Towing with SUV???

Discussion in 'Camper Pre-Purchase Questions' started by ScrappyGirl, Oct 8, 2018.

  1. WVhillbilly

    WVhillbilly Well-Known Member

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    A Durango, depending on year, is built on a light truck platform.
    Much different from a Rav4 or something that is built on a car chassis.
     
  2. cruzinZ

    cruzinZ New Member

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    Like other have said get the PUP first. You don’t need a tow vehicle to bring it home. If you need to tow one rent a truck for a day and go and get it. Once you have the trailer in your possession you can calculate how much weight you will be dealing with. I would recommend that you figure in full wet weight of the trailer and add in an extra 250-300 lbs of stuff you might not realize you will be bringing when you are tallying up the weights. Look at the fuel mileage of the “smaller” vehicle and compare it to the fuel mileage of a larger SUV. Next step is to figure out how much more money you will be spending on gas throughout the year. What ever that amount is base it on your own safety factor of towing when you make a decision. Are you going to be using the trailer once or twice a year at a campground that is 45min 1.5 hrs away from home on flat land? If so than the smaller SUV will more than likely do just fine. If you are going to explore some mountain camping spots and use the trailer quite frequently all spring, summer & fall skip the small SUV completely and get a better towing vehicle! Your safety and the safety of people around you is more important than trying to save a couple bucks a month on fuel with an underperforming towing vehicle. If you are serious about towing I would HIGHLY recommend a body on frame vehicle. They do not get as good of fuel mileage but are designed to tow and haul.

    *** My side rant: Unibody vehicles are NOT designed with towing at the forefront of their design criteria. Most SUV’s built these days in my opinion are not SUV’s. The definition is sport utility vehicles. Most people throw around the term SUV when they should really be calling the vehicle a cross over. It’s nothing more than a standard car with a larger body on top. Sport utility should have higher ground clearance, beefy suspension parts from the factory and off-road capability. Modern vehicles that claim to be SUV’s even come with larger wheels and lower profile street tires. Take any of these vehicles off-road on some light trails and they will fail. Most will get stuck or leave with body damage.

    *** back on topic. Ultimately you should consider the use of the vehicle and it’s towing duty. Most people who have a truck use its potential only 5% of the time. It may not get the best gas mileage but it does have its perks. The utility of the vehicle really makes a huge difference. Don’t get stuck in a small SUV if a larger one is needed.
     
    soft 17 likes this.
  3. silvermickey2002

    silvermickey2002 Morris County, NJ

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    We purchased a 2012 Ford Explorer Base Edition. It has a V6 with the tow package. Tow limit is 5,000 Lbs. It replaced our 2005 Honda Ody mini-van. Our pup is a 2008 Fleetwood Sea Pine. Empty it is 1840 lbs, registered weight is 2500. We have towed cross country multiple times and have never had any issues going over mountain passes. It works great as an everyday driver. Just last week we drove down to North Carolina and averaged 25-26 MPG (without towing). While towing we average about 18-20 MPG.
     
  4. Balthisar

    Balthisar Active Member

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    BIW engineer here. Depends on the SUV. While I agree that SUV is an abused marketing term and that most SUV's these days are really CUV's, some of the larger ones really, truly aren't just cars with a larger body, and a lot of them are just cars that are lifted. I finally saw a Model X on the road, which is marketed as an SUV. I can't even see it as a CUV. It's literally just a car!

    Anyway, a body on frame vehicle is always going to be more capable than mass market unibodies. This goes for, say, Crown Victorias just as much as the Expedition. The chassis frame is the vehicle, and the body pretty much just goes along for the ride. But a unibody vehicle isn't just a body without a frame; the frame is integrated into the body. An Edge, for example, shares a lot of design underpinnings with the Fusion, but the Edge is built like a tank. It has thicker sheet metal to form the underbody, and higher grades of steel. It's stiffer, stronger, and more capable than a Fusion. It also weighs a heck of a lot more. It can only tow 3500 lbs., so it's still not as capable as a body-on-frame, but it's a lot more capable than a Fusion would be, even with the same engine and transmission. Moving up to, say, the Flex, you get up to 5000 lbs. If you watch the tongue weights, the body structure can take it.
     
    cruzinZ likes this.
  5. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

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    well my crossover can tow up to 5,000 lbs. Its fine as long as the camper is 3500 lbs or under.
     
  6. cruzinZ

    cruzinZ New Member

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    Also wanted to point out that not all maximum tow ratings are equal. My wife had a Jeep Liberty with a tow rating of 5,000lbs. It’s a short wheel based, body on frame, vehicle and when towing a 3,700 lb boat to the lake it did not do very well. It ended up being an exercise in “tail that wagged the dog”. Most vehicles with a small wheel base between the front and rear tires will suffer when towing. Same can be said for vehicles that are light weight. A solid vehicle that is heavy with a longer wheelbase will handle your towing needs MUCH better. Any vehicle that is light weight with a design skewed towards fuel consumption will have its limiting factors.

    Also want to point out that towing will stress the drivetrain. Depending on how long you keep your vehicles this will play a factor in maintenance and upkeep. Towing a heavy trailer with a smaller vehicle can and will prematurely wear out expensive parts like the transmission. If you keep vehicles around for as long as I do 10+ years and well over 150,000-200,000 miles this will come into play. New/rebuilt engines, transmissions are costly and should skew your decision towards a dedicated towing platform. They will have a greater chance of going the distance than a modern light weight unibody vehicle. This is all subjective as to how much towing you do. If you tow the camper once a year you will not wear out the vehicle over the long haul. If your hooking up the camper every weekend between March through November your needs are completely different. I would like to see you get a vehicle that fits your needs and gets you home safe.

    From my short time on portal it seems that there are some very knowledgeable people.
     
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  7. Alan

    Alan Active Member

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    Great answer!
     
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  8. Troy Dalton

    Troy Dalton New Member

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    This is just my experience...but I don't trust the factory numbers and anyone who says the manufacturers undersell the tow ratings is full of horse excrement. Personally, I think they probably oversell those numbers and here's why.

    We purchased our Starcraft Comet 1020 two and a half years ago. It weighs less than 2,000 lbs empty and probably no more than 2,200 lbs fully loaded. At the time we were pulling our little Comet with a Honda Odyssey mini-van. Plenty of power with the V6 and an advertised tow capacity of 3,500 lbs...so we're good...right?!?

    Nope...within a year we were replacing the transmission. That's when the dealer explained that we should have an additional oil/transmission cooler, if we were going to be towing anything larger than a utility vehicle. "But the vehicle has a 3500 lbs. towing capacity"...to which the mechanic simply shrugged.

    It's certainly possible that we simply had a bad transmission, but it cost me $4500 to repair and regardless of what the manufacturers stated rating, I will never own a tow vehicle that is not equipped with a transmission cooler.

    I still own the van, but I purchased a Toyota Tacoma with the factory towing package and the van has been officially relegated to grocery getting and full-time soccer dad duties...and yes, the van does now have the additional trans cooler...just in case. ;-)
     
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  9. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

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    Automatic transmissions can go at 100,000 plus miles no matter the make. Even without towing. $4500 seems like a very high price. I had my Buick transmission replaced for $2500.
     
  10. gladecreekwy

    gladecreekwy Well-Known Member

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    I agree with everything you said but 28 gallons of water weighs 233.5 lbs.
     
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  11. Troy Dalton

    Troy Dalton New Member

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    At the time, it was our only tow vehicle, so in addition to the transmission, throw in the oil/transmission coolers and that's were the extra 2k comes from.
     
  12. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

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    This is where you the vehicle buyer has to read everything.. Just like on all the truck commercials, There will be the fine print at the bottom of the screen that says something like " Maximum towing Capacity XXXX lbs, with properly equipped and optioned vehicle" .. This is a big problem with trucks from any manufacture, did you know that on most 1500/150 trucks with just the "tow prep" package, upgrading from the basic 17 inch wheels to say 20 inch, will reduce the vehicles tow rating, Likewise getting those nice front bucket seats with a fancy console.. Most folks don't know this.. That is why it is important these days to take the VIN to the dealer and have them check the original options and ratings.. Now doesn't help much on a used vehicle that the previous owner changed wheels on.. but does give a place to start from..


    So if you van didnt have the aux. tranny and oil cooler, it did not have a factory tow package (I say factory, but understand that Toyota and Honda these are all dealer add-ons, unlike Dodge, GM and Ford) so the fine print on that would have been with a "properly equipped vehicle a tow rating of 3500lbs is possible)..
     
  13. WVhillbilly

    WVhillbilly Well-Known Member

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    You can put a trans cooler on nearly any auto trans vehicle for less than $40.
     
  14. BillyMc

    BillyMc Active Member

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    Water is 8.33lbs per gallon 28 gallons is 233.24lbs.
     
    Alan likes this.
  15. Dudman5703

    Dudman5703 Jeep Guy

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    And now I feel stupid.
    My fault. Thanks for the correction.
     
  16. BillyMc

    BillyMc Active Member

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    It's just in the concrete business water is crucial. After several years 8.33 become your new 10.
     
  17. neighbormike

    neighbormike Well-Known Member

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    $4500 is average, maybe on the low side for those Honda transmissions... around here anyway.
     
  18. threebeachboys

    threebeachboys Member

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    This is the very best summary of how to choose a tow vehicle that I've read in a long time. The only thing I would add to what a factory tow package may include is "beefier" suspension.

    I had to replace our much-loved Expedition and really had a tough time finding something that I liked (I didn't want a truck and no longer need a huge SUV) that was 4WD and would tow the 3,500 GVWR Aliner. Finally settled on a 2014 Grand Cherokee, 5.7L Hemi with tow package. Rated to tow 7,200 lbs. with a frontal area limited to 55 sf and a weight distribution hitch mandatory above 3,500 lbs. So in addition to GVWR and tongue weight, sometimes frontal area limitations and hitch requirements come into play. Though not with the Aliner. . . or most pop-ups.
     
    Halford likes this.
  19. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

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    Maybe you can with other brands, but not Ford vehicles, it would still be 2,000 lbs for max tow, not 5,000 lb max tow with factory installed tow package. Ford said that adding DIY trans cooler or anything does not increase tow max. I am not sure about other brand name vehicles because I would always buy Ford.
     
  20. WVhillbilly

    WVhillbilly Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure that the Max Tow package has a trans cooler.
    That is the usually the biggest difference with most tow packages. That and a hitch/trailer wiring.

    On some trucks it may also be heavier springs and bigger brakes.
    A trans cooler alone isn't going to double your tow rating, but they are easy to install on nearly anything.
     
    Alan likes this.

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