Towing with a RAV4? Anything else I should be looking at? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-13-2015, 08:52 AM   #1
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Name: Ray
Trailer: Currently shopping
Texas
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Towing with a RAV4? Anything else I should be looking at?

I have searched out and read some of the old threads on this but now I'm needing to make a decision very quickly. I found what looks like exactly what I need/want at a dealership and I might need to go grab it. I am going to call Toyota with the VIN to confirm but according to the dealership, I've located a 2012 V6, AWD RAV4 with the tow prep package and third row seating for a really good price! I've also negotiated getting a towing hitch installed by the dealer as part of the purchase. So...questions.

1) Do you tow with a V6 RAV4?
2) If not, what is your TV? Any other vehicles I should look at? 90% of the time this will be used to haul 2 small kids around which is why I'm looking at small SUVs. ETA - I looked at the Escape but I'd rather tow with a V6 if possible (plus the V6 is a blast to drive). And with the Escape it's really tough to find one with a tow prep package in my area.
3) What kind of trailer/weight do you tow? I would love something with a double bed and 2 beds for the kids plus a toilet (do not need a shower). But that is flexible. It just needs to be comfortable for 2 adults and 2 kids.
4) Do you feel safe towing with it? I will want to take this places like CO, mountains, my kids will be in the vehicle, I want to be as safe as possible.
5) Anything to watch out for when I purchase a TV? I have already learned that Toyota likes to slap a hitch on the RAV4 when installing a towing package and call it a day...and that I will need to make sure they install a wiring harness for trailer brakes (which we WILL have trailer brakes). Any other safety issues to be aware of?

I greatly appreciate any help or feedback with this.
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Old 10-13-2015, 09:07 AM   #2
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I tow an Escape 17B with a 2010 RAV4 Sport, V6 & tow package. 122,000 miles on the RAV4, 70,000 towing. The Escape weighs 3100 lbs ready for a long trip, 345 lbs tongue weight.

I have towed many East & West coast mountains, and while it isn't going to keep up with interstate traffic going up I70 to the Eisenhower tunnel, it is adequate. I generally tow on secondary roads at 57MPH, get 15 MPG towing, 25 highway unhitched. A very stable combination - no sway from passing trucks, etc. My biggest complaint is the small gas tank - the distance between fuel stations in some parts of the west can get exciting, particularly in a headwind.

If you are having a hitch installed, make sure it has a 2" receiver if you plan to use a weight distribution hitch (which I suggest). Also, if they are going to install the brake line, have them install a charge line between the tow vehicle battery & the 7 pin trailer connector with a disconnect relay at the same time. Neither is part of the Toyota tow package. They don't even include a 4 pin connector, let alone the standard 7 pin.
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Old 10-13-2015, 10:02 AM   #3
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Towing with a RAV4? Anything else I should be looking at?

Just to suggest an alternative... I have a 2011 Honda Pilot 3.5L. It gets similar mileage as the RAV4 (17-19 towing a 13' Scamp, 24-26 highway), has a stouter rear suspension (no need for air bags or WDH in most cases), and comes standard with receiver, full 7-pin wiring, and brake controller connection. The only thing I had to add was the 7-pin plug at the bumper.

It's a bit larger than a RAV4 but surprisingly maneuverable due to its relatively short wheelbase and overall length. However, it won't feel as peppy when unhitched. I don't think you'll be able to open the RAV4's side-swing cargo door when hitched. The Pilot's swing-up hatch clears easily and makes a dry place to stand when hitching/unhitching.

We also have just two kids, but they have a way of growing, and when we visit relatives, we often gain a few passengers for outings. Following a breakdown involving a friend's vehicle this summer, we put two whole families- 4 adults and 4 children- in the Pilot. Everyone had a seatbelt.

I had cross-shopped Highlanders at the time, but the Pilot won on price, third seat utility, and ease of towing set-up. I'd think with the new generation of Pilots just coming out, there might be deals to be had on the old style.

The trailer you sound like you're looking for is a Scamp 16' layout 4. Small side bathroom (can be configured as an empty porta-potty closet, toilet only, or toilet and shower), front bunks, and rear dinette/double bed. It would make a very nice tow with the RAV4, if that's what you end up going with, or any number of mid-sized SUVs. Alternatively, I think the Casita 16 can be ordered with bunks in place of the side dinette to make four berths. It's not as roomy as the Scamp, in my opinion, but the larger Casita 17's are going to be too heavy for a RAV4 for sure.
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Old 10-13-2015, 10:30 AM   #4
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Name: Rollie
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Rav4 towing..

I have pulled a number of trailers with the Rav4 with weights of up to 3000 pounds. It Did a good job on all except an RPOD, which is a pig to pull due to a big drag problem once you hit 55 mph.. My mileage is about 27 on the highway not towing and about 14 to 16 towing with about 2500 pounds on it.. If you get one , put an after market hitch on it, not the one Toyota sells for it as people have had problems with them. They are a little soft tailed so watch you hitch weight and try and stay under 300 pounds.. Let someone put the electric brake controller on it as getting the power wire to the hitch is beast of a job.. The rest of the wiring is just plug and play with the tap in the left tool cover. Check to make sure you have the trailer towing package. The easy way to do this is to check the fuse size for the cooling fans, you owners manual will give you the info for the trailer towing fuse size..
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Old 10-13-2015, 11:44 AM   #5
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Trailer: 2014 16 scamp side dinette/Rav4 V6 Tow pkg.
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I have a 2012 Rav4 V6 Tow Pkg. 4WD. I tow a Scamp 16`SD with the Rav. The Scamp is a little lighter then an Escape or a Casita which will make a better match for the Rav without a WDH, of which i do not use. I stay around 60-62 MPH and there is no sway, but I guess if you want to go faster then that, then I would get a WDH to be safe. I get 19.5 mpg. mixed tow and highway,city. I looked at Nissan, Highlander and others and they were $$$$ more that i had to spend. I bought everything new, 2012 Rav. 2014 Scamp. You can get a Scamp sleeping 3 or 4 depending how you locate the bath/shower/toilet. Good Luck, Carl
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Old 10-13-2015, 11:54 AM   #6
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Name: kevin
Trailer: 13' Scamp
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low hitch

The issue with towing with the rav4 is that the hitch has to be mounted below the bumper, so it is really low and likes to drag. I tow my 13' scamp with my four cylinder rav4 and it tows fine, I have just gotten used to dragging the hitch along the ground on rough roads and getting in and out of parking lots etc.... I even lightened up the tongue weight somewhat (not too much otherwise bad things happen) by moving the battery to right over the trailer axle.


If you are towing a 13' camper I would get a subaru forester. Otherwise the v6 rav4 is a good option ofr 16' campers, with the above limitation.
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Old 10-13-2015, 11:59 AM   #7
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I used to tow my ParkLiner with a Rav4... I didn't like the soft rear end and decided to move up to a Nissan Frontier. If I was buying a tow vehicle for my ParkLiner, as nice as the Rav4 is, it wouldn't be my choice.

just my 2cents worth.
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Old 10-13-2015, 12:11 PM   #8
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I've had no issues with the hitch being low to the ground. I use a Pro Series weight distribution hitch, which prevents the rear from dropping 2 inches. It makes for a safe, secure ride.
The Toyota hitch receiver is only class II and will not accept a WDH. I had my after-market hitch receiver installed at the dealership by a company they hired to do the job. It was cheaper than the Toyota receiver.
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Old 10-13-2015, 01:15 PM   #9
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I tow a Scamp 16 with a 2011 Rav4 V6 front wheel drive. I love the combination. I installed airbags in the rear coil springs, which took care of the soft rear end. If you have third row seats, you should already have a stiffer rear end. I have the factory receiver and haven't had any problems with it, other than it being tucked quite a ways under the rear, requiring a longer ball mount. I use an anti-sway bar. I also installed an Ultimate Bank, allowing me to easily remove it so I can open the rear door on the Rav4. I love the Rav4's power. I also ran wires for a 7-way plug.
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Old 10-13-2015, 01:17 PM   #10
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Ultimate Jack. Darn spellchecker.
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Old 10-13-2015, 01:25 PM   #11
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Also, my ball mount has a 4 inch rise. With that and the airbags, the trailer and TV are level.
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Old 10-13-2015, 01:32 PM   #12
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I don't see air bags as a solution in that they just make it harder to compress the springs, which makes the vehicle level.
A weight distribution hitch, on the other hand, moves weight from the rear axle to the front axle of the vehicle and to the trailer axle. This levels the vehicle, but also moves weight to the front drive wheels.
I'd rather not use a WDH because it is heavy in itself, and makes hitching up more of a chore, but I'd not do without.
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Old 10-13-2015, 03:55 PM   #13
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Name: Russ
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RAV 4 6cyl towing a Scamp 16 Layout 4

I use a weight distribution hitch and our Scamp tows like a dream. The RAV seems soft in the rear and the WDH really helps. The other thing I like about it is I can the hitch with me to another TV.
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Old 10-13-2015, 05:42 PM   #14
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Name: lee
Trailer: trailswest campsterl, 1996 Scamp 16 foot
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Hi Lee here. I tow a Trails West Campster ,1450 lbs loaded and a 1981 17 Bigfoot ,2450 lbs loaded with a 2012 Rav4 V6 and am very satisfied with it's capability. We often tow over the Cascades and coastal mountains on the way to the Oregon coast, much lower elevations than the Rockies but still plenty steep. Much of my input has already been addressed, tail dragging is one drawback and difficult wiring for brakes another ( both previously addressed ). Other than that a very capable tow vehicle but I would not recommend going much over a 3000 lb trailer, hwy mileage not towing 28ish towing 12 to 14 ( I drive a little over 60mph towing or not ).
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