Towing with a prius

toyota
prius

#1

I have a light trailer of 1200 lbs, and rated at 2000 (GVWR) and wanted to know what sort of HP that I need to tow this trailer. I would like to tow it with my economical 2005 Prius that has 101K miles in excellent mechanical condition. Combined HP is 134 HP in the Prius.


#2

I wouldn’t do it. I doubt the Prius is good for towing 2000 lbs.


#3

You need to check the owner’s manual for Toyota’s towing specs for a Prius. I’m not sure you can tow anything at all with a Prius. Any car made to maximize mpg uses light weight materials and components which is simply not the way to build a good tow vehicle. Other factors are the weight of the vehicle, and capacity of the braking systems.

Towing is not just about enough HP to get moving. It is also about having enough mass in the tow vehicle to provide for stable handling (especially in heavy cross winds) and enough braking power to bring the whole thing to a stop safely and with a reasonably short stopping distance.

In general a Prius is not going to be a good tow vehicle, even for a trailer the driver feels is light weight.


#4

It’s TORQUE …NOT HP that determines how well a vehicle can tow. While the electric engine of the Pirus does have pretty much infinite torque…what happens when the battery runs down and you’re replying on the engine for ALL the towing.

1200 lbs seems awfully high for a Prius to tow. Towing was never part of it’s design.


#5

The electric motor on the Prius has pretty much infinite torque ?. I know the point you are making and agree and it maybe just a question of semantics but They do not have gobs of unlimited torque. They do have their maximum rated torque throughout their operating rpm range which is the key, but that’s not unlimited. Using this rated torque comes at a price…battery drain. Toyota is mum on the total torque out put, but what ever it is, it’s not infinite and highly governed and well under it’s capacity for the sake of the battery, economy and the rest of the drive train. Weight is at a premium and heavy, torque modulating transmissions found in trucks and even normal cars, are NOT in the design. Hybrids of this type are not made for work, towing and heavy use. I wouldn’t tow more then a bicycle rack with one. Toyota does not recommend it for towing, as much for it’s cvt transmission and light duty drive train separate from the motors.

Btw, An electric motor with 200 lb ft of torque, may have more usable torque then an internal combustion motor rated for 300 lb ft of torque. Why, because the electric has 200 from 0 rpm to it’s max rated rpm…all the time, while the gas motor has it’s max in a limited band. That requires a very sturdy, power robbing transmission to modulate. The EV is not encumbered by transmissions and is the ideal motor for torque delivery…,but it’s still only 200 ft lbs and not infinite.

I would bet that it you tried to tow much with a Prius, the first problem you would have would be with it’s CVT transmission, cv joints and the like, and not the motors…you might find too that it will get really feeble mileage while doing it…maybe even less then a midsize car ment for towing while towing the same weight. It’s not worth it !


#6
The Prius has pretty much infinite torque ?.

I did NOT say the Prius had infinite torque…I said the Electric engine of the Pirus has infinite torque…There’s HUGE difference. You’ll never get all the torque out of the electric engine. There is a limit on the torque…but it’s so high…you’ll never come close to needing it. Nor will you ever be able to. The advantage in torque in the electric motor is that you have it instantly…where as a internal combustion engine the max torque is somewhere between 0prm’s and max rpms. But no where near the 0rpm range.


#7

I would forget about towing with the Prius. I checked a few automotive hitch websites and the only hitch available was a Class I. The hitch would probably not even tow your trailer empty much less loaded with equipment. Toyota’s word on towing with a Prius is…“don’t do it.” Check your owners manual for the final word.


#8

OK, I will say it using your words instead of motor then, the Prius nor the Prius engine(motor) does not have unlimited or infinite or “so high” torque, regardless ! Plus, whatever it is, it is governed and you can never realize what amount it actually has and Toyota makes no claims. Check the 0 to 60 times in a light Prius. That is a big hint as to how little torque is actually available.


#9

http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/electrical-motors-torques-d_651.html
Btw. Here is an explanation of converting hp to torque in an electric motor. The Prius has. 67 hp motor which in this example for a 60 hp, translates to about 187 ft lbs. The Prius would be higher but not especially high compared to gas motor number ( Camry motor range) s and should give the Prius better acceleration then it does. The Prius electric motor, according to their forum, cuts out at about 1200 rpm.


#10

If you tried towing that trailer, even unloaded, you would risk not having that excellent mechanically working Prius. If you were towing a mile or 2, you MIGHT be ok, but more than that you’re asking for trouble, especially if you have to do a lot of stop and go.
Torque does do the pulling, but the transmission is where it’s really at. Your tranny is geared for economy, not towing. The brakes on the car were designed to stop the car in a reasonable distance fully loaded, it was not designed to have another 5~10(equivalent weight) people being dragged behind it.


#11

How about putting us fat guys in the Prius first before trying a tow.

Are their tow points? Axle? If I remember on our '08 that the max tow is 500#. I may wrong, but 500 would be the high weight.


#12
If you were towing a mile or 2, you MIGHT be ok, but more than that you're asking for trouble, especially if you have to do a lot of stop and go.

That’s where it would shine. The stopping would regenerate the battery.

As for braking…I agree the Prius brakes aren’t designed for that…but trailers (even small ones) come with trailer brakes.

But I still agree…towing with a Prius is NOT a good idea. I wouldn’t do it.


#13

It seems to me that this is one more case of somebody expecting his vehicle to be a Swiss Army Knife sort of vehicle. You know–one that can handle any task.

Hopefully, somebody would not buy a Maybach sedan, and expect it to be a good off-road vehicle, but we do see posts from people who buy…let’s say…a Jeep Wrangler, and want to know how to improve the ride quality and the on-road handling. We see posts from people who buy large, heavy-duty pickup trucks, and then want to know how they can get 20+ mpg. We see posts from people who buy tiny economy-class cars, and then want to know how they can get sports car-like acceleration. None of those goals are realistic, unfortunately.

Vehicles are not like Swiss Army knives, and most vehicles have certain qualities in which they will excel, and other areas in which they fail miserably. Someone should buy a Prius if he/she wants truly excellent gas mileage in urban driving situations and much better than average MPGs in highway driving.

But…buying a Prius and expecting it to be a competent tow vehicle?
Is that realistic?
Ummmm…unfortunately, no.


#14

But still, the Prius in Europe has plenty of available hitches and is tow rated…but then, they lived with a Fiat Strata and Yogo for years too and probably towed with them too. Guess if you live through a blitzKrieg nothing seems to bother you and thinking about tomorrows repairs isn’t that important.


#15

A very nice light duty bolt-on class I hitch is available for the Prius. It takes a 1 1/4 inch square drawbar. You unbolt the towing hooks and bolt the hitch in their place. I have towed a trailer that weighs perhaps 500 pounds, max. That reduced my mileage from 45 to 30 mpg. I might tow a rowboat or kayak, but would not think of towing my 16 foot motorboat that has a 50 hp outboard. That boat has been pulled by a 4 cylinder Kia Sportage, but it was working hard. I would say that boat really needs a 6 cylinder tow vehicle.
I mainly use the Prius hitch for mounting a bicycle rack.


#16

Towing is not just a function of horsepower. Towing relies on having a strong frame, strong brakes, and a powertrain that can handle heavier weights.

Read your owner’s manual to see what it says about towing. I seriously doubt the Prius has been designed to tow anything.


#17

I have a Geo Metro for gas economy. Call it a poor man’s Prius…

While it has decent power from the 1.0L 3 cylinder and I can carry around more tools and equipment than I ever expected, I have never considered towing with this car. It just wasn’t designed for this. Trucks and truck-based SUVs have a purpose in life and this is one of them.


#18

If one is used to a monster V-8, going uphill with 4 (big, American) people will feel a bit like the Prius is struggling.

But I got it to transport one or two people and to save on gas.

I would not tow with with this vehicle. Paid too much for it to ruin a good thing!


#19

"Toyota does not recommend towing a trailer with your vehicle. Toyota also does not recommend the installation of a tow hitch or the use of a tow hitch carrier for a wheelchair, scooter, bicycle, etc. Your vehicle is not designed for trailer towing or for the use of tow mounted hitch carriers."
That what the owners manual of my 2013 Prius says. I say that’s why I have a friend with a Silverado.


#20

I generally agree with Dagosa. However I tow livesteam trains in a 5x8 trailer, not regularly, but a couple times a year with my 2008 Prius (160000 miles) and it does quite well! MPG does drop to 30mpg and I agree that excessive towing would not be recommend. Occasional utility trailering does work well; CVT avoids the (Honda) hunting of automatics during trailer highway loads. :slight_smile: Full Throttle :slight_smile: