Good Sam Club Open Roads Forum: Towing a 4500lb TT with an SUV
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 > Towing a 4500lb TT with an SUV

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Midwestern United States

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Joined: 06/13/2020

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Posted: 06/13/20 11:31am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We currently tow our 17ft ultralight TT with a 2007 Honda Pilot. It is rated to tow 4500lb, we are 3500 dry and about 4350 loaded. We know we're near the top of our capacity, and had planned to tow close to home until we upgrade vehicles, but with work from home privileges during the pandemic, we took it on a now or never 2 month social distancing trip out west. She's doing it, but the mountains are a strain and the gas mileage is terrible. When we get home, we know we need to upgrade tow vehicles. We are looking for recommendations.

My strong preference is for a large SUV. My husband drives when we tow the trailer, so when we park the trailer, I do all the local driving. I am more comfortable in an SUV. I like that our cargo is accessible from inside the car. We also both like that if we want to leave the trailer at camp and have a more rugged overnight adventure (where it would be difficult to tow the TT), we can sleep in the back of the SUV.

Ideally we would like to get 12-15mpg or better. Do you have any recommendations for a large SUV that could do this? Or are we looking at a truck as the only option for these mpgs? If you think we need a truck, what do you recommend? We are probably looking for a somewhat older model as this will be our 3rd vehicle and the TT is primarily for recreation (1-3 week trips) and not full time travel (2009-2013 ish).



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Posted: 06/13/20 12:45pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I just bought a used Jeep Grand Cherokee. And tried it on a 4000 lb tt with good results.
I borrowed a friends tt and went only a couple hundred miles but the little Jeep did well.
It has a 4.7 V-8, 4wd, and the 3.73 final gear so the tow cap is listed as about 6500. I don't know that I would want to go there but for what I picked up, I've been impressed.
Non towing Mileage has been close to 16, towing it dropped to just under 12, and I do have a light foot.
There are some 5.7 engine ones out there with a little more ooomph, but this seems good to me.


Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area

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Posted: 06/13/20 12:47pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Twelve to fifteen or better MPG with a 4350 trailer, even a hi-lo, isn’t realistic. At that weight a full size SUV or truck is best IMO. Are you within payload on the Pilot?

Winnebago 2101DS TT & 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71, 300 watts solar-parallel & MPPT, Trojan T-125s. TALL pole for flags. Prefer USFS, COE, BLM, NPS, TVA, USF&WS, state & county camps. Bicyclist! 14 year Army vet - 11B40 then 11A - (MOS 1542 & 1560)



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Posted: 06/13/20 01:07pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

12-15mpg for towing?

Not gonna happen, just the nature of the beast.

Think of it like dragging a cement block the size of a billboard behind you.

Not even modern Diesels get that mileage when towing (pre emission Diesels often could get 15-19 MPG towing, newer emission Diesels are lucky to get 15 MPG empty.

Expect 9-11MPG for gas engine as a typical average, add in a lot of steep grades with heavy go peddle and you can be nearer to the 8-9MPG club.

Speed also will affect towing mileage, the faster you go, the worse it gets, lighten up on the go pedal, do not expect to drive it in a top fuel dragster mode and get decent mileage. You WILL drop speed and it WILL downshift going up grades and that WILL use more fuel.

To help make a comparision, one of my older trailer and truck combinations was a 97 Ford F250 with 5.4 and 20ft trailer (empty was 3,600 lbs and loaded was 5,800 lbs).. That combo gave me 9.1-9.9 MPG at 65 MPH.

My current combo, 2019 F250 6.2 gas engine, 26Ft TT (empty 5,000 loaded 6,200) gets me 9.1-10.1 MPG at 65 MPH for same route.

Just hooking up my 10K flat bead dovetail utility trailer with no load drags my mileage down to 10 MPG while towing and it only weighs 2,400 lbs empty.

Anyone that tells you they get 15 MPG with a gas engine while towing is lying and heck even the Ecoboost turbo F150 does the exact same thing, sure they can get 20-22 MPG EMPTY but hitch a trailer on and they drop down to 9-10MPG.

If you are seeking some off road type of adventure, a pickup truck with a fiberglass cap might work better for that.. You can setup a table/bed in the back, put some curtains in the windows and not have to deal with removing SUV seats although you would not have heat of A/C but some caps have windows which can be opened.. SUVs you would have to workaround seats that are not optimized for sleeping, carpeting and so on..


Corvallis, OR

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Posted: 06/13/20 01:15pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

^This. Some motors can be efficient when solo, but all motors drink heavy when towing. Although having more torque than the Pilot will help slightly (like 1-2 MPG) because you'll be able to maintain a lower RPMs. The EcoBoost is great for occasional towing, because it's very powerful, gets good mileage when un-hooked. But it'll still use almost as much fuel when towing.

That said... If towing mileage is a requirements, the baby-diesels shine here. But they still are plagued with emissions problems when driven in town, and you give up half the horsepower compared to the top-end gasoline offerings.


2000 Ford E450 V10 VAN! 450,000+ miles
2014 ORV really big trailer
2015 Ford Focus ST


Mc Pherson KS USA

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Posted: 06/13/20 03:57pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Suburban or Expedition and forget about good mpg when towing, not going to happen. To understand what the forces a vehicle has to deal with hold a sheet of plywood in a 20 mph wind. Now imagine what it takes to overcome a 60 mph wind.


Central Illinois

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Posted: 06/13/20 04:59pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

An honest salesman guided me away from SUV's with the comment, "People have enough trouble keeping them right side up even without towing."

Grit dog

Black Diamond, WA

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Posted: 06/13/20 07:18pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

As said above. Fuel mileage is more dependent on what your towing, how fast and the conditions than what your towing it with.
Don’t expect towing mileage, accept towing mileage.
Most any newer Mid or full size suv with a V8 will pull it effortlessly. Pick your favorite color, size and brand.

"Yes Sir, Oct 10 1888, Those poor school children froze to death in their tracks. They did not even find them until Spring. Especially hard hit were the ones who had to trek uphill to school both ways, with no shoes." -Bert A.



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Posted: 06/14/20 01:59am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

11.1mpg over 28k miles of towing. We usually have cruise set at 68 mph, just a wee bit faster than the big rigs that are governed to 65 so we don't play leap frog with them. I've tried going faster when in the flatter parts out west but fuel economy really suffered quickly, to the point where the extra gas stops were pretty much negating the speed increase. The worst tank we had was 8.5 going into a 45mph headwind in Florida for several hours. This is a 5.3 v8 hauling a little 3,600gvwr trailer. We do a little better than average not because the trailer is light, but because it's only 7' wide and under 10' tall.

2017 KZ Sportsmen Classic 181BH
2015 GMC 1500 Sierra 4x4 5.3 3.42 long bed


Hills of PA

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Posted: 06/14/20 07:33am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

All great advice above.
I'm towing a lighter TT at 3877# GVWR. With my previous TV, 2008 Ford Explorer tow rated 5225#, it towed great EXCEPT the engine was a dog. CAT Scaled it and turned out I was at 85% GCWR, and mildly overloaded on my drive & trailer axles.
Got a 2019 F150 and am super pleased when towing. And it's my DD. It did take some getting used to the 4 door's length and width compared to an Explorer. Even with the short bed, it is 10" longer than my old 1998 Expedition was (sold in 2016). Still only get get 10.3 mpg when towing but it's better than the Explorer's 9.8 mpg on a good day. V8 5.0L vs. V6 4.0L.
You don't mention kids. A standard cab or even a short bed extended cab pickup is easy enough to drive in town and could gain you a lot more towing power with a lot more options with the bed VS. an SUV.

2019 Wolf Pup 16 BHS Limited
2019 F150 SCrew STX SB 5.0 factory tow package

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