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Choosing the right car to tow 3-rail trailer

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As the title says. I've looked at standard transmission civics and that's about it. I'm very leary about anything with an auto tranny. I'm looking for a used ride. 100K miles or so on it. This won't be a daily driving just used to pull a 3-rail trailer with possibly 2 bikes on it.

What other cars are capable of this?

4cyl tacomas are also on my list.

I have a tundra and enclosed trailer, but finances and further away riding areas are pushing me toward alternatives. I already have the 3-rail.

Thanks

Zac

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Let me ask you this, is the car only going to tow on flat ground below 50mph?

 

In reality a car may not be your best option. Ideal conditions for a car would be flat ground at 50mph with no wind and slow stops/starts.

 

If you have any mountains to climb, rolling hills to traverse or freeway speeds to achieve then a car is going to be under powered and have poor gas mileage. I have owned a bunch of different civic models over the years and i can tell you hauling 400+ pounds is going to get you about 19mpg in that little car.

 

Your best bet is going to be a 2wheel drive pickup with a v6. The toyota's are nice but the initial sticker price is pretty high. If you don't care about looks then i would try and find a late 80's ford ranger with the 2.9L v6 (fuel injected). For 800 bucks that ranger will haul 3 bikes and get 29mpg at 70 miles an hour. 

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Let me ask you this, is the car only going to tow on flat ground below 50mph?

 

In reality a car may not be your best option. Ideal conditions for a car would be flat ground at 50mph with no wind and slow stops/starts.

 

If you have any mountains to climb, rolling hills to traverse or freeway speeds to achieve then a car is going to be under powered and have poor gas mileage. I have owned a bunch of different civic models over the years and i can tell you hauling 400+ pounds is going to get you about 19mpg in that little car.

 

Your best bet is going to be a 2wheel drive pickup with a v6. The toyota's are nice but the initial sticker price is pretty high. If you don't care about looks then i would try and find a late 80's ford ranger with the 2.9L v6 (fuel injected). For 800 bucks that ranger will haul 3 bikes and get 29mpg at 70 miles an hour. 

 

Don't forget the Nissan Hardbody d21, which is probably a bit older than the OP wants.

 

Just buy a medium sized rwd vehicle or mini truck.

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As the title says. I've looked at standard transmission civics and that's about it. I'm very leary about anything with an auto tranny. I'm looking for a used ride. 100K miles or so on it. This won't be a daily driving just used to pull a 3-rail trailer with possibly 2 bikes on it. What other cars are capable of this? 4cyl tacomas are also on my list. I have a tundra and enclosed trailer, but finances and further away riding areas are pushing me toward alternatives. I already have the 3-rail. Thanks Zac

 

http://www.thumpertalk.com/topic/1082514-how-to-tow-bike-with-honda-accord/

 

 

IMG_2938.jpg

 

 

Towed to from Phx(1600 ft) to Flagstaff (7200ft) two adult passengers never dropped below 65 and averaged 33 mpg round trip.  You will have no problems towing two bikes on a well maintained 3 rail trailer.  I personally would stick with a manual transmission if you have any significant hill climbs on your route.

 

I had a bronco II with the 2.9 v6 back in the day.  This 2012 civic LX 5 speed MT with the trailer and bike pulls much better up the hills to Flag than that POS ford ever did empty. 

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Find a toyota or nissan  2 wd pick ups. Even one of those with  a 4 cyl and stick shift will tow a 3 rail trailer with 3 bikes. With the extended cab you got room for 2 passengers and the bed for all the gear for 3 riders. Stay away from S-10 or Ford Rangers IMHO. There isn't a ranger out there that gets 29 mpg unloaded. Especially from the 80's.

 

I have a 2000 Frontier 4 cyl 5 speed and it's rated to tow 3500 lbs. I've never towed that much, but I towed my 6.5' X 12' flatbed with a Honda Rancher and a trx 250 quads on it up in the hills with no problems. 

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Definitely won't be towing this in any flatlands and mostly interstate trips the principal hwys 3-4hrs from my location.

 

 

I do like the Tacoma options, hadn't thought of the Nissan.  I can't bring myself to trust buying a ranger.

 

 

Any thoughts about a Maxima as tow vehicle?

Edited by zwr250f

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Definitely won't be towing this in any flatlands and mostly interstate trips the principal hwys 3-4hrs from my location.

 

 

I do like the Tacoma options, hadn't thought of the Nissan.  I can't bring myself to trust buying a ranger.

 

 

Any thoughts about a Maxima as tow vehicle?

Thats a pretty good sized car. How old of a maxima are you thinking? If you were gonna tow one bike, I would say go for it, But, with 3 bikes you got 3 guys(or gals) and alot more gear,

 

Check with the mfg. as far as towing capacity goes. As far as room for passengers and gear, that's up to you.

 

My 2000 nissa frontier has 201,000 miles on it. I bought in 09 with 68,000 and have had very few problems with it. It gets 25-26 mpg on my 47 mile commute to work. When I tow it gets about 20.You can't go wrong with a 'Yota. They are a bit more $ tho. Nissan trucks aren't quite as "refined" as Toyota, but for me, my Nissan (my 2nd one) works just fine.

Edited by phaze250x

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Tdi vw jetta, passat or golf without a doubt is the best option in my opinion. 200+ lbft of torque and usially 5 or 6 speed manuals. 3 bikes and gear and gas though can be a bit of a load for a car.

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You may be overthinking this a bit.

I have a '95 Toyota Avalon (basically a Camry with more weight and a much bigger back seat...) 2nd car I  use to tow 2 or 3 bikes on a trailer. It's a full size car, by the standards of the day. ~200 Hp. Goes up most long grades without shifting out of overdrive. Gets 26 mpg or so. Might be 1 or 2 mpg less with the trailer. Rated for 2000 pounds towing capacity.

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We haul an enclosed 6x12 with up to 3 dirt bikes and a Blaster plus gear, cooler, and fuel using a v6 Buick Rondevouz. It's not happy above 68mph but otherwise handles it surprisingly well. With a similar size flat bed trailer and just 2 bikes it still pulls around 22mpg on the highway.

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You may be overthinking this a bit.

 

Understatement of the year. Some of the replies are total overkill. I'm surprised no one has said a 1/2 ton truck is minimum yet. 

 

Any car will tow a rail trailer and a couple bikes, no problem. 2 bikes is like having 2 fat friends in the back seat; probably less so. I just went from Reno to Truckee (mountain driving) with my Subaru XV (2.0L CVT) for the first time yesterday. Car and trailer was a more pleasant experience than the same route in my Ranger (2.3L 5sp) with bike in bed. 

 

Actually, the Ranger also did great until I stupidly put slightly larger tires on it. Going from 225/70 to 235/75 really hurt performance, and mileage dropped from consistently near 30 to 25 on a good day.

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Understatement of the year. Some of the replies are total overkill. I'm surprised no one has said a 1/2 ton truck is minimum yet.

Any car will tow a rail trailer and a couple bikes, no problem. 2 bikes is like having 2 fat friends in the back seat; probably less so. I just went from Reno to Truckee (mountain driving) with my Subaru XV (2.0L CVT) for the first time yesterday. Car and trailer was a more pleasant experience than the same route in my Ranger (2.3L 5sp) with bike in bed.

Actually, the Ranger also did great until I stupidly put slightly larger tires on it. Going from 225/70 to 235/75 really hurt performance, and mileage dropped from consistently near 30 to 25 on a good day.

Yeah, bikes are ~250lbs (we ride 4 strokes) and I believe my trailer setup is another <400lbs. 900lbs total. Almost any 4cyl commuter capable of 85mph rush hour traffic will pull it at least 65mph without hassle. 60mph if you have altitude issues.

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Another question is how long will it take to offset the cost of a car/truck that gets better fuel mileage rather than using what you already have?

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