BMW X3 as a tow vehicle for Escape 19 - Page 3 - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 05-25-2016, 11:26 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Alam View Post
......

I have driven an Acura MDX and it is quite nice as far as SUVs go. I imagine it may even be better than many average cars. But it would be unrealistic to expect a ride as smooth as a Lexus LS from any SUV. What surprises me about a MDX IS its 5000lb towing capacity with 6 cylinder engine and makes me wonder how the engine and transmission might fare in the long run. Does your SUV seem to strain in the mountains? I am leaning more towards an 8 cylinder engine SUV.
Currently we are towing only a 17' Casita.... but we scamper with ease up mountains. 300 HP. no strain whatsoever.

Yes it'll be slower + harder work for the MDX towing a 21' Escape.... but we are not full timing, and we travel relatively light, overall, for 5-10 day trips, so I think we'll be fine.

and we are not always in mountains.
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Old 05-25-2016, 11:27 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Alam View Post
Here are three potential candidates for us in the order of preference: Lexus LX, Lexus GX, Acura MDX. All three have decent ratings for towing capacity.
They all seem like good possibilities to me. The Lexus models share a platform with the Toyota 4Runner, and the MDX is the Acura version of a Honda Pilot, so if the luxury finishes and accessories are not necessary, there are more options.

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I am now also wondering if an SUV with a Diesel engine should also be considered. I understand that newer versions are not noisy and they tend to last a long time.
Diesels in cars (even tall station wagons that people like to call "SUVs") are not more durable or reliable than gasoline engines, because they're constructed the same way. They are more efficient, but are usually expensive to maintain.
A diesel can work well for towing, but in North America there are very few SUVs with diesels:
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee - capable vehicle, if you get a good one
  • various Mercedes and BMW - if you have extra cash that you need to get rid of
  • Porsche Cayenne - if you have even more extra cash that you need to get rid of
  • VW Touareg - if they're still allowed to sell them
I may have missed one or two, but I note that every one of these vehicles (or its engine) is from a European manufacturer (specifically German except for the Fiat engine in the Jeep), and not one is from a company that I would really want to buy from.
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Old 05-25-2016, 11:40 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Alam View Post
Thank you for all of your comments.

I was hoping that we may avoid buying another vehicle but it would be best to buy a 4 wheel drIve SUV. Here are three potential candidates for us in the order of preference: Lexus LX, Lexus GX, Acura MDX. All three have decent ratings for towing capacity.

I did mention the idea of getting our older Lexus LS430 modified for towing to our mechanic and he saw it fit to not even answer explicitly. All he said was that it is my car and I can do to it whatever I wish. Implication was rather obvious. He suggested a Toyota 4 Runner or a Highlander.

To keep the purchase within our budget, we will buy a used SUV at a mid-life point. If the LX wasn't such a gas guzzler, we would have simply opted for it. I am curious about gas mileage drop while towing a loaded 19ft Escape in general, not just the LX.

For a little over two decades we have only driven Lexus cars (and one Acura) and have found their quality quite satisfactory. I am now also wondering if an SUV with a Diesel engine should also be considered. I understand that newer versions are not noisy and they tend to last a long time.

Since I am only in the early phase of information gathering, all relevant suggestions and commentaries will be appreciated.
I've posted about my experiences with my 4Runner in the past, but thought I'd echo it once again here given your Lexus tendencies. I believe the LS400/LS430/4Runner/GX470/LX470/Land Cruiser all are really well engineered, and overengineered in some respects. Many of those models shared many driveline components (UZ and UR engine familes, Aisin Warner transmissions), and have had great success in terms of durability.

I have a 2007 4Runner with 2UZ-FE motor that has served me well. I haven't weighed my trailer, but with family of 4 and trailer lightly loaded for 3 weeks, I'm getting 9-12mpg towing (US gallons, varied conditions). My 4Runner is lifted with E-rated tires, and gets 13-15mpg when not towing, so take that into consideration. The fuel economy doesn't bother me as much, since I don't drive much (in terms of miles per year) other than towing. It does bother me to have to fill up often when on road trips however, just in terms of having to plan to find gas stations every 180-200 miles. Others who have stock/unmolested 4Runners have reported 12-14 mpg towing Escape trailers, so take that as a data point. I would guess a Lexus GX470 would be nearly identical, and an LX470 or Land Cruiser would be a tick less, due to weight.

Before I bought my 4Runner I was considering 2000-2010 4Runners, Land Cruisers, Lexus GX470 and LX470 models. The Land Cruisers/LX470 are well respected for their bulletproof mechanicals and offroad capability nearly everywhere in the world but the United States, where they are not as popular, and viewed as expensive minivan alternatives. Worth noting that their scarcity in the US might be considered a liability for any maintenance/repairs. This played heavily in my 4Runner purchase consideration, as I believe > 1 million 4Runners were sold between 2003 and 2009 (4th generation).

The Escapes do allow crossover/lighter weight SUV's to be used as tow rigs, but during my purchase consideration, I had a much heavier trailer purchase in the works (21' Bigfoot).
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Old 05-26-2016, 06:18 AM   #24
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Something else to consider, other than mileage and ability to tow is the ability to stop. Do not forget that with some vehicles a hitch may not mean it can tow. There are a couple new diesels out in the Colorado/Canyon division, they are small trucks but with bigger brakes and a diesel motor and are set up to handle a 19 Escape. If I did not already have a Ram 1500 I'd go with these models.
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Old 05-26-2016, 11:26 AM   #25
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Alan,
My advice would be to be certain which size Escape you want before picking a new tow vehicle. We were certain we wanted a 19' until we saw a 21' which we got. Our 4Runner would have been fine for the 19' but became marginal for the 21' although we towed 20,000 miles with it. The power was sort of OK if you run the rev's up, and the transmission temp was the weak link--I monitored that with an external readout, and frequently had to back off on uphills.
You will have 9 to 12 months from when you put a deposit down on the Escape to find the tow vehicle you need.
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Old 05-27-2016, 10:23 PM   #26
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Thank you everyone for your advices.

My wife is quite certain about 19 ft Escape purchase. As long as she is happy with it, I am fine... being a mere driver.

The realistic time frame of our purchase is about 2 years.
We are trying to learn at this point.

Through all of your comments and a little bit of thinking and reading, it is becoming clear that safety, reliability, and headroom in capacity will play a bigger role in our purchase of towing vehicle than the fuel economy.

Diesel engine based SUVs are already out of our consideration. I feel more comfortable with Japanese vehicles compared to German vehicles from the perspective of reliability and cost of maintenance. It is true that we have become a little more pro-Lexus than other brands but it is not without a reason. These cars have served us well and have been quiet, and quite comfortable.

I have been in a Pilot once, the driver and passenger seats were alright, it rode well on the highway. But the all the back seats felt like riding in a school bus. Acura was better. I have never been in a Toyota counterpart of LX or a GX but will try it at some point. My mechanic speaks highly of 4 Runners.

The reason for my ignorance about trucks and SUV, in case if anyone is wondering, is quite simply the fact that both my wife and I have never owned one; we have always driven cars, even when our children were young. This will be our first SUV; do not think that will buy a pickup truck.

Does it make sense to match the height of vehicle and the trailer such that the toe is level with the hitch? Would it reduce the downward weight on the rear suspension of SUV? I realize that there should be safe minimum weight on the hitch.

Does anyone have an experience with adjustable suspension of LX, as it relates to towing Escape? A friend has an LX and he has always been happy with adjustable suspension/auto-laveling but the most he carries in the back are a few bicycle, each weighing less than 25lb so that hardly counts. I am thinking about rear suspension modification (leaf springs or stiff coil springs so the vehicle doesn't sag) versus letting the LX auto-laveling do the job. Can the latter suffice in the long-run?

About trips to mountains - we used to camp using tents a great deal in mountains. But we both recognize the fact that now our bodies are not going to be as forgiving as they were once, hence the camper. We are more interested in forests as opposed to national parks and more than likely, mostly use places under BLM. Although we will not exclusively head for mountains only, but at times we will. This means that our setup needs to be not only capable enough (meaning not having to shift in 2nd gear and whine the engine to go up at only 40 MPH as we build a long procession of cars behind us, each ready to kill us.

Regards,
Alam
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Old 05-27-2016, 10:49 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Alam View Post
I have never been in a Toyota counterpart of LX or a GX but will try it at some point. My mechanic speaks highly of 4 Runners.
As I mentioned earlier, the GX is related to the 4Runner (the GX is the Lexus version of the Toyota Landcruiser Prado, and the 4Runner shares some parts and design). The LX is the Lexus version of a different and larger Landcruiser; there is no Toyota equivalent sold here, but there is a large Toyota SUV with body-on-frame construction: the Sequoia.

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Originally Posted by Alam View Post
Does it make sense to match the height of vehicle and the trailer such that toe is level with the hitch? Would it reduce the downward weight on the rear suspension of SUV?
There's no real advantage to any particular height of tow vehicle. The hitch should always be setup to keep the trailer level, and that can be done regardless of the height of the hitch receiver on the tow vehicle. Tilting the trailer nose up or down does change the load on the hitch, but this is not the way to change load on the hitch, and thus on the tow vehicle's axles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alam View Post
Does anyone have an experience with adjustable suspension of LX, as it relates to towing Escape? A friend has an LX and he has always been happy with adjustable suspension/auto-laveling but the the most he carries in the back are a few bicycle, each weighing less than 25lb so that hardly counts.
I am thinking about rear suspension modification (leaf springs or stiff coil springs so the vehicle doesn't sag) versus letting the LX auto-laveling do the job. Can the latter suffice in the long-run?
Auto-leveling suspension at the rear of the tow vehicle is great, because it simplifies hitch setup and keeps the suspension at the desired height despite changes in load, greatly reducing changes in attitude (and thus headlight aim). Auto-leveling at both front and rear is even better, because then neither end changes height (otherwise the front end goes up when the trailer pushes down on the hitch). These systems are designed for high loads, so I'm sure it will handle the trailer hitch weight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alam View Post
I am thinking about rear suspension modification (leaf springs or stiff coil springs so the vehicle doesn't sag) versus letting the LX auto-laveling do the job. Can the latter suffice in the long-run?
Why? The auto-leveling system adds to the springs only when it is needed, and in the right amount; any add-on bits of spring are always the wrong amount and can't completely prevent the rear from sagging down. If you have the best system, let it do its job.

By the way, there probably isn't an SUV left in production and sold here that still has leaf springs - they're only in pickup trucks (and not even all pickup trucks have leaf springs).
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Old 05-28-2016, 12:26 AM   #28
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Thank you, Brian. More to digest...
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Old 05-28-2016, 07:26 AM   #29
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You can always change your tow level, regardless of vehicle with an adjustable hitch. Just make sure the tow vehicle specifications are adequate for your trailer size and weight.
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