Tow Ratings Adjust for 2013 GM Pickups

GM HD Towing II

By Mike Magda

We just got our first look at the tow ratings for 2013 GM pickups, and for most full-size trucks, their factory numbers will be 200 to 300 pounds lower than comparable 2012 models. And some models will drop as much as 4,800 pounds. Ouch.

As all the pickup manufacturers adhere to the new SAE J2807 towing standards this year (Toyota started early with its 2011 truck models), it’s likely that many tow ratings will fall. But for GM, its consumers are just as likely to learn that the new tow rating for select models of the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra will actually go up by 100 pounds for 2013, as well.

Confused? Bear with us as we sort through the numbers and hear from GM’s top truck engineer. We’ve compared the 2012 tow ratings with numbers found on the recently released 2013 GM order guides. Our sampling revealed that towing capacity for all 1500 models and many 2500 models dropped as much as 300 pounds, depending on the vehicle configuration, engine choice and axle ratio.

In the 1500 class, a two-wheel-drive Extended Cab standard bed with a 6.2-liter V-8, 3.73:1 axle ratio and the Max Trailering package was rated to tow 10,700 pounds in 2012. According to the 2013 order guide, the rating will be 10,500 pounds. A four-wheel-wheel-drive regular cab with a standard bed, 5.3-liter V-8, 3.42:1 axle and HD trailering package was rated at 8,900 pounds in the 2012 model and dropped to 8,600 pounds in the 2013.

In the 2500 class, a four-wheel-drive Extended Cab long bed with the 6.0-liter V-8 and 3.73:1 axle went from 9,400 pounds to 9,100 pounds, but the same configuration with the 6.6-liter Duramax diesel remained the same at 13,000 pounds.

“The reduction in trailer weight ratings for 2013 is a result of SAE J2807,” said Dean Perelli, chief engineer for GM trucks. “J2807 applies to all vehicles that are 13,000 pounds GVWR and below, therefore affecting all light-duty and some heavy-duty pickup trucks.”

In the past, each manufacturer set its own criteria for tow ratings. There was no uniform test procedure in the same manner that the Society of Automotive Engineers sets down for promoting engine horsepower numbers or standard procedures the EPA uses to determine estimated fuel economy. Without a common industry standard, it was tricky for truck shoppers to compare tow ratings fairly and accurately against other brands. Inexperienced truck consumers were especially vulnerable because they could be misled into believing the “maximum” tow rating used in advertising applied to every model in a particular truck line.

GMC Towing 1 II
A few years ago, automakers, along with trailer manufacturers and towing dynamics experts from each of the OEMs, worked with SAE to establish industry standards for tow ratings. The group settled on tow-vehicle performance requirements for acceleration, driving up a grade and braking. Automakers did have the option to implement the J2807 standards voluntarily, and most said they would comply by the 2013 model year. Toyota was the first manufacturer to implement J2807 when its tow ratings for the 2011 Tundra and Tacoma were lowered.

Base weight requirements that reflect real-world towing situations are responsible for most of the ratings reductions. Before J2807, automakers referenced only a 150-pound driver as payload.

“In addition to the performance requirements, SAE J2807 applies a standard conservative approach to calculating the trailer mass, which includes two occupants, optional equipment, aftermarket trailer hitch equipment and trailer mass on the vehicle,” Perelli said. 

The largest drop in tow ratings came in selected 2500 models with 5th-wheel and gooseneck hitches. For example, a two-wheel-drive regular-cab long bed with the Duramax diesel and 3.73:1 axle was rated at 17,800 pounds using a 5th-wheel hitch. For 2013, the rating drops to 14,400 pounds. A four-wheel-drive Extended Cab long bed with the diesel and a 3.73:1 axle saw its rating drop from 15,700 pounds to 10,900 pounds.

GMC Towing 4 II
“For 5th-wheel towing, SAE J2807 assumes that 20 percent of the trailer weight is on the kingpin,” Perelli said. “Previous calculations consider 17 percent with the understanding that the GVWR and RGAWR would not be exceeded. This change, in addition to the additional mass considered above for the additional passenger, optional content and aftermarket trailer hitch equipment can have a significant effect on the new calculated trailer weight ratings for 5th-wheel trailers.”

In the 3500 class, ratings with a traditional trailer hitch were mostly unaffected; however, with a 5th-wheel hitch, most models saw a 100-pound increase. The “maximum” tow rating for the Silverado and Sierra is now 23,100 pounds. The lone model with that rating is a four-wheel-drive regular-cab long bed with the Duramax and 3.73:1 axle. A more popular model, the four-wheel-drive crew-cab long bed with the diesel, is now rated at 22,500 pounds.

“Year-to-year revisions in mass allowed the 3500 series trucks to increase the trailer weight ratings by 100 pounds,” Perelli added.

For commercial owners interested in the new 2500 bifuel models that operate on gas or compressed natural gas, those trucks will have the same towing rating as a comparable gas-only configuration when equipped with 4.10:1 axle. When opting for the 3.73:1 gears, the bifuel trucks’ tow rating will be 600 pounds lower.

“Considering the GCWR and SAE J2807, the bifuel trucks built with the 3.73 axle have a reduced trailer weight rating as a result of the shift in CNG system mass from the trailer to the vehicle,” Perelli said. “The mass of the CNG system on the bifuel truck with the 4.10 axle has no effect on the 13,000-pound trailer weight rating when compared to a similar L96 gas-only truck considering the higher GCWR. All the SAE J2807 maximum trailer weight calculations and performance requirements have been achieved to meet the maximum trailer weight ratings.”

Finally, not much else is changing on the 2013 model. A quick scan of the order guide revealed that two new colors will be introduced: Deep Ruby Metallic and Blue Topaz Metallic. Also, there’s a blackwall all-terrain tire option for the Z71 package.

GMC Towing 3 II

GM Towing 1-ton II



Funny how many big Lance campers I have seen over the years that far exceeded the gross weight rating of the truck. You almost cant have one without a dually.

Whether the new tow ratings go up, down, or stay the same, it will be nice to have a standard to compare models and brands.

I am glad we have the standards out now so there can't be any more "stick shaking" going on from the marketing guys. Something tells me that owners will still tow what they feel like regardless of the ratings.

Will the manufacturers hae this info up on their site or can we look it up on SAE's site?

When are Ford and RAM expected to follow suit?

@ LJC -- We've heard that the 2013 model info for Ford will be coming sometime in June, with Ram Truck to follow later in July.

They will do it at the same time. 2013 model year. As soon as the order guides are out you will see.

Lets see, GM was the first of the big 3 to make the change. Most models have only dropped 200-300 pounds unlike the 1,100 drop in the CrewMax Tundra which was overrated! Some even went up unlike the Tundra where most went down 500 lbs! I have a smile on my face knowing that once again GM won AGAIN!!!

These boasted towing and payload numbers from the past made FORD #1 in sales in my opinion.Hopefully J2807 towing standards will change that.

@ chevyman

Toyota's 1,100 lb drop is pretty minute compared to the 4,800 lb drop for the 4x4 Ext Cab LB 2500 diesel. Not a comparable truck to the Tundra, but a much more significant drop.. (30%)

Anonymous - Yeah but Tundra doesn't have a Heavy Duty 2500. Comparing apples to apples, was there a 1,100 drop in GM half ton crewcabs? This article says no. GM wins again!

I will say you are correct somewhat (only some of the HD's went up) and I would love too break down why this happened and make some changes too my post in the futrure. The bar has been set by GM who now has a tow rating 100lbs heavier than Tundra lets see what Nissan, Ford and Ram will do. The one thing I want someone to shed light on is does the fact that Tundra has an electronic brake-based limited slip and not a true mechanical limited slip or locking diff play a part in this as we all have seen the Tundra traction control videos from GM and Ford.

Good that there is a standard for all manufacturers. It will be interesting to see how the changes effect Ford and Ram.


So let me get this straight. A 4WD extended cab 1/2 ton Tundra with the 5.7L motor has a tow rating of 9800 lbs.

An extended cab 4WD Chevy 3/4 ton truck with the 6.0L has a tow rating of 9100 lbs.

How exactly did GM win again?

Hey Dan, because the 1500 equivalent (ext cab, max tow 2wd) is 10,500, figure 200 lbs less for the 4wd version. That is more then the Toyota you listed by about 500lbs.

BTW, the 2500 version I bet has a much higher payload, 2500 owners that want to tow would get the diesel ones that want payload get the gas...

@ Detroit Bob

I will repost the last line in my comment..

"Not a comparable truck to the Tundra, but a much more significant drop.. (30%)"

Is there something in there you are not understanding? I'm not comparing either of the trucks, I'm comparing how much the Tow Rating was Overrated. This is apples to apples. and GM overrated one of their trucks much more than Toyota. So GM does not win. Ever..


The article above lists the truck as an extended cab, 4WD 2500 Chevy with the 6.0L and the 3.73 rear end as having a 9100 lb tow capacity. Not sure how you're using a 2WD max trailer, reg cab as an equivalent to measure off of when the stats are directly in the article?

You can say you are not comparing either truck but you are.

You are right only percentage wise but wrong because GM's biggest drop was on select Heavy Duty for 5th weheel tow - that is a little more understandable because Tundra's are not meant for 5th wheels. That is what the big boys are for.

Tundra's big drop was on a simple 4x4 half ton crewcab for regular tow.

I am trying to find out what the GM 4x4 crewcab regular tow is for an apples to apples comparison. If there is a big drop I will post it.

I figure gas motor trucks would go down some since their lacking in hp and tq for now. I figure the duramax trucks would be the same or go up a little bit. I'am glad there is now a standard too, now less see where furd and dog ram stand. Sorry had to use dog ram krik had me rolling yesterday with that.

At Mark Williams,

will the EPA fuel economy numbers also get posted up (meaning the 3/4 and 1 ton trucks) since they have to start reporting those too? Maybe that is 2014 they have to do that (can't keep it all straight)

these #'s are for now, as much as I like and have owned Chevy's for yrs an yrs. this is a marketing ploy, for when the new trucks come out in a couple of yrs., the new trucks will be lighter, and more powerfull with better brakes, and dare I say higher towing cap. than now, and probably better than all the compitition? 1/2tons? Seems like a plan to me, and I can't wait to go and order a new short bed reg cab Z-71 or ? they may have, with the new V-8 with DGI, and 8spd? with a lower net weight, and 3:42 lmtslp? vinyl floors and roll up windows? as light as poss.

@ Mark Williams
How about a story detailing the process and criteria for J2807?
And another good article would be the details on how the EPA tests and verifies the MPG numbers from manufacturers.
It would be great to see what contributes to the final numbers and how criteria is weighted.

Ooops, I didn't see the link to Automobile Magazine that gives more details on J2807.

@mhowarth on the RV NET Forums and other portals attached to the forums, even these SAE numbers are way too high. Maybe there was a bit of a leeway given too the manufacturers?
Why a rating should fall 4,800lb or more given that the manufacturer is presumably giving a realistic maximum rating? Is very hard to fathom. All three manufacturers will have similar examples.

@johnny doe: the only gas burners down on torque are Shiveys (sorry, had to use that term)

Old Kirk is full of crap!

Read the test details here:

This part doesn't make sense to me, and seems like it could really skew ratings if a brand offers both lower and higher numerical axles on one model:
"The vehicle under test must be equipped with the lowest numerical axle ratio available from the manufacturer."

That cannot be right 2500 hd tows more conventionly than by 5th wheel ????

Add to last post

Even when equipped with Duramax ????

@Andrew Looking at the article again the 23,100lbs is that for vehicle being towed at 60mph on a highway ? or 10mph on a farm?. Harking back to the RV forums they call for the "weight Police" if a 5th wheeler gets into the 18,000lb range.

The article says 2500 Extended cab max 13000 con.

10900 5th wheel down from 15700 ??

Wow, if GM's tow ratings dropped that much on some models, I wonder how much of a hit the Fords are going to take. I'm referring of corse to the multiple Rockie Mountains tests where the GM and RAM trucks went down the mountian perfectly safe while the Ford's brakes were smoking at the bottom... should be interesting to see the results. The other thing I don't get is why do they bother to lighten the ratings by 100 lbs? Thats just seems pretty stupid and pointless to me, but thats just my opinion.

Whats tow rating for3500 EX cab 4WD with SRW ??

@Andrew agreed does not make sense. Creates more questions than answers.

NorCal Greg. You're thinking of the engine brake test. If they do that test, it will affect Ford. On the trailering brake test, I think Ford stopped in the shortest distance. That will help Ford. All depends on the tests they do.

This just sounds all sorts of wrong for a 3/4ton truck and a half ton truck to be in the same catagory of weight towing. I don't seem to understand this at all. Looks like the general will need to offer 4.10s in that package to bump up the tow ratings for a ext cab diesel 3/4ton.

@ JM, yep thats exaclty the test I was referring to and yes you're right, it all depends on what test they do. The thing is though, how can they possibly overlook something as important as that? If they do overlook a test like that, I would acuse them of being completely useless, irrelevant, a complete waist of money and should be done away with.

Mike Levine said the brakes were smoking but were fine and keep it in mind that was extreme testing downhill, not a real world scenario. Ford did stop the shortest on the flats.

"Before J2807, automakers referenced only a 150-pound driver as payload."

Was this a 8th grader? I weighed 165 in high school.

@ Jim

how is that not real world? it was a real trailer being driven just like ford says it can be on an Interstate highway (I-70) that exists so tell me how thats not "real world"??

@ chevyman

How in the world do you think you can say chevy won somehow against Toyota?? The crew max did go down from 10,100 to 9,000 lbs. The crew cab chevy with the 6.2 doesnt do anymore than the Tundra either, which the Tundra by the way weighs 400lbs more than the chevy.

Actually, heres a test for you. Go FIND a chevy with a 6.2. its SO rare its silly! 85% of ALL Tundra's are built with the 5.7 i-force and will completely embarrass chevy's 5.3 so how again is their 1500 so much better?? OH and BTW the 6.2 option on the chev is like $3,000.00 MORE. yeah big win there lol. the Tundra is a MUCH better 1/2 ton than the chev or ford or dodge for that matter.

BEFORE you sling mud back at me i OWN an LB7 duramax so i dont hate chevy's at all. for that matter i have an 84 grand prix and 86 Grand National as well. as a 1/2 ton the Tundra is just plain better. My crew max that has the maximum tow capacity of 10,100 (mines a 2010) with 4.30 gears will still get 19.6 on the highway runnin 75MPH and i didnt have to get a 5.3 to get that economy. the 6.2 gets 12mpg down hill with wind behind it. OH and that goes for the Ford 6.2 too. The Tundra has the BEST mix of real usable power and MPG's to boot.

@Andrew and Robert Ryan- while its counter intuitive, in a very special circumstance, the 5th/gooseneck rating is lower- the 5th wheel weight distribution is based on 20% tounge weight. That alone becomes the limiting factor, since now trailer weight is basically 5x payload. For a tag trailer, the math works out different. Simply, some 3/4 tons just don't have the rear axle/spring/tire capacity to pull as big a 5th wheel, as it might have power and brakes to do.

@hemi lol
I hate Tundra's auto LSD if I install this would that have a negative effect on my powertrain warranty. I may be the only one here but I think an auto LSD only belongs on a car not a truck.

@hemi lol, Not trying to stir you up but if Toyota does sale 85% of their Tundra's with the 5.7L, then based off of last year's sales of 82,908 trucks, then 70,472 of them would be 5.7Ls.

GM sold 564,300 Silverado/Sierra's last year. I realize that includes heavy duty sales too, but even if only 5% of those truck's were 6.2s, that would equal out to 28,215 trucks or 40% of what the Tundra sales 5.7Ls.

So for about every three 5.7 Tundra's there's a 6.2L GM. That's a difference, but the 6.2s are around.

As for tow ratings, it clearly says the Silverado/Sierra extended cab 2WD with the 6.2 and max tow package (includes 3.73 gears) tow's 10,500 lbs. That is more than the Tundra (and as far as that goes, the 2500HD in atleast the one configuration).

@ Jim

How can you possibly say that wasn't real world testing? It didn't get anymore real world than that, exactly like Hemilol said; it was a real truck and trailer loaded to exaclty what Ford, GM, and RAM said it could take, on an interstate highway completely highway legal. I'm not trying to start a GM vs Ford debate here, but the Ford could not handle what it says it can. For an experienced driver it is probably fine, but for most idiot drivers and probably according to DOT it is not safe. And I don't know why you would think smoking brakes are fine. ANYTIME THE BRAKES ARE SMOKING, THINGS ARE NOT FINE! THAT IS DANGEROUS! Smoking brakes are just a couple applications from going out. Mike did not say that it was fine, he said it was white knuckle driving, he certainly didn't say it was just fine. And yes Ford did stop the shortest in one run, but when repeated braking was tested, the Ford's brakes also faded out the fastest.

"5th/gooseneck rating is lower- the 5th wheel weight distribution is based on 20% tounge weight. " OK, that is similar to why Ford here limited the towing on the F250 Brazilian F250 t0 7,200lb , because of the hitch. Later in 2006 they upgraded tit to 9,900lbs , better hitch.

I know an ecoboost won't engine brake like a v-8m say a Hemi or 5.7 Tundra....Ford makes their ratings so high, not much room left over, leads to people like the guy who did an review, "rated to tow 11300" so he pulls 11700 plus 4 guys....Anybody could overload anything, but Ford just asks for it

I was the poster that the comment was made on a little earlier. Contrary to what others may feel, I am very proud of the accomplishments by Ford, Ram, and GM. All of this Ram vs Ford vs GM stuff needs to stop.

Dan, I was just comparing the #'s for the 1500, not the 2500. I know the 2500 was listed at 9100, I am not arguing that point. I was just trying to show you that sure a Tundra has a higher tow rating then the baby motor 2500 for towing but that a equally equipped 1500 GM also has a higher tow rating then the Tundra. The closest # I could get to what you listed (ext carb, big motor with tow pack and 4x4) wasn't listed for a chevy but the 2wd version of what you listed was. Historically all things equal the 4x4 tows about 200lbs less or so then a 2wd version because of the weight. So again, if the 2wd gm version of what you listed tows 10500, take 200 lbs away and the 4wd version should tow about 10300 which is about 500 more then the Tundra you listed that tows more then a 2500 gm. Follow that now?

While Ford leaves the small/mid truck market GM is building the new Colorado in the USA and hiring workers, congrats to GM and the new employees, here is to a Yoda beating Chevrolet!

Contrary to what others may feel, I am very proud of the accomplishments by Ford, Ram, and GM. All of this Ram vs Ford vs GM stuff needs to stop.

@Michigan Bob,
Well said!

I can't wait for the new trucks so i can order 3 too 5 of them !!

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