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Old 04-04-2016, 02:36 PM   #1
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Tow Vehicle Torque/HP questions

So I'm looking for an SUV with good towing capability. I'm debating between a variety of options with different specs including a few diesels.

Here's my question:

How would a tow vehicle with 350hp and 350 ft-lbs torque tow versus another with 240hp and 420 ft-lbs of torque?
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Old 04-04-2016, 02:56 PM   #2
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So many factors besides HP and torque. Drive train gearing, rear end ratio, tire diameter, etc. I'd be more concerned about the vehicle's capacity for passengers and equipment, the tongue weight and towing capacity. Often the capacities of the vehicle are based on unrealistic numbers, like a single driver @ 150 lbs when the SUV has seats for 6 or more.
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Old 04-04-2016, 02:59 PM   #3
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I understand. I'm just trying to get my head around how tq and hp numbers would affect towing capability.
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Old 04-04-2016, 03:16 PM   #4
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I understand. I'm just trying to get my head around how tq and hp numbers would affect towing capability.
Torque is what tows, Horsepower gets you going. The higher the torque the more you can tow, the higher the horsepower the faster you can get up to speed.

What the manufacturer shows as torque and horsepower for a specific vehicle means nothing by itself as far as towing goes. The construction of the vehicle and mainly the suspension/frame/axle capacity and the gearing can greatly affect what the vehicle can haul/tow. IE, a RAM 2500 with the huge torque monster which is a 6.7L Cummings engine and 3.42 gears can only carry about 2,000 lbs max by RAM's standards. It can tow over 15,000 lbs, but the cargo capacity is shot due to the weight of the engine.
Take a RAM 3500 with Dual Rear Wheels and 4.10 gears which has the same torque and horsepower but it can carry and tow a lot more.

So your answer is yes. LOL All things being equal the higher the torque the more you can tow.
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Old 04-04-2016, 03:18 PM   #5
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My RV only has 210 hp, it's not the pulling to be concerned about, but the handling and stopping abilities. I've had underpowered (VW buses) vehicles most of my driving career, it's not all about HP and torque.
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Old 04-04-2016, 03:29 PM   #6
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The rpm at the torque peak and hp peaks are also important. Generally lower is better for towing. This is why diesels are such a good choice, they have good low-end torque.

There are a lot of variables as pointed out. One big one is your tongue weight, most SUV are 1/2 ton chassis. even with it certified for the weight and you are happy with the engine and trans choice, you will likely need a weight distributing hitch for any larger size trailer. SUV's just do not have the rear axle load capacity of a 3/4 or 1 ton pickup.
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Old 04-04-2016, 03:53 PM   #7
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Torque is what tows, Horsepower gets you going. The higher the torque the more you can tow, the higher the horsepower the faster you can get up to speed.

...

So your answer is yes. LOL All things being equal the higher the torque the more you can tow.
Okay. Thanks.
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Old 04-04-2016, 04:46 PM   #8
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Horsepower is the measure of work that the engine can do.

Note that gas engines have way less torque than diesel engines of the same horsepower, but they do about the same amount of work.
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Old 04-06-2016, 08:36 AM   #9
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HP is how fast you hit the wall. Torque is how far you drag the wall with you.
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Old 04-06-2016, 10:42 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Bob1340 View Post
Torque is what tows, Horsepower gets you going. The higher the torque the more you can tow, the higher the horsepower the faster you can get up to speed.

(BIG snip)

So your answer is yes. LOL All things being equal the higher the torque the more you can tow.
This is basically all you really need to know about torque and horsepower. Now the problem is, as others have mentioned, the gear ratio, cargo capacity, and total weight (GVW) to power numbers. Once you understand what the power numbers mean, all the rest is still very important. Please, for the safety of yourself, those travelling with you, and the others on the road around you, don't ignore these important things.

I have towed heavy with both gas and diesel engines. Contemporary gas engines are amazing in their power, smooth running, and durability, but the current diesels are OUTSTANDING. They come at a premium, though, and the big ones aren't available in any of the SUVs for sale right now. Gas engines run fine at higher RPMs, don't let that engine winding up to pull a hill scare you. It's made to work, let it work!

Have fun!
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Old 04-06-2016, 01:51 PM   #11
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Torque trumps horsepower when it involves towing. A long time ago I had a tow vehicle with 150hp/270ft. Lbs torque. It towed my little runabout great.
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Old 04-06-2016, 03:18 PM   #12
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Torque trumps horsepower when it involves towing. A long time ago I had a tow vehicle with 150hp/270ft. Lbs torque. It towed my little runabout great.
In my previous job we had to buy ex class 7/8 trucks to put fertilizer tanks onto. Talking to a salesman at Peterbilt and he laughed when I was only asking about how many horsepower certain trucks had. He explained why torque was the first thing someone buying such a truck should be concerned with. He used two different engine sizes, think it was an 11 and 14 litre engine, same hp, but at least 200 ft. lbs torque difference. I knew what he was saying cause we had just bought some real nice Macks, which had 450 hp engines, but could hardly pull, reason was, small displacement engine and under 1000 ft.lbs of torque.
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Old 04-06-2016, 04:37 PM   #13
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I'm guessing from your HP/TQ numbers one of the rigs is an explorer with the EB engine. The other I'm thinking is V8 (Jeep?).

I've got the EB in my Lincoln and the thing is a rocket to drive, but nothing I would want to tow anything bigger than pop-up. I towed a 5,000lbs Tt with an v8 explorer (body on frame different than today's uni-body) which was OK but I worried about the tranny. Which is why I moved to a 6 passenger RAM 1500. And it definitely towed same trailer better. Trade off passengers not as comfy. For me a big unappreciated advantage of the Truck over the SUV is the ability to put filth in the back of the truck. Too many camping trips end with a rain storm and inevitably DAD is frantically running around gathering everyone's wet and muddy stuff and putting in the the truck bed to deal with latter.

if you want to see how things tow go watch those fast lane truck videos on youtube. they are more entertainment than science, but fun all the same.
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Old 04-06-2016, 05:10 PM   #14
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I think it would be easier for you to understand the relationship between torque and horsepower if you would look up the formula for horsepower and note the part torque plays in determining it.

I would guess the higher torque lower horsepower engine is a slower turning one. A slower turning engine is generally more efficient, but as already mentioned the most efficient rpm-mph must be established through gearing. This should coincide with your cruising speed and will result in best mpg and performance there.

Just my 2c.

Steve
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