What can Tow a Happier Camper HC1? - Fiberglass RV
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Old 11-19-2020, 10:08 PM   #1
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What can Tow a Happier Camper HC1?

Hi. I am new to this forum and about to purchase an HC1. We are looking for a car that can pull a light load and is set up to take a tow package with electric brakes etc. We found a lot of used cars with tow ratings, but no tow gear for that car. Thanks for any help. What do people use?
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Old 11-19-2020, 11:55 PM   #2
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I’m not sure what you mean by “no tow gear for that car.” If it has a tow rating,, any competent mechanic can install a hitch, wiring, and brake controller. The website eTrailer.com can show what’s available for any make and model.

For an HC1 a minimum tow rating of 2000# is required. If you do a lot of mountain towing, or if you will carry extra passengers and/or gear, you might be happier with something more.. There are quite a few mid-sized crossovers with 2500-3500# ratings that will do the job.

It’s important to realize that the same model can have different tow ratings depending on engine, trim, and options. Best way to find out the details and caveats for a model you’re interested in is to read the towing section of the owner’s manual. You can find a PDF document for just about any make and model online with a simple google search.

Do your have any preferences regarding brand or type of vehicle (body style)?
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Old 11-20-2020, 12:25 AM   #3
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Hi Jon,

Great advice and perspective. Much appreciated, having never towed a trailer before. We have so many uses for the vehicle, besides towing, but towing is essential. Something I can drive, my teenagers can drive (safety) and can pull a trailer. The search is on.

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Old 11-20-2020, 07:54 AM   #4
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When in doubt, a little extra beats marginal/maybe not enough. Also, tow ratings often vary, not just by the model of vehicle, but the motor and drivetrain. So one vehicle might have a 3,5000 pound tow rating with one drivetrain, and just 1,500 pound with another. Also watch out for payload limitations, particularly if you plan to have a lot of people or gear in the tow vehicle. Its the first thing I run out of capacity wise. I use up my vehicle's payload at about half my tow rating. Tongue weight comes out of payload capacity too.

Finally, never trust a car salesperson. Their goal is to sell you a car, not to size what is best. Do the research yourself, the web is a wonderful place to get knowledge. RV dealers can be even worse. Friends of mine bought a trailer from Camping World. I told them about capability, and their choice of trailer far exceeded the ratings of their vehicle. They told me: "The Camping World expert told them they could ignore the ratings, and that they would be fine." So I asked them: "What credentials does the Camping World expert have to overrule the manufacturer?" Needless to say, one trip and they were buying a bigger tow vehicle.
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Old 11-20-2020, 07:56 AM   #5
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Okay, so teenagers... Tow ratings assume only two 150# front seat passengers and no cargo. We also have two teens and usually some cargo in the back. For four, gear, AND a small trailer, I'd recommend a minimum 3500# tow rating.

We tow our similar-size-and-weight Scamp 13 with a 2WD Honda Pilot, rated 3500# (4WD versions can pull up to 5000#, typical for the class). It's a larger vehicle to be sure, but that ensures plenty of payload capacity for whatever we want to bring, as well as better crash protection. The new-ish Honda Passport offers the same drivetrain and ratings in a shorter 2-row vehicle. One nice thing about the longer version is the back seats fold flat for extra sleeping if required. One other thing that led me to the Pilot was factory pre-wiring tor towing (including brake and battery charge lines).

Other similar vehicles I'd include on my short list include Toyota Highlander (the hybrid would be a great choice if you want better everyday gas mileage in city and suburban driving), Kia Telluride (or a used Sorento V6 if your budget is tighter), and Audi Q5 (if your budget is not so tight).

For a smaller vehicle, consider the 2020+ Subaru Outback (previous years lack sufficient tongue weight rating with rear seat passengers and gear), 2018+ Toyota RAV-4 Adventure (only the Adventure version carries a 3500# rating), and Ford Escape (top trims with the larger engine and tow package required). The Mazda CX-5 is a very nice vehicle, too, but the maximum tow rating is only 2000#, so performance and payload capacity might be marginal with the whole family on board.

Don't overlook minivans, most of which can tow up to around 3500# and have pretty decent payload ratings as well. If your plans include off-highway exploring, the Toyota 4Runner and Jeep Grand Cherokee are also good choices.

I think- though I haven't done the research recently- most of the vehicles I've mentioned carry above average ratings for safety and reliability.
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Old 11-20-2020, 01:21 PM   #6
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If you are considering a hybrid tow vehicle like a Chrysler Pacifica for 1 example, just be aware that the weight of all those batteries may affect your towing capacity. Check the manufacturer's specs for both hybrid and non hybrid models.🍻 Happy Camping!
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Old 11-20-2020, 01:56 PM   #7
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"What can Tow a Happier Camper HC1?"


Virtually anything.



But you appear to be looking for a small vehicle that has the ability to tow a "light" load. Remember you also want to include four people (at least 600 pounds), all the associated gear that they will require (clothes, food, water, gear, electronic toys (probably another 400 pounds) and the tongue weight of what ever trailer you decide on. Total easily > 1100 pounds.



So a equally important number as towing capacity is cargo carrying capacity. I'd want something in the 1200-1500 pound range with a tow capacity of at least 5000 pounds. Scrimp now, pay later.
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Old 11-20-2020, 05:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnyG View Post
Hi Jon,

Great advice and perspective. Much appreciated, having never towed a trailer before. We have so many uses for the vehicle, besides towing, but towing is essential. Something I can drive, my teenagers can drive (safety) and can pull a trailer. The search is on.

Johnny
It's very common to get a trailer and then decide to upsize later on which can lead to the need for a higher rated capacity, so you might consider if that's a prospect for your situation.

If you are not a pickup person, there's a bunch of mid-sized SUV's with 3,500 and 5,000 lb. tow ratings. While it's "customary" to have a rated tongue-weight capacity that's 10% of the rated towing capacity (e.g. 350/3,500, or 500/5,000, etc.), Volvos and perhaps some others may have more limited tongue-weight capacity which could be problematic.

A vehicle with a tow-rating may require the addition of a hitch and/or a brake controller. This can generally be done aftermarket. One exception was the VW Atlas, a recent outlier that required a factory-installed hitch to uphold the higher 5,000-lb. tow rating; they wouldn't even allow a dealer to install the hitch for the higher rating. This was rumored to be associated with some other factory-installed option such as a transmission cooler, or frame strengtheners, or black-forest pixie-dust. I haven't seen anything authoritative.

Anyway, the ratings will be specific to the vehicle, not just the model, so it's best to check the information on the vehicle information plate in the doorframe and the owners manual before committing to a purchase.

You can poke the Google and find your favorite flavor.

suv with 5 000 lb towing capacity
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Old 11-21-2020, 02:58 AM   #9
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Thumbs up Thank you for the feedback

'Thanks all for this wealth of information. I've been doing some research but your experiences fill in the gaps! Looking for a bigger tow capacity then so as to be able to handle the cargo I'm carrying as well.

Many thanks!
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Old 11-21-2020, 10:25 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by flaco View Post
If you are considering a hybrid tow vehicle like a Chrysler Pacifica for 1 example, just be aware that the weight of all those batteries may affect your towing capacity. Check the manufacturer's specs for both hybrid and non hybrid models.�� Happy Camping!
True. I haven't researched the Pacifica, but I know the hybrid version of the Highlander carries a 3500# tow rating, while the non-hybrid AWD can pull 5000#. Either is plenty for a a sub-2000# HC1, and I suspect you'll be fine on payload as well, since the hybrid is after all an 8-passenger vehicle. In a sense your tongue weight and cargo replace people in the empty seats, though not exactly pound-for-pound because tongue weight is cantilevered from the back and disproportionately loads the rear axle. (You can see that non-linearity in the chart below.)

You can check and compare cargo-carrying capacity in a dealer lot by looking at the DOT sticker on the driver's door jamb. That number is vehicle-specific and includes all factory equipment and options, but not any dealer-installed or aftermarket accessories (like a hitch). For other towing information, you'll need to consult the owner's manual.

My 2011 Pilot 2WD has a chart in the manual showing how passengers and/or equivalent gear reduce trailer and tongue weight ratings. Since our 13' Scamp has a loaded tongue weight around 200#, Honda says I can carry up to 5x165#, or 825# of people and gear. We're good. Not all manufacturers make it so plain, but it's always worth reading the towing section of the manual before committing to a purchase.
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Old 11-22-2020, 11:53 AM   #11
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Towing with 2011 Outback

We tow our HC1 with an Outback with the 4 cyl engine. It gets the job done but as said earlier, it is a constant battle to not overload the rear of the car, since it has only a 200 lb tongue weight limit. If I were shopping for a vehicle now, I would set 3500 lb as my minimum. Either a new Outback with the turbo 4, for 3500 lbs and 350 tongue weight, an Ascent with 5000 and 500 lb tongue weight, or for massive overkill a Ram Pickup with the turbo diesel. (That would be a tough sell for my wife).

Some folks have towed with a 1500 lb weight limit, like the Honda Element, or CRV, but had some problems. You would be pressing your luck.
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Old 11-22-2020, 02:49 PM   #12
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Information is power. It's best to understand the whole alphabet soup of ratings, capacities, and the respective limitations these may impose today or under a future scenario: Towing Glossary

The table Jon posted above is an excellent illustration of how important the cargo capacity rating is; increasing the passenger and cargo loading reduces a tow vehicle’s capacity to carry hitch weight.

Trailer frontal area is another limitation often cited in tow vehicle manuals.

Though you probably wouldn't need one for a light trailer like the HC1, some vehicles recommend or require a weight distributing hitch to attain their full rated towing capacity. A WDH is expensive, heavy, often noisy, and adds additional steps to hitching and unhitching.

The factory-installed options on our trailer increased its published dry weight over 500 lbs., more than 15% above the published dry weight. After many years of basically wishful thinking concerning how we might only utilize part of a trailer’s weight capacities for gear and fluids, I now basically focus on the trailer's Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) rating when evaluating a prospective tow vehicle's capacities.

You might also want to look for a tow vehicle with a full-service spare tire. Vehicles with a full-service spare, or even the space to stow one, are increasingly more difficult to find with each model year.
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Old 11-22-2020, 04:25 PM   #13
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You might also want to look for a tow vehicle with a full-service spare tire. Vehicles with a full-service spare, or even the space to stow one, are increasingly more difficult to find with each model year.
I towed for several years with a donut. Always meant to do something about it, and the manual said a full-size spare would fit, but I never got around to it. Reality is with modern tires and good maintenance, flat tires are pretty uncommon.

Then I was rear-ended, and I was able to replace the damaged donut with a full-size spare on someone else’s dime. According to the guy at the body shop, the full-size rim and tire were cheaper than a new donut, so it was a win for both of us.

But... it weighs more, so there went another 25# or so of cargo carrying capacity!

Some tow-rated vehicles don’t even have a donut, just a can of fix-a-flat (which ironically renders the flat unfixable)!
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Old 11-22-2020, 08:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
I towed for several years with a donut.
Presumably in the spare tire compartment!

Quote:
Reality is with modern tires and good maintenance, flat tires are pretty uncommon.
Risk is evaluated by considering both likelihood and consequences.

My "limited service compact spare" experience involved a tire spitting out two plugs that had been installed with no patch. The tire came with a used car I had purchased with an admittedly murky history. So, yeah, there's that.

On the other hand, driving a limited-service spare 100+ miles on a two-lane highway in July with folks who were clearly accustomed to making a pace of 70+/- mph was not fun. So, yeah, there's that.

Quote:
compact spares were designed to save space and weight in the vehicle. This allows the manufacturers to build a smaller car, but the tire itself is not built to last. Your owner’s manual will give the recommendations for driving time and speed. A general rule of thumb is to drive no more than 70 miles and no faster than 50 miles per hour before replacing your donut with a new tire.

The biggest reason to use these space savers for a short period of time is because they have little to no tread. This makes the spare vulnerable to road hazards and projectiles. It is also much smaller than the other 3 tires, making it spin faster to keep up with the moving car.
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Old 11-22-2020, 09:43 PM   #15
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Yes and yes. I’ve never towed on a donut, just with one.

I’ve had a full-size spare on every vehicle I’ve owned except my wife’s latest RAV4, which doesn’t have room. I’ve only had to drive on a spare twice in 40 years and well over a million miles. Both times involved a short local drive to a tire shop, and a donut would have done the job. That might explain my procrastination in upgrading the Pilot.

We took a pre-COVID road trip up the Eastern seaboard- thankfully in a rental- and I decided I would never again complain about Arizona roads. So there’s that, too.
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Old 11-23-2020, 09:41 AM   #16
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We took a pre-COVID road trip up the Eastern seaboard- thankfully in a rental- and I decided I would never again complain about Arizona roads.
I'm glad to hear that trip came off. Hopefully you will be able to cover the Pacific NW Coast one day.

For my part, I'm hoping to get back to the eastern seaboard "someday" or "one day". It's hard to pin down when our current circumstances only seem to include yesterday, today, and tomorrow. But, I expect that will all change with time.
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Old 11-25-2020, 01:33 AM   #17
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So grateful for the information

This thread has really helped me understand the ins and outs of towing and what to consider in picking a vehicle. It sounds like a 3500 lb tow weight would be the most versatile in preparing for all future uses. We did decide on a used 2018 Outback, partly because of budget and partly because of utility. We are looking forward to having a lot of fun with our HC1!

Thank you to the Fiberglass RV community.

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Old 11-25-2020, 05:54 AM   #18
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I believe the 2018 Outback has a 2700/200# tow rating. That 200# tongue weight rating is going to be a challenge with back seat passengers.
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Old 11-25-2020, 11:41 AM   #19
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And lower in hot weather

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
I believe the 2018 Outback has a 2700/200# tow rating. That 200# tongue weight rating is going to be a challenge with back seat passengers.
The fine print in the manual also cuts the 2700 in half, to 1350, in hot weather. Their criteria is 104 degrees and long climbs. We can get this in Sacramento, but quickly to the east and west we are in cooler temps. (Coast and mountains). We have not had problems, but I do a bit of planning so we are not towing in those conditions.
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Old 11-26-2020, 02:09 AM   #20
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Thumbs up Thank you for the good advice

Hi Jon,

All this good advice is very appreciated. We will plan ahead.

Johnny
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