RV.Net Open Roads Forum: Subaru Ascent, VW Atlas, or Rav4 Adventure for light towing?

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Open Roads Forum  >  Tow Vehicles

 > Subaru Ascent, VW Atlas, or Rav4 Adventure for light towing?

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russndana

Utah

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Posted: 07/08/19 05:46pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We will just be towing my dad's little fiberglass scamp typically but, also want to not max out our tow vehicle of course. We are in Utah and have a lot of hilly roads as well as snow. We only have one family vehicle and don't necessarily want one only to tow in a larger car or truck. We have a family of 7 and would love to get us all in there even though we do have two who can drive separately if they need to in their one shared car (not the best) hence also looking at a Rav4 with only 5 seats.
The three vehicles that we've really liked were the 4WD options of 2020 Subaru Ascent, 2019 VW Atlas, or 2019 Rav4 Adventure. We would love any information specific to these three cars as light towing vehicles as well as family cars before we buy. Thanks so much.

Lwiddis

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Posted: 07/08/19 07:53pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

What’s “light” and “little” towing? Please provide the loaded and wet weight of the Scamp and the max tow weight and payload of the proposed tow vehicles. What is the combined weight of the seven people you want to carry...carry...in the tow vehicle?


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howardwheeler

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Posted: 07/08/19 08:07pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Have you looked at the Honda passport? Add an automatic transmission fluid cooler and it will tow 5000 lbs and is a very roomy five seater.

JTrac

Oklahoma

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Posted: 07/08/19 09:03pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We've had our Ascent since December. Flawless so far. It is rated to tow 5K if I remember correctly. We have the Touring model so it is a 7 passenger but you can get it in an 8 passenger. We've loaded it up with grandkids a few times and no one complains. The turbo 4 is stout and the ride is smooth. Check out the reviews in Consumer Reports. They had it the number one rated mid size suv. We certainly like it.


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APT

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Posted: 07/09/19 07:14am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Forced induction will not lose as much power at higher altitudes than the naturally aspirated engines. The Ascent powertrain should do better in theory...

Be careful about payload. Loading up 7 people in a mid-sized SUV can take up a lot of the available payload before adding trailer TW.


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carringb

Corvallis, OR

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Posted: 07/09/19 08:36am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Do you know the total weight and tongue weight of the Scamp? Actual weights, not published dry weights.

Start there. As mentioned, payload will be your enemy.

For 3-row SUVs, neither of those would be my my pick. The Atlas has a pretty mediocre powertrain, and the Ascent has a CVT. CVTs have a general inability to reject heat generated by the belt riding inside the pulleys, so it only takes a little low-speed-heavy-throttle driving to put it into fail-safe mode, and not much more to earn a replacement (Subaru has been very good about replacements, no questions asked). A traditional torque-converter automatic is still the most robust transmission for towing. Direct Injection Turbo motors make towing enjoyable, because they have lots of low-end torque and don't lost as much power with elevation.

Since you threw in the Rav-4... I'd suggest also looking at other 2-row SUVs, many of which offer more towing capacity and power.


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NWnative

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Posted: 07/09/19 10:12am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The Toyota Highlander would be a better choice than the RAV4 for towing. It's also more comparable to the Ascent and the Atlas you are looking at. Google "vehicles that can make it to 200k miles" and you will see the Highlander consistently at the top of that list. Won't see to many VW's or Subies on the list.


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russndana

Utah

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Posted: 07/09/19 10:21am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks everyone. We have a family of 7, all big but one. Two are drivers, the rest have special needs. So, in theory two can drive separately but, we would really love a 7 seater with adult sized seats. Hence, the VW Atlas that had awesome adult sized 7 seats or the Subaru Ascent that had 7/8 ok adult seats. Unfortunately the Pilot and Highlander wouldn't fit our family at all and in that case that we had to drive separately anyway we would just do a 5 seater. We liked the Rav4 Adventure and Toyota reliability so threw that in there. We kept hearing however that Rav 4 adventure, although rated at 3500 LBS, didn't come with a factory hitch and people didn't think it could actually do that weight. We would have big people in it, not a ton of gear but big people. The Scamp was 1200 or 1300 superlight. Mostly would be used for a little extra gear room and kids would have tents next to it. It's a two person with no bathroom. We wouldn't be getting near top weight but, that was part of our concern. We don't want to be towing anywhere near max or really wearing out our new family car. But, we do have a lot of hills and snow. I really wish the Highlander didn't have a rear seat only made for little people. We love the other big toyotas too but, start to get into much more money/gas mileage.

carringb

Corvallis, OR

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Posted: 07/09/19 10:47am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Now knowing that you have 7 large passengers, that will definitely be the constraint for you. Even pulling a Scamp, that's still likely to have 150-200 pounds of tongue weight. Most 7-pax SUVs have about 1400 pounds of payload, so if your passengers with luggage average 200 pounds each, you're already maxed out before hooking up even the lightest trailer.

How big of a hurry are you in? The new Explorers are just now rolling out, but unfortunately to fleets first before retail customers. The big benefit is they dropped 200 pounds of curb weight, while also moving to a RWD architecture with a longer wheelbase. This means some models up over 1,800 pounds of payload!

Have you thought about a van? Most minivans will still have a little more payload than a 7-pax SUV, and have a 3500# tow rating so you'd still be ok there.

p220sigman

Tallahassee, FL, USA

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Posted: 07/09/19 01:04pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Unless you are set on an SUV, you may want to also look at full-sized vans. Many have lots of room and plenty of towing power. Not as stylish as the SUV's, but probably a better tool for the job.

That being said, we looked as the Ascent a few weeks ago. Super nice, but then it was a fully loaded top of the line model.

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