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Old 03-29-2014, 09:34 PM   #1
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Towing with a Tundra

Now that we've made it over several passes on our way home from Chilliwack, the highest being 1800', we're wondering what others are experiencing with their tow vehicles.

We have a 2004 Tundra, double cab, V8 with tow package, camper shell, 70k original miles and a tow capacity of 6200 lbs. We're pulling our 19', basically unloaded as we just picked it up, with OD 'off', Andersen WDH, and our Tundra was down to 45 mph coming up that 1800' pass. Tomorrow we're going over the Siskiyou Pass (4300') and plan on taking it slow and easy. Others on the forum have said they're pulling 19' or 21' foot trailers with Highlanders, Pilots and other such vehicles. Is our experience normal or are we expecting too much from our tow vehicle? Just curious as this is our first real "towing" experience.
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Old 03-29-2014, 09:49 PM   #2
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Sounds like something might be off with your truck. We picked up our 19' this January with a 2005 Tundra V8 XtraCab. We drove the truck to pick it up (over) loaded with all our trailer gear from our previous trailer so we had our normal camping load on board. I had no problem running the speed limit (or over) coming back to Arizona.
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Old 03-29-2014, 10:19 PM   #3
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I'll ask the same question that I always do in this situation: when you were down to 45 mph, what was the engine speed... and did you have the gas pedal to the floor? Often, people don't use anything close to the full capability of their engine, and there's a big difference between "it wouldn't go any faster" and "I chose not to go any faster".

Also, what was the grade on that pass? High elevation (and 1800' isn't high) does reduce power, but it's the slope of the road that determines how much extra power is needed to climb (compared to flat ground at the same speed).

How did that speed compare to the big truck rigs on the same road? They're fast enough, and anything faster than that is gravy.

Finally, a recent Highlander or Pilot has as more power than a 2004 Tundra.
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Old 03-29-2014, 11:31 PM   #4
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In my 2009 Highlander, 45000 miles, towed 21 over the Siskyous at 45 keeping the rpms under 3000, never going into overdrive. Anderson hitch
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Old 03-29-2014, 11:31 PM   #5
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Hi Doug and Brian. Thank you for both your replies. We had the Tundra serviced and checked before we left and the Toyota Dealer assured us we were mechanically sound (and we've never had a problem previously when fully/overloaded with "stuff"). Now, in answer to Brian's questions ... The engine speed was about 2600, we didn't have the gas pedal to the floor (my fault as I was leery about the transmission), the grade going up ?? but coming down it was 6%. To be honest, we thought we were going downhill right before we noticed our truck lagging, but then we also noticed that the big rigs were going really, really slow so we figured we must be climbing. Must be an Oregon vortex ...

We're both laughing at your last sentence as we have a 2013 Highlander at home and were wondering if it would do better than the Tundra ... We would just have to get an after market tow package.

Really appreciate your responses as it always helps to have insight from those who have been there before.

Jan AND John
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Old 03-29-2014, 11:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sally P View Post
In my 2009 Highlander, 45000 miles, towed 21 over the Siskyous at 45 keeping the rpms under 3000, never going into overdrive. Anderson hitch
Thanks Sally ... and you were towing a 21'! Good to have comparisons. Will see what happens tomorrow. Thankfully, it's not hot ... just rainy.
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Old 03-30-2014, 12:12 AM   #7
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I tow my 17B with a 2005 Toyota Sienna and do 35mph over the Siskiyou summit. I can still do 45mph (which I used to do) I think, but I envision the gas getting guzzled. I also use engine braking to keep my speed down as well, so I don't have to ride the brakes. Also, if you have not discovered the ODOT (Oregon Department of Transportation) website, check it out. The pictures and info are very helpful. Good luck, at least you don't have snow!
P.S. I have the tow package.
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Old 03-30-2014, 12:33 AM   #8
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I think the V8 in the 2004 Tundra has 240 hp and 315 lbft of torque (2005 has 280 hp & 325lbft). So less horsepower than the Highlander but more torque. I would think the 2004 Tundra would tow better than a newer Highlander. We have a 2011 Highlander and a 19 and in steep grade in the mountains it works hard and has to be pushed. Perhaps the extra weight of the canopy may impact performance in the mountains. Max torque for the 2004 V8 is at 3,400 rpm so you should see an improvement with a little higher rpm. If it was me I would tow with the Tundra and try it without the canopy, if it improves go with a lighter tonneau cover.
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Old 03-30-2014, 11:06 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by CADreamin View Post
... The engine speed was about 2600, we didn't have the gas pedal to the floor (my fault as I was leery about the transmission), the grade going up ?? but coming down it was 6%.
Although the 2004 version of the 2UZ-FE engine in a Tundra can put out up to 245 horsepower, it can't do it at 2600 rpm. I don't have detailed specs for that year of Tundra, but comparing to other applications of that engine, it might need 4800 rpm for peak power; using gharper's specs, it needs 3400 rpm for a peak torque of 315 lb-ft.

At 2600 rpm, it would put out significantly less than its peak torque, and thus significantly less than 156 horsepower (my guess is about 130 hp)... and with the throttle not even all the way open, it was producing even less.

As a general rule of thumb, non-turbocharged engines run most efficiently at speeds around their peak torque, so at least that speed would be reasonable for sustained hill-climbing. Since the engine's peak torque is 315 lb-ft at 3400 rpm, it could put out 204 horsepower at that speed.

There was lots of power in reserve on that climb.

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Originally Posted by CADreamin View Post
To be honest, we thought we were going downhill right before we noticed our truck lagging, but then we also noticed that the big rigs were going really, really slow so we figured we must be climbing. Must be an Oregon vortex ...
I've noticed this on various highways myself... wondering why it is taking so much power on a flat section, then realizing I'm climbing. There's a place in New Brunswick called "Magnetic Hill", where people stop, put their vehicle in neutral, and let it roll backward in what appears to be uphill. The illusion results from changing grades: the road climbs, then climbs less steeply, then climbs more steeply again. On the less-steep portion, it looks downhill to most people due to the relationship to the other sections.

So, if the trucks were "going really, really slow", the Tundra must have been outclimbing them with the Escape, even using half or less of its peak power. That sounds like more than enough performance to me.

(Above was edited to use gharper's engine specs for the 2004 Tundra)
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Old 03-30-2014, 11:16 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CADreamin View Post
We're both laughing at your last sentence as we have a 2013 Highlander at home and were wondering if it would do better than the Tundra ... We would just have to get an after market tow package.
Aside from power, the Tundra has advantages in wheelbase, suspension capacity, structural strength and the capacity for the drivetrain to operate reliably at high power levels... although it is heavier itself so it has to work harder.

I'm not a fan of adding components aftermarket that the manufacturer does better - usually that's transmission cooling. In the specific case of the 2013 Highlander, it has Toyota's 2GR-FE engine; when that engine is used in the Sienna, the towing package includes an engine oil cooler which would be very expensive and difficult to add aftermarket. I would check out the engine oil cooling situation before I considered working the Highlander hard for extended periods by towing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gharper View Post
I think the V8 in the 2004 Tundra has 240 hp and 315 lbft of torque (2005 has 280 hp & 325lbft). So less horsepower than the Highlander but more torque. I would think the 2004 Tundra would tow better than a newer Highlander.
Torque at the wheels matters, but at the engine output shaft it doesn't matter whether you have higher torque at lower speed or lower torque at higher speed. The Highlander engine would need to spin faster, but if you are willing to use the required engine speed the end result at the wheels would be more pull with the more powerful engine.

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Originally Posted by gharper View Post
Max torque for the 2004 V8 is at 3,400 rpm so you should see an improvement with a little higher rpm.
Absolutely - good point.

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Originally Posted by gharper View Post
Perhaps the extra weight of the canopy may impact performance in the mountains.
...
If it was me I would tow with the Tundra and try it without the canopy, if it improves go with a lighter tonneau cover.
Although the tonneau would be lighter (better for grade climbing and acceleration), the canopy may result in less air drag when combined with the trailer, thus requiring less power to maintain speed, and leaving more for climbing and accelerating at highway speeds. Anyone willing to experiment?
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