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Old 05-26-2012, 10:37 AM   #29
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I don't think any SUV can be called a great tow-vehicle - short wheel-base and high centre of gravity don't lend themselves to dragging something behind them that weighs as much or more than they do.

Having said that:

Our 02 Bambi has been towed by a V6 SUV for just over 81,000 KM - first by an 03 Pathfinder - and then we traded "up" to an 09 Pathfinder.

As already mentioned earlier - we sought and received great advice and assistance from Can Am RV in improving and setting-up a tow package. We switched to LT tires and installed a Hensley. In an instant there was an incredible, even unbelievable, increase in towing comfort and perceived safety.

The 03 Pathfinder was a slightly smaller motor and vehicle than the 09. We did not tow in overdrive - which leaves that motor running at roughly 3,000 RPM @ 100 KM/HR - but it did so comfortably all day every day. That vehicle took us to the Black Hills, Grand Canyon, Smokey Mountains, Newfoundland and all places inbetween - it served us well (still does - my son owns it) - after all was said and done I would call it "OK" for our trailer.

The 09 Pathfinder is a little heavier with a little more grunt power - it definitely has improved towing performance and comfort. We still use a Hensley (wouldn't have anything else) but had to have Can AM fabricate a custom stinger for it. This combination has done a lot of Canadian Shield country and last year it took us to Alaska and back on a 2-month road trip. I would call this vehicle "good" for our trailer - but would emphasize that the Hensley has a lot to do with our comfort level.



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Old 05-26-2012, 11:40 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dkottum View Post
The discussion is about towing a late model 19' Airstream.

What does that have to do with diesel pickups? Ridiculously inappropriate.

doug k
I think you missed the point. The question boils down to power/torque/weight ratio which ultimately answers the question.

Can a small SUV pull a 19' AS? Probably.
Will it do well pulling long grades or passing other vehicles? Maybe not.
And if it can't, will I experience frustration and stress? Probably Yes.
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Old 05-26-2012, 12:31 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by RangerJay View Post
I don't think any SUV can be called a great tow-vehicle - short wheel-base and high centre of gravity don't lend themselves to dragging something behind them that weighs as much or more than they do.

Having said that:

Our 02 Bambi has been towed by a V6 SUV for just over 81,000 KM - first by an 03 Pathfinder - and then we traded "up" to an 09 Pathfinder.

As already mentioned earlier - we sought and received great advice and assistance from Can Am RV in improving and setting-up a tow package. We switched to LT tires and installed a Hensley. In an instant there was an incredible, even unbelievable, increase in towing comfort and perceived safety.

The 03 Pathfinder was a slightly smaller motor and vehicle than the 09. We did not tow in overdrive - which leaves that motor running at roughly 3,000 RPM @ 100 KM/HR - but it did so comfortably all day every day. That vehicle took us to the Black Hills, Grand Canyon, Smokey Mountains, Newfoundland and all places inbetween - it served us well (still does - my son owns it) - after all was said and done I would call it "OK" for our trailer.

The 09 Pathfinder is a little heavier with a little more grunt power - it definitely has improved towing performance and comfort. We still use a Hensley (wouldn't have anything else) but had to have Can AM fabricate a custom stinger for it. This combination has done a lot of Canadian Shield country and last year it took us to Alaska and back on a 2-month road trip. I would call this vehicle "good" for our trailer - but would emphasize that the Hensley has a lot to do with our comfort level.



Jay
A Toyota owner told us that Toyota of Canada wrote this to them: "We would like to take this opportunity to mention that most hitch manufacturers only recommend weight distribution when towing over 5000 pounds; the Highlander has a max. tow capacity of 5000 lbs. Weight distribution hitches put a great deal of strain on the frame of the vehicle. Unibody vehicles are not built for this type of strain; The Highlander is a unibody that does not have a full frame, therefore it is not recommended to use with a weight distribution hitch". Does this info seem accurate with all that you know? Appreciate your post.
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Old 05-26-2012, 12:54 PM   #32
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I think you have to listen to what Toyota say. They built the truck they should know what it can and can not do.
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Old 05-26-2012, 03:32 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Pam777 View Post
A Toyota owner told us that Toyota of Canada wrote this to them: "We would like to take this opportunity to mention that most hitch manufacturers only recommend weight distribution when towing over 5000 pounds; the Highlander has a max. tow capacity of 5000 lbs. Weight distribution hitches put a great deal of strain on the frame of the vehicle. Unibody vehicles are not built for this type of strain; The Highlander is a unibody that does not have a full frame, therefore it is not recommended to use with a weight distribution hitch". Does this info seem accurate with all that you know? Appreciate your post.
It appears the Toyota rep knows very little about the vehicles they sell and the fine art of towing.
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Old 05-26-2012, 04:05 PM   #34
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I think you missed the point. The question boils down to power/torque/weight ratio which ultimately answers the question.

Can a small SUV pull a 19' AS? Probably.
Will it do well pulling long grades or passing other vehicles? Maybe not.
And if it can't, will I experience frustration and stress? Probably Yes.
No. The question boils down to, they have a new Toyota Highlander and can they use it to tow a 19' Airstream?

The answer is "yes", and the experience is not likely to be stressful. And there are minor upgrades that can improve it.

The whole idea behind Airstreaming is not motoring effortlessly uphill, but bringing along all the comforts of home with the family car. If you don't believe me, ask Wally Byam.

doug k
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Old 05-26-2012, 05:11 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pam777 View Post
A Toyota owner told us that Toyota of Canada wrote this to them: "We would like to take this opportunity to mention that most hitch manufacturers only recommend weight distribution when towing over 5000 pounds; the Highlander has a max. tow capacity of 5000 lbs. Weight distribution hitches put a great deal of strain on the frame of the vehicle. Unibody vehicles are not built for this type of strain; The Highlander is a unibody that does not have a full frame, therefore it is not recommended to use with a weight distribution hitch". Does this info seem accurate with all that you know? Appreciate your post.
I can't speak directly to your Toyota frame question - but can tell you with absolute certainty - you will need a good weight distribution hitch.

A good towing experience is stress free - before we got that we changed pretty much everything about our towing set-up within the first couple of years.

Here is the list of things we did to make our own towing experience a more comfortable one:

- tires were upgraded to LT with a "D" series rating
- hitch was upgraded to a Hensley (ProPride is similar) with 1,000 lb bars - the stinger is custom fabricated to compensate for a high receiver on the 09 Pathfinder - the stinger is also an inch shorter to help offset the over-hang between the rear axle and the receiver.
- the brake controller has been upgraded to a Tekonsha P3 for the Boost feature.
- larger propane tanks have been swapped out for 20 lb tanks to help compensate for the extra weight of the Hensley.
- a ScanGuage II is mounted on the dash - among other things, this provides a direct readout of the engines water temperature.

What I learned the hard way (several times) is that when you own a vehicle that is towing close to its capacity:
- it pays to get the best advice you can
- it pays to get the best (and right) equipment the first time around
- it pays to keep it all well tuned and maintained.

The most knowledgeable towing "consultant" that I know is Andy at Can AM. Call him and take it from there.



Jay
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Old 05-26-2012, 06:24 PM   #36
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I do not know the answer to the question. But I have see a big Airstream with a Hensly hitch that ripped the hitch receiver completly off of a Ford 250 diesel. I would read what Toyota said and try to get a hitch receiver that would take the load. Maybe with some supplemental bracing. And maybe use a Dual Cam or some other hitch that might not load the hitch like the HA does.
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Old 05-26-2012, 10:07 PM   #37
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Pam,

Phone or e-mail Andy at Can Am RV, he will have customers that tow with Highlanders and will be able to tell you the pros and cons of using that tow vehicle with an Airstream. I know you live a long way from Ontario but he'll be happy to advise you on local shops that can set you up.

For the record, we tow a 2011 28' International with a Toyota Sienna minivan. Can Am RV set us up with a modified hitch, oil cooler, brake controller and weight distribution/sway control system and the combination works. I'm sure Andy will be able to tell you if your tow vehicle will work with your planned Airstream purchase.
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Old 05-26-2012, 10:08 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dkottum View Post
No. The question boils down to, they have a new Toyota Highlander and can they use it to tow a 19' Airstream?

The answer is "yes", and the experience is not likely to be stressful. And there are minor upgrades that can improve it.

The whole idea behind Airstreaming is not motoring effortlessly uphill, but bringing along all the comforts of home with the family car. If you don't believe me, ask Wally Byam.

doug k
Doug,

My thoughts exactly.
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Old 05-26-2012, 10:30 PM   #39
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We used a 2008 Highlander Hybrid to tow our '62 Globetrotter (2800 lbs, 19') around 8000 miles in all. From Chicago to southern California, up the coast and back through Wyoming and the high plains - a couple times!

We enjoyed ourselves very much and never felt we were in danger from a wheelbase or "tail wagging the dog" standpoint. And I'm extremely careful about not taking sway seriously. I did experience significant "V8 envy" in more hilly areas, and on any sort of extended grade we did find ourselves slowing way down, occasionally to 30 mph on 7% uphill grades.

On any flat or mildly hilly terrain we kept up with traffic just fine. Keep in mind, this was also with the hybrid's variable speed transmission (VST) which has its own little quirks while towing (i.e. don't bother trying to use cruise control, which only makes the engine work wildly with confusion).

We had a receiver installed by Andy Thompson, and will confirm what others have said here.. he instills a great deal of confidence with his years of research and knowledge on the science of towing.

In conclusion: you're talking about towing 4500 lbs, considerably more than our 2800. I can't imagine enjoying that with our Highlander. It's possible your non-hybrid is more peppy... but I imagine you might feel it's an inadequate tow vehicle for more than shorter, infrequent camping trips. Probably not unsafe if you have the hitch beefed up, though.
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Old 05-27-2012, 12:33 AM   #40
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I do not know the answer to the question. But I have see a big Airstream with a Hensly hitch that ripped the hitch receiver completly off of a Ford 250 diesel. I would read what Toyota said and try to get a hitch receiver that would take the load. Maybe with some supplemental bracing. And maybe use a Dual Cam or some other hitch that might not load the hitch like the HA does.
If things went that wrong, probably any hitch would have exploded...

The magic of a Hensley or similar is sometimes lost in what is really happening... any sway motion is 100% transferred to the tow vehicle... which means as long as the wheels have traction and nothing breaks - zero sway.

If things are completely out of whack, the forces twisting on that receiver would be immense, with no real feedback that anything is amiss... either the front wheels would have to slide, the truck bend in the middle, or the receiver fail...
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Old 05-27-2012, 02:27 PM   #41
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Pam,

Phone or e-mail Andy at Can Am RV, he will have customers that tow with Highlanders and will be able to tell you the pros and cons of using that tow vehicle with an Airstream. I know you live a long way from Ontario but he'll be happy to advise you on local shops that can set you up.

For the record, we tow a 2011 28' International with a Toyota Sienna minivan. Can Am RV set us up with a modified hitch, oil cooler, brake controller and weight distribution/sway control system and the combination works. I'm sure Andy will be able to tell you if your tow vehicle will work with your planned Airstream purchase.
Mr. Toad: I put an email in to Andy last week but haven't heard anything back yet. I told him that you highly recommended him and that I very much appreciated anything he could offer, so maybe he's just really busy right now. If I don't hear back shortly, I may try to call instead. You have been most helpful...THANK YOU!!!! Pam
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Old 05-31-2012, 12:03 AM   #42
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Thanks... we're talking in the context of V6 Highlanders here... not freight trains.

Question: Can a Highlander V6 pull a 19 footer?
Answer: Yes.
Context understood^. My point was about what I felt was an inaccurate generalization about 5/6 speed transmissions top gears and towing RVs. Freight trains' diesel generation of electricity for electric motors notwithstanding ... TORQUE makes the difference in internal combustion diesel vs gas engines and gearing for towing. PERIOD

I was attracted to this thread because we have a similar sized V-6 SUV. Agreed, a Highlander V6 can pull a 19 footer ... 'just dislike seeing the earlier inaccurate generalization on transmissions towing RVs. My apologies for anyone who was offended by my attempt at clarification. Heck, we can pull our 20' with our 2-door Jeep Wrangler V-6 as well - and, often do. The gas V-6 delivers great mileage, but O/D is locked out on mountain passes resulting in higher fuel consumption as well as a climbing transmission temperature; the engine needs to be kept in the torque band...regardless of horsepower. We had the same situation with the previous gas Mopar straight six, a bullet-proof transmission, a much lighter hard sided pop-up AND a transmission auxilliary cooler with an accurate temperature guage. Is that comparable info for those of you that expressed negativity on my clarification regarding top 5/6 gears as being inappropriate. A concern for us is the hitch receiver - although reinforced - being up to the job on the Wrangler frame ... TV mass vs AS mass ... very close; so, we generally reduce our travel speed accordingly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Friday
I would suggest there aren't many 5 or 6 speed transmissions that belong in top gear (overdrive if that is how it is labelled) when towing any kind of RV... You'll find the engines tend to lug and may even get worse mileage than dropping a gear.
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