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Old 07-12-2022, 12:22 AM   #1
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Tow vehicle for newer Casita Deluxe

Hello All,

It has been a while since posting anything here. I sold my Trailswest trailer a number of years ago and bought a RoadTrek camper van. Well…. I am now looking to get back into a travel trailer and selling my Roadtrek for various reasons. I am looking at getting a Casita Liberty or Independence on the newer side but I also need to get a tow vehicle. The Roadtrek is the only vehicle I have that can tow anything (3500lbs). Technically could tow a casita but I am a bit more cautious than that.

I am curious about a TV that can handle 5000 capacity and wonder what folks experience is with theirs. I am open to used vehicles that again are newer, say 10 years or newer. Part of the issue with the Roadtrek is it is a 2001 Dodge and I have had challenges getting some repairs done while on the road. When looking for used tow vehicles how can you tell if there is a towing package? Of course I would have my mechanic check out any used vehicle.

Thanks for all your input, ideas and suggestions. I have been looking at Toyota 4 runners, Tacoma, and Highlander. Open to other models and brands.

Many thanks.
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Old 07-12-2022, 07:24 AM   #2
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All three are good choices. I agree you want a minimum 5000/500# tow rating, mainly due to tongue weight. All three meet or exceed that standard with good long-term reliability. However, they are very different vehicles with different strengths and weaknesses, and choosing among them really comes down to what else you will use the vehicle for (besides towing the Casita).

Do you want an open bed (nice for dirty, smelly, or bulky gear) or an enclosed cargo area (better for pets and security)? Do you prioritize smooth, comfortable highway ride and handling or off-road capability? How much do you plan to tow vs. how much everyday driving? How important is fuel economy in daily driving?

The Tacoma makes the strongest tow vehicle, but the Highlander is a much better everyday vehicle. 4Runner falls in between. Only you can decide which makes the most sense for your overall lifestyle.

If you choose the crossover route, Honda also makes some competent, reliable tow vehicles. We've gotten good service from our 2011 Pilot (220K and going strong, but with a smaller trailer). I'm a fan of Honda seats for all-day comfort on a longer trip. The Pilot and the Ridgeline (if you lean toward an open cargo bed) come with factory integrated trailer wiring including brake and charging lines. You just have to buy connectors for the plug at the back and a brake controller at the dash. Easy, plug-and-play towing set-up. If you are inclined toward newer, the Passport is a slightly smaller option.

The Highlander is more trouble to set up because you have to run brake and charging lines. Older Highlanders (2013 and earlier) also require an optional factory tow package for the full 5000# rating (in addition to V6 and AWD). You have to check the VIN to determine if a used vehicle is properly equipped.

If you prioritize off-road capability, Tacoma and 4Runner are better choices. The 4Runner is one of the last of the old-school SUVs. If you go the truck route, you might find better value in a used Nissan Frontier. I owned one a number of years ago and liked it. For reliability I'd recommend the older 4L V6 (2019 and earlier).

Now is a difficult time to be shopping for a vehicle, with sky-high prices and limited availability. I wish you the best in your search. We recently sold a Roadtrek as well.
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Old 07-12-2022, 02:10 PM   #3
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If you go the truck route, you might find better value in a used Nissan Frontier. I owned one a number of years ago and liked it. For reliability I'd recommend the older 4L V6 (2019 and earlier).
Yep, used Frontiers tend to be considerably less expensive than their Tacoma counterparts - even though they're just as capable for towing.

Nissan sold a lot of the 2nd generation version - essentially unchanged over the entire 2005-2019 period they were produced. So, parts and accessories are readily available.

My 2012 Frontier V6 routinely does 15+ MPG while towing the 17' Casita. On my most recent trip, it was 17.5 MPG.

The 2010 and earlier V6 models had some problems with the radiator leaking engine coolant into the ATF cooler line (which usually killed the transmission), and with premature wear on the timing chain guides. Both problems were fixed on 2011 and later models.
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Old 07-12-2022, 04:45 PM   #4
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I got an oil change at the local Toyota dealer today. The service dept was packed. The dealership did not have even one new Toyota. None. As mentioned above, it's a really bad time to buy a car or trailer. If you buy used, you'll pay a hefty premium that will be wiped out when this COVID bump passes.
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Old 07-12-2022, 06:10 PM   #5
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We got a great deal on a used Casita SD17 a few years ago, but had no tow vehicle for it. After a frustrating search we found a very low mileage 2012 Ram 1500 with the 5.7 Hemi engine. Quad cab (4 doors but smaller rear doors), put a cab height cap on it and we were ready to go. The Casita 17's have a tongue weight in the 400 to 500 lb range so the full size truck worked out great for us.
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Old 07-13-2022, 07:14 AM   #6
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Your question about "towing packages" is complicated and you have to take it on a case-by-case basis. Some towing packages are nothing more than hitch and wiring, and the wiring may be the full 7-blade round set-up required for your Casita or merely a 4-pin flat set-up for a small boat or utility trailer. Other towing packages include mechanical upgrades, such as improved engine and transmission cooling, high-output alternators, built-in brake controllers, and even anti-sway software. Some towing packages are part of a specific trim level. With crossover vehicles like the Highlander, AWD is often required for the maximum tow rating.

Once you find a vehicle that seems like a good candidate, next step is to download the owner's manual for the exact model and year. They are available online, and googling something like "2015 Toyota Highlander owner's manual" should provide a link to a PDF file. Read the towing section. It will spell out exactly what is required.

If there is a factory tow package that includes mechanical drivetrain upgrades, you can run the VIN at a dealer or online to determine if a particular vehicle has the required equipment. If the tow package is just things like hitch, wiring, and/or brake controller, those can be added after purchase using factory or aftermarket parts.

Do not depend on sellers- whether private parties or dealership professionals- to provide accurate towing information. Many will tell you want you want to hear just to make a sale, and even well-intentioned people often do not know all the facts. Do your own homework, and the owner's manual is the place to start.
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Old 07-13-2022, 08:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teri85 View Post
Hello All,

It has been a while since posting anything here. I sold my Trailswest trailer a number of years ago and bought a RoadTrek camper van. Well…. I am now looking to get back into a travel trailer and selling my Roadtrek for various reasons. I am looking at getting a Casita Liberty or Independence on the newer side but I also need to get a tow vehicle. The Roadtrek is the only vehicle I have that can tow anything (3500lbs). Technically could tow a casita but I am a bit more cautious than that.

I am curious about a TV that can handle 5000 capacity and wonder what folks experience is with theirs. I am open to used vehicles that again are newer, say 10 years or newer. Part of the issue with the Roadtrek is it is a 2001 Dodge and I have had challenges getting some repairs done while on the road. When looking for used tow vehicles how can you tell if there is a towing package? Of course I would have my mechanic check out any used vehicle.

Thanks for all your input, ideas and suggestions. I have been looking at Toyota 4 runners, Tacoma, and Highlander. Open to other models and brands.

Many thanks.
Hi Teri,

Wishing you the best with your camper and tow vehicle purchase. I think you are the right track. You mention three exceptional vehicles that tow a minimum of 5000 lbs with 500 lbs on the hitch. Plus, you are open to other models and brands. Me too, I have no brand loyalty. I want the best product at the time for the task of towing. Jon always gives great advice.

My hobby since the beginning of the pandemic has been tow vehicle research that includes extensive internet surfing and Sunday trips to the closed dealerships with a Starbucks in hand, Gibbs our Maltese in the back seat, and a pup cup for him! LOL, I know way too much about trucks given I have no plan to get another tow vehicle until the end of 2024 after Laura and I turn 62. Plus, our “unique” 2009 Kia Borrego V8 (7,500 lb tow capacity with 750 lbs on the hitch) will be 15 years old with an approximate 175,000 miles on it (currently 149,000 miles).

We have decided that our next tow vehicle will be a pickup truck. Since retirement (6/30/21), we are currently camping 60 to 90 days per year and I expect this to potentially double or more as we move into our early/mid 60s (currently 59.5). It can be difficult loading wet and/or dirty camping gear into the back of an SUV with carpeting, cloth/leather seats folded. However, SUVs are well-rounded as daily drivers.

Assuming we decide to stay with a mid-size, I would be interested in the following:

1. Honda Ridgeline (my cognitive favorite)
2. Jeep Gladiator (lol, my sentimental favorite. I learned to drive on a 1968 Jeep J10 Gladiator full-sized pick up).
3. Ford Ranger (looking forward to the 2023 update).
4. Toyota Tacoma (looking forward to the 2024 update).
5. Nissan Frontier.

If I were shopping for a mid-size SUV to tow, I would lean toward the following:
1. Kia Telluride or Sorento (or the Hyundai counterparts). I am fond of the Telluride’s styling.
2. Honda Pilot or Passport
3. Toyota ForeRunner
4. Toyota Highlander
5. Subaru Ascent

Before I buy, I will also look at the following to narrow down my list:

1. Reliability is very important to me, so I will consult Consumer Reports as one of my research sources.
2. Safety ratings.
3. Payload - this a critical variable in choosing a tow vehicle. Finding a 5,000 tow rating is easy enough, but payload is often overlooked. Our Borrego can tow 7,500 lbs, but if I ever put 750 pounds of hitch weight on it, I would quickly run out of payload (1,157 lbs of payload). Most midsize and 1/2 ton trucks will run out of payload before tow capacity. If our next tow vehicle is a mid-size truck, it MUST have approximately 1,500 lbs of payload.

Of course, Laura and I may decide to get a larger trailer (24 feet in our early 60s, thus all the above would be moot and we would get a 1/2 ton truck which is another wonderful rabbit hole to traverse)!

Keep us posted.

Take care,

Dean
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Old 07-13-2022, 10:22 AM   #8
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Some good advice here....whatever you buy....do some homework.....dealers will tell you anything to sell a truck. With that said.....I have towed with several full size trucks over the years....I like to always have enough power.
Our current tow vehicle is a 2019 Ram with the 5.7 Hemi....8 speed trans....3.92 rear....crew cab and a full tow package. I bought it new....it is the best TV we've ever owned. Best riding truck our there.....considering it has 395HP.....the mileage is fantastic. I average 20 to 22 mpg without towing.....16 to 18 towing.....depending on terrain. I have a hard tonneau cover on back......like having a huge trunk. I do not need a weight distribution system.....the truck pulls my 17ft Casita with ease. Our truck is rated to pull 11,600lbs.....overkill I know. I also pull a 17ft car trailer around with a tractor or horse drawn vehicle on it.....the truck performs well. Any vehicle can have problems......good maintenence is important. This truck has been worry free. Good luck.
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Old 07-13-2022, 02:53 PM   #9
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FWIW, my old 2008 Tacoma 4x4 4.0L V6 with the 6 speed manual did *great* towing our Casita 16 SD all over the greater left coast, from San Diego to the Olympic Peninsula and all over the Sierras and such. sure, sometimes had to downshift to 4th to maintain 55 up a grade. *and* it was an awesome offroad adventure truck too, had the TRD OffRoad package with big all terrain tires, high ground clearance, some basic undercarriage protection. Was rated to tow up to 6500 lbs, we had the 'access cab' version which in that year had a 1200 lb payload.

now, we upgraded to a 4500 lb Escape 21' trailer, and the Tacoma quite solidly dragged it home to the left coast from Dallas Texas area, BUT the gas tank was just too small, and so was the truck's payload, so I upgraded to a full sized truck. biggest complaint about the big truck is, its very much too big for driving around the small town when not towing, its 62 ft turning circle is AWFUL in a parking lot... but its a longbed F250 supercab, 21 feet long bumper to bumper.
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Old 07-14-2022, 04:25 PM   #10
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Name: Teri
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Thanks for such great insight and advice. Definitely have more research to do and things to consider. I had forgotten about seat comfort. I know that used are higher than in the past but not sure I want new either.

Lots to consider and research.
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Old 07-14-2022, 10:26 PM   #11
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I also have a casita Spirit Deluxe 16 ft. I used to tow with a 2017 Tacoma 6 cylinder with the towing package. But it had two problems, one the seat was very uncomfortable and after 2 hours of driving my back hurts so bad I couldn't stand it and second I would think that as a truck 300 lb of hitch weight made it sink so bad I had to get helper springs. Then I went and I got a 2000 Hyundai Palisade with the towing package. Hitching the trailer does not cause it to sag because it has self leveling shocks on it. The seat is very comfortable with a weight adjustment. On my last trip of 2500 miles a month ago, I got over 19 miles per gallon Towing the Casita. That was pretty good in my estimation. If I had to get another vehicle, I'm not sure what I would choose. The Palisade covers everything I need for Towing, running around town and everything in between.
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Old 07-15-2022, 12:15 AM   #12
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huh, I found the Tacoma seats very comfortable. My '08 TRD package included the SR5 interior package. I think seat comfort is very much a function of the body of the person. I like firm seats with a properly sculpted lumbar support and a height adjustable front edge.

yes, the Tacoma TRD with its offroad centric suspension needed an airbag kit in back to keep it from sagging excessively under load. Beauty of the airbags is you let the air out when you're riding empty and it rides like it did stock. 30 or 40 PSI when fully loaded in back and it rides level and steady.

I'm not a fan of towing with FWD-centric 'crossover' mall utility vehicles.
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Old 07-17-2022, 10:06 PM   #13
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Name: Jann
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Originally Posted by teri85 View Post
Hello All,

It has been a while since posting anything here. I sold my Trailswest trailer a number of years ago and bought a RoadTrek camper van. Well…. I am now looking to get back into a travel trailer and selling my Roadtrek for various reasons. I am looking at getting a Casita Liberty or Independence on the newer side but I also need to get a tow vehicle. The Roadtrek is the only vehicle I have that can tow anything (3500lbs). Technically could tow a casita but I am a bit more cautious than that.

I am curious about a TV that can handle 5000 capacity and wonder what folks experience is with theirs. I am open to used vehicles that again are newer, say 10 years or newer. Part of the issue with the Roadtrek is it is a 2001 Dodge and I have had challenges getting some repairs done while on the road. When looking for used tow vehicles how can you tell if there is a towing package? Of course I would have my mechanic check out any used vehicle.

Thanks for all your input, ideas and suggestions. I have been looking at Toyota 4 runners, Tacoma, and Highlander. Open to other models and brands.

Many thanks.
We towed our 17' Casita with a Trailblazer 4.3 and a Blazer 4.2 before we upgraded to larger tow vehicles. Your Roadtrek may be fine for a year or so until things calm down and you can find exactly what you want for a price you can afford. We towed over high mountain passes. Your choices are excellent but keep you options open such as Chevy Tahoe or GMC Yukon. We've had both and loved them. Currently we have the Tahoe.
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Old 07-27-2022, 10:23 AM   #14
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I just bought a 2005 GMC envoy XL Denali , v8, 7200 lb rating for 4000 $CAD.
mint condition, only 100K miles, good for another 150K plus.
If you look, there are deals out there, be patient, and Pray about it.
Joe
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Old 02-12-2023, 09:16 AM   #15
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We just bought a 2023 Hyundai Palisade SEL with the self adjusting rear shocks. We are still in wear in mode before towing our 2013 17 foot Casita. I am hoping not to have a weight distribution system that we need with our old 2013 Toyota Highlander?
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Old 02-12-2023, 10:36 AM   #16
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We just bought a 2023 Hyundai Palisade SEL with the self adjusting rear shocks. We are still in wear in mode before towing our 2013 17 foot Casita. I am hoping not to have a weight distribution system that we need with our old 2013 Toyota Highlander?
Hi Chris,

Congratulations on the Palisade! Look forward to reading about your tow experience. I am expecting the Palisade to be a comfortable & capable tow vehicle. Interested in the self-adjusting rear shocks.

Wishing you many miles of happy camping,

Dean
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Old 02-12-2023, 12:20 PM   #17
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Name: James
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Originally Posted by DeanCHS1980 View Post
Hi Chris,

Congratulations on the Palisade! Look forward to reading about your tow experience. I am expecting the Palisade to be a comfortable & capable tow vehicle. Interested in the self-adjusting rear shocks.

Wishing you many miles of happy camping,

Dean
I hope to answer with what I believe will be a good tow vehicle without the need of a weight distribution. Will test near the end of February 2023.
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Old 02-12-2023, 01:45 PM   #18
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towing, especially on rougher roads, will likely accelerate the wear on a self leveling suspension system. those can be quite expensive to repair when they wear out as they often involve special pneumatic pistons or air shock absorbers, and an air compressor system. there is another passive sort of self leveling, as originated by Boge/Sachs Nivomats, this involves shocks that 'pump them selves up' via road undulations, and the rest of the system is conventional, so on these the only expensive component is those shocks, and the replacement labor is the same as any other rear shock..

mainly, keep track of your vehicles total payload and its gross rear axle rating, and take the total tongue weight and hitch weight off these, along with everything you put in the back of the vehicle on a road trip. payload has to include everything added to the vehicle other than fuel, lubricants.

google suggests, the Palisade SEL has a 1470-1490 lb payload, 5000 lb tow rating, max 500 lb tongue weight, so a Casita class trailer should be fine (3500 lbs, 350-450 lbs typical tongue weight if properly loaded). So keep the total weight of everything you put in the vehicle under 1000 lbs, including driver+passenger(s), aftermarket accessories, luggage, 'stuff you carry' like tools, etc, and you should be fine.
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Old 02-12-2023, 08:00 PM   #19
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My sister tows their 17' Casita with an F150 4-door cab with a fiberglass topper over the bed. They had originally bought the truck for towing a 27' Winnebago they were planning on doing some full time camp hosting in but her husband had some health problems that caused them to scale their plans back. They sold the Winnebago after a year and bought the Casita. She says the Ford gets great mileage and hardly knows the Casita is back there. They briefly thought about selling the Ford for a smaller vehicle but it works so well that they wouldn't part with it today. The F-150 + Casita 17' combination is a great match and they camp more now than they ever did before.
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Old 02-21-2023, 12:54 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Chris Tennessee View Post
We just bought a 2023 Hyundai Palisade SEL with the self adjusting rear shocks. We are still in wear in mode before towing our 2013 17 foot Casita. I am hoping not to have a weight distribution system that we need with our old 2013 Toyota Highlander?
Update
I just purchased a 2023 Hyundai Palisade SEL premium that has the tow features like self adjusting shocks. Just took it out in Townsend and up the parkway for lots of curves and climbs pulling a 2013 17ft Casita. Front wheel wells were 3" and back 3.5". Once hooked up front was 3.5" and back 2". Over the 25 mile test, Front was 3.25" and back 2.5". Vehicle handled well and YES no "porpoising" after hitting bumps. It handled like a tight shock absorbing controlling the Casita which means no weight distribution for the trailer.



Anyone could add to this post?
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