Towing with Smaller SUV

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LDUBS

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With the number of grandkids Mrs Ldubs says it is time to get an 8 passenger SUV. But, it has to be on the smaller side so she is comfortable driving.

One option, which would save us a ton of money, is to trade in my RAM. I like the RAM but realistically am at a stage in life where I don’t practically need a pickup. I don't get emotionally attached to possessions, but I am spoiled with the ease of towing the boat. My son, surprisingly, says I don't really need the RAM and I should definitely trade it in as long as the replacement will handle the boat. Mrs Ldubs says just to make sure I won't regret it.

My boat/trailer is about 1,500#. All the ramps I use are concrete.

We are kind of leaning towards a Honda Pilot. Fuel injected V6 motor. 10 speed transmission. Towing capacity of 5,000# in all wheel drive mode. Payload spec is about 1,300#. All well within what I would need to tow my boat. It also has hill assist. I have that on my RAM and kind of find it irritating. But with the Pilot it would probably be a good thing at the ramp.

Being these are, I assume, relatively light duty vehicles, I do have some concern how the suspension would handle the tongue weight (about 150#). I wonder if it would squat. I wouldn’t like dealing with that. Additionally, storing my boat requires backing up a slight incline. I wonder if this would be an issue.

I also have to check to see if the tailgate can be opened with the trailer attached.

I am leaning one way on this, but am still considering the option.

To get to my question, is anyone out there towing with a small SUV willing to share their experience and thoughts?
 
Towed my last boat with a 2wd 4cyl Ford Ranger. It was no rocket ship empty, but didn't seem to mind pulling that 14ft boat (probably 1000lbs all together). Even with 2wd, I never had any trouble with the ramps here.

I doubt you'd have any trouble with squat. Two average Americans in the back seat would be far more weight on the rear suspension than your boat.
 
The pilot should be fine with that size boat 150# tongue weight is like having 3 bags of chicken feed In the back I do that with a mazda 3. The wife has a 2022 cherokee with the v6 and tow package rated to 4500lbs I've used to tow our 1436. Not as big as your boat but it sits on a heavy steel trailer and I barely notice it. I've never towed the bigger boat with it as it weighs 4300lbs so almost max on the jeep and my ram 2500 gets about 17mpg towing it the jeep would probably get half that lol. I did tow our 4k lb square baler about 20miles with the jeep and it did surprisingly well. I never went above 40mph as the baler tires are not dot rated and obviously no trailer brakes so stopping it with just the jeeps brakes left something to be desired.
 
Your issue is seating 8 people!! No such thing as a "small" 8 passenger suv. The Honda would do fine, I see many towing small hardtop travel trailers. Get the tow pkg for sure!
I have a 2015 Cherokee with the V6 HO and towing pkg. It towes great with my 16' tinnie at 2000lbs. Also towes my enclosed UTV hauler at 3000 lbs. There the biggest issue is wind, being tall with flat walls you need to tack in the wind at times!! Lol...plenty of power and HD brakes with extra cooling makes the tow pkg well worthwhile....but you would never get 8 people in there, no matter how friendly they might be !!!
 
I think you're fine with the Pilot and your boat. The limiting factor was seating for 8, so I'm with airshot. I was shocked to find out that the Pilot has a configuration that will seat 8.
 
I think you're fine with the Pilot and your boat. The limiting factor was seating for 8, so I'm with airshot. I was shocked to find out that the Pilot has a configuration that will seat 8.
They have grown qite a bit over the past few years, the earlier ones were small but later models are big...my wifes says they look like a hearse when in black.....
 
Your issue is seating 8 people!! No such thing as a "small" 8 passenger suv. The Honda would do fine, I see many towing small hardtop travel trailers. Get the tow pkg for sure!
I have a 2015 Cherokee with the V6 HO and towing pkg. It towes great with my 16' tinnie at 2000lbs. Also towes my enclosed UTV hauler at 3000 lbs. There the biggest issue is wind, being tall with flat walls you need to tack in the wind at times!! Lol...plenty of power and HD brakes with extra cooling makes the tow pkg well worthwhile....but you would never get 8 people in there, no matter how friendly they might be !!!
I think you're fine with the Pilot and your boat. The limiting factor was seating for 8, so I'm with airshot. I was shocked to find out that the Pilot has a configuration that will seat 8.

I guess when I say smaller SUV I'm thinking in comparison to Expeditions, Suburbans, Sequoias, etc. The Pilot's third row is not for tall adults for sure. It has 32.5" of legroom. That is about the same as a regional flight economy seat, so not horrible. Width would really be a big issue I think for three adults.

Most of the time I expect the third seat will be folded down. Mrs Ldubs just wants us all to be able to go in one vehicle those times the kids visit. I think it will get the job done. She is also worried about driving a larger car. The pilot is about 15" longer and 5" wider than the Honda CRV Mrs Ldub's currently drives. I think she can get used to it. Either way she wants to keep her 13 year old CRV for grocery shopping, etc. I'm OK with that.

Thank you to everyone for sharing your experiences. It is encouraging. I still have to determine if the lift gate will open with the trailer attached. That would be a definite deal breaker I think.
 
My wife also has a CRV and it has been a great vehicle ! Your wife won't have an issue with the Pilot, won't even realize it is bigger !! Years back my wife went frim a Mustang to a full size Ford van, after a day it was no problem....
 
No problems with my 4cyl Outback towing my 14ft ancient Lund with two weeks of food and clothes and dog stuff packed inside. But that's carrying two people and at most 600lbs on the trailer.
I guess another question is how you're towing? 10-30 mile hops between prairie lakes or 500 mile trips to mountain reservoirs?
 
My wife is on her 2nd V6 Toyota Highlander, which competes with the Pilot. The 1st had a hitch, but I only towed utility and the lighter 1648 jon with it. It is 7 passenger and have used all three seats on family vacations. Don't bother looking at the Highlander though, as of 2023 they don't offer the V6, just turbo 4cyl. I think even the new Grand Highlander is only 4cyl turbo.

I tow with a V6 4Runner, and before that with a V6 Pathfinder. These are more "truck" like with a frame, and ride like one. I pull the G3, which is about 200-300lbs more that yours, easily. I also towed the 20' bowrider, and now the pontoon with it. Those are dual axle though, and not as easy of a tow, but doable.

I had to raise the ball up for the G3, so also got a longer "shank" with it so the hatch can open. It only rubs on the trolling motor if I'm cocked to the one side. Having a rear window that opens on the hatch is a plus.

Coming from a larger pick-up to the Pilot, you will loose allot of "back-up" view. While the back-up cameras are great for positioning the hitch over the ball, I get all side to side messed up using it for which way to cut the wheels. You might need some practice with it, especially for that up hill part you mentioned.

When I got the Pathfinder, I grappled with the Pick-up vs SUV for quite a while. The SUV worked out great for me. I already had a "pick-up on a stick" though. A 5x9 utilility trailer. Something you might consider, if you decide to go that way.
 
My wife is on her 2nd V6 Toyota Highlander, which competes with the Pilot. The 1st had a hitch, but I only towed utility and the lighter 1648 jon with it. It is 7 passenger and have used all three seats on family vacations. Don't bother looking at the Highlander though, as of 2023 they don't offer the V6, just turbo 4cyl. I think even the new Grand Highlander is only 4cyl turbo.

I tow with a V6 4Runner, and before that with a V6 Pathfinder. These are more "truck" like with a frame, and ride like one. I pull the G3, which is about 200-300lbs more that yours, easily. I also towed the 20' bowrider, and now the pontoon with it. Those are dual axle though, and not as easy of a tow, but doable.

I had to raise the ball up for the G3, so also got a longer "shank" with it so the hatch can open. It only rubs on the trolling motor if I'm cocked to the one side. Having a rear window that opens on the hatch is a plus.

Coming from a larger pick-up to the Pilot, you will loose allot of "back-up" view. While the back-up cameras are great for positioning the hitch over the ball, I get all side to side messed up using it for which way to cut the wheels. You might need some practice with it, especially for that up hill part you mentioned.

When I got the Pathfinder, I grappled with the Pick-up vs SUV for quite a while. The SUV worked out great for me. I already had a "pick-up on a stick" though. A 5x9 utilility trailer. Something you might consider, if you decide to go that way.

We looked at the Highlander. I was surprised they now only offer the turbo 4 cylinder. Not for me.

We also looked at the Pathfinder and were pleasantly surprised. It just isn't as comfortable for me in the driver's seat.

Utility trailer isn't a bad idea. I have room for one, but honestly would use it so seldom it would probably be better to just rent one when needed.

I agree with your about the back up camera. I just can't use it to maneuver the trailer. Side mirrors are much better.
 
Do they still make the dodge Durango with v6 or hemi? I know the hemi was getting dropped for a straight six turbo in the rams not sure about the Durango. Lots of companies going to smaller displacement turbo motors to meet epa regs and and they get better mpg in lab tests. Real world mpg figures sometimes prove otherwise.
 
Lots of companies going to smaller displacement turbo motors to meet epa regs and and they get better mpg in lab tests. Real world mpg figures sometimes prove otherwise.
The 4cyl turbo in the Highlander has slightly more HP than the V6. They don't tell you how the torque curves compare, though. ;) I'm a ways off from needing to replace the 4Runner, but hope I can find a similar vehicle then.
 
I did tow boats with our Sequoia. Different than a Pilot, but still an SUV.
Will it tow fine and safe, yes. Do I prefer towing with a truck, yes.
The SUV rear end is much softer than a truck and will squat some.
SUV wheel base is shorter and what you'll notice....shorter equals more up/down movement.

Personally, I always like having a truck for various needs...either towing, hauling, etc. I like driving trucks and sitting higher off ground.

I'm 61 and will probably always have a truck. I need one now as I tow the boat and our TT when we go camping.

Pros/Cons and the way my mind would tackle such an event....

How often are ALL g-kids together in your vehicle that you need everyone to fit in one vehicle?
How far will you be traveling with said g-kids to justify one vehicle vs two?

I would sell/trade the CRV for the Pilot and keep the utilitarian truck OR I would just add the Pilot to your vehicles. Remember, you can always sell the truck later if you end up really liking the tow experience with the Pilot.

Don't rush into anything.....adding the Pilot first gives to time to either sell/keep the truck.
 
I am currently towing a 14ft with my 1.4L VW Jetta until I get an SUV, go for it!
 

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We are on our second Palisade (2024), and it handles 2,000 lbs without being noticeable (rated for 5,000 lbs). Ours is AWD (incredibly comfortable and safe). I would not hesitate to tow your boat with this or any comparable SUV.
 
Dealer/Factory installed Turbo or Supercharger comes to mind.
 
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I have a 2.4L 260 hp Subaru outback that tows my fully rigged ( 1300# ish) 14.5' Grumman just fine. It can be a little sluggish in the mountains but tows great anywhere else. Before that, I had a Chrysler minivan with 3.8L V6 that towed even better. ( Man I miss that van, it had more room than a pick-up and rode like a Cadillac.) If you want to figure out how much it will squat, just sit a 150-$200 # person on the rear bumper and observe. I doubt that's an issue with any vehicle designed with a 3rd row seat area though. You just need to get the right hitch height.
 
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