Ask TFL: Why Do Overland Trucks Have So Little Payload? Jeep Gladiator, Chevy ZR2, Tacoma TRD Pro, and Others

What to do when you want to bring more stuff?

2020 jeep gladiator chevy colorado zr2 toyota tacoma trd pro

Do new midsize trucks offer enough payload to be a proper #overland rig? The question is primarily directed at the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, Chevy Colorado ZR2, and the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. Although, all midsize trucks with specialty off-road packages are in the same boat when it comes to weight carrying capacity.

We recently received this question from Bill Y. Thank you Bill for your service to our country. Bill writes:

“I’m about to dive into the over-landing world. (I am retiring from military and budgeting part of my retirement on a new rig). My goal is to have more miles off-road than on-road over next five years.

I REALLY want a Gladiator as my base (because it’s a Jeep thing).  My family really wants a Gladiator, because we all love my TJ. As I spec out what I want to carry in my future truck (e.g., RTT, bed rack for the tent and gear, new refrigerator, extra gas, more water, etc.) – I find my total weight at about 1,500 lbs – well over a Gladiator Rubicon’s 1,200 payload; well over the ZR2 Bison’s 1,100 payload; and well over a Tacoma TRD Pro’s 1,155 payload.  (This weight includes my wife, teenager, and 2 dogs.)

How are people getting around the GVWR on their over-landing rigs? Am I missing something?”

Bill, you are not missing anything. Most midsize 4×4 trucks do not offer 1,500 lbs of payload or more. Some full-size half-ton trucks are in the same boat.

Everything you want to bring with you weighs a lot. The addition of steel bumpers, a winch, rock sliders, bed rack, tent, refrigerator, extra fuel, air compressor, a shovel, and recovery gear adds hundreds of pounds to your truck.

The only real way to solve the payload problem is to change the spring rate on your suspension. This is usually done with the rear springs, although front springs may need to be changed as well. People usually do this “adding a leaf” to the leaf springs or swapping out coil or leaf springs. Anytime you drastically change the spring rate, the shocks have to be changed or retuned as well. There are also several aftermarket bump stop solutions to help control bottoming out of the suspension.

This is one of the main reasons we decided to build a Jeep Gladiator and a Ford F-250 overland rigs. We wanted to understand all the challenges and share this with the viewers. Carli Suspension built a customized spring/shock system for our heavy duty Ford, specifically for carrying a truck camper and extra equipment. There are other companies, such as Falcon Shocks who can steer you in the right direction as well.

Working on your suspension will add to your budget, but it may be precisely what’s required for your next five years of adventures.