Tow Vehicle - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-11-2015, 07:44 PM   #1
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Name: George
Trailer: In the market
New Mexico
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Smile Tow Vehicle

We're new to all of this, just reading, nothing owned yet. Wife and I are considering a 17 ft. Casita or Oliver in a couple of years. We know our 4 cylinder car won't be adequate. We don't want to drive a gas hog, but do any of you have recommendations on the engine required in a tow vehicle to be able to comfortably pull such a trailer (long hauls on the interstates, up steep mountain roads, etc.? We would really appreciate recommendations.
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Old 07-11-2015, 08:13 PM   #2
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Hi George. There are so many options that would fit the bill.

To get to the short list quicker can you list a few of the vehicles you are interested in owning. That would be a good place to start.

PS.... For many years we towed our 23' with a 150HP Nissan V6 Mini Van. No problem. Now we use a 260HP V6 mid sized sedan. Power to spare.
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Old 07-11-2015, 08:47 PM   #3
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The weight you should expect to be pulling with the 17 foot Oliver will be around 3900 pounds. This is loaded and ready to camp, with a full tank (35 gallons) of water as well as food, clothes, pots, pans, toilet paper and everything.

We pulled our first Oliver (17 footer) first with a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (not so good) and then a Chevy Tahoe (much better).
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Old 07-11-2015, 09:29 PM   #4
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Thanks very much, MC1 and Steve Outlaw, for replying so soon. MC1, I think something like a V6 Honda CR-V or V6 GMC Terrain is in our budget. Steve, I really thought Olivers would be much heavier than 3,900 lbs. fully loaded, with all that water on board. That's great news. I read on a blog about an Ollie weighing 6,000 lbs. Yikes! Quite a few vehicles seem to have 5,000 lb. towing packages available. Sounds about right, don't you think?
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Old 07-11-2015, 11:45 PM   #5
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Rather than "Guessing" by comparing horsepower etc, look in the owners manual for the vehicle(s) you are interested in buying and read what the manufacturers maximum towing specifications indicate.


It's a lot more than horsepower, it's stopping power, cooling, tramsmission strength maximum allowable tongue weight and numerous other values that have to be considered and, FWIW, those values can't ne changed upwards by the local towing expert, they are fixed values.


Positive opinions are useful, but they don't trump manufacturers specifications.
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Old 07-12-2015, 07:09 AM   #6
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George, I think you probably need to be looking into a slighter larger class of vehicle. Honda does not offer a V6 option on the CRV and only rates it to tow 1500 pounds. The Terrain does offer a V6 and can tow up to 3500 pounds with up to 350 pounds hitch weight, but here's the rub: a typical 17' Casita Deluxe weighs 3200 pounds (so far so good) but has an average hitch weight of 425 pounds (ouch!).

I got that data from Trailer Weights in the Real World. Post #297 has a downloadable spreadsheet that I used to calculate the averages above.

I can't say much about Oliver, since there's only one in the database, and it appears to be lighter than Steve's (empty tanks, perhaps). Both are older 17' models. Oliver now makes two models, a 19' and a 23'. That's probably where your 6000 pound figure came from. A used Oliver 17' would be extremely hard to find and very pricey compared to a Casita.

For the trailers you are considering, I would want a vehicle with at least 4500/450 pounds towing capacity. That puts you into something like a GMC Acadia or a Honda Pilot. There are, of course, other options from other manufacturers. You can pull up owner's manuals for many vehicles online. As Bob says, that's the place to start to get accurate towing specs and caveats (such as required equipment on the vehicle or trailer). Once you have a list of vehicles that have an adequate tow rating, then you can ask more subjective questions about performance, reliability, cost, features, comfort, fuel economy, and so on.

You might want to add Escape to your list of trailers to consider. A 17' Escape is lighter than a Casita (especially on the tongue) and would be within the 3500/350 capacity of the Terrain.
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Old 07-12-2015, 08:35 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
George, I think you probably need to be looking into a slighter larger class of vehicle. Honda does not offer a V6 option on the CRV
Agree with Jon. We test drove a 4cyl CRV last week and it did not have much get up and go. 45 minutes later we test drove a 270HP V6 Toyota Sienna Minivan which by comparison was a rocket. By the way our research shows the Sienna would easily handle our 23' (assuming properly equipped with WDH).

The GM Acadia Jon talked about is also highly rated and capable but not as reliable as the Pilot. The Pilot would work but the Acadia appears to get big points for stability and ride. As well the tranny gearing in the Acadia is very well suited for towing trailer.
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Old 07-12-2015, 08:58 AM   #8
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I can't believe how helpful you all are! Our oldest son has a Honda Pilot and loves it. He had bad luck with an Acadia. I have a lot to learn, but time is on my side. Retirement is about 700 days away. Thanks to all of you for spending so much time replying and for providing so much detail. A novice could really mess himself up without this forum. What a terrific group of people!
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Old 07-12-2015, 10:40 AM   #9
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George yes the Legacy Elite II Olivers are much heavier, not quite sure what the smaller Elite version weighs but our Elite II had a dry weight of 5060 lbs from the factory with the options we chose. I have no idea how much extra weight we haul around once fully loaded with H2O and other personal items. We pull this with an F150 that has the 3.5 L Eco Boost engine and it does really well. Gas mileage can be all over the place depending upon road, weather conditions, and terrain. Since you live in NM don't expect great MPG with the Elite II should you decide on one of these.

The harsh reality is no one is going to get great gas mileage when towing regardless of what the TV or campers are. Its just the nature of the beast, albeit some will do better with the smaller combos its still not what I would think of as great gas mileage. But remember too the huge sums of money you will save with camping fees vs scooting around the country in a Honda Fit accessing hotel/motel rooms. For instance we just returned from an 11 day trip in Glacier Nat Park and for us geezer style people camp fees were only $10 bucks per night which made for cheap accommodations. 90% of our meals were in the Oliver, eating out out at restaurants only a couple of times and only when we were far away from camp on some day long excursions. IOW's it was a cheap vacation by todays modern standards.

Gas mileage averaged 15.6 mpg for the entire trip from where we live in SW MT, but many of those miles were not towing but rather traveling the steep, winding, often windy and arduous roads in and around the park but also with our two 14ft kayaks mounted on racks adding additional wind drag. The boats were on the truck regardless of whether we were towing the Oliver or not. Image posted below for illustration.

Its just my personal preference but honestly I wouldn't want to tow the Elite II with anything much less than what we are currently using as a TV. As previously stated on this and other forums I am of the persuasion one can never have enough TV to haul campers around, as opposed to how little can one get by with to tow a camper regardless of size. We had a T@b before getting the Oliver. Believe it or not the Oliver actually tows better, overlooking the additional weight of course.

Hope this helps.
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Old 07-12-2015, 11:43 AM   #10
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Don't skimp on power

We originally towed our Scamp 5th wheel with a 6 cyl Ford Ranger (the smaller of the two V-6 options, 3 liters). Living in Colorado, we soon learned that the Ranger was just under-powered. Additionally, the ride in the Ranger was terrible, even with air-suspension. We were just getting beat to death in the truck.

We switched to a Dodge Ram 1500 with 5.9 L and are much happier now. We have more power, travel more comfortably and get better mileage (when towing).
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Old 07-12-2015, 12:01 PM   #11
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Again, thanks for your responses everybody. My wife and I are now starting to talk about a pickup truck. Seems it would probably be comfortable enough, even for long distances, since we won't go very far in any given day. A PU would have huge bed storage, and would erase any doubts about towing ability. Piperjim, a Dodge Ram sounds great. So do all the other makes and models. More time for head scratching and decision making. It's great fun to ponder which grownup toys to play with!
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Old 07-12-2015, 01:29 PM   #12
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George,

We towed a number of trailers all over NA with our 4 cylinder CRV with out issue, particularly our Scamp 16. We had the opportunity to buy a very nice Casita 17 for $7,000 but recognized that Casita 17's are heavy, particularly nose heavy that we would need a new tow vehicle. (We should have bought it regardless, it was a great deal.)

We were prepared to buy another Honda CRV to replace our 10 year old, 250,000 mile tow vehicle that never gave us a problem, but Honda no longer makes a manual transmission CRV. AS a result of the Honda's reliability and low operational costs we decided on a Honda Odyssey. The Odyssey is definitely more powerful and more comfortable and literally has a huge volume. Ginny says if we sell the Scamp we could live in the Odyssey.

Wishing you well what ever you choose.
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Old 07-12-2015, 01:36 PM   #13
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George:

Don't know how far south you might be in NM, but we're in southern Colorado, only about 10 miles off I-25. If you would like to come look at our rig sometime, we'd be happy to show it.
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Old 07-12-2015, 02:04 PM   #14
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I should also ad the difference between towing our T@b vs the Oliver is not as great as one might imagine. There is a difference but its chump change in the big scheme of things, maybe 1-2 MPG at best and only in ideal conditions. But the difference in accommodations is night and day different.

George you're right about pickups, love them because you can easily carry a lot of toys around with you. In the photo posted you probably can't see them but we also had our road bikes in the back which allowed us to do a few great rides in the area, as well as hiking and kayaking. And the best part, we got hot showers every night for free in the comfort of our home on wheels.

Piperjims story reminds me of how we got started, towing a Coleman pop up with a Tacoma DC 4x4. Absolutely miserable experience, went to a Tundra DC which was better but even it struggled with the T@b at times, not the F150 though.

Trucks today are not like the ones of yesteryear. They are very comfortable, quiet and smooth riding and handle amazingly well for what they are. The current 2015 F150's with Eco Boost engines have tow ratings of 12,200 lbs to boot. Way overkill for folks on this forum, but… headroom to spare.
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