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Old 02-09-2016, 06:33 PM   #1
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Advice on Towing Vehicles for R-pod 178


I'm new to the Forum and new to trailering, so please be gentle... My wife and I retired from tent camping last year and bought a new (2015) R-Pod 178. We took six trips last summer, using her 2006 SAAB wagon to pull the R-pod. It has a stated towing capacity of 3,500 lbs, which we thought would work out with a lightly-loaded, 2,500-lb R-pod. It performed pretty well, but we have some pretty steep, long climbs out of the Salt Lake Valley (our home) to get to a lot of our favorite places. With the SAAB, we just kissed the "H" temperature a few times, but never had to pull over to let the engine cool.

The SAAB is probably getting too old for this and there are many places we'd like to go that are higher and steeper than we've gone. We'd like to get a vehicle that we'll have confidence in. This would also be my wife's commuting vehicle, so she insists it not be a pickup.

In talking to friends who pull R-pods, we've gotten all kinds of often conflicting information. For example, one friend has an Xterra with a tow rating of 5,000 lbs, but he's unhappy with the power. Another swears by his Ford 150 truck. I've learned over the years to simply not believe dealers, so, coupled with my very limited knowledge of cars, trucks, etc., I'm in sort of a pickle.

Ideally, we'd like to get a lease-return, low-mileage SUV (my wife's really not a truck person) that doesn't drive like a tank around town and has more versatility than a pickup.

So, I thought I'd take a survey, of sorts, and see what experienced owners use to pull their R-pods. Any suggestions?



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Old 02-09-2016, 06:49 PM   #2
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Welcome to the Forum sorry I can't help with a tow vehicle...........

..... but I would suggest before you buy anything .... take your current set up to a CAT scale and weigh the car & trailer then go off the scale & weigh just the car. This way you can figure what the trailer actually weighs. It probably weighs more than you think if you are going by empty weight with a light load.

Good Luck !!!!!!!



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Old 02-09-2016, 06:51 PM   #3
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I have no first hand knowledge but some friends of ours pull a small trailer with a Jeep Cherokee diesel and they love it. I have seen several members here on the board talk about the Jeep diesel as well.
Good luck with your search, you'll probably get a lot of suggestions.
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Old 02-09-2016, 07:01 PM   #4
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You will find many vehicles which are probably suitable with V6 engines/5000lb tow ratings. We tow a 3500lb (loaded for travel) TT with our V6 FJ Cruiser (4700lb rated). We find steep grades challenging and like your Xterra friend find the power just adequate. Of course, for the 90% not towing it is very nice and great as an off road vehicle when exploring the Rockies.
My opinion, if I were buying a TV, is get a V8. The mpg difference is not significant; the son's 5.7L vehicle only gives up 2 mpg to my FJ when not towing. Also, V6 or V8, get something equipped with a towing package for the extra cooling capacity, better charging system, uprated suspension, etc.
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Old 02-09-2016, 07:03 PM   #5
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I like the armada. I used to have one that I used to tow a horse trailer. You may not need something quite thAt big but it handles nicely around town and has more towing power than you will need even if you upgrade your trailer. The dodge Durango is a little smaller and also capable of towing your r pod.

One of the best things to do is to go to the scales and get real world weights on your trailer loaded to camp. You want two weights. First weigh just the car. Next weigh the car plus the trailer. If you have weight distribution hitch, don't hook it up for the weighing. Have the car on different scale pad then the trailer. The difference in the car weight is the tongue weight. The difference in total weight is your trailer weight.

Now go look for a tv that has enough tow capacity for that trailer Wright and enough payload for the tongue weight plus anything and anybody you put in the tow vehicle. Double check the tire loading sticker inside the door of the tv for its real world payload not the inflated internet or brochure number. You are looking for what is circled in the picture. Make sure whatever you get has a tow package with a heavy duty transmission cooler.
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Old 02-09-2016, 07:16 PM   #6
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I do not own a R Pod so not speaking from experience with R Pods. Yes the Ford F150 would be great choice for towing. A small SUV would probably not fit the bill, most have small towing capacities. Mid sized SUV like the Xterra would be ok but as you know under powered. A large SUV like a Suburban, would definitely work well. It will seem "tank" like but not so much different from a truck. Trucks and large SUVs sit much higher giving you a better view of the road ahead. Car people really like seeing the road from a higher position.
Take the wife for some test drives in larger vehicles. See how she feels about them. I think you will looking at Mid sized SUVs, so at minimum look for V6 engines with towing packages, not just a hitch. Towing packages include things like aux. transmission coolers, good hitches, heavier wiring for the extra lightning. you may be low on power, but it will be comfortable to drive. Which is important. That being said I would look at the Jeep Cherokee.(which as an available V8)

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Old 02-09-2016, 07:21 PM   #7
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I just sold a Jeep Grand Cherokee v8 that had a 6500lb towing capacity.

The new v6 grand Cherokee makes more hp than my v8 did so that is a good option, and when you aren't towing your wife gets to drive a luxury suv
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Old 02-10-2016, 09:03 AM   #8
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I spent 7 seasons towing a popup, so I've been in these discussions. I agree that it would be good for you to get an actual load weight for your trailer. Until then, I see that the UVW is 2535lbs, with cargo capacity of 1150lbs (that will never happen). On popup forums, the typical estimate for a loaded camper is 600 lbs over dry weight. 800 for a hybrid. Having more height than a popup, and likely some cabinets and larger fridge, let's use 800 (conservative). So that's around 3330 estimated loaded weight. I'm not sure how your SAAB treats weight in the car, but being conservative, the passenger weight is putting you right at the 3500 lbs limit.

I am an advocate for using tow vehicles to their limits, as long as you only camp a few times a year, and stick to the flat lands. Your home and intended usage dictate otherwise.

There are plenty of mid-sized crossover-based SUV's these days with 5000lbs tow ratings, as long as you opt for the HD towing package. Many of these will have a 6-speed auto transmission, which usually means they don't need to include a gas-mileage-robbing axle-ratio change to get the higher rating.

Ford Explorer with tow package = 5000.
Dodge Durango V6 no tow package = 5000
Dodge Durango V6 with tow package = 6500
Dodge Durango V8 with tow package = 7400

If you want an older vehicle, look for a 2009-2010 Ford Explorer (or Mercury Mountaineer) with the V8 and towing package (7000+ rating). I would not recommend the V6 with tow package, because the axle ratio change kills the gas mileage. And either engine without towing package only has cooling good for 3500. This was the previous generation (which I have), which was still on a truck frame. It's my wife's daily driver. She did not want something that rode like a truck, and she is very happy with the Mounty.
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Old 02-10-2016, 09:05 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by jgourlie View Post
I just sold a Jeep Grand Cherokee v8 that had a 6500lb towing capacity.

The new v6 grand Cherokee makes more hp than my v8 did so that is a good option, and when you aren't towing your wife gets to drive a luxury suv
Yeah, I forgot the Jeeps. A 1-2 year old Grand Cherokee V6 would be a nice find. Does anyone know how the new Cherokee (not the Grand) is at towing? I don't know if it can be fitted for more than 3500 lbs.
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Old 02-10-2016, 09:24 AM   #10
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I think they need a 3/4 or 1 ton truck to pull that... Sorry I couldn't help myself that is usually how these type of threads go...ok back to reality

Family friends tow an R-pod with a newer F150 and love it. They had the truck before the camper. I think several people have given great advice already. If possible weigh it and go from there, otherwise drive a few things and see what you guys like driving. X2 on the tow package. IMO the only other suggestion I could make is maybe find something that is above the capacity of what you never hurts and hey you never know what camper you might have in the future...might seem kinda silly having to buy a new TV every time you get a new camper...Other than that make sure you are safe and enjoy the fun it brings!!

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