Towing Toyota vs. Lexus - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-28-2021, 04:42 PM   #1
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Towing Toyota vs. Lexus

We have a 97 Bigfoot 1500 with a dry weight of about 2750lbs. Towed it for several years with an '05 Lexus RX330 rated for 3500lbs. Towed OK but always felt like it could use more oomph. Traded up to a 2018 V6 Highlander rated for 5000 pounds and it really made a difference. Lots of reserve for hills, tows very easily and are happy we made the switch.

We would really like to tow with a new Lexus RX350. The Lexus and the 2018 Highlander share the same Toyota engine and are rated the same HP and torque. They also are built on the same chassis design and similar body size. However Lexus only rates their tow capacity as 3500 lbs while the Highlander is 5000lbs. The question we have is could you see any reason why the towing EXPERIENCE would be any different between the 2 vehicles even though their rated capacities are different? Would appreciate any insights. Thanks
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Old 09-28-2021, 08:35 PM   #2
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You might ask about spring rates, afterall the Lexus is supposed to give you a luxury ride.
Since your dealer won't know what you are asking about, just check the part numbers.
Also, check the hitch for Class type.
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Old 09-28-2021, 09:14 PM   #3
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Agree that is likely one difference, which limits how much tongue weight the rear axle can carry. The Toyota might also have enhanced engine and transmission cooling.
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Old 09-29-2021, 08:38 AM   #4
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Good point about spring rates. I’ll ask my independent Lexus mechanic about these. Lexus and Toyota both have the same tow packages - transmission cooler and bigger radiator so there’s no difference there.
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Old 09-29-2021, 08:52 AM   #5
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One of the limiting factors on towing capacity is the body design of the vehicle. It may be the Toyota has a more robust body than the Lexus.
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Old 09-29-2021, 09:57 AM   #6
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If the main reason is the springs they can be changed or augmented or add a set of air shocks on the rear.

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Old 09-29-2021, 10:33 AM   #7
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Drive train and suspension determine towing capacity. If the drive trains are similar the difference in towing capacity is likely due to differences in suspensions. A softer riding, more comfortable suspension may have a lower tongue weight capacity.
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Old 09-29-2021, 11:32 AM   #8
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I thought the difference is that Lexus costs more.
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Old 10-01-2021, 12:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike_L View Post
Drive train and suspension determine towing capacity. If the drive trains are similar the difference in towing capacity is likely due to differences in suspensions. A softer riding, more comfortable suspension may have a lower tongue weight capacity.
Makes sense and cargo coils could help if the rules here did not say limit is controlled by the sticker on the door.
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Old 10-01-2021, 01:30 PM   #10
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Makes sense and cargo coils could help if the rules here did not say limit is controlled by the sticker on the door.
They don't make the rules here!
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Old 10-01-2021, 10:28 PM   #11
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it was my understanding that a Lexus RX was based on the same platform as the Highlander, but with a shorter wheelbase and smaller rear cabin. Now, the 05 was a 2nd gen RX, while an 18 is a 3rd gen Highlander (and correlates to the 4th gen RX).

I would not be surprised if the Lexus has air suspension or some other enhancements that give a better ride but are less suitable for towing.

both of those are essentially FWD cars (not trucks) with part time on demand AWD, and really aren't optimal for towing any more than a minimal trailer occasionally, you will wear these vehicles out much faster with extensive towing mileage rather than just using them as the passenger cars they are intended to be.
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Old 10-02-2021, 08:52 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by John in Santa Cruz View Post
…you will wear these vehicles out much faster with extensive towing mileage rather than just using them as the passenger cars they are intended to be.
Yes, there’s the rub. It is worth asking what percentage of your annual miles will be towing miles. I’d bet for most people it’s less than 20%. Even for full-timers and snow birds, it’s likely less than 50%. Most don’t move their trailers every day. They park, unhitch, and explore.

One of the reasons many of us choose smaller molded trailers is because we don’t want the expense and trouble of maintaining a dedicated heavy duty vehicle. We use our tow vehicles as daily drivers and only occasionally for towing.

Of course the more you tow, the more wear. That’s why there’s an enhanced maintenance schedule for towing. That said, I'd be uncomfortable towing a 3000#, tall and wide Bigfoot with a 3500# tow rating. I'd feel much more comfortable with the Highlander.
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Old 10-02-2021, 11:03 AM   #13
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I've towed close to max capacity of my tug for years because I couldn't afford a vehicle just for towing my trailer. While it "kinda" worked the towing experience during less than ideal conditions, wind etc. left much to be desired. It also took a toll on the tug, especially the front end, shocks, brakes etc.
Now that the situation has changed I find quite a difference in the towing experience, no white knuckles and fuel mileage has improved.
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Old 10-02-2021, 10:34 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Mike_L View Post
I've towed close to max capacity of my tug for years because I couldn't afford a vehicle just for towing my trailer. While it "kinda" worked the towing experience during less than ideal conditions, wind etc. left much to be desired. It also took a toll on the tug, especially the front end, shocks, brakes etc.
Now that the situation has changed I find quite a difference in the towing experience, no white knuckles and fuel mileage has improved.
I towed for ten years close the tow rating (not capacity) of my front drive former tug, with no unscheduled maintenance, then passed it along to my son who has now driven it almost 5 years.
It will likely soon be passed along to my oldest granddaughter who will receive it in good and safe working order.
I never was unable to maintain a safe and desired speed and never had a "white knuckle" experience while towing with it.
I now tow the same trailer with both the new Ranger RWD and my Transit Connect FWD with equal confidence.
The former is great with plenty of reserve capacity (4X the tow rating of the trailer weight)

The latter is excellent, needing only a 2.0L Ecoboost to replace the 2.5L engine to make it perfect (over powered) for the task.
Bottom line... its a well matched and properly equipped combo which counts.
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Old 10-03-2021, 07:32 AM   #15
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If you want a Lexus, maybe look at the GX. I think it has a 6500 tow rating, as opposed to the 5000 of it's cousin the 4Runner. Has a V8 and full time AWD, not FWD. Body on frame construction. Load/hitch weight is a little low for the 4Runner, don't know how the GX compares. Either the GX or 4Runner would be a much better tow vehicle than the RX/Highlander and I don't think you would give up anything as a daily driver.
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Old 10-03-2021, 12:09 PM   #16
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Could be the difference in the unibody construction between the two vehicles in question.
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