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Old 03-27-2017, 02:21 PM   #1
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Towing with 2008 MDX?

Dear Escape Trail Owners:

We are new to this forum! Family of 3. We love escape and will order one 19' for next Spring. This will be our first travel trail. We had never towed any trailer before.

We own a 2008 MDX (v6, AWD). From the spec, it says it has 5000 lb towing capacity(extra equipments needed). Is it safe to towing an escape 19' with this almost 10 years old SUV? The dry weight of 19' is more than 2600 lb, adding water and other luggage, it maybe over 3500lb?

Could you please share your experience if you happened to use a small SUV towing escape trailers, especially for who use MDX!

Thanks a lot
Jing
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Old 03-27-2017, 03:20 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by jmcrv2017 View Post
Dear Escape Trail Owners:

We are new to this forum! Family of 3. We love escape and will order one 19' for next Spring. This will be our first travel trail. We had never towed any trailer before.

We own a 2008 MDX (v6, AWD). From the spec, it says it has 5000 lb towing capacity(extra equipments needed). Is it safe to towing an escape 19' with this almost 10 years old SUV? The dry weight of 19' is more than 2600 lb, adding water and other luggage, it maybe over 3500lb?

Could you please share your experience if you happened to use a small SUV towing escape trailers, especially for who use MDX!

Thanks a lot
Jing
Hi Jing, and welcome to the site.

If your tow capacity could be at 5,000lb that will work just fine for you. Most towing conditions will be no issue in the least. On steeper climbs and strong headwinds, you will notice a bit of poorer performance, but frankly they do not arise that much.

Minimally what you could do is to first tow with it, knowing it is capable, and if after some time feel it lacks performance, you could get something a bit bigger.

I am just guessing, but I think that is the same engine as the Pilot has, correct. I towed a 2009 19 which is a little bit lighter than the new one, with a 2009 Pilot which only had a 4,500lb tow capacitiy, and rarely had any performance issues.

You will see fuel economy drop a fair bit when towing, but would not be any worse than a larger vehicle, but will have a vehicle much better suited to running about when not towing.
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Old 03-27-2017, 05:33 PM   #3
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I believe you need to give this question a bit more thought. The MDX will need an aftermarket transmission cooler as that was not included with the tow package. I sense you maybe aware of that. Apparently you are equipped with the tow package?

You do not mention cargo, it is necessary that you become familiar with the limitations that you may encounter it this area. I would recomend you become familiar with a variety of calculations such as curb weight, gross combined weight rating and a number of similar measurements. This is the safest way, do not rely on other people's opinion, "I do it all the time" is not meeting your responsibility as the vehicle operator to have a thorough understanding of both vehicles and their weights.
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Old 03-27-2017, 06:18 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
I believe you need to give this question a bit more thought. The MDX will need an aftermarket transmission cooler as that was not included with the tow package. I sense you maybe aware of that. Apparently you are equipped with the tow package?

You do not mention cargo, it is necessary that you become familiar with the limitations that you may encounter it this area. I would recomend you become familiar with a variety of calculations such as curb weight, gross combined weight rating and a number of similar measurements. This is the safest way, do not rely on other people's opinion, "I do it all the time" is not meeting your responsibility as the vehicle operator to have a thorough understanding of both vehicles and their weights.
Thank you for your information! I am not aware of MDX need an aftermarket transmission cooler... We don't have tow package, need to purchase it as well. We actually thought about changing to pickup-truck and tried Tacoma at the dealer (of course without towing) however feel our 2008 MDX a lot better in terms of driving experience. We probably will use our trail less than 30 days per year, hope the MDX will do just fine so we don't need to buy an expensive pickup truck with less comfort most of time.

Jing
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Old 03-27-2017, 06:18 PM   #5
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Hi Jing

Welcome to the forum. You’ll find lots of nice folks here with lots of good info.


We tow a 2017 21' with our 2011 MDX. (with factory tow package)

We only tow occasionally….. if full timing I’d want a more torque-y tug for sure.

Here are my opinions. YMMV.

To be safe I have taken a cautious route:

Bought a 1,000 Shureline scale and i keep an eye on the tongue weight. Never exceed 500 lbs

Travel quite light.

don’t carry much in the SUV

dont put much weight under the bed (at the front on a 21’)

had ETI install an e2 WDH. (Weight Distributing Hitch)

The MDX definitely is more level with the e2 WDH.
The installer (Dennis i think was his name) at ETI was impressed with how the MDX did with the e2 WDH at install.

We love not having to remove the WDH even if backing up. For me the convenience is well worth the extra cost.
Occasionally I’ll get into a tight spot, and being able to back up, even with a sharp turn, and not worry about the WDH arms ever, is priceless.

We use a Prodigy p2 brake controller. Works well.

Our 2011 MDX (with Acura dealer installed tow package) DOES have a transmission cooler. A small one. I took it to our trusted mechanic and he verified that it is there, and that is what it is. He showed it to me.
So unless the slightly earlier 2008 model is different... I’ll beg do differ with fudge_brownie.

He suggested more frequent transmission fluid replacement as we tow, according to the Acura service manual for the MDX (“if you do any towing, then replace transmission fluid according to X schedule”) (I forget the schedule)

For sure get the power tongue jack… it makes raising and lowering (and installing and removing the WDH every connect and disconnect) much much easier.

I’d also recommend the backup camera & front cargo box, FWIIW.

So we towed all the way from ETI back to Los Angeles with this setup and it was 100% fine.

Really steep mountain passes meant I decided to sometimes go up with the trucks, sometimes, so 45 mph….. but not always. I could have put my foot down, and had the engine work a little harder, but sometimes I didn’t.

As I said we only tow occasionally - a couple trips a year, and this tug is great. With the e2 WDH it is very solid and secure.

I would think with a 19’ you’d be slightly better off.

Be aware that WDH’s are a subject of much debate here. I think one is really a good idea with our setup.

Hit me back (on this thread, or a private message) with any questions.

John
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Old 03-27-2017, 06:19 PM   #6
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Hi Jing, and welcome to the site.

If your tow capacity could be at 5,000lb that will work just fine for you. Most towing conditions will be no issue in the least. On steeper climbs and strong headwinds, you will notice a bit of poorer performance, but frankly they do not arise that much.

Minimally what you could do is to first tow with it, knowing it is capable, and if after some time feel it lacks performance, you could get something a bit bigger.

I am just guessing, but I think that is the same engine as the Pilot has, correct. I towed a 2009 19 which is a little bit lighter than the new one, with a 2009 Pilot which only had a 4,500lb tow capacitiy, and rarely had any performance issues.

You will see fuel economy drop a fair bit when towing, but would not be any worse than a larger vehicle, but will have a vehicle much better suited to running about when not towing.
Thank you very much to share your experience!

Jing
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Old 03-27-2017, 06:24 PM   #7
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I have Pro Series weight distribution hitch and I don't have to take the arms off to back up either. I believe that is an issue if you have sway control ( which I don't have or need ).
See your MDX dealer and get them to run the VIN. They will be able to tell you what your particular vehicle is equipped with and what your tow limits are.
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Old 03-27-2017, 06:43 PM   #8
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The MDX will need an aftermarket transmission cooler as that was not included with the tow package.

The auxiliary transmission cooler is about US $60, and an easy installation.
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Old 03-27-2017, 06:48 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Viajante View Post
The MDX will need an aftermarket transmission cooler as that was not included with the tow package.

The auxiliary transmission cooler is about US $60, and an easy installation.
As I posted above - Our 2011 MDX (with Acura dealer installed tow package) does indeed have a transmission cooler. A small one. I took it to our trusted mechanic and he verified that it is there, and that is what it is. He showed it to me.

So unless the 2008 MDX is different... I’ll beg do differ...

My mechanic suggested more frequent transmission fluid replacement as we tow, according to the Acura service manual for the MDX (“if you do any towing, then replace transmission fluid according to X schedule”) (I forget the schedule)
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Old 03-27-2017, 08:58 PM   #10
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Starting with the 2010 MDX the transmission cooler became standard with the tow package. You will need to have one installed on your 2008 model.

In addition you will need wiring run to a seven pin Bargman connector at the hitch and probably the trickiest part will be to find the proper receiver and have it installed by a trusted installer. The MDX has a unibody construction so there is no frame. This can make attaching a receiver more important and desiring of your attention.

I am not sure what other additions the Acura tow package contains, some possibilities are: power steering coolers, heavy duty rear suspension, socket for brake controller connection . . .

You will need to evaluate what cargo you will carry (weight of pets and people in tow vehicle), mileage on you MDX and the cost of making it tow ready to determine if this vehicle will fit your needs now and in three years. You need to calculate the combined gross weight rating for your tow and trailer. There are many sites that will describe the process, the most difficult part of the process is determing the manufacturers rating, it may require a call to Acura with your VIN number.
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Old 03-28-2017, 07:08 AM   #11
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When we were towing our 21' with our V6 4Runner for the first year and over 20,000 the item that gave me the most information, and therefore confidence, was an item called a ScanGuage II. It offers a constant readout of up to four temps or other functions and plugs in to the car's computer port.

You will never know if you're pushing the envelope on various temps (my concern was the transmission) without this information.

Seems to me it was a little over $100 and does not need to be permanently mounted. It also would show any engine trouble codes and re-set them--which I never had.
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Old 03-28-2017, 09:46 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Losangeles View Post
Hi Jing

Welcome to the forum. You’ll find lots of nice folks here with lots of good info.


We tow a 2017 21' with our 2011 MDX. (with factory tow package)

We only tow occasionally….. if full timing I’d want a more torque-y tug for sure.

Here are my opinions. YMMV.

To be safe I have taken a cautious route:

Bought a 1,000 Shureline scale and i keep an eye on the tongue weight. Never exceed 500 lbs

Travel quite light.

don’t carry much in the SUV

dont put much weight under the bed (at the front on a 21’)

had ETI install an e2 WDH. (Weight Distributing Hitch)

The MDX definitely is more level with the e2 WDH.
The installer (Dennis i think was his name) at ETI was impressed with how the MDX did with the e2 WDH at install.

We love not having to remove the WDH even if backing up. For me the convenience is well worth the extra cost.
Occasionally I’ll get into a tight spot, and being able to back up, even with a sharp turn, and not worry about the WDH arms ever, is priceless.

We use a Prodigy p2 brake controller. Works well.

Our 2011 MDX (with Acura dealer installed tow package) DOES have a transmission cooler. A small one. I took it to our trusted mechanic and he verified that it is there, and that is what it is. He showed it to me.
So unless the slightly earlier 2008 model is different... I’ll beg do differ with fudge_brownie.

He suggested more frequent transmission fluid replacement as we tow, according to the Acura service manual for the MDX (“if you do any towing, then replace transmission fluid according to X schedule”) (I forget the schedule)

For sure get the power tongue jack… it makes raising and lowering (and installing and removing the WDH every connect and disconnect) much much easier.

I’d also recommend the backup camera & front cargo box, FWIIW.

So we towed all the way from ETI back to Los Angeles with this setup and it was 100% fine.

Really steep mountain passes meant I decided to sometimes go up with the trucks, sometimes, so 45 mph….. but not always. I could have put my foot down, and had the engine work a little harder, but sometimes I didn’t.

As I said we only tow occasionally - a couple trips a year, and this tug is great. With the e2 WDH it is very solid and secure.

I would think with a 19’ you’d be slightly better off.

Be aware that WDH’s are a subject of much debate here. I think one is really a good idea with our setup.

Hit me back (on this thread, or a private message) with any questions.

John
WoW! Thank you so much for sharing your experience in such detail! I have some question about WDH:
As you mentioned, it is very debatable. From our 2008 MDX owner's manual, it does not recommend to use WDH, the reason is: "as an improperly adjusted weight distributing hitch may reduce handling, stability and braking performance". Sounds like it is difficult to install/adjust? I watched one of youtube video and it seems it requires install/adjust every time when you need to tow - not every trip, but everyday. All the cargo and passengers needs to be in TT or TV: this is tricky too since the driver has to be out of vehicle to adjust the hitch... How do you feel? usually how long it will take to adjust it, and, properly? unlike ball mount, which gives me plug-n-play feeling.

Our manual does recommend to use sway control. However, sway control seems always come with WDH. Escape has 3 options for towing hitch: Equalizer (which is kind of WDH to me), Equalizer with sway control and e2 WDH... any reason you prefer e2 WDH?

We did call escape about the weight of 19'. The answer is: 2017 19' have some new design which will add a few hundred pounds so standard dry weight is going to be 2900+ (used to be 2600+). With all the options, that will add 900-1000 pounds more. Probably we won't need all the options, but 3500 pounds at least, I think, without any cargo. it seems to me a little stretch for MDX to handle. 2018 19', which is what we are going to get, not designed yet. So we'll see. Maybe 2018 19' will reduce the weight, who knows?

Jing
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Old 03-28-2017, 09:49 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Losangeles View Post
As I posted above - Our 2011 MDX (with Acura dealer installed tow package) does indeed have a transmission cooler. A small one. I took it to our trusted mechanic and he verified that it is there, and that is what it is. He showed it to me.

So unless the 2008 MDX is different... I’ll beg do differ...

My mechanic suggested more frequent transmission fluid replacement as we tow, according to the Acura service manual for the MDX (“if you do any towing, then replace transmission fluid according to X schedule”) (I forget the schedule)
Interesting: We called Dealer. Dealer said our car has it even without towing package. I don't believe it.... so called a different dealer. Got same answer from them is: since 2010, transmission cooler is standard. But before 2010, it depends on the year, some years has it, others doesn't... Guess we are lucky
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Old 03-28-2017, 10:52 PM   #14
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If you buy your weight distribution hitch from ETI they will install it and set it up. They did mine.
I have not had to adjust it since ( eight years ).
If you let ETI do the install, it will be properly installed and adjusted so you won't have to worry about that paragraph in the manual.
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Old 03-28-2017, 11:02 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by jmcrv2017 View Post
WoW! Thank you so much for sharing your experience in such detail! I have some question about WDH:
As you mentioned, it is very debatable. From our 2008 MDX owner's manual, it does not recommend to use WDH, the reason is: "as an improperly adjusted weight distributing hitch may reduce handling, stability and braking performance". Sounds like it is difficult to install/adjust? I watched one of youtube video and it seems it requires install/adjust every time when you need to tow - not every trip, but everyday. All the cargo and passengers needs to be in TT or TV: this is tricky too since the driver has to be out of vehicle to adjust the hitch... How do you feel? usually how long it will take to adjust it, and, properly? unlike ball mount, which gives me plug-n-play feeling.

Our manual does recommend to use sway control. However, sway control seems always come with WDH. Escape has 3 options for towing hitch: Equalizer (which is kind of WDH to me), Equalizer with sway control and e2 WDH... any reason you prefer e2 WDH?

We did call escape about the weight of 19'. The answer is: 2017 19' have some new design which will add a few hundred pounds so standard dry weight is going to be 2900+ (used to be 2600+). With all the options, that will add 900-1000 pounds more. Probably we won't need all the options, but 3500 pounds at least, I think, without any cargo. it seems to me a little stretch for MDX to handle. 2018 19', which is what we are going to get, not designed yet. So we'll see. Maybe 2018 19' will reduce the weight, who knows?

Jing
Hi Jing

The WDH (e2) we had adjusted and setup and installed by the expert Dennis at ETI.

No, it does not need any adjustments, to the best of my knowledge, after it is setup properly.

Note that the MDX manual says that an improperly adjusted WDH can cause problems. (like many things in life)

there are lots of opinions about WDH... all I can share are my experiences and what I know.... beware, and do your own research.

i would speak with Dennis at ETI before you decide, if you have concerns. He sure does seem to know his stuff.

john
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Old 03-29-2017, 11:19 AM   #16
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When you start looking at all the limitations in tow vehicles it gets very interesting.
I was considering a 2017 Ridgeline to tow a Escape 19. On the surface it looks like it is more than capable, but when you start doing the math it looks less so.
For example. The curb weight of the Ridgeline AWD is 4523 LBS. The towing capacity with 2 people on board is 5000 lbs. The payload capacity is 1483 lbs.
The dry weight of the 19 is 2610 lbs. Throw in the water, food, 2 bikes etc you are likely up to 3600 lbs. Into the truck you put two people, a canopy over the box, a dog and maybe 200 lbs of misc gear. Now your truck weight is around 5250 lbs.
So far so good, your payload capacity is 1483 lbs and you have only used 727 lbs, throw on the tongue weight of the trailer at 10% of 3600 lbs, so your truck payload is now 1087 lbs, still well within the truck limits.
However where it starts getting interesting is the Gross Combined Vehicle Weight of the trailer and the truck:
Trailer wet 3600 lbs
Truck loaded as per above 5250 lbs
Gross Combined Vehicle Weight: 8850 lbs
The Ridgeline manual says the Limit for the GCVW is 9755 lbs, however they say that limit is reduced 2% for every 1000 ft of elevation gain. Travelling in the West, hitting 5000 ft is a common occurannce. Banff is sitting at over 4000 ft and Denver is at 5000 ft. Throw in some higher mountain passes and you are well above 5000 ft. So with that reduction of GCVW at a 5000 ft elevation, the Ridgeline is now limited to a GCVW of 8779 lbs, which means the 19 Escape is over weight for the Ridgeline.
I am now looking at the Frontier, Tacoma or GMC Canyon/Chevy Colorado.
Too bad as I really like the concept of the Ridgeline
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Old 03-29-2017, 11:32 AM   #17
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Very thoughtful analysis, however the 2017 Escape 19's dry weight is probably more than 2610, pushing further the limits you describe.

2017 Escape 19 Specs
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Old 03-29-2017, 12:00 PM   #18
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The specs for the 2017 19' escape do show a dry weight of 2610 lbs They do have the GVWR at 4000 lbs
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Old 03-29-2017, 12:06 PM   #19
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Read post #5 in the link I posted above. From all accounts the 2017 19 weighs almost the same as the Gen 1 21's.
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Old 03-29-2017, 12:52 PM   #20
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We contacted ETI and for 2017, the stand dry weight for 19' is 2900+ pound, if you have all the option, the dry weight will be around 4000 pound. Plus cargo, you will end up even more. Does not seem to be lightweight trailer anymore. I may consider 17'...

Jing
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