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Joined: 10/16/2020

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Posted: 10/16/20 06:34pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hey all,

So we are looking into getting into camping a bit more and hoping to buy a travel trailer. First step we need to upgrade our vehicle since I'll be using this vehicle as a daily driver I want something sorta comfy and with seats to haul the family around. We were looking at VW Atlas, Highlander or Telluride. The max tow is 5000lb (with tow package and all). (Not looking at pick-ups)

We were hoping to get a small hybrid trailer like the Jayco Jayfeather X17Z or Surveyor 191T.

These are both around 3300lb. We'd be carrying 4-5 people max in the car + gear. Longest drive would be 4-5 hrs, mostly flat.

So I just want to see how realistic this setup would be. We would get all the necessary safety mods like weight distribution, electronic trailer brakes.

Anyone else using an SUV to tow a small trailer? Thank you all for the feedback and help in this decision.



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Joined: 04/20/2007

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Posted: 10/16/20 06:55pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You will seriously regret buying any tow vehicle that is rated for 5000 or less and then towing a TT.

For starters, keep in mind that everyone and all weight in the tow vehicle subtracts from what you can tow. The passengers, gear, and tongue weight of the trailer will put you over the vehicle payload very quickly.

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Shenandoah valley,VA

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Posted: 10/16/20 07:09pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Oh boy, yep agree with above.
Without elaborating get a 2500 series truck and thank us later.

A pop-up and 4 trailers later I can say that. Lol


London, Ontario

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Posted: 10/16/20 09:36pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The problem with your plan is the 4-5 people plus gear in the vehicle. That’s what those vehicles are designed to carry while not towing. Once you add all that weight to the vehicle you lose most of the towing capability. Your payload (found on tire rating sticker on drivers door) will be mostly taken up with passengers and gear leaving little to nothing left for the tongue weight of the trailer. Only exception would be if 3 of your passengers were small lightweight children. Might be doable now but you will quickly outgrow your vehicle.

New vehicle tow ratings are calculated with allowances for one 150lbs driver and one 150lbs passenger. Any other weight added to the vehicle reduces your tow rating pound for pound. Those trailers once loaded with gear will exceed your loaded vehicle tow rating.

The trailers you list at 3300lbs are brochure dry weights, not what you will be towing. They don’t include options, propane, water in tanks or any of your “stuff”. Trailers delivered to dealers are usually several hundred pounds heavier than the brochure weights. Add your stuff for 5 people and you’ll be 4500lbs+. For stability trailers should have ~12% of its loaded weight on the tongue. That’s at least 540lbs. That weight counts towards your tow vehicles payload and will exceed the hitch receiver rating for those vehicles. Most manufacturers calculate the max hitch weight as 10% of the tow rating (500lbs for a 5k tow rating).

* This post was edited 10/16/20 09:45pm by camp-n-family *

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Broken Arrow OK

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Posted: 10/16/20 10:29pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I towed trailers up to 3500 lbs extensively with a 2008 Highlander. It did okay up to about 60 mph (slower in the mountains of course). I see you are in Ontario; it’s not too hilly there. If you can ensure that the loaded hitch weight is under the 500 lb limit and if your passengers and cargo aren’t too heavy, I think you could do it. You’d need to lock out overdrive so the transmission doesn’t hunt gears and get too hot. Make sure all tires are infleted to max rated psi, and consider getting some LT tires with a slightly lower sidewall to enhance handling. You won’t have enough leeway for a weight distribution hitch, so get all wheel drive and add an anti-sway friction bar.

If you decide to go bigger, you might consider a Toyota Sequoyah or Ford Expedition. A crew cab pickup could work (look for higher payload units, check the door jamb stickers).

Mike G.
--for now, using a cargo trailer for camping--
Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. --Benjamin Franklin
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Grit dog

Black Diamond, WA

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Posted: 10/16/20 10:35pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

A lot of chicken little syndrome in the responses thus far. However there is some truth to their statements in that you will be at max capacity and not have the best chassis and drivetrain for towing a high profile trailer.
That said, occasional use and mostly flat towing and low altitude, it’s doable.
Also passenger weight doesn’t subtract pound for pound from towing rating. Chicken littles have it wrong. Technically it subtracts from payload / tongue weight capacity.
Again they’re correct, load the rig heavy and you’re dipping into tongue weight capacity greatly, but you may still be within all the “numbers” depending on weights.

"Yes Sir, Oct 10 1888, Those poor school children froze to death in their tracks. They did not even find them until Spring. Especially hard hit were the ones who had to trek uphill to school both ways, with no shoes." -Bert A.


Prunedale CA.

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Posted: 10/17/20 06:03am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I think if you want to stay in the "sport utility" type vehicle and really want to tow something and not worry so much about weight you should look towards a larger sport utility like an Expedition, Tahoe or Suburban. It's a lot more comfy to have a "larger foot print" towing the coach. I towed a 25 ft. trailer all over the US with a 1999 half ton suburban 4x4. It had a nice large foot print and I never felt "pushed". Nope, for your daily driver, it's not gonna get small car mileage like a Highlander sized vehicle, but if I compromised one or the the's be on the "tow safely side".

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New Jersey

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Posted: 10/17/20 06:17am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I would go with a bigger suv. You might be able to tow with the smaller one but it will not be a good experience. Especially if you load up the TT. And you will with 5 people going. Thats food for 5 people, clothing, bedding , etc.

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Milwaukee, WI

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Posted: 10/17/20 08:10am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

OP: The smartest thing you're doing is asking here BEFORE you bought anything!

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Fuquay-Varina, NC

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Posted: 10/17/20 08:15am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Other good choices would be the Nissan Armada, Chevy Tahoe, or Ford Expedition. All would seat your family comfortably and have 3rd rows and would tow something like that safely. I towed about 3100# behind our 2019 Jeep Cherokee V6 tow pack (#4500 tow rating) and don't think I would have gone above 3500#. It did pretty good going up the mountains of western NC. It was just me and the DW, no fluids in the trailer, clothes, food, etc.

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