When it comes to pickup trucks, towing capacity has the same importance that fuel economy has with hybrids or driving range has with electric vehicles.
Unlike those examples, there has never been any standardization to determine how much weight a vehicle can actually tow. To rectify this, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) came up with its J2807 standards, which creates a unified system for determining tow rating. Toyota released its SAE J2807 tow ratings on the 2014 Tundra, and now General Motors has just announced its updated tow ratings for the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and 2015 GMC Sierra 1500.
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The key difference for this new tow rating is that it takes into account options and passengers that negatively affect a truck’s Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). Tack on a few options and load up some passengers, and the powertrain now has more weight to contend with, thus lowering how much it can actually trailer.
For example, SAE J2807 requires automakers to test with vehicles equipped with any options that normally have a 33 percent take-rate, 70 pounds of aftermarket hitch equipment and a driver and passenger weighing 150 pounds each.
2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500Enlarge Photo
How did this affect the GM truck twins? The base V-6 regular cab, two-wheel-drive versions saw a 300-pound decrease down to 6,100 pounds, and most of the other 47 build combinations for these trucks dropped between 300 and 500 pounds of towing capacity. The V-6 regular cab trucks with four-wheel drive keep the same rating of 7,600 pounds as did certain versions of trucks equipped with the 6.2-liter V-8 and Max Trailering Package, which maintained the top rating of 12,000 pounds.
Comparing these new tow ratings for the 2015 model year with those from the 2014 model year, it actually looks like some Silverado and Sierra trucks increased towing capacity. The four-wheel-drive V-6 models improved by 400 pounds for the Crew Cab and 500 pounds for the Double Cab.
Following Toyota and now GM, it shouldn't be long before Ford, Ram and Nissan follow suit and change their test procedures, but as much as the new SAE J2807 ratings level the playing field for light-duty trucks, they don’t apply to heavy-duty trucks.