Originally Posted by Cap4hire
Hello, I am having a hard time deciding between purchasing a 19 or 21 ft Escape. My tow vehicle is rated for 5k lbs. We have no former experience RV'ing, just tent camping. Have towing experience with many different boats. Most camping will be long weekends including boondocking with my wife and I in National Forests. We both work, no long excursions for now. We are fine with the bed size of both, cost difference is irrelevant.
My general assessment is I would prefer the space and options of the 21 IF towing is not more difficult. Hope to place an order this week, please provide your input/feedback you believe may be helpful in making this decision.
Cap4hire, we had a 19' on order a year ago and were at ETI finalizing the build list when we happened to step into a 21' for the first time. We immediately saw that the 21' suited our needs better than the 19'. (Rear dinette, no-climbover bed, more counter space, bigger fridge, more elbow room, extra storage space}.
We had planned to tow the 19' with our 2011 4Runner (5000# tow rating). When I asked Reace that day how well he thought our SUV would tow a trailer weighing 500 pounds more than the 19', his diplomatic answer was, "That would depend on your expectations." We also checked with the service manager at our Toyota dealership (who we trust, and who has towed a lot), and he thought the combination would be fine. They were both correct, to a point.
So we bought the 21', and after a 4-week trip last fall (our first towing experience ever--just two people and minimal stuff), which included several mountain passes, I think your 5000 pound capacity tow vehicle would work fine with an Escape 21 for the short trips you're planning initially, just as our 4Runner did for nearly all of our long trip. You could certainly buy the 21' and try it with your current vehicle, then upgrade to a higher capacity tow vehicle when you become free to do longer trips.
Because of a couple of slow climbs on long mountain grades at elevation, and because our next destination is an extended trip to the high country of the US Southwest, we are now (albeit reluctantly) looking for a 2011 or 2012 Tundra which will have nearly double the towing capacity of the 4Runner. The extra torque and the tow/haul mode will make driving in the mountains easier. Some days on our trip I saw almost nothing but the tachometer and the road ahead as I constantly gauged the RPM and shift points to keep us going at an acceptable speed up long mountain grades on 2-lane roads with few passing lanes or pullouts, occasionally with motorists behind us wishing we were going faster. To me, it's worth spending extra on gas to have a more relaxing drive on the steep grades.
But that's me, and on our last two days of the trip, when we drove from the Oregon Coast back home to mid-Vancouver Island, the 4Runner towed like a champ up the grades on the Olympic Peninsula and over the Malahat north of Victoria. If all the roads we want to travel featured lower elevations and gentler hills, as your intended routes might, we would be keeping the V6 vehicle for a long time.
I am not sure how much easier it would be to tow an Escape 19 than a 21 using a vehicle with our 4Runner's tow capacity on steep grades at elevation. Perhaps more experienced folks can share their experience on exactly how much difference 500 pounds makes (about 3800 vs. 4300#) under challenging conditions.
I hope these thoughts help your decision-making process, Craig.