Closer Look at the Updated Tacoma’s Towing Capacity & Payload Specs

Small trucks are heating up - can the Tacoma keep up in the towing department?

For the past 13 years, Toyota’s mid-size pickup has been America’s best-selling small truck. But with a market that’s gaining popularity, now with GM and Ford in the mix, can the Tacoma tow and haul in order to satisfy the needs of mid-size truck buyers?

Toyota last redesigned the Tacoma in 2015 and has updated it a handful of times in the years since. For 2020, it comes standard with a 3.5L V6 engine that makes 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. Most trims come with a six-speed automatic transmission, but a six-speed manual is available, too. Here’s a look at the updated Tacoma’s big changes for 2020.

Here’s our full review of the 2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road Review.

So, how much can the 2020 Toyota Tacoma tow and haul?

Toyota says the 2020 Tacoma’s top towing capacity is 6,500 lbs (2,950 kg), while its maximum payload is 1,146 lbs (520 kg). This mid-size truck only comes in one configuration, so there are no options to increase those capacities.

Towing Capacity and Payload Comparison: Toyota Tacoma vs Chevrolet Colorado vs GMC Canyon vs Jeep Gladiator vs Ford Ranger vs Honda Ridgeline vs Nissan Frontier

ModelTowing Capacity
2020 Tacoma6,500 lbs
2020 Colorado7,700 lbs
2020 Canyon7,700 lbs
2020 Gladiator7,650 lbs
2020 Ranger7,500 lbs
2020 Ridgeline5,000 lbs
2020 Frontier6,710 lbs

By comparison, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon trucks from General Motors can tow up to 7,700 lbs (3,493 kg) and have a payload total of 1,578 lbs (716 kg).

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The new-for-2020 Jeep Gladiator is rated to tow 7,650 lbs (3,470 kg) and haul payloads up to 1,600 lbs (726 kg). Jeep claims the Gladiator can tow more than any other mid-size 4×4 pickup.

Ford’s Ranger truck is rated to tow up to 7,500 lbs (3,402 kg) and can handle a payload up to 1,649 kg (748 kg).

The Nissan Frontier mid-size pickup truck has a tow rating of 6,710 lb (3,044 kg) and a payload capacity of 1,430 lbs (649 kg).

Honda’s Ridgeline mid-size truck has a maximum trailer capacity of 5,000 lbs (2,267 kg) and a payload capacity of 1,530 lbs (694 kg).

2020 toyota tacoma preview
With some much needed updates, Toyota feels the 2020 Tacoma is more compelling and more competitive than ever but still falls a bit short in the towing capacity department compared to other mid-size pickups. Photo: Toyota

What Factors Can Affect Towing Capacity?

Generally speaking, the more basic trim levels of a given truck model will be able to tow and carry more because many options add weight that is then subtracted from the towing and payload ratings. That includes four-wheel drive: in many cases, a truck will be able to tow more with 2WD (if it’s available that way) than with 4WD.

The truck’s body configuration can alter towing and payload capacities, too. For example, the Tacoma’s 6,500-lb towing max applies only to the smaller Access Cab version, while the larger Double Cab loses about 100 lbs of towing capacity. The Tacoma’s payload also varies depending on body configuration and trim level.

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We’re pretty sure when a redesigned Tacoma hits the market, Toyota will ramp up its popular mid-size pickup’s towing figures inline with the competitors – so at least 7,700 lbs, if not more.

Chris Chase
Chris has been writing professionally about cars since 2004, in print and online. He lives in Ottawa with his wife and two feline tyrants. In rare quiet moments, he can be found travelling or playing one of his way-too-many guitars. Chris is also a journalist member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).