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Old 12-01-2011, 08:18 AM   #1
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The Eternal 4Runner Debate

I've seen this topic debated in the forums, but thought I'd re-bump it with some data for discussion and feedback.

Let's take a hypothetical 25' Trade Wind at ~4,000 lbs dry weight and 400 lbs hitch weight. So perhaps 5,000 lbs loaded.

I'm looking at, for example, the 2006 Toyota 4Runner with the nice 4.7L V8. It's stated towing capacity is 7,000 lbs in 4WD and 7,300 lbs in 2WD, strangely higher in those model years than the Tundra with that same 4.7L V8. Key difference seems to be that the 4Runner has a 110" wheelbase and the Tundra Double Cab has 140".

So you see a lot of back and forth on the suitability of the 4Runner; some say that properly equipped with hitch/sway bars it will do just fine. Others claim that the wheelbase is a serious problem, thus go with the longer pickup.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Jim
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Old 12-01-2011, 10:04 AM   #2
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Unfortunately the Tow Rating has (little to nothing) to do with how well a vehicle will "handle" a given trailer.
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Old 12-01-2011, 11:50 AM   #3
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We have a 4.7 Tundra with 140" wheelbase and Equal-i-zer hitch. Smooth engine that gets the job done, and truck is decent but not perfect as tow vehicle. We shift done for steep grades and slow down for heavy crosswind, so in that way it is safe and reliable.

I would prefer a much shorter wheelbase because of how we use the rig. We are destination campers, travel somewhere during winter months and stay for long periods. Long wheelbase is a pain for parking in many places and exploring tight roadways, and expensive fuel is wasted.

Am considering a European diesel SUV and Propride hitch so that we have better drivability than any pickup with or without the trailer, the power to make the grades with ease, and decent fuel economy in everyday use. The loss would be load capability for hauling but don't need that anyway.

If I needed a heavy pickup for my work or hobbies, and only used the Airstream for weekends and vacations, I would choose the pickup.

But in pure terms of economy, the best tow vehicle may be the one you have, configured properly and driven sensibly.

doug k
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Old 12-02-2011, 09:26 AM   #4
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Jim,

I had a 4.7 V8 4Runner and I loved it. It ran well, rode like a car and towed our 21 ft SOB which was about the same weight as your proposed set up. I upgraded to the Tundra because I got tired of tying my pontoon boat on top of the 4Runner. That and it really did have a negative impact on the mileage. I also didn't like carrying the generator in the back of the 4Runner.

I used an Equalizer hitch and NEVER had a problem with it. We towed through mountains, in high winds, on separated freeways and on two lane highways. No issues, no sway, no white knuckles.

That said there will be plenty who will tell you, "you can't tow with a 4Runner." I never really understood the short wheel base argument but then I was dealing with a 21 ft. trailer. There is another thread running about towing with "lesser" tow vehicles. Andy T up in Canada sets up systems and I would bet that he would not talk you out of your plans.

Good luck. More advice will come shortly.
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Old 12-02-2011, 09:34 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aftermath View Post
Andy T up in Canada sets up systems and I would bet that he would not talk you out of your plans.
.
He might, actually. Andy quotes the 4 Runner as an example of a poor tow vehicle, at least compared with others on the market. I attended one of his talks and he said that whilst you can tow with a 4 Runner that's set up properly, there are better tow vehicles out there. I wish I could remember the points he made but I think he mentioned suspension track and geometry as one of the weaker areas.

That said, give him a call; he's always willing to discuss these things Can-Am RV Centre | New and Used Travel Trailers, Motorhomes and Fifth Wheels | Towing & Hitch Specialists | Top Airstream Dealer
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:19 AM   #6
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We tow our 25' with a GX470 (same as V-8 4Runner) with a Hensley. It is a little underpowered on hills, but handles well.
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Old 12-02-2011, 12:13 PM   #7
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I have a '78 Tradewind. The factory tongue weight is 750#, actual is 775# including the hitch WD items. Include this into your thinking when you look at the payload rating and the tow bar capacity.
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Old 12-04-2011, 09:59 AM   #8
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Is this another "I want an easy answer" thread?

While a small vehicle is understandably desirable, the right small vehicle is the more important consideration. IOW, you are on the right track, but don't get hung up on a particular TV brand or model.

Let's take a hypothetical 25' Trade Wind at ~4,000 lbs dry weight and 400 lbs hitch weight. So perhaps 5,000 lbs loaded.

As the TT is the more important consideration, get the numbers on that (scale weights by owners; axle and tongue) to present a realistic analysis. Hypothetical doesn't cut it.

If AndyT says you can do better . . that would put me off the TV in question immediately. Toyota and other foreign brands never earned the "reputation" that some consider them to have, IMO. If that is the sticking point, then move to another of their models.

Sounds to me like what the TV is supposed to accomplish all around is the larger question, and needs to be addressed more succinctly. Operating cost, purchase price, reliability and longevity all play their part, and not one of the manufacuturers lacks for a TV to fit your criteria. New or used. That's another false wall, thinking that only new will do.

You might not want the truck I own . . on the other hand, no Toyota SUV or pickup was as cheap to buy, operate, repair or even comes close on fuel mileage. Had I bought a Toyota (different TT, granted) I'd have had a more expensive, less reliable and higher op-cost TV that can't do half the work, solo, loaded or towing. What I'm strongly suggesting is to spend more time on alternative TV's that at first glance did not meet what you "thought" you wanted.

The Internet -- and vehicle enthusiast forums -- make it fairly simple, just time-consuming, to search out brand/make/model weaknesses and strengths. Get the TT numbers from actual sources (Cat Scale numbers reported by owners); for the TV find frontal area restrictions on towing, and list GCWR, FAWR, RAWR and GCWR so as to do a side-by-side comparison. Read all articles in Hitch Hints by AndyT, and read all of his posts on AIR.

I would also build in the cost of TT disc brakes, a VPP hitch and best brake controller for the rig beforehand. Make life as easy as possible on the TV no matter the final choice.

Post what you find in this. Many others have the same interest. Links to other threads concerning this TV would make a good start (as apparently you've already read them), and a compare/contrast thread on what is most important to you in a TV will garner the serious attention I believe you are requesting.

Numbers are where it starts.

Look forward to it.

.
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Old 12-06-2011, 04:25 PM   #9
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AndyT had great advice!

Thanks for all the great feedback, especially about contacting the very nice and incredibly helpful Andy Thomson of CanAm RV. He generously spent twenty minutes on the phone with me to discuss the 4Runner and had some very useful advice for me.

In short - he advises against the 4Runner. He praises it as a stand-alone off-road vehicle, but apparently it has severe disadvantages, including a fairly crappy standard hitch.

When I shared with him that I currently own an Acura MDX and that a goal was to keep the family SUV functionality, he immediately offered the suggestion that the MDX with properly installed hitch (with some additional welding/ reinforcing and some tranny cooler upgrades along with brake and other wiring) would make a great tow vehicle! CanAm does upgrades to Odysseys, Ridgelines, and MDXs (that share the same frame) with great success.

I'd love to visit Andy to have the work done, but alas CanAm is pretty far from where I live, but if anybody has advice on decent shops in the Mid-Atlantic that can do high-end hitch retrofits on an Acura MDX, I'd greatly appreciate a referral.

Best

Jim
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Old 12-07-2011, 05:59 AM   #10
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Great!!

Though I'd have to disagree about "too far" to London, ON. That distance seems far, but is about the same as one of my drives up to Dallas. I can think of any number of reasons to travel to another location when the issue is serious and the supplier/service facility expert. If my truck had transmission problems it would be going to Ft. Worth; or the transmission shipped if bad enough. Folks from all over the US do the same. Reputations are earned.

One day in transit each way for the MDX. Otherwise, if plans or schematics are available, then a local shop might be able to do it. A three or four day weekend trip to Can Am would also enable one to drive some of their TV-TT combinations, and to have them look more closely at the TV presently owned. Think of other benefits of the trip, if at all possible, IOW. I'll eventually get to London, ON for some of the same reasons, although it is 1,725-miles from my location.


This is how Plymouth offered instruction to Fury owners in 1968 to build a hitch for a uniboded car for attachment to the rear subframe. The info you'd want would be similar in appearance, generally.


Keep us apprised.

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Old 12-08-2011, 10:23 PM   #11
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Jim,

Glad you were able to chat with Andy and I hope that you can get that work done on your Acura. The mods Andy was suggesting were just those he did for our Sienna and, despite what some of the good trailer folk on here may tell you, it works very well. Sure, we won't win any races but what time we lose on the hills we more than make up for sailing past the gas stations.
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