tow a 7000lb boat ( with fuel etc etc ) . I had a tundra , horsepower was quite enough , torque was okay , but with a loaded truck , even being at just the threshold for payload ( boat tongue weight equals 1050lb at 15 % , two adults , one kid , one dog , a canopy on the truck , fuel etc ) , the tundra just felt too light for this duty . I think all makes of trucks are very nice these days , but to be safe i decided to go to a ram 3500 one ton ( a 2500 would be lots also ) . The difference in towing is honestly unbelievable , going through mountain passes etc . The balance of towing a large item and still being able to be in control feels alot better than in a half ton . I believe over even 6000lb you should be in a 3/4 ton .

  9. Jason (Admin) says:

    Paul – I bet! 🙂 Pulling with a 2500/3500 is almost always better. They’re built for that task, the diesels and/or large gas motors give you a lot more torque, and the extra weight of the pickup keeps things stable.

    Of course, not everyone wants to spend more for a 3/4 or 1 ton truck when they feel like their half-ton could do it. And, truth be told, today’s half-tons are just as capable as most mid-90’s HD pickups.

    I too think it’s smart to think about weight – I wish more truck owners did it. Thanks for commenting!

  10. TundraFiend says:

    Yeah the idiots who made the Ram have no clue whata propertow rating is. For years the’ve made trucks that have weaker, less durable parts and materials in order to save costs. Toyota is actually going the extra mile to make sure there vehicleis actually able to tow what it’s listed to tow.

  11. Jason (Admin) says:

    TundraFriend – I wish that Toyota would get more recognition for following the SAE J2807 standard first. It ought to be important to truck owners that the towing number given is accurate.

  12. Loring Proctor says:

    I just towed my 40 wildwood travel trailer from hope Maine to Key west fl with my 2008 limited crew cab. it is 10,000 pounds. i have towed this with a 3/4 ton dodge. I am telling you there is no differance etween the two GAS trucks. I will put my tundra up against anyones GAS 3/4 ton any day. the long wheelbase made towing a breeze. the only down fall to it was 7 mpg. I have all the correct equipment elec brakes and waight distributing. You just have to have the balls and know what your doing.

  13. Jason (Admin) says:

    Loring Proctor – Cool! Glad to hear a first-hand account. Thank you.

  14. Mike says:

    Was looking here for information on Toyota’s voluntarily following the new standard when others don’t. Some good information here. That being said… only 6,000 with a 1/2 ton? My 2010 F150(5.4) has more power than my 96 F150 (460). I tow over 6k regularly and easily. My stock trailer is at 2500 pounds and I rountinely put 4 head (cows or horses) in it. Combine that with 3-4 adults, a full tank, 4-5 bales of hay and maybe 4 saddles and it all gets heavy. No problems at all. Slow taking off, yep, but that’s expected. Harder to stop, yep, but that’s expected. I put 4, 1000 lb round bales on the flatbed with another in the bed and run down the highway at 70+. Never a problem. My neighbor pulls a 31ft bumper pull travel trailer with his Tundra with wd hitch. Wife, three kids and all their gear gets his load somewhere around 8500 lbs. He reports no issues and a comfortable tow.

    Guess we’re just adventurous like that. There is nothing that I’m going to tow on a regular basis that will exceed 10,000lbs. If there were, I’d skip the 3/4 and move straight to a 1 ton dually with turbo diesel. If I lived in the mountains I’d probably do that anyway. Where I tow, across Texas, Oklahoma and all the way to Kentucky I don’t have a problem with my rig now.

  15. Jason (Admin) says:

    Mike – 6,000 lbs? Are you talking V6, or are you referencing an earlier comment that said you should upgrade to a 3/4 ton if you tow more than 6k?

    I think 10k is my limit for a half ton, regardless of what it’s rated for…but I don’t have any scientific basis for that opinion.

  16. […] The 5.7L is selected on that page. Next to the pic of the truck click on "capacities." 2011 Tundra Tow Ratings Decrease | Tundra Headquarters This will show the 2010 and 2011 ratings. Like I said in a previous post, some of the model […]

  17. Randy says:

    I have a 2011 tundra 2wd 5.7 crew cab I need info on what and how I need to set-up for flat towing behind my 30 foot bus RV

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