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Old 09-22-2021, 07:50 AM   #1
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4Runner Tow Vehicle Check

Hey all, I'll be new to the world of RVing in the near future, and I wanted to get a math check on my potential setup. Based on all this I THINK I'm good, I'll just need to watch the weight in the vehicle.

The crew: We're a family of 4, oldest kid is 11, with a full-size dog.

The vehicle: It's a 2002 Toyota 4Runner with about 260K on the clock. Amusingly, it's the newest car we own. We like to drive older vehicles, and my wife is pretty attached to her rig. If we swapped out vehicles, we'd likely be getting a newer 4Runner if we had to. It's on an upgraded suspension in the rear, so it's likely my vehicle payload capacity mildly exceeds what's listed in the manual. I'll be purchasing an Anderson hitch, and upgrading the 4Runner with a 7-pin and an extra transmission cooler.

The Trailer: I really like the layout and size of the Coachmen Clipper Ultra-Lite 17BHS. It's a bunkhouse model for the kids, and has a slider to give us some more room inside. I think it will be perfect for our needs.

The specs: I pulled all the numbers from the RV sticker, and the vehicle manual and door sticker.

Trailer Specs
Trailer: Coachmen Clipper Ultra-Lite 17BHS
Dry Weight: 3,342
GVWR: 4,425
Hitch Weight: 425

Vehicle Specs
Vehicle: 2002 Toyota 4Runner
Curb Weight: 4,250
Rated Towing Capacity: 5,000
GCVR: 9,200
GVWR: 5,250
Effective Towing Capacity (GCVR-GVWR): 3950
Hitch Capacity: 500

The math: I used the Big Rock Media calculator as the basis of all my calculations.

Vehicle Payload Math
Payload Capacity: 1000
Passengers: 600 (family of 4 + dog)
Trailer Hitch Weight: 425
Payload Leftover: -25

Dry Weight: 3,342
Full Water: 300
Batteries: 100
Camping Gear: 200
Food/ Clothes: 100
Gross Weight Est: 4,062
Total: 4,425
RV Payload Leftover: 363

GCVR Rating: 9,200
GCVW Hitched: 8,312
GCVW Available: 888

How do I look? Am I missing anything important? Am I pushing the limits too much?
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Old 09-22-2021, 09:12 AM   #2
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There are two types of towing.

Type 1. Using back roads to get to the local State Park with a nice lake swim/fish in. Top speed on the back road is 45 mph.

Type 2. Going 100's of miles on a highway towing at 72 mph to stay up with the right lane traffic with semi trucks and lots of other traffic.

Your set-up is best to use in type 1 towing.

You are at the max with an old vehicle is why I say this.
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Old 09-22-2021, 09:20 AM   #3
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Just a general note having use a small SUV to tow a small travel trailer. The SUV is a relative short wheelbase and a high center of gravity. It will not be the most stable or comfortable rig to drive. You will do PK for short trips, bit long trips will be very tiring. Expect your fuel economy to be no more than around 10 mpg. Also, I'd limit my top speed to 65 mph and stay in the right hand lane.

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Old 09-22-2021, 10:19 AM   #4
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Anything towing at its maximum capacity will be marginal at best.
Try it, you may or may not be happy, depending on conditions.
A friend towed with their newer 4Runner maxed out. Yes, it did the job.
Yes, the fuel mileage sucked. Yes, a three hour trip wore him out physically. They now tow their camp trailer with a one ton diesel after the 4Runner got squirrelly a time or two, the last time drifting into the oncoming lane of traffic, thankfully vehicle free.
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Old 09-22-2021, 11:19 AM   #5
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The 4runner has short wheelbase which makes it a poor tow vehicle to begin with. Add to that the fact that you will be very close to the rated cargo capacity before adding the trailer hitch and tongue weight and it becomes clear this is a poor vehicle choice. even if you ignore the handling challenges you have to factor in the wind resistance from the trailer. Most vehicle manuals have a "frontal area" limit listed in the towing section and that measurement may be much smaller than even the smallish trailer you are looking at. Travel trailers push a lot of air and wind resistance may have you closer to full throttle on flat ground than you think. Doing that in a vehicle with 260K on the clock might push it's reliability.
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Old 09-23-2021, 07:31 AM   #6
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I have a 2017 TRD Off Road that I have used to tow a 16' flatbed with various junk on it. Have towed a 10' flatbed with a 1,300# RZR 900 on board for 500 miles, and about 2,500# of bass boat. The 4 Runner is just not really ideal to be towing very heavy with. Even with the light loads mentioned hear, the trailer is very noticeable.
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Old 09-24-2021, 10:18 PM   #7
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4Runner Tow Vehicle Check

Thought I read somewhere that Toyota does not allow weight distributing hitches on their 4Runner. Read your manual. If so, you are limited to your hitch receiver capacity of 500 lbs. You want 12-15% of total TT load on the tongue/hitch. I use 12.5%, or 1/8. 500 lbs / 1/8 = 4,000 lbs. Limit your TT gross or loaded weight to 4,000 lbs and adjust your loading of all your gear and payload so that you get as close to 500 lbs as you can. 4,000 lbs loaded is your limit.
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Old 09-25-2021, 07:49 AM   #8
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I have towed with 4-runners and pre-2007 sequoias near capacity they leave a bit to be desired as a tow vehicle. Be prepared to drive in the slow lane and take your time. My experience is they feel like they want to float and bounce a bit even when loaded correctly. They could also use a bit more power running down the highway to keep them from gear hunting on anything but flat roads. If you could get into a post-2007 Tundra-based Sequoia platform you would be happier towing.
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