Tow Vehicle Suggestions - Fiberglass RV
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Old 02-20-2021, 09:04 PM   #1
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Name: Perri
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Tow Vehicle Suggestions

Hi,

I am currently in the market for a tiny fiberglass trailer (13' -2,000#) and have been doing a lot of research as i patiently wait for the prefect fit. I own a Toyota Rav 4 that can tow up to 1,500# and as I've been on the trailer hunt I'm beginning to realize that I may need to upgrade to a vehicle with a larger tow capacity. Since I want to invest in a camper, I don't have a lot of $ to spend on a new vehicle but, of course, I want something reliable.

Does anyone have a good tow vehicle recommendation? I'd ideally like to stay with a small SUV and I really like Toyota.

I've been very pleased with my Rav 4 over the many years and would be a little sad to see her go but she's also got a lot of miles on her at this point (148,000) and is losing her trade in value. Might be time for her to go.

Happy travels,
Perri
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Old 02-20-2021, 09:14 PM   #2
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If you can find a RAV4 Adventure model (offered starting 2018) or an older RAV4 V6 or Venza V6 with factory tow package (last year was 2012 for the RAV4 and around 2015 for the Venza), you get 3500# towing.

Failing that, to stay with Toyota you have to step up to a Highlander.

Subaru Outback is another popular small SUV for towing a 13’er.
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Old 02-20-2021, 09:20 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
If you can find a used RAV4 Adventure model (offered starting 2018) or an older RAV4 V6 or Venza V6 with factory tow package (last year was 2012 for the RAV4 and around 2015 for the Venza), you get 3500# towing.

Failing that, to stay with Toyota you have to step up to a Highlander. Good vehicle but pricey and no bargains used, either.
Sweet! Thanks so much for the info!
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Old 02-21-2021, 07:33 AM   #4
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Note that with the V6 you really need the optional factory tow package, which includes enhanced engine and transmission cooling. You can’t tell by looking, so you have to look up the VIN to be sure.

Speaking from personal experience. We had a Sienna V6 when we bought our 13’ Scamp, no tow package, rated 2000#. We overheated the transmission on the first long grade (there was a pretty strong headwind, too). Sensors prevented catastrophic damage, and I thought about adding an auxiliary transmission cooler. But like you, the vehicle was already getting long in the tooth, so we opted to upgrade to a newer 3500# rated vehicle.

The RAV4 Adventure is a four cylinder, so you won’t get the performance of the V6 in mountains, but it does include enhanced cooling to handle the the trailer.
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Old 02-21-2021, 07:57 AM   #5
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Your tow vehicle depends a lot on what kind of camping you plan on doing. If you just want to go to typical campgrounds then any type of vehicle with a tow rating adequate for the trailer is OK. I would not go above about 75-80% of the the tow rating.

If you are planning on boondocking, off roading, type of camping, I would strongly recommend AWD or 4WD. Trucks and higher end SUVS (think 4runner) have a transfer case with high range and low range gearing. Low range is a huge plus when the terrain gets rough. Naturally you will pay more for this capability.

I am a toyota person myself. They are not the most comfortable, but I like the reliability and durability.
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Old 02-21-2021, 08:26 AM   #6
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Name: Gordon
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First I would check out this site and make a list of ten or so vehicles that fit your needs, both for towing and general use:
https://www.trailerlife.com/trailer-towing-guides/

Second, I would look for the most reliable vehicle with the least lifetime maintenance cost on your list:
https://www.consumerreports.org/cars/car-research/

Then I would ask come back here and forums related to the vehicle you choose, and ask about any specific issues. For example, Jon had a Sienna that was not up to the task, but my 2015 Sienna has been fine.. it came with the higher (3500 lb) tow rating whereas older models did not. A van might not be best for you, and the addition of trailer brake and light wiring on the Sienna is not trivial. The hitch is rather low also which requires some caution as times. On the plus side, it is an amazingly reliable and time tested vehicle, engine and transmission. If you find that the vehicle that tops your list from steps one and two does not work out for some reason, then restart the selection process.
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Old 02-21-2021, 09:13 AM   #7
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Name: Steve
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I can think of at least 100 vehicles that are rated to tow 3500 lbs or more
We’ve owned Fords , Chevy , Pontiac , Buick , Chrysler , Ram , GMC and would buy anyone of them again.
My point is that if your favorite brand doesn’t offer what you need at a price your willing to pay ,there are plenty of others brands that do.
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Old 02-21-2021, 09:14 AM   #8
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the biggest thing in towing dont be a speed freaks! why do this you are on vacation right?



We tug with a 2015 ford edge 2.0fwd no problems yet! we also tug in s not drive save you transmission!
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Old 02-21-2021, 09:15 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gordon2 View Post
For example, Jon had a Sienna that was not up to the task, but my 2015 Sienna has been fine.. it came with the higher (3500 lb) tow rating whereas older models did not...
That's a good point, Gordon. I was speaking specifically of the V6 in the older compact SUVs- RAV4 and Venza- on which the tow prep package was a separate option (like my 2000 Sienna). The separate tow package went away with redesigns in the 2010's, and varied by model.
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Old 02-21-2021, 09:58 AM   #10
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If you are set on Toyota, then the Highlander is a great choice. Its a major jump up in tow rating, more than you need. The V6 RAV4 was a great choice too, no longer made.

As far as speed, you do need to keep up with the slower traffic on steep grades (big trucks), or else you are an impediment to others. I crested one such climb at 29MPH (major interstate) and at that point, I knew I needed to upgrade. Some people just do local camping, and depending where you live, you may not see these challenges. But if you cast a wider net camping wise, you are going to see hotter temperatures, longer grades, and higher elevations, all that can challenge a tow vehicle.

As pointed out above, there are several good SUVs in the 3,500 pound tow class. The jumps in tow ratings seem to be 1,500 pound +/-, then the 3,500 pound class, and then the 5,000 pound class. Above that you tend to see full sized pickups and full sized SUVs.
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Old 02-21-2021, 10:24 AM   #11
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Some Rav4's were made with a V6 engine and higher tow capacity.
If you can find one, with the trailer package. ...
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Old 02-21-2021, 12:15 PM   #12
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13' Scamp

I sent you, I hope, a "Private message"
Let me know if you received it.
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Old 02-21-2021, 02:50 PM   #13
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I towed an Escape 17B (3100 pounds & 340 pounds tongue weight) for over 85,000 miles including a trip to Alaska with a 2010 RAV4 Sport (V6 & Tow Package). While it was a solid combination, the small fuel tank and low ground clearance were limiting.
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