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Open Roads Forum  >  Tow Vehicles

 > Towing with a small 4 cylinder car or truck?

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Newaygo, MI,USA

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Posted: 01/01/11 03:31pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If so, I'd like some info. What are you towing with, what are you towing, what is the weight of what you're towing, and what towing mpg are you getting? Looking for a travel alternative to our 31 ft TT and big truck. Will keep the present outfit for snowbirding. Thanks.

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Pacific Northwest

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Posted: 01/01/11 03:42pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

A good while back we towed a Fleetwood Sea Pine pop-up with a 6 cyl. Ford Explorer. It did just fine and we still have lots of great memories of our adventures.

Mileage? No clue. When we RV we know it will cost us in fuel and we just go and don't give mileage a second thought.

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Las Cruces, New Mexico

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Posted: 01/01/11 03:50pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I know many are towing small 13' TTs and tear drops with 4 cylinder vehicles. We have not done so. We started towing our 16' Scamp which has a shower/head, full time bed in back and a two person dinette with a Ford Ranger V-6 and did very well with it. We were getting about 15 to 16 mpg average with it. We are now towing the same Scamp with a full size Ford F-150 and getting about the same mpg or maybe slightly higher. There are several molded fiberglass travel trailers:
Scamp, Casita, Oliver, Escape, and Trillium and US Trillium.
Little Joe is a small one which cold be towed easily with a 4 cylinder. They also make one with a shower, the PONDEROSA.

Our Scamp

There are some small non-molded fiberglass trailers as well. The Fun Finder X is one and I have also seen 7' wide trailers Cikira. There would be more of these hybrids out there I would think.

V-6 or even a V-8, would more than likely get better mpg towing than a 4 cylinder.

* This post was last edited 01/02/11 10:33am by an administrator/moderator *   View edit history

DesertHawk- Las Cruces, NM USA
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Arizona desert

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Posted: 01/01/11 03:55pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You're going to have to go with a V6 and auto trans in just about any of the smaller vehicles you may choose, to be able to tow any descent amount of weight. The 4 cyl engines and manual trans in most smaller vehicles have quite patheticaly low tow ratings, most less than necessary to tow even a small pop up camp trailer.

That is true of my 4cy 5spd manual Ranger and my similarly equipped Ram 50 mini pickup, as well as my old Chevy Luv and family's 4 Toyota pickups, all with 4 cyl's and manual tranny's. They can haul stuff in the bed, but towing travel trailers is just not part of what they were designed for.

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Corvallis, OR

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Posted: 01/01/11 04:31pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I would recomend keeping with a v6 for now, until turbo 4-cylinders start coming with decent tow ratings.

This is one of my favorite lightweight trailers, and can be towed with many v6 vehicles:

Northwood True North:

One newer car that really jumps out to me a strong tow vehicle is the Ford Flex. It has nearly the same footprint as a Chevy Tahoe, but a low center of gravity, and a well tuned independent suspension, yet still has a payload on par with most 1/2-ton SUV. And, you can get it with AWD and twin-turbo. But even the base V6 has a 6-speed transmission, and 4500 pound tow rating.


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Johnstown, PA

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Posted: 01/01/11 04:37pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

A million years ago we towed a Jayco 2450 popup with a 1978 Chevette. Twenty-five miles to the gallon towing, but when we came to a steep hill, we all had to pick our feet up to get up the hill. We had great times in state parks and private campgrounds with our two little girls. The little girls are now 33 and 31.


near Bear Lake

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Posted: 01/01/11 04:40pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I once knew a guy who was in the business of office forms and supplies. His only vehicle was a nearly new Toyota pickup, extended cab, with the 22RE and a 5-speed manual. His trailer was a Wells-Cargo with electric brakes on both axles. Loaded "full", the trailer weighed 13,000 pounds. He had a class 3 hitch, and a good WD setup. He ran empty from Jackson, MS to somewhere in Texas, then the return trip fully loaded. One trip per month, one new clutch every 10 months.
That was in early 1989 or so, and in late '90 he finally bought a used F150 with the straight 6.
No clue what his MPG was. He claimed he never exceeded 55 mph loaded, never drove through strong winds, and never had nor caused a crash.
I don't advocate this, and if I had to copy it, I'd have to go with the 2.5L GM. I haven't tried the current 2.9L, however. I have tried the Ford 2.3, it really is no match , unless you do a full-on race build like the pony stock racers, and then there goes any MPG at all.
Choosing the smallest engine is false economy. When loaded, the bigger V6s generally do at least as well for mpg, and you're not running full-throttle ALL the time.


Reynolds Ga

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Posted: 01/01/11 05:54pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I've been using a little 4 cyclinder nissan pickup to pull a little Scotty camper and I really enjoyed great mileage but my nissan has to many miles to keep on pulling long distances so I now have a GMC 1500 Sierra. My mileage has dropped from 25 to 15 but the GMC hardly knows it's there and I surely enjoy more safety.



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Posted: 01/01/11 06:12pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Eons ago I towed a Flagstaff TentTrailer with my 2.7 L toyota tacoma 5 spd. It did fine and was a good time with the manual..that may be a little less than what you are looking for but my experience anyhow. Also towed a wildwood 23t with a doublecab Tacoma v6 over the Northern cascades many o time...I would say it was reaching the safe upper limit for sure on power and braking but worked.

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Oregon, Wash Coast summer, Yuma Az winter

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Posted: 01/01/11 08:21pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I towed 12 ft TT, 14 ft TT, 16 ft TT and last but not least a 23 ft Travel Lite
with a 4 cy Toy Pu. The 23 ft Tt I towed with a new 84 Toy 5 sp P/Up. Most of the time the MPG was in the 20s which is a lot better than I get now with my 3/4 V10 TV. Never had to replace a clutch in any of the Toys. Did a great job for us as we went to 17 States towing with Toy P/Ups


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