Trailer towing capacity questions

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Tamales
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Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by Tamales »

I've never towed a trailer but expect that I will have a need to learn how to do so going forward. Currently looking at SUVs since they are more practical than a pickup if you're only doing infrequent load-carrying. Mid-size to large SUV's generally range from 3500 to 5000 lbs towing capacity (Compared to pickups that often have double or triple that capacity).

I'm trying to get an idea of how limiting a 3000-5000 lb towing capacity really is...

I randomly picked an 8x10 utility trailer ( https://www.lowes.com/pd/Carry-On-Trail ... te/3034543 ) and it has a max cargo capacity of 2115 lbs I think (they list 3 numbers so I'm not sure), and the trailer itself weighs 875 lbs.

Check me on this:
towing capacity =
weight of trailer +
weight of trailer cargo +
weight of any cargo+people inside the SUV beyond 150 lbs

An 8x10 utility trailer (no trailer brakes, so there are also some state trailer law limits I need to look into) weighs let's call it 900 lbs.
And let's say an SUV fairly packed with household goods and 1 passenger adds about 600 lbs into the SUV cabin.

That's 1500 lbs, so for 3500 lb towing capacity SUV, that allows up to 2000 lbs of cargo in the trailer, is that correct? And that's roughly the rated carrying capacity of the trailer anyway.

So my conclusions (please correct me if I'm wrong) are that, if you're just carrying general household stuff (furniture, yard trimmings/branches, or relatively small amounts of sheet goods well under 2000 pounds):

>>An SUV with 3500 lbs towing capacity is fine for towing a typical 8x10 open-frame utility trailer with "household" cargo, as long as you avoid carrying large loads of dense materials like bricks or huge stacks of MDF or drywall sheets.

>>An SUV with 5000 lbs towing capacity is probably preferred, just so you have an extra 1500 lbs (or so) of margin in case you later want to get an enclosed trailer of roughly the same size but a few hundred pounds heavier, or larger carrying capacity.

>>Only if you are towing cars, large boats, or big dense loads of building materials (or a large enclosed trailer) would you really need more than 5000 lbs of towing capacity.

Aside from towing capacity, also have to consider the engine's capacity to pull the added weight and the lesser braking capability, especially if trailering long distances and up/down steep grades. Look to online reviews to judge that on a vehicle-specific basis.
ddurrett896
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by ddurrett896 »

Weight of trailer + weight of cargo on trailer.
badger42
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by badger42 »

Most towing capacities are substantially de-rated for no trailer brakes.

E.g Subaru Ascent (all trims but base) is 5000lb with trailer brakes, but only 1000lb without, per the manual (I don't have an Ascent but the manual is a free download)
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

I've towed with a bunch of vehicles. To me, wheelbase trumps all. Get a short wheelbase truck with something like an enclosed car trailer and you can expect winds to reek havoc on stability. The longer, the better. I went to a Yukon XL towing an 18' aluminum enclosed racecar trailer and an 18 foot boat. Of course both had trailer brakes. I had times coming home from a track day in the dark where I forgot I had a trailer and had a panic attack, thinking I lost the trailer. Never had that feeling with a short wheelbase SUV because the trailer let me know every second that it was there.
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snackdog
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by snackdog »

You need to know all your parameters.

https://www.huskytow.com/towing-calculator/
B4Xt3r
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by B4Xt3r »

Tamales wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 1:26 pm I've never towed a trailer but expect that I will have a need to learn how to do so going forward. ...
Hi Tamales,

Learning how to properly select a tow vehicle is a bit of a task, and I’m certainly no professional, but I can offer you what I know. You, and only you, are responsible for being safe on the road. The following is simply my understanding of how to stay within ratings, and I make no claim that the following is accurate, etc etc.

Firsd, please know that the “maximum” tow ratings published by manufacturers will al but certainly overstate the vehicle you purchase, unless the vehicle you purchase are very basic (think work truck type amenities).

I would suggest first learning how payload, and tow ratings are related to GVWR and GCWR.

You’ll need to know the curb weight of your tow vehicle in the condition as it will tow. This is *not* the base curb weight published by many manufacturers. You must estimate this number to within perhaps 50 lbs, or measure it on a CAT scale. I’ll call this number X.

For a 3k lbs trailer, you’ll want a vehicle that has a GCWR greater than (3k lbs + X + whatever safety margin you want).

For GVWR, youll want a vehicle that has GVWR greater than (X + 0.12*3k lbs + whatever safety margin you desire.

If you observe the above two points, you’ll be in the ballpark of success.

For example, my F150 has a curb weight of 5k lbs, GCWR oF 14.3k lbs, GVWR of 6.9k lbs and I plan to tow a trailer of 7k lbs. I suggest you do the above math for my situation and convince yourself that I selected the right truck for the job.

Cheers!
B4Xt3r
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by B4Xt3r »

snackdog wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:09 pm You need to know all your parameters.

https://www.huskytow.com/towing-calculator/
The above is true, though at the stage the OP is at, which I take to be more the estimating stage, might be a bit overkill. Hopefully the OP will let us know some more so he can help us help him.
CatHerder
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by CatHerder »

Looks like you're finding the right specs. Based on my experience towing glider trailers and utility trailers over the last 15 years, a mid-size SUV should do fine as long as you've confirmed the relevant weights and specs. I wouldn't over-think it too much if you're planning around-town stuff with short trips and relatively light loads. If taking longer trips over mountain passes or towing heavy boats, cars, or large camper trailers then you'd want a higher towing capacity, electric brakes, etc. I currently have a 2016 Frontier with 6,500lb towing capacity and previously an older Pathfinder at around 5,000lbs, and both have been more than sufficient for the local DIY rental utility trailers.
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Tamales
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by Tamales »

B4Xt3r wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:17 pm
snackdog wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:09 pm You need to know all your parameters.

https://www.huskytow.com/towing-calculator/
The above is true, though at the stage the OP is at, which I take to be more the estimating stage, might be a bit overkill. Hopefully the OP will let us know some more so he can help us help him.
Yep that's right. I don't have the trailer or the towing vehicle at the moment. Just trying to get a practical understanding of whether a 5000 lb towing limit is much of a limitation for what I described above as general household cargo. No plans to tow cars, large boats, or large loads of dense materials.

I'm still leaving open the possibility of getting a truck instead, but 99% of the time an SUV would be a more practical vehicle for everyday driving. I'm looking at SUV's in the HIghlander (on the smaller end, size-wise) to Traverse (on the large end--don't really want to go larger than this) range, and several in between. The AWD versions of these are all right around 5000 lb towing capacity. And for trailers, something like the one I linked to.
btenny
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by btenny »

Around town towing of a small utility trailer loaded with stuff can be done with just about any full size car or SUV. Most cars and SUVs are rated to tow 2K pounds. This load is enough to haul household stuff around on flat ground on city streets. Most small trailers will hold 1K to 1.5K pounds of stuff plus the trailer weight of 400 to 700 pounds. That is a lot of stuff. This means your total towing weight is 2.2K pounds. This is slightly over specs but fine for around town towing. These small trailers have a single axle and no brakes. Your vehicle must have adequate brakes to stop the trailer and the car/suv. In most cases stopping power is the limit for towing, not puling power.

The gotcha is not many cars or SUVs are set up to tow at all so this usually means a add on hitch and light plug. I am a U-Haul fan as they take the complexity out of towing so you do not have to deal with all the issues. They set up vehicles and rent trailers and do a good job on installing hitches and light plugs.

You do not add in any passenger or cargo weight to the trailer weight that is in the the car/SUV towing capacity number. BUT you do add the car weight, the car cargo weight, the passenger weight and the trailer total weight all to one big number and it should be less than car/SUV Maximum Gross Weight. So if you are towing a full trailer you need to lighten up on car passengers and car cargo.

You also need to load the trailer with the weight spread out evenly from front to back and side to side. If you put all the weight in the front of the trailer the hitch will put too much wight on the car and drag when going over bumps. If you put all the weight in the back the trailer will sway and pull the car around and maybe crash. So stuff must be loaded uniformly.

Depending on where you get the trailer it will be equipped with different size hitches either a Class I small hitch or a Class 2 heavy hitch. Plus towing requires a electrical plug for the trailer lights to hook them to your vehicle stop and turn lights. So your car/SUV has to be wired with a mating plug that will hook to your trailer and run the trailer stop lights.

Towing is a complex business and going to UHaul and a getting a friend who does know towing will help a lot.

Good Luck.
B4Xt3r
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by B4Xt3r »

Tamales wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:31 pm
B4Xt3r wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:17 pm
snackdog wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:09 pm You need to know all your parameters.

https://www.huskytow.com/towing-calculator/
The above is true, though at the stage the OP is at, which I take to be more the estimating stage, might be a bit overkill. Hopefully the OP will let us know some more so he can help us help him.
Yep that's right. I don't have the trailer or the towing vehicle at the moment. Just trying to get a practical understanding of whether a 5000 lb towing limit is much of a limitation for what I described above as general household cargo. No plans to tow cars, large boats, or large loads of dense materials.

I'm still leaving open the possibility of getting a truck instead, but 99% of the time an SUV would be a more practical vehicle for everyday driving. I'm looking at SUV's in the HIghlander (on the smaller end, size-wise) to Traverse (on the large end--don't really want to go larger than this) range, and several in between. The AWD versions of these are all right around 5000 lb towing capacity. And for trailers, something like the one I linked to.
Ok, you should know you can achieve the “tow rating” typically only when a single occupant tows with a very lightly optioned vehicle. Is that the situation you’ll be towing in?

If it isn’t, you should educate yourself on GVWR and payload. Payload is to GVWR as two rating is to GCWR. You should aim to stay beneath both.
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fortfun
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by fortfun »

Tamales wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 1:26 pm I've never towed a trailer but expect that I will have a need to learn how to do so going forward. Currently looking at SUVs since they are more practical than a pickup if you're only doing infrequent load-carrying. Mid-size to large SUV's generally range from 3500 to 5000 lbs towing capacity (Compared to pickups that often have double or triple that capacity).

I'm trying to get an idea of how limiting a 3000-5000 lb towing capacity really is...

>>Only if you are towing cars, large boats, or big dense loads of building materials (or a large enclosed trailer) would you really need more than 5000 lbs of towing capacity.

Aside from towing capacity, also have to consider the engine's capacity to pull the added weight and the lesser braking capability, especially if trailering long distances and up/down steep grades. Look to online reviews to judge that on a vehicle-specific basis.
Also consider the transmission. I've had several friends ruin transmissions pulling fairly light pop-up campers over I70. One friend just blew their transmission on an almost new Honda Pilot. If you plan to do much hauling on mountain passes, I'd be more inclined to buy an SUV that is built with a "truck" transmissio(4Runner)--not a car (Highlander) transmission.
B4Xt3r
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by B4Xt3r »

btenny wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:36 pm ...
Towing is a complex business and going to UHaul and a getting a friend who does know towing will help a lot.

Good Luck.
OP, I want to reiterate that your asking a question that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s understandable with some effort, but most people don’t take the time to ensure that they will be safe. Please be one of the few that do, if you are going to drive on public roads.
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Tamales
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by Tamales »

badger42 wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 1:53 pm Most towing capacities are substantially de-rated for no trailer brakes.

E.g Subaru Ascent (all trims but base) is 5000lb with trailer brakes, but only 1000lb without, per the manual (I don't have an Ascent but the manual is a free download)
This is a very interesting point. Thanks for raising it.
The manufacturer's brochures fail to mention this (they list the max rating with no such disclaimer), but you're right that it's called out in the owner's manual (for example the Highlander is 1000 lbs max for "Unbraked Trailer Weight Rating" and 5000 lb with trailer brakes. So for the Highlander, that Lowes trailer (with no brakes) I linked to wouldn't be safe with any meaningful load in it (and barely safe unloaded)
Last edited by Tamales on Sun Feb 17, 2019 3:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
btenny
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by btenny »

Unlike others I think the manufacturer tow ratings are fine and you can expect to tow stuff up to that number on flat or gentle slops. They test the SUVs and cars with trailers and know what the vehicles can safely do ON FLAT GROUND. A mid size SUV like a Toyota Highlander will work fine towing a small utility trailer of 2-3K pounds. But if you want to tow a 5K++ pound boat or horse trailer on long highway trips up and over mountains you need a good tow vehicle and a driver who knows towing. Get educated if you are going to tackle hard towing tasks.

I use a Jeep Grand Cherokee 4X4 to tow and launch a 6.4 K pound boat around town on flat ground. It works fine and stops OK under those conditions. I have taken this boat/SUV rig over the mountain pass in the Sierras from South Lake Tahoe to Carson a few times. It is touchy. It goes up hill fine. But going down the hill 10 miles heats up the brakes. So I stop going down that hill twice to keep the brakes cool. My Jeep is rated for 6.2K pounds and has a full towing setup from the factory. I have been driving and towing trailers for over 50 years. So I know how to handle things and make this work. I have also done this tow job with a F250 Ford diesel truck and it was a breeze. We do not stop and the truck does not even know my big boat is back there. So there are trade offs.

Good Luck.
andypanda
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by andypanda »

I have an old 5' x 8' low sided trash trailer with 13" wheels and a 2000 pound rating. I generally use it for hauling yard waste to the dump, picking up 10 or 20 bags of mulch and such. I do some woodworking, but I'm retired and not in the construction business.

I also have a 16' Tracker Grizzly jon boat - a 1648 - on the original trailer with 12" wheels. I've added glued down carpet, 3 deep cycle batteries at 61 pounds each, a Maxxum 70 trolling motor, a small 12v transom trolling motor and a Mercury 9.9 outboard. And a bunch of other odd and ends like 2 x 12-pound anchors, an ammo can full of tools and spare parts, etc.

From January, 2010 to 12/16 I pulled them with a 2010 Highlander Limited. Then I bought a new 2016 4Runner Trail Premium. Both are rated for 5000 pounds and a 500 pound tongue weight. 200 or 300 is probably a more reasonable number.

Towing what I do, I barely know anything is behind me and the brakes are more than adequate for anything on the east coast from the Interstate to the Blue Ridge.

Be safe, read some towing forums and watch some towing disaster videos on Youtube. And remember, the shorter the trailer tongue the harder it is to back up.
andypanda
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by andypanda »

I pulled up the owner's manual for the 2010 Highlander.

It doesn't have different ratings for trailers with brakes and without brakes.
The difference specified is whether or not it has the towing package.

"3.5 L V6 (2GR-FE) engine
Without towing package: 2000 lb. (900 kg)
With towing package: 5000 lb. (2000 kg)
Towing capacity means the maximum gross trailer weight (trailer
weight plus its cargo weight) that your vehicle is able to tow."

__________

Well, it appears Toyota adopted a new towing standard - J2807 - in 2013. Now they claim things such as... if towing over 3000 pounds they recommend using a trailer with 2 axles. Recommend. And the unbraked trailer weight is limited to 1655 pounds. And a bunch of other stuff is buried in the small print.

It doesn't affect me now, and I already knew I'll need a large truck when I buy a second boat to haul 6 people around.
Last edited by andypanda on Sun Feb 17, 2019 3:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Topic Author
Tamales
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by Tamales »

andypanda wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 3:19 pm I pulled up the owner's manual for the 2010 Highlander.

It doesn't have different ratings for trailers with brakes and without brakes.
The difference specified is whether or not it has the towing package.
That's odd. I wonder if something changed since 2010 (with disclosure requirements, or with the brake systems) that required them to include it. Here's a link to the 2019 manual:
https://www.toyota.com/owners/resources ... ander/2019
see pgs 210-212 for the 1000 lb unbraked TWR (trailer weight rating), unless I'm misinterpreting it.

Also the following in the 2019 Traverse manual:
Loaded trailers over 450 kg (1,000 lb) must be equipped with brake systems and with brakes for each axle. Trailer braking equipment conforming to Canadian Standards Association (CSA) requirement CAN3-D313, or its equivalent, is recommended.

So it's sounding more like some legal disclosure requirement must have changed in the past 8 years or so?
Last edited by Tamales on Sun Feb 17, 2019 3:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
andypanda
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by andypanda »

You were posting while I was editing.

SAE J2807
sciencenerd
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by sciencenerd »

The general rule of thumb for towing is that you run out of payload before you run out of tow capacity. Payload is the max amount of weight you can load into your tow vehicle. Let's assume your loaded trailer weighs 4,000 pounds. With a 15% tongue weight (12-15% recommended to reduce sway) that means you have 600 pounds tongue weight, which counts towards your payload. Let's assume a Honda Pilot with a payload of 1,300 pounds. Subtracting 600 pounds for the tongue weight leaves you with 700 pounds for you, passengers, and other stuff you load into the car. You will see that as the trailer gets heavier, you will run out of payload quickly.

That's why many people who tow eventually get trucks rather than SUVs. Trucks usually have better payload. Another thing to consider is if the SUV allows a weight distribution hitch, which will be necessary as you go to heavier trailers, but which is not recommended, for example, for the Honda Pilot and many other unibody SUVS. So, overall for towing, I would get either a truck or a SUV based on a truck frame, not on unibody frame.
Last edited by sciencenerd on Sun Feb 17, 2019 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Teague
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by Teague »

andypanda wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 3:34 pm You were posting while I was editing.

SAE J2807
Here's a readable summary of how the J2807 standards are applied:
http://www.trucktrend.com/how-to/towing ... -standard/

Note the not-so-rigorous braking testing (20-0 MPH). Good trailer brakes are quite important if one plans to go faster than 20 MPH unless the trailer is very light.
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by The Wizard »

btenny wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 3:12 pm ...I have taken this boat/SUV rig over the mountain pass in the Sierras from South Lake Tahoe to Carson a few times. It is touchy. It goes up hill fine. But going down the hill 10 miles heats up the brakes. So I stop going down that hill twice to keep the brakes cool...
So are you saying gearing down was inadequate to control downhill speed with a trailer?
Newer vehicles have better electronic transmission gear control, I find...
Attempted new signature...
andypanda
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by andypanda »

"In addition to a vehicle’s base curb weight, the “Tow Vehicle Total Weight” (TVTW) for testing for ¾- and 1-ton trucks allocates 150 pounds for the driver, 150 pounds for a passenger, "

I chuckled at the comment on one related site asking if the new SAE standard was for European men or something. According to the CDC, the average adult American male weighs 195.7
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by btenny »

Wiz. I tow a big boat and trailer that weighs about 6400 pounds with a Jeep GC that weighs 4130 pounds. So the combined weight is 10500 pounds. The boat trailer has surge brakes and dual axles. I carry no extra cargo and only two people in the Jeep so I do not exceed the gross weight of 5400 pounds. Jeep say this is OK but the brakes are tested to their limits. This particular Jeep has Mercedes ceramic brakes and special rotors. I have been towing this particular setup for 14 years. I stopped towing it over the mountain about 7 years ago. It works fine on the flat.

When I towed the boat over the mountain I used the gas engine and transmission to slow the rig but it did not have enough torque to keep from accelerating down the 5-7 percent grade. So I also braked some to slow down around curves to 25. This down hill run lasts for 10 miles. The first time I went over the mountain I did not stop part way going down and the brakes got so hot they were smelling and too hot to touch. So the next time I stopped every 2-3 miles and let my brakes cool off. And I borrowed a big truck a few times as well.

SO yes towing is complex and takes some knowledge to do it right and safe.

Good Luck.
Mike Scott
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by Mike Scott »

If you are only using it infrequently, renting a truck and or trailer as needed is a lot cheaper than buying.
suemarkp
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by suemarkp »

I disagree with those that said to not include the weight of the tow vehicle passengers or cargo. It may depend on the vehicle manufacturer and what they are assuming in their tow ratings. The manual should tell you what is or is not included in the two rating. I know my GM cars had driver weight accounted for, but any additional passengers or cargo need to be added to the trailer total weight when looking at the "tow rating". The reason for this was alluded to in sciencenerd's post -- payload.

The trailer tongue is adding weight to the payload of the tow vehicle (typically 10% to 15% of the trailer weight). So as the trailer weight increases, you have less and less available payload. The payload for most SUVs is around 1000 lbs.

My Honda Pilot manual lists its tow rating based on number of people in the vehicle. With 2 it is 5000 lbs. With 4 it is 4500. With 6 it is 4000. And with 8 towing is not recommended. They assume each occupant is 150 lbs and has 15 lbs in the cargo portion of the tow vehicle. Any weight in addition to this reduces the tow rating the same amount. There is also a tongue load limit based on number of occupants which makes things worse. With 6 people in the car, the tongue is limited to 250 lbs. That works out to a 2500 lb trailer whereas its "tow rating" in that case is 4000.

Towing can easily get out of hand with a travel trailer. I had a 23' trailer with 2 axles that had a gross weight rating of 6100 lbs (the Pilot above can't pull it). Its dry weight was about 4400 lbs. When loaded up with our stuff, it could easily be 5200 lbs. It used a weight distributing hitch which gets you into the next realm of towing and that is the max weight rating of each axle in the tow vehicle. You basically need to go to a weigh station and weigh each axle (tow front, tow rear, trailer axle(s)). Then you unhitch the trailer and weigh just it to determine tongue load. You can screw around with the weight distributing hitch chains to make it right if you have gone over.
Mark | Kent, WA
BuyandHold37
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by BuyandHold37 »

I would say a crew cab pickup is more practical than a SUV. A pickup can do everything an SUV can do, and more. Why limit yourself?

A crew cab High Country or Denali are both as nice as any SUV.
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BolderBoy
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by BolderBoy »

Tamales wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 1:26 pm I've never towed a trailer but expect that I will have a need to learn how to do so going forward.
This thread may give you some pointers: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=220548
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect
letsgobobby
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by letsgobobby »

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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by letsgobobby »

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Topic Author
Tamales
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by Tamales »

letsgobobby wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 10:05 pm None of what you’ve written is going to be the limiting factor and thus doesn’t matter at all.
What matters is the payload of the SUV and you’re going to find that runs out a lot faster than so-called towing capacity.

Maybe you’ll find an SUV with a payload of 1500 pounds.

Subtract those 600 pounds of passenger and luggage and you’re down to 900 pounds of payload. That is about a 6000 pound (loaded) trailer, properly loaded (as typically 15% of a bumper pull trailer will sit on the hitch).

That’s your limit.

From that I would agree that an SUV is enough to tow a box trailer or a very small travel trailer. But it has almost nothing to do with towing capacity.
I'm not following your rationale. Most of the posts before yours pointed out to me that there are several standardized weight calculations that go by different names, and each includes a different combination of vehicle and trailer and cargo weights, and you have to be within the vehicle-specific limit for ALL of them, not just one of your choosing. The one you've chosen, and the result you got, exceeds one or more of the other weight limits. So unless I've misunderstood, it doesn't seem like it would be good advice to simplify things in the way you have done. But I may be misunderstanding...

For the folks suggesting I look at a truck instead of SUV, even if I were to go with a truck, only what they call "midsize" trucks today would fit in my garage, so all the full-size behemoths are out.
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by Luke Duke »

fortfun wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:41 pm Also consider the transmission. I've had several friends ruin transmissions pulling fairly light pop-up campers over I70. One friend just blew their transmission on an almost new Honda Pilot. If you plan to do much hauling on mountain passes, I'd be more inclined to buy an SUV that is built with a "truck" transmissio(4Runner)--not a car (Highlander) transmission.
It really isn't a car vs truck transmission, it is whether or not it has a transmission cooler. This should be standard on any vehicle with a "tow package" from the factory. Also, as you noted, there is more heat build-up if you are using transmission braking (like you should) in mountainous terrain. They probably had the 2WD version.
https://www.hondadealersofnewengland.co ... -capacity/
https://www.etrailer.com/tran-2018_Honda_Pilot.htm
B4Xt3r
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by B4Xt3r »

Tamales wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 10:32 am
letsgobobby wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 10:05 pm None of what you’ve written is going to be the limiting factor and thus doesn’t matter at all.
What matters is the payload of the SUV and you’re going to find that runs out a lot faster than so-called towing capacity.

Maybe you’ll find an SUV with a payload of 1500 pounds.

Subtract those 600 pounds of passenger and luggage and you’re down to 900 pounds of payload. That is about a 6000 pound (loaded) trailer, properly loaded (as typically 15% of a bumper pull trailer will sit on the hitch).

That’s your limit.

From that I would agree that an SUV is enough to tow a box trailer or a very small travel trailer. But it has almost nothing to do with towing capacity.
...you have to be within the vehicle-specific limit for ALL of them, not just one of your choosing....

For the folks suggesting I look at a truck instead of SUV, even if I were to go with a truck, only what they call "midsize" trucks today would fit in my garage, so all the full-size behemoths are out.
Hi Tamales,

letsgobobby is getting at an often true point, which is that many vehicles run into the GVWR (that is to say, run out of payload) before they run into the GCWR (that is to say, run out of tow rating). You are true when you realize that should aim to be within spec on *all ratings*. It is also true that usually, GVWR is the first rating many vehicles run out of.

Have you considered the 2019+ Ford Ranger, my understanding is that in four door variant, it has payload >1500 and tow rating >7k lbs. It also gets 24 mpg on the highway. (There are also F150s that are reasonably fuel efficient on the highway, unless the extra size is a negative to you.)
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Sandtrap
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by Sandtrap »

Best case scenario for safety and handling:

0. Tandem axle trailer. (if a tire blows you have some stability)
1. Trailer and cargo no heavier than tow vehicle.
2. Trailer with trailer brakes.
3. Shorter wheelbase tow vehicles are not as stable as longer.
4. Longer wheelbase trailers easier to handle than too short, it depends.
5. Trailer visible from driver's seat. (sometimes too short or too low trailers are hard to sea)
6. Frame mounted hitch on SUV/Truck. Two inch ball.
7. Electronic trailer brake module mounted in the tow vehicle. Owner knows how to adjust it per load. Get the best one.
8. Highway rated load chains and ratchet binders, and also wide web straps for various load tie downs as needed. Check frequently.
9. When loading, pay attention to "tongue weight". You can vary this with load placement. This greatly effects handling.
10. The larger the towing capacity (as above) of the tow vehicle over the trailer, the greater the margin of safety and ease of handling. Of course less "can be done" and is "done often". But. . . .

Above based on having done construction and personal towing for many decades. Often.
j
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fortfun
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by fortfun »

Luke Duke wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 11:03 am
fortfun wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:41 pm Also consider the transmission. I've had several friends ruin transmissions pulling fairly light pop-up campers over I70. One friend just blew their transmission on an almost new Honda Pilot. If you plan to do much hauling on mountain passes, I'd be more inclined to buy an SUV that is built with a "truck" transmissio(4Runner)--not a car (Highlander) transmission.
It really isn't a car vs truck transmission, it is whether or not it has a transmission cooler. This should be standard on any vehicle with a "tow package" from the factory. Also, as you noted, there is more heat build-up if you are using transmission braking (like you should) in mountainous terrain. They probably had the 2WD version.
https://www.hondadealersofnewengland.co ... -capacity/
https://www.etrailer.com/tran-2018_Honda_Pilot.htm
They had the all wheel drive version with the tow package. I can just tell the difference between looking at the drive train on my highlander vs my tacoma. The tacoma just has a "beefier" drive train. I'll admit I don't know much about automatic transmissions though...
suemarkp
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by suemarkp »

Did they follow the instructions regarding what buttons to use (or not) on the shifter while towing? If they have the 6 speed, they should push the button that keeps it out of the highest gear and keeps it in low gears longer. If they have the 9 speed, there is some info for it as well, but I don't have that one so I don't remember its rules...

Also, the tow package on the Pilot is all dealer installed. The hitch is one option, the wiring harness is a second one, and the transmission cooler is a third. I did not get the trans cooler since my trailer is only 2000 lbs. I thought all of the options were horribly over priced, but I wanted the factory wiring harness and it was a pain to install so I paid for the hitch and harness and used a service rebate coupon when I bought the car to take some of the pain away. I wish they would just always do a trans cooler from the factory so all the transmissions last longer.
Mark | Kent, WA
btenny
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by btenny »

OP. To simplify things I suggest the following.

Do not consider any car or SUV that has a tow rating below 4500 pounds. That is about the lower useful towing limit without constant worry about too much load.

The new generation crossover vehicles will tow a small to mid size utility trailer with modest loads and be fine. But you have to get the right model and configuration set up for towing from the factory and rated for towing 4500 to 5000 pounds. Vehicles like the Toyota Highlander or the Chevy Traverse or the Ford Explorer all tow 5K pounds if properly setup with the tow package and related tow features. But be careful as some models of these same cars will not tow much more than 1500 pounds. So shop carefully. See the lists below.

https://www.biggerschevy.com/chevy-suv- ... apacities/
https://www.wilsonvilletoyota.com/blog/ ... -suvs-tow/
https://www.wilsonvilletoyota.com/blog/ ... -suvs-tow/

But if you want to tow a bigger two axle closed work trailer or a two axle boat trailer or a small camper those all weigh about 6500 pounds and you will need a bigger vehicle. For that task I suggest a old style SUV like the Chevy Tahoe or Ford Expedition or Jeep Grand Cherokee or Toyota Sequoia. All these are very good tow vehicles for their size and costs and ease of use. All will tow 6500 pounds or more with the proper factory hitches and other equipment. Some will tow up to 8000 pounds. So they will handle big loads if needed. See below.

https://www.ford.com/suvs/expedition/fe ... apability/
https://itstillruns.com/chevy-tahoe-tow ... 26589.html
https://axleadvisor.com/jeep-grand-cher ... -capacity/

If you want to tow more than 8000 pounds you need a truck of some kind and that is a whole other discussion.

Good Luck and have Fun.
btenny
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by btenny »

I forget to point out that you can rent a nice pickup from U-Haul that is all set to tow up to 6K pounds. This is a great solution for people who only need occasional towing capabilities. That way you can get the car or SUV you want without the tow options and save $$$ and get better MPG. I plan to do this summer to tow my boat. The local dealer and I talked about it last fall. It will cost me $25 or so for the day.

https://www.uhaul.com/Truck-Rentals/Pickup-Truck/

Good Luck.
iamlucky13
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by iamlucky13 »

Tamales wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 1:26 pm Check me on this:
towing capacity =
weight of trailer +
weight of trailer cargo +
weight of any cargo+people inside the SUV beyond 150 lbs
That isn't quite right. Those numbers, plus the vehicle curb weight are the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). The tow rating specified by the manufacturer should be Gross Trailer Weight Rating (GTWR).

The payload inside the towing vehicle is covered under Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).

The combined weight rating will be less than or equal to the sum of the vehicle and trailer weight ratings. If it is less than the sum, that means you can not max both out at once. This is not uncommon on 3/4 ton pickups.

The vehicle weight rating includes the driver, plus anything else more than the vehicle curb weight.

Since manufacturers never seem to publish the combined rating for passenger vehicles (including SUV's), I believe the combined rating is usually equal to the sum of the vehicle and trailer ratings for passenger vehicles. Somebody please correct me if that is wrong, but I just reviewed my own owners manual and a couple others before posting this, and I'm fairly confident between Subaru's, Toyota's, and Ford's lawyers, they didn't all miss something this obvious.

That means you should not have to subtract people and cargo weight inside the vehicle from the trailer rating. However, you do need to account for tongue weight relative to the vehicle weight rating.

So to tie this all together with an example.

Curb Weight: 4000 pounds
GVWR: 5000 pounds
Trailer Empty Weight: 1000 pounds
GTWR: 3500 pounds
GCWR: 8500 pounds

This means you can have 1000 pounds of occupants (including driver) and cargo in the vehicle. You can at the same time have 2500 pounds of cargo in the trailer (3500 pounds trailer weight). However, once you factor tongue weight into the vehicle weight (8% is the lowest recommendation I've seen), you need to take 280 pounds off the occupants and cargo, reducing that 1000 pounds to 720 pounds.
iamlucky13
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by iamlucky13 »

Also, a couple quick practical observations:

Nearly all passenger cars, SUV's, and compact pickups have the same instruction not to tow more than 1000 pounds without trailer brakes. Even full-size pickups like the F-150 have similar limits based on GVWR. Few trailers rated at less than 3500 pounds have brakes. Guess how often that instruction is actually followed.

A bathroom scale under the jack can measure tongue weight for trailers in this size class, although I very, very, very seldom see anyone actually check tongue weight.

The more frequently or longer distances you tow, the more margin you should give yourself in rated towing capacity versus actual trailer weight. Regularly towing the maximum rated weight should be expected to shorten your vehicle life, but if you do not tow often, the effective cost of the amount the vehicle life is shortened is probably less than the cost of a higher capacity vehicle.

If you're new to trailer driving, one of the best things you can do is find an empty mall parking lot, and spend a couple evenings practicing giving yourself the proper berth around corners and backing up, both straight and around corners / into parking spots. Backing around corners in particular is un-intuitive to most people, so you want to learn with plenty of room to recover from mistakes.
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Tamales
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by Tamales »

Some very informative and thought-provoking responses so far. Thanks.

I've been skimming through various car/truck forum posts about towing, and it seem like some people think you earn "man points" for towing well beyond the manufacturer's specifications (especially in the case of vehicles rated from 3000-5000 lbs capacity).

I have a new appreciation for general daily driving, to avoid being anywhere near people driving sketchy-looking trailer setups (including having them directly behind you).

I take it people are seldom pulled over for sketchy-looking towing setups (other than maybe something obvious like no chains or insecure loads)?

Are there state laws that say, in effect, if your towing configuration violates the manufacturer's owner's manual recommendations you are subject to fine (in particular, that point about needing trailer brakes for towing over 1000 lbs, but none of the smaller utility trailers have brakes)?

Do you need a special addition to your insurance policy for infrequent towing?
btenny
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by btenny »

No you do not need special extra insurance on your SUV to tow stuff. But you do need separate insurance on the trailer and trailer contents. In my case I have my boat and boat trailer insured separate from my Jeep GC insurance. Plus I also have an umbrella policy that covers everything.

I am not aware of any laws that let police stop you or ticket you for personal tow vehicle weight rule violations. I have towed in Arizona and California and Oregon and Washington over the last 55+ years. I have only been stopped once when towing. It was in California and I was towing my boat in the third lane of the freeway and driving 60 or so. The rules there require all vehicles towing a trailer to stay in the 2 most right lanes and keep speed to 55 or slower. I did not know either rule so I got a warning.

I know that the weight rules are stretched regularly by every yard man and half the construction people in Phoenix. Those guys regularly drive around with overloaded trailers pulled by tired old trucks and dump trucks. I personally had a fit when my tree removal guys put a 3 ton tree stump in a small truck and it went down on the axles as they drive off. I know this stuff is not OK but I seldom see them stopped. They just drive slow and careful.

Good Luck
Teague
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by Teague »

btenny wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 10:20 pm I am not aware of any laws that let police stop you or ticket you for personal tow vehicle weight rule violations.
Good Luck
They exist.

In California, if towing > 10,000 lb (fifth wheel, gooseneck horse trailer, etc.) one is required to have the near-equivalent of a commercial license. The requirements are slightly toned down for us "civilians" who don't drive for a living, but are pretty stringent. It's called a non-commercial class A license, as opposed to a commercial class A license. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detai ... /lic_chart

Almost nobody has this license because of the difficult requirements, including a medical certification every two years, and CHP knows this. Word around the barn is that CHP has decided to enforce this law which has long been on the books but largely neglected. Apparently CHP will wait outside horse events, and when the stream of horse trailers is leaving the finished event, they will pull over drivers and cite them for not having this license. I imagine they look for large rigs, maybe following them until they miss a turn signal or commit some other transgression as probable cause.

From what I'm told, several folks have sold and downsized their trailers to avoid the hassles of getting and maintaining this license. Also, apparently having this license may throw one into a very different (much more expensive) insurance category in some cases, another reason to avoid needing one.
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tibbitts
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by tibbitts »

Tamales wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:36 pm Some very informative and thought-provoking responses so far. Thanks.

I've been skimming through various car/truck forum posts about towing, and it seem like some people think you earn "man points" for towing well beyond the manufacturer's specifications (especially in the case of vehicles rated from 3000-5000 lbs capacity).

I have a new appreciation for general daily driving, to avoid being anywhere near people driving sketchy-looking trailer setups (including having them directly behind you).

I take it people are seldom pulled over for sketchy-looking towing setups (other than maybe something obvious like no chains or insecure loads)?

Are there state laws that say, in effect, if your towing configuration violates the manufacturer's owner's manual recommendations you are subject to fine (in particular, that point about needing trailer brakes for towing over 1000 lbs, but none of the smaller utility trailers have brakes)?

Do you need a special addition to your insurance policy for infrequent towing?
That's not the impression I get regarding forums - in fact the weight police usually come out in force whenever someone suggests towing their 5x8 utility trailer with anything short of a Peterbilt.
Teague
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by Teague »

I take it people are seldom pulled over for sketchy-looking towing setups (other than maybe something obvious like no chains or insecure loads)?
I see sketchy looking rigs pulled over on the highway all the time. Inadequate tie-downs, rear tires bulging from excess trailer weight, no or improper chains, headlights pointing at the sky from overloaded suspension, etc.
Are there state laws that say, in effect, if your towing configuration violates the manufacturer's owner's manual recommendations you are subject to fine (in particular, that point about needing trailer brakes for towing over 1000 lbs, but none of the smaller utility trailers have brakes)?
Not sure about that, but the discussion boards I've read suggest that in case of an accident resulting in lawsuit, the other party's attorney will have a field day with the fact that you violated the manufacturer's towing instructions.
Semper Augustus
spitty
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by spitty »

OP did you mean 5 or 6x10 trailer? 8x10 is almost square, but maybe they do make one. Sandtrap hit all the salient points above. Shop for a vehicle that has tow pkg with the TBC built in; eg. a full sized PU crew cab is great for towing the trailers you're looking at and carries passengers comfortably. You'd love having the 6 ft bed not having to worry about trashing an SUV, and many loads can be hauled without even needing the trailer. And I wouldn't tow without electric trailer brakes, even using a 10 foot utility trailer. Avoids wear n' tear on truck brakes plus emergency stops are safer. One last point, they always seem to put junk tires on these cheap trailers so pay attention to that.

Here's a good towing forum to read through:

https://www.f150forum.com/f82/
iamlucky13
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by iamlucky13 »

Tamales wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:36 pm Are there state laws that say, in effect, if your towing configuration violates the manufacturer's owner's manual recommendations you are subject to fine (in particular, that point about needing trailer brakes for towing over 1000 lbs, but none of the smaller utility trailers have brakes)?
I don't think in general there are inspection requirements weight, although I was unaware of the California law mentioned for trailers over 10,000 lbs, which appears to be fairly common. I'm not clear, however, if they are inspecting against manufacturer gross weights or against licensing requirements:
https://drivinglaws.aaa.com/tag/weigh-stations/

I just spent a little bit of time searching my state's regulations, and didn't find a universal provision for enforcement of the weight of smaller non-commercial vehicles. There are such provisions for commercial vehicles. And GMC, for example, does not list legal consequences as a reason for not exceeding GVWR:
https://www.gmc.com/gmc-life/how-to/und ... ght-rating

However, I've seen it suggested, probably with good reason, that exceeding the weight ratings could lead to civil or even criminal liability for negligence if you are in an accident it is demonstrated that this led to or increased the severity of the accident. So I'm not sure if it is actually unlawful to exceed a vehicle weight rating (such as 1000 pounds for a trailer without brakes), but clearly at a minimum, it would be a situation demanding even more additional care than driving with a trailer already requires.
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fizxman
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by fizxman »

BuyandHold37 wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 8:26 pm I would say a crew cab pickup is more practical than a SUV. A pickup can do everything an SUV can do, and more. Why limit yourself?

A crew cab High Country or Denali are both as nice as any SUV.
+1

Look at a crew cab full-size or mid-size pickup to see if it fits your non-towing needs. I towed about 1500 lbs with a Subaru Outback and did not enjoy it. So I went overkill and recently got an F-150 and towed the same 1500 lbs and it was like it wasn't even there. I don't know the price of the SUVs you are looking at but a pickup and SUV might be roughly the same price.
tibbitts
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by tibbitts »

fizxman wrote: Tue Feb 19, 2019 4:25 pm
BuyandHold37 wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 8:26 pm I would say a crew cab pickup is more practical than a SUV. A pickup can do everything an SUV can do, and more. Why limit yourself?

A crew cab High Country or Denali are both as nice as any SUV.
+1

Look at a crew cab full-size or mid-size pickup to see if it fits your non-towing needs. I towed about 1500 lbs with a Subaru Outback and did not enjoy it. So I went overkill and recently got an F-150 and towed the same 1500 lbs and it was like it wasn't even there. I don't know the price of the SUVs you are looking at but a pickup and SUV might be roughly the same price.
It can't do everything unless you enclose the back and remove the rear window from the truck and then maybe add a row of seats. But of course a truck can do some things an SUV can't.

As I've said on other threads if I was going to get a full-sized truck again I'd probably go for a 3/4 or 1-ton. At work we have a same-color F150 parked next to a GM 2500HD and that really illustrates that there is almost no difference, just a slightly worse (higher) ride height in the 2500. So now we have gone from a little SUV to a 1-ton. Anybody for medium-duty?
smitcat
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Re: Trailer towing capacity questions

Post by smitcat »

tibbitts wrote: Tue Feb 19, 2019 4:31 pm
fizxman wrote: Tue Feb 19, 2019 4:25 pm
BuyandHold37 wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 8:26 pm I would say a crew cab pickup is more practical than a SUV. A pickup can do everything an SUV can do, and more. Why limit yourself?

A crew cab High Country or Denali are both as nice as any SUV.
+1

Look at a crew cab full-size or mid-size pickup to see if it fits your non-towing needs. I towed about 1500 lbs with a Subaru Outback and did not enjoy it. So I went overkill and recently got an F-150 and towed the same 1500 lbs and it was like it wasn't even there. I don't know the price of the SUVs you are looking at but a pickup and SUV might be roughly the same price.
It can't do everything unless you enclose the back and remove the rear window from the truck and then maybe add a row of seats. But of course a truck can do some things an SUV can't.

As I've said on other threads if I was going to get a full-sized truck again I'd probably go for a 3/4 or 1-ton. At work we have a same-color F150 parked next to a GM 2500HD and that really illustrates that there is almost no difference, just a slightly worse (higher) ride height in the 2500. So now we have gone from a little SUV to a 1-ton. Anybody for medium-duty?
"there is almost no difference"
I have had both 1/2 , 3/4 and 1 ton pickups and on a few occasions one of each at the same time.
Other than brakes, axles, diffs, springs, wheels, tires,turning radius, ride height, weight , mileage and a few other things they are no different.
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