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What to tow with?

I have a 17 foot Casita travel trailer, weighs 2,000 lb. I use my 2004 Olds Silhoutte to tow it. My MPG without towing is 25, and drops to 12-14 with the Casita behind us. I want to get a 4WD vehicle for our Michigan winters and Upper Pennisula back woods driving. I’d like to combine the 4WD with the tow vehicle. I’d like to get at least 20 MPG without towing, and at least 15 MPG while towing. And, not new, an ageless wonder would be fine. What would you recommend? And I’m partial to an American car company.

Small pickups have the towing capacity, but will be right at your 20 MPG highway mileage requirement. Small SUVs don’t seem to have the towing capacity. Check EPA mileage here:

An Explorer would do nicely, but the MPG while not towing won’t meet your criteia. A diesel Grand Cherokee would fit the bill as well, but they are hard to find.

What is the trailer’s GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating)? That is really the number you should consider when looking at towing capacity, not the actual weight of the trailer.

The Toyota Sienna and the Honda Odyssey both have 3,500 pounds of towing capacity, although you might need a weight distribution hitch and a sway control bar to tow something this large with it. It will give you better fuel economy than an SUV or a truck though.

The Mid-Size SUV’s with the V6 can average 20mpg. I average 22 with my 4runner. The 4runner or pathfinder with the V6’s can easily handle the towing and are both EXCELLENT in snow and off-roading.

As for 15 when towing…MAYBE. The best I’ve ever done is around 14. But I’m towing a bigger trailer with 3+ people and equipment.

Not sure where you live, but 4wd is almost a necessity in Upper Michigan. Some areas average well over 200" of snow annually…with some years well past 300".

The trouble with the little compact-pickup based SUVs like the 4runner, Pathfinder, Explorers, etc is that the versions that come with V6’s, which you’d need for towing, really don’t do all that much better than full-size trucks gas-mileage wise-- they’re usually only 1 or 2 mpgs better than a V8-powered Suburban, for example. Look at for the government ratings, which are helpful for comparison purposes.

If it were me, if you’re towing a lot I’d look for a diesel full-size SUV, but otherwise I’d look at buying an older full-size truck and using it as the fun vehicle and keep the van. Or if you only need the passenger capacity of the van occasionally, you could buy a full-size SUV to be the fun vehicle and occasional people hauler and then get an economical commuter car.

I take it you’ve never tried to park a trailer in a wooded trailer park with a Suburban!!!

Can the OP get an AWD or 4WD tow vehicle that meets his fuel economy requirements? He may need to revise those requirements if he really wants to take the trailer into the back woods.

I’m partial to the Chevrolet Trailblazer LS 4x4 w/4.2L I6.

A good mix of power, fuel economy and towing capacity.

4wd/awd is important even if you don’t take it off road. Just to much snow and you never know when it’s going to happen. That’s what Lake effect snow is…Bright sunny cold day everywhere EXCEPT the 1 mile width path it’s snowing 2-3" an hour for 3-5 hours.

Me too. We were a 2 boat family for our 2 weeks at the cabins, when the 1966 boat died we decided to tow our other boat up and back instead of buying a 2 week a year boat, and also need room for the kid the cats and the dog. I looked at vehicles towing boats on our 10 hour drive home. The trailblazer was was the most common (I was not looking at pickups) so I bought a used one. 15-17 in town and towing, 21-23 hwy, L6 with plenty of power for my needs, and 4wd for those sand and pea gravel boat launches. 2 inch hitch was also of importance for a rack and bike carrier we already owned. the 2wd or auto 4wd saves gas and works well for me. Mileage would be important as the plugs were expensive to replace at 100k, I would have done it but I could not even find them.

I have with a full-sized pickup, but I suppose you’ve got a lot more visibility with one of those. Good point!