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Old 08-24-2016, 10:01 PM   #1
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Towing 3800 lb

I am new to the RV world and I am considering a 3800 pound travel trailer. For now my partner will be towing it with his truck. But I am considering upgrading my vehicle to be able to tow it as well. Is there a small SUVs that can tell 4000 pounds?
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Old 08-24-2016, 10:16 PM   #2
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Look in the Trailer Life Towing Guides, which are available on-line. You can look at every SUV made and see the towing capacities and the required options to tow that weight.
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Old 08-24-2016, 10:17 PM   #3
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Look in the Trailer Life Towing Guides, which are available on-line. You can look at every SUV made and see the towing capacities and the required options to tow that weight.


Is that guide online?
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Old 08-24-2016, 10:27 PM   #4
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Is that guide online?
Yes Trailer Towing Guides | Trailer Life Magazine
and a vehicle's tow rating can change from year to year
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Old 08-25-2016, 09:55 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by paisleypeace View Post
I am new to the RV world and I am considering a 3800 pound travel trailer. For now my partner will be towing it with his truck. But I am considering upgrading my vehicle to be able to tow it as well. Is there a small SUVs that can tell 4000 pounds?
The tow ratings in that Trailer Life page are extremely misleading. They all assume a tow vehicle (TV) with no options and absolutely no weight in the TV except a full tank of gas and a skinny driver. Because of that, the tow ratings are usually not the limit as to how heavy a trailer you can tow without being overloaded.

The weight-carrying (WC) capacity of the receiver hitch is often the limiter. If the SUV receiver has a WC max capacaity of 500 pounds, that's a max trailer weight of about 3,800 pounds unless you also add a weight-distributing (WD) hitch. If the WC receiver has a max WC of 350 pounds, that's a max trailer weight of about 3,000 pounds. But lots of smaller SUVs, especially car-based "crossover" SUVs, have a receiver that limits WC hitch weight to 200 pounds or less. 200-pound WC is a max trailer weight of about 1,500 pounds. You DO NOT want to tow a trailer that overloads your receiver, so pay attention to details.


If your SUV has enough tow rating and receiver hitch weight capacity to tow your 4,000-pound travel trailer, that's still not your limiter. Payload capacity for hitch weight is usually your limiter. Payload capacity for hitch weight is the GVWR of the TV minus the wet and loaded weight of the TV before you tie onto the trailer. So load the SUV with all the people and anything else that weighs more than a handkerchief, drive to a truck stop that has a certified automated truck (CAT) scale, fill up with gas, then weigh the wet and loaded SUV. Subtract the weight of the wet and loaded SUV from the GVWR of the SUV and the answer is the Payload capacity for hitch weight. Divide the Payload capacity for hitch weight by 0.13 and the answer is the maximum weight of any travel trailer (TT) you want to tow.

If your estimate of trailer weight of 3,800 pounds is the GVWR of the trailer, then the above formula will work. However, if it's the weight per the brochure, or the "dry" trailer weight, then don't use that weight in your computations. Instead use the GVWR of the trailer. A TT that has a dry weight of 3,800 pounds will probably have GVWR over 5,000 pounds.

Using Ford 2015 model year as the example, the Escape with optional 2.3L EcoBoost engine and the optional Trailer tow package has a max tow rating of 3,500 pounds, But most Escapes have tow rating of only 2,000 pounds. So forget about an Escape.

The Explorer also has a tow rating of 2,000 pounds unless it has both the 3.5L EcoBoost engine and the heavy duty tow package. Then the tow rating goes up to 5,000 pounds. But you probably won't find one with those options in stock, so plan on ordering it and waiting about two months for it to arrive at your dealer. And if your TT has GVWR of more than 5,000 pounds, then forget about an Explorer too.

The Expedition can do the job regardless of drivetrain, but be sure it has the optional heavy duty tow package. And it's a huge "full size" truck-based SUV, so it doesn't meet your requirement to be a "small" SUV.
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Old 08-25-2016, 05:52 PM   #6
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Way back when the Explorer was still a body-on-frame SUV, the strongest model had a tow rating of 6,820. But the current Explorer has unibody construction, and unibody is much weaker for towing a heavy trailer than the frame of a pickup.

Given that, I thought maybe the Toyota 4Runner is probably still body-on-frame construction, but the highest tow rating for a "properly equipped" 2016 4Runner is 5,000 pounds. The 4Runner is a lot smaller than the Expedition, but it doesn't have near the tow rating of the Expedition. So it still appears that you're stuck with a "big" SUV is you want to tow your trailer with an SUV without being overloaded.
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