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Best Vehicle to Tow a Small Travel Trailer

We’re shopping for a vehicle to tow a micro travel trailer (max. weight 2,500 lbs/300 lb tongue weight). We want to balance safety, gas mileage when towing and gas mileage not towing. We’ll probably only be towing 10% of the time! It’s easy to find a vehicles projected mpg and look up the tow capacities but nothing is out there on the real mpg when towing. HELP!

If you rarely tow your trailer, rent a truck when you need it. Why drive a tow vehicle the 90% of the time when you are not towing the trailer? If you want to buy something, check out a Ford Escape or Subaru.


Twotone…Thanks for your comment but it’s not practical to rent a truck every time you want to go camping especially if you want to take a multi-state trip over several weeks. There are lots of vehicles out there that can tow the loads I need (the Subaru isn’t one of them) but no one has towing mpg figures. I’d love to know that (for example) a vehicle will get 25 mpg highway not towing and 20 mpg towing 2,500 lbs. for example. Someone must have done mpg studies while towing.

The information you are looking for doesn’t exist, plain and simple.

Towing a 4x8 trailer with a motorcycle loaded on it is going to result in different fuel economy if you were towing a 6x12 enclosed trailer. Completely different wind drag characteristics, and vehicle length.

The best you can do is search out RV websites, and see if anyone has towed trailers similar to the one you want to tow, and what vehicles they used, and what their differences were between towing mpg and non-towing mpg.

I tow all sorts of different trailers with my cars, from flat beds, to motorcycle trailers, to enclosed rigs, and each trailer is different in the way it effects fuel mileage, so I know this from personal experience. Different motorcycles on the same trailer and car combo change the fuel mileage.


We’ll probably only be towing 10% of the time!

Towing 10% of the time is significant. It’s 2000 miles a year on a 20K per year vehicle. If I were going to tow that amount of weight with a vehicle I wanted to keep, that much, it would be with a 6 cyl compact PU truck or 6 cyl SUV that was standard RWD. The only exception would be the excellent Honda Ridgeline and Honda Pilot.
My 4Runner is in this category and I use it for this and higher tow weight. It does well and is the minimum I would tow that weight “only” 10% of the time.
Safety dictates these as minimum size vehicles IMO.

In general a vehicle that gets the mpg when not towing is what you should buy IF it is capable of handling the load you plan to tow. Since towing is only about 10% of your total mileage the mpg when towing isn’t that significant.

Since there are so many types of trailers you won’t find any info on mpg when towing. In general diesels get better mileage towing than gas engines, as least this is true in trucks. If it holds true in cars you might see if there is a diesel vehicle with the towing capacity you need.

Otherwise to get the best mpg when towing keep your speed down to about 55 to 60 mph. The biggest factor in mpg is wind resistance and most trailers create a lot of drag as they are poorly designed for wind resistance. A lower trailer that does not stick up above the top of the tow vehicle is helpful in reducing wind drag.

The ideal vehicle for you is called a “Crown Victoria”…When sold at Lincoln-Mercury dealers, they call them “Grand Marquis”…With an open bed instead of a huge trunk it’s called an “F-150”…

They get 25mpg naked and pulling your trailer (as long as it’s top is the same or below the cars roofline) you should get 17-18 MPG… If it’s an 8’ high box with 2 wheels under it, 12-13 MPG…

I appreciate your respect for this car; but an F150 for towing it ain’t. I’m sure you were just kidding to make a point, but it’s the RWD, frame with the “repairability” that helped maintain it’s “stoutness” reputation.