1980 trillium, buying a new tow vehicle - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-05-2021, 01:11 PM   #1
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Name: Colleen
Trailer: Trillium
WA
Posts: 82
1980 trillium, buying a new tow vehicle

Hi all. We have a 1980 Trillium 1300. Next year after the car cost inflation dies down, we're buying a new tow vehicle. (Our twenty-two year old Explorer is beginning to show her $$ age.) We assume a trailer weight of around 2,000 pounds. We're thinking of a hybrid SUV. We are considering the hybrids: Toyota Sienna, Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer and a few others. These all promise a tow capacity of 3,000 to 3,500 pounds. I've heard good and bad on all of them of course. I thought I'd ask you all because you may have experience with hybrids or can give counsel on whether a 3,000 pound tow capacity means a comfortable tow or not for a car when pulling a small trailer like ours. I mean, how much over the actual weights of a trailer should tow capacity be? We are also open to a hybrid truck if that makes more sense. Any advice or experience you could share would be most appreciated.
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Old 08-06-2021, 10:31 AM   #2
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Name: Mick M
Trailer: Scamp
Washington
Posts: 23
Tow Vehicle

When selecting a tow vehicle, keep in mind that the capacity includes the additional weight of passengers, luggage, food, and any gear. Also, it is a good rule of thumb to not exceed 80% of the tow capacity to reduce risk of damage to your vehicle.

So working some math, 80% of 3000 lb capacity leave 2,400 lb. Using 2000 lb for the trailer, these leaves 400 lb for people, gear, and other stuff.

Another factor, towing capacity is determined on the drive train, cooling system limits (engine and transmission), and suspension. Also, the hitch weight limit can be pretty low with a 3000 lb tow capacity.

At a minimum, 3500 is a safer option for lower limit capacity. If you plan to travel over mountains, may want to consider 5000 lb. This would have a better better suspension (could handle under tow) and the capacity to cool the vehicle fluids and result in less wear on the vehicle.
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Old 08-06-2021, 11:08 AM   #3
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Name: Colleen
Trailer: Trillium
WA
Posts: 82
Thanks Monk. This is what I needed to hear. I had a sneaking suspicion that it might not be adequate. It's difficult to buy a tow vehicle that is also, and more regularly, used for going to the grocery store. I at least want to beat the mileage our old Explorer gets. Seems like it should be possible. This day and age and all. Thanks again
Colleen
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Old 08-06-2021, 11:58 AM   #4
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Name: Jon
Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 S1
Arizona
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It is not nearly so bad as that. For one, the tow rating already includes the driver and front seat passenger (per J2807, varies for older vehicles). So with a 3500# rated vehicle, you can have 300# in the vehicle and still tow the full rated trailer weight.

As you add additional rear passengers and/or cargo, you do give up some towing capacity. This chart from my Honda Pilot owner's manual gives some insight as to how it works (click to enlarge). The information in the 3500# 2WD chart at the top is most relevant to this discussion. Notice that you hit the tongue weight limit first, meaning the rear axle weight rating is the limiting factor. For this vehicle at least, you can have up to 5x165#=825# of passengers and cargo in the vehicle and tow a 2000# trailer with 200# of tongue weight.
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Bottom line, a 3500# rated vehicle will have ample margin for a 2000# 13' molded trailer unless the vehicle will be heavily loaded with people and/or cargo. Our 2WD Pilot does a great job pulling our 1750# Scamp with four people, maybe 150# of cargo in the vehicle, and 200# of tongue weight. Adding the extra boost of a hybrid electric motor on hills would be even better.

I'm not thrilled about the latest generation of Toyota products, though. Ongoing uglification aside, they've replace the 3.5L V6 with a 2.5L I4 in all hybrid models. While I'm sure it will do what they say, I don't think it will do it as well. If you decide to go Toyota, I'd recommend looking for a used Highlander Hybrid V6.
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Old 08-06-2021, 01:21 PM   #5
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Name: George
Trailer: Trillium
Ontario
Posts: 212
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Tow vehicle cpacity

Hi, I agree with most of the other responses, but not sure that Tow vehicle capacity is based on weight, and ignores the extra power required by the trailer front end air pressure resulting from weather (wind) and mountain ranges. It may also not be able to handle the power for A/C and road conditions. I have always liked the full-size vans for that use and definitely recommend a non-turbo unless it is 350 hp and over. I suggest renting one if you can try it out for your intended use. I now use an E350 with 5.4 l V8 and RWD and it has the tow capacity for 10,000 lbs. I bought it at a time when I was looking for an 22 ft Award and it has served me well when I needed to tow my son's rented trailer over the Rockies and needed full A/C on the way back driving in 100 degrees F.
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Old 08-06-2021, 05:01 PM   #6
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Name: Jon
Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 S1
Arizona
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Thank you for raising the point about frontal area and wind resistance. J2807 tow testing standards specify a box trailer with a frontal area of 30 square feet in the 3500# weight class. A Trillium is closer to 40 square feet, but it is a little more aerodynamic than a box trailer. The extra frontal area will only be noticeable when towing against a headwind and can be mitigated by slowing down.

It’s a relatively minor issue for a vehicle with a 3500# rating. There is plenty of margin for a sub-2000# 13' trailer.
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Old 08-06-2021, 07:03 PM   #7
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Name: bill
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19; 1977 Trillium 1300
The Mountains of North Carolina
Posts: 4,014
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Where you live, and where you plan to camp, are both important factors. We lived south of Seattle for many years, and camped for about 10 of them. Most of our camping was over the mountains, in central or eastern WA. We traded the wet climate of western WA for sunshine. Some grades like the Vantage Grade (heading west on I-90) can be very taxing, its uphill for 11 miles, and in summer, its hot, really hot. Coming back from camping in Eastern WA, we learned we did not have enough tow vehicle, cresting that grade at 29MPH.

Many here don't see these types of grades, and others are OK going really slow up steep hills. I can only say at 29 MPH, I was not keeping up with the slowest trucks, and created quite a problem for other highway users. And alternate routes are not always easy, some are even worse.

Now with a Trillium 1300, I would hope that a 3,000 to 3,500 pound rated tow vehicle would be more than adequate. My own experience (larger trailer), I went from a 1/2 ton pickup, eventually all the way to a 1 ton dually! At that point, I was no longer a problem for other highway users.

It really goes back to WHERE you plan to camp.
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Old 08-07-2021, 08:28 PM   #8
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Name: April
Trailer: Trillium
Pennsylvania
Posts: 1
We've had great luck with a Subaru Legacy and Kia Soul.
Both pretty small cars.
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Old 08-09-2021, 11:32 AM   #9
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Name: Colleen
Trailer: Trillium
WA
Posts: 82
Thanks all for your responses. This has been very useful. Think it's a race between the Highlander and the ford f150 hybrids. We'll see what the reviewers are saying over the coming year.
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