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Old 06-29-2015, 12:36 AM   #29
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2014 19' Flying Cloud
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Our 2013 Highlander tows our 19 FC effortlessly. We were going with the 4-Runner, but changed to the Highlander for the lower aspect, style we prefer, and gas mileage. It runs a 3.5 V-6. We concluded that the "big truck syndrome" has some false assumptions in practice, and is a source for over powering ASs. We climb steep grades (5-6 percent on the passes) easily on most trips, finding smooth slowing and stopping power on the way down. Curiously, our 2008 Highlander 3.2 was rated at 5,000 GVW for towing. Our 2013 3.5 is rated the same (?). The 4-Runner should be a gem of a tow vehicle for a 19.
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Old 06-30-2015, 10:10 PM   #30
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My wife has a 2010 4-runner and I have a 2011 Tacoma, both 6-cylinder models, and both tow our 19' Bambi very well. 4-runner has automatic transmission and my truck has 6 speed manual, and again both work just fine for towing.
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Old 07-01-2015, 01:04 PM   #31
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2005 19' Safari
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When towing with your Gen 5 4Runner, do you use overdrive, or shift into Sport mode? Do you turn off the Econ mode?
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Old 07-01-2015, 06:12 PM   #32
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My 2010 Limited runs on H4F - Everything is automatic with the 5speed transmission and overdrive. Only change for offroad to H4L or L4L. Limited is AWD.
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Old 06-25-2017, 08:37 AM   #33
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2006 16' International CCD
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Tongue weight is a key issue

I'm updating this thread with my observations. We are new AS owners, hauling a 2006 16' Bambi with our 2016 SR5 4runner, with the 4L V6 engine.

First, someone made the comment of how 16' Bambi increased in weight by 800# between 2006 and 2007. I studied this before we got our Bambi, and the answer to this riddle is in the AS fine print. 2006 lists the AC and furnace as options, while 2007 onward these were standard. AS quotes the dry weight without any options, so of course 2006 was lighter without AC and a furnace- even though I'm sure everyone included them. The plaque in the wardrobe shows the actual unloaded weight of the AS with the actual factory options. According to the plaque, with full fresh water tank, LP, and empty black water tank the AS weight was 3423, just 77 pounds shy of the 3500# GVWR. In another thread I satisfied myself that the GAWR was the critical spec and I had some significant leeway due to the amount of weight on the hitch that went elsewhere than the Bambi axle. I upgraded tires to D rated GY Endurance to get added margin. In any case, I estimate that I may be carrying 3700#, still well within the 4runner 5000# carrying capacity.

But the tongue weight is more problematic, and something I am still studying. Toyota specs the max hitch weight as 500#. Using the lever method in the AS manual, I measured the actual tongue weight of the Bambi as 495# versus a stated 430. The difference is the full propane tank, the weight due to options (My Bambi had solar, AC, and the furnace). And the fresh water tank was about 40% full with an empty black tank. Refrigerator empty and none of our clothes packed.Almost certainly we would exceed the 500# limit when packed, and clearly would be the case if we added a second battery on the hitch.

The question is what limits the hitch to 500#, and what can be done about it? Studying the 4runner forums on another site, I learned that 4th generation 4runners (MY 2003-2009) had two tow ratings, one for the V6 and one for the V8. The V6 rating was 500/5000, and the V8 rating was something like 700/7000. But, and this is key, the V8 tow package included a different hitch, that bolted to the frame directly near the outside of the vehicle. The V6 hitch bolts on a bumper cross member that itself is bolted to the frame. I read in the 4runner forums, but have not verified independently, that 4th generation V6 4runners were not compatible with WD hitches. Apparently the torsional forces on the bolt on crossmember could cause the member to twist. The V8 version solved this by attaching to the frame directly.

But I have a 5th generation, which started with MY 2010. There are no V8 options, and my 2016 came with the standard tow package of 500/5000. I crawled under the back to look at the hitch. It appear that the crossmember is now actually part of the frame. There are no bolts, just a big welded "tube" going around the back as part of the frame. The receiver is bolted to this tube. I contacted Toyota, and got an affirmative reply that I could use a WD hitch, at least for my 2016. This gets back to my original question, what is the root cause of the 500# tongue weight limit, and what can be done about it?

My hunch, and it is only that, is that the 500# limit has to do the short wheelbase of the 4runner and the lighter weight of the V6. It appears to be a similar hitch mounting scheme to the earlier V8s, and may actually be better since the crossmember is now part of the frame. Put on 500#, no WD, and the front wheel wells point upwards pretty high. I'd hate to drive it that way for any distance more than positioning it in a campsite. The front wheels must have much lower weight on them, which reduces stability greatly. While you may say that no one would drive it without WD, apparently that was the specified configuration for 4th generation V6s.

But I don't haul it that way- I use a WD hitch of course. The front wheel wells are only 1/4" raised with the WD hitch, and the combo drives nicely. I live in Colorado, and have taken it into the mountains. I keep it out of overdrive (I cruise with the S4 gear selected), and will downshift for significant grades. I may be slow in some cases, but the 4runner hauls it up. I have a Prodigy P3 brake controllers and set the boost at 1. This seems like a good combination. I had tried boost #2 coming down Rabbit Ears pass, which is 7% grade for 7 miles, and it was almost too much breaking by the AS, so I dialed back to boost #1.

My question to others is my logic: That there is some margin above the 500# tongue weight limit when using a WD hitch. As far as I can tell, it has an equal hitch or better than the 4th generation V8s that spec'd 700#. In the meantime I'm researching this more, and looking at what aftermarket hitches, if any, are available.
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Old 06-29-2017, 10:01 PM   #34
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Thanks Larry9000 for the detailed post. You have looked beneath the surface on a number of key variables. Mine is a 19' Bambi, GVW around 4400#, hitch weight ~490# with full tanks. Can you open your 4Runner clamshell door with the AS hitched on, standard shank? Mine looks like it might hit the jack post. And what about a trans fluid auxiliary cooler? From where I live there are steep grades in several directions. What kind of mileage numbers does your rig post? Thanks!
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Old 06-30-2017, 12:19 AM   #35
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2014 19' Flying Cloud
Eugene , Oregon
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No Tow Problems with a 3.5 L 2013 Highlander and FCl-19.

Quote:
Originally Posted by norcal bass View Post
Does anyone out there tow their 16 or 19 bambi with a Toyota 4 Runner? Just curious if it's within legitimate weight rating and, if so, how it handles.

Thanks.
Seems odd to have the "reply" be "Quote" ... Hope this goest through (?).
As I have written before in this forum; our Highlander V-6 with 5000 tow rating and the OEM Towing Package has no issues with up-down-hils-braking-etc. I hardly notice that I am towing my 4000 lb AS, most of the time.
Where we like to go the most has an 2500 ft elevation rise over the 2-hr span of driving. We average 16 mpg going up. My heat gauge never moves. I keep it between 50-55 mph, intentionally.
We have a professionally adjusted Equalizer hitch set-up.
I solved my only real concern, with this set-up, by adding a Voyager rear view camera. I have it monitoring-on all the time. Now, I change lanes, and check for the occasional highway racer, while knowing the real story behind me. Side mirrors just don't do the trick.
Dave in Oregon
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Old 06-30-2017, 12:23 AM   #36
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Seems odd to have the "reply" be "Quote" ... Hope this goest through (?).
As I have written before in this forum; our Highlander V-6 with 5000 tow rating and the OEM Towing Package has no issues with up-down-hils-braking-etc. I hardly notice that I am towing my 4000 lb AS, most of the time.
Where we like to go the most has an 2500 ft elevation rise over the 2-hr span of driving. We average 16 mpg going up. My heat gauge never moves. I keep it between 50-55 mph, intentionally.
We have a professionally adjusted Equalizer hitch set-up.
I solved my only real concern, with this set-up, by adding a Voyager rear view camera. I have it monitoring-on all the time. Now, I change lanes, and check for the occasional highway racer, while knowing the real story behind me. Side mirrors just don't do the trick.
Dave in Oregon
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Old 06-30-2017, 09:05 AM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norcal bass View Post
Does anyone out there tow their 16 or 19 bambi with a Toyota 4 Runner? Just curious if it's within legitimate weight rating and, if so, how it handles.

Thanks.
Have 19 foot Bambi andTV 2011 4 Runner...I have had this combination for 5 years and about 25,000. 4 Runner is equipped with factory tow package. I would not tow without tow package. 2011 has 5,000 mile tow capacity and we use an equalizer hitch. This combination has worked very well traveling all over the west. Perhaps a little slow on steep grades. I use manual shifting both up and down grades. Most highway driving in 5 gear. Mileage has averaged at about 14 mpg. I love my 4th 4 Runner but would probably not tow anything larger. Tailgate opens when hitched but that is due to a 10 reach on hitch..the distance between number and ball. The 2008 Bambi weighs 3700 lbs. and try not to exceed 4500lbs.
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Old 06-30-2017, 11:11 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richcrest View Post
Thanks Larry9000 for the detailed post. You have looked beneath the surface on a number of key variables. Mine is a 19' Bambi, GVW around 4400#, hitch weight ~490# with full tanks. Can you open your 4Runner clamshell door with the AS hitched on, standard shank? Mine looks like it might hit the jack post. And what about a trans fluid auxiliary cooler? From where I live there are steep grades in several directions. What kind of mileage numbers does your rig post? Thanks!
I just got back from pulling my 16' Bambi up to Trappers Lake, CO, 9800' with my 2016 4runner. I got 12 mpg going up, which is a 130 mile trio from where I live in Steamboat Springs, CO. I normally get 13 or so average, which is what I got for the whole trip when returned. The 2016 4runner has the factory tow package as standard, including wiring for a brake controller, a receiver for a hitch, and an auxiliary transmission cooler.

The 4R was able to pull the Bambi up, though I would need to manually downshift to keep the power needed in a climb. I would often just go slower in a lower gear, but with the 4R revving nicely. In the final climb to the campground on a steep gravel road, I put it into 4WD just to prevent slipping. I used 2nd, and even first for a while to go up steep gravel road sections.

In general, I think you should downshift to whatever gear gets you 3K-4K RPM and that speed is the result you get. Period. And, under those constraints, that Toyota engine will crank you up a mountain.

That said, I was surprised how going downhill on gravel my brakes would lock up on the Bambi first. I have a Tekonsha P3 set at boost level 1. This happened numerous times. I changed the P3 to Boost off, and then relied on the 4R in 4WD to supply more engine braking. This was a great improvement, and then changed back to a Boost 1 on firmer road, even packed dirt road.

Oh, I have an Equalizer hitch, and the 4R hatch doesn't clear the hitch height. It's enough to sneak some things out when it's partially open though.
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Old 07-01-2017, 12:34 PM   #39
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Interesting that one person with a 4-Runner and 16-ft Bambi slows down on steep hills, where my 3.5 Highlander rarely does (?). It may be the OEM towing package transmission (?). Yesterday, I spoke with the Toyota dealer rep. I asked why the 4-Runner has the same towing capacity as my Highlander (5000). They "suggested" that it is because the 4-Runner is a bit more "top heavy." Now, that comment might cause some literature ... Ha! I do wish that Toyota hadn't up-sized all their models, over the past few years. I do like my larger Highlander (we have had two of them). But, I would have purchased the 4-Runner, if it wasn't so darn tall and generally larger than the older models. That being said, I am totally sold on Toyotas. What do you think? Dave
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Old 07-02-2017, 09:42 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave-Nancy View Post
Interesting that one person with a 4-Runner and 16-ft Bambi slows down on steep hills, where my 3.5 Highlander rarely does (?). It may be the OEM towing package transmission (?). Yesterday, I spoke with the Toyota dealer rep. I asked why the 4-Runner has the same towing capacity as my Highlander (5000). They "suggested" that it is because the 4-Runner is a bit more "top heavy." Now, that comment might cause some literature ... Ha! I do wish that Toyota hadn't up-sized all their models, over the past few years. I do like my larger Highlander (we have had two of them). But, I would have purchased the 4-Runner, if it wasn't so darn tall and generally larger than the older models. That being said, I am totally sold on Toyotas. What do you think? Dave
One reason why I may be slowing down with my 4R more than you do Dave is that I live at 6700' and our last trip was taking the Bambi up to 9800' on top of a steep gravel road. There is significant difference is power between high altitude and what I experience when below 3000' on the west coast.

That said, I agree that the 4R has grown in size over the years. So have Ford Explorers and Nissan Pathfinders, which we have previously owned. The 4R was on the limit for size when we were shopping a year ago. I would have preferred a V8, but didn't want to go even larger with the Sequoia. We chose the 4R before we considered a trailer, so we wanted a light Bambi when we started looking at trailers.
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Old 07-02-2017, 10:38 AM   #41
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Update on hitch capacity

I've previously posted that the critical spec for the Toyota 4runner is the hitch rating. Though the 4R is rated at 5000# towing, Toyota assumes 10% hitch weight, or 500# max. Most trailers exceed 10% weight on the hitch, and are closer to 15%. For example, my 2006 16' Bambi is rated at 3500 GVWR with 430# hitch weight= 12.3%. But my real world measurement is 3500# and 500# hitch weight = 14.2%.

My 500# hitch weight of my 2016 4runner SR5 was right on the limit, and is certain to be over when loaded up or I add a second battery. So I went to a couple 4WD service shops in town to see what could be done. The first shop dismissed the 500# limit when using a WD hitch. He believed a true rating is much higher with WD, as the hitch weight is spread back to the axles of the TV and TT. However, he recommended that I go to the local Toyota-expertise shop to get another opinion. (There is no dealership nearby my mountain town of Steamboat Springs, but there is a shop that specializes in Toyotas). The owner of the shop came out and looked at my 4R. His verdict was that I had the factory Class 3 receiver on the vehicle, and should be good to go with weight distribution. Class 3 is rated at 600# weight carrying, and 1000# weight distribution. He also said the factory tow package includes a nice auxiliary transmission cooler, and there is no need to add an after market cooler. He said the one thing I could consider would be airbags to reduce the rear end sag (though it is limited already by the WD hitch).

I had previously contacted the Toyota rep and verified that the 2016 4runner was compatible with weight distributing hitches. Apparently there was a limit with previous generations of V6 4runners due to the bolt on crossmember holding the receiver. (The V8s had a hitch that bolted onto the frame rails directly, and had higher hitch ratings and even higher with WD hitches). In my 2016, the cross member is welded on as a continuation of the frame.

I also found some interesting insights on the internet. Apparently Toyota rates all SUV hitch weights as 10% of the towing capacity. RV 101 had an interesting article about Highlanders, and there were increases in hitch weight as the towing capacity increased with engine capacity, though there was no change in the chassis at all. This is further evidence that Toyota merely states 10% of towing capacity is the hitch weight limit, regardless of chassis and hitch design. In fact, my owner's manual states that the tongue weight should be between 9% and 11% of the trailer weight. 10% to 15% is considered the safe range in most literature.

Searching through the 4runner forums, I saw that earlier V8 4runners had a 750# tongue weight limit spec, but increased to 1095# with WD. That is not to say you can use those limits now, but if you add the 46% increase with WD to the current 500# weight carrying limit, you get 730 pounds.

My conclusion? If you have a 5th generation V6 4runner with a welded cross member to hold the receiver, you probably have more capacity than the 500# stated, particularly when you use a WD hitch. I'd recommend visually verifying that the cross member is welded in, as the bolt in members apparently had restrictions against WD hitches due to the torsional forces. This was true with 4th gen V6s, and may be true on early 5th gens too.
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