SUV Recommendations? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-09-2020, 10:12 PM   #1
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SUV Recommendations?

I love my Nissan Frontier truck (6,000 lb. tow capacity) and it still runs and tows like a champ with 115,000 miles on it. However, my spouse and I want an SUV so that we can take out the 3rd row seats and have a sleeping area to take turns napping when sharing the driving on longer trips. We are on a budget, so are looking to buy something 3-6 years old that's been well-kept and has reasonably low miles. We are looking for 4x4 because the 2-wheel drive SUVs are typically rear-wheel drive and we'll be needing good snow driving performance (not so much for towing but other times).

There are only a couple SUVs we know of that seem strong enough to tow our 19 foot Bigfoot B19 (under 3,500 lb. dry and maybe 4,200 lb. loaded...we never haul water in our tanks). Under consideration are:

Ford Expedition V6 Ecoboost 4x4

Chevy Tahoe V8 4x4

Both with over 7,000 lb. tow capacity.

Does anyone have any first-hand experience with either of these vehicles to comment on reliability, typical mechanical issues as they age, towing capacity, steering responsiveness and ride comfort? I already know about and have been reading online reviews, but wanted specifically to hear from FGRV forum members about their experiences using these as tow vehicles.

We were initially also considering a VW Touareg, but after more research, we can't afford the maintenance costs on that vehicle (have a wonderful and reasonably priced mechanic but he said the expense is in the cost of the parts and that the European car designs are notoriously laborious to work on because things are so hard to reach).

The gas mileage on the Nissan Armada is obscene, so that's out (as it is, SUVs and trucks still get pretty poor gas mileage and get we wish there were affordable hybrids with enough horsepower and torque to tow).

GMC Yukon has such poor ratings that we aren't considering it.

Any other SUVs of which we are not yet aware but should consider? We want at least 7,000 lb. tow capacity because the greater the safety margin, the better the towing experience.

Thank you for your input and suggestions! Please, salient responses only! Thank you!
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Old 01-10-2020, 08:46 AM   #2
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You might add the Dodge Durango to your list. Comes in two and three row variants. I don't think the two row is any shorter, so it could save you the hassle of removing seats. Note: Durango is available in AWD, but not 4x4. It is built on a stretched Grand Cherokee chassis. The V6 Durango will tow 6,200 lbs with the base V6 which returns EPA-estimated 21 mpg combined. That goes up to 7,400 lbs with the HEMI V8, but be warned that midgrade gasoline is recommended for the HEMI and it only returns 17 mpg combined.

Or just try out some full size trucks with crew cabs. You might find reclining fully in the front seat is all the comfort you need. And you'll get better mileage than the SUVs you've listed. In 2017 you could find a crew cab F-150 with the 2.7L EcoBoost outfitted to tow 8,000 lbs (2018 was the year they refreshed and bumped up to 8,900), or a V6 Ram 1500 that tops out around 7,200. Both return EPA-estimated 19 mpg combined, which edges out the Tahoe.

The EPA fuel economy estimates are notoriously inaccurate, by the way. I find that fuelly.com aligns more closely with what I read in the "real world fuel economy" reviews by various truck reviewers.
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Old 01-10-2020, 08:53 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Justus C View Post
You might add the Dodge Durango to your list. Comes in two and three row variants. I don't think the two row is any shorter, so it could save you the hassle of removing seats.....
Just put that 3rd seat back into my Durango.
Its not hard. 6 bolts and one wire.
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Old 01-10-2020, 09:29 AM   #4
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SUV Recommendations?

Just a little puzzled about the Tahoe and Yukon. Arenít they made at the same plant with most of the same components? Having a hard time believing theyíd be that much different in terms of reliability.

Have you ruled out the Toyota Sequoia?

Some versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee can tow 7000#, too. More compact size, but I donít know about sleeping.

In some SUVís you just fold second and third rows to make a flat sleeping area. You donít have to remove anything. Our Pilot is very flat, but it has a incline from back to front, noticeable but tolerable for sleeping.
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Old 01-10-2020, 09:48 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by V'sGlassSleeper View Post
We were initially also considering a VW Touareg, but after more research, we can't afford the maintenance costs on that vehicle (have a wonderful and reasonably priced mechanic but he said the expense is in the cost of the parts and that the European car designs are notoriously laborious to work on because things are so hard to reach).
Good call. My boss had a Touareg for a while. Not only did it have more than it's share of problems, but every one of those problems was like $1,200 or more to fix. Even stuff that should be simple, like a fuel pump.

He dumped it and got a Durango with the hemi a couple of years ago and has been happy with it. He doesn't camp but tows a boat with it.
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Old 01-10-2020, 03:40 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
Just a little puzzled about the Tahoe and Yukon. Arenít they made at the same plant with most of the same components? Having a hard time believing theyíd be that much different in terms of reliability.

Have you ruled out the Toyota Sequoia?

Some versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee can tow 7000#, too.

In some SUVís you just fold second and third rows to make a flat sleeping area. You donít have to remove anything.
That is a common problem with such things as Consumer Reports.
They often rate essentially identical vehicles at opposite ends of the spectrum.


A Van might be a better choice for the purpose described.
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Old 01-10-2020, 03:59 PM   #7
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How about a nice fiberglass topper for your Nissan.
If you have a slider, you only need a bicycle innertube to seal the innerface and a small 12V fan to push heat or A/C into the back
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Old 01-10-2020, 05:07 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
Just a little puzzled about the Tahoe and Yukon. Arenít they made at the same plant with most of the same components? Having a hard time believing theyíd be that much different in terms of reliability.
the Yukon's tend to have much higher 'luxo' junk content, and generally have fancier suspension+transmission options, which could easily lead to more problems. AFAIK, the engines are the same, but thats not where most of hte problems come from.


re: Sequoia, thats another good choice, its essentially the front half of a Tundra pickup with an SUV body. Toyota's are generally as reliable as an appliance.

When I was shopping for used SUVs, I found they tended to have a lot of 'kidification', with extensive stains and smells emanating from the seats and carpets in the back, far more so than pickups. This is probably because a good number of them were 'mom mobiles'... For sure lift up the seats and inspect under them, etc.
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Old 01-10-2020, 05:24 PM   #9
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Here's a list I compiled a few years back, sorted by maximum rated towing capacity. We ended up with a Jeep Grand Cherokee after hearing about the Durango, which is basically a three-row, longer wheelbase version of the same vehicle. They weren't even on our list.

One of my criteria was to have a full-service spare tire.

As this is a list from a few years back, everything should be verified as applicable to the vehicle years and specific models that you look at.

Make Model Tow Capacity
Porsche Cayenne 7,715
Volkswagen Touareg 7,700
Mercedes GL-Class 7,500
Lexus GX 6,500
BMW X5 6,000
Volvo XC90 5,290
Porsche Macan 5,220
Buick Enclave 5,200
Chevrolet Traverse 5,200
GMC Acadia 5,200
Acura MDX 5,000
Hyundai Santa Fe 5,000
Toyota Highlander 5,000
Audi Q5 4,410
Honda Pilot 4,500
Honda Odyssey EX-L 3,500
Toyota Sienna 3,500
Lexus RX 3,500
Mercedes GLK 3,500
Toyota Venza 3,500
Toyota Highlander Hybrid 3,500
Ford Escape Titanium 3,500
Volvo XC70 3,305
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Old 01-10-2020, 05:30 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Justus C View Post
That goes up to 7,400 lbs with the HEMI V8, but be warned that midgrade gasoline is recommended for the HEMI and it only returns 17 mpg combined.
The EPA fuel economy estimates are notoriously inaccurate, by the way. I find that fuelly.com aligns more closely with what I read in the "real world fuel economy" reviews by various truck reviewers.
Yup. Over time our 5.7 JGC has returned about 13 mpg towing, 16 for mixed conditions, and 20 highway.

That's based on calculating mileage against the fuel purchased. The dash meter is always a bit more optimistic.
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Old 01-10-2020, 05:58 PM   #11
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Toyota Land Cruiser has a 8,100 pound tow rating, takes regular gas. Older Lexus LX570 had a 8,500 pound tow rating, it has since dropped to 7,000 pounds. Lexus "requires" premium fuel (some don't use it). A vehicle requiring premium is a non-starter for me unless it is a sports car.

Toyota Sequoia has a tow rating of 7,000 to 7,400 pounds, and uses regular unleaded.

Even the Lexus GX460 requires premium. Nice SUV, but....


While the Land Cruiser and Lexus LX new are incredibly expensive to this thrifty guy, they tend to last a long time and higher mileage used ones are more fitting with my budget. Fuel economy on all of these is mediocre.
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Old 01-11-2020, 10:14 AM   #12
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Thank you for all the responses. We are on a budget, so a number of the higher-priced SUVs, even used, are not going to be feasible.



We don't want another truck or "long" versions SUVs. Our other vehicle is a 2012 Honda Pilot and if it could tow 6,000 lbs., it would be ideal, as we've been very comfortable folding down the back seats to sleep in the back.



We'll check out the Toyota Sequoia, thank you. Not sure about price, but we like most Toyotas.
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Old 01-11-2020, 10:26 AM   #13
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From my experience between the Honda and the toyota , I would tend to favor the Honda . Better value , better technology , better quality , better price .
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Old 01-11-2020, 10:56 AM   #14
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Honda doesn't make an SUV that can tow 7,000 lbs. The Pilot only goes up to 4,500 lbs in the AWD. If Honda made a higher-capacity Pilot, we'd buy it.

The Sequoia is very expensive, so not a contender. We can't pay $30k for something that already has 100k miles on it. That's cray-cray.
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Old 01-11-2020, 11:07 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by John in Santa Cruz View Post
the Yukon's tend to have much higher 'luxo' junk content...
Got it. I don't think Chevy has a Denali equivalent for wannabe Escalade owners, so it doesn't go quite as high up the aspirational ladder.

We just bought a new vehicle for my wife, a 2018 RAV4. In order to get leather seats we were forced into the Premium trim, which has bells and whistles out the wazoo. She's delighted. I'm nervous.

I tried to talk her into the Adventure trim, which we could actually use as a tow vehicle for our 13' Scamp once the kids are off to college, but she hated the blacked out trim and all-black interior. I had to agree- butt ugly. Why does it have to be that way?


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Originally Posted by floyd View Post
That is a common problem with such things as Consumer Reports. They often rate essentially identical vehicles at opposite ends of the spectrum..
That's why I skip the summary ratings and look at the detailed reliability reports broken down by vehicle subsection. If the issues are in the "electronics" category, that's one thing, but if it reveals problems in the "engine, major" or "transmission" categories, that's more concerning.

In either case I then go to owner forums and other sources for further information with some idea of what to look for. CR's methodology is flawed- only subscribers participate, so it's not random, and it's voluntary and self-reported- but it is a starting point. For me it's been a fairly accurate predictor of actual repair experience on recent vehicle purchases.
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Old 01-12-2020, 10:24 AM   #16
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From my experience between the Honda and the toyota , I would tend to favor the Honda . Better value , better technology , better quality , better price .
I second that!
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Old 01-12-2020, 10:36 AM   #17
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I saw a beautiful custom Suburban the other day with 24's, blacked out windows etc.
The S.U.&B letters were missing, leaving the word "URBAN".
Not sure if it was intentional or the letters just got knocked off. but it seemed appropriate.

I don't remember if it was a "McKinley".
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Old 01-12-2020, 01:16 PM   #18
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That would work for the model with a longer bed. I have the same vehicle,(Nissan frontier 4x4 Nissmo crew cab)
but 2008. Wish it was long enough to sleep in.
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Old 01-12-2020, 01:49 PM   #19
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We have towed with an Expedition for six years. Ours now has 162000 miles. It is the most comfortable vehicle we have ever owned. It tows our Lil Snoozy like a dream and gets 13 to15 mph while towing at 73 mph ( my normal interstate speed) . About 20 mph not towing. It has the added benefit of being one of the safer cars out there. I plan to replace it with another one when this one is done.
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Old 01-12-2020, 11:02 PM   #20
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Sold my cream puff 2013 Yukon SLT last July for $15,500 private party. Bought it in 2014 with 21K miles and sold it with 107K. 5.3 motor very solid and had zero problems with anything. Bought a new Expedition and got the bumper sticker: "We're Spending Our Children's Inheritance ".
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