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Old 05-12-2021, 10:31 AM   #1
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Towing with Smaller Vehicle

Curious as to opinions. Any tow vehicle/small trailer combos that you guys run that you really like?

Thinking on the order of 16í or 19í Bambi models.

Do not want a gargantuan tow vehicle, so no thanks.

Any mid size pickup folks? General impressions?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-12-2021, 11:44 AM   #2
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Mid size tow vehicles

OK, I will be the first to stick my neck out. Tow vehicle questions generally open the large can of worms.

Got that out of the way. Now, if your for sure going to go 19' or less then a "Properly Equipped" midsize pickup will do the trick. The key here is to do your homework to make sure you get the truck equipped with the Factory Tow Package and insure it will have sufficient payload to haul your junk and pull the trailer. Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, Ford Ranger, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma are all capable of dragging around a 19' AS if it is properly equipped. Notice I have stressed "Properly Equipped" more than once. Not all trucks are created equal. Engines, transmissions, rear axle ratios, payload rating are all subject to change depending on equipment. Also, the higher the trim level the lower the payload rating due to the extra weight of accessories.

Some of the midsize SUV's are OK also. However, be careful here. Make sure you check the tow specs of the exact unit you are entertaining.

So....do some research. Finally, never believe the RV saleperson or the tow vehicle salesperson when they say "Sure that will tow it. No Problem". Verify everything to your satisfaction by doing the needed homework to educate yourself about towing requirements and the capability of your choice of tow vehicle.

Good luck digging! Now start that homework.
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Old 05-12-2021, 12:05 PM   #3
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Good advice above. Do your homework before you buy your trailer or tow vehicle. Save yourself from an expensive mistake. Auto manufacturers don’t make it easy to find all the information needed to make an informed decision. You have to dig for it. New car sales people will look at you like you are speaking a foreign language if you ask them questions about towing capacities. As you’ll see, there’s much more to this than simply checking a vehicle’s maximum tow rating.
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Old 05-12-2021, 12:09 PM   #4
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The downside of the current "midsize" pickups (Ranger, Tacoma, Canyon/Colorado) is that they're really not much more efficient than their half-ton brethren. (The Tacoma is more efficient than the thirsty Tundra, but doesn't compare well with the other 3 half-tons.) You get a lot of capacity with not much penalty with a 1500/150.
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Old 05-12-2021, 12:45 PM   #5
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If I was looking for a TV for those size trailers you mention, I would surely look at an F150 Echoboost or GM 6.2 with at least 1500lbs payload. Maybe even a RAM, but check payload. Toyota Tundra has a great reliability reputation but low payload and they are still using old 6 speed transmission/technology and have poor mileage. If I was looking for an SUV, Andy from CANAM is very high on the Durango SUV with good things to say about both the engine & chassis/suspension for a TV...I would surely give it a look.
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Old 05-12-2021, 01:03 PM   #6
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The downside of the current "midsize" pickups (Ranger, Tacoma, Canyon/Colorado) is that they're really not much more efficient than their half-ton brethren. (The Tacoma is more efficient than the thirsty Tundra, but doesn't compare well with the other 3 half-tons.) You get a lot of capacity with not much penalty with a 1500/150.
I had kind of the opposite reaction. I have a Colorado Duramax and was recently shopping for a 150/1500. I was underwhelmed. Sure, they had higher towing capacities and tongue weight capacities, but the more heavily optioned variants had payloads that were in many cases lower than mine. So, as a practical matter, those additional capacities were unusable because I would run out of payload before I would run out of tongue or towing capacity. The additional GVWR, width and wheelbase of a half-ton would be nice for stability. But all things considered, the choice to go up to a half-ton wasnít as clear-cut as I would have expected and I donít know of itís that some mid-sizers are overachievers, some half-tons are underachievers, or a bit of both. But mid-sizers are certainly more capable than they used to be. I wouldnít be too hasty in ruling them out.
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Old 05-12-2021, 01:14 PM   #7
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A 16' Bambi can be safely towed by just about anything. We use a 3-series BMW wagon, lots of folks use smaller SUVs (Volvo XC60, BMW X3/X5, Porsche Macan, etc). With a proper weight distribution hitch and being mindful of your trailer loading and payload capacity you'll be perfectly fine. Any mid-size pickup like a Canyon would be plenty sufficient.

Alternately: No, you can't safely tow anything larger than a lawn mower unless you're using an F350 Dually. Anything else makes you a hazard to everyone on the road.
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Old 05-12-2021, 01:17 PM   #8
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I had kind of the opposite reaction. I have a Colorado Duramax and was recently shopping for a 150/1500. I was underwhelmed. Sure, they had higher towing capacities and tongue weight capacities, but the more heavily optioned variants had payloads that were in many cases lower than mine. So, as a practical matter, those additional capacities were unusable because I would run out of payload before I would run out of tongue or towing capacity. The additional GVWR, width and wheelbase of a half-ton would be nice for stability. But all things considered, the choice to go up to a half-ton wasnít as clear-cut as I would have expected and I donít know of itís that some mid-sizers are overachievers, some half-tons are underachievers, or a bit of both. But mid-sizers are certainly more capable than they used to be. I wouldnít be too hasty in ruling them out.
This is exactly why homework is necessary! A smaller truck or SUV may be ideal in some situations, and it may be lacking in some situations. I see the same thing with 3/4 ton trucks. Once you add the big, heavy diesel engine, some of them donít have much more capacity than a 1/2 ton.
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Old 05-12-2021, 01:37 PM   #9
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I would suggest for 16-19 ft range, don't immediately throw out the idea of 150/1500 half ton.

I used to think to myself "why does anyone have a pickup truck as their everyday car?"

But now that I own a F150 Max Tow, I'm really enjoying it. It's quite fun doing some of the mods along with whatever mods on the Airstream. The "drivability" is much nicer than I imagined it, and having the truck bed is extremely useful when going camping. Just throwing a bunch of stuff in the back, including portable camp firepits like Solo Stove. It's also very good for carrying gasoline, generator, propane tank to get it filled, without having it inside the passenger compartment like in an SUV.

And they are not THAT much bigger than Ford Rangers and other compact pick-ups.

Coming from a person that used to drive Nissan Leaf & Toyota Prius. Turns out F-150 is a nice everyday car (except for the 16-22 mpg, that's the only downside)

OH, GET THE EXTENDED FUEL TANK.
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Old 05-12-2021, 01:44 PM   #10
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I have a 16RB Caravel and tow it with my Ram 1500 Hemi and my 21 JLU Rubicon.I have a WH hitch for each TV as the beefier ones are hard on the Jeep. No probs with either though the 1500 doesn’t even know it’s back there, and either do I until I hear the low fuel ding and am reminded of 10mpg. I’m a back roads driver and also am the guy on the interstate doing 60-65mph Max so I do use sway, but rarely run into a scenario where it can rear its ugly head.
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Old 05-12-2021, 01:48 PM   #11
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I had kind of the opposite reaction. I have a Colorado Duramax and was recently shopping for a 150/1500. I was underwhelmed. Sure, they had higher towing capacities and tongue weight capacities, but the more heavily optioned variants had payloads that were in many cases lower than mine. So, as a practical matter, those additional capacities were unusable because I would run out of payload before I would run out of tongue or towing capacity. The additional GVWR, width and wheelbase of a half-ton would be nice for stability. But all things considered, the choice to go up to a half-ton wasnít as clear-cut as I would have expected and I donít know of itís that some mid-sizers are overachievers, some half-tons are underachievers, or a bit of both. But mid-sizers are certainly more capable than they used to be. I wouldnít be too hasty in ruling them out.
Sunroofs and subwoofers have mass, which reduces payload. You can't honestly compare significantly different trim levels and call it comparable... What's your stickered payload vs trim level? On a high-trim (502a) 3.5EB Lariat 4x4 max-tow I have just under 1700 lb of payload on the door sticker and there was more to be had if I stuck with an XLT, but that's in the range I was looking for. I ordered my truck, however, because most of the trucks on the lot have stuff I didn't want (like the aforementioned sunroof) and lacked stuff I wanted (like the towing mirrors that are never on the lot, and not even offered on the midsize trucks.)

I shopped the Colorado/Canyon when they came out. I had a narrower trailer at the time (vintage Argosy) and was interested in the little Duramax, which took FOREVER to actually come to market.
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Old 05-12-2021, 01:49 PM   #12
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FWIW, I have a 20' that I'm towing w/ a 1500 Sierra, they're very well matched together. If you're going to be sticking w/ a 16' or a 19', there's not a need to consider something bigger than a 1500, the 1500 would be like a 3/4-ton for that size of a trailer.

But has already been touched on: when you figure out which camper you decide on, look at its tongue weight, and make sure that the vehicle (be it a truck or an SUV) you're picking out has enough tongue capacity, plus enough payload for whatever else you want to carry.

Good luck!
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Old 05-12-2021, 02:31 PM   #13
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Sunroofs and subwoofers have mass, which reduces payload. You can't honestly compare significantly different trim levels and call it comparable... What's your stickered payload vs trim level? On a high-trim (502a) 3.5EB Lariat 4x4 max-tow I have just under 1700 lb of payload on the door sticker and there was more to be had if I stuck with an XLT, but that's in the range I was looking for. I ordered my truck, however, because most of the trucks on the lot have stuff I didn't want (like the aforementioned sunroof) and lacked stuff I wanted (like the towing mirrors that are never on the lot, and not even offered on the midsize trucks.)

I shopped the Colorado/Canyon when they came out. I had a narrower trailer at the time (vintage Argosy) and was interested in the little Duramax, which took FOREVER to actually come to market.
Again, my point is that you canít just make sweeping generalizations. Your special order has adequate payload to take advantage of the additional towing capacities. But when I walked onto the lot to look at an F-150PB 502a Lariat 4X4 regular tow, its payload was only 1404 without even a bedlinerĖabout what I have now and hard to justify at nearly double the price of my current vehicle. And that was no outlier. The larded-up Platinums frequently came in under 1300 and an XLT I looked at was only 1426. So, on this, I have to agree with Dennis Cóyou canít simply conclude you are going to put yourself in a better place to tow your trailer by just reflexively ponying up for a bigger truck. Itís never quite that simple. You have to do your homework because there will always be trade offs.

Iíve gotten good towing use out of my Duramaxóand I presume from your post you havenít driven one. It also fits in my garage, parks easily and I doubt thereís a half-ton that is as fuel-efficient when not towing. Your EB certainly isnít. Those characteristics might not be important to you. But the market for mid-sizers is brisk so they are important to enough people that four manufacturers continue to make them. And I would venture to guess that they are pretty important to the OP as well, because mid-sizers are what he asked about.
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Old 05-12-2021, 03:08 PM   #14
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we tow our sport 22Fb with an audi Q5. no issues, easy to pull

Andy ( form CANAM) told us that we can even pull up to a 25 FB with the same vehicle
that is what we want to move to next

the OEM spec state 5000 lb pull and 500 ball weight.
Andy says these numbers are VERY conservatives
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Old 05-12-2021, 03:16 PM   #15
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Again, my point is that you canít just make sweeping generalizations. Your special order has adequate payload to take advantage of the additional towing capacities. But when I walked onto the lot to look at an F-150PB 502a Lariat 4X4 regular tow, its payload was only 1404 without even a bedlinerĖabout what I have now and hard to justify at nearly double the price of my current vehicle. And that was no outlier. The larded-up Platinums frequently came in under 1300 and an XLT I looked at was only 1426. So, on this, I have to agree with Dennis Cóyou canít simply conclude you are going to put yourself in a better place to tow your trailer by just reflexively ponying up for a bigger truck. Itís never quite that simple. You have to do your homework because there will always be trade offs.

Iíve gotten good towing use out of my Duramaxóand I presume from your post you havenít driven one. It also fits in my garage, parks easily and I doubt thereís a half-ton that is as fuel-efficient when not towing. Your EB certainly isnít. Those characteristics might not be important to you. But the market for mid-sizers is brisk so they are important to enough people that four manufacturers continue to make them. And I would venture to guess that they are pretty important to the OP as well, because mid-sizers are what he asked about.
Apples to oranges and no numbers on yours, eh?

Compare your diesel MPG to the half-ton diesel MPGs and (surprise!) they're about the same. The Silverado 1500 Duramax, in fact, has better EPA mileage. The gas V6 4x4 Colorado is about 1 mpg combined more than a 3.5EB F150 4x4. (18 for the F150, 19 for the Colorado/Canyon per the EPA site.)

A high-trim 4x4 Canyon crew-cab lists for about 9k less than MSRP for my Lariat, about a 15% difference, so you've got to be comparing apples to oranges to get to "nearly double" as well.

You can't simply conclude you're going to get the best tow vehicle for your purposes without considering the options and the trade-offs. I have not TOWED with a Colorado or Canyon, but I drove them at dealers when I was initially looking at new vehicles in '15 or so and wasn't interested in it enough to go back for it when I actually DID buy a truck in '17, in part because we were getting a larger trailer and in part because I was less comfortable in it, which is more preference than performance. I would likely have special-ordered whatever I bought in '17 because dealers mostly keep inventory for quick sale rather than utility... I found that to be true of all 3 US manufacturers (I wasn't seriously looking at Toyota for several reasons).
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Old 05-12-2021, 03:23 PM   #16
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Apples to oranges and no numbers on yours, eh?

Compare your diesel MPG to the half-ton diesel MPGs and (surprise!) they're about the same. The Silverado 1500 Duramax, in fact, has better EPA mileage. The gas V6 4x4 Colorado is about 1 mpg combined more than a 3.5EB F150 4x4. (18 for the F150, 19 for the Colorado/Canyon per the EPA site.)

A high-trim 4x4 Canyon crew-cab lists for about 9k less than MSRP for my Lariat, about a 15% difference, so you've got to be comparing apples to oranges to get to "nearly double" as well.

You can't simply conclude you're going to get the best tow vehicle for your purposes without considering the options and the trade-offs. I have not TOWED with a Colorado or Canyon, but I drove them at dealers when I was initially looking at new vehicles in '15 or so and wasn't interested in it enough to go back for it when I actually DID buy a truck in '17, in part because we were getting a larger trailer and in part because I was less comfortable in it, which is more preference than performance. I would likely have special-ordered whatever I bought in '17 because dealers mostly keep inventory for quick sale rather than utility... I found that to be true of all 3 US manufacturers (I wasn't seriously looking at Toyota for several reasons).
I was simply trying to give some perspective to respond to what the OP asked about. Mid-sizers. You have a different perspective. Fine. Donít get your panties in a bunch just because not everyone is a big-truck guy. Maybe we should have a moderator get us back on track. Oh, wait. . . .
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Old 05-12-2021, 03:32 PM   #17
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I was simply trying to give some perspective to respond to what the OP asked about. Mid-sizers. You have a different perspective. Fine. Donít get your panties in a bunch just because not everyone is a big-truck guy. Maybe we should have a moderator get us back on track. Oh, wait. . . .
I test-drove midsize, half-ton and 3/4 ton when I was looking. I would recommend that someone in the market to spend $40k plus do the something similar, and choose what they prefer after that experience. I didn't dismiss the mid-sizers or the HDs until I'd driven all 3.

Sorry to call you on your trash-talk about MPG etc. but facts are facts.
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Old 05-12-2021, 03:36 PM   #18
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I test-drove midsize, half-ton and 3/4 ton when I was looking. I would recommend that someone in the market to spend $40k plus do the something similar, and choose what they prefer after that experience. I didn't dismiss the mid-sizers or the HDs until I'd driven all 3.

Sorry to call you on your trash-talk about MPG etc. but facts are facts.
Sorry, I wasnít trash talkingóthatís your bias talking, not me. I was comparing apples to oranges, deliberately, because not everyone wants, or needs, or can make use of an apple particularly when an orange will do the job just fine.
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Old 05-12-2021, 03:41 PM   #19
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Sorry, I wasnít trash talkingóthatís your bias talking, not me. I was comparing apples to oranges, deliberately, because not everyone wants, or needs, or can make use of an apple particularly when an orange will do the job just fine.
And you "doubt thereís a half-ton that is as fuel-efficient when not towing" because... you don't want to believe it? Certainly not because you wanted to be thorough or intellectually honest, since you could buy it from the same dealer that sells your truck.
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Old 05-12-2021, 03:57 PM   #20
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And you "doubt thereís a half-ton that is as fuel-efficient when not towing" because... you don't want to believe it? Certainly not because you wanted to be thorough or intellectually honest, since you could buy it from the same dealer that sells your truck.
Wow. You are pissy for someone whose supposed to be holding others to a higher standard.

But letís take this on your terms. I tested a GMC Sierra Duramax the other day. Payload of 1501, tongue max of 850, towing of 8500. My micro Duramax. Payload 1335, tongue 900, towing 7600. Iíve gotten 36 MPG on the highway. No way for me to know real world on the Sierra, but given its weightó1K gross more than mine and a lot more wind resistance given its width and heightóI wouldnít expect a whole lot more than the 26 estimate. But who cares? Or to put it less rhetorically, I donít. Itís the proverbial apple. There isnít enough improvement over what I have for me be able to justify the $70K MSRP, especially when I donít need it. If it works for you, great. Go with God. You donít claim to be God too, do you?
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