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Author Topic:   Towing vehicle
LKS posted 02-26-2002 07:49 PM ET (US)   Profile for LKS   Send Email to LKS  
Previously, we've towed our small Whaler (only an 11'-er) with a 1989 Ford F-150. But what we thought was a minor problem has blown into a major one, and it looks like we're going to have to replace the vehicle. We'd really prefer to move down to a smaller pick-up with extended cab. Any thoughts on Ranger? S-10? Others? We start prepping for the boating season in about a month to 6 weeks (or once we get over this blast of winter weather in Chicago), so we're pretty much being forced into a fairly quick decision. Any input would be appreciated.
Thanks -- Lor
Tom W Clark posted 02-26-2002 07:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
For an 11' (or a 13' or 15', for that matter) buy anything you want. It will be more than sufficient.
whalernut posted 02-26-2002 07:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalernut  Send Email to whalernut     
One step down would be a Dodge Dakota, they are awsome and get it with one of the V-8`s and they are a powerehouse and mid-sized. The mini-trucks are just that mini and no room and tight. A Dakota with the V-8 and extra cab with 4-wheel drive would be an ideal size truck, and you wouldn`t even feel the `11 Whaler back there!! My 93` Dakota Extra-Cab with the V-8 pulls my Currituck easily and it is `17 feet. Jack.
triblet posted 02-27-2002 12:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
I agree with Tom, get whatever you want.
Even a four-banger pickup will do. Worry
more about who made it and how good it is
than about how big and bad it is. Do the
usual consumer reports research.

Towing an 11' whaler with an F150 is like
using a 747 go to work.


LKS posted 02-27-2002 08:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for LKS  Send Email to LKS     
The F-150 was a 5-speed manual, loaded (we literally inherited it), and it was a good vehicle. But, in the city, our next truck will have to be an automatic. I've checked the recalls and technical service bulletins on Rangers and S-10s, and will be searching Consumer Reports today. Maybe my question should be, if you're driving a smaller truck, would you purchase the same make and model a second time? If not, why not?
TRIDENT posted 02-27-2002 08:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for TRIDENT  Send Email to TRIDENT     
I would second the recommendation on the Dodge. The new 4.7 liter V-8 they are offering is a real powerhouse at 235 HP and it still gets good mileage. The truck is bigger than the mini trucks, and loads better.
JBCornwell posted 02-27-2002 09:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     
Howdy, LKS.

I guess you've noticed that some of us recommend based on what we want, rather than what you say you want.

I have towed 13 Whalers with great success with Rangers and Toyotas. I would call the Tacoma the higher quality truck, but the Ranger the better value.

I have had poor luck with the fit, finish and reliability of Dodge trucks.

Any of the small pickups should serve you well.

Red sky at night. . .
JB :)

triblet posted 02-27-2002 10:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
I'm on my third Nissan Pathfinder. Put 130,000
basically trouble-free miles on the each of the
first two. #3 has 15,000 miles.


witness posted 02-27-2002 10:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for witness  Send Email to witness     
In the last ten years or so I have used 4 cylinder Rangers and an s-10 to pull various boats and trailers, with no trouble. Actually when we pull our 14' Polar Kraft (granted lighter than a 13, hull for hull), loaded with fishing or crabbing gear and motor, the little trucks barely even know it is there. Typically I was getting about 25 mpg with it in normal use. These are manual transmission. I hear the automatic are much less response, and not as good gas mileage, but I'm sure and light duty pick up you get will do the job.
Caceman posted 02-27-2002 11:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for Caceman  Send Email to Caceman     
I pull my Bass Boat with a 2-door Ford Explorer. It's a V-6, but it is built on the same frame as the Ranger. Acceleration is noticeably slower, but I hardly notice the boat once I reach highway speeds. Get the tow vehicle that you want.


Wild Turkey posted 02-27-2002 11:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for Wild Turkey  Send Email to Wild Turkey     
I have a 1997 Toyota Tacoma. Great truck....I've been told by others that the engine will last 200,000+ miles (I only have 28,000).

Heck... I pull my Montauk with it. With your 11', no problem for a 4 cyl. Tacoma.


Eric posted 02-27-2002 02:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for Eric  Send Email to Eric     
I've towed my 16 footer with a 4x4 Cherokee (not Grand Cherokee) with a 4.0, a 4.0 Ranger 4x4, and my current truck, a supercharged 3.4 Tacoma 4x4. Power output's not the issue for your situation, I would focus more on engineering and build quality. Without question, the Toyota's the best truck that I've owned. The best milage, and rides a lot better than the others, too.
SuburbanBoy posted 02-27-2002 03:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for SuburbanBoy  Send Email to SuburbanBoy     
Why even buy a truck? They have poor gas mileage, skittish on the highway, and the 4WD versions require more maintenance. You can tow an 11' with almost any vehicle. Save the money and take an extra vacation (bring your whaler..) with the savings. Or, set the money saved aside for a 13.


triblet posted 02-27-2002 07:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
There's ZERO additional maintenance on my
4WD Pathfinder over the 2WD version. Ditto
for my '95 PF, my '87 PF, or my '70 Datsun

It's not one bit skittish on the highway
(my other car is a Corvette, BTW).

4WD is really good on slippery ramps. I
launch on one ramp where I forgot to put it
in 4WD, and couldn't get up it until I did.

Agree that the gas milage is worse than a
car. But there's no way a car could haul
my Montauk and our dive gear.

Whatever tows your boat, but get the facts


Andy Holmes posted 02-27-2002 08:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Andy Holmes  Send Email to Andy Holmes     
I think Sub is right. Trucks are overrated as tow vehicles for lightweight boats. The reason you often need 4WD for slippery ramps is that trucks are so light in the rear that there is little friction available, friction being a function of weight.

SuburbanBoy posted 02-28-2002 11:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for SuburbanBoy  Send Email to SuburbanBoy     
Chuck, with a smile on my face, and open hand extended, I must take exception to your statement "get the facts straight". I have two 2000 Pathfinders on lease in my company. They both have over 24,000 miles each, some of which I put on. They average well under 20mpg when used as a car, and drop lower when towing. (I on occasion will tow my 15 with one). The number of moving parts goes up by a large number when you add the complexity of 4wd. Remember there is a transfer case, additional drive shaft(s), CV joints, etc.etc. Over the life of the vehicle the probability is much higher that a powertrain components will require service if the vehicle is 4wd. Our maintenance records over the last 15 years show this to be true. BTW, that is what I meant by maintenance, not necessarily PM type work. As far as the highway skittishness (not just Nissans), it typically occurs at highway speed in areas of uneven traction; standing water, ice, slush or snow. And I was thinking in comparison to a traditional FWD car. So I agree, when all is dry and clear 4wd is fine. My advise to our employees, and anyone else with a traditional 4wd SUV or pickup is to leave the car in 2WD until you get stuck. THEN put the vehicle in 4WD and drive out. Do not go further down the road, or further off-road, drive out to a clear section of road. At the start of each winter I always have a chuckle (no pun intended) or two during the first snow. It never fails that a large number of AWD vehicles end up in the median. I would bet that they flip the 4WD switch and head out down the snow and ice covered hiway without a reduction in speed. Big mistake IMHO. In closing, my wife's FWD, 4-cylinder minivan does just fine with our 15'. She gets over 20mpg towing on the hiway at posted speeds. She can drag it out of all the ramps we frequent. Knock on wood, but we (she) has never required a tow truck with the boat in tow. And the original post by LKS was in reference to an 11' whaler, not a boat in the size range of your Montauk. As you said earlier in your post "Towing an 11' whaler with an F150 is like using a 747 go to work." I was just building on your statement with mine. I also find the Pathfinders to be very comfortable, fast, and reliable. Fuel efficient no. And like you, I squandered some of my youth circulating on tracks, and around cones. My last track experience was in an NSX at Gingerman in South Haven, or maybe it was on my Suzuki at Gingerman. In any case it was years ago in another life.



triblet posted 02-28-2002 12:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
You said maintenance, not repair. There is no
required maintenance on the 4x4 stuff. And I
haven't had anything go wrong with the power
trains in 275,000 miles, except a failed oil
pressure sender.

If you meant skitishness when on the highway
in 4WD, absolutely. It's dumb to drive on
the highway, except in snow/ICE, in a 4WD PF.
It has a locked transfer case. You'll eat the
tires up. In ice and snow, the 4WD is fine,
but you gotta slow down. A lot. In 2WD, it's
not a bit skitish ever.


triblet posted 02-28-2002 02:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
I get 18-19 MPG on the road from my 2001 PF
(different engine than the 2000) and about 14
MPG towing the Montauk. I got about the same
from my '87 and my '95.
BOB KEMMLER JR posted 02-28-2002 02:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for BOB KEMMLER JR    
Triblet dont say theres no way a car can tow a montauk,i have towed a 25ft grady with my CAR and got over 20mpg doing it,in fact i bet if you check specs my CAR is rated for more than a pathfinder.My caprice wagon is rated for 5500lbs tow capacity from the factory.I would take this CAR over any small sport ute any day foriegn or domestic.
SuburbanBoy posted 02-28-2002 03:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for SuburbanBoy  Send Email to SuburbanBoy     
Without checking the lease or calling the folks with the PF's, I may be off on the year, but it is the "big motor" version, about 240hp as I remember. The previous year was under 200hp.


Blackeagle posted 02-28-2002 04:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for Blackeagle  Send Email to Blackeagle     
The main problem with 4WD on snow and ice is it can give people a sense of overconfidence, especially if the don't usually drive in these conditions. Remember 4WD will help you GO in slippery conditions, but it does nothing to help you TURN or STOP.
JBCornwell posted 02-28-2002 04:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     
Heh heh.

Don't usually tow in snow, Blackeagle, but do haul heavy boats up steep, slimey ramps.

Once in a while I haul full size trucks and big detroit iron up those same ramps (with boats attached).

Oh, BTW, I drive an AWD All Activity Vehicle, neither car nor truck. Drives like a Benz, rides like a Benz; 22-25mpg free and 15-18mpg towing.

Bash only if you are prepared to be bashed.

Red sky at night. . .
JB :)

JFM posted 02-28-2002 04:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for JFM  Send Email to JFM     
Lorainne, I haved owned and towed with both, S10 ext cab 2wd 4.3 auto and a Ranger ext cab 2wd 4L auto. I had no trouble with either one towing up to 3500-4000 lbs. I liked the Chevy better and also have an Astro van with the same drive train, no problems. I think that all trucks are of very good quality today, so I wouldn't be swayed by the foreign recomendations unless you are looking at resale. And if buying used I would go American because of the poorer resale value. Regards, Jay
triblet posted 02-28-2002 05:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
'burb boy, those PFs are 2001 and a thirds. The
3.5L came in part way through the 2001 model
year. Till then, it was 3.3L ('96-'01), 3.0L


LKS posted 02-28-2002 06:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for LKS  Send Email to LKS     
Thanks, everyone, for your opinions. The F-150 was inherited--an '89, loaded, with only 32,000 miles. We've learned the hard way that low-mileage does not always equate with a "good deal." So, rather than incur the cost installing a new/rebuilt engine and fuel injectors (and who knows what else once we get into it--this is not a job we can tackle ourselves and Chicago labor rates make this a costly job), we've pretty much decided to replace the truck. We're pretty sure it's going to be a '98 Ranger, 2wd, extended cab. The vehicle has checked out and Consumer Reports gives it a very good rating (higher than comparable S-10's and Toyotas, and only slightly lower than the Dakota), and it recieved higher reliability ratings than all of the others (including the Dakota). I've also obtained a list of recalls that should have been made (only a couple) and have looked at the technical service bulletins. I'm a researcher by trade, so we're aware what some of the problems have been. While we'd reviewed the literature, it's always good to get personal experiences. Again, many thanks for your input. -- Loranne (not Lorainne)
SuburbanBoy posted 02-28-2002 09:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for SuburbanBoy  Send Email to SuburbanBoy     
Alright JB, I'll bite. What rides like a Benz, drives like a Benz? A Lexus? Just kidding, Benz bashing is in vogue these days. Seems as if the WSJ article has caused quite a stir.

Do you have the AWD (as opposed to 4WD) station wagon with the "big block"? Inquiring minds want to know.


fireball posted 02-28-2002 11:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for fireball  Send Email to fireball     
To cut through the crap-a dually with a diesel is the only vehicle that pulls a whaler without notice. A 17 Montauk behind a rice wagon is noticed-get an f-150 with a trailer package or a Z-71 chev. Don't believe those rookies.
triblet posted 03-01-2002 01:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
"Rice wagon" is an unacceptable ethnic slur.


JFM posted 03-01-2002 08:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for JFM  Send Email to JFM     
Sorry, Loranne. I spelled it wrong on the certificate for jimh also. It won't happen again. Regards, Jay
SuburbanBoy posted 03-01-2002 12:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for SuburbanBoy  Send Email to SuburbanBoy     
Yup, nuttin beats a dulie towen mah bubba boat, coated with a film of kerOseen. Helps bring out the luster of the metal flake. Care for some chaw Chuck?


where2 posted 03-01-2002 01:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2     
While we're spending someone else's money, how about Audi S6 Avant (Station Wagon) 340hp V8 0-60mph in 6.3 seconds. It's all-wheel drive for those Chicago winters. I doubt it would notice having an 11' whaler in tow until well over 100mph.

I give in, I'm driving a '90 VW Corrado 4cyl Supercharged 158hp 0-60mph in 7.5 seconds without the 15' whaler in tow. Anything with more than 3 cylinders for which you can get a class I hitch should be able to tow an 11' whaler. My wife's '98 4Runner V6 is OverKill for my 15' Whaler.

triblet posted 03-01-2002 02:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Not unles' yah pass the jah of 'shine.


Hoop posted 03-01-2002 02:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoop  Send Email to Hoop     

I tow my Montauk with a 1998 extended cab Ranger and it works well. I like the exended cab and the seat comfort. I had towed with a Toyota base model Tacoma truck before, and the Ranger is a better truck and a better value, though reliability has not been as good.

I have the 4 liter engine, AT, heavy duty suspension, tow package, and limited slip differential. Where I launch, the limited slip differential is a BIG deal - I launch in SF Bay where a low tide makes for slippery going. Ironically, it has been the limited slip differential that has had the most problem for me. I've had it worked on 3 times, just about once a year.

In all other respects, the Ranger has been just fine and the one you are looking at will do very well for you.


SteveC posted 03-01-2002 04:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for SteveC    
I've towed my 13 with a geo prism (I think 1.6 liter) and a ford crown vic. Couldn't feel it while driving. I now tow it with a land cruiser. always in 4wd, always consumes plenty of gas, can't feel it and can't see it in the mirrors.

The point: almost anything on the road can tow a small whaler, and bigger is not always better.

hollyj posted 03-09-2002 10:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for hollyj  Send Email to hollyj     
I tow my 13' with a Subaru Outback - same clearance height as most smaller SUV's, a 24mpg average and the legendary AWD makes a perfect match.

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