Towing with Tacoma 3.5 liter and manual trans. - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 11-16-2019, 05:48 PM   #1
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Towing with Tacoma 3.5 liter and manual trans.

Question for y'all. Does anybody have experience towing TTs with the six-speed manual transmission Tacoma (3.5 liter)?
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Old 11-16-2019, 06:24 PM   #2
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Question for y'all. Does anybody have experience towing TTs with the six-speed manual transmission Tacoma (3.5 liter)?
Note: the only Tacoma that has a manual tranny and the tow package is the TRD Off Road. That said, I do not have experience with the 3rd gen manual but did tow a classic 19í for two years with a 2016 TRD Sport. I pretty much used the tranny like a manual using the S up and down selector. I did this because after a while I could tell by the terrain what gear was optimal for the grade to maintain my speed. If I waited for the the auto tranny to select it for me, most times I would loose momentum and sometimes the 3.5 L did not have enough torque to get me back up to speed without downshifting into 3rd and getting the RPMs up in the 4,000 range.

That said I loved my Tacoma, and it was great for camping within a couple of days of home. But once we started traveling 3 & 4 states away, with quick overnight stops to get to our destination, those long days in the saddle were exhausting having to pay close attention and shifting all the time.

My 2017 Tundra paired with an Escape 5.0 TA is a lot more relaxing. I just put in in tow / haul mode and the truck takes care of the rest. Now at the end of 7+ hour drive Iím still tired but not exhausted. I find for me anyway, 5 to 6 hours driving is optimal.

The interesting thing is Iím getting just about the same towing MPG with the Tundra as the Tacoma. The Tundra spends most of its time in 5th and 6th gears, downshifting to 4th only on steep grades. The Tacoma never was in 6th unless it was a long downhill. Most of its time was in 4th, maybe 5th on the flat. As with the Tacoma, headwinds impact the MPG more than grades.

One other point, my 2013 19í was about 1,000 lbs lighter than the current model. So keep that in mind as well.
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Old 11-16-2019, 07:03 PM   #3
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Another automatic transmission user, for what it is worth. I had a 2016 Tacoma TRD Off Road with the 3.5 engine. Was great towing the 17, and I tried with a 21, but gave up after a year & 9000 miles. You may do better with the manual transmission, but mine spent too much time in 3rd & 4th gear at 4000 RPM. Gas mileage was around 10 - 11 MPG. I switched to an F 150 3.5 EcoBoost & am getting around 13 MPG & under 2000 RPM using tow/haul, most of the time in 8th gear. A more comfortable tow vehicle for the 21, but I sure miss the Tacoma...
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Old 11-16-2019, 07:49 PM   #4
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I haven't even driven a Tacoma, let alone towed a specific Escape model with a manual-transmission Tacoma, but I learned to tow a trailer with a manual transmission pickup truck (almost 40 years ago, with a smaller truck and similar size of trailer).

The good news:
  • If you pay attention to what you're doing, you can have close to the right engine speed for every condition.
  • There is very low power loss through a manual transmission, and no concern with overheating it.
The not-so-good news:
  • Clutch wear is the issue which keeps the trailer weight rating down on manual-transmission vehicles - you need to be careful that you don't slip the clutch too much when starting off to avoid excessive heating and wear of the clutch.
  • Trying to work the clutch to avoid excessive slipping while not moving in jerks during low-speed manoeuvers such as backing into a campsite might drive you nuts.
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Old 11-17-2019, 12:12 AM   #5
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I had a 6 speed 4.0L TRD Off Road. did great towing my Casita 16, but when we got the E21, we sold it and got a F250 because the Tacoma's payload was just too small for us
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Old 11-17-2019, 11:00 AM   #6
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I'm towing our Escape 21 with a 2014 Tacoma, manual, 4X4. Since I use the truck for other tasks 90% of the time I am not inclined to up-size. But will have to agree with the pros and cons expressed above. Really like the fact that I can select the right RPM for the conditions here in mountainous Colorado. Really don't like the 200 mile range (or less in a headwind). But its a compromise I made in 2014 and don't regret it. It is my understanding that the newer Tacomas have a smaller engine (3.5?) vs my 4.0. Don't quote me on those sizes - have not confirmed them.
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Old 11-17-2019, 11:41 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alanmalk View Post
I'm towing our Escape 21 with a 2014 Tacoma, manual, 4X4. Since I use the truck for other tasks 90% of the time I am not inclined to up-size. But will have to agree with the pros and cons expressed above. Really like the fact that I can select the right RPM for the conditions here in mountainous Colorado. Really don't like the 200 mile range (or less in a headwind). But its a compromise I made in 2014 and don't regret it. It is my understanding that the newer Tacomas have a smaller engine (3.5?) vs my 4.0. Don't quote me on those sizes - have not confirmed them.
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I believe you are correct, the newer models no longer have the 4.0....
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Old 11-17-2019, 12:21 PM   #8
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I believe you are correct, the newer models no longer have the 4.0....
The new 3.5L engine has more horsepower (278hp) and 1 ft lb less torque. The problem, at least to my mind, is that it developed both peaks at a higher RPM. As long as you don't mind the high RPM, it works. By the way, I didn't mention that my other problem with the Tacoma was payload. With the 21, the trailer capacity was OK, but it was difficult to keep under the truck's payload limit.
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Old 11-17-2019, 12:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alanmalk View Post
It is my understanding that the newer Tacomas have a smaller engine (3.5?) vs my 4.0. Don't quote me on those sizes - have not confirmed them.
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Correct. And the torque sweet-spot is about 700 RPM higher. I had a 2014 SR5 that I loved but had always wanted a TRD Sport. So I bought a 2016 TRD Sport when they came out because of the reported better gas milage. They achieve that by having an extra valve set and using the computer to switch between Atkinson cycle combustion and Otto cycle combustion. Atkinson is more fuel efficient but does not give the same power as Otto. So when at hi-way cruising speed, without a load, I did indeed get 20-22 MPG.

But guess what? While towing one has a load so it is in Otto cycle all the time. With a smaller engine at higher RPMs, I got significantly worse towing mileage than with the 2014 4.0 engine. It dropped from 14-15 MPG to 10-11 MPG towing average.

When I wasn’t towing, I loved the 2016 TRD Sport. The sway bars front and rear gave it excellent road manners, and it was nimble and quick.

But we got a windfall, so upgraded our truck and trailer to what we have now and couldn’t be happier with our choice. A 2017 Tundra Platinum towing a 2019 Escape 5.0 TA. A very well matched combo.

..... and I use my wife’s Camry for errands.
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