Trailor Towing and Maximum Weight that's safe

I’ve been driving a V8 Mercury Mountaineer SUV for 12 years, and it pulls my trailor (loacded with about 1500 pounds for total weight of 2,000) pretty well, even though it has AWD (reading from discussions, AWD is not recommended for towing…who knew?)

Anyhow, I want to buy a smaller SUV (clunker trade in) and there are a bunch of crossovers that claim to be able to pull 2,000, even though they are IL4’s w/AWD.

I’d love to hear the truth about towing capacity on small cross overs, and especially whether (a) a 4 cyl can actually tow 2,000 lbs, and (b) whether the V6 cross overs can pull the same load. Any advice on AWD vs. FWD in towing wwould also be appreciated.

AWD is an expensive option that, 99% of the time, you do not need. Trailer Towing with a 4-cyl engine is doable up to about 1200-1500 pounds, but above that, over any great distance, it can get tedious…

The issues with towing are that once you have the hitch and wiring you are set to go, not! People tend to way underestimate the load they are carrying and overestimate the capacity of the vehicle. Have you ever weighed your trailer when loaded?

With a 4 cylinder you would be at the capacity of your vehicle. That means more than just pulling the load, it affects braking and stablilty on the road too. With a V8 your current vehicle isn’t stressed by the load at all. It is probably rated to pull something close to 5,500 lbs. Since your trailer is a small one it won’t have either surge brakes or electric brakes. When loaded you’d notice a big difference in the stopping power of a small SUV compared to your current one.

Yes, you can probably do it but you’d want to watch your loading carefully. Remember you’ve got a small transmission, smaller gears in the transfer case and differentials, smaller brakes, and lighter materials to save weight and improve mpg. These small SUV’s and Crossovers are not engineered with a priority on towing capacity and performance.

That’s a good point. I recommend people not estimate the weight of a loaded trailer and take it to a truck stop to get it weighed. It would be a bad idea to unhitch the trailer on the scale. The scale has visible sections, so make sure you have the trailer on its own platform.

In order to position the tow vehicle and the trailer correctly, it helps to know how truck drivers weigh their rigs. One weight is the front axle. The next weight is for the tandem axles that sit under the front of the semi’s trailer. The rear tandem axles are also weighed separately. Each of your three axles don’t need to be in the middle of each platform, but each axle should be on its own platform.

Once you have your rig correctly positioned on the scales, you need to press the call button on the intercom to call the attendant inside the truck stop. The button is up in the air, so it might not be easy to reach. You might need to climb up on your tow vehicle to press the call button. The attendant will ask for your truck number and trip number. Just tell the attendant it is a personal vehicle with a trailer.

Next, you will park your rig off the trailer, go inside, and pay about $8 to get your scale ticket. The ticket should have each individual axle and the gross weight.

Compare the weight of the trailer to your vehicle’s towing capacity. You should also compare the gross weight to the tow vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). As long as the weight of the trailer is less then the towing capacity, AND the gross weight is less than the GVWR, you are fine. If the weights are less than 75% of the towing capacity and the GVWR, it is even better. You can really benefit from a 25% margin.

AWD is fine for towing small loads…2k is considered a small load…Barely a Class-II rating. FWD is NOT good for towing. RWD is the BEST for towing. My 4-runner is 4wd…but I’ve only had to switch it to 4wd once while towing…up a long dirt road.

As for a 4-cylinder. There are 4-cylinders that are rated Class-II. So the engine isn’t the problem. Not sure what Cross-over SUV could tow that’s a 4-cylinder. Do some research…Any Class-II rated vehicle or higher should be fine.

You should consult with the vehicle manufacturer for the towing capacity. If the trailer exceeds the towing capacity of the vehicle you are considering, then find one that fits.

I would not go at capacity for frequent towing, long distances, towing at high speed, or in the mountains. If you do occasional, easy towing, you can be fine with a vehicle at capacity.