Wednesday, May 6, 2015

RV Tow Row

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We bought a motorhome we love. My wife and I studied many RVs, how we would use one, where we would take one, and what type of floor plan we desired. That process went very smoothly. Now we are trying to figure out what type of tow vehicle to purchase and are currently at polar-opposite ends of the scale on what we need, what we can afford, and how we will use it.

We are not looking for any brand information -- we just want some clue as to what we should be considering so that we can both back off our demands and find some middle ground.
--Tow to Tow in Tampa

Dear Tampa:
It sounds like you two are very methodical in your approach to making a purchase. It's refreshing to hear you are both actively engaged in making decisions together. These are large investments that will affect both of you for many years. Getting it right the first time is not as common as you might think. With little information as to what your needs and wants are in a toad, let me just give you some food for thought. In the end you will have to make the final decision on your own.

There are all kinds of contraptions for pulling a vehicle behind a motorhome, protecting it from stone damage, and keeping it within safety regulations. If you like to explore back roads, you might want to consider high clearance and four wheel drive. If you are looking for extra storage, shop a small to mid-sized pickup. If you are hauling bikes or kayaks on the vehicle, think about rack space and fit.

Consider weight and towing capacity and how it will affect your fuel mileage. Even a light vehicle will most likely cost you a mile per gallon.

New or used? No matter what you do to protect a toad, expect stone damage, tar and road grime maintenance, and some additional tire wear from towing sway. If you observe the many other RVers pulling a vehicle behind a motorhome you will see a wide variety of choices. Some will need more accessories than others. The additional expense can include brakes, transmission pumps, dollies, lights and wiring.

I'm sure if you read the comment section of this post you will find many others willing to share their thoughts and experiences on how they made their choice.

Personally, I continue to buy old Saturn SL's on Craigslist. Unfortunately, they aren't making them any longer. They were too reliable and economical. They are also under 2500 lbs. and easy to dingy-tow four wheels down.

Our decision is based on easy to fix, easy to connect and disconnect and, because of the weight, fuel efficient while towing. Also, I don't have to take it to Best Buy or the Apple Genius Bar to get it fixed.

List all your needs and wants. Once you agree on those, there are many vehicles to choose from today. 

--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink


MarvThom said...

1st Step: Check TLD for info on towables and weight. 2nd: Decide how you're going to tow, 4-wheels down, dolly, trailer, drive along. RV mileage isn't really affected unless you tow a really large vehicle. There was a 3-axle 5th wheel near us the other day pulled by a huge tractor with a matching tiny Smart car. Takes all kinds. We pull a CRV (4 Down) and takes us 5 minutes to hitch and unhitch. Cruise a nearby RV park and talk to out-of-state RVers with your type of RV. We RVers like giving advice!

Anonymous said...

Take a look at Jeep. Even the Wrangler has a much better ride now than say 5 years ago. You have ground clearance, 4 wheel drive,and 2 or 4 doors. They can be towed easily with all 4 wheels on the ground and are light weight.

Anonymous said...

Choose a vehicle that can be towed 4 wheels down. Tow dollies and trailers are a hassle and take up more of your often limited space.

Anonymous said...

Consider a Jeep. For us our Grand Cherokee is a perfect tow vehicle allowing us to explore back roads, park with ease and hook up without complications.

Anonymous said...

I have towed 3 different vehicles behind 3 DP rigs, ranging from 350 to 450 HP. 1st toad was a 2002 Saturn SL, very basic, no power windows or door locks. It pulled fine, but i sold it to a friend because it was difficult to get in and out of (i am used to sitting much higher in trucks or SUVs). 2nd tow vehicle was a 2002 Jeep Liberty Limited, pulled fine, i still have it but intend to sell it when i get time. IMO the Jeep Liberty is the most common toad i see on the road. I now pull a 2012 Ford F150 King Ranch,which gives the rear seat passengers considerably more leg room than the Liberty. I think the F150 free wheels better than the Liberty. I have used BlueOx tow bars on all three vehicles, and i am using an AirForce 1 braking system now which i am very pleased with.

Charles said...

We and many others have a Chevy
HHR. Our first was a 2005. We know
have a 2015.

Willibus said...

Check the owners manual of any vehicle you choose to tow 4 wheels down. If it doesn't say the vehicle is towable, move on to something else. The lists of towables say a Ford Focus with manual transmission is towable, but that isn't true. We found that out after we bought the car and double checked. Even one of the well known RV service and sales places here was dumbfounded when they checked that out for us. Now we have a 2013 Honda Fit with Blue Ox towbar. Tows very well. The new 2015 Fits and Honda CRVs are no longer towable - Honda changed the transmission. Foolish move on their part as we see many CRVs being towed.

Busyretirees said...

My first toad was a 1999 Chev Malibu which was towed 4 wheels down. Used Blu Ox tow bar and Brake Buddy. When Chev died, I got a 2007 Saturn Vue. Towed it 4 down. Advantage of 4 down is easy connect and disconnect. Disadvantage is that you have to purchase base plate (not cheap) for every vehicle you want to tow. Sold everything few years ago and bought a 5th wheel. Less hassles and only one motor to maintain. My tow vehicle is now an Supercrew F150. Lots of leg room for passengers, decent mileage & cheaper insurance. If you know someone who has an RV that tows 4 down, see if you can go for a test drive. Do the same with a dolly and then decide. Buy what you are comfortable with.

Bonnie Cuddihy said...

We finally purchased our first Motorhome last week and have been looking at Honday CRVs as a toad choice. Thanks, Willibus, for the heads up about the transmission change. That's news to us. I hope it doesn't take us as long to research and purchase a toad than it did our MH!!! We're taking our maiden voyage to H. Cooper Black near Cheraw, SC, next weekend. Wish us luck. (I'm so excited!!!)

Anonymous said...

In the link you'll see another one called "Dinghy towing guide" There you'll see almost 100 vehicles that can be towed 4-down. By the way, we rent. If your by a toad you'll pay many 1000's of dollars- even used. renting is much cheaper and carefree.

Mark Walsh said...

I tow a 2009 Nissan Versa. I checked a number of new vehicles recently and most cannot be towed. So, instead of buying a new car I kept the Nissan and will buy another this year. The manual and manufacturer says it is towable and the only thing you need to do is turn it on every 500 miles to circulate oil etc. I seldom travel more than 250 miles in one day so the 500 mile limit is not an issue.I highly recommend the Nissan because it is an inexpensive car, gets decent mileage and tows quite easily even in the Rockies.

Shawn said...

I tow a manual Nissan Cube. Very light weight and very roomy inside with excellent gas mileage. Easy to hook and unhook.

Anonymous said...

I tow a Lincoln MKX which is towable four wheels down, is comfortable, and has room in back for my disabled wife's scooter.

Ellen said...

Wow! Lots of great advice! I agree with the advice to start with the weight you can tow, then think about whether you want to use a dolly...

We opted for a small pickup truck behind our 32' Class C, but wanted more off-road options, so bought a two-door Jeep Wrangler. Loved the Jeep, but carrying our bike rack meant putting groceries in the back was tricky. So we traded that for a four-door Rubicon Jeep. We're really enjoying the extra space without giving up any off-road fun.

We tow four-down with a Blue Ox, and use a Patriot Brake. We've had little problem with stuff kicking up onto the toad -- maybe because my hubby is a careful driver :)

You can make your decision on the toad in a similar way to choosing the RV: how will you use it? How do you want to tow it? What weight can you tow?

Good luck!