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Old 07-08-2018, 04:05 PM   #1
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A Question About Towing a 21

Hello everyone,
My wife and I are in the process of purchasing a new 21 and I'm trying to decide on a proper tow vehicle.
More than likely we will be on the road at least 6 to 8 months a year with travels ranging over most of the US and some trips to Canada and Alaska. So lots of mountains.
Is the general feeling that a new Toyota 4runner will handle a 21, or should I consider a half ton pickup?
I'm mostly concerned about overstressing the powertrain of whatever we end up buying.
I've been an aircraft mechanic for the last 47 years so I'm not afraid of doing any modifications to get the vehicle into towing shape.
If we have to keep the speed down when towing I can do that no problem, my daily driver is a 82 Mercedes 240D (67hp. new!)
Thanks for any info you folks can give us.
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Old 07-08-2018, 04:37 PM   #2
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A 4-Runner will tow a 21, but it will be hard on it in a mountainous environment. Being on the road 6-8 months annually I'd expect you'll be on the heavier end (more stuff), so a stronger vehicle would put you in a better position to stop and stay within payload weight limits. A larger vehicle might also ride better, which will be appreciated as you travel longer distances.
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Old 07-08-2018, 04:41 PM   #3
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Having towed an older model (2014) 21' which is lighter than the current one, with a 4Runner, and then we now tow with a Ram, my response would include several questions.

Do you already have the 4Runner?
Do you have a reason to want to use an SUV versus a truck?

There are a good number of owners using 4Runners and Highlanders, but I really enjoy not having to watch transmission temps, what gear I'm in, and and the weight of stuff we take like I did with our older model 4Runner

Bear in mind that the new 21 could easily have a tongue weight of 500+ pounds. My older one has that much, and if yours is well optioned, it could get well over that.

You sound like a patient guy if you're driving the Diesel, but you should try a test drive in some of the new pickups, diesel and gas of all the major brands. I think you'll be impressed.
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Old 07-08-2018, 05:10 PM   #4
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I was looking at the 4runner because of it's off road capabilities over a pickup. We plan on staying in an area of an extended time so we can really explore before moving on.
My wife doesn't like the idea of a pick up for some reason. We've demoed a F150 and Ram and she isn't impressed with the ride, and thinks they're too big to trail drive in mountians. ( I kind of agree on the size issue)
I've been looking at 4runner forums and it seems like some say no problem pulling that weight just do a few mods, i.e. trans cooler, a regear, and others say don't even think about it.
As far as carrying more stuff a pick up is better for that, but does anyone really fill up the bed when traveling? And if so, with what?
Thanks for the very helpful replies!
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Old 07-08-2018, 05:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rotorbudd View Post
I was looking at the 4runner because of it's off road capabilities over a pickup. We plan on staying in an area of an extended time so we can really explore before moving on.
My wife doesn't like the idea of a pick up for some reason. We've demoed a F150 and Ram and she isn't impressed with the ride, and thinks they're too big to trail drive in mountians. ( I kind of agree on the size issue)
I've been looking at 4runner forums and it seems like some say no problem pulling that weight just do a few mods, i.e. trans cooler, a regear, and others say don't even think about it.
As far as carrying more stuff a pick up is better for that, but does anyone really fill up the bed when traveling? And if so, with what?
Thanks for the very helpful replies!
In regards to bed of truck

Question 1 = Yes
Question 2 = Gas grill , propane , cord , hoses ,lawn chairs , portable table , electric griddle , trailer accessories , tools , BAL leveler , Kindling , cooler , trailer repair parts , small air compressor , jack , etc etc etc etc !!

The bed of my truck is full

Most of which I do not want to carry in my trailer or inside the passenger compartment of my truck .
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Old 07-08-2018, 05:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rotorbudd View Post
I was looking at the 4runner because of it's off road capabilities over a pickup. We plan on staying in an area of an extended time so we can really explore before moving on.
My wife doesn't like the idea of a pick up for some reason. We've demoed a F150 and Ram and she isn't impressed with the ride, and thinks they're too big to trail drive in mountians. ( I kind of agree on the size issue)
I've been looking at 4runner forums and it seems like some say no problem pulling that weight just do a few mods, i.e. trans cooler, a regear, and others say don't even think about it.
As far as carrying more stuff a pick up is better for that, but does anyone really fill up the bed when traveling? And if so, with what?
Thanks for the very helpful replies!
Hey Rotorbudd, we are sort of with you on this and am interested to see what people are saying. We too are looking for an SUV rather than a truck for our new 21 due in December this year. We live in a mountainous kind of environment, and I can tell you that from the towing experience with our previous 17B and a smaller vehicle, albeit correctly rated for the trailer we had, it wasn't quite enough. If you want to be on the road for 6-8 months of the year, to my mind, a vehicle that's only rated 5,000 lbs will be barely enough for a 21. Sure it can do it, but long climbs will feel laboured and slow and you may find yourself frustrated at wishing you had gone for a vehicle that could tow a little more.

Someone on this forum (with apologies as I can't remember who) suggested that to be comfortable, you should only be towing at 80% of your maximum tow rating. Maybe something like a Tahoe or a Yukon or perhaps a Pathfinder or something with at least a 5,500 - 6,000 lb tow rating would be better for your 21.
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Old 07-08-2018, 05:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
In regards to bed of truck

Question 1 = Yes
Question 2 = Gas grill , propane , cord , hoses ,lawn chairs , portable table , electric griddle , trailer accessories , tools , BAL leveler , Kindling , cooler , trailer repair parts , small air compressor , jack , etc etc etc etc !!

The bed of my truck is full

Most of which I do not want to carry in my trailer or inside the passenger compartment of my truck .
So I guess with a pick up and that in the bed I would need something like a Leer topper to keep it safe and out of sight?
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Old 07-08-2018, 06:00 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by rotorbudd View Post
So I guess with a pick up and that in the bed I would need something like a Leer topper to keep it safe and out of sight?
I have a fiberglass Unicover topper painted to match my vehicle
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Old 07-08-2018, 06:13 PM   #9
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Just this past weekend we traded in our Jeep Commander (5000# tow capability, V-8) for a slightly used Ford F-150 because we were doing only 40 mph on the upgrades towing our 21. There was no reserve to get that extra oomph to pass, etc. This coming week we will be checking out pulling with the trailer. The truck has a tow capacity of 7600#. My husband really wanted to get an SUV, mostly for security and weather protection for the stuff in the bed of the truck.
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Old 07-08-2018, 06:19 PM   #10
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Shucks--the message got sent before I finished.
We will be getting a canopy for the truck bed to deal with the weather and security issue.
We were amazed that we got almost 25 mpg driving up the Columbia River to Hood River (unloaded) and back to Vancouver, WA using the a/c intermittently--which is a whole lot better than the Jeep ever got unloaded. I find the truck easy to drive, although a little large for a tight parking, lot but great on the highway. Very comfortable and you can see over the guardrails better!
Nancy
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Old 07-08-2018, 08:08 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rotorbudd View Post
I was looking at the 4runner because of it's off road capabilities over a pickup. We plan on staying in an area of an extended time so we can really explore before moving on.
My wife doesn't like the idea of a pick up for some reason. We've demoed a F150 and Ram and she isn't impressed with the ride, and thinks they're too big to trail drive in mountians. ( I kind of agree on the size issue)
I've been looking at 4runner forums and it seems like some say no problem pulling that weight just do a few mods, i.e. trans cooler, a regear, and others say don't even think about it.
As far as carrying more stuff a pick up is better for that, but does anyone really fill up the bed when traveling? And if so, with what?
Thanks for the very helpful replies!
My wife and I tow our 21 with a 2014 Tacoma, we are in the Yukon headed for Alaska. With the 4litre V-6 in the Off Road edition with access cab and canopy (with a very full box) the truck is pretty maxed out on weights at the truck scale.
I have a scan gauge to monitor trans temp and active fuel mileage, the only other modification to the truck is summo springs (though I wish I had gone with air bags).
We are getting 10 - 12 miles per gallon, Iím not pushing it on the hills and the auto trans is well with in operating temps and I can still pass if I want. Like others have said you have to watch what gear you are in.
Yes at times I wish we had a larger tow vehicle but I love the off road capabilities of my Toyota. Good Luck with your choice.
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Old 07-08-2018, 08:32 PM   #12
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Richard, Everyone is different. My wife loves the comfort of our 2016 F-150 so much she sometimes ponders getting her own F-150 as her work commuter. We added a Leer mid-rise topper for secure storage (bikes, cooler, Clam tent, etc.) and for better aerodynamics (less direct frontal cross-section of the camper). With our 5.0L V8, we've never lacked for power climbing mountain passes or accelerating when merging into fast-flowing interstate traffic. Oh, and no need for a WDH. For the record, Reace and Tammy, the couple who own ETI, pull their 5.0TA with an F-150 3.5L EcoBoost.
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Old 07-09-2018, 06:16 AM   #13
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Thanks Everyone!

I'd like to thank everyone for all of the very helpful comments. This forum is one of the reasons that we decided to purchase an Escape trailer. We can't wait to meet some of you on the road!

We've decided that it's better to err on the side of caution and go with a larger tow vehicle.
A pick up with a topper will give us all the extra storage space along with more power and better braking abilities.
I'm going to start looking at F150s and Tundras this week.

Guess I'll just have to rent a jeep when we want to run Black Bear Pass.
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Old 07-09-2018, 08:01 AM   #14
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When looking at trucks make sure you compare payload capacities .
Some brands of trucks have a rather low payload and 300 or 400 lbs of payload can make a HUGE difference.
The Ford F-150 is one of the brands with an available
higher payload and towing capacity
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Old 07-09-2018, 08:07 AM   #15
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Yes, I agree with Steve's comment. We both have Rams that will pull 3-4 tons but can only carry a little more than a 1/2 ton.....
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Old 07-09-2018, 08:58 AM   #16
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Yeah I noticed that on the Tundra when you are using a 500lb. tongue weight the payload starts to get critical.
Guess I need to get a better idea what we'll be loading into the bed.
Any idea what a normal top weighs?
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Old 07-09-2018, 09:30 AM   #17
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Yeah I noticed that on the Tundra when you are using a 500lb. tongue weight the payload starts to get critical.
Guess I need to get a better idea what we'll be loading into the bed.
Any idea what a normal top weighs?
I have a Ram Quad Cab (6 ft 4” truck bed ) and my FG topper is approx 175 lbs
The topper has a window on the passenger side that opens like an awning window
and a window on the drivers side that is a sliding window and screen for ventilation
I also have a rubber bed Matt to protect the bed of the truck and stop stuff from sliding around ( Approx 50 lbs )

Truck loaded leaving today for Lake Superior
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Old 07-09-2018, 09:53 AM   #18
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I had a fg topper on my 2009 Ram, went with a tonneau cover on my 2014 Ram to save weight..
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Old 07-09-2018, 10:02 AM   #19
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I had a fg topper on my 2009 Ram, went with a tonneau cover on my 2014 Ram to save weight..
I like the tonneau cover for weight / looks but not for security
I have seen several that were opened using a knife
I do admit cussing my topper every time I have to crawl to the front of the truck bed to dig something out .
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Old 07-09-2018, 11:12 AM   #20
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So you take another 150 - 200lbs. off the payload for a top. Add 2 people, a full tank of gas and it's starting to look like a Tundra gross weight of around 1600lbs might be too low

I'm thinking in aircraft terms. gross weight isn't useful load. Not sure of the term in towing terms
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