What are your favorite vehicles for towing? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 10-27-2018   #1
Clickster's Avatar
Summit County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1976
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 11
What are your favorite vehicles for towing?

I'm starting the search for a new (for me) vehicle to tow my 13.6 NRS boat, frame, gear etc. My current vehicle works well though is getting up there in miles (160k). I want a towing capacity of $3,500 lbs. What do you guys think?

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Old 10-27-2018   #2
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Ute City, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
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Posts: 84
Toyota Tacoma with a topper. I tow my 14' raft on a trailer fully rigged. Roof rack for the oars. All other gear goes in the back of the truck. Plenty of room for me and a partner to travel. I guess it depends on your needs, but I'm happy with mine. Can't go wrong with a Toyota IMO.
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Old 10-27-2018   #3
Fort Collins, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2014
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I too am a Toyota guy but I have been converted to an AWD Astro/Safari Van. Chevy V6 tows nice, handles really well, has amazing traction. It has zero blind spots and is boxy which makes maneuvering a trailer easier and long haul highway driving more pleasant.
With the benches its a great shuttle vehicle. Without seats it has massive storage and is a great camping space (4x8 ft plywood sheets fit flat in the back). Oars fit lengthwise inside and the roof rack is bomber. Granted, sometimes I forgo the trailer and like that I can fit my entire Grand setup inside it (groover and frame on top). Mileage ain't great at 17+/-. Caveat, I have 5 year old and dog and traveling with them in my smaller yota truck can be a nuisance.
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Old 10-27-2018   #4
Bend, Oregon
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2000 Chevy Suburban. "Raftasaurus"

Seats five and room in the back for 4 drybox/coolers plus soft gear. Although it's 9000# tow rating may be more than you are looking for.
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Old 10-27-2018   #5
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
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another Tacoma 2012 v6 automatic 4wd with trailer tow package auto transmission. camper shell and raft trailer loaded with raft plus gear and several IK's etc. Granted it is a little slow going up the pass the tunnel at Eisenhower or wolf creek but otherwise I drive the speed limit on cruise control.

That 4 wd really comes in handy on muddy dirt launch sites.
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Old 10-27-2018   #6
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Westminster, Colorado
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In the past, 2004 Toyota Tacoma and 2000 Dodge Ram 1500...currently 2013 Toyota Tacoma. Can't see directly behind when 18' cat is inflated and carried on top of utility trailer...may just use our 14' Saturn for the two of us in the future, but considering newer Ram, as we also pull a 12' box Flagstaff MAC for car camping. Love the Tacoma, work horse, reliable and decent on gas.
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Old 10-27-2018   #7
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 7
As always... it depends

Nearly anything can tow your rig to the river (including a Ford Mustang, if I remember correctly). What else are you using it for? Family mover, work needs, wood hauler, etc.

Iíve got a 3/4 ton diesel that I bought for work that can haul a stack of boats up and down passes no problem and gets respectable mileage doing it. Thereís also enough room in the bed to stow a rolled boat and all the gear when the trailer takes a dive. The dream is to throw a camper in the bed for easy put in take out camping with loaded boat on the trailer. Not everyone wants/needs such a rig.

Small SUVís can tow 1500-2000 #s no problem but if you want 3500 youíre looking into Suburban territory. Or trucks. I like the versatility of the truckbed for work and boating but now friends expect help moving
their stuff.
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Old 10-27-2018   #8
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Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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What's your main purpose of the vehicle? Do you really need something for everyday use that tows 3,500 lbs or do you think you need that for just boating?

I've been towing my inflated and fully-loaded raft with tons of gear and people with Subarus for the past 15 years or so. At first with a '94 Legacy wagon (2.2L engine) then with a '06 Outback (2.5L) and now with a '13 Outback (2.5L). I may have to drop down to 2nd for a few minutes if I'm carrying 4 people, 2 rafts and full gear back from an autumn overnight trip on EB Vail Pass, but other than that the 'Roos have worked fine for me. On a round trip from Denver to Westwater I'll get about 19.5 mpg, and about 25 mpg otherwise. Key to this is having a modified aluminum sled trailer that only weighs about 250 lbs.

Here's a search of a few other threads where folks talk about what vehicles they use for towing.

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Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 10-27-2018   #9
My name isn't Will
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Willamette Valley, Oregon
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I'm the original owner of a 1997 Tacoma 4wd Xtra cab V6 (5VZ engine) manual five speed. 212121 miles or so. Original clutch. Replaced front brakes once. I'm on my third timing belt. I'm on my fifth set of tires. I expect to keep this truck another five years (50,000 miles). Rated to tow 5,000 pounds.

It didn't even have a tow hitch until a year or so ago. I pull a 12' Iron Eagle Versa Max raft trailer (850 pounds empty) with an NRS E-150 with frame, dry boxes, and cooler. This is the newer version of the Iron Eagle with the torsion axle. I love it. My previous trailer was a Frankentrailer that was, I believe, originally a travel trailer converted to a deckover. I think EZCruzer is the current owner of that trailer. It was huge.

Pulls just fine. Going up some of the tall grades on I-5 (Rice Hill, Sexton Summit, etc.), I have to downshift to 4th gear, and sometimes it slows down. But it's pretty damn reliable.

In a few years when it's time to part ways, if this truck was still available new, I would buy it again. I have no idea if the current Tacoma models (or Tundras) are as reliable. I think they are more powerful, and they might get better fuel economy. They sure have some nicer outfitting, but other companies have even better outfitting. A larger truck could take a cab-over camper, which would be REALLY sweet unless that overloads the truck when pulling the trailer.

I would consider switching to a van. The down side of vans is that you get to ride in the same compartment as your stinky river gear. I like stuffing that in the back of the truck. Plus, I can use the bed as a truck bed for hauling.

I definitely like the low range to get off of steep ramps, especially with a manual transmission. I back all the way into the water, and I really don't want to be the entertainment by dumping the truck out into the river, too. The 4WD system on this truck is an auto disconnecting differential. Manual hubs would let me use low range in 2WD, which would also be nice. The 4WD is definitely a bonus when the ramp has slime on it or is loose gravel. I just slowly dump the clutch and quietly crawl out without scratching the tires.

The only thing I'd like to add is a way to also tow a bicycle to run shuttle for day trips so we can do it with just one vehicle.

Part of me thinks it would be great to get a Ford Econoline. That way, I could tow my E-150 with an E-150. But then again, I'm kind of goofy.
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Old 10-27-2018   #10
Definite maybe
Weld county, Colorado
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Just like Andy I tow just fine with my soob. What are you getting rid of? 165k is low mileage for a subaru. Trueth is it's low mileage for any modern car.
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