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Thread: Advice on a Tow Vehicle
11-18-2013, 08:41 AM #21If you believe something to be true, it will be - in it's consequences.
2009 MasterCraft ProStar 197 - DD - 5.7L - 325HP - Zero Off
11-18-2013, 01:36 PM #22
Advice on a Tow Vehicle
I would shop 3/4 suburbans and get the nicest one my budget allows. It would have to be 96 or newer to get the vortec engine and it has to be a 3/4 ton. The frame, transmission, axles, springs, cooling system, braking system etc. are all upgraded on a 3/4 ton. The biggest one being the transmission, a 4l80e is pretty bomb proof where as the 4l60e in a half ton is weak at best for pushing a suburban let alone towing.
For the money I don't think they can be beat. You could go small block 5.7-6.0l or big block 7.4-8.1l. I'm partial to the big blocks but we have a lot of mountain passes around here. The only thing that will replace mine is a diesel truck.-Jake
11-20-2013, 08:19 PM #23
Advice on a Tow Vehicle
My 2011 4 door silverado with towing package works great and has plenty of room for family
2013 Moomba LSV2013 LSV
2006 outback DD sold
2004 Stingray 180LX sold
11-20-2013, 11:53 PM #24Senior Member
- Join Date
- Feb 2005
- Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Hi, Vanamp. Here is my take.
Please consider how your life is about to change with children on the way and with a second vehicle coming into use. How likely is it that the second vehicle will remain in limited use. This will put everyday usefulness on a higher priority. One vehicle will become "hers" and the one that she prefers less will become "yours".
The biggest factor that is missing in this thread is safety. If you are very careful, you could select a vehicle that is old/cheap/big/reliable (with reliable being the hardest to satisfy). However, most vehicles that are cheap (say, $5000-ish) are also too old to have modern safety systems: crumple zones, stability control, stable unloaded suspension and generous airbags. I consider these to be important enough that I would not put a vehicle on the road without them. Most older trucks and truck-based SUV's were made to comply with minimal requirements for commercial vehicles. In a collision, they have the weight advantage, but don't really protect occupants with energy absorption. Even better is to help avoid collisions in the first place with good handling, torque distribution and stability control. These safety features didn't start becoming fashionable for trucks and truck-based SUV's until the mid-2000's (Ford, Honda, some Toyotas) through the late 2000's (for the rest).
If you really need a tow vehicle only a few times a year, how about renting one? This used to be next to impossible because rental companies never trusted people to know how to tow, but it's much easier in many areas now. This would reduce your costs and give you all the modern advances in design. Rent a different model each time and maybe buy your favourite a couple of years later IF and when you have more money. Increasing your fixed costs when a family is on the way would be best avoided.
Regarding your question about trucks versus SUV's: trucks are specifically designed to tow/haul and some are good at carrying people, while SUV's are made to carry people and some can tow/haul fairly well. That said, there can be significant overlap and some models are quite good at both tasks.
Regarding tow ratings, there are precautions to take:
1. Many manufacturers inflate their tow ratings. Some even boost them from year to year with no design changes. It's what happens when a company's marketeers have more say than their engineers. For more details, check this thread: http://www.tundraheadquarters.com/bl...ing-standards/ . I have not done the research to see if manufacturers have actually followed through on their promises with the recent SAE J2807 standard, but any such compliance would only be with vehicles that would be too new to spare your budget.
2. My impression about tow ratings is that most of them are based on mechanical strength and say little about handling. To find out more, you'll have to crowdsource it by spending time on owner forums to find people who have the same make, model, mechanical configuration and towing loads that you want to research.
3. Towing limit specs may assume that the tow vehicle contains one driver, zero passengers and zero gear.
4. Some vehicles (mainly SUV's) may have two towing limits: one for boats and one for general cargo trailers. Usually a higher limit is there for boats under the assumption that they are better balanced to minimise sway. I would only believe the lower weight figure, as such waffling indicates that the rear suspension isn't tight enough to control a boat near the limits if you also have rear passengers/cargo.
When it comes to reliability, the enormous variety of models, drivetrain options and suspension options can be daunting. Again, my advice is to crowdsource it. As has already started happening here in this thread, you'll want find people on various truck forums who have kept track of what choices stood up over time and which did not. However, the first stop for crowdsourcing should be Consumer Reports and their long-term reliability surveys. From these, they short-list some recommended vehicles.
I'll save you some trouble here. CR has just two (2) recommended used trucks:
1. Honda Ridgeline
2. Toyota Tundra
CR has nineteen recommended SUV's, but only two of them have adequate towing capability:
1. Toyota 4Runner (4th generation from 2003 or newer)
2. Toyota Sequoia
I excluded the Honda Pilot because the first generation of it has the dual towing rating that I mentioned above (see "waffling"). Later generations are probably too expensive for you.
CR has lots more SUV's in their "towing" category, but all of them have poor long-term reliability.
So, if you are willing to budget in the range of $8000-15000, you can choose from the above models in year ranges that may suit your needs, as well as have the safety features that I'm recommending.
Personally, I went with a Honda Ridgeline to tow my Moomba XLV after months of research. I am glad that I did. It's up to the task of towing, plus it's a phenomenally better everyday vehicle to own and drive than the other choices. I have used bigger and smaller tow vehicles. There are lots of armchair critics who like to bash the Ridgeline using supposition (or outright lies) because of its very different design, but lots of former full-size truck owners have seen the light and moved to this upper-midsize truck. It's a good modern replacement for people who prefer the heavy-half-ton models from 15+ years ago, before all of the full-size trucks became huge.
For you, I recommend just spending a few hundred a year on a rental if a good one is available in your area. This will limit your expenses, as well as keep you from having to buy TWO tow vehicles (a cheap one, followed by a good one when you realise how much you want to use it).
Best wishes on getting what you need. Enjoy your new boat when it comes along too!2005 XLV, upgraded ballast, Comptech swivel wakeboard and hydrofoil racks, Monster cargo bimini
11-20-2013, 11:55 PM #25
The biggest incline in MN you will likely encounter is at the boat ramp. I've heard great things about the eco-boost and my buddy tows a 20ft enclosed trailer with his long distances and loves it. I have a newer yukon that works great, but I would drive around town in a go-cart if I could.
I saw an old suzuki sidekick towing a huge pontoon last year and damn near ran off the road when i saw it!2013 Mobius LSV
2004 Centurion T5
11-21-2013, 06:24 AM #26
Advice on a Tow Vehicle
Any half ton truck with the larger V8 option should be fine. And a 3500 lb boat with a trailer, fluids, and all gear is more like 5,000 lb.
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2008 Mobius LSV, Gravity III , Wake Plate, Z5, Exile SX65c's, Exile XM9s, Exile XI12D, Exile Harpoon, Exile SM600.1 , Exile Xi800.4.
11-21-2013, 12:47 PM #27
I've seen old Tahoes go 300k. Service your transmission. Let it sit around but put the battery on a tender. You can get one cheap and do a little service and it will do the job fine. If you find a 4wd one you might use it some days in MN when your other vehicle isn't going anywhere.My Mom said I'm not allowed to get wet!
2000 Outback LS (sold)
11-26-2013, 11:08 AM #28
I've towed all sorts of stuff with all sorts of trucks. I used to tow a double jetski trailer with a 4cyl stick shift S10 back in college lol, now I still even pull our current double with my wife's 08 Saturn Vue 4cyl. When I bought my Supra, I had a new (06 I believe) Nissan Frontier 6cyl 4x4 stick shift extended cab. It pulled and stopped just fine, tow capacity was 7500lbs supposedly. ANY half ton truck or large frame SUV is perfectly fine for your towing needs (even most V6 models), and many smaller framed trucks and SUVs will do the job just fine properly equipped; the statement that a half ton truck is a car with a bed is just silly. My dad towed our fifth wheel across the country my whole life with a new half ton he leased every 3 years, never a problem until he upgraded to a 36ft trailer...then we went to a 3/4 Duramax back in 02. I will suggest however that if you are not very experienced towing, then a half ton or large framed SUV will be easier to tow with due to their weight as the boat will have less effect on the vehicle.
After the Nissan I went to a 00 F350 diesel just becuase I wanted a big lifted diesel, of course towed great but was terrible on maintenance costs. Got rid of that and went to a 04 F150 with 5.4L, which also towed great.
After that I went to a 02 Avalanche (sweet North Face Z71 edition) because we had a baby and my wife said our truck needed to be crew cab. It was by leaps and bounds the best vehicle I've ever owned. If you don't need a full bed (I do now only because I pull a 5th wheel), I strongly suggest finding a used Avalanche. Any year will suffice. You can even get them in 3/4 option (the first gen), but gas mileage suffers due to the larger engine options and is way overkill for your needs. You don't need any more than the standard 5.3 to pull a boat. The Avalanche rides like a Cadillac but has the capabilities of a truck (it's the same frame as a Tahoe/Yukon). It's heavier than a half ton truck and the weight is more balanced, so it handles like a dream in snow. It towed awesome, got admirable gas mileage for such a large truck, and had so much versatility. Now that I'm talking about it I kind of want to sell my fifth wheel and get another Avalanche lol! The most recent gen came out in 07 I think, so you can probably find a used newer gen reasonably priced these days.
I started driving much further for work and we bought a couple small cars, so the Avalanche just sat there until the weekend when we used it to pull a boat. I had only paid $15k for it, but I still couldn't stand having a payment on something that barely got used. I sold it and got a 98 Dodge Ram 4x4 half ton 5.9L for really cheap ($1800) just as a hunting/towing vehicle. I really only towed within 15-20 minutes of my house. It worked perfect for that purpose and was rusty but trusty. I even bought my first small fifth wheel and pulled it with that truck.
After that we moved closer to my work (and moved to a lake) and I figured I could drive a truck every day. I bought a 07 Ram 3/4 ton quad cab with a hemi. That truck was awesome, but after 8 or 9 months of spending $800/mo on gas (we had moved 40 miles closer to work, and I was still spending the same on gas as I was before in my car lol), I decided to lease a new smaller car. Once I did that, kind of same thing as with the Avalanche, I couldn't justify a truck payment when it was sitting there.
I sold that (for $2200 more than I paid) and bought a 2000 Dodge Ram 3/4 ton with the 5.9L, fully loaded leather 4x4 with 185k on it. It's in great shape except for a little rust over the rear wheel wells, and I paid $3000 for it. I put new ball joints on it and it's good to go. I now pull my 25ft fifth wheel hundreds of miles with it, I pull my double jetski trailer behind my fifth wheel even, it pulls the boat with no trouble (I don't pull it much due to it being on the water year-round), and I don't feel bad that it just sits there when not in use because it just has cheap PLPD insurance (MI is no-fault state) and I don't pay a dime for anything else on it other than routine maintenance.
So, moral of my story, if it's not going to be a daily driver then don't be picky and get whatever used good condition truck/SUV that's capabable of pulling your boat and that you can get for the best deal. If you have a choice and want the best versatility for a tow vehicle that still has a lot of interior room (and you don't need a full truck bed), I strongly suggest finding any year Chevy Avalanche.2006 Mobius LSV
Previous ride - 2000 Supra Launch
11-26-2013, 11:56 AM #29Senior Member
- Join Date
- Oct 2013
- Ft. Collins, CO
11-27-2013, 08:52 AM #30
I've been really happy with my '12 F150 Ecoboost, pulls the mojo with ease. It's my daily driver and it's great for long haul family road trips. The gas mileage certainly isn't that of a Prius but it's great for a supercrew cab pickup that can pull stumps when you need it to.2013 Moomba Mojo 2.5
Exile SXT9's, Xi12D, Javelin, 800.4, ZLD MKII
2012 F150 Ecoboost