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Last Post 09 Nov 2009 01:43 PM by  gpny
Midsize SUV Towing recommendations
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CONEV8R
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10 Oct 2009 11:44 AM

Actually, yes, the VQ35 does have the power valve screw issue, but it does not effect every vehicle. In the Pathfinders, only about 30% of them were effected. Nissan caught the issue and started putting thread locker on the screws. If you get a Manual transmission vehicle, it doesn't have the power valves, so there's not even a worry there.

I've seen more than one VQ35 with multiple screws missing, and they still ran perfectly. It's really not that difficult of a job for the mechanically inclined, and I'd hope that everyone here is mechanically inclined. It only took me about 3 hours to do on the two Pathfinders I did it on.

amaff
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10 Oct 2009 01:32 PM
CONEV8R wrote:

It's really not that difficult of a job for the mechanically inclined, and I'd hope that everyone here is mechanically inclined. It only took me about 3 hours to do on the two Pathfinders I did it on.

Good deal, thanks. Looking at pictures of that motor, it didn't look like it would be too difficult to access so I'm glad that's true. If this ends up being what I get, definitely something to check.

Clemens
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11 Oct 2009 02:16 PM

I am also trying to decide what to do about tow vehicles and trailers. I am currently pulling an 8.5"x20" enclosed trailer with a Trailblazer with a weigh-distributing hitch. I bought the Trailblazer for fuel economy (higher is better) and price (lower is better). I was wrong about the fuel economy and got 15 mpg on my first two tanks without towing in the winter (2-wheel drive mode only) while babying it. The low-fuel light came on after 240 miles with my second tank, which didn't make me feel very good about the range while towing. I did get 20 mpg once on the Interstate. Putting a big wind sail in form of a trailer behind it doesn't exactly help in the fuel mileage department. Towing, I typically get 10.x mpg, or 11.x if I am lucky. On the way back from Lincoln, I got 9.x mpg three tanks in a row with 9.3 mpg being the lowest. All these numbers are with average speeds at no more than 60 mph.

I like the SUV over a pick-up truck. I find them more practical for what I do. Although the Trailblazer is probably 1/2 size too small for the trailer I tow, power is sufficient and handling is fine. I just hate the fuel consumption and am scared like hell that the transmission will go out. Steve's comments didn't exactly make me feel any better.

The first thing I should do is downsizing the trailer, especially since my racecar weighs less than 900 lbs (the trailer empty is 3500 lbs). I am still trying to decide what to do there, since I can't find anything I like. I need another enclosed trailer with a much smaller frontal area. I have even thought about building my own. I've been contemplating the trailer situation for over a year now...

My plan is to look for another tow vehicle once I settled on a trailer, but have the same problem there. I can't find anything I like. I am looking for a mid-size SUV with a 3-4L diesel and manual transmission. I guess it doesn't matter how hard I look, I won't find one of those. I wonder why nobody sells anything like that (actually, I believe Mercedes sells the M-class with a diesel now, and I could import a manual transmission from Germany; too expensive, though). I guess a Ridgeline wouldn't be a bad choice. If they made it with a diesel and manual.

I keep coming back to the Dodge Ram, since they come with diesels and manual transmissions, but I'd buy one only if it improves my gas mileage significantly, independent of trailer size. However, it is nearly impossible to get good data. I have researched the Internet discussion forums, according to which, the Dodge diesels get 10-28 mpg (not towing), depending on who you believe. Talking to some of the autocrossers who tow with a diesel truck, I have come to the conclusion that they don't do a whole lot better than what I am currently getting, although those guys probably go faster than the 60 mph I tow at. I guess I am ignoring the guy who told me he gets 18 mpg with an old Ford diesel pick-up with a manual towing a 24 foot enclosed race car trailer at 70 mph. I'd love that, but it sounds too good to be true!

I don't really know what a full size van gets for fuel economy, but have heard that they don't do any better than 10-12 mpg without a trailer. What do you get with yours, Steve?

I better decide what to do for a trailer so that I can dump my Trailblazer before the next season starts.

Clemens

Dave Hardy
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11 Oct 2009 06:10 PM

My mileage - towing a 2000# civic on a 1000# open trailer, with another 1000# of people, spares, tools, etc. Towing at 80 mph +/-

1994 E350 with 5.8L and E4OD - 10mpg towing, 13mpg empty

1998 E350 with 5.4L and E4OD - 11mpg towing / 14mpg empty

2002 Silverado 2500HD CC/LB with 8.1 and Allison - 10.5 towing / 12.5 empty

Here's a good thread on the subject - http://www.roadraceautox.com/showth...hp?t=25119

PCalhoun
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12 Oct 2009 08:38 AM
Clemens wrote:

The first thing I should do is downsizing the trailer, especially since my racecar weighs less than 900 lbs (the trailer empty is 3500 lbs). I am still trying to decide what to do there, since I can't find anything I like. I need another enclosed trailer with a much smaller frontal area. I have even thought about building my own. I've been contemplating the trailer situation for over a year now...

I keep coming back to the Dodge Ram, since they come with diesels and manual transmissions, but I'd buy one only if it improves my gas mileage significantly, independent of trailer size. However, it is nearly impossible to get good data. I have researched the Internet discussion forums, according to which, the Dodge diesels get 10-28 mpg (not towing), depending on who you believe. Talking to some of the autocrossers who tow with a diesel truck, I have come to the conclusion that they don't do a whole lot better than what I am currently getting, although those guys probably go faster than the 60 mph I tow at. I guess I am ignoring the guy who told me he gets 18 mpg with an old Ford diesel pick-up with a manual towing a 24 foot enclosed race car trailer at 70 mph. I'd love that, but it sounds too good to be true!

Clemens

Clemens-

For a true impression on the Dodge Cummins w/ a manual get a hold of Wynveen. He has been towing w/ one for a few years now and I know he loves the powertrain and that is what he does for a living.

As to the trailer, it is possible to custom build a unit w/ reduced height. If you look at Elzinga's trailer, which is my old trailer, that is a 7x16 Pace Conquest w/ 6" reduced height for a 5'6" interior. That trailer towed beautiful behind my first gen Tundra, which was always like a 7/8 scale 1/2 ton truck. Almost any manufacturer can buld w/ reduced height, but on the open market it would more commonly be seen on motorcyle trailers; i.e. Pace Legacy. W/ your car you should also be able to goto a 7w trailer when equipped w/ widetrack axles to eliminate the inner wheel wells no problem. Anything you can do to reduce the frontal area of the trailer will help the ease of towing and as a result fuel economy.

Scoob
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12 Oct 2009 10:08 AM
I left no doubt that I would have enough for anything I need now or in the future: Ford Excursion with 7.3L diesel. Replaced the minivan with it and I expect the mileage to be around 20 in mixed driving and probably 15-18 while towing a 6x12 with 4 karts and gear. Note that's what I expect - I don't know for sure since I just got it last week. But in that week I'm averaging 22 mpg in mostly city driving. If you can find one, I can recommend it. (I got a 2wd that is lower than all of the 4x4s so that should help some when towing, too.)
47CP
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12 Oct 2009 10:19 AM

Scoob wrote:
I left no doubt that I would have enough for anything I need now or in the future: Ford Excursion with 7.3L diesel. Replaced the minivan with it and I expect the mileage to be around 20 in mixed driving and probably 15-18 while towing a 6x12 with 4 karts and gear. Note that's what I expect - I don't know for sure since I just got it last week. But in that week I'm averaging 22 mpg in mostly city driving. If you can find one, I can recommend it. (I got a 2wd that is lower than all of the 4x4s so that should help some when towing, too.)

Not trying to start a diesel holy war, but how are you coming up with those numbers?

I have had a 2001 Dodge w/ cummins, 2002 F250 w/ 7.3 and a 2006 Dodge w/ Cummins. All excellent trucks and excellent mileage for what they were doing, but no where near the numbers you are quoting. 12-14 is the norm for mixed use. All would get right around 20 on straight highway with absolutely no city. Towing was as low as 8 and as high as 12 with a 24' enclosed. Between 14-16 with an open trailer.

I really like Excursions and especially Diesel ones, but I don't see a 7000+ lb vehicle getting those kinds of mileage numbers.

DaveW

Scoob
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12 Oct 2009 10:58 AM

This one definitely has surprised me, but I suspect that there is a piggyback or some such with the ECU on this. I was planning on getting a DP Tuner for it, but so far in a couple hundred miles of driving I appear to be at 22. When I bought it it said 24.4 on the overhead. I won't put too much stock in that (yet), but I will also have to wait for several weeks before I will fill 'er up again, too. I'd be happy with 15 mixed and 18 highway, but will happily take more if she gives it.[:)]

And by no means would I promote the Excursion as a fuel efficient vehicle - don't get me wrong. But we replaced the beloved minivan that got 20 mixed and 25 on long highway trips if we kept the mph low, and I expect to see some good numbers from the Ex with the added advantage of being able to pull just about anything I'd want to pull. I stayed away from the 6.8L V10 motor because of the bad mpg numbers for it. Strong motor and readily available, but pretty bad mileage.

Steve Hoelscher
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12 Oct 2009 02:22 PM
DILYSI Dave wrote:

My mileage - towing a 2000# civic on a 1000# open trailer, with another 1000# of people, spares, tools, etc. Towing at 80 mph +/-

1994 E350 with 5.8L and E4OD - 10mpg towing, 13mpg empty

1998 E350 with 5.4L and E4OD - 11mpg towing / 14mpg empty

2002 Silverado 2500HD CC/LB with 8.1 and Allison - 10.5 towing / 12.5 empty

For reference: My van is a '96 Clubwagn XLT on a half ton (e150) chassis. I have the 3.55 (towing option) gear. I tow a 1400 lbs open trailer with a 1750 lbs car and another 500 - 1000 lbs of gear in the van. I regularly tow at 75~80 mph (its absolutely effortless at that speed) and regularly get 12 mpg. Empty, I get 15~16 combined without the trailer.

Considering the higher cost of diesel fuel and the higher cost to buy and operate the diesel, I don't think the extra 2 or 4 mpg gain from the diesel is any more economical than my 5 liter gas motor when you figure the total cost per mile.

I used to tow with an SUV and a midsized van. When I moved up to the fullsize van I was amazed at how much more comfortable it was and how effortlessly it towed. While I may have lost a point or two of MPG stepping up to the full sized van, what I gained in comfort and capability was very well worth the additional exspense. I have put more than 250,000 miles on my current van, the vast majority of which was towing. I have also towed at one time or another with various trucks, diesels and duallys. I would buy another van, like the one I have now, again tomorrow. That's one reason I have had it so long. I have no reason to replace it.

47CP
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12 Oct 2009 02:32 PM
Scoob wrote:

This one definitely has surprised me, but I suspect that there is a piggyback or some such with the ECU on this. I was planning on getting a DP Tuner for it, but so far in a couple hundred miles of driving I appear to be at 22. When I bought it it said 24.4 on the overhead. I won't put too much stock in that (yet), but I will also have to wait for several weeks before I will fill 'er up again, too. I'd be happy with 15 mixed and 18 highway, but will happily take more if she gives it.[:)]

And by no means would I promote the Excursion as a fuel efficient vehicle - don't get me wrong. But we replaced the beloved minivan that got 20 mixed and 25 on long highway trips if we kept the mph low, and I expect to see some good numbers from the Ex with the added advantage of being able to pull just about anything I'd want to pull. I stayed away from the 6.8L V10 motor because of the bad mpg numbers for it. Strong motor and readily available, but pretty bad mileage.

I have heard the tuners really mess with the overhead. I did have a tuner in my older Dodge and the Ford, but no overheads, so no real tech to back it up.

We have a V-10 in our van. It consistently gets about 2-3 mpg less than the diesel while both towing 24' enclosed trailers on the same trip (not anymore, I got rid of the 24' enlosed and the diesel:))

I daily drove it for a few (4) weeks in between turning the 06 Dodge in and getting the Durango and it's combined empty mileage *seemed* to be in the same range as the others, though I never had a full tank of just combined driving without a short towing trip or some other oddity.

My wandering point is that I personally wouldn't be that scared of the V10. Especially since you can sometimes get them cheap becuase of the gas hog reputation. I was looking VERY hard a 2003 V-10 Excursion before I got this Durango.

DaveW

01 FS Z28
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12 Oct 2009 04:02 PM

A few items. I had for 3 years a 2004.5 Cummins with a manual. Unlike Wynveen's mine shifted like crap. :) But the engine was great. I now have an '08 6.7 Auto, love it way more.

I had both tuned, as that's one of the things I sell--so I think it's important to know how the products work! I also have tuners and various parts on other customer's diesels--and in EVERY case the the hand-calculated mileage went up. They are just more effeceint (i before e except after c, right?). In fact I had cause to untune my '08. I got the same mileage pulling an empty Featherlite open trailer with the stock tune as I do towing a Mustang on it through a driving rain (complete with lots of standing water and all the drag that causes)--and with another 150 ft/pounds of torque. And not a hint of smoke either.

Tuners do screw with the computer's mileage calcs. Hell, some trucks, and Dodges seem to be the worst, are WAY off stock. Tuning generally makes those numbers to be further off (seemingly to the good). It takes 5 seconds to do the math on a cell phone's calculator.

I've used Edge and Hypertech stuff mostly. Not had what I'd call great results with BullyDog. Smarty's are great for Dodges.

amaff
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12 Oct 2009 06:29 PM

I don't think 4Runners, Pathfinders and Trail Blazers come with Diesel V10s....... [:P]

dhrmx5
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14 Oct 2009 07:31 AM

A vehicle that is being overlooked that works very well is the 99-02 Lincoln Navigator. Those SUVs came with a 5.4 with the DOHC like the Mustang Cobra and didn't have the plug problem. I have towed with one for 2 years now and it simply works great.

I have towed loads ranging from 3000-10K with this truck and it works great. The Navigator is actually rated for 9K towing from the factory. It will do 18mpg on the freeway and still gets 14 in town. Mileage varies with terrain when towing, with 9mpg being the worst I ever got and 11mpg being average. These SUVs are super comfortable and have pretty much any option you could want. Brakes have never been an issue. Set the cruise at 70-75 and the country just flies by.

nicu
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14 Oct 2009 01:46 PM
What type of trailer are you towing with the Navigator?
lotiman
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14 Oct 2009 07:42 PM

What about the Chevy Avalanche?

Does anyone have a view on this truck?

dhrmx5
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14 Oct 2009 08:07 PM

Various loads have been:

2 car 30 foot flat deck dual axles with a 2005 F350 turbo diesel crewcab dually on it...9000+ lbs

2 car 30 foot flat deck with 2 cars (T1 Vette, Cobra replica) motorcycle, 4 sets tires and wheels (Vette)... 9000+ lbs

2 car open stacker trailer with spares and race tires... 7800+ lbs

24 ft Pace enclosed 1 car with spares and tires... 7500+ lbs.

The Navigator and Eddie Bauer Expeditions come with airbag suspension that doesn't seem to care even when I put 1500+ lbs on the hitch. I am not using any sway control or load leveling other than the stock airbags which flatten the SUV out perfectly.

I am not limited to towing with the Navi as I currently also have a 95 F350 Powerstroke, and 2 2000 F350 crewcabs with powerstroke that I could tow with. When I only need to haul 2 cars I use the Navi because it just drives so well. Plus it is nice to be able to haul 7 people when I get to the races.

Steve Hoelscher
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15 Oct 2009 08:42 AM
Craig Straub wrote:

What about the Chevy Avalanche?

Does anyone have a view on this truck?

The Avalanche is just a Suburban with a small bed behind the back seat. And a Surburban is just a Chevy Silverado with a wagon body. So all of the issues associated with a suburban or silverado apply.

If you buy a 1500 chassis Avalanche, it will have the 4L60E automatic in it. The 2500 chassis Avalanche will have the 4L80E. So all of the Chevy transmission issues apply.

BrianCunningham
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16 Oct 2009 10:57 AM

Need to pick up a winter/tow vehicle.

Been looking into getting a new pickup.


But there's something to be said for an SUV

An 8 liter Suburban would definitely do it, but I can't imagine trying to put it in a parking garage park it downtown LOL

How about a Grand Cherokee?

mtbprelude
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19 Oct 2009 12:50 PM
BrianCunningham wrote:

But there's something to be said for an SUV

An 8 liter Suburban would definitely do it, but I can't imagine trying to put it in a parking garage park it downtown LOL

How about a Grand Cherokee?

Try the 07+ Durango (Aspen) w/ 5.7L Hemi w/ Multi-Displacement System (if mpg is a concern for you). Good size, decent turning radius, fully boxed frame, decent towing (8950#), can seat 7 adults, car-like handling compared to a pick-up. SLT/Limited versions come with leather + nice options. Resale on these soccer-mommy-wagons is low, so they can be had for very reasonable cost.

JBrettHowell
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19 Oct 2009 06:02 PM
mtbprelude wrote:
BrianCunningham wrote:

But there's something to be said for an SUV

An 8 liter Suburban would definitely do it, but I can't imagine trying to put it in a parking garage park it downtown LOL

How about a Grand Cherokee?

Try the 07+ Durango (Aspen) w/ 5.7L Hemi w/ Multi-Displacement System (if mpg is a concern for you). Good size, decent turning radius, fully boxed frame, decent towing (8950#), can seat 7 adults, car-like handling compared to a pick-up. SLT/Limited versions come with leather + nice options. Resale on these soccer-mommy-wagons is low, so they can be had for very reasonable cost.

What part of "be around $6000" do you people not understand?

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