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Leon

Looking for a tow vehicle

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Posted (edited)

Hi guys. A very good friend of mine passed away recently after a long, difficult battle with pancreatic cancer. He was a very warm-hearted and generous person. In this spirit, he decided to hand me his race car.

 

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I now find myself looking for a modest multipurpose vehicle that can tow a car, around 2500lb, on an open trailer - which I have not sourced yet. I expect total trailer weight to be under 4500lb.

With that said, it'll be used for towing maybe 5% of the year. 95% of the time, it'll serve as a daily driver (fuel mileage, comfort), family car (safety features, wife approval), dog car (loading height, rear room for two 70lb dogs), and a camping/ski trip car (cram as much people and crap as possible, AWD).

 

Thus, trucks are out of the picture. A manual transmission would be a plus but I realize it's a rarity in the US in this segment. Looking to spend no more than $15k.

So far, I have a top-3 of:
'06+ Volvo XC90 V8
'10+ Ford Flex Ecoboost
3/4/5th gen 4Runner

Clearly, I haven't really nailed down the 4Runner but the 3rd gen is appealing if only due to the option to get a manual transmission. The later cars are certainly more refined and have better safety features. Also, we like the roll-down rear window for the dogs. The Flex seems practical due to its low loading height and spaciousness, and it also looks more fun to drive than the rest. The XC90 looks to be the best highway mileage-eater. Plus, it's got lots of nifty features regarding safety and usability.

Does anyone have experience with any of these vehicles or maybe suggest something that I've missed that also fits the bill?

Edited by Leon

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Posted (edited)

Recently had a close friend get rid of his XC, main reason being parts costs for the simple usual things ie. belts, alternator, starter etc. Great cars but a real pain to work on, the engines are very tight under the hood so it'll feel like you are taking the whole thing apart for some simple maintenance

Edited by 1969honda

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Recently had a close friend get rid of his XCR, main reason being parts costs for the simple usual things ie. belts, alternator, starter etc. Great cars but a real pain to work on, the engines are very tight under the hood so it'll feel like you are taking the whole thing apart for some simple maintenance

 

Good point, it'll probably not be super fun to work on with the V8 crammed in there sideways.

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Hey Leon, I've got a 2000 3rd gen 4Runner (with an automatic) that I occasionally use for towing my race Z (late-model 260 on an open 2-axle car trailer...similar to what you'd be towing.)

 

As a daily driver, I love the 4Runner.  I get 22 mpg on the highway, and that 3.4 liter V6 is pretty much indestructible, and the interior is quite large -- back seat is surprisingly comfortable and roomy, even for two adults.  If you fold the back seats down (which I usually do), there's a TON of room for cargo -- can easily carry two complete sets of race wheels with room to spare.  I bought mine 10 years ago; it has approx 190,000 mi on it; and I haven't had a single major issue with it....zero, zip, nada.

 

As a tow vehicle, it works fine if you're mostly on flat roads.  It really struggles in the hills.  If you have the 5-speed, it would be better; but it would probably still struggle -- IMO, the 3400  does not have the torque and power to maintain highway speeds on any kind of major incline when towing 3000-4000 lbs.  The larger base and option engines available on the 4th and 5th gen models would obviously be much better for towing applications.

 

Hope this helps.  Let me know if you need any other info.

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Not a fan of the pre 2006 chevy/GMC trucks? If I recall stay away from the 07 with their AFM. I read all kinds of issues with oil pressure and my neighbors 2007 has low oil pressure from time to time.

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Posted (edited)

I'm a big Toyota fan so I'm voting for the 4Runner. I don't have first hand experience like JHM, but when I worked for a shop we would never see any Toyotas or Nissans come in except for oil changes, brakes, and belt replacements. Had to do wheel bearings once, and it had 300,000 miles on it. That's why I broke down and bought myself a 15' Tacoma. I was driving a 1990 Mustang/1986 Capri hybrid before hand, and I just worked on so many Fords that I couldn't bare looking at them anymore. As for the low torque, there oughta be supercharger options out there, they make those kits for everything these days.

 

On a side note, I love Toyota enough to throw a 7M-GE in my Z.

Edited by Grim

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Jeep Cherokee current KL model but I'm a furriner so have no idea of US prices, costs. All I know is that for a not very big SUV she tows like a beauty and is really nice to drive.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks all! I've been doing a lot of thinking over the last few days and it would make more sense for me to get an enclosed trailer. It can be used for car and parts storage when not in use which will make the wife happy that all of it doesn't go inside the house. Plus it's a lot nicer to have for hanging out in during track weekends. I'm still flip-flopping but I'm heavily considering an enclosed.

 

This leads to the problem of needing more towing capacity. With my requirements outlined above, my current favorite option is an '08-'10 Porsche Cayenne. Comfortable, relatively fun, and a tow rating of 7700lb. It's debatable whether it's a good idea to tow an enclosed trailer with it but I'm liking the option. 

Yes, I realize I would look like a giant douche driving a Cayenne. :P

Edited by Leon

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A wealthy douche at that! Anyone who complains is only jealous of your accomplishments.

When we sell my wife's minivan in 3 years, I will start searching for a low-mileage, garage-kept Trailblazer SS to do the towing. And maybe I will build a custom light weight open trailer-I'm towing around a 2500# load on a trailer rated for 7500#.

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A wealthy douche at that! Anyone who complains is only jealous of your accomplishments.

When we sell my wife's minivan in 3 years, I will start searching for a low-mileage, garage-kept Trailblazer SS to do the towing. And maybe I will build a custom light weight open trailer-I'm towing around a 2500# load on a trailer rated for 7500#.

 

That's the crazy thing, you can get a V8 Cayenne with <100k miles for ~$15k! That's right in line with the used Volvos and Toyotas I was looking at. Thank you depreciation!

 

The TBSS has a popular following among fun tow vehicles, I wouldn't fault you for that decision. :)

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Checked out an '08 Cayenne S yesterday. While I loved the ride and handling, the engine seemed tired and didn't pull like I expected. This could be just this car but another bummer is that the trunk is surprisingly small.

 

The new #1 is the BMW X5. A 35d with self-leveling suspension seems like it'll do the trick for both occasional towing and daily driving. Now to test drive one...

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Now you are going euro I'd go for an Audi, the Q5 with the V6 turbo diesel. They haul, both with and without a trailer and seem to be one of the more reliable euro's.

 

Thanks for the tip but it being a smaller SUV, the towing capacity is limited to 4,400lb. I'm looking for 6000lb+. I'm not rushing in, planning to test drive an X5 soon. I'd really like the diesel but my BMW tech buddies are telling me to get the 4.8 V8. Apparently, the diesels had a lot of issues with their emission control systems.

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Trucks are out even with roomy crew cabs and camper shells? Of course you would want a newer version direct injection for mpg and just better built and that will bust the budget. Loving my Colorado crew cab and fold down seats make for many options . My buddy who works on and drives a M3 said to stay away from BMW - trans stuff gets very pricey.

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My buddie had the 2012 x5 diesel very impressive powerband but it was always something wrong with it and sure it was expensive to fix,they even sell some tuners if you get bored of the power,but now he has a 2014 cayenne its definitely a better car to daily and maintenance is way cheaper but why would you use these for tow vehicles there to nice lol.why dont you buy something thats ment to tow and would last forever .I would sugest a good old 99-04 ford f250/f350 with a 7.3 powerstroke,they last forever and dont break my cousin has two and beats them and the dont die.or even get a 03-05 dodge 2500/3500 with the 5.9 cummins those things are beast and take aw.e you through at them.

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Trucks are out even with roomy crew cabs and camper shells? Of course you would want a newer version direct injection for mpg and just better built and that will bust the budget. Loving my Colorado crew cab and fold down seats make for many options . My buddy who works on and drives a M3 said to stay away from BMW - trans stuff gets very pricey.

 

Trucks are definitely out for the sake of the dogs. They're older and not comfortable in truck beds, having ridden in one once. Also, commuting in a truck doesn't sound super fun.

 

My buddie had the 2012 x5 diesel very impressive powerband but it was always something wrong with it and sure it was expensive to fix,they even sell some tuners if you get bored of the power,but now he has a 2014 cayenne its definitely a better car to daily and maintenance is way cheaper but why would you use these for tow vehicles there to nice lol.why dont you buy something thats ment to tow and would last forever .I would sugest a good old 99-04 ford f250/f350 with a 7.3 powerstroke,they last forever and dont break my cousin has two and beats them and the dont die.or even get a 03-05 dodge 2500/3500 with the 5.9 cummins those things are beast and take aw.e you through at them.

 

See requirements in my OP. 95% of the time, this thing is being daily driven.

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Thanks for the tip but it being a smaller SUV, the towing capacity is limited to 4,400lb. I'm looking for 6000lb+. I'm not rushing in, planning to test drive an X5 soon. I'd really like the diesel but my BMW tech buddies are telling me to get the 4.8 V8. Apparently, the diesels had a lot of issues with their emission control systems.

Audi Q7 then, V6 TDI has a towing capacity of  6,500 lbs in my country, Cayenne has the same power train I think.  Either is much better than a BMW SUV, they can be a money pit.

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Audi Q7 then, V6 TDI has a towing capacity of  6,500 lbs in my country, Cayenne has the same power train I think.  Either is much better than a BMW SUV, they can be a money pit.

 

I thought about the Q7 but interestingly it's only rated to 5,500 in the US. I'm curious as to their reliability since VAG products don't have the best track record. We'll check them out if we get a chance!

 

Are Land Rovers under consideration? LR3/LR4 and Range Rover should have similar towing capacity to the Cayenne.

 

I have had very strong recommendations against Land Rovers... Plus, if anything's douchier than a Cayenne or X5, it's a LR. :)

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I'm using a stock 2WD '02 Suburban to pull a 10K capacity open tilt trailer and my 280Z. Trailer and car weigh in around 5,500 lbs. The Suburban handles it fine and has tons of enclosed space for all the stuff I take along with me and at least 4-5 passengers, 7-8 passengers if I don't have a lot of stuff, or me +1 if I lay them all down and load up with up to 1,000 lbs of "stuff". I've towed my Z from Ft Worth, Texas to Yakima, WA and it all went fine - even in the rockies and when I hit a snow storm. I think in the 13 years I've owned the vehicle I've put about $1,500 in repairs in it.  My biggest expense has been tires.

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We test drove a couple of X5s the other day, an '07 4.8i with sport package (and Adaptive Drive) and a '10 30i. In driving both back-to-back, I know I want the V8. Just need to do a diesel/V8 comparo now. Otherwise, both cars were very nice to drive. They seem very liveable day-to-day as well as long trips. The sport package with AD actually felt like it rode nicer than the regular suspension. We liked the updates to the '10, seemed the infotainment (aka iDrive) was easier to control. The biggest demerits we found were the high loading height and relatively small trunk. We liked it more than the Cayenne we drove but I think some more test-drives are in order. :D

 

It seems to come down to three options:

1) Buy the vehicle I'm envisioning, a nice DD that can tow an enclosed trailer the 5 times out of the year when I need it. Compromises need to be made in the way of towing capacity to get something that also works as a nice DD and vice versa.

2) Rent a truck whenever I need to tow. This is great because I don't have to buy/register/insure/repair/park anything and can DD whatever I want but it'll be less convenient and cost ~$1500/yr.

3) Buy a shitty old truck as a dedicated hauler. It's more convenient and I can use it for other errands. It will also be amortized within 3-4 years when compared to renting *assuming no costly repairs*. It will also cost extra to register/insure, require maintenance, take a parking space, and will take away from the trailer budget.

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