Compact pickups and tow ratings

wheeldogwheeldog Member Posts: 39
edited March 2014 in Toyota
and one of the features I'm looking at is towing capability. I have never towed with my current vehicles, but I have a small tractor that I would like to be able to occasionally trailer. I would probably be using a 16' car carrier or similar trailer (w/brakes), and all together the tractor,etc. + trailer weight will be around 4000-4500 lb. I would like to stay with a compact pickup instead of a full-size, but I'm wondering if those 5000 lb tow ratings are overly optimistic. I just don't seem to hear about people with compact pickups towing those kinds of loads.

Anybody care to comment?


  • vwracervwracer Member Posts: 90
    I have a 16' enclosed trailor for my race car. Total loaded weight of trailor is 4500lbs.(trailor weighs 2500, race car and tools weigh 2000) My old '83 1/2 ton Ford with a 2bbl 302 V8 took all the guts it had to pull my trailor at 65 mph. Now granted a enclosed trailor sucks more air then an open trailor with a tractor on it. Few weeks ago I sold this truck and bought a new 3/4 ton. After pulling this trailor with my '83 1/2 ton, NO WAY would I personally even think of pulling a 5000 lb trailor with a compact P/U. I also would NOT pull any 5000 lb trailor around the corner without brakes on it. Another thing you must consider about towing is your mirrors. You gotta see around that trailor and a narrow compact truck don't have enough mirror to see around a 8' wide trailor

    Hope this helps
  • kg11kg11 Member Posts: 530
    I used to tow my 20' ski boat,4000lb incl. trailer with my '95 Taco V6 4X4 std cab.I think '95 was the only year for the V6 std cab.The truck had ,at that time,a snug top shell on it and seats in back.Gross combined vehicle weight(GCVW) was about 108% of manufactures recomended max!It was easy.The trailer did the steering,I just hung on and prayed.I pulled it from Fresno,ca to Lake Shasta,Lake Havasu,Lake Mead and Lake powell at freeway speeds.I agree completely with VWRACER about brakes.I think ANY V6 compact will tow 4500 but you want the extra wheelbase of an extracab to help with steering control.
  • plutoniousplutonious Member Posts: 799
    If you're towing weight is anywhere near approaching 5000lbs, forget ANY compact pickup. I've towed around 3700lbs with my Tacoma V6 (rated to tow 5000lbs) cross-country and though the truck did it, and maintained 70mph on the highways, I wouldn't want to subject my truck to this kind of abuse often. I didn't buy my truck to tow. I bought it so I could go four-wheeling and camping out in the back of it, plus the ocassional hauling/moving people have to do.

    If I were you, and don't want to spend around 30K for a new full size P/U, I would try and find an older Ford with the Power-stroke diesel and a manual tranny. Avoid any older Chevy or Dodge diesel (unless the dodge has manual tranny too, but I still think the Fords are better). The reason I recommend a used diesel is that diesels really last, usually until at least 250K-300K miles.
  • kg11kg11 Member Posts: 530
    Where's the "my Taco can do anything pluto" we all know and love?My Taco has done what wheeldog is asking for.My new Sierra 2500HD tows twice that weight easily.If he WANTS a compact and isn't going to tow often the Taco is fine.Just keep the speed down.My taco has 100k HARD miles on it and runs like new.
  • plutoniousplutonious Member Posts: 799
    I'm just being honest, as always. Really, if I were going to be towing 4500-5000lbs often, I wouldn't use a compact. Once in a while, fine, but I get the impression this poster will be towing on a regular basis. I also recommended a used diesel truck because it appears vwracer doesn't want to invest a lot of money, hence his preference for a compact...
  • kg11kg11 Member Posts: 530
    More weight in a tow vehicle is always a good thing.A used full sized pickup is a good option especially if you're just using it to tow occasionaly.That would leave room in a budget for an econimical car that would get twice the gas milage of a compact truck.IMO diesel is overkill.Any fullsized truck will tow 5k.
  • wheeldogwheeldog Member Posts: 39
    Towing probably shouldn't be a big consideration, I just hate to get a compact than find it is overmatched if I do decide to do much towing. I'm going to drive a 1/2-ton or two and see how I like them, then go from there.
  • vwracervwracer Member Posts: 90
    Like I said before...If your gonna pull a trailor make sure you have plenty of mirrors and trailor brakes. These are my main points.
  • catamcatam Member Posts: 331
    I agree with the above posters that if you are going to be towing with any regularity get a full size 1/2 ton, a diesel is overkill for your load, and even used diesels have a price premium.
    However, if you are not going to be towing very often or very far, many compacts will handle it especially if you do things right.
    First, make sure the trailer has brakes either way, full size or compact,
    Second, for a compact, use an equalizer hitch (weight distributing), this will reduce the amount of wandering around the road,
    Third, get a manual tranny, especially for a compact, the auto trannys in compacts won't last long pulling that kind of load.

    If you think a compact might still be an option, find a rental with a class III receiver, and try it one day.
    I recommend that you have your trailer ready for an equalizer hitch first, to get a real picture.
    That will be a $30 rental, and it may save you a bundle.
  • morin2morin2 Member Posts: 399
    That compact pickup might be able to pull the 5000 pound trailer, but stopping it could be a problem, especially in a panic stop situation. I've had compact trucks (Mazda and Toyota) and full size (Ford and Chevy) and its more comfortable towing (and not towing) with a full size truck. Towing a wide trailer with a narrow truck is not nearly as secure feeling, even with mirrors.
  • wheeldogwheeldog Member Posts: 39
    I see from your profile you're from Lusby, MD. Isn't that the home of the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant? I used to work for the company that designed the reactor coolant system for both units, and I spent some time there back in the early 90's (even got inside containment at both units for the work we were doing - yeehaa!).

    Just surprised to see the name of the town, since it is a pretty small place if I remember right.
  • tbundertbunder Member Posts: 580
    a compact will do the job, but what compact is the question.

    the ranger is rated to tow more than any other compact in its class. i have an '01 brochure here, and it says that it will tow as much as 5600 lbs. i believe that's more than any other compact 'cept for S10. i've read that the toyotas need helper springs if you want to do any heavy duty towing. also, the ranger has a higher gvwr rating. get a good class III hitch, and you're set.
  • eagle63eagle63 Member Posts: 599
    CAN a compact do it, it's SHOULD you use a compact to do it. I would vote no if it's something you're going to do on a regular basis.

    -And no, the Tacoma doesn't need "helper springs" to tow anything.
  • tbundertbunder Member Posts: 580
    it's their 'full-size' offering, the tundra that needs the helper springs. if it needs them, id hate to tow anything heavy with the tacoma. just something about the toyota's wimpy frames and interchangeable drivetrain components- too generic imo.
  • eagle63eagle63 Member Posts: 599
    This topic was about compact pickups, not full-size. So why bring up the Tundra other than to take a cheap shot? 2nd, can I see some proof that the Tundra needs helper springs other than what you think you heard from the chevy guys on other Edmunds' forums? 3rd, what possible evidence do you have of toyotas having "wimpy frames?"
    Interchangeable drivetrain components? Every manufacturer does this to some extent. Why reinvent the wheel everytime you come out with a new model? The fact that the Tundra uses many of the tacoma's drivetrain components is really a testament to the durability of the tacoma.
  • sebring95sebring95 Member Posts: 3,241
    Regardless of cheap shots, there are no 3000# vehicles out there that I want to be towing 5000# (let alone 6000#) with on a regular basis. It's just not a big enough vehicle nor designed for that type of duty. I've had 4000-5000# on the back of a couple smaller trucks/suv's. They will most certainly do the job, but none feel overly secure, particularly at highway speeds. I normally tow with a 3/4 ton and you easily realize how insecure smaller vehicles are in comparison.

    I see people flying around with small vehicles and big loads but they apparently aren't concerned about liability policy limits. Using the vehicle to tow once in awhile is one thing, but buying a small vehicle knowing you're going to do alot of 5000# towing is asking for trouble. I see alot of trucks/suv's have dumbed down tow ratings just to keep people from doing stupid stuff.
  • lariat1lariat1 Member Posts: 461
    I to see people pulling 5000# trailers with 3000#-4000# vehicles and all I can think of is "pushing a rope" It is a very bad feeling when the trailer decides it want to throw its weight around and there is nothing you can do about it except hold on. If you are doing a lot of towing over 3000# I would go for a full sized truck.
  • vwracervwracer Member Posts: 90
    scares me to death to be behind a trailor of any kind on the highway and not be able to see around the trailor and see the tow vehicle or it's mirrors. I have pulled several trailors over the last eight years and It don't take much cross wind to make things interesting. Like I said above make sure you have plenty of mirrors and I personally would not tow a 5000 lb trailor that didn't have brakes on it.
  • craig64craig64 Member Posts: 12
    I have a 1995 Dodge Dakota 2X4 Slt with the extended cab and V8 (5.2), tow package and 3.55 rear end. It is rated to tow 5500 pounds. If I would have got the 3.92 rear end, I would have a tow rating of 6900 pounds.

    I currently tow a 17 foot 1992 Aljo lite travel trailer. It recently weighed in at 3000 pounds fully loaded. I live in Northern California and try to camp one week a year in Yosemite and 2 to 3 weekend trips to Lake Tahoe. I have NO trouble going up either Hwy 120 to Yosemite which has a 6% grade @ 6 miles in length to climb(Priest Grade) or up Interstate 80 over the Donner Summit (7200 feet. I have trailer brakes (required for anything over 2000 pounds)I recommend having at 1,500 pounds and a load equalizing hitch which takes the weight from the back of the truck and moves it forward to the front wheels. We have a cab high shell and usually carry 200 to 300 pounds of gear, ice chests, wood etc in the bed of the truck. We have never had an overheat problem, and the gas millage with the trailer and gear is around 12 to 14mpg. Due to the length of the trailer, I do not need a sway bar. The trailer is small enough that it does not wag the truck.

    To tow anything over 2,500 pounds and especially if there is any height for wind drag, you definetly want a vehicle that has a tow package which should include a larger radiator, transmission cooler, 120 amp alternator to charge the trailer's battery, heavy duty flashers to run the trailer's blinkers, 750 amp battery and trailer wiring. Not sure that these options are available on the Tacoma, S-10 or Ranger, but don't settle for a tow package that includes only a hitch, as it will not do what you want and you will only be endangering the rest of us.

    I had the same decision as I didn't want a large truck, but I needed a truck that could tow and I would still feel safe. The extra room in the Dakota cab is also very nice.

    Good luck and happy towing!
  • ochizonochizon Member Posts: 25
    one of the baby 4x2 4 bangers. I have planned a trip in which I will be carrying a U haul type trailer full of my furniture. Will this be a problem?? Usually how much do one of those trailers weigh (probably a 5' 6" x 5" x 8" trailer compartment)?

  • eric2001eric2001 Member Posts: 482
    According to U-haul's website, the 5' X 8' weighs 900, has a load capability of 1800, for a total of 2700 #s.

    The 4' X 8' (next smallest) weighs 780, load capacity of 1220, for a total of 2000 #s.

    With the weight capacities listed, I am guessing that both include surge brakes.
  • sc0rpi0sc0rpi0 Member Posts: 897
    I'd be cautious towing a full load all the time. You might not want to listen to tbunder, he's resorted to pulling cheap shots on Toyota in general. Neither Ranger nor Tacoma can pull 4000-4500 lbs load comfortably in routine driving. If you need to do it once a year, then you could do it without doing too much harm. Just make sure not to go over the max towing limit: even though there's a safety margin there, I can't imagine it being too big. For regularly towing loads like that you need a midsize or a fullsize truck. For a midsize, look at Dakota. However, make sure you know what you are getting into, Dodge engines arent exactly known for their longetivity, at least certain ones. Don't be fooled by "2003 Ford Ranger will be getting a V8" and "2003 Tacoma will be getting a new 3.7L V6", which will most likely move both vehicles out of compact class and into midsize class. Those are gonna be totally redesigned new trucks, and as with all new vehicles, they'll need a year or so to have the bugs worked out.
    So decide for yourself:
    If you want to tow a lot on regular basis, get a midsize or fullsize.
    If you are gonna tow only occasionally, get a compact, you'll be happier with one.
    And as always, do your research on the truck you want to buy. Read some newsgroups here. and are excellent sources of initial info.
  • wheeldogwheeldog Member Posts: 39
    That's a pretty good summary. Thanks to everybody else for the advice too. I don't think I'd need to tow any more than 2-3 times a year, and I can limit the amount of equipment I have to tow to keep the weights down, so I am still leaning toward the compact. I like the idea of a full-size but the fact is that my primary use is commuting, and 15-16 mpg combined with a 45-mile round trip each day starts sounding expensive. If I find out someday that I want to do a lot more towing, then I'd have to make a change.

    Don't worry about me being influenced by comments about one brand over another. I've got my own opinions about the different makes, and they're probably not going to change much based on what I read here.
  • kg11kg11 Member Posts: 530
    I get 18.5 hwy with my taco V6 4X4.I don't know what the 2WD compacts get but the small V8 full sized trucks(2WD) do as well as my taco.I get 13 with my Sierra 2500HD(hwy).If you get a compact with a 5000# tow rating you probably wont do alot better than a fullsized.If you're only going to tow a few times a year you might want to rent when you need it and buy something that gets better MPGs for that 45 mi commute.
    BTW if you're gonna tow in soft dirt or up steep inclines you can cut that max tow rating in half or buy 4X4 for the gearing and traction advantage.
  • sc0rpi0sc0rpi0 Member Posts: 897
    Yeah, in that case I'd go with a compact (if you still need a truck). If so, which truck are you leaning towards?
  • wheeldogwheeldog Member Posts: 39
    a Tacoma XtraCab V6 4x4. I own a 95' Toyota 4x4 pickup (w/ 4 cyl) and a 90' 4Runner 4x4 (w 3.0 V6), and they've served me real well. Each has between about 140k and 150k miles, and I'm sure they'll run for quite a bit longer, but I admit I've just got the itch to buy something new. I also find the idea of the Tundra V8 really tempting.

    As for gas mileage, there's a poll going on over on, and it looks like the people with Tundras average about 16 mpg. I had kind of hoped that I could get at least 18 mpg (maybe a little better) out of the Tacoma V6. From what Kip says, sounds like 18-19 mpg is about right.

    Plan C? Buy an Impreza WRX wagon, keep my pickup, and screw the towing. (Just can't picture myself in that car, though. I'm partial to trucks).
  • kg11kg11 Member Posts: 530
    a new truck the Taco will have a new 3.7 V6 soon and since you like 4X4s I'm sure it'll meet your towing needs.
  • wheeldogwheeldog Member Posts: 39
    Is the 3.7L supposed to be part of the model year 2003 or 2004?
  • sc0rpi0sc0rpi0 Member Posts: 897
    The word is 2003 (so it is supposed to show up this autumn). The word is also that Taco will be bigger in size, so it'll be a midsize. I'd hold off (I did hold off, just bought a 2002 3 month ago, but I didnt know about 2003 redesign. Still would not have made any difference) and wait a year, get the bugs out of the way.
    About the gas milage: I'm hoping my milage will improve soon. Last fillup I got 15mpg (220 miles for 14 gallons), but that was:
    1. 6 hours of offroading over tough terrain.
    2. 90 mile drive back to town, 85 all the way, which usually gives me 18mpg.
    3. Rest is city driving.
    Seeing how I have a magnaflow muffler which reduces gas milage by about 1mpg, I am hoping the new tank will last a little longer. My milage just on freeway going 85 is 18mpg, with the muffler.
    It all depends on how you drive. I like to be the first one from the traffic light, so that means revving up to the 3500 rpms, which somewhat justifies my low city gas milage. Hope you don't have a lead foot.
  • eric2001eric2001 Member Posts: 482
    What about going full-size, regular cab short-bed? Staying with 2wd, the GM camp (4.8 V8) is claiming low to mid 20's for mileage.

    That would get you the mileage, as well as the tow ratings. I don't think I would try and tow 4500#s with a V-6 full size on a regular basis.
  • sebring95sebring95 Member Posts: 3,241
    You didn't say what type of conditions (hills, distance, highway, etc.) you were planning to tow. IF it's only 2 to 3 times per year, relatively short distances, and no big hills to deal with, the 2.7L Tacoma will do the job. It's only rated at 3500#, but the chassis isn't any different, except maybe some heavier springs on the V6. You can fix the rear springs easy enough and be set-up the same as the V6. I pulled about 4500# about 10 miles on mainly flat, in-town roads with the 2.7L and it did fine. I wouldn't hop on the highway like that, but for the conditions I described it worked fine. My 2.7L 4X4 ext. cab 5-speed regularly averaged 22-23mpg on commute duty.

    Either way a compact will be ok for 2-3 times per year as long as you're careful. But I agree that the V6 compacts don't get much better mpg than alot of full-sizes. The other issue is the actual weight of the trailer and tractor. I underestimated the weight of my combo by nearly 1000#. If you have loaded tires that really adds to the weight.
  • rshollandrsholland Member Posts: 19,788
    they require any trailer 3000 pounds or over to have brakes. It's the law. Most states have similar laws, and I believe 3000 pounds is the most common figure. There are some states, however, that may have lower (or higher, or no) weight ratings. So check with your DMV.

  • morin2morin2 Member Posts: 399
    Lusby has really grown in the last 10 years - population has probably doubled & there's even traffic now. I don't work at Calvert Cliffs - I'm a fisheries biologist for the state (we do a lot of boat towing on the job). I tow my personal boat, a 2000 Scout 18 1/2' fiberglass center console, mostly to the Solomons ramp (under the bridge). In November, the eastern edge of the Chesapeake Bay shipping channel in front of the power plant is one of my favorite places to fish for stripers. My best one there this fall was 37". I usually have the place all to myself in Nov., without another boat in sight.

    BTW, I really like my Silverado ExtCab Z-71 5.3L 3.73 for towing - tows this little boat great.
    Whatever you decide to get, try to get a limited slip/locking rear if you think you'll ever need to pull a boat from a (slimy) boat ramp.
  • morin2morin2 Member Posts: 399
    Just saw that your commute is just 45 miles roundtrip - I suggest you run the math for mpg & insurance, maintenance & depreciation (the last only if you might have to sell it before you run it into the ground). My commute roundtrip is 86 miles, and I get 16-17 mpg with my Silverado with the 5.3. (I record every fillup in a little notebook I keep in the console that serves as my maintenance log). I figured it cost me about $300-350 more per year to run a full size truck than a compact (18K miles/year). The only time I want a compact is when parking in these small spaces.

    I've been at the other end of the power spectrum (50 hp diesel VW Jetta) and I'm not going back!
  • wheeldogwheeldog Member Posts: 39
    Good to hear from you. Lusby wasn't a bad little place ten years ago when I was there - seems I remember some good restaurants in the Solomons (Solomons Island?). I was there one year when there was a heat wave in March - I think it may have hit 90 degrees F, but I could be remembering wrong.

    Sounds like your Silverado works great for you. You're right about the fuel costs not being a big deal, I think as long as gas doesn't go up to $2.00/gallon and stay there. I like the looks and features of the Silverado but it seems like there are a lot of problems reported with them too. Sounds like you've made out well with yours, though.

    Take care.
  • morin2morin2 Member Posts: 399
    Its 75 degrees today here after hitting 80 tues or wed. Oh, those winter heating bills!
    My wife works in Solomons (also called Solomons Island to the old-timers & technically, it is an island, having a tiny bridge at the Lore Oyster House. Its gotten tourist-happy & those good restaurants are pricey (ouch).

    Have you looked at the Tundra yet? Those 4 door Access Cabs look really practical & rigged right, should do a fine job towing your trailer.
  • tbundertbunder Member Posts: 580
    yeah- a fine job.....with the helper springs it needs. practical?? for $30 grand plus, what isn't?
  • sc0rpi0sc0rpi0 Member Posts: 897
    Better than a Ranger at the shop getting new axle that it broke in a parking lot.
  • tbundertbunder Member Posts: 580
    are ALL rangers having that problem? no. do all tundras need helper springs? yes (cuz they're weak). you keep hinging on this fx4 axle issue, big woop. no one said it was perfect. your tacomas need new brake linkages in them, a recall nonetheless. whoa- better not tow with them, brakes might not work. the only rangers with the axle problems are the fx4, and i highly doubt the buyers who buy these will tow with them. they are mostly youngsters who just want to look cool and have some off-road potential. lets see, your tacoma also had seat belt recalls, eh? not to mention it has had problems of leaking water into the cabs because the spot welder didn't seal up the firewall. doh!!
  • sc0rpi0sc0rpi0 Member Posts: 897
    The brake linkage thing I told you about was "Update: brake linkage". This doesnt mean that there's something wrong with brakes. I mean, you made the "Seat Belt: replacement parts" sound that seat belts were falling off, when it was a replacement for a squeaking noise.

    Are all Rangers having the axle problem? No. Only 2500 of them. it's not just towing thats the problem. Read the article carefully:
    1. Under heavy load.
    2. Taking off too fast.
    3. Tire gains traction after spinning.

    2 means that you can't gun it from the stoplight.
    3 means you can't take the damn thing offroad, which is what it was meant for, apparently.

    Where is that problem with water leaking through the firewall? Show me some docs on it. I havent heard anything. I don't have any water leaking through.
  • tbundertbunder Member Posts: 580
    what? yes it's bad that this is happening to the FX4 ranger, but at least the ranger has enough torque to actually break an otherwise respected product from a highly regarded name in rear-ends. you with your under-powered toyota wouldn't know what torque even is. besides, the ranger's brakes will work without needing break pedal linkages replaced. i also saw your new beloved re-designed camry has two recalls already. that's alot for toyota now isn't it? after all, they are hand made, or at least you guys seem to think they are. eh?
  • sc0rpi0sc0rpi0 Member Posts: 897
    How about Ford using cheap axle instead?
    Whats that linkage problem?
    I don't care for Camry, I really don't.
  • sc0rpi0sc0rpi0 Member Posts: 897
    The axle may be good. But axle alone doesnt make a good product. Good product comes from integration of all parts. I don't know how to explain this any clearer. What do you do for a living, tbunder?
    I write software. Our software relies on the fact that we can interface our device drivers with our mainstream programming software, Labview. If this was FX4, our driver would randomly produce a crash to the user saying "Can you please scan the data slower? Even though my specs say I can go 100Mhz, I really can't do that..." This is what I mean.
    Great products come not only from great parts put together, but from the great way those parts are put together. If the Ford engineering did not test/forsee the problem, and QA did not catch it...what does it say about Ford?
  • midnight_stangmidnight_stang Member Posts: 862
    Perhaps Torsen isn't up to the task?
This discussion has been closed.