(I've posted queries on this topic before, but now have a specific destination and TV in mind, and would appreciate further input. Thanks for your help and patience).
We're planning an extended trip to the high country of Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, and would like advice regarding tow vehicles from Escape owners who have towed in those mountainous areas.
Our initial four-week voyage towing our Escape 21 (4300 pounds ready to camp) with our Toyota 4Runner V6 Trail Edition (tow capacity 5000 pounds) took us over several mountain roads in BC and Montana, with the maximum elevation being about 5500 feet, with grades of 6% or less.
Most of the time, the 'Runner's power (270 hp @ 5600 rpm) and torque (278 lb/ft @ 4400 rpm) enabled us to maintain an acceptable speed. But at higher elevations, on steeper grades, and when facing headwinds, the V6 was unable to sustain a speed that was adequate for my sense of safety, driving etiquette, and enjoyment.
Safety and Driving Etiquette:
On steep two-lane roads, I want to be able to sustain 75% of the speed limit or better. In my pre-towing days I followed dangerously underpowered RVs and trailers enough to never want to be the driver causing frustration, wasted time, and risky passing attempts among my fellow motorists.
Towing in the mountains with the 4Runner meant constantly monitoring the tachometer to gauge shift points, and upshifting and downshifting the AT manually, always wondering what temperature the transmission fluid had reached, and being acutely aware at all times of the two tons of ETI artistry on our hitch. This is a fun challenge for a while, but on a long trip it's not the most relaxing driving, and allows the driver only the occasional glimpse at the scenery.
Specifically, we are thinking of taking the hit in fuel economy and switching to a Toyota Tundra Crewmax with a 5.7 l. V8 (381 hp @ 5600 rpm, 401 lb/ft @ 3600 rpm, about 10,000 pounds tow capacity). This truck also has a Tow/Haul feature, a big AT fluid cooler, and a 6-speed AT. If I find the right used Tundra, the price difference will be minimal.
According to Mountain Directory West
, we will face sustained grades, up and down, of 6% to 10% in the mountains of the Southwest, at elevations of up to 10,000 feet, a much stiffer and more sustained challenge than we faced on our first trip with the 4Runner.
Based on your own experience towing in the Southwest's high mountain passes, what would you advise about switching from the 4Runner to the Tundra, and why? Thanks for your thoughts on this.