Towing a 13' with a turbo 4 cyl. - Fiberglass RV



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Old 03-23-2019, 10:49 AM   #1
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Name: Tom
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Towing a 13' with a turbo 4 cyl.

Hi all. I've been lurking a while and looking more seriously now. I'm curious about people's real world experience in towing a small FG trailer (sub 2000#) with a small tow vehicle (rated at 3500#)

Think:
13' Casita, Boler, Armadillo etc
towed by
Ford Escape, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, Rav4 Trail/Adventure etc

Assuming these are optioned to to 3500#

I'd like to avoid jumping up to a bigger V6 as I do a lot of mileage throughout the year and I live near Vancouver where the streets and parking can be quite narrow.

It would just be my wife and I, the dog and some gear in the vehicle. We have been tenting for years so we are used to packing light and fast.

A lot of people posting in other threads have shared their rationale for going straight to a larger tow (more is better). I'm hoping to hear from those who are either happy towing with a smaller vehicle, or who felt they had to increase their tow vehicle, to pull even a little 13 footer. And what their reasoning was.

I currently have a 2014 Rav 4 which I know is only rated for 1500# so I know I have to upgrade before I get a trailer. The question is: to what? Can I reasonably do it with one of the vehicles mentioned above or should I give up on a compact daily driver and jump to a Tacoma, Frontier, Highlander Santa Fe V6 etc?

Your experience and insight are greatly appreciated.
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Old 03-23-2019, 11:21 AM   #2
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I'd happily tow a 13' with any of them, with this caveat. If you plan to carry more than 2 people and/or a lot of gear, or if you will spend a lot of time towing in mountains or other demanding conditions, you might consider the larger V6. We tow our 13'er with a Pilot for exactly those reasons.

The RAV4 Adventure is not a turbo, by the way, so I'd expect weaker hill climbing and high altitude performance than with either turbo-4. I'm not in a hurry, so I might well choose it over the others for its top-rated reliability (an important attribute in a tow vehicle, in my view).

The price of these popular models puts a new one in the same range as a nice, low-mileage used Highlander, Pilot, or similar. One nice thing about our Pilot is the back folds flat for extra sleeping space when needed.
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Old 03-23-2019, 01:11 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
I'd happily tow a 13' with any of them, with this caveat. If you plan to carry more than 2 people and/or a lot of gear, or if you will spend a lot of time towing in mountains or other demanding conditions, you might consider the larger V6. We tow our 13'er with a Pilot for exactly those reasons.

The RAV4 Adventure is not a turbo, by the way, so I'd expect weaker hill climbing and high altitude performance than with either turbo-4. I'm not in a hurry, so I might well choose it over the others for its top-rated reliability (an important attribute in a tow vehicle, in my view).

The price of these popular models puts a new one in the same range as a nice, low-mileage used Highlander, Pilot, or similar. One nice thing about our Pilot is the back folds flat for extra sleeping space when needed.
Thanks Jon. I appreciate your input. Have you ever towed your Scamp with a turbo 4? Is it ok on flats and you just have to hang out with the trucks on hills?

Sorry, yes the Rav 4 is not a turbo 4. I think it's the only naturally aspirated i4 that is rated to tow 3500#. I'm especially skeptical of it's real world capability given it's horsepower and torque. I'm watching another thread on that topic.

I was actually hoping to trade my Rav for a used compact SUV, so I'm trying to compare new to new and used to used. The fuel economy different between a compact SUV a midsize is about 2L/100km. At 25000 km a year and $1.50/L, that's an extra CAD $750/yr just in gas.
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Old 03-23-2019, 01:34 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Anachron View Post
Thanks Jon. I appreciate your input. Have you ever towed your Scamp with a turbo 4?...
No. Only conventional V6's. First was a 2000 Sienna 3.0L, 198 hp, and now the 2011 3.5L Pilot, 250hp. The Sienna only had a 2000# rating due to lack of a tow package and was somewhat marginal- we overheated the tranny once on a long grade into San Diego (103*, 15 mile grade @ 6-8%, 35mph headwinds, so pretty extreme). Not catastrophic, but had to stop and cool down. No issues whatsoever with the Pilot, rated 3500#.

That is not to say I wouldn't in the future. Output of the new turbo-4's is comparable to V6's, and they do better at high elevations. If you're not careful with your right foot, though, fuel mileage is not much better than a V6. We get 24-26 mpg in the Pilot in rural highway driving, 17-19 city and towing.

Used RAV4 Adventure models will be hard to find. It was just introduced last year, so not many out there yet, and it's the only model with the 3500# tow rating. The other two you mentioned should be plentiful and reasonably priced used. Santa Fe is harder to find with the turbo; most have the base 2.4L. I rented a Santa Fe for 6 weeks and 3000 miles while our Pilot was in the shop after being rear ended. Great fuel economy with the 2.4L, roomy, and pleasant to drive. No experience with the Escape Ecoboost.
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Old 03-23-2019, 10:25 PM   #5
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I've been towing with a 2013 Santa Fe 2L Turbo 3500 capacity for 3 years.Towed our previous Boler all across Canada. We now own an Escape 15A which comes in at about 2600 pounds loaded. We just got back from a 2 month, 12,000 KM trip to the southern states with no problem towing in the mountain passes or otherwise. But, gas mileage is not great when it's windy and a V6 may be better in that respect.
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Old 03-23-2019, 10:46 PM   #6
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Just to add to confusion, my 2008 RAV4 V6 Sport has a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. Hauls my Escape 17B with ease. It also gets lousy mileage when towing and in city driving.

Recent trip, without the trailer, from North Van to Chilliwack, on the flat freeway, resulted in 10l. / 100k. That is, it used ten litres of gas to travel 100 kilometres. Driving to the interior, on a freeway, with mountains, with the trailer, results in 15l. / 100k. ( that's basically 15 miles per US gallon ).

Driving around town, without the trailer, I use close to 15l. / 100k ( same as towing ).

What I've learned is it takes gas to tow over mountains and it takes gas to drive around town.
You just need to work out the priorities. If I commuted long distances, on the flat, no traffic, my RAV would be terrific.
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Old 03-23-2019, 11:31 PM   #7
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Thanks RJM and Glenn.

That might work. We’re actually considering the Amadillo which comes in around 1800# loaded. I wish Toyota still made the V6 Rav. That would be the sweet spot. Enough power but no too big and cumbersome.

Glenn, you must keep trailer light since Escape recommends 4000# rating for the 17b.

RJM, you’re lucky. Escape 15’s don’t come up very often. Maybe under the new ownership they will reintroduce the 15... Maybe. They must still have the moulds lying around somewhere.
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Old 03-24-2019, 12:05 AM   #8
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Glenn, you must keep trailer light since Escape recommends 4000# rating for the 17b.

My trailer was built in 2008. Things change. Every option increases weight. Brochure is 2009 or so.

I do know that I'm at about 3,200 lbs, or less, loaded for camping, and tongue weight is 340 lbs.
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Old 03-24-2019, 12:36 AM   #9
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BTW. I wouldn't object if I had a 4,000 or 5,000 lb. tow rating. I use Pro Series weight distribution hitch and try to keep my speed under 100 kph.
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Old 03-24-2019, 07:27 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
Just to add to confusion, my 2008 RAV4 V6 Sport has a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. Hauls my Escape 17B with ease. It also gets lousy mileage when towing and in city driving.

Recent trip, without the trailer, from North Van to Chilliwack, on the flat freeway, resulted in 10l. / 100k. That is, it used ten litres of gas to travel 100 kilometres. Driving to the interior, on a freeway, with mountains, with the trailer, results in 15l. / 100k. ( that's basically 15 miles per US gallon ).

Driving around town, without the trailer, I use close to 15l. / 100k ( same as towing ).

What I've learned is it takes gas to tow over mountains and it takes gas to drive around town.
You just need to work out the priorities. If I commuted long distances, on the flat, no traffic, my RAV would be terrific.
On the way back from this last trip heading north we towed into a northwest wind pretty much all the way home from Texas to Winnipeg and got an average 21l / 100k. The wind never seems to be behind me. Thats why I think a V6 may be a better choice. And your not dealing with more moving parts as in a turbo. Mine was replaced recently under warranty but would have been a big bill. I do get around 9l /100k highway and 12l /100k city otherwise.
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Old 03-24-2019, 07:34 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Anachron View Post
Thanks RJM and Glenn.

That might work. We’re actually considering the Amadillo which comes in around 1800# loaded. I wish Toyota still made the V6 Rav. That would be the sweet spot. Enough power but no too big and cumbersome.

Glenn, you must keep trailer light since Escape recommends 4000# rating for the 17b.

RJM, you’re lucky. Escape 15’s don’t come up very often. Maybe under the new ownership they will reintroduce the 15... Maybe. They must still have the moulds lying around somewhere.
My 15A is about 1700# dry. When I mentioned 2600# loaded, I mean ready to go with all the gear in it. The Armadillo comes in at a minimum of 1800# dry depending on options. Once your packed and ready to go it's a different story.
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Old 03-24-2019, 10:52 AM   #12
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My 15A is about 1700# dry. When I mentioned 2600# loaded, I mean ready to go with all the gear in it. The Armadillo comes in at a minimum of 1800# dry depending on options. Once your packed and ready to go it's a different story.
I didn't realize loading a trailer up for travel added 900 lbs. I was thinking more 300-500.

Living in the Vancouver area, there are big mountain passes all around us. If the one person chiming in that currently tows with a 2.0T lives in Manitoba and recommends a V6, then it looks like that's the way to go.
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Old 03-24-2019, 10:55 AM   #13
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".... an average 21l / 100k."


I may live in Canada but I have no idea if that is good or bad mileage and I doubt many Americans have any idea either.
Can you help us out and post in both gallons and litres?
Thanks
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Old 03-24-2019, 11:10 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by panhead_mike View Post
".... an average 21l / 100k."


I may live in Canada but I have no idea if that is good or bad mileage and I doubt many Americans have any idea either.
Can you help us out and post in both gallons and litres?
Thanks
21l /100k = 11.2 per US gallon or 13.4 Imperial gallon. Here's a link to a conversion table.

https://www.calculateme.com/gas-mile...0-km-to-us-mpg

I have had good trips with great mileage, like 15l /100k when there's no wind or even better when it's behind but for the most part when heading west from here through the prairies it's mostly windy. The smaller engines use more fuel under a load like that.
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