I tow my Escape 19 with a Rav4 Limited V6 with the towing package but that does not mean that I would recommend it. My trailer weighs 3500 lbs ready to go including the 400 lb tongue weight which is right at the recommended towing capacity of the Rav. A lot the weight over the dry weight comes from the options such as: double pane windows (100#), air conditioning (100#), dual 6V batteries (125#), propane (40#), and water in Hot water tank (48#). The rest of the weight is regular camping stuff. We run with the tow vehicle empty except of me (150#), my wife, 2 kayaks on top (65# each), and the often wet kayaking gear such as PFDs, paddles, and spray skirts. I installed Firestone airbags inside the rear coil springs to take up the weight of the actual hitch and any cargo that I may be carrying, and I inflate them so the Rav is level before I hook up the trailer. The tongue weight is distributed evenly between the front and rear axle by the weight distributing hitch so the tow vehicle is still level after I hook up the trailer.
The Rav has more than enough power at 269 HP and the braking with the trailer is terrific thanks to the tandem axle on the 19 which gives 4 brakes to handle the extra load. The stability is very good, probably due to the tandem axle as well, and I have experienced no problems with sway even when meeting large trucks going the other way at high speed or changing lanes. The main thing missing to make this the perfect tow vehicle for the 19 is weight. At 3675 lbs curb weight, the Rav weighs about the same as the trailer so I run good tires and slow down for corners out of fear that the trailer will push the car off the road. I get 15 L/100 km (15.7 mi/US gal) on the highway at 90 kph (56 mph) which is the speed that I drive when there is no traffic or it is a divided highway. When on a 2 lane highway, I drive the speed of the other traffic even if it means going 110 kph (68 mph) and using 20 L/100 km (11.8 mi/US gal).
Towing at the rated maximum of the tow vehicle leaves little room for error by the driver or by other drivers. I am a very “aware” driver and am always conscious of the road conditions, the other traffic, and the feel of my vehicle. When driving the “no speed limit” Autobahns of Germany when I was younger, I learned that driving requires all of my attention and to this day when I drive, that’s all I do. On the other hand, surveys indicate that most people think that they are above average drivers so you should probably take the preceding with a gain of salt.
My next vehicle will probably be the Toyota Highlander which has a 5.3” longer wheelbase, a 3.6” wider track, essentially the same motor and transmission, weighs 551 lbs more, and is rated at 5000 lb towing capacity.
Tow vehicle ratings are a real mystery and the net is full of theories about marketing, European ratings being higher than North American ratings for the same vehicle, lawyers being involved, etc. I look forward to the new SAE rating system that is supposed to be coming where the rating is based on actual tests: http://www.leftlanenews.com/sae-anno...standards.html
I have intentionally not posted about my tow vehicle before because I do not want to encourage others to do the same. I would definitely recommend a 5000 lb capacity tow vehicle for the Escape 19. The additional towing capacity will allow you to deal with the unexpected that is bound to occur sooner or later.