FWD or AWD? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-07-2013, 04:35 AM   #1
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FWD or AWD?

Any opinions? Yuk, yuk, yuk...

We've towed for years with my little 4 cyl, 5 speed standard GMC Canyon. Problem is, it only has a capacity of 2100#s, and we want something that can tow more. So we hope to test drive a Traverse soon. We have been looking at new models and considering ordering one tailored to our liking that would include a factory tow package. They will tow up to 5200#s. A lightly used one may be in the cards too, if we can find the right thing.

So here's my question - how many of you folks tow with FWD vehicles? How do they work towing your egg? (Speaking of eggs, looks like our future egg of choice will be a lightly used 17' Casita Spirit Deluxe...)

I would really rather not pay the AWD premium if I don't have to.

Any suggestions, experiences, etc. greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Frank
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Old 06-07-2013, 05:59 AM   #2
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A lot of these little AWD cars are front drive by default, only engaging power to the rear wheels on an as needed basis. Based on that, with a AWD, you are effectively towing with just a "front drive" car probably 99% of the time.

Just as a side note, number one daughter just bought a new version RAV4, AWD. I would not want to be putting any added load on the "AWD" components of that car. That is some pretty wimpy looking stuff, IMO.
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Old 06-07-2013, 06:04 AM   #3
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Look at it this way. Do you get snow and ice in winter? Will the AWD be an advantage during your regular driving when not towing? I spent the extra to be safe when I bought my 2013 Ford Escape SE 4WD with 2.0L and tow package.
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Old 06-07-2013, 07:07 AM   #4
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I tow with a FWD Buick Enclave and it does a fine job. MPG varies from 12 point something to 18 point something depending on conditions. Mostly I get a little above or a little below 15. The Enclave and the Traverse are essentially the same vehicle and should work well for you. My Enclave is a 2011 and has (I think) a 4500# tow rating. I do have the factory tow package with a class III hitch. For my 17 ft EggCamper the Enclave does just as well towing as my previous V8 Chevy Silverado.
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Old 06-07-2013, 07:35 AM   #5
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I tow an Escape 17B (3000 lbs loaded) with a 2010 RAV4 V6 with tow package. While is labels itself as a 4 wheel drive vehicle, at anything over 25 MPH it becomes a front wheel drive. I've had no problems over many miles of towing. I do use a weight distribution hitch to get some of the tongue weight back to the front wheels...
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Old 06-07-2013, 08:44 AM   #6
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First of all, would you call a 5200# tow capacity vehicle a "little" vehicle?

Secondly, thanks for the positive comments. We will be test driving one soon, but probably won't buy for a few months. We do have snow & ice, but our AWD Outback does okay with those conditions, as did my old FWD Focus. Plus in bad weather we can work from home.

Frank
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Old 06-07-2013, 09:06 AM   #7
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Hey Frank, I used to sell GM and the Traverse is on the same platform as the Buick Enclave. It's a pretty good well rounded vehicle and should tow your 17 ft Casita no problem with the 3.6 liter V6. I would use the tow haul mode if the situation occurs where it is downshifting or when you get to hills or mountains just to be easier on the transmission as just about any vehicle.

I have read where people parked on wet grass spun their tires trying to pull their travel trailer and needed a little help. Otherwise FWD should be fine since you would save money on purchase price, fuel, insurance and wear and tear expenses regarding the additional moving parts of an AWD system. Plus it would be less weight.

If you do venture off the beaten path for camping just use common sense as you would with a rear wheel drive vehicle that many of us grew up driving in a snowy climate but FWD will give you that advantage with the engine weight over the drive wheels.

The Chevy Traverse is a heavier midsized CUV and should handle that Casita fairly well.
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Old 06-07-2013, 09:13 AM   #8
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Unless you have a specific need for AWD or FWD.....it just means more moving parts that can break over time. Plus when something does break it is more expensive to fix.
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Old 06-07-2013, 10:05 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Rpryor3 View Post
Unless you have a specific need for AWD or FWD.....it just means more moving parts that can break over time. Plus when something does break it is more expensive to fix.
True, but over the last two years I've had 2 cases where I would have had to wait for the grass to dry & one where I'd probably still be there if I didn't have 4 wheel drive to pull the trailer out of a space.
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Old 06-07-2013, 11:03 AM   #10
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I tow with a Subaru AWD no problems. In fact it gives an amazing solid tow even in high wind conditions.

I have to go up mountains at all hours of the day and night often unplowed and have found the Subaru to be one of the best in snow - yup have tried a number of other vehicles - SUV's and P/u's. Subaru has what they call a Symmetrical All Wheel drive which as I understand may be a little different than some of the other AWD systems as it does send power to all wheels simultaneously all the time but as mentioned does increase the power to which ever wheels have the best traction in slipper conditions. Down side is due to this AWD system the gas mileage for an engine of its size isnt the best.
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Old 06-07-2013, 01:11 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by rgrugg View Post
I tow with a FWD Buick Enclave and it does a fine job. MPG varies from 12 point something to 18 point something depending on conditions. Mostly I get a little above or a little below 15. The Enclave and the Traverse are essentially the same vehicle and should work well for you. My Enclave is a 2011 and has (I think) a 4500# tow rating. I do have the factory tow package with a class III hitch. For my 17 ft EggCamper the Enclave does just as well towing as my previous V8 Chevy Silverado.
Thank you SO much, that is the kind of experienced advice I was looking for. Didn't reply by quote earlier, as I've only had my smart phone with me. And I don't see close up well!

Yes, I think the Enclave and Acadia are built just like the Traverse. We only started looking at them after one of our kids bought an Equinox. We both love the look of whatever kind of vehicle these babies are called. Could be a better 17' egg carrier (by that I mean probably the 17' Casita).

Have a great weekend all!

Frank
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Old 06-07-2013, 03:13 PM   #12
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The mention of weight distribution hitch by Jon is important to note. Not enough weight on front axle with FWD can cause reduced milage due to even a little less traction.


Would not want to have trailer weight cause front wheel slip that would be triggering AWD on bumps.


Brother-in-law purchased a 4WD Ford Pickup after the second time he could not pull 5th wheel out of a site due to grass/ground being wet and there being a bit of a grade up to the road. Old Ford Pickup had the power, just not the traction.
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Old 06-07-2013, 03:19 PM   #13
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But if you have an EggCamper, you are told by the factory "do not use a weight distributing hitch." Ours barely lowers our Enclave in the back when hitched. Can't speak for any other trailer brands.
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Old 06-07-2013, 03:36 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by rgrugg View Post
But if you have an EggCamper, you are told by the factory "do not use a weight distributing hitch." Ours barely lowers our Enclave in the back when hitched. Can't speak for any other trailer brands.
Or if you tow with a Subaru you are also told in the manual not to use a weight distribution hitch.
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Old 06-07-2013, 07:41 PM   #15
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With the relatively high tongue weights of the front bath Casita 17s, reduced front traction could be an issue. If I were doing it I would want a weight distribution hitch. I towed trailers many miles with a Ford Windstar FWD and the tire scrub was a real factor... it wore out tires unusually fast.
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Old 06-08-2013, 05:32 AM   #16
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IIRC from when my parents were looking at vehicles, that "AWD" is a joke, it only gives 10 or 15% to the rear wheels. People talked about being stuck, and the rear wheels wouldn't even move. Do some googling.

If I'm remembering it right, I surely wouldn't waste my money on crappy all wheel drive like that.

My moms CRV was ok, but the same principle, I didn't like driving it, with the "awd when it wants to be". It did ok getting around, but I didn't like the pushing in the corner on ice, steering to correct it, then having awd kick in, and heading into the oncoming lane. If you kept your hands locked and didn't try to correct it yourself, it would do fine. I just couldn't bring myself to do nothing in a slide or pushing in a corner, and wait for the computer to fix it, creeped me out.

There's a reason I bought a subaru. I believe in full time, 50-50 awd, or selectable four wheel drive, nothing in between that let's the vehicle think on it's own. That being said, my mom loved the awd in the CRV, so it has its purpose.
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Old 06-08-2013, 09:37 AM   #17
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Jared, it depends on the vehicle. Both of mine (08 Highlander and 00 Mountaineer) claim to maintain a fairly even power split between front and rear axles. It's one of the reasons I chose the HL over the Rav. The Rav4 has a different system entirely that (as I understand it) sends electric power to the rear only when slippage is sensed at a front wheel.
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Old 06-08-2013, 10:32 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Mike Magee View Post
The Rav4 has a different system entirely that (as I understand it) sends electric power to the rear only when slippage is sensed at a front wheel.
That's the Hybrid (only) Highlander system. It's a slick solution, not requiring any driveshaft to the rear, but it depends on the high-power electrical system of the hybrid to work.

The RAV4 has no electric motors, but (like the majority of AWD systems) it uses a clutch to send power to the extra drive wheels (rear in this case) only when required.

The non-hybrid Highlander appears to still have a centre differential, which is the traditional way to send equal torque to both axles all the time.
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Old 06-08-2013, 12:01 PM   #19
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weight dist. hitch

Owners manual for our 2013 VW Tiguan says don't use a weight distribution hitch.
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Old 06-08-2013, 12:11 PM   #20
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[QUOTE=Mike Magee;393809 I towed trailers many miles with a Ford Windstar FWD and the tire scrub was a real factor... it wore out tires unusually fast.[/QUOTE]

Interesting - might be something to consider when looking at a FWD vs a AWD full time vehicle. I know the Subaru I have pulled for six years with has full time AWD and its not gone through tires any faster or any unusual tire wear than the previous Subaru's I have owned that didnt tow.
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