Pulling light trailer with small car


We’d like to pull a smaller trailer with a smaller car across the country from now on. Would a VW Golf-Rabbit diesel do the job for a trailer of 1500 lbs? If not, what fuel efficient tow-car does work?


Fuel efficiency and towing doesn’t go together. When towing anything, you’ll be lucky, I’d say, to get half the EPA estimates.

As for the trailer, you’d want a vehicle that can tow at least 1000lbs more than what you think the loaded trailer will weigh. This is because chances are the trailer will be heavier than you think, and you still have to account for passengers, cargo, and other stuff in the vehicle. If you’re going across country, you don’t want to be straining the car. Which, by the way, would reduce fuel mileage even more.

What kind of vehicle do you need? Aside from towing capability, do you need to seat a certain number of passengers? Do you need a certain amount of cargo space? Personally, I think a 4 cylinder Ford Ranger or Mazda B-series pickup truck would be a good buy. I think even the 4 cyl models are rated for a couple thousand pounds. Or, you could always splurge and go for a V6 model, which would have a much higher tow and cargo rating, as well as likely getting only slightly worse fuel economy. Actually, I’ve heard of some vehicles getting better economy from a V6 than a 4 cylinder engine.

If you only want a sedan, then you’re choices are pretty limited. Most sedans have a tow limit of only 1000lbs, which I think is what the VW is rated for, although with the diesel it might be more, I’m not sure. Other sedans that might work, that I can think of off the top of my head would be a Ford Crown Victoria, and … um… that’s the only one I can think of that would be able to tow your trailer. I’m sure there are others though.

You could also go for a truck-based minivan, like a Ford Aerostar or GMC Safari/Chevy Astro. They can easily tow your trailer, and they get decent gas mileage, probably in the low 20’s mpg.

Good luck, though, in whatever route you decide to go.


What will you be towing??? We went through this a few months ago here in Cartalk. The LIGHTEST trailer you can rent from U-Haul is 750lbs…and that’s an open trailer. The enclosed trailers weigh about 1000lbs. Unless you’re getting a real small custom made trailer that only weighs a few hundred lbs and you only put a few hundred lbs in it then I wouldn’t consider towing ANYTHING with a small car.

You’re best bet is to rent a U-Haul truck and tow the vehicle behind it.


if your gonna be doing this for the rest of your life, then go buy a 305, 1500 99-03 chevy silverado, thatll get the job done with good mileage


Step one is check your owner’s manual (or dealer if you can’t find your manual.) for the maximum weight it says you can tow. Don’t go over that and try not to come too close to it. You can usually tow more with a manual transmission.


You can usually tow more with a manual transmission.

Wrong…Automatic has higher towing capacity then a manual. Every SUV/pickup I’ve ever owned the automatic had higher towing then manual. The clutch is the weak link here. One example…my 98 pathfinder is a 5-speed manual that’s rated Class II…the autmatic with the EXACT SAME ENGINE is rated Class III…


This is simply an idea I strongly recommend against.

The vehicle simply isn;t designed for this. If the car breaks down from it, you can get a new car. But if you have to slam on the brakes, especially going downhill, or you have to make a sudden evasive manuver, you just may wreck and your life could be changed forever.

This is dangerous. Please don’t do this.