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Old 05-10-2022, 02:12 PM   #1
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What makes a good tow vehicle?

Rather than specific vehicle I'm wondering what features or capabilities in a vehicle make towing easier or better. Worth also listing what you do use for towing. Hoping for a list of features and potential tow vehicles.

I would include things that get added after market but mostly what makes your tow vehicle good or bad.

I would include pre-wired for 7 pin plug with brakes and charging circuit on accessory circuit of vehicle.

Luggage rack on vehicle.

All Wheel drive IF one is willing to take the fuel economy hit that AWD will give you all the time. FWD can slip with weight of trailer on back end raising the front.

Extended or fish eye mirrors for towing as factory option.

Ford Escape 2013 V6 3,500 tow capacity. FWD only. 13 - 17 mpg towing Typical is 15 mpg with Scamp 16 on interstate. Got 17 mpg on 2 lane with 13 ft.
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Old 05-10-2022, 02:56 PM   #2
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What Roger said and
A pickup with the towing package and more than enough horsepower and able to hitch and pull that load within the prescribed limits according to the manufacturer.

I pull with a 2 wheel drive Silverado with positive locking differential. Should you purchase a new truck, and You dont buy a 4 wheel drive, make sure you get that locking differential. It applies the power to the wheel that has the traction.
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Old 05-10-2022, 03:32 PM   #3
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Generally a rear drive only light truck with a limited slip or electronic equivalent is best. It must include an adequate payload rating and tow rating to match the intended load. also it should be equipped with a tow package of a class rating to match your trailer.
It should also have a power outlet to supply the trailer for towing...
For an RV trailer this would normally include a seven blade RV outlet wired to supply DOT lighting, brake power, and battery charge capability.
The truck should be equipped with outside rear view mirrors which extend enough to allow the driver to view traffic behind the trailer and to either side of the combo.


All that being said....
A FWD or AWD vehicle, similarly equipped can do nicely and provide a comfortable, safe, and convenient towing experience.


Next best would be a 4WD vehicle designed for offroad use....
Of course similarly equipped


Lastly, and contrary to conventional wisdom... wheelbase of the tow vehicle is best matched within reason to the length of the trailer.
Too long of a wheelbase is just as bad as too short.


There are of course other factors which should be considered...
Such as what the tow vehicle will be used for when detached, the volume of stuff, passengers and livestock which will be taken along.


We have had our Scamp13D for 18 years, towed it with a SWB Ranger, two different Ford Escapes, our Transit Connect Wagon, and our 5G Ranger SuperCab.
All were properly equipped for the assigned task.
The Rangers had more power and provided more versatility for larger trailers.
The TC is a near perfect match for the Scamp13, but not (I.E. a car trailer or car dolly.)
The 5G Ranger is tow rated at nearly 4 times the weight of the Scamp and does so with comfort and impunity, while still being "right sized " for daily use.
There are lots of great choices for towing most smallish fiberglass trailers.
It is important to get one with which you are personally comfortable, in a brand you trust.
For me that has meant a "Ford" for at least the last 45years.
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Old 05-10-2022, 03:36 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darwin Maring View Post
What Roger said and
A pickup with the towing package and more than enough horsepower and able to hitch and pull that load within the prescribed limits according to the manufacturer.

I pull with a 2 wheel drive Silverado with positive locking differential. Should you purchase a new truck, and You dont buy a 4 wheel drive, make sure you get that locking differential. It applies the power to the wheel that has the traction.
Locking differentials apply power to both wheels and can not be used above 20-25MPH. Limited slip or modern equivalent will be more stable at speed than an open rearend and will reduce excessive tire wear when accelerating.
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Old 05-10-2022, 05:24 PM   #5
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I like factory installed 7 pin and hitch, tow haul mode, 4WD and enough power that I don't have to think about it. Also like a covered pickup bed for all the stuff that may get dirty but needs to stay secure. A large gas tank is another plus. I get 14-15 mpg towing and with a 36 gallon tank my bladder will complain before the gas gauge. I'm over due for a new truck and hopefully the next one will have a backup camera and blind spot monitor that includes the trailer. F150, Casita SD.
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Old 05-10-2022, 06:12 PM   #6
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it really depends on how large and heavy teh trailer is.

IMHO, the optimal towing vehicle for a larger/heavier trailer has a full ladder frame, solid axle rear end, preferably on leaf springs, and a front engine with a lot of torque. 4x4 has been useful enough that I wouldn't have a truck without it.

I 2nd the motion expressed earlier about too long a truck being an issue. my truck has a 158" wheelbase, is 21 feet bumper to bumper, and worse of all, has a 62 foot turning circle curb to curb. this makes backing the Escape into a tight space challenging, also makes 3 point U turns challenging. I'm seriously considering swapping my old beast of a diesel F250 for a Ford Expedition, with the 3.5 ecoboost. 131" wheelbase, they have a ~41 foot turning circle. I'll probably NOT get the stretch version (EL/Max)
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Old 05-10-2022, 09:22 PM   #7
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Things I look for:
Full factory tow wiring.
Conventional automatic with manual mode.
Tow rating and payload with some margin.
All-day comfortable seats.
Large factory mirrors and good outward visibility.
Some form of traction assist (AWD, limited slip….)
Ground clearance for light off-road use.
Good fuel mileage when not towing.
Passenger and cargo space for varied uses
Low overall cost of operation.
Reliable.

No vehicle is perfect, but the non-negotiables for me are ratings, comfort, utility, and reliability.
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Old 05-11-2022, 10:00 AM   #8
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I like power and tow capaity. We have towed with several vehicles over the years. Currently have a Ram 1500 with 5.7Hemi....3.92 rear....4x4...crew cab....tow package and a really nice solid tonneau cover. I am rated to pull 11,600lbs....I tow our Caita and a car trailer....not at the same time. With the 8 speed tranny and MDS.....the truck get great gas mileage.....21 to 22 without towing.....16 to 18 towing our Casita. Having that power is great.
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Old 05-11-2022, 12:47 PM   #9
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I have enjoyed pulling with my Chevy Tahoe made for towing.

Having air suspension keeps everything level, a nice feature to have.
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Old 05-12-2022, 02:08 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by floyd View Post
Lastly, and contrary to conventional wisdom... wheelbase of the tow vehicle is best matched within reason to the length of the trailer.
Too long of a wheelbase is just as bad as too short.
I would like to hear the reasoning for this.

Charles
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Old 05-12-2022, 03:22 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesinGA View Post
I would like to hear the reasoning for this.

Charles
An illustration might be more effective...
Hook up a car dolly with no car and try to back it into a parking spot.


Fact is a short wheel base tow vehicle is more responsive to driver input.

A short "wheelbase" (pin to axle) trailer is more reactive to TV input.

When the two are proportional, the combo handles better in an emergency and certainly for backing or low speed maneuvering.

Better control at speed as well.


Many people prefer a longer wheelbase TV... trading driver control for straight line comfort.

Personally, I prefer a shorter wheel base TV, which gives me more control.
A good proportional compromise is best, perhaps biased a little toward skill and preference.
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Old 05-12-2022, 05:30 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by floyd View Post
Fact is a short wheel base tow vehicle is more responsive to driver input.

A short "wheelbase" (pin to axle) trailer is more reactive to TV input.

When the two are proportional, the combo handles better in an emergency and certainly for backing or low speed maneuvering.

Better control at speed as well.

Personally, I prefer a shorter wheel base TV, which gives me more control.



.
Almost 90k tow miles later with exactly the combo you describe, all I can say is...AMEN to that!
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Old 05-12-2022, 11:33 PM   #13
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I went from this...



to this...

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Old 05-13-2022, 08:41 AM   #14
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One that doesn’t use gas or diesel. .

Sorry, I’ll see myself out.
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Old 05-13-2022, 09:31 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by floyd View Post
Personally, I prefer a shorter wheel base TV, which gives me more control.
We've had both long and (sortof) short wheelbase vehicles and they both towed perfectly, so for us, it's made no difference.

I still stink at backing up.
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Old 05-13-2022, 12:57 PM   #16
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Alan, I'll have to say your new tug looks sharp, well-proportioned, and the short rear overhang is a desirable attribute in a tow vehicle.

However, there's a lot to be said for a traditional station wagon in terms of all-around practicality. I remember when "sport utility" meant a raised station wagon. Now it's more like a raised sporty hatchback with a truncated cargo area, huge D-pillars, swoopy roofline, and squinchy windows.

There was a time when the first test I made of a vehicle in the showroom was to fold down the rear seats to see if I could sleep in it. Raised eyebrows among the salespeople...

Our Pilot has that capability, and we have used it on several occasions. Speaking of which, to answer the OP's request:
2011 Honda Pilot LX 2WD, 3.5LV6, 3500/350# towing, factory hitch and 7-pin wiring, 23-25 mpg everyday driving, 17-19 mpg towing our 13' Scamp, 217K miles
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Old 05-13-2022, 03:25 PM   #17
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My trailer, an Xplore X22, weighs about 5,300 lbs empty and about 6,000 lbs ready to go. It has a tongue weight of 600 lbs.

I always tend to have more truck than the minimum necessary and I don't pay much attention to the very high tow ratings given to trucks these days. This means a 3/4 ton truck is the starting point. 4WD is mandatory. These trucks bring a wider stance than a mid-size, heavier rear axle and springs and bigger brakes. They are not ideal in the city when not towing, but we are talking about towing.

Diesels can be wonderful for towing, but new ones these days with the excessively complicated emissions systems, are not so great. Fuel is more expensive, and on some models the difficulty of working on them is over the top. Their initial cost is also much higher. If my trailer weighed 10,000 lbs, I might have a different opinion, but it doesn't.

I'm also not a fan of the Ecoboost engines for hard work. They are made as light as possible and are very complicated engines. When doing equal work as a simpler engine, they get about the same mileage. Their advantage is when not towing, but again, we are talking about towing. The 3.5 is a good example of this complexity. Dual turbochargers, twelve fuel injectors, chain drive overhead cams and all aluminum construction. Ford has revised the tuning and improved the timing chains, but they are still a meltdown waiting to happen. Ford also recommends premium fuel with 91 octane in these engines, and that can cost a lot more than regular.

Considering those two designs, it seems a modern gas V8 has a lot to offer. My choice was to get a Ford 7.3 gas V8 in an F250. I chose the Tremor because it has a lot of off-road capability and that is where I like to camp. Off-Grid and off-road. Others obviously don't need that level of performance.

Back to the specific equipment: A factory built-in brake controller is excellent as it proportions the brakes according to the line pressure in the truck braking system. A receiver hitch. Load Range E tires. 4WD. Limited slip rear diff or selectable locker.

Lighter trailers don't need that level of truck, but even an Oliver, which has a tongue weight of about 560 lbs, if towed with an F150, must use a WDH. The F150 wants a WDH with any tongue weight over 500 lbs.

If you don't mind the suspension complexity, a Ram1500 with air suspension is a good choice because it levels itself with the rear cargo and trailer tongue weight. And it has a durable cast iron V8 to balance the rear overhang load.

The Gladiator is in the opposite camp, and not as good for heavier trailers. It has a narrower width, long rear overhang and a very light aluminum V6 engine. The tow rating given to it seems way too high. But if you are towing a Scamp into the back Country, it might be the best choice.

We are now over 2,400 miles from home and camping in Alabama. I have not regretted for one second having a large capable truck. Long days with extended highway miles, roomy interior, large highway truck traffic passing us at near 80 MPH, high overall speeds, construction zones and gas prices have all factored into this. We can also venture off-road with confidence whenever we want to. The weight ratio is such that the tail does not wag the dog and I have no need for a WDH.

My mantras are: have more truck than you might get by with, take factory tow ratings with a grain of salt, and don't select a truck based on its claimed horsepower without looking deeper.
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Old 05-13-2022, 03:51 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Raspy View Post
My trailer, an Xplore X22, weighs about 5,300 lbs empty and about 6,000 lbs ready to go. It has a tongue weight of 600 lbs.

I always tend to have more truck than the minimum necessary and I don't pay much attention to the very high tow ratings given to trucks these days. This means a 3/4 ton truck is the starting point. 4WD is mandatory. These trucks bring a wider stance than a mid-size, heavier rear axle and springs and bigger brakes. They are not ideal in the city when not towing, but we are talking about towing.

Diesels can be wonderful for towing, but new ones these days with the excessively complicated emissions systems, are not so great. Fuel is more expensive, and on some models the difficulty of working on them is over the top. Their initial cost is also much higher. If my trailer weighed 10,000 lbs, I might have a different opinion, but it doesn't.

I'm also not a fan of the Ecoboost engines for hard work. They are made as light as possible and are very complicated engines. When doing equal work as a simpler engine, they get about the same mileage. Their advantage is when not towing, but again, we are talking about towing. The 3.5 is a good example of this complexity. Dual turbochargers, twelve fuel injectors, chain drive overhead cams and all aluminum construction. Ford has revised the tuning and improved the timing chains, but they are still a meltdown waiting to happen. Ford also recommends premium fuel with 91 octane in these engines, and that can cost a lot more than regular.

Considering those two designs, it seems a modern gas V8 has a lot to offer. My choice was to get a Ford 7.3 gas V8 in an F250. I chose the Tremor because it has a lot of off-road capability and that is where I like to camp. Off-Grid and off-road. Others obviously don't need that level of performance.

Back to the specific equipment: A factory built-in brake controller is excellent as it proportions the brakes according to the line pressure in the truck braking system. A receiver hitch. Load Range E tires. 4WD. Limited slip rear diff or selectable locker.

Lighter trailers don't need that level of truck, but even an Oliver, which has a tongue weight of about 560 lbs, if towed with an F150, must use a WDH. The F150 wants a WDH with any tongue weight over 500 lbs.

If you don't mind the suspension complexity, a Ram1500 with air suspension is a good choice because it levels itself with the rear cargo and trailer tongue weight. And it has a durable cast iron V8 to balance the rear overhang load.

The Gladiator is in the opposite camp, and not as good for heavier trailers. It has a narrower width, long rear overhang and a very light aluminum V6 engine. The tow rating given to it seems way too high. But if you are towing a Scamp into the back Country, it might be the best choice.

We are now over 2,400 miles from home and camping in Alabama. I have not regretted for one second having a large capable truck. Long days with extended highway miles, roomy interior, large highway truck traffic passing us at near 80 MPH, high overall speeds, construction zones and gas prices have all factored into this. We can also venture off-road with confidence whenever we want to. The weight ratio is such that the tail does not wag the dog and I have no need for a WDH.

My mantras are: have more truck than you might get by with, take factory tow ratings with a grain of salt, and don't select a truck based on its claimed horsepower without looking deeper.
A bit of a counterpoint....

I see large fifth wheels mounted on big trucks quite often. Most of them are hauling a "vacation home" to a destination for a stay which is often for months in the same spot.

Delivering an oversized trailer may well require an oversized truck,which

some people can tolerate. I just see them as a chore not worth the misery.




Touring is different from destination vacations, the idea is to enjoy the trip as well as the stay...Often for only a couple of days or a couple of weeks before moving on.



I have always loved driving.
.
My Idea of "driving hell" is precisely the truck you describe.
I would not have a travel trailer if I were forced to drive that truck.
Of course the money saved would pay for a LOT of motel rooms!


BTW; the 750# tongue rating on the Ranger is without a WDH, a number which no normal sized bumper towed fiberglass trailer will ever approach.
Payload is 1850# which more than adequate for the "5ers" represented here on Fiberglass RV.
Also the 7500# tow rating leaves a LOT of margin for these same FiberglassRV type trailers typically represented here.


Anyone who just likes oversized diesel trucks should have one and enjoy it, but there is no reason to believe that one is necessary or even desirable for towing the type of trailer represented here.
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Old 05-13-2022, 04:02 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by floyd View Post
I have always loved driving.
My Idea of driving hell is precisely the truck you describe.
I would not have a travel trailer if I were forced to drive that truck.
Of course the money saved would pay for a LOT of motel rooms!

Maybe what we need is a heavy duty Jaguar tow vehicle.

I don't enjoy droning along hour after hour on the highway, so much, but do like being on back trails and getting the trailer way back into a remote spot, or down next to the water at the lake, etc. The truck becomes kind of an all purpose vehicle as I take shipments to town, tow my side-by side or my tractor. In a perfect world, I'd have a lot more vehicles for specialized purposes. The worst place for the truck is in town.
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Old 05-13-2022, 05:02 PM   #20
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Just thought of another point to ponder....
Track.
For a tow vehicle to ideally match a trailer, it is best if they share a similar track.
Nearly every paved (especially blacktop) road has a groove (wear pattern).
If the tow vehicle and the trailer are too far mismatched from one another, they will constantly struggle to find stability in relation to the pavement.


I recognize that this is not a huge problem but it is often not trivial.
Towing a towdolly will often graphically illustrate this.
The track on most small fiberglass trailers is more closely matched to smaller midsized SUVs and light trucks.
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