How Much Can A Tacoma Haul?

The Toyota Tacoma is a versatile, powerful pickup with good looks and trusty Japanese reliability. But, let’s not forget, it’s a working truck. And, in a competitive market, every extra pound that your vehicle can carry will be an advantage. So, you want to put your Tacoma to good use? Let’s find out how many pounds this truck can haul.

How much can a Tacoma haul?

The Toyota Tacoma can carry a maximum of 1685 pounds, in the RWD version, with the four-cylinder engine. The 4WD V6 version has a maximum payload of 1445 pounds. Meanwhile, the tailgate has a rating of 400 pounds, with several reviews citing it has been able to hold more weight.

The Tacoma’s hauling capacity varies according to its transmission and engine configurations. The pickup comes with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. While the pounds don’t have any considerable variation between manual and automatic gearboxes, 2WD and 4WD models will have different capabilities.

The Toyota Tacoma comes in four general trim levels: SR, SR5, Limited, and TRD. It also comes with two engine options: the 2.7L inline-four and the 3.5L V6.

Interestingly, the 2.7L RWD Toyota Tacoma can carry the most load. The 4-cylinder engine produces 159 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque, and its payload is 1685 pounds. The 2.7L 4WD version holds approximately 1550 lbs.

Meanwhile, the 3.5L V6 4WD version has a maximum payload of 1445 pounds. In all versions, the tailgate has the same capacity.

As you read this information, you might scratch your head and wonder: why would the least powerful Tacoma carry the most load? Well, let’s find out.

RWD or 4WD, 2.7L or 3.5L: which Tacoma is better for hauling?

As we have seen, the Toyota Tacoma 2.7L RWD can carry the most cargo in its bed. But why? The answer comes down to transmissions, engines, and friction.

First, let’s talk about transmissions. An RWD pickup sends all the power go from the engine to the rear wheels, whereas with a 4WD, the engine sends power to all four wheels.

A fun and straightforward way of understanding how this affects a pickup’s payload capacity is the following: a pickup has a limited amount of power and torque. If it has to move only two wheels (RWD), it splits power and torque in half. In the case of 4WD, it divides the power into quarters, sending less to each wheel.

So, in 4WD, where the same engine has to power more wheels, plus there’s more friction, the payload capacity is less. But, then, another question might come to mind. Why doesn’t the 3.5L carry more than the 2.7L?

Yes, the 2.7L is a smaller engine but weighs less. The 3.5L is a burly powerplant, so it has to invest more power to move the heavier V6. Plus, with 4WD models, the additional components such as the transfer case and front differential adds to the vehicle’s weight.

But the RWD isn’t the ideal Tacoma for hauling cargo in all situations. If you live somewhere where snow and hampered traction is frequent, 4WD is not only more versatile but safer. While the payload capacity is lower, the 3.5L will provide you with more torque for those challenging situations.

We know now that we can aim for 1445 pounds of payload in a Tacoma; what can we fit in it?

What can I carry in my Toyota Tacoma?

To answer this question, we have to consider two aspects: the truck’s payload capacity and its bed size. The Toyota Tacoma has either a 5′ or a 6′ bed.

All Toyota Tacoma models with a 5′ bed can fit approximately 27.5 cubic feet of adequately secured cargo. Those trim packages that come with a 6′ bed hold approximately 33.8 cubic feet.

These measurements consider how the fenders reduce the total cargo volume. You could fit more cargo, but these numbers represent the maximum safe load.

We can translate these numbers into real-life situations, and to do it, let’s say we want to carry lumber, and you have some 2 x 4, with 8′ in length. Let’s imagine that our Tacoma has its tailgate lowered. If you have a 6′ Tacoma, then you’ll be able to fit 150 units, which isn’t bad. But, wait!

Fitting 150 2×4’s will exceed the truck’s payload. Here’s where the numbers come into play. If you choose to respect your Tacoma’s maximum load (which you should, if you want it to last for years on end), then you will be able to fit 90 2x4s. And this is still a significant number.

Here is some additional information on what you can fit into your Tacoma. Keep in mind that all of these examples are with a 6′ bed:

Cement (50 kg bags)13
Topsoil (cubic feet)14.45
Topsoil (pounds)1445
Mulch (cubic feet)33.8
Mulch (pounds)813
Gravel (cubic feet)17.2
Gravel (pounds)1445
12 ounce can2600

And, of course, after a long day’s work, you might want to relax by the lake with your friends. What better tool than your truck bed and tailgate? While Tacoma’s build is high quality and Toyota is a reputable brand, there are no specific guidelines from the manufacturer regarding the maximum tailgate capacity.

Several automotive magazines and reviewers have found that the Toyota Tacoma’s tailgate can hold 400 pounds (two full-size adults) safely. It’s worth pointing out that some manufacturers prefer not to specify cargo limits on the tailgates to prevent accidents or damage to them.

As you can see, the Toyota Tacoma has quite a versatile payload capability. And, we’ve spoken before about Toyota’s offers within the truck sector. It’s one of the most competitive sectors, and within the Tacoma’s class (quarter-ton trucks), it’s no exception. So, how does the Tacoma stack up against the competition?

Does the Toyota Tacoma haul the most cargo in its class?

No, the Toyota Tacoma doesn’t haul the most cargo in its class. So, while Toyota’s offering leads its class, it can still put up a fight. It’s worth comparing payload, cubic feet of cargo volume, and price to understand where it stands in the market.

We’ve written before about how the Tacoma comes through as expensive. The entry-level Tacoma starts at $27,425, and it offers 33.8 cubic feet of cargo volume with a maximum payload capacity of 1685 pounds. Here are some examples of the competition.

Chevrolet Colorado: this offer from GM starts at $33,095. For this price, the Colorado comes with 49.9 cubic feet of cargo volume but with a maximum payload of 1645 pounds, which lags behind the RWD Tacoma, but is 200 pounds ahead of the 4WD version.

Ford Ranger: the redesigned Ford Ranger has an impressive 51.8 cubic feet of cargo volume and superior 1696 pounds of payload capacity. It costs $33,765, which is $6000 more than the Tacoma.

Nissan Frontier: the Nissan Frontier stands behind the Toyota Tacoma in both categories as it has 33.1 cubic feet of cargo volume and 1460 pounds of payload capacity. It costs $28,820.

Honda Ridgeline: just ahead of the Toyota Tacoma in cargo volume, the Honda Ridgeline offers 33.9 cubic feet. Honda’s pickup maxes out at 1500 pounds of payload capacity. Contrary to the rest of the competition, the Ridgeline doesn’t have any 4WD models. Instead, this Honda only comes with either AWD or FWD, which is atypical for the quarter-ton pickup market. It’s also one of the more expensive options, with a starting price of $37,845.

GMC Canyon: starting at $27,595, the Canyon comes in with 49.9 cubic feet of cargo volume and 1597 pounds of payload capacity.

Closing thoughts:

This article wanted to find out how much cargo the Toyota Tacoma can haul. As we’ve seen, the Toyota Tacoma is capable of hauling up to 1685 pounds if you are using the RWD, 2.7L version.

We also saw how the performance figures change between the RWD and 4WD versions of the Tacoma since the engines have to work just a bit harder to overcome the friction and weight. The difference between these versions can be considerable, almost 200 pounds, but drivers gain 4WD capability in challenging terrain.

With a starting price of $27,425, the Tacoma isn’t the most expensive truck in its basic version, and possible buyers can climb up the trim levels while still paying less than some of the competing models. But, the Tacoma isn’t a leader in the hauling category.

The Tacoma only outdoes the Nissan Frontier in cargo volume. But it does manage to stand third in payload capacity amongst the models we’ve seen today. The difference in payload capacities between RWD and 4WD hinders the Tacoma’s chances to stand out in the market.

So, the Toyota Tacoma might not be ideal for a heavy-duty, small-sized working pickup. Yet, it can provide enough power and cargo volume to fulfill most jobs. Plus, with several trim levels, aggressive styling, and a price that places it in the middle of its class, you can optimize your Tacoma not only for work but for the adventure trails with its exemplary off-road capabilities.

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