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Smallest car that can pull 1200 lbs?

I am in the market for a fuel-efficient car, but would also like to buy a T@b trailer (~1400 lbs) or a Scamp (~1000 lbs). I’ve seen claims that little cars like VW Beetles and Toyota Camrys can pull these things. Really? Does anyone have any experience in this area? My ideal car would be a Honda Fit, but I would consider a Subaru Forester. Thanks!

Please Tell How Often And How Far A Trailer Of 1000 To 1400 Pounds Will Be Towed
Do you need to do this frequently (Once/week, for example) for some distance (50 miles plus) or infrequently (twice/year, for example) for a short distance (less than 50 miles, for example).

Are you talking automatic or manual transmission? Do these cars you’re looking at recommend towing? How much?

You say, "Smallest car that can pull 1200 lbs?"
I’m curious. Since you are interested in towing a trailer, why would you want the “smallest” car for the job? Are you just trying to save on gas?

Yes, I am interested in saving on gas. I would like something that gets at least 25 mpg. I would take it camping in the Sierras (from the bay area) several times a year, driving 500miles or more.
I just saw an ad for an Eriba Puck that is about 1000 lbs…

Sorry, I forgot to add that I would like an automatic transmission.

I think you will find that none of the smaller foreign brands such as Honda, Toyota, Nissan, etc. allow any towing whatsoever. I did notice though that the Impala, Pontiac G6, and Grand Prix at least seem to still allow a 1000# towing capacity before having to go to the SUV types. Too bad since my Riviera will do 2-3000# no problem and still can get 25-30 MPG.

Subaru with AWD end to be more capable with their outstanding drive train. Front wheel drive only cars are very unsafe towing any thing but minimal loads. Go AWD for safety with a light compact and that kind of weight. Other wise it’s the tail wagging the dog.

For those of you who don’t know, this is a really small light weight trailer. The manufacturer of this trailer recommends the tow vehicle have at least 2,000 pounds of towing capacity.

I would look at the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna. See if you can find one used with a towing package. Each of these minivans has 3,500 pounds of towing capacity. I would also look at used police cruisers. One of them would be pretty close to perfect, whether it is a Chevy Impala, a Ford LTD, or one of the other cars used by police. Lastly, I would consider a small pick-up truck like a Toyota Tacoma or a Ford Ranger. If you can get a small truck with a V-6 engine and a towing package, that would be great. I would not want to tow anything through hills and mountains with a four cylinder engine.

Keep in mind when shoping for towing capacity that the weight of the trailer isn’t what you should be looking at. You should be looking at the trailer’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) so that there is a margin for safety.

Safest and most econo. way to pull 1000 to 1500 lbs is with a compact truck. Two wheel drive Toyota 4 cyl. does 25 mpg highway not towing and has a safety rating margin to handle the weight. RWD ALWAYS better for towing, A little extra weight in the back if tongue wt. is low is a good idea. Ranger is good but will have to go with a 6 cyl. to match Toyota and econo will suffer.

Chevrolet LUV, not in production anymore, but it’s a tiny diesel truck that usually gets about 50 miles to the gallon, and should handle the load pretty well, I’m a 300 pound guy, me and my 150 pound cousin hauled off a full bed of walnuts in that little thing, and it pulled it surprisingly well for its small size.

Did I mention that the vehicle IS DIESEL???

The only reason I don’t think the four cylinder Tacoma is a good choice is that Toyota’s web site recommends getting the towing package and the towing package is only available with the V-6.

The trailer the OP will be pulling can be found at

With a trailer this small and light, I think FWD will be fine as long as it has the towing capacity to handle it. If it were a bigger trailer, I would say it needs a weight distribution hitch to be pulled with FWD, but this one has such low tongue weight and is so aerodynamic that FWD will be fine if you don’t exceed the tow vehicle’s capacities for towing and tongue weight.

dagosa, how is a RWD compact truck more economical and safe than a RWD retired police cruiser?

OOPs, you hit a soft spot. As a retired cop, I also have a soft spot for RWD cruisers; as tow vehicles or anything else if equipped. The blue light does make it easier to clear traffic ahead when towing…
I just find that all the light towing I’ve done, usually boats, the small PU was more practcal for extra gear. For that weight, and a frame mounted hitch, there is NO need for a Toyota tow package. I would never trust a bumper hitch for anything but a bicycle rack. Tacoma 2.7 4 cyl. is outstanding for light towing.
It would be hard for me to be convinced that once you get to 1000 lbs, RWD isn’t always better than FWD, properly equipped.

Foresters are mid-size SUVs now with their recent update, so that’s not by any means a small car. A fit will tow it just fine.

I beg to differ on the Fit. It isn’t designed to tow and using it to tow will void the warranty even if it doesn’t damage the car.

Actually, the Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon is sold in many countries as the Chevy LUV. Both vehicles are really rebadged versions of Isuzu pickup trucks and there is definitely a clear lineage from the LUV to the Colorado. The version we get is pretty crummy reliability wise, but maybe if we cross our fingers maybe they’ll offer the diesel version here some day.

the Fit is rated 117hp/106tq. Just enough for the car itself. Nowhere near what would be required to pull an additional 1200+lbs plus gear. I wouldn’t consider towing ANYTHING with anything less than a v8.

to the first poster. Consider buying a fuel efficient car and rent a truck/suv for when you need to tow that trailer


I have friends like you ,and I ask THE SAME QUESTION? WHY?




bye bye!

Agree…buy or rent a truck and stop trying ask one vehicle to do what it wasn’t intended. 1000 lbs doesn’t sound like much for a fwd to handle, but it’s enough to make every one of them unsafe IMO. My neighbor tried a FWD VW truck years ago for “light haulin”. A more useless vehicle (incl Yugo) was never invented.

The first time I tried to pull a light aluminum boat with a SAAB and two people in the rear up a gravel hill aand had it slide BACKWARDS was enough to convince me that the hitch on a FWD would be used for a bike rack only.

Get a truck (rent or buy) and have a life…you’re going camping with gear; have a better and safer time.