Towing 19 foot Escape with 4 cylinder Tacoma
We just returned from a 3 week, 3,200 mile trip to the western US towing a brand new 19 foot Escape with a 4 cylinder Toyota Tacoma. We picked the trailer up at the factory and headed south the same day driving a big figure 8 through Washington, Oregon and California in the following three weeks.
I thought I'd give my impressions of towing a 19 foot Escape with a "small" truck.
The truck: It's a US model 2001 Tacoma 4x4, standard cab, with larger of the two 4 cylinder engine options and a 5 speed manual transmission. I have had the truck for years and really like it and wasn't about to change it for a V6 just to pull a trailer.
All the oils are full synthetic (engine, gearbox, transfer case and both differentials). The clutch and flywheel were renewed two years ago. I wouldn't have attempted towing with an automatic transmission and the 4 cylinder engine combination. During the trip the odometer went over the 100,000 mile mark. I live in BC but the truck is a US model with mph prominent on the speedometer and odometer, hence my using those units in this post.
Towing and truck box capacities are all within the rated load limits for the truck.
Performance: The power band on the truck engine is typical for an import 4 cylinder with nothing much below 2,000 rpm and a rise of useful power to 3,800 rpm with a lessening rise after that which I occasionally dipped into.
The 5 speed transmission has nice ratios down from 5th to 3rd for road work. On the road there was a nice sweet spot between 65 mph and 70 mph which for freeway and open road work I tended to stick to. At those speeds in 5th gear I had very little gas pedal. Hills, depending on their grade, were taken at various speeds. Long freeway drags were generally taken at 65 mph in 4th gear, when they steepened (Snoqualmie pass for instance) I had to drop to 50 or 55 mph and use 3rd. Monster hills like the climb up to Yosemite National Park coming in from the west were taken mostly in 2nd gear, partly due to the 10 mph hairpins, 25 mph speed limits and partly due to the grade.
Loads: Generally we travelled light with about 1/2 tank of fresh water, no grey or black tank contents and 300 to 350 pounds of "stuff" spread between the trailer and the truck box which incidentally has a canopy.
Gas mileage: I wasn't too concerned about gas mileage and didn't check it regularly. Obviously it was very dependent on the hillclimbing and it varied between 17 and 22 mpg (that's a US gallon by the way). The overall average for the entire 3,200 mile trip was 19.2 mpg (once again US gallons).
Braking: No problems at all, the brake controller was set up according to the advice I got when I picked up the trailer and I never touched the setting throughout the trip.
Handling: No problems there either, the factory installed equalizer hitch did everything it was supposed to, no nosing at higher speeds that I could detect. As with the brake controller I followed the set up advice I got at the Escape factory and only made one minor change once we redistributed "stuff" from the truck box to the trailer.
Conclusions: Yes, it would have been nice to have had an F350 Super Duty and sailed up all the long hills at the speed limits but The Tacoma's the truck I own, like and am not about to replace. It was sometimes frustrating being in the slow lane at 20 mph less than the cars whipping by. I found I had to change my driving style, particularly in relation to downshifting on uphill grades. The extra weight of the trailer slowed the truck faster than I was used to and so I had to anticipate my shift points more than when driving the truck "solo".
Regards, Alan S
2001 Toyota Tacoma 4X4 (4 cylinder)
2012 Escape 19