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Fuel Efficient Tow Car
|Author||Topic: Fuel Efficient Tow Car|
posted 01-09-2008 08:36 AM ET (US)
I'm looking for a more fuel efficient tow car, not truck or SUV. The heaviest boat I have is an 18-foot bass boat, weight certified with trailer at 2,800-lbs, loaded with fuel. Other boats, 13-foot Whaler, and race boat, weight negligible.
I`m towing now with Lincoln Town Car, mileage not towing is 18 to 25-MPG. Towing capacity is 2,000-lbs, but tows the bass boat nicely. I'm considering a Toyota Camry four-cylinder with towing cap. 2,000-lbs. Any others? This is flat country towing here.
posted 01-09-2008 08:43 AM ET (US)
GM has some new SUV models with displacement on demand engines which get better fuel economy than previous models, but I don't think you are going to top 25-MPG in a tow vehicle.
posted 01-09-2008 08:56 AM ET (US)
I use a 2005 Saturn Vue 2wd, small SUV. Its all Honda under the hood. 3.5L 250 hp v6 5 sp auto. Towed my 2000 pound rig from Milwaukee to Jacksonville FL and got 15 to 17 MPG. I'd say that is outstanding. Saturn doesn't use the Honda engine or drivetrain anymore so I'd opt for a Honda Pilot or Odyssey (same engine) similar performance. I don't think you can beat the new small SUVs. They are all pretty good if you get V6 power. I would never tow with a boring gutless sissyboy Camry. Especially a 4 banger. When I pass you I will spit on your windshield.;)
posted 01-09-2008 09:52 AM ET (US)
I am a anti SUV guy, mpg isn`t important when towing, only when not towing.
fishgutz, I`m cool enough that I can drive a Camry, even a plain beige one, and I still look cool.
posted 01-09-2008 10:02 AM ET (US)
I guess your Camry didn't dome with mirrors;)
posted 01-09-2008 10:27 AM ET (US)
binkie- do the camry. I have a honda accord, four cylinder, 5 speed manual, and tow a 13 footer, a 17 foot harpoon, a sinfish, and sometimes a 16 foot currituck. the 16 footer is the hardest. the others no problem at all.. well, sometimes backing far enough to launch can get the tailpipe wet... non-towing mileage is high 30s, towing is low 30's.
posted 01-09-2008 10:37 AM ET (US)
highlander hybrid is what I use to tow my 18 Outrage. 3500 pounds towing capacity, I get 15 to 18 MPG towing and 26 to 30 MPG going to work. I tend to drive fast so I get worse in town MPG, but if you do a lot of highway driving you can be over 30 MPG average.
I have not done a lot of pulling the boat out of the water on say steep or slippery ramps, just a disclaimer.
posted 01-09-2008 10:38 AM ET (US)
makes some attractive sporty versatile cars.
posted 01-09-2008 12:05 PM ET (US)
Honestly Rich my friend just did one of the $259 leases with a 2008 Camry 4yl and I would not tow with it...not close to 3k anyway. The car is pretty slow and has never seen anywere close to the 34mpg it claims, more like 24. He is quite disappointed to say the least. Friend also has a 2006 Camry with 4cyl and he gets only 26 on hwy.
posted 01-09-2008 08:07 PM ET (US)
I tow with a 2007 Lincoln MKX (crossover). It is on the same chassis as the Ford Edge.
It is rated for 3500# and is AWD.
It does great.
posted 01-09-2008 09:20 PM ET (US)
Is this going to be your only car?, or just a tow vehicle? How much to spend? You are going to laugh, get an older mercedes benz 5 cylinder diesel, The new ones are getting over 38 miles highway and at least 25 town driving, You will have the weight of the auto (for pulling/towing, 4 wheel disc brakes, and german engineering and also the tork of the engine, Towing in class
posted 01-09-2008 09:37 PM ET (US)
How about Older Honda Accord Station Wagon?
posted 01-09-2008 09:37 PM ET (US)
With the Mercedes, you can tow with confidence--confidence that a new transmission will cost $8,500.
posted 01-09-2008 10:10 PM ET (US)
I love the Lincolns...I guarantee I would smile & wave with a thumbs up if I saw one pulling around a BW...that has class....Camry? nahh, cheezy. My wife has a 08 Camry...nahh, it is a Celica. Ive riden in it once.
Remember, flat roads are fine but boat ramps are anything but flat.
Since draggin around a max of 1.5 tons is fairly minimal towing, regardless, I would start by searching for the smallest car offered that comes with a factory tow package option that usually incl lower gear ratio and tranny cooler.
posted 01-09-2008 10:15 PM ET (US)
Honda has a diesel CR-V (currently available in Europe) which has a tow rating of 200kg, which I believe is just over 4,400 lbs. I understand they will be bringing a few diesels over in the next few years, but I do not know if the CR-V will be one of them.
posted 01-09-2008 10:15 PM ET (US)
Make the 2000 KG.
posted 01-09-2008 10:19 PM ET (US)
The MKX has a factory towing package. It includes a factory hitch(class II-3500#), coolers, wiring harness and AWD. It has a very short overhang so it handles tongue weight very well.
posted 01-09-2008 10:34 PM ET (US)
Tsk, tsk, Jim.
I have towed several Boston Whalers, up to Outrage 18s, with Mercedes cars and MLs. Probably a total of around 20,000 miles. Never had any sort of trouble.
My ML320 got 16-17mpg on the highway pulling the Outrage, 22-25mpg without. The ML430 gets 14-15 towing, 18-20 without. Gotta admit the 450SEL was a gas hog, but what a pleasure to drive!
I would agree with the forecast of excellent mileage from a 300TD turbodiesel. A friend towed his Mako around with one, a station wagon, and got well over 20mpg while towing, over 30mpg without. I think he still has it. It must have 400-500K miles on it by now.
Red sky at night. . .
posted 01-09-2008 10:59 PM ET (US)
towboater, I love Lincolns too. It makes a real comfortable tow car, and that`s all I use it for. I have a Corolla (as a grocery getter). Maybe I`ll just sell it and use the Lincoln for everything. One person doesn`t need two cars, with two insurances and tags, and two depreciation's. Just trying to minimize autos, and maximize boats. Here is a picture of my Lincoln hooked up to my bass boat. Sorry I don`t have a pic of it with the 13 foot Whaler.
posted 01-10-2008 01:16 AM ET (US)
Panama hat, stoggie, Lincoln, whaler, fish pole.
posted 01-10-2008 01:32 AM ET (US)
I've recently been doing some research on a new tow vehicle for my Montauk 17, which weighs 2,050 with gear and full gas. Being conservative regarding braking and not stressing the engine (e.g. also not gulping gas, etc.), I'm settling on the Subaru Outback or Forrester station wagons. Both have 3,000+ lb towing capacity, I'm told both are rated 21/27 mpg for city/highway (new rating process), and I can fit easily at 6'4". Maybe it's just age, but I've reached the conclusion that station wagons are the best option -- sedans have restricted use and SUVs/trucks usually drain the wallet at the gas station.
posted 01-10-2008 06:53 AM ET (US)
I love station wagons too, I think they are the most practical vehicle. I`m not sure about Subaru. I know two people with Outbacks, one is on second engine,replaced under warranty, and the other one is plagued with oil leaks.
posted 01-10-2008 09:09 AM ET (US)
What do you think about the Subaru Baja?
*Puts on helmet*
posted 01-10-2008 09:49 AM ET (US)
Binkie, here's a Lincoln story for you.
When I go to NYC to visit our daughter I always ask the driver of the car service Lincoln Town Car about the odometer reading. It is always over 200,000 miles.
The last guy told me he sold his previousTown Car when it got to 515,000 miles on the original engine and transmission. Keep in mind these are driven in shifts 24/7.
posted 01-10-2008 09:50 AM ET (US)
I had a 1992 Camry with a four cylinder engine and towed my Sport 15 very nicely with it. The car finally died in 2002 with 360,000 kms on the odometer after being used by 1. me, then 2. daughter #2, then 3. my mom, then 4. daughter #1 (aka leadfoot) who took the tranny out.
One issue was the weight of the vehicle on steep loading ramps made traction from the FWD an issue. Solution was to sit my daughter's boyfriends on the hood. If they stayed on then they got to date my daighter until next time...('o').
posted 01-10-2008 09:51 AM ET (US)
Howabout something like the Dodge Magnum or one of the sedans like the Charger? Something rear drive.
It used to be people drove cars and only work people drove trucks, now everybody drives huge trucks and they don't even make a full range of autos, especially Ford, no wonder they are falling so far behind.
posted 01-10-2008 10:23 AM ET (US)
Go with a used 1999-2003 Lexus RX300 4WD with tow package. Smooth riding, quiet car chassis, 3500# towing capacity, excellent Toyota quality. Non-towing mileage: about 25 on highway, 19-20 average. Good used ones around here are $11K to $14K.
posted 01-10-2008 10:35 AM ET (US)
I share your disregard for SUVs. Yesterday I had a look at two different 2008 Toyota models which are on my short list to be a general purpose and Whaler tow vehicle for my Dauntless 16.
Although the one I prefer and which costs the least is technically an SUV it is, IMO, really a station wagon. That model is the RAV4 with front wheel drive which is rated to provide around 24 MPG overall. Reality is it will probably provide more like 22 - 23 overall.
The other model is the Highlander which has been previously mentioned. Clearly it is an SUV though not nearly as large as most of those monsters.
Both are available in 4WD if you prefer that for your local launches but both also have stability control which does a pretty good job of controling wheel spin. As my ramp pretty much always remains dry toward the front I think I'll just stick to FWD over 4WD.
The Toyotas are a bit spartan if you are used to a Lincoln but they are well designed and thought out and the build quality is exceptional. It may be worth your while to have a look. I really like the little RAV4.
posted 01-10-2008 11:01 AM ET (US)
Binkie, I'll sell you mine. It's a two door, and its more of a gold color, not plain beige. Power windows and locks, cd player....
forgot to mention....34 gallon fuel tank, 6.0 liter engine that generates 360 HP, four wheel drive, eight foot bed.
also, flowmaster exhaust and BFG 285/75's.
I get almost 15 MPG rampaging around town in this hog!!!
I, myself represent the reason that America has trouble switching to fuel efficient vehicles; I am completely addicted to horsepower and am willing to spend an obscene percentage of my GDP(GodDamPaycheck) on fuel to maintain my addiction.
Of course, towing the montauk I don't even know its back there. This thing feels like it could tow the USS Enterprise on a trailer if you could just put enough axles under it back there...
posted 01-10-2008 12:29 PM ET (US)
If you like wagons, check out the Ford TaurusX. It was formally the Freestyle. It is on a Volvo chassis.
Huge brakes, AWD, 3.5L 265 HP engine, six speed trans., seats six and has a 3500# rating w/tow package.
I had a Freestyle and LOVED it. Great handling car. Great economy. It towed well too.
posted 01-10-2008 12:42 PM ET (US)
I know you said no SUVs, but I have been towing small boats with my Honda Element now for a few years and it is proving to be very worthy (flat towing). That being said, I think that you might be put off if you compare the comforts of the Element to your nice Lincoln. My non-towing mileage is 17-22 mpg depending on your foot. It is a zippy, maneuverable a grocery getter, too.
posted 01-10-2008 01:28 PM ET (US)
A neighbor has an `04 Rav4 2 wheel drive, with 2.4 engine. A few weeks ago we hooked up my bass boat to it and drove it around the neighborhood, and it seemed to work fine, Plenty of acceleration and stopping power, but its a sort of ugly SUV.
I kind of like towboaters idea though, Keep the Lincoln, and get a Panama hat. Cool factor and not much outlay. I don`t know about the stogie though.LOL
posted 01-10-2008 01:49 PM ET (US)
You're not talking pick-ups, Binks, and somehow I don't think they'd fit your image anyway, but I'll toss my 2005 Tacoma 4x4 into the mix. Not great towing fuel economy, but adequate for a torquey 245 hp extended cab truck, and the most comfortable ride I've ever owned. It's my first Toyota, and after 50,000 miles in two-and-one-half years without a single problem, I understand why so many folks are Toyota enthusiasts.
posted 01-10-2008 02:15 PM ET (US)
As you can tell, I'm a Ford fan. Not any of them (8), in my family have had a single repair. The oldest is a 2000 F-150 with 121K.
They have never seen a dealer, EXCEPT for routine maintenance. The dealer(s) do ALL the maintenance, on all of them.
I guess you can tell why I am a Ford Fan.
posted 01-10-2008 02:27 PM ET (US)
How about a volvo wagon?
posted 01-10-2008 04:15 PM ET (US)
I found this - http://www.edmunds.com/reviews/list/top10/102426/article.html
It might be some help.
posted 01-10-2008 06:14 PM ET (US)
I'm using my Subaru Outback, 6 cylinder, to pull my 170 Montauk.
Spoke to both Subaru and my local mechanic, both said the car would pull the 2500 LB package no problem. They were right. The Outback pulls it beautifully and I have some very steep hills in my neighborhood.
My trailer has brakes which seem to help tremendously. When stopping it seems like the car does better with the trailer than without.
My mechanic did suggest changing the tranny fluid more often. My run to the ramp is 15 miles which is completely comfortable. I'm not sure I would want to tow it several hundred miles in a day though. I think that would be too much for the cars transmission.
When not towing the car gets about 22-26 MPG. In terms of comfort the H6 has a much smoother ride than the Subaru 4 cylinder cars.
posted 01-10-2008 06:59 PM ET (US)
Rich-- My daughter bought a Ford Escape 4 months ago! Very nice, good mileage, enough extra room. She has the 3.0L Auto and it is rated at for 3500lb trailer. I guess you would call it a small suv! I have a good friend that has one also and he loves it. Definitly worth a look
posted 01-10-2008 08:47 PM ET (US)
I use a 06 Toyoto 4 runner to tow my 1993 Outrage II from Michigan to Florida and back. This will be our third round trip. It is a 6 cylinder. We are fully loaded;i.e., the boat, trailer, miscellaneous boat gear, and the car is packed since we go for the winter. We average about 12-13mpg traveling at 65 mph. The vehicle tows the load well and I hardly notice it is behind me. The 4 runner is rated for 5000 lbs. I figure when it is all added up, trailer, boat, gear in boat and cloths and items in car, I am towing around 4000 lbs.
The best towing vehicle will vary depending upon the weight of the tow. It is my understanding that the rated vehicle tow weight normally includes the weight carried in the vehicle, the weight of the trailer and the weight of the boat as loaded (fuel, anchors, etc.) So don't go just be the manufacturer's stated boat weight.
I use both AmsOil synthetic transmission fluid and engine oil to easy the burden on the transmission and the engine.
posted 01-11-2008 10:55 PM ET (US)
I'm sure I'm off the beaten path but I used a Nissan Sentra to pull my older Starcraft as well as my 16' Standard Carolina Skiff...I was really impressed with the way it pulled those boats...my brother in law has a Toyota Corolla and it has a very similar towing capacity...
posted 01-12-2008 06:09 AM ET (US)
I tow small Whalers w/ my 99 Camry, 4cyl and 5spd manual (rare) all the time. Works great, great milage, would pull a Montauk w/ single axle all day long up to 60 MPH, need some skill on steep ramps - wish I had an automatic - I don't think the manual transmission is an advantage really for towing and pulling out. Have to foot brake, hand brake and gas pedal to when pulling up ramp to protect clutch and to minimize tire spin.
I like elaelap's idea - and Binkie's. Car is fine - I rigged up the Camry because we like low fuel consumption and wanted comfortable rear seating for Ellen's mom and dad - AND the GEAR is SECURE in the trunk.
posted 01-12-2008 08:21 AM ET (US)
Some little vehicles will "pull" a boat/trailer. However, if they are not rated to do so, you are setting yourself up for issues. You have to be able to answer some questions.
1. Will it stop it? (more important that pulling it)
2. Will the body support a hitch? Many will not. I have seen hitches pulled out of sheet metal. Read: $$$$$.
3. Will the drivetrain support the strain? If you have a failure and the dealer sees a hitch on a vehicle not rated to tow, they have every right to deny warranty coverage and they will.
All of the vehicles I mentioned (plus otherwise mentioned, Escape/Mariner/Mazda Tribute) have 3500# ratings (with proper equipment).
I have towed a Montauk and a 15' Sport with all of them except the Mariner/Tribute but they are twins to the Escape.
Take a look at Consumer Reports. All the vehicles I have mentioned have good ratings. JD Powers supports that also.
posted 01-12-2008 09:29 PM ET (US)
My Volvo XC70 AWD gets about 25 mpg around towne and tows my sport 130 pretty easily. No problems at all at boat ramps. Never tried towing anything heavier.
posted 01-13-2008 07:52 AM ET (US)
I just had to make a similar decision. Needed to trade my Toyota FJ Cruiser (which I love) for a more fuel efficient vehicle, as my commute to work increased significantly.
I settled on the Subaru Outback wagon, 4 cylinder manual transmission, with the tow option. I believe it will handle my 2000 Montauk with ease.
Note, however, I do not tow all that much. Under 40 miles a year.
posted 01-13-2008 05:37 PM ET (US)
2000 FORD F350 7.3 DIESEL SUPER DUTY CAB
PULLING 1990 MONTAUK (2000#)
2007 HD ULTRA CLASSIC IN BED (800#)
75 MPH THROUGH MOUNTAINS
posted 01-13-2008 06:53 PM ET (US)
We have a 07 RAV4 Limited V6 AWD. Tows great for a car of its size and gets 32MPH Highway 24 city. I towed my buddies 2600lb sailboat back from the shore. Its not my Tundra but we love it.
posted 01-13-2008 08:15 PM ET (US)
I am thinking Honda Element when I replace 99 Camry.
One more thing - you should learn to back-up w/ mirrors, can't see the trailer w/o boat on it unless you open trunk lid. I've got it down, rarely look over my shoulder.
posted 01-13-2008 08:47 PM ET (US)
PeteB88, That why pickups are best, can lower the tail gate and see everything
posted 01-14-2008 07:23 AM ET (US)
If you want a new vehicle, well, then get one. If you are trying to economize, stay with the Lincon until it drops.
Just doing some simple and opinionated math, it would take you about 9 years to recoup the added cost of buying a new vehicle over driving what you've got. I don't care what the mpg is on any comparison vehicles, it is very difficult to "buy your way" into saving money on fuel consumption.
BTW the TownCar and BassBoat look great.
posted 01-14-2008 08:12 AM ET (US)
I know you`re right. The saying is "the cheapest car to own is the one you have now." Just trying to rationalize getting a tow car that give better mpg when not towing than the Lincoln, but the numbers don`t work, as you pointed out. I love my lincoln, been driving it for two years, but like any Ford prodeuct, they will nickel and dime you to death. Lately the winshield wiper motor got very noisy, and although it still works, I need to replace it. I`m also wary of the plastic intake manifold, athough I haven`t had any trouble. Last summer I drained over a gallon of water out of each of the back doors. Now I leave the little plastic drains out. No I don`t drive it down the ramp far enough to fill the back doors up. LOL. I`m going to sell my Corolla at any rate, and just drive the Lincoln ---for now.
posted 01-14-2008 01:48 PM ET (US)
Binkie, i used to tow a 16 witha 4 cyl. convert. and that worked fine, also a yamaha WaveRaider..As long as your light you can tow with just about anything....as long as you dont mind putting a hitch on a perticular car:)
When I got das BOat, I moved up to an SUV because I like the idea of 4 wheel drive in a 6 cyl. Later I went and got a 8 Cyl. suv with all wheel drive. Each time I moved to a new Vehical, I got more comfortable inside on her. I think that happens for some of us as we get older...comfort is important:) LOL
I guess its like the Boston whaler, what do you want it to do for you, where do you use it and how...there are so many flavors out there...pick one for a while, then youl eventually pick another....
Good Luck Henry
posted 01-14-2008 02:10 PM ET (US)
Go Used! Why ruin the transmission on a car you care about?
My tow vehicle:
Milage: 16/22 or so it says. Either the huge tank or actual gas milage is better than stated makes it a long time between tank refills.
Cheap tow vehicle and everyday beater/disposable car.
posted 01-14-2008 04:12 PM ET (US)
"but like any Ford product, they will nickel and dime you to death. Lately the winshield wiper motor got very noisy, and although it still works, I need to replace it. I`m also wary of the plastic intake manifold, athough I haven`t had any trouble."
Terribly broad statement.
The same applies, in my experience, to the German and Japanese vehicles I took my family members out of. The German import was so bad they (German Co.) bought it back. The Japanese dealer(s) service was poor and overpriced compared to domestic. Also, they threatened to cancel warranties if their service wasn't used. Of course, they cannot do that but my family members believed it and so do a lot of other people.
The Japanese vehicles needed a lot of service. Small items and recalls plagued them. One (high line) Japanese vehicle needed an engine at 42K. A crank bearing spun. We still have no idea why, niether did the dealer. We dumped it.
Look under the hoods of anything new. Almost every intake is plastic. Valve covers too.
Stopped up door drains are a sign of poor quality? Huh?
It takes a ton of fact to overturn an ounce of perception.
It is a fact that some of the BIG import vehicles have some issues. Consumer Reports recently rated a new heralded offering as having sub par reliabilty. A real blow that will take the American consumer a few years to believe. In the meantime, many of the domestic offerings have gone the other way and surpassed.
Note: I won't bash a particular brand.
posted 01-14-2008 10:39 PM ET (US)
After much personal experience I would reccomend against towing with a newer Volvo wagon. We have had many Volvo's in the family, but after a 1998 V70 XC we will never buy one again. That car cost us thousands to keep running (had to replace drive shaft and much, much more), and that was after gentle use commuting and going skiing. I hate to think of the problems with towing...
On the other hand, I don't know that I'd want to tow with any European wagon. Currently we have an e320 4-matic wagon, 325xi wagon, and Passat 3.6 4motion wagon, and I wouldn't feel comfortable towing with any of them. It's not that they couldn't tow, they all could, but I'd be very afraid of causing very expensive damage to them.
I share your distaste of SUV's, but a small one may be your best bet. Although we don't tow the boat anymore, we have a Honda Pilot for family ski trips and as a beater car which works great. The mileage isn't the best, but its certainly not bad for a big SUV. We get around 18 mpg overall, better on the highway below 70. Of course, you wouldn't need as large a vehicle. I'm sure a CRV would work fine and would get in the low 20's combined mileage. You also may want to keep an eye out for the new VW Tiguan which is supposed to be here soon and will have the VW/Audi turbo 4, get in the 20's, and tow 4000-5000 pounds. Again though, it may be expensive to buy AND own.
Also I'd caution against a Subaru for towing. They are great cars, and we almost bought one instead of the Passat, but in the end it just didn't seem as refined and the price difference between the turbo Outback and the 3.6 Passat wasn't all that much. I also have heard stories of tranny issues on Subaru's, but overall they are known as more reliable than most of the cars I have, so what do I know!
posted 01-15-2008 07:31 AM ET (US)
20dauntless, sorry to hear about your bad experience with Volvos. My experience with my 2004 XC70 has been very good so far. It has about 50K miles and all I have had to do for it so far is change oil and put on a new set of tires. I tow fairly long distances and it is a breeze but I am only towing a sport 130.
posted 01-15-2008 08:16 AM ET (US)
I use a 1998 VW Jetta 4 cylinder 5 speed to tow my 1986 Montauk. I also used it to tow my 13fter. It is rated to tow 2000 lbs. With the 13 you barely felt it on the back. I get 30mpg when im not towing and about 25 when towing. Great fuel efficient tow vehicle but only up to a 17fter. Rich....
posted 01-18-2009 11:36 AM ET (US)
[Revived this year-old discussion only to change the topic to trailer light wiring. Please do revive dormant threads to change the topic. If you need advice on trailer wiring, please use SMALL BOAT ELETRICAL.--jimh]
posted 01-18-2009 05:55 PM ET (US)
I've had 5 Volvos and my sister also drives one. At the moment I have a 1998 V90 and a 1998 S70 T5. The 1998-2000 AWDs are very well known for having issues with the AWD system. It seems to take someone who really knows Volvos to keep the AWD working properly at higher mileages. I have personally seen one; a 1997 850 AWD (Europe/Canada only) with over 360K km (225K mi) and the AWD was working fine. Many have problems though. The non-AWD versions are better. My sister's 850 has over 300K km. The older RWD ones were real tanks though. The 240/740/940s were very tough and were designed to tow. My V90 has a 3000 lb tow rating, a torquey inline 6, and big brakes. I took the hitch off it though. I tow with a 1998 GMC Sierra or 2003 Pathfinder as four wheel drive is usually needed to launch and retrieve boats around here.
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