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Boat towing

We have a motorboat and trailer that together weigh approximately 5,500 pounds. We have been using a Dodge Durango to pull it, but would like to get rid of the Durango and get a new vehicle. However, except for towing the boat/trailer, we do not need a large SUV or truck. In a good year, we only tow the boat about twice per year-- once to put it in the water in spring and once to get it out of the water in fall (and only about 10 miles each time). In a bad year, we do tow it more (out for repairs or maintenance; up to 60 miles to take it back to the dealer, etc.). We have looked at some smaller SUV type vehicles that are rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds. Given how little we tow, we wondered how much risk of damage (to the transmission or anything else) there would be if we occasionally towed the boat with a vehicle rated to tow 2,000 poounds less than the actual weight?

That’s going over the rated limit by a lot. I certainly wouldn’t do it. If it’s only twice a year or so, I’d just rent a full-sized truck/SUV for those days.

It’s a bad idea to exceed the towing capacity, even for a short drive.

I think you will either need to keep an old beater around for towing or rent a tow vehicle when you need it.

Are you sure about the weight? That seems like it must be a pretty big boat, probably a double axle trailer also? does the trailer have brakes? As an option uhaul trucks will rent you a vehicle 30 bucks a day and 50 cents a mile, and you can calculate how many weeks in gas savings that cost works out to be. The downside, making sure yur friends don’t see you launching the boat with a uhaul f250!

You’ll want something with MORE towing capacity than what your boat weighs, so something along the lines of 7k or more capacity.

You are begging for problems if you don’t look at more than just your tow weights. You should never assume that because you tow infrequently, you can get away with overloading a vehicle. Frequent towing means that you should exceed your trailer weight with greater capacity, not less because it’s infrequent. Infrequent, 10 mile trip could be done with a tow vehicle safely rated for 6500 to 7000. But, that’s only part of the story. A Durango is a solid tow vehicle in that class…I recommend you go no lower, economy be darn. If you’re not comfortable considering the following definitions to check your next vehicle capacities…get comfortable before you do.

GVWR: Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: the maximum permissible weight of the vehicle when loaded for travel.

GAWR: Gross Axle Weight Rating: the maximum permissible load on an axle. The GAWR is based on the assumption that the load is equal on both sides.

GCWR: Gross Combined Weight Rating: the maximum weight of a combination of vehicles, i.e., a tow vehicle and trailer(s). GCWR assumes that the trailer has functioning brakes.

MLTW: Maximum Loaded Trailer Weight: The maximum weight that a tow vehicle is rated to tow. Hitch Ratings: The hitch on a tow vehicle will have two distinct and important ratings. The TOW rating, which defines the maximum weight of a trailer in tow. The VERTICAL or TONGUE rating, which defines the maximum vertical hitch load that the trailer can impart to the tow vehicle.

There are smaller SUV’s that are Class III (5000lbs). I MIGHT consider towing with that IF-AND-ONLY-IF it was a very short commute and no more then 3 times a year. I would NEVER consider trying to tow 5500lbs with a Class II rated vehicle.

For consideration…The 6-cylinder pathfinder and 6-cylinder 4runner are both rated Class III…and I’m sure there are others.

I would like to see you put the boat in the water on a boat ramp with a vehicle that small. I hope you are a strong swimmer.

Thanks-- There seems to be a very consistent answer across all of you who replied! We’ll figure out something else besides trying to tow with too underpowered a vehicle!

An option some people here on the lake where I live use, is to partner up and borrow each others trucks for the infrequent number of times they tow from the ramp to house or camp.

I have 3 friends w/o tow vehicles whom I launch and retrieve boats for; for a “free” lunch. A group of 5 on the lake with one common truck, makes a day of it and launches everyone’s boat with one vehicle. Sometimes they all get together and share the rent of a truck when they can’t borrow.

No problem what-so-ever…The 4runner is NOT that much smaller then the Durango…And the 6-cylinder in the 4runner is MORE than capable.

I wasn’t thinking of your 4Runner, or its the engine and power capabilities. I was thinking about other small vehicles with 5,000 lbs. of towing capacity that the OP might consider. Nonetheless, I was thinking about things like small tires, little friction on the wet ramp with a light weight vehicle, and FWD.

If I was worried about the engine’s capacity, I would be more worried about pulling the boat out of the water rather than putting it in the water.

Keep in mind power is only one part of the towing equation.

My local hardware stores all have work trucks with trailer hitches that they rent by the hour. Something like that or a small U-Haul with a trailer hitch might work well for your situation.

I’m having a similar problem. We want to buy a small travel trailer that weights less than 2,250 lbs and has a 300 lb tongue weight. Our Subaru Outback has a 2,700 limit but only 200 lb tongue limit. So, I’m thinking of changing vehicles. We’ll probably use the travel trailer monthly…with a couple long trips every year. So, is it better to get a vehicle with say 5000 lb towing capacity or one with 7,200 or even more. I hate to waste gas when I’m not towing with a bohemouth SUV.

Why not just find a travel trailer with a lower tongue weight? Buying a different travel trailer seems smarter financially than replacing the tow vehicle.

We’ve been shopping travel trailers for months. There are few small travel trailers with tongue weights of less than 250 lbs. with the features we want/need. Even most pop-ups are over 200. We’ve found the perfect trailer, now need to find the right vehicle to pull it. I want to have a margin for safety and get the best mpg possible. Of course, cost is always a concern or I’d just buy a diesel something.

The higher tongue weights would indicate for me body on frame designs. I’d consider the mid size SUV crowd of which there are few left. RWD/4WD XTerra, 4Runner, though Unibody Jeeps, Pathfinders etc will do it too in 6 cyl. and give you “decent” mileage when not towing . I’m partial to our 4Runner and found in 6 cyl it handled our 4000lbs plus pontoon boat with ease. Make sure it’s 03 or newer with the more capable 4.0 6 cylinder. Mileage is subjective and expect no more than 19 to 20 over all when not towing.

The list of mid-size SUV’s with decent towing and mpg isn’t very long…Forerunner, G Cherokee, Explorer, Borrego, Pathfinder, Pilot. Would prefer not to drive something the size of an Expedition, Tahoe etc. I like the Toureg but big $$$$$.

I wouldn’t even consider towing 5000lbs with anything smaller then the 4runner or pathfinder. And I don’t know of any vehicle smaller then the 4runner that’s rated class III.