Saturday, August 25, 2012

Test Driving Tow Vehicles

After taking a load to the local recycling center, I headed to Bloomington IN about 25 miles away to test drive some Toyota Tundra's, FJ Cruiser, Ford F-150 and a H3 Hummer.

One thing was consistent about all of these vehicles ... I found myself staying at the speed limit with ease ... something I don't experience a lot in my Mini Cooper. That was a good thing!

I started with a 2008 Tundra Crew Cab that had an long bed, something you don't see a lot of. Drove with the comfort of the Cadillac while I headed to the lake down a road that was narrow with hills, curves and blind spots. It had a 5.7 Liter V8, 6 speed transmission. A whopping wheelbase of a 165". Loved it but a few things bothered me, over a 100K in miles, the crew cab seats pulled up and would have been a pain to set up some sort of bench for the hounds to lay, sleep or sit on while traveling. Tow capacity of 10,200 lbs, new tires and new brakes. Clean carfax. Thinking after I left, it may be a little bit more of vehicle than I want/need pulling a smaller trailer.

Out of curiosity I drove a 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser. A friend has one and has 4-wheeled everywhere, literally, in it and has pulled a small trailer. She warned me it did not have enough cargo space and hard to see out the back and both of those warnings were true. Yet, it drove really nice, I loved it, could have bought right on the spot .... still reality was...not enough room for cargo storage and traveling with the hounds, if I chose a trailer. Plus it had come from NJ, showed a lot of rust in the engine bay and underneathe the truck. I am assuming that was from all snow removal on the highways with salt and sand in the winters, that's also a favorite combe here in Indiana.

Stopped by the Ford dealership to drive a 2009 F-150 ... basically just didn't like it period. No offense intended for any Ford owners reading this.

Stopped by just to talk, with the owner of the lot I bought my Mini Cooper from. He had a nice 2007 Toyota Tundra 4x4 I was interested in driving but it sold on Thursday. I told him what I was wanting to do and what I was looking for in a tow vehicle. Possibly a Tundra like he had last week. Most of the trucks he had on his lot were dual axle, couple of Fords for $35K, a couple of Dodge Ram 2500 & 3500's, a H3 Hummer and a FJ Cruiser where someone had spent the money to max it out on 4-wheeling accessories.

I picked the H3 to test. It was rated with a 112" wheel base, 9" off ground and a towing capacity of 4,500 pounds. The tow package was trailer ready with a 7 pin connection for the trailer lights etc. It road better than the FJ, a little different ride, felt better on my bad lower back (important). I have to be honest, I like this vehicle as being one to tow a smaller trailer, enough 4x4 to get me a little further off road (just not to the end of the earth) and enough room to store cargo for a solo traveler and some hounds. For the hounds, the back seats slid forward and then you had the choice of folding the backs forward or leaving them up. If I had that vehicle I would change the roof rack and buy the 3/4 length one to hold more storage on top. My old '63 VW had a great rack like that just for the VW bus. It had a 2 owner clean car fax, 74K on the odometer.

So that was the range of my test driving today. A truck and trailer is a big switch from what I had been thinking a month or so ago, with the Class A pulling a Mini Cooper, a Class C alone and then towing a toad of some sort. I have always had the urge to be able to get a little further off the beaten path in my stays.

The Big News is ... I bought a new stand to attach a new "Home For Sale by Owner" sign to.  The last one I had up for a short time last spring was destroyed by one of those high speed winds and thunderstorms you see in the Midwest. I am not sure how far down the highway it flew before it was slammed into the turf.

The more I think, even for full-timing as a solo traveler with some hounds, the rigs get smaller. RVSue has been on the road for a year in a Casita, seems to love that set up. A couple of others have been in a Casita for over a year and they all like their set ups. Maybe that's something to think about. Really take the minimizing your lifestyle to a whole different level and still see the same beautiful country a 40'er does.

12 comments:

  1. Does an F-150 have enough power for towing? My RV is a E-450. I think your idea of towing a trailer and having a 4x4 truck is a good idea. If I had that setup, I don't think I would go off road by myself, I wouldn't want to have to change a tire myself or try to fix something else if it broke. I would love to travel like that but would need to have a mechanic for a partner.

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    1. Teri my only tow experience is a couple of times with a car trailer being towed by a 27' UHaul Truck, once to Boise ID from Washington and once to Breckenridge Colorado. When I think back to those two experiences, I am not sure I want the hassel of unhitching and hitching whenever I want to move. Seems much simpler to get in the driver seat like you do and take off. I just wonder have far off the main roads you can take a Class C. WheelinIt has some pretty good boondocking photos and they travel in a 40'er.

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  2. I like http://www.carsurvey.org/ --it is an owner driven site where owners of the exact year/make of vehicle you are looking at get a chance to express their opinion of it. For example, there are 9 folks who have reviewed their '09 F-150. Hope that helps down the road.

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  3. I'm afraid that if the H3 has only 4500-lb. towing capacity it will not be enough to safely tow a travel trailer that would suit your needs; empty weight perhaps but 4500 pounds is not much when it is the gross weight. Our F-350 is 4x4 and, although I did not intentionally get a 4x4 vehicle, I highly recommend doing so. It has come in handy quite a few times in the 2+ years we've been on the road. Good luck with your search. :)

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    1. Last night I called my niece that has an H3 and drives it daily from the town I live in to the town I test drove the trucks. She said on the hills between her home and work, it automatically downshifts while pulling nothing. If it can't handle the 800ft hills in southern Indiana, doubt it would handle the mountains pulling a trailer. Thank you for your advise based on your experience....good to know.

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  4. We are the hunt for a Tundra too over here in the middle of Illinois. I have family not far from Bloomington :O) Those Tundras are hard to find so if you see one you don't want let me know :O) We're going the Casita route...remind of something that should be in a Jetson's episode O:)~cozygirl

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    1. Bloomington Indiana or Illinois, at times people get them confused. :)

      You might want to check cars dot com. You can look for specific trucks/cars and any distance away from your home. 2 of the tundras I wanted to test drive after seeing them online during the week, were sold by Saturday.

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    2. cars.com....I'm on it! Thanks for the lead!

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  5. The F-150 is probably out since you didn't like the Ford. But take it into consideration that most motorhomes are set up, at the least, on a E-350. If you go too low, then you may run into big transmission troubles. Be generous with your tow weight too. Don't get too minimal because you may end up finding that lightweight TT's don't feel solid enough for you. I'd suggest that you also look at TT's & decide what you like there as well & compare trucks to that as to what you can haul.
    Besides, didn't you want a big screen TV inside of your living quarters?? You might not want to go so small that you, nor the hounds, have to slither past a big sceen

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    1. TexCyn ... all good points and a good memory. I guess I want it all, kind of...to get out and away, watch ballgames on my big screen, room for the hounds and I, a 4x4 vehicle to go exploring ... I need one of those motor homes I see at times passing through this area that are 40', pulling a 30' closed trailer...LOL

      My problem, I like about every RV, truck/trailer combo that I see.

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    2. I think you need an inflatable RV that you can inflate/deflate depending on what you are going to do that day. Same for all appliances & electronics inside of it too 8-}

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