TV advice-RAV4 V6 vs Honda Pilot, + adding tow hitch - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-15-2018, 11:39 AM   #1
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Name: Stacy
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TV advice-RAV4 V6 vs Honda Pilot, + adding tow hitch

Clueless newbie here, I'm looking for advice on buying a used tow vehicle, something to tow a 13' Scamp or similar (no bigger).

1st dumb question: if I buy a used car w/o the tow package, I can get that put in now, right? And it'll be the same as if it was put in originally? And that will give me the increased towing capacity on something like the Toyota Rav4 (V6), which says tow capacity w/o tow package is 2000 lbs, but with is 3500?

The two cars I'm looking at:
2008 Toyota Rav4 AWD V6. 78k miles. No tow hitch. $8,900. (towing capacity w/ hitch = 3500)
2005 Honda Pilot EX AWD, 44k miles, has tow hitch. $8,500. towing capacity=4500.

Thoughts? Newer car, higher miles? Older car, lower miles and tow already installed? Both are highly rated.

If I choose one w/o the hitch, how much am I looking at paying, approximately, to get it installed?

And another expense down the road -- installing trailer brakes, how much does that cost?

Sorry for the basic questions. Thanks!

StacyT
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Old 09-15-2018, 12:08 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StacyT View Post
Clueless newbie here, I'm looking for advice on buying a used tow vehicle, something to tow a 13' Scamp or similar (no bigger).

1st dumb question: if I buy a used car w/o the tow package, I can get that put in now, right? And it'll be the same as if it was put in originally? And that will give me the increased towing capacity on something like the Toyota Rav4 (V6), which says tow capacity w/o tow package is 2000 lbs, but with is 3500?

The two cars I'm looking at:
2008 Toyota Rav4 AWD V6. 78k miles. No tow hitch. $8,900. (towing capacity w/ hitch = 3500)
2005 Honda Pilot EX AWD, 44k miles, has tow hitch. $8,500. towing capacity=4500.

Thoughts? Newer car, higher miles? Older car, lower miles and tow already installed? Both are highly rated.

If I choose one w/o the hitch, how much am I looking at paying, approximately, to get it installed?

And another expense down the road -- installing trailer brakes, how much does that cost?

Sorry for the basic questions. Thanks!

StacyT
Both are essentially the same age, the Honda is at least the equal to the RAV4 in reliability, has more capability and is better equipped.
By the time a car is 10 YO history becomes as important as origin.
Have each car checked by a competent shop. All else being equal, the Honda sounds like the ticket!


Probably $500-$600 to get the RAV4 tow ready and probably $150-$250 for the Pilot. Each includes the brake controller,and each assumes more if it needs an oil cooler.
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Old 09-15-2018, 12:41 PM   #3
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Adding a hitch is not the same as having a factory tow package. The factory tow package, on which the higher capacity is based, may include a larger alternator, heavier duty brakes, a transmission cooler and possibly the wiring for the brake controller and lights. It may not include the hitch. When we bought our Ridgeline new, it had the tow package but the dealer installed the hitch. We then added the brake controller.

You can add a hitch to most cars/SUVs. Yesterday I saw a Corvette towing a small luggage trailer, but you need to assume the lower tow capacity unless it specifically lists the tow package on the spec sheet.

I'm partial to the Pilot because I've been very satisfied with my Ridgeline. They are built on the same chassis and I prefer the higher towing capacity. Either would be considered low milage. I have 180,000 on my 2008 Ridgeline.
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Old 09-15-2018, 02:35 PM   #4
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"1st dumb question: if I buy a used car w/o the tow package, I can get that put in now, right? And it'll be the same as if it was put in originally?"

Typically not the case. While you can get the vehicle tow ready, many tow packages include a lot of stuff that would be very hard to mimic later.

Besides wiring and a hitch, factory tow packages tend to include larger alternator, tranny cooler, bigger radiator, and on and on. Depends on the model.

Myself, once a vehicle is ten years old, the difference in value between 10 and 13 is minimal. Its all about condition at that point. Now if they both are in similar condition, I'd go for the Pilot as it has a much better tow rating. Not just tow rating, but the Pilot tends to have about 50% higher payload rating too! Higher payload rating means it can handle more passengers and gear in the car.
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Old 09-15-2018, 02:38 PM   #5
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Get the pilot

We towed a 16’ and a 17’ Casita with our pilot. We did use an anderson weight distribution hitch with the 17’ Casita. If you have checked out the pilot and it seems to be a sound vehicle, I would recommend getting it. Even if you get two foot itis or even 4 foot itis, it will serve you well. Just recently there was a really nice 15’ Escape in the Pacific Northwest that would have been perfect behind that pilot. As far as the brake controller, I installed mine and my electrician friend nicknamed me “sparky”. My pilot did not have a 7 pin connector but I got all the wiring harness for the connector from etrailer that included good written directions and on line video. You can do it, sparky did!
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Old 09-15-2018, 03:17 PM   #6
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I have the rav with tow pkg, v6. Even with the pkg. it comes without a receiver, or wired for towing. I had U-haul install it for me, for about 400. In my 2012 rav it included a beefier alt. coolers and what not for towing. They could not answer any ? about how to set up the wiring. The Rav is a great towing machine, lots of power at 269hp. However I would go for the pilot B/C of the larger interior and larger payload and higher off the ground. Both will tow well. Good Luck. Carl
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Old 09-15-2018, 04:44 PM   #7
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The RAV-4 V6 had an optional "tow-prep package," including HD alternator, HD radiator, and a transmission cooler. A dealer can run the VIN and tell you if that package was installed. If not, I think just installing an aftermarket transmission cooler would be more than sufficient for towing a 13' Scamp. That's not expensive, but combined with everything else that's needed, I would agree with others in leaning toward the Pilot.

Two issues to watch for with a Pilot. One is the VCM (variable cylinder management) system. I don't think 2005 Pilots had VCM, but you can tell for sure by looking at the plastic engine shroud under the hood- should have "VCM" or "Variable Cylinder Management" embossed if so equipped. I would pass if it does, especially on a vehicle that old and driven so little.

The other is the suspension and involves the lower compression bushings. They are rather expensive parts that are prone to failure on a number of Honda models. They were replaced (under a warranty extension) on our 2011 Pilot (now at 140K), and they are leaking on our 2006 CR-V (170K and going strong).

I would mention both things to the mechanic who does your inspection.

All that said, we are very happy with both our Hondas, and the Pilot is a very competent tow vehicle for our 13' Scamp.
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Old 09-15-2018, 10:11 PM   #8
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Hi Stacy,

Both are nice vechicles and if well maintained will provide several years of dependable service. Given the tow package and the other variables mentioned, I would go with the Pilot. We bought a used ‘05 Pilot about 3 years ago with 137,500 miles on it. My daughter drove it for three years, including driving it back and forth to college. We sold it this summer with 172,500 miles on it. When we sold it, I would have still driven it cross-country.

Wishing you the best! A Scamp 13’ is a great little egg camper.

Take care,

Dean
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Old 09-15-2018, 10:21 PM   #9
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Two things to consider.

1. The Pilot is a huge vehicle ( in my book ).

2. The gas tank on the RAV4 is little bigger than a thimble. You'll be constantly stopping for gas, but your bum will need a rest anyway.

I don't think it makes economic sense to add the tow prep items necessary to boost the RAV4 tow rating.
On the other hand, when you pound the gas pedal on the RAV4, it can be scary quick at 269 HP.
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Old 09-15-2018, 10:48 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
...The Pilot is a huge vehicle (in my book)…
Gen 1 is not so bad. The turning radius is surprisingly tight. It is wider than the RAV-4, so mirror extensions may not be needed with the Scamp. Outward visibility is excellent.
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Old 09-15-2018, 11:05 PM   #11
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Outward visibility is excellent.

3. I have no idea where the tire hanging off the rear hatch is on my RAV4, relative to the vehicle behind me. I live in fear of hitting something and destroying the hatch. On the other hand, it is a full-size spare.

Also, when hitched up ( with my WDH ), I can only open the rear hatch about six inches.
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Old 09-16-2018, 11:21 AM   #12
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This summer we were camped near some folks with an older 17 ft Casita with the captains chairs, we were chatting with them quite a bit about Casitas, they had a close friend with a 17 ft SD, and they towed with a Rav4, well on one trip something went awry and both the tow vehicle and trailer rolled. I think its too light a vehicle for towing myself, I am sure some will say its safe but in this instance it wasn't. I would go with the Honda pilot for the added weight and stability and safety.
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Old 09-16-2018, 12:02 PM   #13
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I've been towing my 17' Escape with my RAV4 for ten years, without rolling it.

Perhaps those folks are poor drivers, or load the trailer badly, or ...
It's like saying, "I fell off a six foot ladder; should have used an eight foot ladder".
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Old 09-16-2018, 12:19 PM   #14
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Accidents happen to every vehicle. G. Baglo gave the best answer.
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