Can a Toyota Tacoma Pull a Camper?

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As a mid-size, short bed truck, the Toyota Tacoma is extremely capable. For camper owners, or someone looking at various new or previously owned campers, they cannot go wrong with a Tacoma for towing. Even the more basic models without a specialized tow package are capable of towing 3,500 lbs.

A Tacoma towing camper model isn’t an unusual sight. Given that many campers only have a dry weight of 1,000 to 1,500 lbs., it’s well within the Toyota Tacoma towing capacity for its models over the years even with cargo and people.

Can a Toyota Tacoma Pull a Camper?

Can a Tacoma pull a camper? Toyota Tacoma models through the years from 1995 to present have typically had a towing capacity of 3,500 lbs., allowing for a margin of safety on this maximum.

Clearly, Tacoma models vary in capacities for towing, however, this has been a minimum standard for more than two decades.

With a tow package, some newer models have boosted their towing capacities up to 6,500 lbs. and a few like modern 2016 models or newer Tacoma’s have had a 3.5 Liter engine such as the 2GR-FKS V6 model, achieving a stellar 6,700 lbs. towing capacity. So, a Tacoma pulling camper is totally happening here!

Bear in mind, these are four-wheel-drive models with an added tow package to achieve these higher capacities, otherwise, they’re usually at the 3,500 lbs. None have gone much beyond those limits and they should be discounted to account for a safety margin below the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Can a Toyota Tacoma Pull a Camper?

How Much Weight Can a Toyota Tacoma Tow?

The weight of a camper, or a travel trailer for that matter, varies widely.

The best camper for Tacoma might be a Scamp. Whilst a cute one, like the Scamp 19’ Deluxe Lite model, has a stated dry weight of 1,100 lbs., and accounting for the hitch weight being another 150 lbs. or so, and possible payload cargo adding 560 lbs., you’re still only talking about a max. of 1,810 lbs. of towing.

Any Toyota Tacoma model is going to have no problems with that. Even allowing for a 20% margin of safety on the manufacturer’s stated towing capacities, the least towing capacity would be 3,500 lbs., minus 20% = 2,800 lbs. Well within the limit for many campers, including the Scamp Deluxe Lite in our example.

Also, don’t ignore the total payload capacity as well. With people on board, water, and other items added inside the camper, it adds up fast and needs to be towed down the road too.

What Size Camper Can a Toyota Tacoma Pull?

Honestly, it’s best not to think about camper size.

Why is this?

Because it’s possible to have a larger body camper that is built to be ultra-lightweight relative to its size.

Also, there’s a possibility that an older camper might have used heavier building materials and be surprisingly heavy relative to its smaller size.

As such, the size camper that can be towed isn’t really something in the Tacoma towing bible!

Also Read: What Size Camper Can a Chevy 1500 Pull?

Toyota Tacoma Towing Capacity by Year

The ability to tow a trailer or camper using a Tacoma has been a mainstay for decades. Whilst the models have evolved in appearance and features, the Toyota Tacoma towing capacity only made significant strides with the introduction of more powerful engines sizes, four-wheel drive (4WD), and tow packages.

For the higher towing capacities, look for the Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road, Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport, and Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro models. These usually support the highest towing capacities. The Toyota Tacoma Limited Model also does quite well too.

Below we provide year-specific information based on engine size, rather than model names:

Pre 2002 Toyota Tacoma Towing Capacity

From the mid-90s through to 2001, Tacoma models featured a 2.4L, 2.7L, or 3.4L engine.

Both the 2.4L and 2.7L engines had a towing capacity of 3,500 lbs. The more powerful 3.4L offered 5,000 lbs.

The gross combined weight for these models varied from 6,700 lbs. up to 9,000 lbs. for the 4WD 3.4L model.

2002 Toyota Tacoma Towing Capacity

Between 2002 and 2004, an active distinction began to be made between models without a tow package and ones with a tow package. The difference that a towing package made was highly significant.

For example, the 2.4L model could tow 3,500 lbs. and had a gross combined weight of 6,700 lbs.

Compare this to the 3.4L Tacoma model that supported 3,500 lbs. without a tow package but a far more impressive 6,000 lbs. with a tow package.

Similarly, the gross combined weight increased significantly with 4WD models over 2WD alternatives, to between 6,800 lbs. and 10,000 lbs. for a 2WD Pre-runner or 4WD versions, both with a tow package too.

2005 Tacoma Towing Capacity

From 2005 to 2015, there was a choice of either a 2.7L or 4.0L engine.

With the 2.7L model, the towing capacity was 3,500 lbs. The gross combined weight was between 7,500-8,000 lbs.

However, the robust 4.0L V6 version included a towing package option. This boosted the 3,500 lbs. towing capacity to 6,500 lbs. So, can a Tacoma really tow 6,500 lbs.? Some models can, but you also need to factor in a safety margin, which would lower that into the 5,000+ lbs. range.

Also, the gross combined weight was either 8,100 lbs. with no tow package, or 11,100 lbs. when including one on 4WD and some other versions. Clearly, the 4-liter engine made a huge difference in pulling power.

2017-2020 Toyota Tacoma Towing Capacity

Whether looking for the 2018 Toyota Tacoma towing capacity or the newer 2020 Toyota Tacoma towing capacity, they follow a predictable pattern.

The popular models are the 2.7L and the 3.5L V6 engines.

The 2.7L has the familiar 3,500 lbs. towing capacity whereas the 2017 Toyota Tacoma V6 towing capacity is either 3,500 lbs. or 6,400 to 6,800 lbs. with a tow package, depending on factors like whether it’s a double cab, is a TRD model, and in 2WD or 4WD. Even the popular Toyota Tacoma camper trailer won’t offer a magical solution for towing more.

It’s important to appreciate that even the more modern 2019 Toyota Tacoma towing capacity won’t up the ante for you. Broadly speaking, it will still fall into the above limits and guidelines on towing from Toyota.

The gross combined weight also varies widely from around 7,800 lbs. with the 2.7L model to either 7,890 lbs. with no tow package or as much as 11,360 lbs. with a 3.5L V6 version in a 4WD configuration.

Also Read: What Does Dry Weight Mean on a Camper? (GVWR, UVW & Tow Capacity)

What Size Travel Trailer Can a Toyota Tacoma Pull?

The travel trailer can be larger or smaller; it doesn’t change what the Tacoma can pull or tow.

The dry weight, tow hitch weight, and payload cargo are what matter because it adds up to the total pounds required for towing.

To get past a maximum limit of 3,500 lbs., it’ll be necessary to have a Tacoma that is a V6 model sporting a tow package. This way, the towing capacity is improved to around 6,800 lbs. on several newer Tacoma models.

What Size Travel Trailer Can a 2017 Toyota Tacoma Pull?

Using the 2015 Jayco Jay Flight 26RKS Elite as an example, it’s 26 feet in length and has a dry weight of 5,605 lbs. When considering the hitch and payload cargo, that will increase it further. Water in the tanks will too.

When allowing for a margin of safety with the two, only a V6 model with a tow package is going to handle a Jayco Jay Flight travel trailer model from 2015. A more basic Tacoma without a tow package or V6 engine will fall way short of what’s required.

Another example would be a 2017 Coleman travel trailer, such as the 2017 Coleman model CTS192 RD.

It is 23 feet in length and has a dry weight of 3,974 lbs. It also will be an easy tow for V6 models but be too heavy without a tow package and a more powerful engine under the hood.

Hopefully, you get the idea!

Best Travel Trailer for Toyota Tacoma

We wouldn’t necessarily suggest certain makes and models of the travel trailer to tow with a Tacoma.

Why is this the case?

The truth is that any travel trailer will be acceptable if it doesn’t go near the towing capacity of your Tacoma model. As such, the specific model doesn’t matter. Everyone has their preferences and that’s fine.

Therefore, we won’t tell you to stick to a Jayco travel trailer or some other brand, because that’s simply untrue.

Also, do consider factors like the tongue weight too because this cannot be exceeded either. This relates to the pressure hitch and how much it’s able to handle on the Tacoma.

Can a Toyota Tacoma Pull a Fifth Wheel?

Towing a fifth wheel with a Tacoma is overly ambitious. While some 5th wheels weigh under 5,000 lbs., it could be possible, yet the majority weigh between 12,000 and 19,000 lbs.

The good news is that there are fifth wheel models that are on the smaller, and lighter end and this offers some hope. For example, the Canadian Escape 5.0 TA weighs 3,885 lbs., give, or take a few pounds.

Another fifth wheel in the running is the Scamp 19’ Deluxe mode. It weighs in at between 2,400 lbs. and 2,900 lbs. So, this is another good possibility here.

There are also lightweight fifth wheel models produced by major RV manufacturers. For example, the Jayco Eagle HT 24.5CKTS looks promising. It is under 30 feet long and weighs around 7,530 lbs.

However, remember that even with a tow package added, a Toyota Tacoma model won’t usually tow more than 6,700 lbs. at the upper end. And that doesn’t even allow for a necessary margin of safety with towing. Therefore, most fifth wheels are too heavy for them to tow.

A Necessary Margin of Safety with Towing Capacities

We’d be remiss if we didn’t expand a little on towing capacity and having a margin of safety with them.

Essentially, the manufacturer of a camper or travel trailer will consider the maximum towing capacity. And that’s fine… However, RVers may discover that the number supplied was a little, shall we say, optimistic?! Or, at least, when coming too close to that limit, the towing became unstable.

A 20 percent margin between the stated towing capacity and what’s used is a good rule of thumb. Some people even reduce it close to half between what the manufacturer says its vehicle can tow and what they choose to tow. That’s probably a bit excessive.

The bottom line is, don’t consider towing at capacity. It’s unsafe to do so. Plan to tow less weight than your Toyota Tacoma model can handle.

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