I am interested in buying a 2005 Buick Rendevous CX (3.4 L V6). It has a towing capacity listed as 2,000 pounds with 2 passengers. I have a pop up camper that weighs 1,700 pounds empty. Fully loaded, it would probably weigh 1,900 pounds. Would this really be safe to pull with this vehicle?
See if they offer one with a “towing package” that would up the capacity. I’d be concerned about the capabilities of the brakes when pushing the vehicle’s limit. You never know when you’ll have to make an emergency stop. A towing package, if they offer one with increased to rating, would provide a margin for error. That way you’ll know the brakes and chassis are capable.
I don’t like towing anything with a vehicle that doesn’t have a solid rear axle. The Buick Rendevous is probably like most light GM products and has an independent rear axle. Actually even in some of the half ton vehicles (Expeditions, Suburbans) it’s becoming more popular for them to have independent rear axles.
Where you get into trouble towing is not pulling, but stopping and being able to handle the load behind the vehicle. For instance, I had a friend who towed his bass rig with an Explorer. That was the most dangerous tow rig I’ve ever driven, and don’t care to ever drive it again with a boat behind it. I’ve seen a lot of small SUV’s get into trouble towing trailers that are too heavy for the vehicle. These stupid manuals list what the vehicle is capable of towing, not what it’s capable of safely handling and stopping. I used to have an F150 that according to Ford’s manual was rated to tow 8000 pounds. That’s 4 tons. No way should 4 tons have ever been behind that vehicle, it just couldn’t stop it or handle it in a bad situation.
Gross trailer weight isn’t the only issue. Tongue weight is part of the equation. For instance, Dad and I both have fairly identical bass boats. Mine is a few years older than his, but weight wise they are real close. My rig is on a single axle trailer while his is on a tandem. The tandem trailer has less tongue weight than my single axle. His 1500 sized Suburban can’t hardly handle the tongue weight of my boat while my 3/4 ton Dodge has no issue with it the Suburban has no problem with his trailer. What happens with the Suburban is on downhill runs the trailer wants to roll faster than you are driving the truck and it will push against the truck. The weaker half ton suspension can’t over come the trailer’s force and the Suburban will begin to tail wag. If you are unprepared for it or don’t know what to do, it is scary. Even if you’ve done it before and know what to do to get it back under control, it’s still scary to me. In that situation, if you attempt to hit your brakes, you will get wrecked. About all you can do is hold on, speed up a bit, jump the brake a bit to set the trailer brakes, then try to ease back down on it once it quits wagging. Try driving through Atlanta with a boat in that situation sometime. It’s no fun, I assure you.
A pop up isn’t as heavy as a bass boat, but it also has no brakes on the trailer. In the case of my 3/4 ton, the brakes are about 300% the size of the brakes on a small SUV like a Rendevous. My brakes can handle a trailer that has none up to about 5000 pounds. Over that, even the large truck needs brakes on the trailer. With the small SUV, you are saddled with much smaller brakes and a vehicle that weighs 1/3 what a 3/4 ton truck weighs. Your stopping power of your vehicle is not enough for a 2000 pound trailer IMO. You would be forced to give long following distances, pay particular attention on curvy road, mountains, hills, and in traffic with stop lights. If you get into a situation where you have to stop fast, don’t expect the small SUV to be up to the chore. Expect your stopping distances to be more than double what they were before you put a trailer behind it.
Another thing a lot of people fail to think about with a camper is the camping junk they take with them. Bicycles, coolers, food, ice, beer, chairs, stoves, firewood, whatever. It’s easy to load an extra 1000 lbs of stuff in the back of a truck or SUV. When you do that and then hook it to a trailer that was borderline too heavy empty, you just compound your problem.
IMO, you need something the size of an Explorer or Trailblazer at a minimum to tow that size trailer safely, and a half ton such as an Expedition, whatever the short Suburban looking thing is or a 1500 series pickup would be a much safer option.
The fortunate thing with a camper is you can use an equalizer hitch with it where you can’t with a boat trailer. Equalizer hitches transfer some of the trailer’s tongue weight to the front of the vehicle. A trailer that has too much tongue weight for the tow vehicle will wag the dickens out of the tow vehicle on a down hill run or emergency stop or even a quick stop for a sudden red light. Ordinarily, a pop up isn’t heavy enough to worry about an equalizer behind a half ton or larger truck, but with the smaller vehicle, I’d suggest it if it can be fitted to the vehicle and you insist on towing with it.
I agree with Skipper, especially his concerns about the consequences of camping gear. The extra stuff we normally throw in a camper will quickly take your trailer beyond the 2000 lb mark.
I tow a 2000 lb tent trailer with my Wrangler Unlimited, which is rated at 3500 lbs. The trailer does have inertia type brakes and is completely safe if I drive conservatively. Towing up steep grades does present some difficulty - I don’t think the 3.4 V6 will be any better than my 4.0. Throw in the addded concern of an automatic trans, too. For towing this trailer I think you should be looking at a light pick up.
Trust me when I say your 1700 lb pop-up will NOT weigh ‘probably’ 1900 lbs fully loaded.
‘Been there and done that’ with a Coleman hardtop. I used a front wheel drive 1994 Voyager at the time with no difficulty. There is a lot more to towing than what the eye sees.
I pull a 21 ft travel trailer with a 2002 Tahoe (with an *Equal-i-zer wdh(weight distribution hitch) and a prodigy brake controller (recommended) now, but if it wasn’t properly set up, I wouldn’t give you 2 cents for it.
Note: after giving all the safety aspects due attention, at minimum install a tranny cooler. This, providing the vehicle in question does not come with a factory towing package.
Have a look at this site before you decide to tow anything. You’ll save yourself a lot of grief and perhaps someones life as well.
Most states and provinces require trailers 2000 lbs and over have their own brakes (usually either surge or electric type).
Same goes for boat trailers which normally have surge type brakes due to being in water every time the boat is launched or loaded.
I see that the ratings aren’t too good for reliability. I know that it has some towing capacity but for all practical purposes, it has none. It’s meant for only light duty and not enough to even go camper towing with. Maybe once but I vote no.
It all depends if you have the trailer equipped with electric brakes or not. I would be wary without them but not too worried since 2000lbs is quite light. Heck my wife’s friend pulls a 2100 lb sailboat/trailer with a Subaru Impreza but they are rated at 2700 lbs towing.