Truck Makers Agree on Standard Towing Procedures, Consumers Win

By Jacob Brown | July 11, 2011
When a new pickup truck debuted, did you ever wonder how its competitors would suddenly gain a few hundred pounds of towing capacity with seemingly no changes from the previous model year? Chances are that said tow ratings increased with nothing more than a bottle of Wite-Out and a pen to write over the old number. But by the end of the 2013 model year, that should change as pickup truck makers have agreed to a standard test for rating their trucks’ towing capacity — sure to knock down some figures but more than make up for it with a boost to each manufacturer’s credibility. Issued by SAE International, the leading independent standards organization for the automotive industry, the tests were created with input from leading truck, hitch, and trailer makers and will subject trucks to acceleration, braking, stability, and uphill towing tests in 100-degree temperatures.
"Before, you couldn't say who had the best towing capacity, because you didn't know how it was tested," said Mike Levine, editor of in an interview with the Detroit Free Press. "This is the first time a customer can do an actual apples-to-apples comparison."
All of the major truck makers are expected to adopt the towing standard in their test practices, making it as mainstream as comparing the number of cupholders in minivans. Despite the measures not being officially adopted by SAE until the 2013 models arrive, Toyota has already begun using the tests to gauge towing capacity for its Tundra fullsize pickup. Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, and Ram are expected to begin using the test as standard practice January 1, 2012. Nissan has not confirmed when it will begin testing with the new procedures or on which models. Unlike like horsepower ratings or fuel economy, towing capacity standards will not be mandated by SAE or any other organization. However, the companies that use them will have an SAE rating, giving the trucks’ hauling abilities a heightened level of credibility. While automakers may not find themselves on the winning side of official comparisons, consumers will be better off in the end, choosing trucks that better meet their needs. Source: Detroit Free Press