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Old 01-05-2018, 08:02 PM   #1
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Tow Limits of 2009 4WD Honda Pilot

I have a 2009 4WD Honda Pilot with ~125,000 miles on it, and I am looking to buy a Winnebago Micro Minnie 1706FB (UVW: 2980 lb). My question - can my Pilot tow this trailer or am I better off getting something lighter?

I looked at the owners manual of the Pilot and while towing capacity is listed at 4500 lb, the gross combined weight rating for it is 9579 lb. I have a weight for the Pilot (measured a few years ago, mostly empty) of 4720 lb. So my thinking is 4720 lb + 350 lb (for me, my husband, and the dog - conservative) + 2980 lb (dry weight of the 1706FB) = 8050 lb. This would technically leave us 1529 lb under the GCWR of the Pilot and I really don't think all of our gear and clothes and a full fresh water tank would be that heavy, but I don't know for sure. I don't have a great understanding of the ins and outs of towing yet (trying to learn), so if I'm way off base with that math, feel free to correct me.

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Old 01-05-2018, 08:58 PM   #2
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Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating is the grand total of the total weight of the tow vehicle (Honda Pilot) and the trailer (Micro Minnie) *together*.

In order to stay within limits, use the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of the trailer added to the weight of the Honda Pilot with you, anything you're taking with you, all of your passengers you'll be taking, and a full tank of gas.
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Old 01-05-2018, 09:16 PM   #3
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My thought is you want something about 1,000 lbs lighter. My 2006 Honda Ridgeline could not tow my 4,400lb.trailer but could tow my 2,500lb. boat.

I would look for a 3,000lb trailer and put 500 lbs of stuff in it for a total of 3,500lbs. That should tow comfortably.
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Old 01-05-2018, 09:24 PM   #4
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After rereading, I see you are looking at a 3,000lb trailer. Does that include all the options plus propane, water and WD hitch with sway control?

Obviously the lighter the better.

Try to keep the loaded trailer at 3,500lbs.
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Old 01-05-2018, 11:12 PM   #5
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The dry weight of the trailer is almost always much lighter than it really weighs when you bring it home. Use gross weight and multiply by 13% to get actual tongue weight. Most trailers will be very close to gross weight with the average load of food, clothes and gear.
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Old 01-06-2018, 04:59 AM   #6
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I'm sure others will chime in here soon enough, but until then here's my bit of advice:

In addition to considering gross weights, you should also look at the payload capacity of your Pilot. That is the limiting factor for my truck. I've got a 9,200 lb "towing capacity" according to my manual, but unless it's a flat tow, that's way overstated without figuring in other variables, primarily payload.

Somewhere around the driver's door there should be a yellow/white DOT sticker and on that sticker you should see a line that reads something like "the total weight of passengers and cargo should not exceed ______ lbs." That's your tow vehicle's CCC. Take that number and subtract the weights of all passengers and cargo that will be in the Pilot, including the weight of your hitch. The remainder will be the max tongue weight for your specific loaded vehicle.

Once you've got the tongue weight capacity, all you have to do is figure an estimated tongue weight of whatever trailer you're considering as keymastr advised above. This will tell you if you can/should tow it or not.

Using this method, I found that my truck (with my wife and I and bikes/kayaks, etc) is actually limited to a gross trailer weight of under 7,000 lbs., not the 9,200 lbs in the manual.

YMMV, but it is something else to check before buying.

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Old 01-06-2018, 06:04 AM   #7
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Does the Pilot have a trans cooler in addition to the hitch?
Didn't check that yr but know Honda has ratings with and W/O their trans cooler.
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Old 01-06-2018, 06:36 AM   #8
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The Honda Pilot, while a great vehicle, was never designed with towing in mind. Like all the small SUVs and Crossovers, they were designed to get several kids from school to soccer practice, hit the grocery store, and take the family to a hotel at the beach, and do it comfortably and for many, many miles. But I think pulling heavy, non-aerodynamic items down the road is best left to vehicles designed around that purpose. Even going light weight, regular towing will cause a lot of premature wear on bearings, brakes, trannys, drive shafts, etc. I'd lean toward a crew cab 1500/150 pickup if regular camping is what you are thinking. JMHO
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Old 01-06-2018, 07:19 AM   #9
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If i remember reading correctly, all the Honda trucks and suv's have a limit to the square footage of frontal area a towable can have. I think it limits the rating if it's over so much square area. I would think this would be listed in the owners manual. That tells me that similar to what Dropthejacks was saying, they're nit really intended as a full time tow vehicle.

Again, this is from memory so I may be out in left field here. Just something to check into.

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Old 01-06-2018, 10:31 AM   #10
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Micro Mini 1706fb
GVWR 3,800
Dry 2980
Dry hitch 300

Probable wet and loaded weight 3,800
Probable actual wet and loaded hitch weight = 600 (500 TW + 100 for good WD hitch)

I wore out 2005 and 2009 Odyssey EX-L with the V6 variable cylinder cutout. Identical drivetrain to the Pilot with the same V6 engine. Plenty of power and torque to drag a 3,800 pound TT. But as FlyFisher noted, the Pilot's limiter to trailer weight is probably payload capacity. With about 600 pounds hitch weight, you cannot load the Pilot with a heavy load of passengers and stuff as well as the hitch weight without exceeding the GVWR of the Pilot.

So here's the drill to be certain you don't make an expensive mistake. First, your Pilot shuould have the V6 engine and trailer tow pkg. If not, then all bets are off. But if you have the V6 and towing pkg:

Load the Pilot with everybody and everything that will be in it when towing. Find a scale, fill up with gas, and weigh the wet and loaded Pilot. Subtract the weight of the wet and loaded Pilot from the GVWR of the Pilot, and the answer is the maximum payload capacity available for hitch weight. If the payload capacity available for hitch weight is more than 600 pounds, then that trailer will probably be a decent match for your Pilot.

And yes, you need a WD hitch because your tongue weight will probably be right at the limit of 500 pounds. Plus, 500 pounds hanging off the rear of the Pilot will unload the front axle and make steering iffy. So get a WD hitch - but not cheap one. As a minimum, get one of these:

Reese Strait-Line
Blue Ox SwayPro
Husky Centerline HD 30390

Those all list for around $1,000 and are available on-line for $500 to $700. The Husky will probably be the most expensive. For the Husky, you have to order two parts, the head plus the spring bars. For the Reese, it comes in two different part numbers, one with the shank and one without a shank. If you order a Reese Strait-Line, be certain it includes the shank. Equal-I-Zer and Blue Ox don't sell cheap WD hitches, and they come complete with spring bars and shank. Reese and Husky sell cheap hitches as well as the Strait-Line and CenterLine HD, so just be sure if you get a Reese that it's the Strait-Line with adjustable shank, or if you get a Husky that it's the Centerline HD (not the cheaper CenterLine TS).

And the Reese Strait-Line is available with either round bars or trunnion bars. The round bars go down from the head, and thus tend to drag on the ground over bumps and ditches. So I prefer the trunnion bars.

I tow my 7k cargo trailer with a Reese Strait-Line Trunnion bar hitch. I towed my TT with that hitch for several thousand miles before I found a bargain on a ProPride 3P hitch. The ProPride is what you really want, but they cost about three times as much as a Strait-Line.
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Old 01-08-2018, 11:15 PM   #11
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As I recall Pilots had two tow ratings. Around 5,000# for a boat and around 3,500# for a trailer. Apparently frontal area was a concern for them.
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Old 01-08-2018, 11:26 PM   #12
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With all those miles it's well on its way to being not enough for a trailer imo!
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Old 01-09-2018, 08:17 AM   #13
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We had a 2010 Pilot 4WD that had a nameplate tow capacity of 5,000 pounds. When we were considering getting a trailer we rented a Jayco Hybrid that had a dry weight of somewhere around 3,000 pounds. The Pilot pulled it, but we realized that it wasn’t going to be the best tow vehicle. Main issue we had was the back end dropped 8-10 inches when I dropped the trailer on. This resulted in the front end being very light and somewhat squirrelly, especially on the freeway. It wasn’t a comfortable feeling.

We ended up going with a 4,500 pound trailer and upgrading the Pilot to a Nissan Armada. If we had kept the Pilot, at a minimum we would have had to put air bags on the rear. The Armada pulled the bigger trailer very well, and we could have gone to up to 7,000 pounds. The big drawback for us was having to stop for gas every day, and sometimes twice. We now have a gasser Class A with an 80 gallon tank.

The Pilot has unibody construction and the manual said not to use a weight distribution hitch. Also the recommended tow capacity also took a pretty good hit with altitude. We live at 6,200 feet and usually camp at 8,000 to 10,000 feet so we were looking at a 20% reduction in capacity. This isn’t a mechanical limit, but was based upon loss of engine power with altitude.

I think you would find the Pilot to be at best marginal as a tow vehicle for anything other than really light trailers. It can pull a pop up readily, but for anything with hard sides over 3,000 pounds, I’d be thinking about a more capable tow vehicle.
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Old 01-09-2018, 08:54 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by SmokeyWren View Post
Husky Centerline HD 30390
Typo. Make that 31390

Originally Posted by DenverTP
The Pilot has unibody construction and the manual said not to use a weight distribution hitch.
If you don't use a WD hitch, then you cannot safely tow any trailer that weighs more than about 2,500 pounds. Because of that problem of unloading the front axle you experienced. Patching the Pilot's suspension with air bags can raise the rear end of the vehicle to bring the headlights back down to earth, but won't do anything to fix that problem of not enough weight on the front axle.
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