Tow one car or drive two separately

We have two cars (2009 Pilot & 2004 Civic) and will be moving from the mid-west to Alaska. Is it better to tow the Civic or to drive both cars separately?

The first thing you need to find out is if the Pilot is capable of pulling the Civic behind it.

After that, you need to determine how much extra the route you are planning on driving will cost with a trailer behind it for both tolls and gas, and compare that to the cost of the same route with two vehicles driving independently.

It might be worthwhile for you to do a fuel consumption test on your Pilot while towing the Civic. One days rental of a uHaul trailer, and driving down the interstate at speed for a full tank of gas will save you lots of guessing later.


If you’re planning to tow the Civic with the Pilot I’d say it’s better to drive them separately. If you’re talking about towing the Civic behind a large truck, that’s different.

You’d be putting a heck of a strain on the Pilot trying to tow a car that far.

I’ve towed cars on long distances and I would never do it again. Drive both cars.

Another idea would be to sell one of the vehicles before you leave. I think that in the winter months, they use dog sleds in Alaska anyway.

Look closely at a road map of Alaska. Rhode Island has more miles of paved roads. Sell the Civic. Alaska is 4WD truck country…

Towing on dry flat pavement at 65 can be hazardous. This time of year and where you’re going it’s NOT going to be fun. Snow is already falling in parts of continental US…I’m sure Alaska already have a few feet.

Where in Alaska? How were you planning on getting there?

I would not want to do this if you’re taking the ALCAN, but it might be okay if you just took the interstate out to Bellingham and put both cars on the Marine Highway.

If you were driving the whole way, you could maybe tow it up to Edmonton, but from there I’d probably want to uncouple and drive them separately.

Or you could do a party separation and have the adventure-minded type(s) drive the Pilot up and have those who just want a pleasant cruise take the Civic on the ferry.

I don’t think you can flat tow the Civic unless it (the Civic) has a manual tranny (even then I’m not sure, check with the lists you can find on RV web sites). And I certainly would not want to tow it up the Alaskan Highway, nor tow it across the mountains to Bellingham.

I don’t think you can flat tow the Civic unless it has a manual tranny.

#1 Pilot doesn’t come with a manual.

#2 Unless you’re talking about huge Big Rigs…you can tow MORE with an Automatic then a manual. Every truck I’ve owned with a manual…the Automatic option could either tow the same or MORE…NEVER less.

Here’s just ONE similar vehicle. This mid-size SUV has a manual an automatic. Auto - Class-III, Manual - Class-II

Considering the cost of renting a tow dolly, I would just drive them both.

If the Civic has an automatic transmission, you will have to rent a tow dolly, which would probably add enough weight to put you beyond the Pilot’s towing capacity.

Mike, I think you misplaced your modifier. “It” refers to the Civic.

He means you can’t tow the Civic on all four wheels unless the Civic has a manual transmission. If you want to tow a Civic that has an automatic transmission, you will have to rent a tow dolly, which would probably add enough weight to put you beyond the Pilot’s towing capacity.

Let me second MikeInNH. Unless you are planning to wait until next Summer, you do NOT want to tow a car through real wilderness in high latitude Winter. I wouldn’t even be all that enthused about towing a car through the Rockies and Cascades in Winter, but here in the lower 48, you might have cell phone coverage on, or – more relevant – in the ditch next to, the Interstate.

You might want to check with the Canadians and see if they will allow your tow on the highway in Winter.

I assume that you a likely going to Anchorage – which is where most of the people are. I’ve been told that the climate, snowfall, etc in Anchorage aren’t much different than here in Northwest Vermont. If so, either car will be fine once you get it there.

Yes, that’s what I meant, Whitey.

If the Civic has an auto transmission, drive two cars. Or, consider shipping the Civic to Alaska. If the Civic is a manual transmission you could tow it, but for the many reasons others have cited, not a good idea. You could find very unsafe conditions and the wear and tear on the Pilot could ocmpromise the life of the vehicle. Even in the summer you’d be facing some considerable mountains along the way. Snow and ice and mountains, hum not good.

I would like to add, if the Civic has a manual transmission, it can be towed on all four wheels. However, you would need to install brake control units in both vehicles (so applying the brakes in the Pilot applies the brakes in the Civic). You would also need to buy or rent the hardware to mount on the front of the Civic to physically connect it to the Pilot’s trailer hitch. Lastly, you would need to have the Civic rigged for turn signals and brake lights, which could be directly wired to the Civic or magnetically mounted on the trunk of the Civic. Even if your Pilot has a trailer hitch and a wiring harness for trailer lights, I doubt it also has a brake control unit and the proper electrical connection for pulling a trailer that has its own brakes.

The more you look at the alternatives, the better driving the Civic looks.

Ask someone who owns an RV and tows a “dinghy” vehicle behind it how much all the hardware costs, and you will see the light.

My apologies…Yes I re-read it and I completely mis-read it. Sorry Texases…

And you are 100% CORRECT…You want to use a manual if towing on all fours.

By this time, the OP is already in Fairbanks, wondering if they did the right thing…

Is the Pilot even capable of towing the Civic?

A couple of years ago I towed a Focus from Atlanta to Boston on a trailer using a mid-size moving truck. The truck had a Ford V-8. Some hilly terrain really taxed the truck, at some points on the highway I had the pedal to the floor and was only maintaining 50 mph.

A Civic weighs about the same as the Focus. I’d bet your Pilot would be hurting by the end of the trip.

We used to have a board member that lives in Alaska. His daily driver was a Camry or Corolla.