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Salanis
Salanis SuperDork
12/3/09 12:11 a.m.

Sorry, I know this has been pretty well beaten to death. The BMW will be listed this weekend, and I want a plan on what I'm getting next. I'm looking for a good, affordable, tow vehicle/DD.

Must be able to flat tow a 3000# car (2500# more likely, but whatever), ideally capable to handle 5000# of car and trailer. Must have at least 4 real seats. Should be cost effective to own (reasonable gas mileage and not a maintenance queen). My price range is $5k-$7k (inexpensive is good).

Right now, given what I recall from other similar threads, I'm thinking a Chevy Astro. Willing to entertain any other suggestions.

fornetti14
fornetti14 Reader
12/3/09 5:35 a.m.

I was thinking Astro when you listed your price range.

We bought our '03 Explorer V8 for $6k and it already had it's wheel bearings and transmission replaced. Tow's my toys all day long. The down side is gas mileage isn't good at 17 hwy.

problemaddict
problemaddict Reader
12/3/09 8:19 a.m.

P71 Crown Vic if you're not looking forward to driving a truck.

And i always recommend ppl to check out euro sites for more open minded towing info. They don't recommend a Dually Diesel to tow your kart trailer. They'll tow w/ anything over there. The WRX won an award, whereas in the US towing anything w/ a small-ish, turbocharged car is asking for certain death... (the wrx is limited to 2400lbs, so i'm not suggesting it as an option for your situation). Its just a different mind-set.

caravanclub.co.uk

whattowcar.com

curtis73
curtis73 HalfDork
12/3/09 8:31 a.m.

Caprice wagons were rated to tow impressive amounts. LT1, 8.5" rear, cheap to buy, cheap to maintain.

P71
P71 SuperDork
12/3/09 8:42 a.m.

P71/Crown Vic/Grand Marq. You get 4 real seats, a V8 that can net decent mileage when driven nicely yet still has more than enough grunt to tow a loaded trailer, A/C like the Arctic winds, and the cheapest car ever to insure and maintain. I'd personally recommend a nice (unmarked, no holes) P71 and swapping in a civvie/GM interior (all Panthers come with the full wiring harness, so you can add those heated leather seats by just plugging them in) so you get the heavy duty trans, trans cooler, power steering cooler, better brakes, and the LSD rear. You'll be able to net a super clean 03-04 (they have the brakes that the 05 Mustang GT stole, so you can get cheap take-off Mustang wheels for it to lose the cop car look) AND still have cash leftover to buy the trailer and a Challenge car to go on it.

belteshazzar
belteshazzar SuperDork
12/3/09 8:46 a.m.

An astro would be a good choice.

So is the P71.

Maybe a GMT400

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker SuperDork
12/3/09 8:48 a.m.

4 seats, sleeping on a beach... towing small stuff... $7k

EDIT: I accidentally merged the two current "What tow/DD" thread requirements. Still... its valid here because you might want to sleep on a beach.

F150 / Chevy 1500 crew cab 4x4 won't get stuck in the sand. V8 gas mileage will be the same as the six cylinder models, jeeps, smaller PU/SUVs but is cheaper, sounds better and makes torque that can do real work. Pickup bonus... wet dog, camping crap, bicycles, track tires, gas jugs, greasy car parts and almost anything else you don't want to stuff inside can go in the bed.

Nobody "wants" a pickup - but once you have one they become indispensable.

aussiesmg
aussiesmg SuperDork
12/3/09 8:49 a.m.

E150 Chateau van, rated to 7000lb towing, seats seven with a lot of comfort, nicely appointed.

splitime
splitime Reader
12/3/09 8:56 a.m.

Not going to find one due to grey market... but e30 touring. Station wagon ftw.... of course... M swap not included...

Cotton
Cotton HalfDork
12/3/09 9:06 a.m.

I just bought a 91 Suburban 4wd for camping and occasional towing. It has the TBI 350 with overdrive automatic, factory tow package, skid plates, rear locker, and brake controller. With the rear seat out and the middle seat folded forward we can fit a queen size air mattress.

It needs tires, front rotors, and a few other very minor things. I paid $1100 for it. It drove the 3 plus hours home just fine. You can find some very nice deals on Suburbans right now if you're patient. I have a one ton dually for heavy towing, but I plan to sell it and use the Suburban until I can get a newer 4wd diesel dually.

sachilles
sachilles Reader
12/3/09 9:55 a.m.

I've been noticing a lot more Ford Expeditions on craigslist lately for reasonable money.

Salanis
Salanis SuperDork
12/3/09 2:15 p.m.

P71 is an idea, but what is the tow capacity on those? On the regular Crown Vic's I know they're only rated for like 2000#. I'm not sure how much beefier the P71s are.

Ford F/E150 makes sense, but I gather the fuel economy is going to be much worse on those than the Chevy. Hmm... but I might have to think about the 1500.

miwifri
miwifri New Reader
12/3/09 2:49 p.m.

I know a guy who uses an old Crown Vic police car for DD and towing his small car to races.

I bought a Toyota Tundra with rear seats and 61/2 foot bed and cap. In my area, which has VERY rough winters, this was a good choice for a winter DD. For towing 5000# long distances this would be fine, it is rated for 10,300#. I am towing a closed trailer with a bit more weight and it needs equalizer bars to keep the back end up. I traded a Ram 2500 for it which was better suited to towing but didn't have as much power (both with 5.7s) and had much worse mileage. I'm a little sorry I didn't go with a one ton (probably will next time) but the Toyota is a great all around vehicle.

miwifri
miwifri New Reader
12/3/09 2:58 p.m.
I bought a Toyota Tundra with rear seats and 61/2 foot bed and cap. In my area, which has VERY rough winters, this was a good choice for a winter DD. For towing 5000# long distances this would be fine, it is rated for 10,300#. I am towing a closed trailer with a bit more weight and it needs equalizer bars to keep the back end up. I traded a Ram 2500 for it which was better suited to towing but didn't have as much power (both with 5.7s) and had much worse mileage. I'm a little sorry I didn't go with a one ton (probably will next time) but the Toyota is a great all around vehicle.

The Tundra holds it's value pretty well so many may be out of your price range. The older ones may be obtainable for what you want to spend and are RELIABLE. Other pickups that are older than 6 years in our area (central NY) are cheap.

mtn
mtn SuperDork
12/3/09 3:01 p.m.
Salanis wrote: P71 is an idea, but what is the tow capacity on those? On the regular Crown Vic's I know they're only rated for like 2000#. I'm not sure how much beefier the P71s are.

Don't know what it is, but we had a 99 crown vic and it towed our boat very easily.

Anyone know why the tow ratings on the 96ish vics was 5000, and the newer ones so much lower?

Salanis
Salanis SuperDork
12/3/09 3:52 p.m.
mtn wrote: Don't know what it is, but we had a 99 crown vic and it towed our boat very easily. Anyone know why the tow ratings on the 96ish vics was 5000, and the newer ones so much lower?

How heavy a boat?

I presumed it was due to switching to the 4.6L engine. Did that happen in 97?

Toyman01
Toyman01 HalfDork
12/3/09 3:53 p.m.

I just finished loading for an autocross this weekend. For towing absolutely! For daily driving, not so much. Around town with the 5.4 I get about 12-13mpg, 14+ on the highway. As you see it if you keep it under 65, it gets about 9-10mpg. Not too bad considering the rig weighs about 13000#. With a flat trailer and car, at 70-75 it gets about 10-11 unless you let Jensenman drive, then it gets 9 or less. The low top vans are probably better. The conversion van by it self weighs in at about 7000#. Mine is pretty much only a tow rig and back up vehicle. When I cranked it this afternoon, it had been sitting for three weeks.

Loaded2

Loaded

mtn
mtn SuperDork
12/3/09 3:57 p.m.
Salanis wrote:
mtn wrote: Don't know what it is, but we had a 99 crown vic and it towed our boat very easily. Anyone know why the tow ratings on the 96ish vics was 5000, and the newer ones so much lower?

How heavy a boat?

I presumed it was due to switching to the 4.6L engine. Did that happen in 97?

2342 was the official weight with boat, trailer, equipment, and luggage. We towed my grandpas boat with it once, a 16 foot Sea Ray with 100 HP Mercury, so however much that would weigh. No problems as long as you didn't accelerate fast (transmission was a little overwhelmed). Now, the Chevy 2500 and the Tundra are far superior tow vehicles, but the Vic' was every bit as good as a Honda Oddyssey we used to have. As long as there are no big hills, I wouldn't hesitate to tow the the Vic.

That would make sense.

Cotton
Cotton HalfDork
12/3/09 3:59 p.m.

In reply to Toyman01:

Nice trailer!

belteshazzar
belteshazzar SuperDork
12/3/09 4:21 p.m.
mtn wrote:
Salanis wrote: P71 is an idea, but what is the tow capacity on those? On the regular Crown Vic's I know they're only rated for like 2000#. I'm not sure how much beefier the P71s are.

Don't know what it is, but we had a 99 crown vic and it towed our boat very easily.

Anyone know why the tow ratings on the 96ish vics was 5000, and the newer ones so much lower?

well, I didn't know they were. the p71's have big coolers, huge brakes. Mine was completely comfortable hauling an e30 from Nebraska to Texas. Got 14.5mpg loaded. Got 19 coming home with an empty trailer. And I have 3.73's swapped in, overdrive was off, 60-65mph.

Bobzilla
Bobzilla HalfDork
12/3/09 4:38 p.m.

Ext Cab Short Bed 2wd GMC. Lowered 2/4, rear swaybar and 17's with some 255/60/17's, long tubes, magnaflow and an intake. Fun to drive, tows your house and comfortable.

Salanis
Salanis SuperDork
12/3/09 8:56 p.m.
Bobzilla wrote: Ext Cab Short Bed 2wd GMC. Lowered 2/4, rear swaybar and 17's with some 255/60/17's, long tubes, magnaflow and an intake. Fun to drive, tows your house and comfortable.

What kind of gas mileage do you get on that? FuelEconomy.gov seems to show people averaging 18-20.

Toyman, I'm bad at IDing vans. Is that an E-series or an Astro? What engine does it have?

As long as I stay in the Sacto area, a P71 might be a good bet, since all my towing will be in the valley, unless I decide to hit Reno/Fernley. I can probably borrow my dad's Econoline in that event.

dean1484
dean1484 Dork
12/3/09 9:36 p.m.

I did the explorer thing and all it wanted to be was an Expedition. So I got and and have never looked back. Millage is the same or better than the Explorer especially in the highway. Repairs are cheep (It is a ford).

Explorer will get it done but you will always be wanting more. Expedition will get it done with out issue. Mine is There are heavy duty versions that have tow packages (what mine has). I like the XLT packages as they are a nice mix of function with enough luxury to make it a very comfortable daily driver. The limited or eddy bower ones are usually sprung softer and have way to much leather and cheep looking expensive stuff that dont belong in a ford. It is a ford truck not a Cadillac after all mixing the two just does not work in my book.

5-7 k will get you a nice one from 02-04 if you shop around. The only thing to look for is the 100K service. IT will cost you about 2k but is very well worth it. They also have coil packs that tend to die after 100-120K of service but they are simple to change and I just keep 1-2 in the rear storage. A simple code reader will tell you what cylinder to change.

Other than that mine has been rock solid simple to maintain,, easy to drive even in the city and will tow 7000lbs with out braking a sweat (I have the towing package in mine)

Bottom line shop around find a lower optioned one with the heavy duty suspension and tow package and you will get it for short $$$$ because ti does not have the DVD or power but scratchers. What it will do is be a truck that can hall 6 adults, gear and tow a car with out issue.

Ohya they are absolutely unstoppable in snow. The full time all wheel drive system is great.

One other thing that was a big seller was the adjustable peddles. My wife is 5' nothing and as she put it is the first at that she can get the seat steering wheel and the peddles in the correct place. It was my truck but very quickly became here daily driver.

Jeff
Jeff Dork
12/3/09 9:43 p.m.

I have done a ton of research on this. It really boils down to this: if you believe US tow ratings your are going to end up with a truck or van, if you are willing to look at what the rest of the world does, there are more options.

I've talked about my Mazda MPV before. It's rated for 3000 LBS in the US. The UK versions are rated between 3500 and 4400 pounds depending on the engine. All UK engines make less HP and torque than the engine in my truck. I towed my RX-7 and 16 ft trailer ( I figure I was towing 3400 LBS) for 500 miles without any trouble at all and had no trouble maintaining 65 mph on the highway. I have trailer brakes and had no stopping issues.

Go over to the Airstream forum (google it). They have a whole section on tow vehicles. You'll get a lot of folks saying you need a giant truck. But there is a company in Canada that sets up all kinds of vehicles to tow Airstreams. My favorite was a TDI Jetta towing a 20 footer. They actually test their setups and claim that the cars/wagons do as well or better in emergency avoidance maneuvers.

I've been thinking about a new tow vehicle. I want around 200 HP / 200 FT LBS of torque, 5spd manual, 4 door sedan or wagon, curb weight of over 3000 LBS, preferably 3500 LBS. I've found a few that meet that criteria. The hardest part is finding Class III hitches for some of these 'inappropriate tow vehicles'.

Sorry about my rambling post, I'm on my 3rd Newcastle Brown .

JeepinMatt
JeepinMatt Reader
12/3/09 9:59 p.m.

My price point is a little lower, but I'm pretty much looking for the same thing. Every time the issue of using smaller/less powerful vehicles comes up, I immediately think "oh good, more options." But after I price-check them, I realize that the half-ton and up trucks are at least as cheap, or cheaper, than any Toyota T100, Dakota, Pathfinder, Grand Cherokee V8 or Land Cruiser. If you're dead set against having such a big vehicle to maneuver every day, then I could see the argument for a smaller truck.

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