Newbie needs Tow Vehicle help - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-04-2018, 04:07 PM   #1
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Newbie needs Tow Vehicle help

I will be ordering a Scamp 13' with no bath room (Layout #1). I have not been able to find a used one so will have to get a new one.
I drive a Honda Fit so I will be trading in my car for a vehicle that can tow the camper.
Can anyone give me advice on what vehicles to look for?
I think I will need a 6 cylinder vehicle but that is as far as I have come on what to look for.
I would love to have a Toyota truck, but I cannot afford it.
What are good choices in 6 cylinder trucks and SUVs that are in the lower price range?
Also, will I need to get electric brakes on the 13' Scamp?

I have never towed a camper before so I am really out of my depth here. I plan on touring the south and southeast. There will be some hills, like in the Blue Ridge Parkway, if that helps in advising what TV would do the job.
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Old 12-04-2018, 04:20 PM   #2
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Newbie needs TV help

In my opinion a 6 cylinder is not absolutely necessary to tow a basic 13' Scamp. Subaru Outback (2700#) would be high on my list, along with the Toyota RAV4 Adventure (3500#) and Hyundai Santa Fe Sport (3500#).

If you do want a 6 cylinder for a bit more performance margin, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot (or the soon-to-be-introduced smaller 2-row Passport), Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Subaru Ascent (oops- that's a 4-cylinder turbo, but rated for 5000# like many in this group), Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee are all solid candidates.

A cheaper truck alternative is a Nissan Frontier. It has good reliability but mediocre gas mileage.

Yes to electric brakes!
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Old 12-04-2018, 04:28 PM   #3
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Thank you so much for your reply! I knew the camper I wanted but feel clueless about the TV.
I was assuming a 4 cylinder would have to work too hard.
What is your opinion on small 4 cylinder pickups?
(oops, sorry, I missed your info on trucks when I replied)
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Old 12-04-2018, 04:34 PM   #4
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If I really needed the extra hauling room of a truck, I'd go for the V6.
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Old 12-04-2018, 06:34 PM   #5
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Yes you should get brakes. Trailer brakes can make a scary situation easy to deal with. You can't add brakes in the middle of an emergency. No brainer really, and many of the smaller tow vehicles will require them for their ratings.

I'd get one of the V6 SUVs. RAV 4 used to have a V6 option. Kia Sorento. Highlanders are on the pricey side. Hyundai Santa Fe.


While you might be able to get by with something smaller, as someone who lives near the Blue Ridge Parkway myself, we have some serious climbs around here. Having a little extra tow vehicle on the rating side gives you a margin. I'd rather have a little extra than not quite enough. Years ago I towed with a marginal tow vehicle that was "Rated" to handle it (barely). Never again.

FWIW: tow rating for a Subaru Outback for a trailer without brakes is 1,000 pounds. With trailer brakes, its 2,700 pounds. I've never owned one, but the Subaru Outback is THE car for the mountains of NC. To me, on a Scamp 13 without a bathroom, the Outback would be on my list. I would avoid any of the 1500 pound max tow rated vehicles.
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Old 12-04-2018, 06:49 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
I've never owned one, but the Subaru Outback is THE car for the mountains of NC.

What about the low maximum tongue weight allowed on Outback?
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Old 12-04-2018, 07:09 PM   #7
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Newbie needs TV help

A 13' Scamp front bunk model with a battery and one LP tank on the tongue should run around 180-200# tongue weight. The optional second tank isn't needed in non-bath models, and it will put it over the Outback's 200# limit. Mine runs right at 200# with four camp chairs, canned goods, and tools stored on and under the front bunk.
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Old 12-04-2018, 07:10 PM   #8
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Thank you! I am getting some good solid info on this forum and I appreciate it very much. I want to get the right TV to start with to avoid problems down the road. (no pun intended).
I will put the electric brakes on my camper order. I didn't even know about camper brakes before joining this forum.
I am making a short list of vehicles to look at from the leads you guys are giving me. This is so helpful!
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Old 12-04-2018, 07:32 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
I've never owned one, but the Subaru Outback is THE car for the mountains of NC.
I apologize but that joke sailed right over my head
Must be an inside piece of humor or a regional thing ?
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Old 12-04-2018, 07:39 PM   #10
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The rav4 v6 with tow pkg ended in 2012, if you can find one of those you would be all set. They say the 2018 or the new one coming out will have 3500# tow capacity. If you were going to buy new. Carl
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Old 12-04-2018, 09:40 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
I apologize but that joke sailed right over my head
Must be an inside piece of humor or a regional thing ?
Here in the mountains of NC, seems like every other vehicle is a Subaru, and usually its the Outback. One friend put 362,000 miles on his before a valve stuck. He put a rebuilt motor into it and its still running strong. They are just very popular here. Ourselves, we are sticking with the F150 as a tow vehicle, and a Honda Element for our other car. If/when we finally replace the Element, good chance it will be a Subaru.

The other good thing about the Outback is the supply of used ones here is very good, important for people like me that tend to buy used cars.

Another friend moved from the SC coast to the mountains here a couple of years ago. I asked him when he was going to get his Outback. He laughed, but four months later he had one.
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Old 12-04-2018, 11:11 PM   #12
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I have a 13' scamp front bunk. A year ago I had to buy a new TV. This is my every day car also. I bought a Ford Escape. 2.0L eco engine with a factory tow package rated at 3500 pound tow rating. If you don't have that configuration it is only rated at 1500 pounds. So far I am really happy with it.
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Old 12-04-2018, 11:25 PM   #13
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We purchased our very basic 2011 Scamp 13' without a bathroom and had a 2008 Subaru Legacy sedan, manual drive, to tow it. We loved the Subaru and it towed the Scamp like a dream. The only problem was the tow package was too low to the ground so when we went over bumps and moderately steep inclines the tow package would scrape the ground, with or without the ball attached.


Come 2017, when it came time to get a new TV we thought about the Subaru Crosstrek but ended up not liking to drive it as it had relatively poor visibility, poor pickup and few new safety features. The next step up with Subaru (Forester) was too expensive and most safety features were add-ons.


We did our research, including a British website devoted to rankings of cars while towing trailers (caravans). We decided on a Mazda CX5 and have loved it ever since! The road clearance is great and we never scrape the ground. The following is a quote from Mazda. "Additionally, the 2018 Mazda CX-5 comes standard with a few advanced safety features, which cost extra on many competitors. Advanced safety features that come standard for all trim levels in the crossover's lineup include Smart City Brake Support, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert." We as 60 and 70-somethings like the sit up straight seats as opposed to bucket seats in most sedans. We purchased the CS-5 with, our first, automatic drive (it can be switched easily to manual).The only things I might like are a CD player (yes, we like our old technology and have a huge CD collection.)and a hatch back that has an assist. We have to open and raise it manually. The vehicle tows the Scamp like a dream AND we have a little more trunk room with the hatch back.


While we are not "auto geeks" we do like our CX-5. Hope this helps you.
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Old 12-05-2018, 06:36 AM   #14
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Newbie needs TV help

You can see there are a lot of choices. Anything with a a tow rating of at least 2000# and a tongue weight rating of at least 200# is a potential candidate for a Scamp 13, so that leaves the field pretty wide open, from a few compact crossovers right up to full-size pickups. Depending on individual needs and preferences, anything within that range could be the best option for you.

To narrow things down it would help to know more: new or used, budget range, how many people and how much cargo in the vehicle (extra weight reduces available towing capacity), bulky or messy cargo like bicycles or kayaks, how much you plan to travel, off-highway or backcountry use, non-towing use of the vehicle, etc. There are also subjective factors like brand preferences and performance expectations (some expect to keep up with the cars in the left lane ascending those beautiful NC hills, while others are okay slowing down and blending in with the trucks in the right lane).

Many of the vehicles mentioned come in different configurations with different tow ratings, so it's important to get the right version of any vehicle. Some require expensive trim and drivetrain upgrades to get the rating you need. Dealer sales people are often sadly uninformed when it comes to towing. Once you have your short list, I would strongly recommend you google the owner's manual for each one ("2018 Mazda CX-5 Owner's Manual," for example, should get you a link to a PDF). The year is important, as specs change. The towing section will spell out what models and equipment are required to obtain the desired tow rating.

You also have to consider towing add-ons: hitch, 7-pin trailer wiring (needed for brakes and battery charging, not 4-pin, which only runs the lights), electric brake controller. Some vehicles come standard with some of them, many offer them as dealer-installed accessories, others require you to go to a 3rd party hitch installer after purchase. Some vehicles make it easy; others not so easy.

That was one factor that led us to choose a Pilot over a Highlander back in 2013. Everything for towing came standard on the Pilot except the brake controller (and it was an easy plug-in), but the Highlander gave you nothing. It would have cost another $1500 to prep the Highlander to tow.
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