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Old 06-28-2015, 04:36 PM   #1
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Fuel efficient tow vehicle.

Between now and February when we pick up our new 17b, I need to buy a tow vehicle with a 3,500 pound tow capacity. I have one narrowly framed question about fuel efficiency: what year, make, and model (4, 6, or 8 cylinder?) vehicle do you have, what do you tow, and what average mpg do you get while towing?

Gas at $3/gallon is not a big issue, but who knows what it will cost a few years from now. This info will be a big help to me...thanks!!
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Old 06-28-2015, 04:52 PM   #2
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2015 Ford F150 4x2 Supercrew, 2.7L Ecoboost V6, Escape 19, 16 MPG towing. (25.8 not towing)

Oh, and don't forget Steve - where and how you drive is a big factor in fuel economy.
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Old 06-28-2015, 05:31 PM   #3
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2012 Rav 4 with the tow package is an option. 23 mpg alone. 15 mpg towing our 17b with ac and solar panel.
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Old 06-28-2015, 06:47 PM   #4
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2011 Ford Ranger FX4 4.0V6

Only two trips, less than 600 miles total, since getting our Escape 17B -- 16.7 US miles per US gallon <g> -- without any significant hills, but combination of city congestion and slow gravel roads.

Time will tell.

Side note: towed Boler 13 with '95 Ranger 4.0V6 5-speed manual for seven years, many trips throughout WA, OR, NV, AZ, UT, CA, long-term range 19-29 MPG, avg 23-24 (yes, that's US gallons). Replaced Ranger in 2011 with auto transmission (reluctantly, hate the damn thing!) because according to Ford manual transmission tow limit 1,200 lbs, auto transmission 5,600 lbs, everything else identical on truck! First thing that happened is that not-towing mileage dropped from 29-32 highway MPG to 23-25, and towing Boler dropped to 19-22 (avg 19.7) on 2,400 mile trip through out Eastern Oregon.

So, about a 20% hit just for changing transmissions. But if I can maintain 16-17 pulling the Escape, I guess I'll be happy enough.

Happy trails.
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Old 06-28-2015, 06:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve R View Post
... what year, make, and model (4, 6, or 8 cylinder?) vehicle do you have...
One suggestion: ask what engine people have, not the number of cylinders. Often a model will have two or more quite different engine choices with the same number of cylinders.

For example, Robert listed his F-150 engine specifically as "2.7L Ecoboost V6", which is good, because an F-150 is currently available with three different V6 engine choices, varying widely in maximum power output and fuel consumption. Even listing just displacement (2.7L in this example) is not enough, because sometimes you'll find that there are two significantly engines of the same displacement; in the F-150 case one 3.5L is turbocharged (the EcoBoost - that's what Ford calls their current turbo engines) and the other 3.5L is not.
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Old 06-28-2015, 06:56 PM   #6
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Follow-up comments:

My Ranger is rated at 5,600 lbs -- but I'm not at all sure I'd want to tow something heavier than my 17B with it, or that I'd want to tow the 17B with a vehicle rated at 3,500 -- that's my personal comfort-level feeling.

Gas at $3/USgallon!? I (we Canadians) should be so lucky! This week we're closer to or even above $5!
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Old 06-28-2015, 07:13 PM   #7
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2011 Ford Ranger FX4 4.0V6


Side note: towed Boler 13 with '95 Ranger 4.0V6 5-speed manual for seven years, many trips throughout WA, OR, NV, AZ, UT, CA, long-term range 19-29 MPG, avg 23-24 (yes, that's US gallons). Replaced Ranger in 2011 with auto transmission (reluctantly, hate the damn thing!) because according to Ford manual transmission tow limit 1,200 lbs, auto transmission 5,600 lbs, everything else identical on truck! First thing that happened is that not-towing mileage dropped from 29-32 highway MPG to 23-25, and towing Boler dropped to 19-22 (avg 19.7) on 2,400 mile trip through out Eastern Oregon.

So, about a 20% hit just for changing transmissions. But if I can maintain 16-17 pulling the Escape, I guess I'll be happy enough.

Happy trails.

FX4 has the 4:10 rear end which adds to the "hit", reg. 4x2 has a 3:55 and the reg 4X4 has a 3.73

I've pulled a Classic 5.0 for 4 years with my Sport 4X4 (3.73) and average 18 mpg imperial, 3800 lbs total weight. Prior to that I pulled a 17B with it and averaged 18.5 mpg imperial, 2900 lbs total weight. I've found that weight has less to do with the mileage than wind resistance; wind resistance is a big hit. Not towing on the highway I get 23 and mixed driving gives me around 20.

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Old 06-28-2015, 07:13 PM   #8
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My Ranger is rated at 5,600 lbs -- but I'm not at all sure I'd want to tow something heavier than my 17B with it, or that I'd want to tow the 17B with a vehicle rated at 3,500...
Different vehicles with the same tow rating can have very different characteristics. A full-size truck with a big powerful engine might have the same 5,600 lb rating as the Ranger, and be much more stable and capable. One vehicle rated at 3,500 pounds (such as a short-wheelbase SUV) might be marginal for an Escape 17B, while another (such as my long-wheelbase Sienna) might very capably tow a larger trailer than that.

I would not assess the suitability of a tug based on only its rating. I see no reason to allow some arbitrary margin between the rating and the actual trailer weight.

I'm not suggesting ignoring the tow rating. It is a limit to heed; it's just not the full story by itself.
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Old 06-28-2015, 08:28 PM   #9
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Maurerl: your post raises a different question: I assumed one would tow a trailer with an automatic transmission. Is a manual transmission a viable alternative? Thanks.
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Old 06-28-2015, 08:50 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by rbryan4 View Post
2015 Ford F150 4x2 Supercrew, 2.7L Ecoboost V6, Escape 19, 16 MPG towing. (25.8 not towing)

Oh, and don't forget Steve - where and how you drive is a big factor in fuel economy.
2014 Ford F150 4x4 Crewcab, 2.7L Ecoboost V6, Escape 5.0TA, 11 MPG uphill, 20+MPG downhill Averages 16mpg towing (21.2 non-towing) And, I typically drive around 57mph towing.
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Old 06-28-2015, 09:26 PM   #11
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Maurerl: your post raises a different question: I assumed one would tow a trailer with an automatic transmission. Is a manual transmission a viable alternative? Thanks.
Only if you want to make your life difficult.
Think about stopping at a light on a hill and then proceeding on green. Or, about trying to inch a trailer tire up on a block to level the trailer. Almost anything can be made more difficult with a manual transmission.
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Old 06-28-2015, 09:42 PM   #12
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The last time I had a manual transmission, I drove a Porsche. Too cool, 3rd and 4th gear scratch! Or you could be like a couple on FiberglassRV, that get terrific fuel mileage... by kicking the transmission into neutral downhill There's something really relaxing while towing with an automatic... with tow mode.
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Old 06-28-2015, 09:45 PM   #13
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I've towed my 17B (3010 lbs loaded, except for this trip - 3300 lbs loaded) 61,877 miles over the last 4 years with a 2010 RAV4 Sport (V6 & tow package). Averaged 15MPG US up to this trip, 14.7 over the last 4163 miles (both heavier than usual & towing a bit faster).

When not towing, I get 25 MPG highway, 22 MPG around town (All US gallons). I tow on secondary roads as much as possible, usually at 57MPH max (although on my current trip I am traveling with friends that like to go a bit faster - we are closer to 60 MPH). The RAV4 is a very stable tow vehicle for the 17B, with plenty of power. What I don't like - a small fuel tank that limits distance between fuel stops. One problem - they dropped the V6 in 2013, so used is the only possibility.

Don't forget that you will likely spend a fair amount of time unhooked - I have over 112,000 miles on the RAV 4, and as my only vehicle, unhooked mileage is a consideration.
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Old 06-28-2015, 10:05 PM   #14
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Quote:
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The last time I had a manual transmission, I drove a Porsche. Too cool, 3rd and 4th gear scratch! Or you could be like a couple on FiberglassRV, that get terrific fuel mileage... by kicking the transmission into neutral downhill There's something really relaxing while towing with an automatic... with tow mode.
I have not driven a manual for forever but it sure was not any Porsche! Would not go back to manual but I am surprised that quite a few have them now and some even tow with them. Seems some vehicles with manual are much worse to tow with and others are better, but none would have the ease of automatic.
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Old 06-28-2015, 10:12 PM   #15
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"FX4 has the 4:10 rear end which adds to the "hit", reg. 4x2 has a 3:55 and the reg 4X4 has a 3.73" per Barry

Still learning -- never knew that, and, more importantly, at the time never knew I needed to know that (or at least that it would have been useful to know that).

Knew only that I specifically told the Ford dealer I wanted the most tow-capable Ranger (the F150 was way too big for me, I don't like driving something that large), and they told me that the FX4 was the only way to get the "tow package" with the heavy duty radiator & the auxiliary oil cooler (I told them I was anticipating moving up to a larger trailer than the Boler within a few years).

And the Tacoma's & Frontier's weren't in the budget at the time, being almost $20k more than the Ranger.

I continue to learn lots now that I've joined this forum. Thanks, all.
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Old 06-28-2015, 10:18 PM   #16
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The gas tank size is not something I would have considered but that does make a difference. Ours is supposed to be 23 on our 4Runner but I know it is less from filling, however, it is much bigger than what we previously had. Almost never need to get gas when towing.
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Old 06-28-2015, 10:34 PM   #17
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"Think about stopping at a light on a hill and then proceeding on green. Or, about trying to inch a trailer tire up on a block to level the trailer. Almost anything can be made more difficult with a manual transmission." per Gbaglo

Huh? I have way more trouble trying to do those things -- or practically anything else -- with an automatic than I ever did with any manual transmission. Well, maybe not the starting up a hill (although even that is learnable), but certainly the short-distance "creeping", whether to level the trailer onto blocks or four-wheeling in the boonies or even to back up precisely under the tongue of the trailer. I find it utterly impossible to move an auto-trans-vehicle in quarter-inch increments -- with 4 years practise I've gotten it down to maybe 2-inch increments -- if I'm super-careful. And don't even talk to me about snow, ice or slippery conditions.

Back to Steve R's question: Apparently (so I've been told from many sources -- not just the Ford dealer who sold me my current truck <g>), the "weak link" isn't the manual transmission itself, it's the clutch. Begs the question -- why wouldn't manufacturers just use or make available beefier clutches, if that's the case? That's a rhetorical question -- there's not enough demand for manuals anymore so manufacturer's don't make them available any more. And besides, everything is getting computerized and drivers are forgetting how to drive.

OK, rant off. I really am a happy guy, honest.

Anyway, apparently manual transmission is NOT a feasible alternative, at least for trailers bigger/heavier than Bolers.
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Old 06-28-2015, 10:43 PM   #18
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Anyway, apparently manual transmission is NOT a feasible alternative, at least for trailers bigger/heavier than Bolers.
I've known some really heavy 17' bolers...

So in the end, it's not about the ETI build, it's more about YOU and what you feel the most comfortable driving when you know you're sharing the road with the rest of us....
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Old 06-28-2015, 10:46 PM   #19
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2013 Yukon 4X2- 5.3/3.42 differential towing 21. Last 3400 mile trip from here to Glacier NP and back averaged 13.4 mpg with 87 octane.
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Old 06-28-2015, 10:51 PM   #20
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I know on our 4Runner, there is a feature that keeps it in place on a hill, no drifting back whatsoever, so no problem going forward as would be the case with a manual. May be the same on all Toyota's and many others. I cannot, however, creep.
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