Toyota Tacoma Towing Capacity: How Much Can It Handle?

You won't be towing major items with your Tacoma, but it offers solid towing capacity compared to the competition and is sufficient for most people.

If you plan to use your truck for hauling heavy loads, you want to know what it can handle. Knowing the Toyota Tacoma towing capacity is essential so you don’t accidentally overload your truck. 

In this guide, I show you the Tacoma towing capacity ratings for each model year. I also reveal what trims are best for towing and explain what you need to know about these capacities.

Towing Capacity Ratings

Based on specs from Toyota, the model years vary in towing capacity. I will list all of the trailer weight ratings (TWR) for each Tacoma model, but I encourage you to continue reading after the chart for valuable information. 

Keep in mind that the TWR (trailer weight rating) is the maximum allowable gross trailer weight. Gross trailer weight is determined by combining the trailer weight and the weight of the cargo in the trailer.

Model Year RangeTowing Capacity
2024 Toyota Tacoma3,500 lb to 6,500 lb
2016-2023 Toyota Tacoma3,500 lb to 6,800 lb
2011-2015 Toyota Tacoma3,300 lb to 6,500 lb
2005-2010 Toyota Tacoma3,500 lb to 6,500 lb
2002-2004 Toyota Tacoma3,500 lb to 6,000 lb
1998-2001 Toyota Tacoma3,500 lb to 5,000 lb

This chart offers a range of weights because several factors affect towing capacity. The engine type, drivetrain, and other factors all influence the rating. 

For example, the SR trim level equipped with 4WD has a towing capacity of 6,400 pounds. In comparison, the SR trim level equipped with 2WD only has a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. 

To get the exact towing capacity for your Tacoma, I encourage you to check the owner’s manual. Otherwise, if you are shopping for a new or used Tacoma, you should look for the specs on Toyota’s website for more detailed information. 

Best Trim for Towing

The Toyota Tacoma towing capacity is based on the trim level and equipment you choose. With so many different options, it can be overwhelming trying to decide what’s best.

All 4WD Tacomas provide an excellent towing capacity of either 6,400 or 6,500 lbs.


Understanding Towing Capacity

If towing capacity is a newer concept, there are some things you should know before choosing a Tacoma. 

What Does Towing Capacity Mean?

The vehicle’s towing capacity is the maximum weight that can be safely pulled when the load is balanced and properly distributed.

A properly distributed load means that 60% of the weight should be towards the front of the trailer, as explained in the graphic below.

truck towing capacity weight distribution graphic

While the automaker provides a single calculation to estimate towing capacity, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule that always works. You must understand how the weight of the trailer and tow vehicle affect the maximum capacity. 

The manufacturer’s calculations also assume that there’s no weight in the vehicle other than the driver. If you take a trailer and your family, along with gear for the weekend, all of this weight must be accounted for to ensure a safe towing experience. 

Factors That Affect Towing Capacity

Varying factors affect towing capacity, some for the better and others negatively. Here are a few factors to consider and how they affect towing capacity.

  • Vehicle’s gross weight: GVWR determines the tow capacity based on its rating, but this only factors in the weight of the truck, fluids, passengers, and cargo. 
  • Braking power: Vehicles can tow more if the trailer has its own set of brakes.
  • Axle weight rating: GAWR is the maximum weight that can be placed on each of the axles. 
  • Towing hitch: Trailer hitches come in five different classes, each able to hold a different amount of weight.
  • Cab size: The size of the cab affects the weight of your vehicle, altering the towing capacity.
  • Bed length:  The bed length also affects the weight of your vehicle, altering the towing capacity. 
  • Engine: The motor can help or hurt towing capacity. You want a high-powered engine to tow with and create torque, but a bigger engine also adds more weight, which hurts towing capacity.
  • Transmission: A manual transmission may increase the towing capacity because it weighs less.
  • Two-wheel or four-wheel drive: 2WD trucks can tow more comparably because there’s less overall vehicle weight. 
  • Aftermarket mods: Some can increase towing capacity, while others hurt it. Be sure to read the specs before choosing any more modifications. 


Why It’s Important to Stick to Towing Limits

You should always stay within the towing limits set by the manufacturer. Plus, you must ensure you have all the necessary equipment to tow the maximum.

If you fail to abide by the limits, you could lose control of the vehicle. This problem creates an unsafe situation for you and others on the road. 

Here are a few other things that could happen when exceeding the tow limit.

  • Braking performance suffers
  • Damage occurs to the suspension
  • Excessive strain on the engine and transmission
  • Brakes and tires wear faster
  • Tires can blow out
  • May warp the chassis

As mentioned previously, you must consider how the load is distributed. Improper load distribution affects how much you can tow. When you look at the Tacoma maximum tow rating, all these specs are based on a well-balanced and adequately distributed load.

Watch this important video demonstration of what happens with improper load distribution and how the vehicle may handle it. 

Notice the difference the load can make if it’s not distributed properly. 

Comparing to the Competition

I want to show you how the Tacoma compares with other trucks in the same class and the maximum towing capacity. 

Toyota Tacoma towing capacity chart versus competitors
  • Nissan Frontier (6,720 lb max)
  • Honda Ridgeline (5,000 lb max)
  • Jeep Gladiator (7,650 lb max)
  • Ford Ranger (7,500 lb max)

If you need more towing power than these trucks can offer, you may do better with something larger. I recommend the Toyota Tundra or something similar to you.

(Car and Driver)

Safety Tips

Consider these important safety tips before you hit the road ready to tow with your Tacoma.

  • Double-check the towing capacity for your truck with its equipment
  • Don’t exceed the towing capacity of your truck
  • Distribute the weight properly 
  • Check the truck and trailer tires before hitting the road
  • Inspect the brakes and other lights before using them
  • Adjust the mirrors so you can see properly
  • Match the hitch ball to the trailer
  • Carry a spare tire with you, just in case
  • Hook up a trailer safety chain
  • Choose the right hitch for the load
  • Perform all recommended maintenance to the truck and trailer

(Consumer Reports)

Towing Adventures Await You

The Toyota Tacoma is designed for a lot of things, including towing. It’s one more benefit offered to truck owners, so you may as well take advantage of it. 

Just take the time to tow safely to ensure you make it home at the end of the day. There’s nothing more important than the well-being of you and the ones you love. 

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