Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, Ram pickups follow Toyota Tundra’s towing lead

News Man

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Jan 3, 2014
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Toyota has been following the SAE towing rating standards for years. It looks like the other guys will soon follow the leader.

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When you go to buy your new truck and you look at the horsepower and torque ratings you know that they are factual, measured, and all taken the same way as competitive models you might be considering. That is also true of fuel economy, interior space, and a long list of other important things that buyers compare while trying to decide on what pickup they wish to take home. However, for a long time now an important rating of a pickup truck, its ability to tow, has not met any common standards for testing. Buyers basically have had to take the automakers’ word for it. Except for Toyota products rated for towing, which all adhere to the applicable Society of Automotive Engineering standards. That is about to change.

The sales leader in the pickup truck world is the Ford F-150. This is partly because it comes so many ways, and partly because it is an excellent truck with a tremendously loyal, and tremendously large, following. This month multiple news outlets have reported that the new 2015 Ford F-150, most notable because it will use more aluminum body panels than past trucks did, will adopt the newest SAE towing rating standards, known as SAE J2807. Toyota is the only full size pickup truck maker in the US to follow the standard as of now. The expectation by all is that once Ford uses the standard, GM, Ram, and others will also follow suit.

What this means is that when a shopper looks at a given pickup truck series and checks the towing capability he or she will know that number is comparable to the other trucks in the marketplace. If you think that this won’t be meaningful, and that GM, Ford, and Ram are already posting numbers that will be the same after the adoption of the standard, it would seem you would be mistaken. Automotive news quoted Tom Wilkinson, who spoke on behalf of GM as saying “"We already validate the trucks to [the J2807 standard]. It's just a matter of adjusting the numbers." Now, we could be off-base on this, but why would Chevy and GMC be publishing numbers that are lower than the industry standard? Therefore, it seems pretty obvious that GM at least might be adjusting its towing ratings downward.

Ford and GM pretty much ignore Toyota even though Toyota sells more trucks of the sizes it makes than GMC does. Toyota loves that, and has for a long time kept a relatively low profile in the truck market. Toyota doesn’t crow that its Tundra sales are up this year by double digits, and conversely the Chevy Silverado’s sales are down by double digits.

Having had some experience with towing Bobcats, landscaping trailers, and boats, it is seems to this author that towing ratings are in large part male enhancement supplements. At least now when the pickup truck guys compare equipment they will know how their manhood icons really measure up to Toyota. Don't be too surprised if there is a bit of shrinkage (in the numbers.)