Hello from Oregon - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-21-2018, 11:22 PM   #1
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Name: Scott
Trailer: Casita 17' SD
Oregon
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Hello from Oregon

We purchased our 17 ft Casita Spirit Deluxe in December of 2016 from the original owner in Arizona. We are first time RV'ers and just recently retired. We are avid hikers and enjoy the peaceful outdoor. We will be joined by our 10 year old Labradoodle "Izzy". I am expecting that we will be 'dry camping' most of the time. We also plan on staying in some RV sites for the experience. I am not very mechanical so my starting projects will be the easy kind.
We are in the process of looking at tow vehicles as my 2002 Honda Odyssey is barely capable of this task.
We are currently looking at the Toyota Highlander XLE, the Honda Pilot Elite (concerned about 9 speed transmission??), Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited and intrigued with the soon to be release Subaru Ascent.
Looking forward to meeting other fiberglass RV owners.
Scott
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Old 01-21-2018, 11:28 PM   #2
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Name: Glenn ( second 'n' is silent )
Trailer: 2009 Escape 17B '08 RAV4 SPORT V6
British Columbia
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Given that Subaru keeps producing vehicles with very low tongue weight capacity ( for no known reason ), I'd strike that one off my list. I don't think the Jeep Cherokee has been getting very good reviews lately, so I'd check into that. The Highlander and the Pilot have lots of satisfied customers.
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Old 01-22-2018, 12:01 AM   #3
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Name: Scott
Trailer: Casita 17' SD
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We drove both the Highlander and Pilot. We are also looking for the most up to date safety features and the Pilot only has Blind Spot monitoring on the Elite or Touring and both those models have add ons that we do not want or need or want to pay for. I really enjoyed driving the Highlander. Do you know the tongue weight limit on the Highlander? Thnaks foir the reply
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Old 01-22-2018, 12:22 AM   #4
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I do not know the Highlander tongue capacity ( 500 lbs ? ). In any event, I would not ask for such specifics on this forum. You will get replies from people who might be talking about a Highlander or a Hilux or a 1987 vehicle, or 2019. I would talk to the dealer about the specific vehicle in question, but I would insist that they show me the published information from Toyota. Would not accept what the sales guy says without proof.
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Old 01-22-2018, 06:35 AM   #5
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Name: Jon
Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 S1
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Welcome, Scott!

You can likely google the owner's manual ("2018 Toyota Highander owner's manual") and find a PDF file you can download and read for yourself. There will be lots of information on towing. My experience is dealers are reluctant to bring out the owner's manual and will just tell what they think is the right answer (what they think you want to hear), or point to summary statements in sales brochures which often leave out important caveats in the manual. Best to do your own homework before you sit down at a dealer.

Advice on a forum will be all over the map, especially when it comes to tow vehicles. Take it with a grain of salt...

Here's mine. Consider how much you want to carry in the vehicle as well as how much you want to tow. Payload, tongue weight, and towed weight are interdependent. There are other ratings to consider, too, beyond trailer and tongue weight, including axle weights (GAWR), total vehicle weight (GVWR, includes tongue and hitch weight), and total combined weight (GCWR, includes everything- vehicle, trailer, passengers, and all contents). Since you mentioned the Pilot Elite, be aware that options add their own weight, limiting what you can carry or pull. Another reason not to go for all the bells and whistles.

The tongue weight of a Casita 17SD will likely be in excess of 400 pounds fully loaded and provisioned (see this thread; post #297 links to a spreadsheet). That could put it close enough to the 500 pound rating (if that's indeed correct) to overload the rear axle when combined with cargo and a fairly large dog in the back. Then you'll have to weigh the pros and cons of a weight distributing hitch.

Beyond the vehicle and trailer, consider towing conditions where you plan to travel. If you will tow frequently in high elevations, headwinds, mountain grades, or hot temperatures, that may also affect your choice of tow vehicle.

We tow a 13' Scamp with a Pilot, four people and cargo plus bicycles, and in all of the conditions noted (sometimes all at once!). I have actually wished for a little more power on a few occasions (but not enough to give up a vehicle we love for daily use).

Since you mention "dry camping" and seem to have a preference for Toyota products, don't forget the 4Runner. Same 5000 pound rating, but the RWD-based platform might be more suitable for the higher tongue weight of a Casita 17.

Sounds like you're doing the right things and asking the right questions. Best wishes in your hunt for the right vehicle!
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Old 01-22-2018, 07:32 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
Given that Subaru keeps producing vehicles with very low tongue weight capacity ( for no known reason ), I'd strike that one off my list...
I'm hearing the Ascent will be the exception. If you like Subaru products, I would certainly wait and see.

It is puzzling, though. Their previous attempt at a mid-sized crossover, the Tribeca, was rated to tow 3000 pounds but had a tongue weight rating of only 200 pounds. The current generation Forester is only rated to tow 1500 pounds but carries the same 200 pound tongue weight rating.

Subaru was always quirky. I'd say their core market base likes it that way. With the Ascent it appears they are trying to be thoroughly mainstream. We'll see if they can pull it off, and if Subie loyalists will consider it a betrayal.
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Old 01-22-2018, 09:22 AM   #7
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Trailer: Escape 21 & Jeep GC 5.7 (Previous 2012 Casita FD17 & 2010 Audi Q5)
Puget Sound, WA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjrayfie View Post
We purchased our 17 ft Casita Spirit Deluxe in December of 2016 from the original owner in Arizona. We are first time RV'ers and just recently retired. We are avid hikers and enjoy the peaceful outdoor. We will be joined by our 10 year old Labradoodle "Izzy". I am expecting that we will be 'dry camping' most of the time. We also plan on staying in some RV sites for the experience. I am not very mechanical so my starting projects will be the easy kind.
We are in the process of looking at tow vehicles as my 2002 Honda Odyssey is barely capable of this task.
We are currently looking at the Toyota Highlander XLE, the Honda Pilot Elite (concerned about 9 speed transmission??), Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited and intrigued with the soon to be release Subaru Ascent.
Looking forward to meeting other fiberglass RV owners.
Scott
Scott,

Welcome to the forum. In brief, we started with a teardrop trailer, upgraded to a Casita 17 and now have an Escape 21'. The teardrop matched the towing capacity of my then-current Passat AWD. We bought a used Audi Q5 to pull the Casita. We then bought a 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland as the Escape 21 would have pushed the Audi to or beyond its tow rating.

When casting about for a vehicle to replace the Audi Q5, I shied away from the pricing for a Q7 and was particularly troubled by the fact that they no longer provide a spare tire. Somewhere in the course of events we watched a Consumer Reports video touting the Durango for towing. It sounded like a lot of vehicle for considerably less money. So, we went out to look at some, which led in turn to the Jeep. The third-generation Durango is built on the same platform as the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The wheelbase of the Durango is longer than that of the Grand Cherokee. It features three rows of seating compared to the Grand Cherokee's two rows.

Pros and cons, the JGC is more "garage-able" as it is not as long as its cousin the Durango. It also offers a 60-40 rear seat where the Durango has second-row captains chairs. The JGC does not have a 3rd row of seats. All of this better suited our needs as we don't have a need for a people-hauler and the cargo space is much more flexible.

We opted for a V8, the first I have owned since some 1960's vehicles; I can't say that it's strictly "necessary", but it increased the towing capacity slightly and offered much more torque and HP. The brakes are nicely oversized. It rides quietly, tracks well, and has comfortable seats. It's trimmed out similarly to the Limited; basically at a "champagne" level. The Overland trim is "trail rated" which means that we should be able to hazard its expensive bodywork off the road where I used to drive work vehicles. It has a full-service spare tire, slightly narrower than those mounted on the four corners.

Cons; coming from an Audi, the interior trim looks cheap and the overall fit and finish are "OK" at best. One rear door rattles its trim when it's being closed; the license plate frames also rattle and will require some aftermarket innovation to pad them. The prominently featured contrast stitching on the dash looks cheap and garish to my eye. However, for the $5K difference in MSRP, I can take all that in stride.

The UConnect 8.4 infotainment system is frustrating and slow; it substitutes several screen taps each for too many of the now-missing knobs and buttons. In fairness, I suspect that many manufacturers have gone this route, but it's irksome all the same and I feel strongly that they could have reduced the number of the taps required in many cases. The touchscreen is also not always responsive, adding additional taps. The bluetooth is acceptable for phone calls, but fails to cast music from the phone without skipping, so I load music onto an SD card.

I recently put my Garmin back on the dash after giving the navigation system a more-than-fair four-month trial. In my opinion, the on-board navigation graphics are too ambiguous, lacking in visual "punch" and clarity. The 8.4's graphics don't "pop" at a glance. The graphics require too much study, while the 8.4" screen is too far off the sightline that I feel one should maintain while driving. The dash and screen lighting will sometimes alternate between day and night mode when travelling through dark clouds followed by light sky in the afternoon; the Audi never did that sort of thing.

Personally, I anticipate some trouble down the road with reliability on the Jeep. The air suspension system is said to be a significant weak point. I suspect the powertrain will be robust. Other "bolt-ons" seem to contribute to the below-par reliability. One can buy a lifetime extended factory warranty on the Internet for some $2,690, and shorter-term warranties for less; I am keeping that option under consideration. I personally use Consumer Reports as a source of information. Interestingly, CR rated the UConnect as third, behind Tesla and then Audi, for their infotainment system. All of the others are distant fourths or worse. Apparently, buyer's expectations in this area are far ahead of what the market offers as other owners are reported to be similarly frustrated by most of the systems offered.

And, yes, some folks have regretfully bought vehicles that weren't rated or as capable as a salesman had stated them to be. It's also very true that the limitations imposed by rated cargo-carrying-capacity can effectively reduce your towing capacity by a lot. So, it's best to do all you can to get yourself educated, do your research and study the owner's manual carefully before a purchase; I was able to do this by downloading a PDF online.

In summary, being new to this and having a Casita 17 with its attendant heavy tongue weight, I think you would be well served by going with something like a 5,000/500 rated capacity at minimum; the Audi was 4,400/400 and that was rock-solid when towing the Casita. You also might consider a bit more for "future-proofing" against the possibility that you might end up with a larger trailer later on.

However, it's so hard to say what works for different people. You have to be the expert in what works for you. Good luck and be sure to tell us how it goes!
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Old 01-22-2018, 09:44 AM   #8
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Name: Marge
Trailer: Casita
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We just got a 17' Casita LD and tow it with our Toyota Tacoma. Not sure you'd want to consider a truck over an SUV, but it does the job very well. BTW, we also live in Oregon...Bend. Where are you?
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Old 01-22-2018, 10:03 AM   #9
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Name: Larry
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I also live in Oregon (Redmond) and I started with a 2006 Jeep Cherokee for my 17 ft Casita and found it a very good match for towing, although I really liked the Jeep I found it would not haul all I wanted to take with me and the transmission recalls and electrical issues prompted me to replace it with a pickup.
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Old 01-22-2018, 10:37 AM   #10
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Hello from Portland, OR

You don't say where in Oregon you reside, but consider joining us for Fall NOG at South Beach State Park in October. Fun times!

2018 Northern Oregon Gathering - Fall NOG
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Old 01-22-2018, 11:30 AM   #11
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Name: lee
Trailer: trailswest campsterl, 1996 Scamp 16 foot
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Just a FYI preliminary info indicates that the Ascent will have a CVT transmission. This technology is still in the trial phase and has had some problems across the line of vehicles it has been introduced in ( certainly not unusual in introductory technology ). I haven't seen much info on towing with a CVT but that tranny would be a big question mark for me ( if indeed it will be the tranny in the Ascent ). Lee and Norma p.s. maybe my comments will draw some responses from those actually towing with a CVT.
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Old 01-22-2018, 11:44 AM   #12
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Name: bill
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Having lived (in years past) in the PNW for 13 years, much of it with a camping trailer, I would not skimp on tow vehicle. Some of the grades in the NW are very steep and in the summer can be hot as well (example the I-90 grade at Vantage). Flat landers might tow with almost anything. As the grades increase, both in steepness and length/duration, it becomes more challenging.

In our case, we lived west of the mountains. A lot of the best camping (and best weather too) was on the other side of the mountains. So most of our camping involved going up and down multiple mountain passes. We loved camping there. Some of our favorite was primitive camping just east of Chinook Pass. Several forest service campgrounds between the pass and Whistling Jack.
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Old 01-22-2018, 12:04 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Lee Senn View Post
Just a FYI preliminary info indicates that the Ascent will have a CVT transmission. This technology is still in the trial phase and has had some problems across the line of vehicles it has been introduced in ( certainly not unusual in introductory technology ). I haven't seen much info on towing with a CVT but that tranny would be a big question mark for me ( if indeed it will be the tranny in the Ascent ). Lee and Norma p.s. maybe my comments will draw some responses from those actually towing with a CVT.
Nissan rates the current CVT-equipped Pathfinder to tow 6000 pounds, so they seem pretty confident of its capabilities.

Some recent CVT-equipped Subaru products came with a caveat that the rating was reduced by 50% when towing long grades in high temperatures. Not exactly encouraging, but quite a few members tow smaller trailers with late-model CVT Outbacks.

In my mind the jury is still out on CVT's for heavier trailers. The technology has come a long way, but there isn't a lot of long-term durability data for towing duty in the 5000 pound class.
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Old 01-22-2018, 02:27 PM   #14
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Name: Peter
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Given that Subaru keeps producing vehicles with very low tongue weight capacity ( for no known reason ), I'd strike that one off my list. I don't think the Jeep Cherokee has been getting very good reviews lately, so I'd check into that. The Highlander and the Pilot have lots of satisfied customers.
:Glenn what about a good but older Dodge Dakota they can almost tow anything?
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