FWD vs. AWD - Fiberglass RV

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 09-03-2016, 10:44 PM   #1
Name: Albert
Trailer: Escape
Posts: 30

We've been towing our Trillium 1300 with a truck. We would like to switch to an SUV for various reasons. We're looking for a used Toyota Highlander. There are a lot of used FWD Highlanders around here, many fewer AWD's. Should we hold out for an AWD? We would never tow on snow, and if the front wheels spin occasionally, such as in a hilly campground with dirt roads, I think we could work around that. The Trillium only weighs about 1700 lbs. loaded.

Al Bear is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2016, 10:52 PM   #2
Junior Member
Name: Jason
Trailer: BigFoot
British Columbia
Posts: 26
Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that most AWDs are real-time systems, which means that they the rear only kicks in when the front are slipping, so in dry and normal condition, AWD == FWD (unless you have full time AWD like Subaru).

Even for a trillium, I think you will want to go with a tow package for your SUV no matter the drivetrain to protect the transmission.

JasonCM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-04-2016, 07:15 AM   #3
Senior Member
Jon in AZ's Avatar
Name: Jon
Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 S1
Posts: 7,944

We tow our Scamp 13 with a FWD Pilot. There have been a couple of occasions I have wished for AWD due to exactly what you describe: wheel slippage going uphill on a loose surface.

One local lake is three miles off the pavement, mostly downhill with one steep section. No problem getting in, but that one slope nearly defeated me coming out. Electronic stability control doesn't like wheel spin, so it shut down the throttle and braked the whole rig to a standstill halfway up. Had to back down, turn off ESC, and take another run.

I'd say if it's just campgrounds, FWD will be fine. If you plan much backroad travel on dirt or gravel, I'd hold out for AWD. And yes, with a used Highlander, you'll want to find one one with the factory tow package for the ungraded engine and transmission cooling and heavy-duty alternator. You may find that rules out a number of the FWD units.

BTW, most AWD systems operate as FWD under normal conditions. Even Subaru's system sends 90% of torque to the front wheels under normal conditions. But when slippage is detected, it can send up to 90% of torque to the rear. I owned a Subie for 14 years and it's a great system. My wife's current '06 CRV can only do up to a 50-50 torque split. The one Honda offers in the Pilot has a locking mode for low speed use in slippery conditions, which would have made a drama-free ascent on that lake access road. In short, AWD systems vary. You need to research the one you're looking at.
Jon in AZ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-04-2016, 12:18 PM   #4
Senior Member
Mike Magee's Avatar
Name: Michael
Trailer: Li'l Hauley
Posts: 5,786
My former '08 Highlander was full time AWD, with about a 60/40 power split between the axles. So is my current Lexus GX470. The hybrid HL has an electronic rear drive that kicks in when slippage is sensed.

I like AWD. Years ago I towed with a FWD Windstar minivan, and its front tires scrubbed quite a bit and wore prematurely. But you can correct this with a weight distributing hitch (like the Andersen No-Sway).
In the '60s, people took LSD to make the world seem weird.
Now the world is weird, and people take Prozac to make it seem normal.
Mike Magee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-04-2016, 12:50 PM   #5
Name: Albert
Trailer: Escape
Posts: 30
There's something I hadn't thought of: if the vehicle has ESC, make sure it can be canceled when necessary. BTW, we're looking at the Pilot too.
I knew that current AWD systems are intelligent--the Subarus of the 1980's were "dumb" and got awful gas mileage for such a small car--so I was mainly concerned about the very first time that AWD "kicks in": when you write the check before you drive it off the lot.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Jason. We'll probably end up going for an AWD model, but I can see that some folks would never need it.
Al Bear is offline   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
FWD or AWD? frank_a Towing, Hitching, Axles and Running Gear 52 09-26-2013 08:04 AM
towing with Ford Flex AWD? artspe Towing, Hitching, Axles and Running Gear 2 02-01-2011 06:06 PM
Towing an FWD vehicle Mike Price Towing, Hitching, Axles and Running Gear 0 01-03-2010 05:22 PM
FWD Tow Vehicle?: Thanks Legacy Posts Care and Feeding of Molded Fiberglass Trailers 9 11-12-2002 03:42 PM
FWD Tow Vehicles? Legacy Posts Care and Feeding of Molded Fiberglass Trailers 15 11-09-2002 06:39 PM

» Upcoming Events
No events scheduled in
the next 465 days.
» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:23 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions Inc.