GM or Nissan for towing a 4000 LB trailer


New Member
I'm looking at either a Nissan Frontier V6 4.0 L , 6-speed manual, 3.53
rear axle (rated at 6500#), or GM's 1500 4.8 L V8, 3.23 rear axle, short bed (rated
at 5200#, more w/trans cooler). This is Chevy's base truck, sold as a a loss leader for about $15,000 (a bigger engine will cost a lot more) and I'm only considering
this truck casue of the price is low.

Ford & Dodge make a simular truck, but GM has the 100K warrenty, & that
is a very good idea, for all UAW products. Toyota makes a great truck, but the price is out
of this world!

The Nissan costs at least $2,200 more and has limited avaiablity. EPA
mileage ratings are about the same (17 City & 21 Hwy). I'm use to
driving a stick, so I am leaning the Nissan way. I'm trying to balance
my towing needs, with my everyday needs. I also feel the Nissan is a
better made, will last longer & is more refined. Nissan's are made
in Tennesse and are about 60% domestic content, so any objective
thoughts (I know your daddy always drove an xyz, but that's not
applicable here)? ;)


Senior Member
Re: GM or Nissan for towing a 4000 LB trailer

Keep in mind that towing ratings are slanted towards salemanship, not practicality. They generally refer to a truck which is complety empty (no cargo, no passengers, no accessories, nothing but a 150 pound driver and a bit of gas). And they tend to be calculated for a flat bed trailer with 'no' wind resistance.

I have come up with a 'true towing guess' formula, '(advertised towing capacity - truck load weight) * sanity factor'. It should be obvious that anything other than what is specified by the manufacturer which is added to the truck, must be taken away from the specified towing capacity. And you don't want to tow right at the limit, because of wind resistance of RV trailers and the chance you might pick up a bargain on your travels. For 'truck load weight', 1000 pounds is a good general guess, and for 'sanity factor', I like 80%. Obviously, these can be modified for your specific situation. So the Nissan, for instance, might have a 'true' towing capacity of (6500 - 1000) * .8 or 4400 pounds.

When you say 'a 4000 pound trailer' what do you mean? If you mean a 'dry weight' of 4000 pounds, then probably none of those trucks will be really good choices. 'Dry weight' is not reliable (does not account for any changes made by the dealer or previous owners) and a trailer which is empty is hardly worth towing. GVWR for the trailer is your safest value to use when choosing a tow vehicle, although if you always pack light and are very careful, you can get by with 'loaded weight'.

If you are ever going to tow ANYTHING with an automatic transmission, get a transmission cooler. A transmission temp guage is also a good idea, so you can spot problems before damage to the transmission is done. Transmission fluid breaks down based on temperature, ranging from 10's of thousands of miles at 'normal' temp, down to a few miles at a very high temp. When the fluid breaks down, the transmission is right behind...

Toyota seems to be pretty good, probably why they cost so much :) I haven't had any problems with my GM vehicles, except the OnStar division is either filled with incompetants or crooks. My Ford experiance has not been good, and lately they appear to have trouble living up to their warrantees and seem hell bent on reshaping society to their preferance. Dodge seems ok as far as I can tell, but the effects of the change of ownership are to be determined.

Nissans are generally considered to be a 'second line' vehicles, but I suppose it can do the job, and perhaps the differences today between first line and second line vehicles is not as great as it used to be.

Frankly, if you really want to tow, get a real engine...

DL Rupper

Senior Member
Re: GM or Nissan for towing a 4000 LB trailer

I would go with the Nissan for 4 reasons:
1. The rear axle is rated a 6500#s
2. The 3.53 rear end is a little lowed geared and more suited to towing than the Chevy 3.23.
3. The Nissan will probably last longer with less problems so the 100,000 mi Chevy warranty is probably a push.
4. With a V-6 I would personally rather be meshing the gears with a manual transmission. Less chance of being in the wrong gear for the situation or constantly gear hunting.

As always: Just my opinion :laugh: