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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.

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      04-09-2012 04:33 PM #3
      Highlander Hybrid — 280 hp, AWD, 28/28 MPG, rated for 3500 lbs.
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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

      Regarding DD'ing a tuned Evo:
      Quote Originally Posted by SchrickVR6 View Post
      It's composed at all speeds and at all times...it just feels like you're holding the leash on a 150lb pit bull and praying you don't see a squirrel.

    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.

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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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      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.
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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.

    26. 04-09-2012 07:39 PM #26
      where is the video of the (i think its a bmw)car towing another car( on a trailer) and it wrecks on the highway?

      found it nvm
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    27. 04-09-2012 08:18 PM #27
      I have had a 2005 Jeep Liberty CDI and it was great but not as nice as the 2006 Touareg TDi that I have now.

      The Liberty had better mileage but I always wanted a Touareg TDi since before they came out so we switched over. Liberty would average mid to upper 20's mixed. I get 20-24 mixed with the 'egg. The 'egg is much more stable towing and I wanted more tow capacity. I now have a 24' enclosed trailer I put my '04 R32 in for track days. It tows great, especially with the air suspension.

      Both great but you will have to get them used. 1. The liberty was only available with the CDI for 2 years ('05/'06) and 2. The Touareg TDi has to be used to stay under your 35K.

      Good luck.

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      04-09-2012 09:22 PM #28
      My wife and I were in a similar car buying position before Christmas. We have an 18' aluminum fish and ski boat that weighs ~3000lb as a boat/motor/trailer package. We looked at many vehicles mostly small SUV's and crossovers and chose a 2011 Toyota Venza. Yes there may be better tow vehicles but we have enjoyed our previous Toyota vehicles and find the Venza quite comfortable when not towing (99% of the time driving). Our boat spends most of the boating season in a slip but we do take it out to try other lakes. The Venza has towed the boat 4 times now and doesn't struggle, but like most car based SUVs you do notice the weight and must drive accordingly. There are many choices, but I would suggest the Venza or Highlander.

      Chris

    29. 04-09-2012 09:37 PM #29
      2012 Subaru Forester. 22mpg City/ 29mpg Hwy

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      04-09-2012 10:25 PM #30
      Quote Originally Posted by Crob View Post
      Looks like an BMW that was towing the BMW. BMW fail.
      FTFY

      How's that taste

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      04-09-2012 10:47 PM #31
      Quote Originally Posted by jepva View Post
      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.
      XC70 or XC60 should jut about fit the bill at 3300lbs, if you don't mind going CPO. edit Saw you're leasing; new is probably within your price range too.
      Last edited by jddaigle; 04-09-2012 at 10:52 PM.
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      04-09-2012 10:50 PM #32
      Forcing an affordable new tow vehicle to be fuel efficient and family friendly means compromising both aspects.
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    33. 04-09-2012 11:19 PM #33
      A couple of things to reply to:

      1. I said I am leasing. That means new. That means NO CPO ANYTHING, and ESPECIALLY no CPO VWs. If I go VW, I will go new and leased, or none at all. This is my wife's car, and I am really against buying a used car for our primary ride. My car when the GTI gets turned in is an open question.

      2. I like the Highlander idea, and so far the Ecoboost Edge and Escape is in the running. The Highlander will likely be VERY expensive, however, but another poster had it right, leasing with high residuals might be the key to a cheap lease.

      3. 3,300 lbs is not enough tow capacity. I am already pushing my luck with a few of the boats I am looking at coming in at 3100 lbs dry (and likely out of the running).

      4. The RAV 4 would be perfect if it wasn't such a cheap POS inside.

      5. We seriously looked at the Sorrento, and couldn't wait to get out of it after we test drove it.

      6. I do not give a rat's @$$ what some stupid European does with a Jetta wagon over in Poland. If it's not legally rated to tow 3500 lbs here in the grand old USA, it's not getting parked in my garage. PERIOD.

      7. I like the Touareg idea, but again, like some other choices out there, WAY too much money - and they don't lease for crap. The residuals are terrible, which alone frightens me.

      Honestly, if Chevy just put the e-Assist system on the V6 Equinox, my decision would be made. We LOVE our Equinox otherwise.
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    34. 04-09-2012 11:48 PM #34
      Quote Originally Posted by BRealistic View Post
      Forcing an affordable new tow vehicle to be fuel efficient and family friendly means compromising both aspects.
      I agree, it's a tall order. I am hoping the collective CL brain trust here might think of something I haven't, for example, the Highlander Hybrid idea.

      Honestly if it was up to me, I'd say **** fuel economy and go buy another used 2500 Suburban and keep it forever.

      My wife's requirement of good fuel economy is what is tripping me up, though I will admit she has a point if fuel prices stay at this level. Right now we're using the GTI for around town duty, which is great.
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      04-10-2012 12:06 AM #35
      Quote Originally Posted by GolfVIDriver View Post
      I agree, it's a tall order. I am hoping the collective CL brain trust here might think of something I haven't, for example, the Highlander Hybrid idea.

      Honestly if it was up to me, I'd say **** fuel economy and go buy another used 2500 Suburban and keep it forever.

      My wife's requirement of good fuel economy is what is tripping me up, though I will admit she has a point if fuel prices stay at this level. Right now we're using the GTI for around town duty, which is great.

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