Pre- everything: minimum tow vehicle capability? Buying SUV and PuP this year

Discussion in 'Camper Pre-Purchase Questions' started by NegrilJerry, Mar 23, 2015.

  1. NegrilJerry

    NegrilJerry Newbies in GA, we LOVE this site!

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    Hey folks, so glad I discovered this site - and THANKS in advance for your tips. My wife and I (early 60's) love camping here in GA and in the southeast but would love to get out from the endless packup process when striking camp (setup is more fun - anticipation of a great time!).

    Soon I'm getting a new ride, preferably a smallish SUV, but need to know what towing capacity to look for. Our target 1st PuP will be <$3000, used of course. I have found some 4 cyl vehicles such as Hyundai Santa Fe available with turbo option that boosts HP to 260, but I am aware that torque is the key factor. If I have to go 6 cyl, that's OK, but 8 is out. I realize that using a smaller vehicle will limit our destination options, since we won't want to risk blowing the engine/tranny climbing any serious grade.

    The Honda CRV is only available in a 4...RAV4 has a 6 option but I see very few used out there. Subaru Forester?
     
  2. Darn

    Darn Pup to Hybrid

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    The TV (tow vehicle) can never be big enough. If you do just enough to pull the camper you first buy, you would need to replace both if you decide to get a bigger camper. It's like buying a sweater, get the next larger size, you'll grow into it or it will shrink. [8D]
     
  3. CamperMike

    CamperMike Member

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    Ford Escape or the new Jeep Cherokee come to mind as viable options. The escape has 3500lb limit with the tow package, and the cherokee V6 has even more than that (4000 or 4500 don't remember which). The new forester's tow rating is only 1500lbs so it's pretty useless for towing a pup. Older foresters were actually rated to tow quite a bit more, but still less than the Escape or Cherokee. CRV is not rated to tow enough... I think that's also 1500lbs.
     
  4. RMAN4443

    RMAN4443 Member

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    I just purchased a 2015 Toyota Tacoma with V6. The tow rating with Toyota's tow package is 6500#s. I'm pretty sure that will cover any needs I have now and in the future.
    Good luck with your decision and keep camping! [CP]
     
  5. Customer

    Customer Well-Known Member

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    You are doing it in reverse order. Pick the RV first and then pick a capable tow vehicle.
     
  6. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

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    This would be my recommendation as well .. When your out looking for a pup, use the trailers Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) as it's weight and NOT the fictitious Dry Weight ...
     
  7. CamperMike

    CamperMike Member

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    Well, at least figure out the size of the popup and typical weights before getting the TV. 3500lb tow rating is adequate for *most* standard 10'-12' popups. If you want a highwall or slideouts you need more capacity.
     
  8. PepperWolf

    PepperWolf Member

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    I have a 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe 3.5 6 cyl Without the tow package that I bought used last fall and it can tow 3500 but I'm going to stay small for when I find my pop up for various personal reasons.
     
  9. alwaysonguard

    alwaysonguard Member

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    I tried very hard to pick an SUV, without getting into a large vehicle, that could handle a "feature rich" pup. I was caught a bit on tongue weight, which isn't generally considered. Yes you can get WDH, air bags, etc. This can tend to add expense and complexity... When you feel you have the right pup/tow vehicle combination, it may just be worth checking the tongue weight capability. Could save you a bit of work.

    Don't be discouraged! Good luck on finding the right rig for you. I have a new pup coming home this weekend and couldn't be happier to have the search finally coming to an beginning.
     
  10. Nandy

    Nandy Active Member

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    Forget about 4 cylinders unless you are pulling a motorcycle type trailer. It is all 6 cylinders and up for any old regular pup up.
    You are looking for a vehicle that can haul 3500 lbs and 350 lbs tonge at minimum. You want your camper to be no more than 75% of the weight of your vehicle, I rather say, if you want to tow comfortable at all diving conditions you want to stay under 75% of the max towing capacity.
    Example
    Our murano curb weight is 3900, max towing capacity is 3500, If I calculate the 75% out of my murano curb weight I should not tow anything over 2900, if I use the max towing capacity the number is no trailer over 2600. So I know that I need to stay under 2600 for towing anywhere, flat or hills and if I get something on the 2900 (because is such a great deal) I will better served just towing in flat roads as the vehicle will struggle in hills. I have another TV which tows max 5000lbs so if we go to the mountains I will use that other vehicle.

    Most average pop ups will be fine to tow with a 3500 tow max vehicle, not all, but most. If you get a 5000 lbs max tow vehicle then you will have a better drive in the mountains... I haul a 900 max camper with that murano and you cant even tell it is there...

    Good luck!
     
  11. Customer

    Customer Well-Known Member

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    The problem with this is that many people 'think' they know what they want until they start looking. Once they start walking the RV lot they get size and amenity creep. They might start looking at 8' pups and end up buying a 30' TT.
     
  12. West Coast Canuck

    West Coast Canuck Jumped to the dark side ......

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    you have to understand that what ever the tow rating of your vehicle is reduced by the weight of the cargo and passengers that you carry, example cargo 600 lbs passengers say 400 lbs. that is a 1000 lbs. if the tow vehicle is rated for towing 2000 lbs gvw then the pup that you chose should not exceed 1000 lbs gvw in weight. You will need to make sure that your tow vehicle is rated to tow the pup that you buy and that it is properly equipped to tow. Depending how heavy the new pup is, you may want to consider trailer brakes especially towing down long hills. I had a Dodge Grand Caravan V6 towing a 2100 lb pup that did not have trailer brakes and I definitely felt the pup pushing me down thru the mountain passes here is BC and although my brakes did handle it, there was some brake fade from over heating brakes even though I tried to stay off of them as much as I could. Good luck finding your new pup and TV.
     
  13. paklein58

    paklein58 New Member

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    Several have mentioned that a TV that is undersized may struggle on hills/mountains. I would also add that a struggling engine & transmission are a hotter engine & transmission. The life of your drive train is significantly impacted by its temperature over it's lifetime. Another reason you'll want to stay well within the ratings and consider a transmission cooler. Some TVs are only rated at their particular rating with a cooler installed.
     
  14. sleach

    sleach A short run will get you within walking distance.

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    The advice already offered regarding overall load well under max should be your guide. Also look for a tow unit with a factory towing package- hitch receiver, wiring, heavier springs, greater engine cooling capacity and tranny cooling capacity. If the factory package is not available, be sure to add air bags and a tranny cooler.
     
  15. adrianpglover

    adrianpglover Active Member

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    I'll also add to be sure to keep your trailer's GVWR well under the "tow rating" of the TV. We have a 3500lb PUP that we started out towing with our 2012 Odyssey with a V6. I went to a scale with it and found that without camping equipment or my family (van empty) I was at the GCWR limit of the van. Remember that a "tow rating" is given assuming nothing in the TV except a driver of "average weight". If you want anything in your TV like a spouse, dog, clothes, food, etc, then you'll have to decrease your tow rating accordingly.
     
  16. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

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  17. Nandy

    Nandy Active Member

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    I keep telling her to stay but she insist in coming! [:D] [:D]
     
  18. boondoggle

    boondoggle New Member

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    I'd skip a turbo for towing. I've owned a couple of turbos (great for the mountains, and fun) but the owners manual always said no towing. And it's no surprise. It would be a pain to get the thing going until the turbo kicked in .

    Yeah, Ford has the ecoboost thing (really just turbos) in their trucks but that's a little different situation.

    How about a midsize SUV? I'm partial but 4Runners are awesome tow vehicles. I have one with a V8, but the 4th gen V6 versions are awesome for towing too and are really really well built. They come with a hitch built in. You could add an external transmission cooler very easily. Or get the Limited version which also has air suspension to help keep things level if you end up with more tongue weight than anticipated. These things are made to handle some work.

    They're also body on frame - meaning they're built on a truck frame. Won't find that in many midsize SUVs. Only the 4Runner, FJ, and some Nissan's like the xterra and Armada. Well, unless you get into luxury (read: expensive) SUVS - or big SUVs.

    Anyhow, just some thoughts. Everyone will have a different suggestion when it comes to good tow vehicles. Good luck and have fun shopping! :)
     
  19. R00

    R00 Active Member

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    2nd generation Xterra/Frontiers are excellent tow vehicles, however you have to watch out for the "Strawberry Milkshake of Death"

    Basically, on 05-10 Nissan 4.0L V6's the trans cooler is located inside the radiator. It fails. Trans fluid leaks into your coolant. Death of truck.

    Can be averted by installing aftermarket external trans cooler and bypassing the original one.

    I believe the issue was solved in 2011 and later models.
     
  20. MNTCamper

    MNTCamper Active Member

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    As indicated above in one of the posts, it would be helpful if you chose your camper first. On the info that you posted, it is just you and your wife, so you can find a nice 10' box pop up out there and the gross weight rating on the trailer will be around 2500 lbs (that is the max load fully loaded). There are any number of smaller SUVs that can tow 2500 lbs comfortably. You do not need to oversize the vehicle to tow your pop up, especially recognizing that 90% of your driving will be without towing. You do need to size it correctly but now oversize it. You can look online at the tow capacity of many of the smaller SUVs that you envision to get an idea what they can tow. The fact of the matter is that there are 4 cylinder vehicles out there that will tow a lighter trailer that may be just fine for you and your wife. If you can pin down your camper first, it will make choosing your tow vehicle much easier.
     

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