Can the V6 Tundra Truly Tow as Well as The V8 Ram 1500 Pickup Truck?
Welcome back to our series comparing the 2023 Ram 1500 and Toyota Tundra. While the Ram still offers its traditional 5.7-liter Hemi V8 and eight-speed transmission, the Tundra has swapped to a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 and 10-speed. So which one is the better tow rig? The Ram may pull ahead for heavy loads, but the Tundra’s new technology makes towing easy.
The Ram 1500’s V8 and Tundra’s turbocharged V6 get identical fuel mileage
This first point will be a shocker for many. Toyota tossed its old naturally-aspirated 5.7-liter V8 for the 2022 model year to modernize the Tundra’s third generation. One benefit of a turbocharged V6 is that it can sip fuel until the driver really digs into the accelerator or hooks up a trailer. The Aisin-built 10-speed automatic should also help with the mpg.
But Ram has been modernizing its 5.7-liter Hemi V8 as well. The truck can shut off some cylinders on the highway. Its starter and alternator are combined in an eTorque unit that smooths out the engine’s automatic start/stop function and offers some regenerative braking. The Ram 1500 even deploys a front diffuser for better mileage, and air-ride-equipped trucks drop down for high-speed aerodynamics.
What’s the result? Identical fuel mileage. See the on-road fuel mileage in the table below or read on to see which truck uses less fuel while towing a trailer up a mountain pass.
|4WD Ram 1500 V8||17 mpg||22 mpg||19 mpg|
|2WD Ram 1500 V8||18 mpg||23 mpg||20 mpg|
|4WD Toyota Tundra||17 mpg||22 mpg||19 mpg|
|2WD Toyota Tundra||18 mpg||23 mpg||20 mpg|
The 3rd-gen Toyota Tundra is a high-tech tow rig
The 2022 and 2023 Toyota Tundra’s turbocharged V6 can make 389 horsepower and up to 479 lb-ft of torque (at 5,200 rpm). That’s a higher output than the Hemi! The Ram makes 395 horses/410 lb-ft (but that torque is available at 3,950 rpm). The Tundra does suffer a bit of turbo lag. But overall, it’s unsurprising the Tundra’s V6 has plenty of get-up-and-go while towing.
When TFL Truck got its hands on a 4WD 2022 Toyota Tundra with an 11,120-pound tow rating, they decided to put it to the test. Because the reviewers are based in Colorado, they hooked the Tundra up to an 8,100-pound trailer and ran it up “Ike’s Gauntlet.” This stretch of I-70 climbs eight miles to an 11,158-foot Rocky Mountain pass.
The consensus is that the new Toyota Tundra is an excellent tow vehicle. It did not struggle hauling its trailer up the steep mountain pass and proved very stable. Its well-engineered tow hitch, safety chain hooks, and towing-specific driver aids (such as backup assist) were very useful. And even during the climb, it maintained 4.3 mpg. Though the Tundra performed better than the average half-ton–and it was neck-and-neck with the Ram–the Ram 1500 performed just a bit better.
The 2022 and 2023 Tundra are now very competitive with the rest of the half-ton segment. But this truck is still not best-in-class.
The Ram 1500 pickup truck perfects tried-and-true towing technology
The 2023 Ram 1500 is an illuminating pickup truck to compare to the 2023 Toyota Tundra. The Ram was one of the first trucks with rear coil spring suspension. After Ram proved that the technology makes for as good a towing rig as an off-road truck, Toyota implemented it for the Tundra redesign. Both trucks offer air suspension (Tundra in the back and Ram at all four corners), but the Tundra just ditched its 5.7-liter V8 for a V6. The Ram shows why this move might have been premature.
TFL Truck took a Ram 1500 up Ike’s Gauntlet, towing the same trailer it used to test the Tundra. The Ram’s Hemi V8 made enough power to pull the trailer up the mountain as quickly as the Tundra. When equipped with air-ride suspension, it essentially eliminates squatting. Its five-link suspension is stable, even with a heavy load. And it maintained 4.7 mpg while towing up the mountain. That’s even better than the turbocharged Tundra.
If you are curious how these trucks stack up in other categories, see:
- 2023 Toyota Tundra vs. Ram 1500 interior
- 2023 Toyota Tundra vs. Ram 1500 infotainment
- 2023 Toyota Tundra vs. Ram 1500 fuel mileage
Or you can watch the towing test for yourself in the video below: