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Smallest Vehicle for pulling a trailer camper?

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What is the smallest vehicle for pulling a very small toyhauler?

Right now I pull a 5x10 enclosed trailer with a Mazda Minivan with a Ford 3.0L v6. It is barely enough to pull it. Fortunately MN is fairly flat.

I need a newer vehicle in the next few months. I would like it to be able to pull a small single axle toyhauler across a few states.

I am looking at gas mileage while pulling and while not pulling. We are also a family of 5 and a dog.

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9 minutes ago, speedtoad said:

 

What is the smallest vehicle for pulling a very small toyhauler?

Right now I pull a 5x10 enclosed trailer with a Mazda Minivan with a Ford 3.0L v6. It is barely enough to pull it. Fortunately MN is fairly flat.

I need a newer vehicle in the next few months. I would like it to be able to pull a small single axle toyhauler across a few states.

I am looking at gas mileage while pulling and while not pulling. We are also a family of 5 and a dog.

 

What's your budget range?

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What's your budget range?

Good question. 10 grand.

I like the Honda Pilot but I doubt a 3.5 v6 would be big enough.

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Well, not the cheapest if it breaks down, but the mercedes ML320 bluetec diesel has a towing capacity of up to 7200lbs. and gets rather good fuel mileage. It has almost 400 ft.lbs torque and it rated at 24 highway. No idea how that is affected by a trailer, but typically less so that a gasser. 2008, 2009 ish.

great-buy-09-mercedes-benz-ml320-bluetec

 

VW  has the Touareg for 2009 that also has a diesel. Again, likely not the cheapest to maintain/fix. 10k isn't a lot of budget for a diesel tow vehicle and America didn't go much diesel outside of bigger trucks until recently. The grand cherokee 3.0 ecodiesel pulls great, but outside your budget

 

 

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8 minutes ago, ring ding ding said:

Diesels are usually an economic fail for several reasons.

But all that torque... Nothing sucks more than traveling, feeling like you're working all the time to there. Very tiring IMHO.

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I really loved my VW Passat TDI, towed well with a 2000 trailer with three dirt bikes. Great mileage, tons of torque. Not that much speed when accelerating, but would cruise all day at 80 pulling the trailer. Pretty good up mountains too.

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Posted (edited)

Mercedes GLK 250 2012-2015.4 cylinder diesel can tow 5000 pounds. Gets 35 MPG on the highway.

Edited by nicad

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52 minutes ago, pat22043 said:

I really loved my VW Passat TDI, towed well with a 2000 trailer with three dirt bikes. Great mileage, tons of torque. Not that much speed when accelerating, but would cruise all day at 80 pulling the trailer. Pretty good up mountains too.

I thought of the TDI, but google says it has a capacity of 1,000lbs. Seems light for a trailer, bikes, and gear, no? But, proof's in the puddin' too.

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I would seriously look for an older diesel truck, the problem isn't as much pulling as it is stopping and pushing the vehicle around if the wind is blowing. In a car or vehicle with small brakes you can get into trouble quickly with them heating up and then not be able to stop in a reasonable distance.  If you're too heavy for the vehicle and you have an accident and your insurance company finds out they can deny the claim completely.  I would suggest for liability only reasons that you may want to look at something that has at LEAST the towing capacity of the heaviest that trailer will ever be. 

Then again I maybe just more cautious than most in pulling heavy trailers.

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1 hour ago, Bryan Bosch said:

I thought of the TDI, but google says it has a capacity of 1,000lbs. Seems light for a trailer, bikes, and gear, no? But, proof's in the puddin' too.

The US spec is 100 lbs tongue and 1000 lbs total. So I bought an aluminum trailer, it was about 400 lbs, add two dirt bikes at 230 each and you have room for gas and some tools. I actually pulled 1200 to 1300 fairly often with three dirt bikes. Worked great. Love it. Got 30 to 35 MPG with the trailer doing 80 on interstates in PA, WV, etc.  But VW bought it back.

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If the 3.0L V-6 Ford Minivan was not enough, you will have to jump into full size American 4.0L+ V-6 or V-8 vehicle territory.

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Honda Pilot will tow up to 4,500 pounds depending on year and configuration. I'll bet a Mazda CX9 (3,500 pounds tow) or CX5 (2,000 pounds) would work for you. I see some surprisingly small cars pulling lightweight trailers. 

I towed a 3,000 pound boat with a 1987 Nissan Frontier King Cab, 2.4L 4 cylinder engine (the engine in the boat had a bigger displacement!), manual transmission. The truck didn't seem to mind, even though 2nd gear was barely enough to climb some hills. I often had to pull the trailer out of the water in 4WD Low. 

Then we got a '94 Ford Exploder with tow package, receiver hitch and all. Lots more room, and it was a much nicer ride, but the transmission blew out at 90,000 miles. Shortly after, the marriage and the boat went south, and the kids went off to college (son got the Explorer).

...I still had that Frontier until 2004, 200,000+ miles, rust everywhere, but it still ran. I got a new Titan at that point, but don't tow anything with it. Bikes go in the back. I love the truck but wouldn't recommend it unless you like getting 15 mpg. Sister-in-law has a new Dodge Ram Crew Cab diesel and they pull a big honkin' camper with that. Empty, it gets just under 30 mpg. 

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I know a v6 will pull my 5x10 trailer. It has a 5 speed and against the wind it sometimes drops to 3rd gear and 4400 rpm's.
I want my next vehicle to be able to pull a small toyhauler. Just wonder if a 4.0 in a pathfinder could handle it or will it require v8 power.
The problem with diesel is initial buy in and repair costs. Everything diesel is expensive.

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The Pilot has enough towing capacity but a toyhauler is like a parachute. I wonder if anyone has experienced pulling with one or something similar.

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Honda Pilot will tow up to 4,500 pounds depending on year and configuration. I'll bet a Mazda CX9 (3,500 pounds tow) or CX5 (2,000 pounds) would work for you. I see some surprisingly small cars pulling lightweight trailers. 
I towed a 3,000 pound boat with a 1987 Nissan Frontier King Cab, 2.4L 4 cylinder engine (the engine in the boat had a bigger displacement!), manual transmission. The truck didn't seem to mind, even though 2nd gear was barely enough to climb some hills. I often had to pull the trailer out of the water in 4WD Low. 
Then we got a '94 Ford Exploder with tow package, receiver hitch and all. Lots more room, and it was a much nicer ride, but the transmission blew out at 90,000 miles. Shortly after, the marriage and the boat went south, and the kids went off to college (son got the Explorer).
...I still had that Frontier until 2004, 200,000+ miles, rust everywhere, but it still ran. I got a new Titan at that point, but don't tow anything with it. Bikes go in the back. I love the truck but wouldn't recommend it unless you like getting 15 mpg. Sister-in-law has a new Dodge Ram Crew Cab diesel and they pull a big honkin' camper with that. Empty, it gets just under 30 mpg. 
Nissan pickup with a 2.4 could hardly pull itself. Pedal to the metal all day.
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I like diesel pickups, but at a $10k budget...you're looking at high mileage trucks.

+oil changes are expensive, fuels expensive, tires expensive, front-end components wear out quicker, etc. Not worth it unless you really need all that towing capacity. I think your best best if you need seating capacity, is a fullsize pickup.

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4 hours ago, Bryan Bosch said:

I thought of the TDI, but google says it has a capacity of 1,000lbs. Seems light for a trailer, bikes, and gear, no? But, proof's in the puddin' too.

Ya, but they tow a heck of a lot more in Europe.

I've read of 3,300# for the Golf model TDIs. Personally.... that would be beyond my comfort zone. My 2005 Dodge Caravan pulls 2,000-2,500# very well in extremely mountainous BC, with a bit of planning for hill climbs, re the transmission, probably the weakest link on the Caravan

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Posted (edited)

Pulling a toyhauler with a small vehicle can result in a blown tranny. Toyhaulers are like big parachutes making  small engines rev up and trannys going constantly in low gear this causes overheating of tranny oil and then bad things happen. Full size American passenger vans specially the 8 passenger ones are great vehicles,  roomy and great power.

Edited by Dirtbug26
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36 minutes ago, shuswap1 said:

Ya, but they tow a heck of a lot more in Europe. I've read of 3,300# for the Golf model TDIs.

In Europe, the Passat is rated much higher, my 2013 was 1000 in the US, the Euro car (which is a different car with the same name) was rated at 750kg which is more than 1600 lbs. In Europe, they tow with cars, and don't automatically think you need a F150 to tow some motorcycles or a small camping trailer (aka caravan). Its clearly a thing about lawyers. But there can be engineering issues here since Americans love their oversized big trucks.

I'd simply get a Tahoe with a big V8, but I can't park one in my garage. I just don't have the space. I also can't get a nice 6x12 enclosed trailer, no where to park something that big.

Edited by pat22043
wrong conversion, its 1600 not 3000

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