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    Thread: Find me the most fuel efficient family vehicle that can tow 3500 lbs.

    1. 04-09-2012 04:07 PM #1
      I won't go into flowery prose. The problem is simply stated. What is out there that is a good family car, AWD preferred, and can tow 3500 lbs while getting better than upper teens in the city?

      The Equinox we have now is averaging 18 to 20 mpg in mixed driving. Thats on the lowish end of acceptable for me, and OMG WTF BBQ for her (I am not sure what she was expecting....but once we got over $4.30 a gallon she started to complain). We didn't care too much at the time we got the car, and we still love it for all intents and purposes. Honestly if the 4 cylinder would pull 3500 lbs we would trade it in on one, as the V6 is ill-suited to the vehicle (very much a screamer powerplant - would be great in a small sports coupe or a sports sedan, not so good in an AWD SUV).

      But, since it doesn't, I am starting to assemble a mental list of replacements in the 1 to 2 year timeframe. Price range would be up to $35,000, and this vehicle would be leased, ideally in the $400 a month range.

      What's out there? We might even be willing to go Outback/Volvo route if there's a good option. The 3500 lbs is not really arbitrary, as we are looking to purchase a runabout in the 19 foot class, and many of them on the trailer are sitting on around 3,000 lbs.
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    2. Member jepva's Avatar
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      04-09-2012 04:21 PM #2
      Maybe the CX-5 diesel when it comes out...the tow rating with the 4 cylinder is only 2000lbs so rather puny, but I'm hoping with the diesel they will up the tow rating.

      The Volvo V70's were always great wagons with good tow capability..3500 lbs rated, could probably even do a little more. T5's can get 30 on the highway. They don't seem to be making those new anymore, though. The V50 is only rated for 2000 lbs, unfortunately.

    3. Member adrew's Avatar
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      04-09-2012 04:33 PM #3
      Highlander Hybrid — 280 hp, AWD, 28/28 MPG, rated for 3500 lbs.
      Improving the signal-to-noise ratio

    4. Member eweu's Avatar
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      04-09-2012 04:38 PM #4
      Highlander Hybrid is a good suggestion.

      If you maybe want a bit more towing capacity, the Ford Flex is rated up to 4500 pounds and starts around $30,000 for the low rent trim. Available in FWD and AWD.

    5. Member dieselraver's Avatar
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      04-09-2012 04:41 PM #5
      something with bigger upgraded brakes would be a desire in my book, i know the highlander has tiny little brakes, as does the outback. have you looked into the 4runners?
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      04-09-2012 04:43 PM #6
      Touareg diesel - 19/28 7000lbs towing

    7. Member eweu's Avatar
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      04-09-2012 04:45 PM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by VOLKS-MAN View Post
      Touareg diesel - 19/28 7000lbs towing
      And way more than $35,000.

    8. Member adrew's Avatar
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      04-09-2012 04:49 PM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by dieselraver View Post
      something with bigger upgraded brakes would be a desire in my book, i know the highlander has tiny little brakes, as does the outback. have you looked into the 4runners?
      4Runner is going to get worse mileage than an Equinox.

      Just looked up the Highlander brakes and it has 12.9" rotors up front and 12.2" in the rear. Seems sufficient.
      Improving the signal-to-noise ratio

    9. Member Cooley's Avatar
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      04-09-2012 04:53 PM #9
      Ford Ecoboost

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      04-09-2012 04:56 PM #10
      power is never the issue...brakes are. so the outback is a bit of a question mark. i'd leave a little clearance in the OE maximum loading numbers...like shooting for something in the 4k towing range. which is tough.

      i'd say what you have now is a good choice. the Traverse foursome (saturn, chevy, buick, and gmc) would all work, but you'll see similar mileage.

      a big diesel pickup can probably do similar numbers to what you're seeing now highway and haul a lot more. that's not really your needs or application though. have you considered a "tow beater" for this instead? you could find a really decent used pick-up or SUV (tahoe?) for pennies on the dollar for towing. its definitely something to think about as you can ditch the equinox for a sedan or wagon that gets better mileage and costs less (see forester, outback, malibu, accord, etc). while still having a truck to haul stuff and tow.

      Quote Originally Posted by capsaicin View Post
      AP1 S2000? I can not in good conscience talk you out of that. May your slip angle be great and your bed not be the couch!

    11. 04-09-2012 05:05 PM #11
      Quote Originally Posted by compy222 View Post
      power is never the issue...brakes are. so the outback is a bit of a question mark. i'd leave a little clearance in the OE maximum loading numbers...like shooting for something in the 4k towing range. which is tough.

      i'd say what you have now is a good choice. the Traverse foursome (saturn, chevy, buick, and gmc) would all work, but you'll see similar mileage.

      a big diesel pickup can probably do similar numbers to what you're seeing now highway and haul a lot more. that's not really your needs or application though. have you considered a "tow beater" for this instead? you could find a really decent used pick-up or SUV (tahoe?) for pennies on the dollar for towing. its definitely something to think about as you can ditch the equinox for a sedan or wagon that gets better mileage and costs less (see forester, outback, malibu, accord, etc). while still having a truck to haul stuff and tow.

      I have considered a tow beater, but as much as we enjoy boating, we will put a ton of miles on it, and a beater truck is an expensive proposition, from experience.

      This vehicle would need to be a do-it-all family hauler/boat hauler, and its hard to do and get good fuel economy.

      I believe the Edge Ecoboost comes close, but you can't get one in AWD, and its an expensive m***er****** when you start putting some desirable options on it.
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      04-09-2012 05:10 PM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by adrew View Post
      Highlander Hybrid — 280 hp, AWD, 28/28 MPG, rated for 3500 lbs.
      Damn it. Beat me to it.
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      04-09-2012 05:28 PM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by GolfVIDriver View Post
      I won't go into flowery prose. The problem is simply stated. What is out there that is a good family car, AWD preferred, and can tow 3500 lbs while getting better than upper teens in the city?

      The Equinox we have now is averaging 18 to 20 mpg in mixed driving. Thats on the lowish end of acceptable for me, and OMG WTF BBQ for her (I am not sure what she was expecting....but once we got over $4.30 a gallon she started to complain). We didn't care too much at the time we got the car, and we still love it for all intents and purposes. Honestly if the 4 cylinder would pull 3500 lbs we would trade it in on one, as the V6 is ill-suited to the vehicle (very much a screamer powerplant - would be great in a small sports coupe or a sports sedan, not so good in an AWD SUV).

      But, since it doesn't, I am starting to assemble a mental list of replacements in the 1 to 2 year timeframe. Price range would be up to $35,000, and this vehicle would be leased, ideally in the $400 a month range.

      What's out there? We might even be willing to go Outback/Volvo route if there's a good option. The 3500 lbs is not really arbitrary, as we are looking to purchase a runabout in the 19 foot class, and many of them on the trailer are sitting on around 3,000 lbs.
      My dad's XC70 gets 20mpg in town, 23.5mpg mixed and about 26mpg highway. Towing it does about 18-20mpg. I was actually really impressed, I towed a double axle U-Haul trailer with it, fully loaded with furniture... and got 20mpg unloaded and 18-19mpg loaded, with three people in the car plus the trunk full of stuff, and a ladder on the rood rack (probably adding some wind resistance). Basically, I can't get it below 20mpg unless you really are working it hard (towing, or driving aggressively).

      For what it can do, it's impressive... Tho it won't be a heck of a lot of different from the Equinox, especially when you figure depreciation of the Nox'. If you are finishing a lease and changing vehicles, give it a try. My dad is extremely impressed by his. 2 years, 42k kms and nothing has gone wrong with it either. (Towing, normal daily stuff, snow and ice, two trips to Florida... it's seen a lot of action).

      The Subaru's are pretty good, but the 4 cylinder ones are gutless (not good if you're towing), the turbo and 6-cylinder ones aren't really good on gas at all. I think The 4-cylinders are often only rated for 2000-2500lbs too, have to watch that.

    14. Geriatric Member Turbio!'s Avatar
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      04-09-2012 05:37 PM #14
      Oof. Yikes. That's....gonna be a challenge. Several worthy contenders have been mentioned. It seems that, basically, AWD, V6 crossovers tend to get around 19/25 or thereabouts, 20-22 combined. Venza, Edge, Journey, Durango, Murano....they're all around there, and they don't deviate from that range much.

      The '13 Grand Cherokee will get an 8-speed transmission, and I'm gonna guess it'll be able to hit 25-26 mpg highway with that. That's the first possibility that comes to mind. You can get one equipped okay for $35kish. The other crossovers I mentioned will all do what you're looking for, but again...might not be much of a fuel economy upgrade.

      You might be describing a diesel '08 (last-gen) Grand Cherokee, as well.

      Aside from that...hm. Stumper, this one.
      Last edited by Turbio!; 04-09-2012 at 05:41 PM.
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    15. 04-09-2012 05:39 PM #15
      Quote Originally Posted by adrew View Post
      Highlander Hybrid — 280 hp, AWD, 28/28 MPG, rated for 3500 lbs.
      ...and also $45,000.
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      04-09-2012 05:54 PM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by Crob View Post
      Jetta TDI is soo close at 1,500kg or 3,300lbs.
      Well, the EU-market version is. The US-market version is not tow-rated at all, and may lack certain standard equipment that the EU version has. Personally, I'd hesitate to tow anything but a small utility trailer behind a Jetta wagon.
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    17. Member adrew's Avatar
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      04-09-2012 05:56 PM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by GolfVIDriver View Post
      ...and also $45,000.
      They start at $38k± — but I assumed you would be leasing and figured it would be pretty reasonable to lease due to the hybrid resale value.
      Improving the signal-to-noise ratio

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      04-09-2012 06:00 PM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by Crob View Post
      Its fine, it's a car.
      ]
      Having towed as much as I have, and knowing the OP and his towing experience....both of us would rate it marginal at best. For occasionally dragging 2500-3000lb on city streets, maybe. For towing on highways, grades, and distances longer than a few miles, hell no.
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      04-09-2012 06:49 PM #19
      CPO Touareg TDI.

      Done deal. It will get the same MPG's towing as your equinox unloaded.

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      04-09-2012 06:55 PM #20
      Ford Edge with the v6 and tow package is 19/27 mpg for the FWD or 18/25 for AWD. There is a 2.0L Ecoboost option that gets 21/30 mpg but I believe it's only rated to tow 1500lbs.

      Ah ha! What about a 2013 Ford Escape 2.0L Ecoboost?? 3500lb tow rating and Ford says mileage will be "up to 5mpg better than the 2012 version," which is rated at 19/25mpg.

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      04-09-2012 06:58 PM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by Shomegrown View Post
      CPO Touareg TDI.
      this

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      04-09-2012 07:07 PM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by adrew View Post
      Highlander Hybrid — 280 hp, AWD, 28/28 MPG, rated for 3500 lbs.
      Starting at 42k here in Canada..… not gonna be that much less in the states. We are in the same market right now and having a really hard time as well. We went to the local autoshow a couple weeks ago though and we are now thinking about something I never thought I would be thinking about:

      A Kia.

      Seriously. A top trim level v6 awd sorrento starts at 32k. Ok the inside isn't as nice as the highlander but not terrible. Fuel mileage is good too. We have yet to drive it so it's not a slam dunk as it could be terrible to drive..... But still I think it's worth a look.

      Suffice to say even a year ago I never would have even thought about a Kia.

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      04-09-2012 07:13 PM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by vdubdave View Post
      Ford Edge with the v6 and tow package is 19/27 mpg for the FWD or 18/25 for AWD. There is a 2.0L Ecoboost option that gets 21/30 mpg but I believe it's only rated to tow 1500lbs.

      Ah ha! What about a 2013 Ford Escape 2.0L Ecoboost?? 3500lb tow rating and Ford says mileage will be "up to 5mpg better than the 2012 version," which is rated at 19/25mpg.
      Don't send a boy to do a man's job - and the OP knows that.

      Most of the suggestions in this thread would be miserable with nearly two tons on the hitch.

      I've got thousands of miles of towing experience in various Jeeps and various VAG 3.0 TDI's. It's by far the best powertrain suggested in this thread to do what he wants. You'd hardly feel that much load. You also wouldn't have worry about keeping the powertrain cool.

      A diesel Liberty is OK, but the VM engine is really lackluster as far as modern diesels go. Diesel Grand Cherokees are sweet but questionable reliability.

      The OP should be looking at something like this.

    24. 04-09-2012 07:17 PM #24
      Rav4 V6?

      Tows 3500lbs.

      27mpg on hwy for FWD version. 26mpg for 4wd.

      0-60 in 6.3sec when u don' tneed to tow.

    25. 04-09-2012 07:18 PM #25
      Screw 3500lbs, go for 7000lbs.

      Convert to run homemade biodiesel.

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