Towing Escape 15 trailer with 4 cylinder to Alaska - Performance Observations - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-09-2013, 05:15 AM   #1
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Name: Phil
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Towing Escape 15 trailer with 4 cylinder to Alaska - Performance Observations

Trailer: 15’ Plan B Escape with 15” wheels and high lift axle

Tow Vehicle: 2008 Tacoma Pre-runner Access Cab, 2.7 liter 4 cylinder 2wd with 5 speed manual transmission. Tow vehicle carried 800 pounds of cargo (cargo weight defined as passengers and gear, to include the weight of a Leer model 180 canopy). 3500 pound tow rating per owner’s manual. All season radial tires (I carried tire chains for truck and trailer – they were never needed but I would not ever travel without them).

Trip Duration And Route Pulling Trailer: 10,000 miles starting in Chilliwack BC south through Seattle then west to the Olympic Peninsula then south down rugged Pacific coastline (on waterfront) to LA, then east to Memphis TN, then north through North Dakota up Alcan highway to Anchorage Alaska.

Season: January/February

Hitch: 2” ball mount/class 3 receiver (no weight distribution hitch). Top of ball settled 1-1/2 inches when trailer was coupled to the Tacoma (with truck cargo loaded).

Trailer Weight: 1900 pounds dry + 200 pounds of camping gear (2100 pounds total weight as towed)

Fuel Mileage (I kept careful documentation of fuel consumption for the entire trip): 17 mpg overall trip average when towing. 21 mpg when not towing (truck only with 1000 pound payload). Worst fuel mileage (20 mph headwind in 4th gear at 55 mph) was 16 mpg. Best fuel mileage (20 mph tailwind in 5th gear at 62 mph) was 20 mpg.

Speed when Towing: Could comfortably sustain 62 mph in 5th gear (2300 rpm) on relatively flat terrain with little to no headwind. Could comfortably sustain 55 mph in 4th gear (2600 rpm) on relatively flat terrain in 15-20 mph headwind. Most steep mountain grades required 3rd gear at 35 mph. A very few mountain grades on the Pacific coast and the Alcan required 2nd gear.

Conclusion: From an economical and practical standpoint, the 2.7 liter 2nd generation (2005+) Tacoma 4 cylinder with canopy (for gear storage) seems like an ideal tow vehicle for this small trailer. In retrospect, I would not desire a V6. I am willing to drive much like a commercial truck driver in an 18 wheeler would…..by “riding the waves”. I could pass some heavily loaded trucks on the steeper grades. I would let faster traffic pass when it was practical to pull off to the right. Headwinds seemed to have more of an adverse affect on fuel mileage than the effect of extra weight. The Escape trailer, even with the extra height of the high lift axle, seems fairly aerodynamic. The big 15” wheels on the trailer seemed to take bumps as well as the 16” wheels on the truck. The fuel mileage penalty for towing this trailer was 20%. I think that is pretty good performance.
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:52 AM   #2
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Hi Phil and welcome to the forum. Sounds like quite the trip. Great details on your towing experience, thanks for sharing. Raz
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:44 AM   #3
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Phil,
For sure, this class of truck makes a versatile vehicle. Reasonable fuel economy, decent ride and quiet cabin make them a great all around choice. Add the fact they have a rugged/reliable drive train and frame to handle the needs of towing, what's not to love ?

"Season: January/February" ......you're a brave man !!! I'm thinking you probably got some awesome winter photos.

And your truck/trailer look great....especially when dirty !

george

ps. thanks for the real world, accurate info on fuel economy.
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:45 AM   #4
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Great summary and thanks for evidence that you don't need a full sized, V8 pickup up truck to horse around a small FG trailer.
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:04 AM   #5
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Welcome!

Im contemplateing a Tacoma next yer but might go for the v6 just for the extra capacity. Would love to be able to store extra outside stuff in it! Yours looks great dirty! Nice to see it getting use...you are a brave man. My ParkLiner got a little dirty this weekend, took it off road a few miles and up a mountain to where my friends were getting together to camp last weekend.
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Old 04-09-2013, 01:45 PM   #6
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how did you come back from Anchorage? We did 10,000 up thru Alberta into Alaska in July and I worried about needing chains.
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas G. View Post
Great summary and thanks for evidence that you don't need a full sized, V8 pickup up truck to horse around a small FG trailer.
While this it so true, I had only paid 10K for a used 2004 Dodge Cummins Diesel, and averaged 22mpg pulling our 13' Scamp loaded for a 2 month 9K mile trip, and the back of the truck had many extras we thought we needed, but didn't. I get the same milage pulling the Scamp or not. I never had to down shift out of overdrive nor go under 60 mph up any mountain grade... you don't have to go small to save on fuel or cost of a tow either, if you are willing to purchase used. We also purchased our Scamp used, and never regretted it.
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David B. View Post
While this it so true, I had only paid 10K for a used 2004 Dodge Cummins Diesel, and averaged 22mpg pulling our 13' Scamp loaded for a 2 month 9K mile trip, and the back of the truck had many extras we thought we needed, but didn't. I get the same mileage pulling the Scamp or not. I never had to down shift out of overdrive nor go under 60 mph up any mountain grade... you don't have to go small to save on fuel or cost of a tow either, if you are willing to purchase used. We also purchased our Scamp used, and never regretted it.
That is amazing fuel economy. Even more amazing is that you get the same mileage with a trailer as without.
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:18 PM   #9
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Not just any trailer, just the 13' Scamp. My 25' toy-hauler loaded with my Jeep inside only gets me 10.5-12 mpg.
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Old 04-09-2013, 06:44 PM   #10
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Driving to Alaska in winter?!! Well, I'm glad you had a nice trip. You must really like snow! Yes, the Tacoma is pretty capable, even with the 4 banger.

David B, I think you scored an exceptional buy. $10K for a '04 with Cummins sounds incredibly low.
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Old 04-10-2013, 11:38 PM   #11
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I have an 07 tacoma 4cyl automatic and have had the same experience as you have.

They're great and economical.

My last long trip was through the Tetons and Yellowstone.
I averaged 22mpg for 4000 trip.
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Old 04-11-2013, 12:24 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Magee View Post
Driving to Alaska in winter?!! Well, I'm glad you had a nice trip. You must really like snow! Yes, the Tacoma is pretty capable, even with the 4 banger.

David B, I think you scored an exceptional buy. $10K for a '04 with Cummins sounds incredibly low.
Sorry, I must have made a type o as my Cummins is a 1994 which I purchased in Sept of 2002, but it is still an option for you.
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Old 04-11-2013, 01:32 AM   #13
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Route to Alaska

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Originally Posted by Kenny Strong View Post
how did you come back from Anchorage? We did 10,000 up thru Alberta into Alaska in July and I worried about needing chains.
I live near Anchorage, Alaska. Driving down to pick up the trailer I traveled southbound on the Alcan to Dawson Creek, then took a turn to Prince George....then on to Seattle. Driving home northbound with trailer in tow, I drove across North Dakota through Saskatchewan.....Edmonton Alberta.......Dawson Creek (start of the Alcan)........and then on up the Alcan. I have driven the round trip from Alaska to the lower 48 3 times in 3 years......always in the wintertime....always with all season radial tires.....and I have yet to need tire chains even though I had them with me. When I said that I would not travel to/from Alaska without tire chains I should have said....."during the wintertime". I can't imagine needing tire chains when driving to Alaska unless you are traveling between September and May. If I recall correctly, it is a legal requirement on the Alcan in Canada to have either chains or snow tires from October 1 thru May 1. Also, I always take survival gear for winter travel. The coldest weather that I encountered on those 3 round trips was minus 40F. The hydraulic clutch was a bit slow to engage on the Tacoma at minus 40F. I do look at long range weather forecasts to try and avoid the minus 50F or minus 60F that can happen. I do remember mid February of 1979.....when I experienced minus 76F (actual temperature - not wind chill) in Tok, Alaska. Tok is on the Alcan Hwy not far from the Alaska-Yukon border. I chose not to travel until things warmed up a bit. The public schools remained open.
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Old 04-11-2013, 04:28 AM   #14
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Yea, and we think it's cold here when we hit minus 20. Raz
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