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Old 03-14-2019, 07:46 PM   #1
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Jayco

Hello. We just purchased a Jayco 184 SLX BSW. Yay! We currently have a Highlander hybrid that doesn’t have enough towing capacity. We are looking at tow vehicles and would love some suggestions. Can we get by with a regular Highlander at 5000 pounds towing capacity or do we need something bigger? We need an SUV that has three rows of seats and hopefully captains chairs in the second row to accommodate the kids. We just spent a lot on the trailer so we are trying not to break the bank on a tow vehicle. We also live in a pretty urban spot so the big vehicles like the Sequoia are not super appealing given we have to park the thing.
We are trying not to break the bank on a tow vehicle but want something quality that we can feel comfortable taking long road trips in.

We’ve been thinking about a Durango - the quality of the vehicle concerns us a bit.

Here are the specs for the Jayco:

Dry Weight
3,210 lbs.
Payload Capacity
740 lbs.
GVWR
3,950 lbs.
Hitch Weight
400 lbs.

Thanks!
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Old 03-14-2019, 10:06 PM   #2
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Highlander is a no go all the way around. It's a unibody frame and weight distribution hitches are a no go with them. No Toyota isn't terribly upfront about this.

Since you're looking at SUV's with 3 rows the Nissan Pathfinder is a no go too when it comes to WD hitches. You'll need a conventional body on frame vehicle, so basically most all of the smaller, more car like SUV's are out.

As for the Durango I believe it's body on frame as are most of the larger SUV's since they are usually based on a half ton truck frame with a different body on it. Older smaller SUV's had body on frame but went away from this when people wanted a more care like ride from their SUV.

Edit: Wow there are about zero smaller SUV's that aren't unibody. I just looked and the Toyota 4runner has an option to upgrade to a 3rd row but it's a small 3rd row. That's still body on frame. Jeep Grand Cherokee but no 3rd row.
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Old 03-15-2019, 12:01 AM   #3
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Have a look at this documentation from Ford. It is a quite thorough towing guide (geared towards their product of course) that can outline the major things you need to consider.

Sorry it’s the Canadian site, I’m sure the US has the same.

https://www.ford.ca/cmslibs/content/...de_EN_2018.PDF
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Old 03-15-2019, 12:45 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by ASTMedic View Post
As for the Durango I believe it's body on frame as are most of the larger SUV's since they are usually based on a half ton truck frame with a different body on it. Older smaller SUV's had body on frame but went away from this when people wanted a more care like ride from their SUV.
I love my body on frame Durango. Tows my 5,000 lb GVWR trailer just fine. However, Dodge changed the Durango to unibody construction in 2011.

But, there are other body on frame SUV's including Suburban, Yukon, Armada, Tahoe, Escalade, Navigator, and Expedition.
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Old 03-15-2019, 03:43 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by ASTMedic View Post
Highlander is a no go all the way around. It's a unibody frame and weight distribution hitches are a no go with them. No Toyota isn't terribly upfront about this.

Since you're looking at SUV's with 3 rows the Nissan Pathfinder is a no go too when it comes to WD hitches. You'll need a conventional body on frame vehicle, so basically most all of the smaller, more car like SUV's are out.

As for the Durango I believe it's body on frame as are most of the larger SUV's since they are usually based on a half ton truck frame with a different body on it. Older smaller SUV's had body on frame but went away from this when people wanted a more care like ride from their SUV.

Edit: Wow there are about zero smaller SUV's that aren't unibody. I just looked and the Toyota 4runner has an option to upgrade to a 3rd row but it's a small 3rd row. That's still body on frame. Jeep Grand Cherokee but no 3rd row.
The gc is unibody.
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Old 03-15-2019, 03:52 AM   #6
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I love my body on frame Durango. Tows my 5,000 lb GVWR trailer just fine. However, Dodge changed the Durango to unibody construction in 2011.

But, there are other body on frame SUV's including Suburban, Yukon, Armada, Tahoe, Escalade, Navigator, and Expedition.
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Old 03-15-2019, 07:51 AM   #7
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The gc is unibody.
And looks like it always has been. Didn't know that
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:33 AM   #8
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the Nissan Pathfinder is a no go too when it comes to WD hitches. You'll need a conventional body on frame vehicle, so basically most all of the smaller, more car like SUV's are out.



The Pathfinder and many other unibody vehicles recommend using a WDH. Here's the Nissan towing guide for reference.


https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...DjKDvkZaFZQLo9
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:48 AM   #9
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The Pathfinder and many other unibody vehicles recommend using a WDH. Here's the Nissan towing guide for reference.


https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...DjKDvkZaFZQLo9
Just a heads up, that's a generic Nissan towing guide. Also they state to use a WD hitch for trailers OVER 5000lbs. The max towing for the Pathfinder is less than 5000lbs. Toyota was recommending it but then when questioned wouldn't back it up.
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Old 03-15-2019, 12:02 PM   #10
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Here is someone who has a specific issue with the Highlander. Found this while researching towing with a pathfinder. Even the WD hitch manufacturers don't recommend a WD hitch with a unibody design. The physics just can't apply to a unibody.

https://rvingwithmarkpolk.com/2016/0...ned/#more-3330
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Old 03-15-2019, 12:12 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by ASTMedic View Post
Just a heads up, that's a generic Nissan towing guide. Also they state to use a WD hitch for trailers OVER 5000lbs. The max towing for the Pathfinder is less than 5000lbs. Toyota was recommending it but then when questioned wouldn't back it up.

The Pathfinder can have a towing capacity of 6000 lbs and Toyota is recommending the WDH in writing per the link I shared.
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Old 03-15-2019, 12:31 PM   #12
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Thanks everyone this is super helpful! I'm kind of a novice here, could someone explain why unibody is so bad? Also could someone explain a bit about WDH and how you know if your trailer has that?

Finally, is the 4 runner the smallest SUV with a body on frame type?

Thanks
Jon
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Old 03-15-2019, 12:36 PM   #13
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The Pathfinder can have a towing capacity of 6000 lbs and Toyota is recommending the WDH in writing per the link I shared.
The link you shared is about the Pathfinder not the Highlander but they are also stating similar, along with Honda and the Pilot.

This is like arguing that you can tow a 10000lb trailer cus the book says the manufacturer said so. Physics will do what physics wants and no amount of words will change that.

The reason these smaller SUV's ride smoother like a car is the flex in the unibody frame design. I bet many do ok towing with the unibody, like I said my brother is one of them. He has the "if I have control then I'm ok" mentality but so do the ones who load a truck to the max and take off on a trip. That's how they choose to roll and they are the ones responsible for their actions. However when they are hit with that rare moment and things are pushed to the max their rig might not perform or might be damaged. Again that's their responsibility.
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Old 03-15-2019, 12:41 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Jaycoslx View Post
Thanks everyone this is super helpful! I'm kind of a novice here, could someone explain why unibody is so bad? Also could someone explain a bit about WDH and how you know if your trailer has that?



Finally, is the 4 runner the smallest SUV with a body on frame type?



Thanks

Jon
It's not bad it's just the physics don't apply the same.

Think of a WD hitch like using a wheel barrow. You lift up on the handles and the nose goes down. Same when you lift up on the WD bars and hook them to the frame of the trailer. The pivot point is the rear axle of your vehicle.

Unibody designs are made to flex to allow for a smoother ride and better mpg. You want rigid "bars" going to the front to apply that weight back to the front wheels. You're not so much moving weight as forcing the front end of the vehicle down with torque from the hitch. This is why the bars are weight specific.

The WD is not part of the trailer but the hitch and how it connects the two and applies forces to the tow vehicle.
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