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Old 11-30-2015, 09:11 AM   #1
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toad selection

we are trying to decide on a new toad that is also a "fun" car. currently looking at Jeep Wrangler, fiat arbarth convertible and Mini Cooper convertible. any experience and tips or recommendations will be appreciated. thanks
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Old 11-30-2015, 09:23 AM   #2
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I did some looking a while back when considering a move to a Class B (since decided not to make the switch!).

I was interested in Mini as a toad, but when contacting the company I was old that they do not support such use.

Nevertheless, I understand some folk do use them as such.

Brian
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Old 11-30-2015, 09:30 AM   #3
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Consider a Porsche Boxster , light weight, big fun, affordable.
Or if practicality is high on your list a Honda Fit would fit the bill.
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Old 11-30-2015, 09:34 AM   #4
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I was told by our local Honda dealer that the company does not support the newest Fit for being towed 4 down. Older models ok though I believe.

I'm not sure if this reflects design changes or just a change in policy by Honda.

Brian.
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Old 11-30-2015, 09:46 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by jennian View Post
we are trying to decide on a new toad that is also a "fun" car. currently looking at Jeep Wrangler, fiat arbarth convertible and Mini Cooper convertible. any experience and tips or recommendations will be appreciated. thanks
In general terms, the lighter the toad, the better, at least with regard to your van's fuel economy. My 2012 Interstate (2011 Sprinter) with RennTech ECU tune gets 19 mpg near sea level on flat terrain, namely the Gulf Coast area where I live. Towing my 2013 Honda Fit— which has a 2700 pound curb weight and 3500 pound GVWR— I get 18 mpg in my Interstate, so it only costs me 1 mpg to tow. Based on current diesel prices, the cost to tow my Honda Fit is less than a penny a mile. To date I have just over 26,000 miles on my Interstate, and almost 14,000 of those are towing miles.

If you can get a PDF version of the owner's manual for whatever toad you intend to buy, it will tell you if the vehicle is towable 4-down. That is the ultimate authority. Also check out Motorhome Magazine's annual "Guide to Dinghy Towing." It's a secondary source, and so not necessarily as accurate as a specific make/model's owner's manual, but it makes a decent shopping guide for towables. One caveat, each annual issue only covers that same model year. So if you're looking to buy a previous model year, you have to look up the issue for that year. Vehicle models that are towable for one model year may not be towable for others. In the case of my Honda Fit, for example, 2013 was the last year for towing, because the 2014 model year had a CVT (continuously variable transmission) that takes it off the towable list. The list of towables gets shorter for every new model year.

For Fiats, only the Fiat 500s are towable for the 2015 models: 500, 500L, 500 Cabrio.

For Coopers, there are NO Mini Coopers listed for 2015, but there were some listed for previous model years. Sport models never were on the list.

For Jeep Wranglers, any model with 4wd is on the list for any model year.
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Old 11-30-2015, 09:57 AM   #6
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Some advice for towing, whatever model you buy…

Get a towing setup that keeps the towbar as level as possible. I've lost track of the number of toads I've seen where the toad end of the towbar is lower than the motorhome end. When the towbar is at a downward angle, some of your horsepower is wasted trying to lift the front end of the toad. A level towbar means a straight horizontal pull with no upward or downward component, and no wasted power.

That's one reason I bought a Roadmaster kit for my Honda Fit; the baseplates put the towbar attachment points directly in front of the bumper, not below the bumper as in the Blue Ox towbar baseplates, and so the towbar is within a small fraction of an inch of being level. With Blue Ox baseplates and towbar I'd have needed a 2" drop hitch on the Interstate to get the towbar level.

With that in mind, the Jeep becomes much more appealing as a toad; the Jeep's bumper is higher, and if you need to modify the hitch on the Interstate, if anything you'd need a 2" rise, not a 2" drop.
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Old 11-30-2015, 04:01 PM   #7
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I tow my Jeep Wrangler wth the Blue Ox baseplate and tow bar and it has nearly perfect alignment behind our 214.5 AI. I also use Blue Ox equipment when towing a Wrangler Unlimited 4 door behind our Prevost Bus. I have been using Blue Ox setups for 10 years on a variety of Toads with great results.
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Old 11-30-2015, 04:32 PM   #8
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I tow my Jeep Wrangler with the Blue Ox baseplate and tow bar and it has nearly perfect alignment behind our 2014.5 AI. I also use Blue Ox equipment when towing a Wrangler Unlimited 4 door behind our Prevost Bus. I have been using Blue Ox setups for 10 years on a variety of Toads with great results.
I have nothing against Blue Ox. They make fine systems. I'm just saying that for some combinations of toad and motorhome, a drop hitch on the motorhome is necessary to get the towbar level so that you're not trying to lift the front end of the toad as you tow it. And a lot of people— especially with smaller toads such as Smart Cars, Honda Fits, etc.— don't use a drop hitch when they should, either because they don't know or they don't care about keeping the towbar level.

But it's good to know that Blue Ox baseplates on a Wrangler are about level with an Interstate's hitch. That directly impacts on the OP's question.
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Old 11-30-2015, 04:33 PM   #9
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Our "toad" is a 2013 Fiat Abarth coupe. It fits the fun factor you want yet has a surprising amount of room inside. We store the hitch and brake system in the rear area behind the seats and still have room for the dog's seat in the back seat. And the steering wheel does not lock with the ignition off. It gets great gas mileage and Fiat approves four down towing. Click image for larger version

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Old 11-30-2015, 07:36 PM   #10
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Consider a Porsche Boxster , light weight, big fun, affordable.
Or if practicality is high on your list a Honda Fit would fit the bill.
Now that looks like a PERFECT combination!!
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Old 11-30-2015, 08:04 PM   #11
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My Volkswagen GTI is a hoot to drive in the mountains or on the plains and tows beautifully on a Demco tow dolly. A bit harder to load than a flat towed vehicle, but since I had the GTI it was cheaper than buying a new vehicle that could be flat towed and there were no modifications or additions required on the GTI. Just load and go.
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Old 11-30-2015, 08:25 PM   #12
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My vote is a Jeep Wrangler. Put the top down, let the wind blow through you hair.

But if it's for driving on 128, forget it. There's no vehicle that would make that fun.
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Old 11-30-2015, 08:38 PM   #13
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My vote is a Jeep Wrangler. Put the top down, let the wind blow through you hair.

But if it's for driving on 128, forget it. There's no vehicle that would make that fun.
+1 on the Wrangler ... lots of places that it can go that others can't ... few places that others go that it can't.
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Old 12-03-2015, 08:13 AM   #14
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Thanks everyone for the input. I think we have decided on a Mini Cooper . Now we just need to find the right one and pick the tow bar, etc. any advice?
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