Tow Vehicle - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-05-2007, 09:02 PM   #15
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Candi,

I've had 4WD vehicles since my first Jeep CJ-7 in 1979. I've driven them since 1974. Remember that the purpose of 4WD is to take you places much more remote to get stuck in so your tow bills can eclipse your car and insurance payments!

Roger
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Old 01-06-2007, 12:47 AM   #16
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...Remember that the purpose of 4WD is to take you places much more remote to get stuck in ...
So maybe it makes sense to tow a travel trailer with a 4WD, so you have somewhere to stay while waiting for extrication?
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Old 01-06-2007, 09:25 AM   #17
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First the 4 wheel drive then the winch (The one attached to the front of the 4wd, not the one yelling in your ear for being stuck in a 4wd)
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Old 01-06-2007, 09:34 PM   #18
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Ah yes, gotta love the humorous digressions...

Well, went to check out the Toyota Sienna today. Did you know that the brochure says that tow packages come standard on all models from 2006/07? But beware; the stickers at the place we looked at did not all have the extra transmission and power steering cooling with the electric harness, etc. available on all their models (which is what a tow package normally includes). I think what they meant by "tow packages", which I think was deceptive, is that all models are capable of towing 3500lbs with no extra features. The salesman kept telling us that the XLE AWD came with a tow package and had the set up already. But we kept looking at the sticker and it did not say so. Finally we came straight out and asked him to look the VIN number up (it was a used 2004) and, sure enough, no tow package. He then agreed to add a hitch, put on an extra oil cooler (?) wiring harness, etc. No charge. I'm thankful to my savvy husband whose keen eyes caught the descrepency. In the end, no buy, though the salesman tried really hard.

The lesson? Always do your homework first, ask for it in writing, look closely at what the sticker does and does not list as the features on the vehicle you are looking at.

One question I have, and maybe you can answer this Brian. Is there really any difference in the front wheel drive and the AWD when towing something as light as the 13ft. Scamp? I don't think we'll want to get a bigger camper someday but do you think it would make a difference if we pulled a 16ft.er with it? The Sienna 06 has only a 3.3 liter engine but the 07 is a 3.5 liter engine. Obviously the 07 has more power but I'm not sure if I'll need that much power if we get AWD.

So, which is better, the AWD or the more powerful engine?

The Quest is out, very bad reviews in Consumer Digest and hubby respects their opinions.
Toyota Highlander-good engine, interior is way too small.

Didn't have time to try out the Honda Odyssey or the Pilot. Maybe we'll look some time this week or next weekend. If this post is still active I'll let you all know what I think then.

Thanks for all of your opinions, it really helps.

Candi
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Old 01-06-2007, 10:53 PM   #19
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Is there really any difference in the front wheel drive and the AWD when towing something as light as the 13ft. Scamp?
My posting #12 with the link to Gold Bluffs Beach Campground might answer your question.

We found that beach a few years ago when we had a class C motorhome. The sign at the road said 'no vehicle lengths over 20', but we figured our 24' RV would be okay, and it was. It's a windy road over the coastal hills down to a very private, very nice campground right on the ocean. Had a nice stay and hoped to come back.

Fast forward to 2004, the year we got our Scamp, and a trip back to the coastal highway in with our FWD Element. Turned off the highway, and headed down the gravel road to the campground. Immediately there is a steep hill, and because of traffic we didn't get a lot of speed up, so about half way up we slow down and the wheels start to spin. So we do a u-turn and go back down and consider making another run at it but decide not to try since we could encounter simlar problems on other hills or the retun trip. So sadly, no Gold Bluffs Beach experience on that trip.

So that was 20,000 towing miles ago, with many trips up steep paved roads, down many gravel and dirt roads (note: avoid towing over washboard roads), in rain and no-snow with no problems, easily towing our Scamp with our 4-cylinder Honda FWD.

Conclusion: You don't need AWD to tow a 13'-17' fiberglass trailer, unless you're going to Gold Bluffs Beach, and even then, maybe not! Would it be useful, yes in maybe a few instances at the cost of a 1-2mpg mileage penalty all the time. I've also been told by someone towing with a RWD van that they have experienced wheel spin,

Good luck.
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Old 01-07-2007, 12:55 PM   #20
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I believe that incompetent sales staff and poorly designed literature sabotage a lot of good work done in vehicle design.

The [b]towing "package" which includes an additional transmission oil cooler is the type of thing which is normally called a "towing prep package"; it provides towing capacity but does not include the actual wiring and hitch. This is not a Toyota concept, it is true of all manufacturers, although in many cases there are also packages with the final wiring and hitch (Ford Super Duty trucks even offer a brake controller). In my year (2004) of this same generation of Sienna, the towing rating was 2000 lb without the package, and 3500 lb with it; all Canadian Siennas had the package, and perhaps it is now standard in the U.S. as well.

In the case of the Sienna, there is no wiring in the "prep package". Both a wiring setup (converter/isolator and connector for the lights) and a receiver-type hitch are available from Toyota, and can be purchased as options on the van, but they are both dealer-installed. There are no trailer wiring packages or hitches installed at the factory, and I think you'll find that is true of the other brands as well. I bought both of these through the dealer at the time of my initial purchase, but they can be added later, using Toyota parts or aftermarket, with no problems.

Quote:
...Is there really any difference in the front wheel drive and the AWD when towing something as light as the 13ft. Scamp? I don't think we'll want to get a bigger camper someday but do you think it would make a difference if we pulled a 16ft.er with it?
My Boler is longer, wider, and heavier than a 16 ft Scamp, and twice the weight of a typical 13 ft. Scamp; I find I am not lacking for either power or traction. I have found the front tires spin when climbing out of steep camp sites on gravel, or accelerating full-throttle to get onto a highway, but it's not a problem. With my trailer and our usual cargo load (up to the axle ratings!), the van has about the same load on front and rear axles, which is not a great combination with front wheel drive; with a lighter trailer and reasonable cargo load, it should be no problem at all.

Having said that, I would prefer AWD, but more for winter operation than for the towing advantage.

There has been significant discussion of AWD versus FWD in the SiennaClub.org forum, and there is no clear consensus - it depends on your priorities, but is not necessary for towing. One frequently identified downside to the AWD is that it eliminates the underfloor storage space for a spare tire, so run-flat tires are used instead, which are expensive and have their own problems.
Quote:
...The Sienna 06 has only a 3.3 liter engine but the 07 is a 3.5 liter engine. Obviously the 07 has more power but I'm not sure if I'll need that much power if we get AWD.

So, which is better, the AWD or the more powerful engine?
Well, it's really not an either/or choice, unless you mean financially, since both 2006 and 2007 versions have AWD available. I suppose if I were replacing mine and had to choose, I would go for AWD, but I live in a northern rural area... for towing, I suppose more power might be beneficial, but I keep up with the highway traffic (when I am willing to pay the fuel economy penalty and choose to...) with the current van.

To put this in perspective, that "only 3.3 liter" engine (identical from 2004 through 2006) puts out more power than any of the GM, Ford, or Chrysler competitors did in the same model year as mine (2004). I can tow my Boler at a sustained 130 km/h (80 mph) - I said "can" [b]not "routinely do" - and can pull up a long 7% mountain grade at 100 km/h (62 mph), so it's not like I'm yearning for more power. I think Odyssey owners are similarly well provided with power.

For later resale value, the difference of one model year may be significant, especially with the well-known engine change. It is not just 0.2 L more displacement, it is actually a different generation of engine.

I have little respect for any of the "consumer" magazines, but they are not alone. Nissan was getting scathing reviews for its quality in various models at the time of the current [b]Quest's introduction a few years ago. That may have been a temporary problem, but it was severe enough to get attention in the business press as a significant concern for the corporation. That's one of a few reasons we chose the Sienna over the Quest, but it does appear to be a very capable minivan.

The [b]Highlander and Sienna generally share major mechanical components (engine, transmission, front suspension, steering...), although they don't necessarily get upgrades in the same model year. Essentially, they are SUV/wagon and van versions of the same vehicle, and I believe that Sienna's longer wheelbase makes it the better tow vehicle; it certainly met our requirements better. For now, if you were to want a hybrid, the Highlander would be the only choice among these two, although there is a hybrid version of the Lexus SUV/wagon which also shares the same components.
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Old 01-07-2007, 01:10 PM   #21
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Is there really any difference in the front wheel drive and the AWD when towing something as light as the 13ft. Scamp?
I think that depends on what kind of AWD you get. On my Hyundai Santa Fe (and many other AWD vehicles, Subaru being the only exception I know of) only a minimal amount of energy is transmitted to the rear wheels most of the time. Before significant energy is moved to the rear wheels, the front wheels have to be spinning freely, and this kind of drive mechanics is of little help when you're towing because you've already lost traction on the front wheels where the loin's share of your power will always go.

The other thing about AWD on the Santa Fe (and many other vehicles) is it actually reduces your towing capacity. My AWD Santa Fe has a maximum tow capacity of 2200lbs; the FWD version can pull 2700lbs. (Assuming electric brakes.)

--Peter
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Old 01-07-2007, 01:21 PM   #22
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One frequently identified downside to the AWD is that it eliminates the underfloor storage space for a spare tire, so run-flat tires are used instead, which are expensive and have their own problems.
OT: Click and Clack discussed run-flat tires in their column today. Totally convinced me that this is something to avoid like the plague. Short tire life, very expensive to replace ($250 each), and requires special equipment to mount not yet widely available.

Of course, if one has lots of money and wants the benefit then maybe a good idea.
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Old 01-07-2007, 03:32 PM   #23
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OT: Click and Clack discussed run-flat tires in their column today. Totally convinced me that this is something to avoid like the plague. Short tire life, very expensive to replace ($250 each), and requires special equipment to mount not yet widely available.

Of course, if one has lots of money and wants the benefit then maybe a good idea.
Might be true for some vehicles, but clearly not all of them. None of the AWD vehicles we looked at in 2001 had run-flats, and the Santa Fe we bought had a full-size spare.

--P
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Old 01-07-2007, 04:21 PM   #24
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Essentially, they are SUV/wagon and van versions of the same vehicle, and I believe that Sienna's longer wheelbase makes it the better tow vehicle; it certainly met our requirements better. For now, if you were to want a hybrid, the Highlander would be the only choice among these two, although there is a hybrid version of the Lexus SUV/wagon which also shares the same components.
Interesting...when I asked the salesperson about the difference in wheelbase between the Highlander and the Sienna he said it was "the same". Next time I'm bringing my own tape measure and checking it for myself. At any rate, the Highlander was too small for what we needed.

Thanks for sharing your personal experience, it's been quite helpful. Since we live where we get snow every winter I think the AWD is a good choice. I do hate those tires, though. Nowone in our town can fix them and the dealership is too far away to drive a flat into it. Imagine getting a flat tire somewhere in the middle of nowhere and the man at the local tire shop has never seen anything like it, much less knowing how to fix it. Bad News.

Candi
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Old 01-07-2007, 04:25 PM   #25
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Might be true for some vehicles, but clearly not all of them. None of the AWD vehicles we looked at in 2001 had run-flats, and the Santa Fe we bought had a full-size spare.

--P

The AWD versions have run flat tires standard on all of them. There is no choice. YOu get the AWD, you get the run flats. You could pay to have them removed but then you have no place for a spare. However, there's plenty of cargo space in the back to store it, it's just ugly and might mess up your carpeting.

Candi
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Old 01-07-2007, 04:34 PM   #26
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I have never heard of "Run Flats".Are they those stupid spair tires which are smaller than regular tire.?
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Old 01-07-2007, 05:29 PM   #27
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I have never heard of "Run Flats".Are they those stupid spair tires which are smaller than regular tire.?
My technical knowledge is limited but, they are a special tire that is made to be driveable even after they become flat. Of course, the driveability is not ideal and is only for emergency cases until you can get to a shop that can repair them. Except, most shops don't repair them so you may have to drive many more miles than you would have otherwise, just to get your tire fixed! Maybe the idea will catch on and many places will begin to repair them. But it's not forseable considering their cost.

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Old 01-07-2007, 06:00 PM   #28
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Most run-flats will require replacement in the event that you actually use them as run-flats, by driving on them after losing pressure. However there is some dispute over this. The problem seems to arise because you can't see visible damage inside the (reinforced) tyre sidewall, as you can if a normal tyre has been driven on when flat.

There is even some uncertainty about whether it is safe to repair the tread area if punctured.

Most run-flats are significantly harsher-riding than normal tyres and some manufacturers fit softer bushes in the suspension to compensate, so you get harsh and wobbly!

It's not encouraging, is it?

Andrew
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