While SUV fans might sit around discussing how much cargo their massive land-whale of a vehicle can fit, and sports car lovers indulge in the latest 0 to 60 track time, I know all of you truck owners look at a different stat: towing! You want power, and you want to see how that power translates into real-world numbers. You need to know what it all means for you before you head to your local Chevy dealer and see the latest models. Time off the line for a sports car is fun to look at, but most drivers will never really take advantage of that.
Towing capacity, on the other hand, is not only an impressive number used by manufacturers to sell us trucks, but it really means something. Whether you’re looking to haul a load of lumber across town to a worksite or take your boat to the river on the weekend, towing capacity matters. That’s one of the things I like about discussing trucks – the numbers are real, not just specs to compare for hypothetical races.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the towing capacity for the latest 2020 Chevy trucks hitting the market. I’d like to know how they stack up and how they compare to each other, so I know what I should recommend to my friends looking for a new pickup at a Chevy dealer. And if you’re reading this, I bet you want to know too.
The 2020 Chevy Colorado
There are essentially four pickups in the 2020 lineup you’ll find at your local Chevy dealer, starting with the Colorado, which is a midsize pickup. In other words, this is the smallest and lightest duty of the 2020 trucks, so we might as well start here. I’ll take a look at the different configurations that matter and how they compare for conventional towing.
With the 2020 Chevy Colorado, there are three engines available, and the engine you choose directly impacts how much towing capacity you get, which makes sense. More powerful engines mean more strength to pull whatever’s behind you. Here are the three engines for the Colorado and their maximum possible towing capacity:
- 2.5L 4-Cylinder Engine – Up to 3,500 lbs.
- 3.6L DOHC V6 Engine – Up to 7,000 lbs.
- Duramax 2.8L Turbo Diesel – Up to 7,700 lbs.
So, if you’re heading to your local Chevy dealer for a Colorado, then the absolute best towing you can get is with the available turbo diesel engine. That being said, it’s a fairly small upgrade in towing compared to the 3.6L engine, which is a huge improvement over the standard one. If you don’t want a diesel, then go for the 3.6L engine for great towing thanks to greater horsepower and torque.
The 2020 Chevy Silverado
Next up, you’ll find the standard 2020 Chevy Silverado, also called the Silverado 1500. This is a full-size pickup but is generally considered a light-duty truck, as it doesn’t have quite the muscle of its heavy-duty siblings. That being said, over the past few years, manufacturers have put a lot of work into giving their light-duty models impressive towing capacities, so don’t count this one out.
There are five different engines available on the 2020 Silverado (technically six, but one is a variant of another, so we’ll just focus on the main five), and they have a direct impact on towing capacity. Just to make things complicated, however, the trim you choose also affects the maximum towing on your truck. There are eight different trim levels for the 2020 Silverado, and I’m not about to list dozens of different possible towing capacities – who would even want that?
Instead, I’ll focus on the RST trim, because it’s a fantastic trim for one thing, and it also has four of the five possible engines available on it, which is better than any other trim for comparison sake. I’ll include the fifth engine too, just remember it’s for a different trim level.
- Custom Trail Boss with 4.3L V6 – Up to 7,400 lbs.
- RST with 2.7L Turbo – Up to 6,800 lbs.
- RST with 3.0L Duramax Turbo-Diesel – Up to 9,300 lbs.
- RST with 5.3L V8 – Up to 11,600 lbs.
- RST with 6.2L V8 – Up to 13,400 lbs.
Trim does matter and can make a difference of 1,000 lbs., even with the same engine, so keep that in mind. Those 13,400 lbs. of towing with the 6.2L V8 engine, however, are the maximum available with the Silverado.
The 2020 Chevy Silverado 2500HD
Now we get to some heavy hitters and some serious towing potential, at least in theory. The Silverado 2500HD is the first of two heavy-duty pickups, and because it’s heavy-duty, we expect to see some big numbers for towing. There are only two engines available for the Silverado 2500HD – but towing is affected by the size of the cab, the length of the bed, and the size of the tires.
So once again, we can end up with several dozen possible options, and that’s just too much to look at. To keep this simple, I’ll list the highest possible towing capacity for each engine, along with the configuration that will get you up to it. You’ll need to look into any other combinations you’re interested in to see other specifics.
- 6.6L V8 with any configuration – Up to 14,500 lbs.
- 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V8 with Crew Cab – Up to 18,500 lbs.
For non-crew cab models with the turbo-diesel engine, the maximum towing was still 14,500 lbs., so that’s something to consider. The 18,500 lb. limit also requires either 18 or 20-inch tires.
The 2020 Chevy Silverado 3500HD
At last, we come to the most powerful truck you’re likely to find at your local Chevy dealer, the Silverado 3500HD. Of course, some commercial models can include more power, but this is the peak level of power for a consumer pickup. Once again, two engines are available, and cab size and box length can impact the towing limit. But there’s also another factor to consider: the 3500HD is available with a dual-rear-wheel configuration. With all that in mind, here’s what you can expect:
- 6.6L V8 with a regular cab – Up to 16,800 lbs.
- 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V8 with a crew cab – Up to 20,000 lbs.
- 6.6L Turbo-Diesel with dual-rear-wheel – Up to 20,000 lbs.
You get the lowest possible towing capacity of 14,500 lbs. with certain configurations of the 6.6L V8 gas engine, as well as the more powerful engine with a double or regular cab. Any offered configuration with dual rear-wheels has 20,000 lbs. of maximum towing capacity with conventional towing.
The Last Word
So, in the end, what did we learn? The line between light-duty and heavy-duty full-size pickups is blurring slightly. After all, a properly equipped Silverado 1500 can haul up to 13,400 lbs. behind it, while most 2500HD setups can tow up to 14,500 lbs. behind them. That’s only about 1,000 lbs. of difference between the light-duty and first heavy-duty option. Even some 3500HD models have a maximum towing of up to 14,500 lbs. though they can get much higher with the right setup.
So really, it all comes down to what you need and the configuration you like. You’ll have to see what your Chevy dealer has available and find the setup that works for you. Also, keep in mind these were all conventional towing numbers – if you want gooseneck towing, then the heavy-duty models are a huge improvement. The Silverado 3500HD, for example, tops out at up to 35,500 lbs. with a gooseneck setup.