Tow vehicle for 16 scamp - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-24-2020, 07:25 PM   #1
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Name: Ray
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Tow vehicle for 16 scamp

Hi folks,

Great forum. First time posting and RV newbie.

Were considering buying a 16 scamp, layout 4. Want to get a capable tow vehicle first so thats where I need advice right now. Looking for a new vehicle that can seat 5 (yes 5) adults comfortably on short trips and pull our future scamp easily on long ones. And also be reliable and drivable in the city day-to-day.

Well probably be towing to campgrounds near national parks so nothing too adventurous, though will be going through some mountain passes in WA/OR/MT/ID.

So far weve looked at 2020/2021 Toyota Highlander, Toyota Sequoia, Honda Pilot, Nissan Armada, Nissan Pathfinder, Subaru Ascent. The last two were the ones that test-drove the best but they also seem to generate skepticism as tow vehicles on various forums etc.

My questions:

Between those 6, which would you pick as your tow vehicle for a 16 scamp?

Anyone have experience towing a similar weight trailer with an Ascent or Pathfinder in particular? How did that go?

If we branch out beyond this list, what similar vehicle would you recommend?

Any other advice appreciated too. TIA
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Old 07-24-2020, 07:31 PM   #2
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With five people (and gear, etc).. you might exceed total combined weight rating before you exceed trailer weight rating.. so maybe look for a tug with 5000 lb trailer towing rating rather than a 3500 lb rating, and then verify the rest of the ratings. I also put a VERY high premium on any tow vehicle that is truly tow ready. That means it has a fully wired 7 pin connection and a brake controller, or that it is pre-wired for a brake controller. If the dealer cannot get it fully set up for towing the camper, with a brake controller, charge line, etc.. in less than one hour.. thats a hint that it is not the best option.
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Old 07-24-2020, 07:33 PM   #3
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Lots of happy Highlander owners towing 17', 19' and 21' trailers on the Escape Owners forum.

I'm in the process of purchasing one to replace my 12 year old RAV4 Sport.
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Old 07-24-2020, 07:39 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
Lots of happy Highlander owners towing 17', 19' and 21' trailers on the Escape Owners forum.

I'm in the process of purchasing one to replace my 12 year old RAV4 Sport.
Yes I towed a pop-up with a Highlander.. except for a fairly rare problem that I had with the H.L.. its good vehicle -one of the better ones in fact. But it was not tow ready. My pop up had no brakes but if it had, and if I wanted to add a brake controller, it would have been more of a job than if it were prewired for one. BTW, it was an older model. IDK if other Highlander trims or newer models are better equipped for towing, but I do think its worth looking for a vehicle that is.
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Old 07-24-2020, 07:48 PM   #5
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Of the cars you listed, Highlander is the best. Right now, Honda is struggling with their infotainment systems, otherwise I would have rated Pilot first. Nissan has mixed quality reviews. Sequoia is a fine vehicle too.
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Old 07-24-2020, 11:08 PM   #6
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OK thanks for all your input so far. That really helps.

Any thoughts specific to the Subaru Ascent (specifically the trims that have transmission cooler and 5000 lb tow rating)? From my research, Ive found

Pro:

* Ascent owners seem to report no issues towing 3000 or even 4000 lb and our 16 scamp would be below that I think.

* Interior comfort and practicality was decidedly better in the Ascent than the other five vehicles I listed.

* Weve owned many Subarus in the past and had uniformly great experiences.

Con:

* Ive seen a lot of wariness on forums, including this one, about the4-cylinder engine with CVT mainly from a year or two ago, saying dont be an early adopter (which sounds like wise advice though maybe not up-to-date).

Thoughts? Thanks again for all the thoughtful replies.
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Old 07-24-2020, 11:29 PM   #7
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You've got the max tow rating, but what is the max tongue weight?
Subarus are notorious for low tongue weight rating.
I owned a Subaru for 13 years once, so I've got nothing against them, except that.
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Old 07-25-2020, 12:13 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
You've got the max tow rating, but what is the max tongue weight?
Subarus are notorious for low tongue weight rating.
I owned a Subaru for 13 years once, so I've got nothing against them, except that.


Ah, great question....

Just looked it up in the 2020 Ascent owner’s manual: 500 lb. (For the 5000 lb towing-capacity trims with transmission fluid cooler. Without the cooler it’s 2000/200.)
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Old 07-25-2020, 12:32 AM   #9
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As I said, I'm in the process of buying a Highlander. I'm awaiting a response from Toyota. Asked what they have done or are doing about the conflict between the rear lift-gate sensors and the hitch receiver in the LTD and LTD Platinum models.
Apparently, those are standard at that level, but don't work with the hitch receiver.
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Old 07-25-2020, 01:06 AM   #10
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Yeah, Highlander seems to be the consensus.... The catch for us is that our 5th person will be in the 3rd row bench. On the Highlander it seems low, with very limited legroom; on the Ascent its more tolerable.

So one question I have to figure out is, if I do go with the Ascent that can seat us all comfortably, what am I giving up towing-wise? Are there places that I wouldnt be able to take the scamp, or am I risking damaging the car, or will my mileage go down the tubes, or will I have some issue I havent even envisioned?
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Old 07-25-2020, 05:40 AM   #11
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Best third row room in a midsize SUV is the Telluride. The 2021s also come with 7 pin wiring and hitch, IF you get the factory tow package. Don't suck into the factory hitch, its just that, a hitch. The tow package also includes a self leveling rear suspension, I don't know how well it works.

Also, you can get some with a second row BENCH seat. Several models of Telluride come with a second row bench for example. That gives you seating for five without using the rear row.

Or step up to the Sequoia. That is a different class of SUV (bigger). Once you go to that class, you have the entire Chevy Suburban, etc., group (all with worse gas mileage, but loads of interior comfort). Me, in town, the larger class can be a PITA, kind of like driving my F150 in town.

Look at Consumer Reports reviews, I would not touch a Nissan. If you keep cars for a long time like I do (ten years plus), then reliability is key.

On the Highlander, I would not touch the Limited or Platinum models for the reason Glenn mentioned above. I think the XLE model in the Toyota line is an excellent balance of luxury features and price. It would be my choice if I was buying a Highlander.

They pretty much pan the useability of the third row on the Ascent.

Now finding a Telluride is a bit challenging, and many dealers are marking them up. They made some minor changes in the 2021 model, which makes it a MUCH better choice than the 2020 Telluride, like remote start and 7 pin wiring.

Now again, if you are like me and keep a car for a decade, waiting longer up front to get one is not that big of a deal.

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Old 07-25-2020, 08:05 AM   #12
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Love our 2011 Pilot. Very roomy, very comfortable, very reliable at 183K miles, 7-pin wiring and brake controller port under the dash for easy towing set-up.

I have read about the un-friendliness of the touch screen system on late model Hondas. Id have to check it out in the new ones and decide whether its a deal-killer.

The Telluride seems promising, but long term durability is untested. Highlander goes the distance, but Toyota does not support towing set-up. I do not find Toyota seats as all-day comfortable as Honda.

Ive heard about too many new-model glitches on the Ascent and too many transmission issues with the Pathfinder. Both have CVTs.

Armada and Sequoia are bigger than you need, but kids do grow fast... Sequoia has better reliability of the two.

My personal choices would be Pilot, Highlander, and maybe the Telluride, in that order. Or Sequoia if you decide to go large.
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Old 07-25-2020, 08:16 AM   #13
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On the plus side, the drivetrain on the Telluride is nothing new. But the body and interior are new as well as infotainment. I avoid first year models. Telluride is now on year two but it’s early.

I’m a huge Honda fan, but the complaints on their latest infotainment are sobering. I never get extended warranties but with the much more complicated electronics, I’d do it.
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Old 07-25-2020, 09:46 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RM Northwest View Post

So far weve looked at 2020/2021 Toyota Highlander, Toyota Sequoia, Honda Pilot, Nissan Armada, Nissan Pathfinder, Subaru Ascent.

Is a Japanese car a strict requirement? Why not a pick up truck with super crew cab?
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Old 07-25-2020, 10:05 AM   #15
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With three kids, and presumably some car seats involved, Id sure rather have the third row.
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Old 07-25-2020, 10:15 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
With three kids, and presumably some car seats involved, Id sure rather have the third row.
The OP explicitly wrote "5 adults".
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Old 07-25-2020, 10:49 AM   #17
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Thank you all. Great info and observations and experience to draw from. Exactly what I was hoping for!

Some answers/clarifications:

Yeah, 5 adults. Pandemics have a way of bringing generations together. And I’ll just leave that there.

Because one member of the party would need help getting in and out, because we’re looking to give everyone space on longer trips, and because we have zero experience with pickups, I had ruled pickups out. But if they meet the requirements I’d be willing to do the research. But I should also mention we have dogs too. So maybe that makes a pickup cab a little too tight?

Japanese car is not a strict requirement. Those are the brands we have the best experience with over the decades and the dealerships we have the longest relationships with.. If something else is plainly superior we’d consider it for sure. I have seen the high ratings on the Telluride as well but share the concerns about it being new. That said if anyone has real world experience with it that would be helpful to know.

8-seat configuration would certainly make the 3rd row bench less of an issue in the Highlander (and the Pathfinder and Pilot). Good point. Was hoping to let folks space out but maybe the more comfortable arrangement is to leave the rear beach completely to the pups.

I haven’t seen any comments here like “I wouldn’t use ___ to tow a 2500-3000 lb scamp.” Is it fair to say that all these vehicles, and other SUVs with 5000+ lb tow ratings, can do the basic towing job (when suitably equipped)? That would eliminate the biggest unknown for us and we could make the decision based on comfort and features inside the car.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share this advice. Appreciate it all.
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Old 07-25-2020, 10:59 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sokhapkin View Post
The OP explicitly wrote "5 adults".
Missed that. And youre right- could well push things into the realm of a full-sized truck or SUV. Tow ratings assume 2 adults and minimal cargo.
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Old 07-25-2020, 11:06 AM   #19
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Kia Telluride

I'd consider the Kia Telluride. 5000/500 tow capacity. Very highly rated by Consumer Reports
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Old 07-25-2020, 11:15 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RM Northwest View Post
My questions:

Between those 6, which would you pick as your tow vehicle for a 16’ scamp?

Anyone have experience towing a similar weight trailer with an Ascent or Pathfinder in particular? How did that go?

If we branch out beyond this list, what similar vehicle would you recommend?

Any other advice appreciated too. TIA
Nowadays, many vehicles only have a limited-service spare tire or, worse-yet, a can of fix-a-flat. You might want to look into that if the prospect of waiting for a tow truck somewhere on Interstate 90 resonates with you.

Also, you might want to consider the Dodge Durango. Their rated towing capacities are quite robust, and third-row seating is an option. I expect they also have a full-service spare as the Durango is a sister-vehicle to our Jeep which has one.

By the way, having a higher rated towing capacity can also mean that you don't have to mess about with a weight-distributing hitch, which is a significant plus in my view.

Personally, I had to hold my nose and tell myself that the Jeep's below-par reliability record was only relative to the exceptional reliability that so many of our vehicle choices now offer.

Your mileage will vary. Enjoy the journey.
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