The Big Three have been in something of a Mexican standoff regarding pickup tow ratings since the SAE started developing a "standard" in 2009— nobody wants to conform first. Now Ford has taken the initiative with a promise to adhere with the 2015 F-150, which could be the catalyst to standardize towing capacity claims.
The standard, called "SAE J2807," applies to light duty pickups. It assumes two 150 pound occupants, and that trucks are fitted with the options that "at least one third" of buyers select. At present, you can guarantee manufacturers rate their towing in bare-bones rigs with a jockey-sized bloke behind the wheel.
J2807 mandates that trucks will have to accelerate from 0-30 MPH in less than 12 seconds, 60 MPH in under 30, and take no more than 18 seconds to surge from 40 MPH to 60 with "any given trailer weight." Standards will apply to braking as well, and I'll be able to fill you in with more specifics when I hear more from the SAE.
The biggest deal about a standard is that it'd be just that— a standard. Every manufacturer has their own methods for measuring tow capacities, and it makes direct towing comparison a murky affair for consumers.
Toyota has been on board with J2807 since 2011, when they adopted it for the Tundra. The result was a 400 pound decrease in advertised towing capacity.
Ford's truck communications man Mike Levine told me, explicitly, that "the 2015 Ford F-150 will follow the recommended SAE trailer tow rating standard," this morning.
Reps from Ram and General Motors maintain that they will adopt the standard when a competitor does, so it's safe to assume that if Ford follows through with their promise to adhere the other guys will follow suit.
Automotive News reports that GM went so far as to "pull back marketing materials and even reprint owners' manuals" on their new light duty pickups in anticipation of Ford keeping their promise.
Both Ram's Nick Cappa and Chevrolet's Tom Wilkinson say they already "already validate to J2807 standards," and will be able to advertise revised tow ratings at a moment's notice. Cappa told me "changes will be negligible, if at all" for Ram trucks... just don't forget he's a PR guy.
As the light-duty truck leader, I suppose it makes sense that they'd be the first to leap. I'm guessing they're banking on their new lightweight try to shine under the new standard... why else would the choose now to conform?
Image: Jason Torchinsky via Ford