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Need advice about what car to buy

I want to buy a small camping trailer - looking for a Vintage Airstream :slight_smile: - and see America. Would be hauling up to 3500 lb. Will be buying used. Toyota RAV4 V6? other suggestions? Need reliable. What years do you think were good ones for any vehicle recommended?



Check the trailer load rating for any car you are considering. Check the load for any trailer you would be considering. Never push it. If it is even a little over, I would recommend moving to a lighter trailer or heaver car.

I thought of the RAV4 V6 because it is rated up to 3500lb - the Airstream is going to be around 2200 unloaded.

That’s cutting it closer than I would like, once you load up for the road. I’d prefer something with a 5000 lb capacity.

If you’re going to be pulling this thing all around the country, I’d go for something a bit more substancial, an Explorer, Pathfinder, or 4 Runner would be better choices IMHO.

Thanks - needed that advice

Which would you recommend and what years are good for a used one?

Don’t forget, regardless of what the official weight of the airstream will be, 2200 lbs, you will be hauling and carrying more on board as well. The RAV has the 3500 lb rating, but IMO, only for infrequent towing. If you want to travel in comfort and safety, towing that weight, get a mid size SUV rated for 5000 lbs. For safety, get a rating at least twice the unloaded tow weight.

We have a 4Runner which I recommend highly. The newer 5th generation 2010 are better for towing but are not as comfortable or handle as well. A used 2003 to 2009 would be my first choice which are very reasonably priced for what you get. The v8 model which I would recommend, would tow as economically (if not more) as the v6 but be less so when not. Only the 4th gens offer the v8. I have yet to meet a 4Runner owner who would not buy another.

Good luck to the tour around America!!! I hope you can have the best buy… :slight_smile:

Good advice - thanks
Anyone have a year of 4Runner that they like best or one they would avoid?

Thanks :slight_smile: It will be me and my dog. Want to visit America’s amazing national parks.

2003 had a couple of teething problems; after that, rock solid. 05 and beyond went to the 5 speed auto…no more changes till 2010. The 4th gen came standard with climate control, power lumbar etc. that the new ones don’t; quiet and comfortable ride.

Ours is 04 and has had only a brake job done in 6 years, with original tires, battery etc… If you let the traction control run wild and drive too aggressively, it’s harder on brake wear. Other than that, it’s been our great. We tow a 4500 lbs pontoon boat, doing launching and take out and other assorted boats to 2K. Performs flawlessly.

Once you get your trailer, take it to one of the truck scales near you, and have it the weight checked. It all depends on how much weight you intend to load it with. If you are a light traveler, you may not need as much towing capacity as you think. But weigh it again after you load it, just to be sure, and yes it is always safer to tow a lighter load than your vehicle is rated for, you will get no argument from me there. One way to get around the wt issue is to pull a 1200 lbs, fold out camping trailer, or look for a classic ham can. or even a tear drop, which have been making a comeback lately, instead of the more expensive and often heavier airstream.

I hear you about the weight - but it is going to be a classic small Airstream. Traveling alone, I hear from many that the Airstream is a friend maker - people come over to tell their Airstream stories. Nice way to travel and meet people - that would not come over to a pop up to talk.
I figure some storage in the vehicle, but the truck scales idea is great.
Anyone else have an opinion on vehicles or years?

Is your a V8? Not sure what the traction control running wild is all about but I guess I will learn.

Oh hey, i forgot to say, have a great time.

No; v6. That’s just on ice and snow when the traction controls the brakes to help maintain traction. While it works so well, you forget it IS using the brakes. Just taking it easy saves the brakes. I learned my lesson with a way too early REAR brake job in less than 50k miles.

Thanks for the explanation. so you think a V6 would be sufficient to pull the trailer?


The approximately 3K trailer yes. But, if you load the vehicle down and start making hill climbing demands, the v8 will be more efficient then. You should save gas with the v8 if in that case. Keep your tow weight under 4k and gross weight reasonable and the v6 works well. Over 4K to 5k and I’d recommend a v8 with any vehicle for cross country trips.