Buying a tow vehicle - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-20-2008, 09:50 PM   #1
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Name: Cathy
Trailer: 1985 Bigfoot 19 w gaucho bed
Washington
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I will soon be the proud owner of a 15' Escape. Reace and Tammy have been so helpful and have answered every one of the million questions I sent their way. My next question has to do with what type of tow vehicle I need to get to tow my new Escape. Some other fiberglass owner told me a Toyota truck was my best option, but I know that some mini-vans and some Subarus also fit the bill. The dry weight of the trailer is 1650. I have a large dog and certain amount of stuff that I want to take with me. I'm guessing I will need at least 3000 pounds of tow capacity to be on the safe side. I can't afford a new vehicle so used is what I'm looking at. What types of vehicles do you all think is a good option.
Cathy
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Old 11-20-2008, 11:16 PM   #2
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Trailer: 1972 boler American and 1979 Trillium 4500
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Way to go Cathy!

Choosing a tow vehicle is a personal thing. Maybe if you posted some more of your needs and likes you might get better suited suggestions. Here are some questions that might help.

Primary or secondary vehicle?
Estimated % of use for towing.
Long or short trips?
What else do you use your vehicle for?
How long do you want it to last?
Does it have a tow package?
Get pricing for what it is going to cost you to put what you need for towing.
Budget
Type of driving - all mountain, all flat land
How much stuff do you want to bring with you? Is it stuff that stays in the trailer or needs to be packed in the vehicle.
and so on.

Even within a certain vehicle, there are a lot of options. For example the manual for my 94 Ranger has over 40 listings for towing capacity based on body style, engine, transmission and other options. If you are hunting for used check out the manual and compare it to what the vehicle actually has.

I'd suggest you look to see what is available in your price range, check out the manuals then come back and post for opinions. Sometimes the same vehicle can be better one year over the next.

It seems that you have a while to hunt before your trailer is ready and camping season begins. The economy the way it is, might create some good deals or it might just tighten up the used market if people don't want to buy new. I'm not sure what is going to happen in the used market but I think you might see some good deals coming up on new vehicles in the next 6 months. The news had one dealer offering buy one vehicle get the second for a dollar ... now if you can find someone else looking you might just be able to get something for 1/2 price.

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Old 11-20-2008, 11:34 PM   #3
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Name: Glenn ( second 'n' is silent )
Trailer: 2009 Escape 17B '08 RAV4 SPORT V6
British Columbia
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I will soon be the proud owner of a 15' Escape.
Read what Roy has to say and then take what I have to say with a grain of salt.

I have the Escape 17 B and a Toyota RAV4 with the V6. I am extremely pleased with the combo. I can easily get up to highway speed on short ramps with the 269 hp and up major hills, yet I get pretty good mileage, towing at 90kph or under and in general commutes without the trailer.

The problem is finding a used RAV at a reasonable price and the older ones are much smaller that I would care to tow with. Mine is a 2008. I'm not sure when they changed to the larger more powerful model.

Any vehicle, new or used is going to cost you more than you want to spend, but you're in the market at a good time, especially to pick up a new 2008.

bags
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Old 11-21-2008, 02:11 AM   #4
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Cathy---we had the same issue(for our 15' Escape) and we bought a 2005 Ford Ranger 3.0 knowing the tow capacity was about 2400lbs...Okay, we thought it would be close but should be okay (maybe I could pack less!!!)---the saleslady knew that we were going to have a 2,000 lb trailer and what would be appropriate???

Lo and behold a week later and we are reading the owners manual and GCVW could only be 6,000 lbs.....we went to the dump with a load of garbage and of course our truck got weighed with just us in it--NO luggage, no bikes no nothing. It weighed in at 4,200 lbs!!! NOT what we were told!! It did have a canopy but still it shouldn't weigh that much...... that meant we would be illegal right from the get go.... (and once we got weighed at Bandon last year with our Boler---we wisened up and knew that we were going LEGAL with our next trailer/vehicle combo)

So we returned the truck and they finally found us an appropraite vehicle and I read all I could on it and we had it weighed etc etc. We ended up with a 2006 Escape 4x4-3.0 L-and the towing capacity is 3,500 lbs BUT only if you have the "factory installed hitch" because then there is a different kind of cooler--oil cooler???Not the tranny cooler that we had installed on the Ranger--It comes with the smaller "class 2" hitch,(but that is good for 3,500 lbs) if you get an after market hitch we were told that Ford says it can only pull 1,500 lbs....(guess thats all they would waranty it for??)
This is Canada so maybe your numbers are different down there..
I figure we have plenty of room in our "legal limit" now... (even for high elevation travels)

We bought a couple of folding bikes last week and they weigh 25 pounds each and so now there is no need to think about a bike rack on the trailer or whatever--they fit very nicely behind the back seat of the escape...

So make sure you ask about the GCVW if you buy a smaller pick up truck..... Save yourself all the headaches we went through....

And you are going to be camping by us in Bandon---see you then!!!! ---our eggs will be "hatching" together!!
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Old 11-21-2008, 06:19 AM   #5
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Cathy, Roy has excellent points. There is no "best" one-size-fits-all tow vehicle. The "best" one for you is the one that fits your needs.

Buy whatever vehicle you like for the primary purpose you have for it... commuting, grocery getting, hauling family or whatever. But insist that whatever you buy has a factory tow package and at least a 3500 lb tow rating with a gross combined vehicle weight rating high enough to handle the vehicle, cargo, and the trailer. Sales people, and particularly sales people selling used cars, likely won't be much help as most can't even tell you what components constitute the factory tow package on any specific vehicle they sell. You may have to do some sleuthing on vehicles you like, but you can find that info.

Roger
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:57 AM   #6
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The highest tow rating Subaru I have seen is the new Outbacks and they are running at 2700lbs - our 05 forester is rated at 2400lbs. We also struggled to find the perfect TV as we needed to have 4x4. The new RAV 4 or Hyundai Santa Fe were on our radar but I couldn't justify the 35k + CDN price tag so a used Sub is what we ended up with.

If you don't need 4x4 maybe a used Honda Odessay would fit the bill. If you do need 4x4 and you can handle the gas bill then a used Nissan Pathfinder would also work. They have really dropped in price in the last few years but they are recommended by consumer reports. We almost bought one but the gas mileage was just too poor for us. If you don't need the space inside then a used Toyota Tacoma is an awesome choice. We have a 1991 Toyota 4x4 truck with 360K that just doesn't quit - my wife now uses it for working in the woods and it is ultra dependable.

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Old 11-21-2008, 09:32 AM   #7
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I would go with a 2006 to 2009 Toyota Rav4 V6 with a tow package.

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Old 11-21-2008, 10:46 AM   #8
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Name: Nancy
Trailer: 78 Trillium & 2008 Escape 17B
Ontario
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Quote:
I will soon be the proud owner of a 15' Escape. Reace and Tammy have been so helpful and have answered every one of the million questions I sent their way. My next question has to do with what type of tow vehicle I need to get to tow my new Escape. ... I can't afford a new vehicle so used is what I'm looking at. What types of vehicles do you all think is a good option.
Cathy
Cathy, I'm in the same position as you. I have a used Escape lined up but I still have to find a tow vehicle.
I have been making extensive use of the "ConsumerReports.org" website. It costs something like $16 for a year's membership but I have definitely gotten my money's worth.
I have researched many different vehicles to find out about their towing capability and to get an overview of the pros & cons. And like you, I can't afford to buy new, so I continually check back to the site to find out what a vehicle's "used car reliability rating" is. The site lists various price ranges and what reliable used vehicle model years you can expect to find in that price range. The site is proving very helpful and when I am talking to a used car salesman, I very often know details about a particular vehicle that they don't know. For example, if I am looking at a used Honda Odyssey, I will not look at one older than 2004 because from '99 to '03 they were having Transmission problems.
The site gives good info on fuel efficiency as well.
As a result of what I have researched, I have narrowed my search to the following: Toyoto Sienna or Honda Odyssey, Toyoto RAV4 (6 cyl) or Toyoto Highlander, Honda Pilot, Nissan Xterra (not as good on gas), and the only two trucks I would consider, although they wouldn't serve all my needs, Toyoto Tacoma or Honda Ridgeline. I check the car ads daily and keep up to date on the inventory of a few car dealerships so when the right one comes along, I'll recognize a good deal!
Good luck to you and maybe I'll see you next summer at a campsite!!

Nancy B.
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Old 11-21-2008, 11:07 AM   #9
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Hi Kevin,

The RAV4 did not get a V6 until the 2006 model year. Up here the 2006's still are pretty pricey.
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Old 11-21-2008, 01:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Even within a certain vehicle, there are a lot of options. For example the manual for my 94 Ranger has over 40 listings for towing capacity based on body style, engine, transmission and other options. If you are hunting for used check out the manual and compare it to what the vehicle actually has.
By 1998, my Ranger model year, the 40 listings had grown to 60, ranging from about 6,000 lbs down to nothing!

Good post, Roy!

BTW, when a tow package recommends 'oil' cooler it may be referring to transmission fluid -- Some models with overseas roots (Like Ranger and Mazda) refer to the fluid as oil.

Surprisingly, it is not easy to determine if a vehicle has the towing package if the original owner didn't save the window sticker nor is it easy to find out what the details of the towing package are.
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Old 11-21-2008, 02:09 PM   #11
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BTW, when a tow package recommends 'oil' cooler it may be referring to transmission fluid -- Some models with overseas roots (Like Ranger and Mazda) refer to the fluid as oil.
Pete, you are right on about this. "Oil Cooler" certainly means "Transmission Oil Cooler". Although in the USA many folks say "tranny fluid", it is usually referred to as "transmission oil" by manufacturers.

BTW - an "oil cooler" costs approximately $50, and is an easy and worthwhile upgradde to any towing vehicle.
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Old 11-21-2008, 03:51 PM   #12
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Name: Glenn ( second 'n' is silent )
Trailer: 2009 Escape 17B '08 RAV4 SPORT V6
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I was thinking Nissan Xterra until a highly respected mechanic, who appears on CBC radio several times a year and helps people solve problems, suggested a caller should avoid the Xterra.

Just FYI

baglo
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Old 11-21-2008, 07:46 PM   #13
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Name: Cathy
Trailer: 1985 Bigfoot 19 w gaucho bed
Washington
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Cathy, There is no "best" one-size-fits-all tow vehicle. The "best" one for you is the one that fits your needs.


Roger
Thanks for all the info. Roy had these questions for me to answer.

Primary or secondary vehicle? - Secondary
Estimated % of use for towing. - 95%
Long or short trips? Mostly short. - Would like to be able to do a long trip
What else do you use your vehicle for? - Occasional hauling big stuff that won't or shouldn't go into my Sebring convertible.
How long do you want it to last? - Forever? OK maybe at least 10 years
Does it have a tow package? - I know I need the factory tow package for best usage.
Get pricing for what it is going to cost you to put what you need for towing.
Budget
Type of driving - all mountain, all flat land. - Some hills since we have a lot of that in the PNW.


How much stuff do you want to bring with you? Is it stuff that stays in the trailer or needs to be packed in the vehicle. - I would like to have the trailer "ready to go" except for food and cloths when I get the urge to head out.
and so on. I don't think I need 4x4 capability. I stay on roads (mostly)


I like the idea of a pickup with the bed for packing my camping stuff. Plus I have a large dog crate for my boxer. An extended cab would be nice so the dog can sit back there and my grandson can sit in the front seat.

So many people offered help. Now I have to go looking for used vehicles in my price range. I do think it is a good time to buy because so many people sold when gas was so high. Used inventory is good.
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Old 11-21-2008, 07:52 PM   #14
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Name: Cathy
Trailer: 1985 Bigfoot 19 w gaucho bed
Washington
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Cathy, I'm in the same position as you. I have a used Escape lined up but I still have to find a tow vehicle.
I have been making extensive use of the "ConsumerReports.org" website.

Good luck to you and maybe I'll see you next summer at a campsite!!

Nancy B.
Nancy,
I thank you for the informative and lengthy message. Thanks for the tips on vehicles since you did all the leg work I feel I should pay you a fee for the info. I'm glad we are not in the same community looking for the same type used vehicles. I'm pretty sure you and I will both be successful in finding the right truck for our trailers. We will have many years of happy camping ahead of us!
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