While the third generation Toyota Tacoma is getting a bit long in the tooth, the import remains a top seller among mid-size trucks. More than 248,000 were sold in 2021, more than double than the Ford Ranger which came in second place with 94,000. Before you buy a “Taco,” however, it’s important to know what the truck is rated for when it comes to payload. Why is the payload rating so important when hauling a truck camper? Because the payload rating tells you how much weight you can safely carry without overloading your truck. The weight rating includes everything, your passengers, your truck camper, and your cargo—basically everything not permanently attached to your truck.
Unfortunately, finding Toyota’s payload ratings online can be a chore and very time consuming. Sure, you can quickly find the maximum payload rating for a basic Toyota Tacoma 2WD model with a 6-foot, but very few consumers go that route. Most go with a 4WD model to drive off-pavement. Fortunately, Truck Camper Adventure has done the research for you. Now you can find all of these ratings in one, easy-to-read location. In order to streamline the payload information presented in this article, only the SR5 and TRD PRO trims are presented in our charts.
2023 Toyota Tacoma Specs
Only two engines are offered by Toyota: an excellent 3.5L V6 engine that generates an impressive 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque, and a wimpy I4 that generates 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. These engines are paired with a clunky 6-speed automatic with your choice of one of two axles, including a 3:91 or a 4:30. Older Toyota Tacomas offered 3:73 and 4:10 gears. Two cab styles are offered in 2023: the double cab (basically a crew cab with four doors), and a more restrictive access cab (a crew cab with two doors). The Tacoma comes in two bed lengths: a 5 foot bed and 6 foot bed. Unfortunately, the manual transmission option can be ordered only in 5-foot beds, a real head-scratcher.
In general, the Toyota Tacoma’s payload ratings compare favorably to the competition with a 5,600-pound GVWR and 1,685-pound payload for a standard 2WD SR5 Tacoma with an I4 engine, an access cab and a 6-foot (73-inch-long) bed. For those who are looking for more payload and more power off-road, we recommend going with the basic Tacoma SR5 4WD with the 6-foot bed and V6 engine. Going this route nets a 1,395-pound payload compared with a similarly configured Tacoma TRD Sport with MT tires that nets a payload of 1,285 pounds. Tow ratings fall between 6,400 and 6,800 pounds for the V6. For those who are looking to haul a small truck camper, we recommend opting for a 6-foot bed and a V6 which offers more floor space for your camper and more power to haul it. Either 2WD or 4WD Tacomas can be ordered with all-terrain (AT) and mud-terrain (MT) tires. Interested in performance more than payload? Go with a TRD Off-Road double cab that comes standard with rear lockers and MT tires.
- Base price: $28,585
- Standard Powertrain: I4 2.7L, 6-speed automatic transmission
- Max payload: 1,685 pounds
- Max towing: 6,800 pounds
|Tacoma SR5||I4 2.7L||2WD||Access/6 ft||5,600 lbs||1,685 lbs|
|Tacoma SR5||I4 2.7L||2WD||Double/5 ft||5,600 lbs||1,445 lbs|
|Tacoma SR5||V6 3.5L||2WD||Access/6 ft||5,600 lbs||1,395 lbs|
|Tacoma SR5||V6 3.5L||2WD||Double/5 ft||5,600 lbs||1,395 lbs|
|Tacoma SR5||I4 2.7L||4WD||Access/6 ft||5,600 lbs||1,445 lbs|
|Tacoma TRD Sport||V6 3.5L||4WD||Access/6 ft||5,600 lbs||1,285 lbs|
|Tacoma TRD Off-Road||V6 3.5L||4WD||Double/5 ft||5,600 lbs||1,135 lbs|
|Tacoma TRD Sport||V6 3.5L||4WD||Access/6 ft||5,600 lbs||1,155 lbs|
|Tacoma Trail Edition||V6 3.5L||4WD||Double/5 ft||5,600 lbs||1,155 lbs|
|Tacoma TRD Off-Road||V6 3.5L||4WD||Double/6 ft||5,600 lbs||1,155 lbs|
A Warning About Options
When it comes to payload, options can either hurt or help a truck’s rating. This means choosing your options wisely. Yes, getting a TRD Sport or TRD Off-Road offer a number of goodies like the 3.5L V6, 4WD, lockers, skid plates, and larger MT tires, these trucks are also heavier, which means less payload for passengers and hauling a truck camper. Evidence of this can be seen in the chart above which shows a difference of 530 pounds between the basic Tacoma SR5 2WD truck and the Tacoma TRD Off-Road trims.