Originally Posted by Len n Jeanne
A lot depends upon what type of camping and driving you do.
A sedan would truly limit our preferred type of camping. We like to go to semi-wild places, drop the trailer in the campsite, and then take off for a day's outing. Generally our destinations require some driving on rough dirt roads. We usually need a high-clearance vehicle, preferably 4WD. (For example, getting to Kintla and Bowman Lakes at Glacier NP, or exploring the San Rafael Swell in Utah.)
If people wouldn't normally go off the pavement, then a sedan should work just as well.
We normally drive in mountainous terrain, including over major mountain passes. If someone's sedan has enough power to tow a loaded trailer over a high pass without creeping along at 20 mph in the right-hand land behind the semis, and are happy doing it, they don't need a big truck. Ditto if they never leave the flat lands.
If folks are happy campers without bringing gear that wouldn't fit into the sedan trunk or trailer, then they probably don't need a truck. Probably they don't boondock so they're OK without a generator, gas can, extra jerry can of water, paddling gear, backpacks, &c.
But this conversation does make one wonder why auto manufacturers post towing limits and GVWRs to begin with if they are so pointless.
We just traded up from a V6 Tacoma to a V8 Tundra, and are really happy with the way it handles towing our newer, heavier trailer. We don't seem to be losing much gas mileage on the highway, maybe because the engine isn't working so hard.
Ah, well. To each their own.
Hi Len n Jeanne,
I'm catching up on this most interesting discussion.
I can certainly understand where you are coming from. Also, the incremental cost of driving your truck for all purposes is much less than buying a small car for local driving. We simply need to stay in more accessible places and drive a little further, I guess. We certainly have no trouble at Waterton Lakes NP.
I have towed over the Kootenay Pass, west to east. I was doing a bit more than 20 mph - 25 actually, up the 8% grade in first gear! (Our newer tow vehicle would do it at 40.) There is that old rule of going down in the same gear you went up in . . . I made the mistake of shifting to 2nd, and I needed to use the brakes a couple of times on the 7-8% grade on the east side - the two miles or so before the first right hand curve. However, a trucker passed me doing about 60; I think the aerodynamic drag of his trailer was enough to hold his speed constant without braking. The continental divide on I-90 is much easier.
I choose to tow with a car for reasons of overall economy, and probably 50% less fuel use from day to day. I have no qualms about handling, stability, and braking.
Yes, there are lots of trucks where you live. However, it seems to me that the biggest trucks and 5th wheels are owned by the Albertans who show up in the summer.
(Our 27' Airstream looks rather small in our neighbourhood!)
I am not surprised that the Tundra doesn't use more fuel than the Tacoma while towing. If speed is equal, aerodynamic drag is the key factor for highway fuel economy, not weight or engine size.
It's great to see you are continuing to enjoy a very active retirement!