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93celicaGT2
93celicaGT2 Dork
5/11/09 9:39 a.m.

Well, after getting some seat time in my celica after it's been down for awhile, i've come to realize that i'm going to have to start towing it to events....

Which means that for the moment, i have to give up my search for a Miata for a fun DD.

So here's my criteria:

1) SUV or extended cab truck

2) Do not want full size (will be dd'ing this to work a lot)

3) Needs to be able to tow the Celica + dolly/trailer, car weighs ~2300lbs, plus whatever the towing device weighs.

4) Would like to keep it under $3000, the cheaper, the better.

5) Don't want a V8 unless it's really cheap.

6) Reliable, and would like to see 20mpg on highway at the least.

What should i be looking for? V6 tacomas? Early 90s Pathfinders with the V6? Earlier 4runners?

The cheaper, the better. The cheaper i can get this, the sooner i can get a Miata.

DILYSI Dave
DILYSI Dave SuperDork
5/11/09 10:06 a.m.

Camry V6. Duh. :)

P71
P71 Dork
5/11/09 10:08 a.m.
DILYSI Dave wrote: Camry V6. Duh. :)

Ahahahaaaa!!!

mw
mw Reader
5/11/09 10:23 a.m.

I've towed a 1700lb geo metro on a tow dolly with a 4cyl camry. It didn't have any problems with it.

Based on your criteria above I would recomend a minivan (although it doesn't fit the suv or truck criteria). If you can get over the fact that they are uncool, you get more storage space, more seating if needed, a v6, and very cheap!

An astro would be ideal as it's the best towing mini van. I tow with a rwd 92 MPV, which is not horrible. Even the FWD vans will tow a fair bit especially if you use a weight distributing hitch.

I'm sure the tacoma or pathfinder could do the job too, but you likely won't find one as cheap as a similar year and mileage minivan.

jrw1621
jrw1621 HalfDork
5/11/09 10:30 a.m.

Isuzu Rodeos seem to sell cheap. There may be a reason but for the right price they could be a good choice of SUV. I really think their cheap price just comes from the fact that they are largely overlooked by most shoppers.

Edit: A quick look in your area yields this '99 w/ 101k for $2.8k:
http://indianapolis.craigslist.org/cto/1163587470.html

Google returns an answer of tow capacity to 4500lbs.
www.fueleconomy.gov say 15/19mpg w/ 6cyl and 4wd.

Raze
Raze Reader
5/11/09 10:31 a.m.

1) SUV or extended cab truck 2) Do not want full size (will be dd'ing this to work a lot) So basically Ranger, Nissan Hardbody, older gen Tacoma or really old T100, or S10/Sonoma.

3) Needs to be able to tow the Celica + dolly/trailer, car weighs ~2300lbs, plus whatever the towing device weighs. I've towed our XR4Ti (2600 lightened + 300 lb dolley) with my Ranger 3.0L + 5speed w/no problems, course I have 4.10 in the rear to make hill starts alot easier. A GMC Jimmy / Chevy Blazer or Sonoma (all same engine/trans/chassis) would be good, they're tough as nails and cheap to boot...

4) Would like to keep it under $3000, the cheaper, the better. See #3 above, a hardbody or tacoma for that cheap will either be really old or need some work, domestics are far cheaper in better condition at that price (usually, there are some deals to be had)

5) Don't want a V8 unless it's really cheap. So get a V6...

6) Reliable, and would like to see 20mpg on highway at the least. the 3.0L in me Ranger returns 20mpg City, 25mpg highway, I usually get around 20-21mpg towing...

I was going to say, hasn't it been show an Astro makes a REALLY good tow vehicle for the price?

RossD
RossD Reader
5/11/09 10:39 a.m.

I know this goes against most of your requirements but:

How about a Jeep Grand Wagoneer? They can tow and haul a whole bunch and their interiors are usually nice and plush. This one is for sale locally for only $1800. It's probably got the 360 V8 and the fuel economy to go with it. It helps for parts that they made that body style for close to 30 years in some form or another.

Man I have a soft spot for those.

ignorant
ignorant SuperDork
5/11/09 10:44 a.m.

3.0L Ranger. I had one and it was a great truck. 158k miles with not a ton of problems(trans was getting pooped when I sold it). It did 21mpg highway, but was an extended cab automatic 4x4. A v6 2wd 5spd will do better. The 3.0 is a very reliable package.

I got around town mileage of 14-16mpg in the ranger depending on how aggressive I was with the throttle. That is fullsize territory(remember I had a 4x4 with auto trans). Manual trans 2wd would be the best way to go.

ignorant
ignorant SuperDork
5/11/09 10:44 a.m.
RossD wrote: I know this goes against most of your requirements but: How about a Jeep Grand Wagoneer? They can tow and haul a whole bunch and their interiors are usually nice and plush. This one is for sale locally for only $1800. It's probably got the 360 V8 and the fuel economy to go with it. It helps for parts that they made that body style for close to 30 years in some form or another. Man I have a soft spot for those.

Umm He said 20mpg highway.. Not 2 mpg highway..

Cotton
Cotton Reader
5/11/09 10:47 a.m.

I normally tow with a 1 ton diesel dually. Well, Friday night I was pulling a 1960 Baja Bug home on a tow dolly with my dually and hit a deer. Busted my tranny cooler, so I had to limp to a parking area and call my wife to bring our Cherokee. The Cherokee has 5 inches of lift and no rear sway bar, but actually did really well. I just kept it out of overdrive and we towed the Beetle around a 100 miles of mixed interstate and 2 lane. Stock our 4.0 auto Cherokee got around 20 MPG and you can find them in your price range.

Trans_Maro
Trans_Maro Reader
5/11/09 10:51 a.m.

You said you don't want a fullsize but my 1996 F-150 with the 300cid I6 will haul a whole lot more than it should. Gets about 15 mpg too.

Other than that, I'd recomend a Chevy Astro.

Shawn

Keith
Keith SuperDork
5/11/09 10:56 a.m.

Stay away from Toyotas with the 3.0 V6. They will not have the pulling power you need. At least, not if any altitude is involved.

I say get a conversion van.

RossD
RossD Reader
5/11/09 11:04 a.m.

Wait, I know: P71!

andrave
andrave Reader
5/11/09 11:12 a.m.

nothing in your price range is going to get 20 mpg while towing. you probalby won't be able to find a v6 tacoma or 4 runner in decent running shape with $3k. A pathfinder maybe, they are rated to tow 5000 lbs but have very soft back shocks. Mine is an 02 and its got the 3.5 and it will tow a 2000 lb uhaul car transporter with a 3000lb car on it no problem at all, 70 up hills, etc.... but the older ones (like pre 99) that will be in your price range had the 3.3 liter v6. Its a turd. Neither engine will get 20 mpg highway anyway.

Isuzu rodeo/honda passport (older body style) had a lot of reliability problems and just are not very comfortable vehicle, in my opinion.

I think you would be best served by a 2wd mid or fullsize truck. You can find a used fullsize chevy 1500 or ford f150 work truck edition regular cab, late 90's or possibly even early 00's, with a v6 and automatic and AC (manual windows and doors, vinyl floor, cloth bench) for your price range, with low miles, and they will tow what you need to tow with no problem (and still have the bed for spares). Trying to find an extended cab will jack the price up a good bit.

I'd probably avoid an S10, ranger, or the like, as they are not rated to two what you need to tow without the larger engines and automatic trans and that generally jacks the price up to what a fullsize would cost... and you are still looking at towing a car with a small truck that doesn't weigh much more than the car. The compact trucks just don't have the right equipment to tow a car ona regular basis/over long distances. Especially when you figure 2000lbs for a car trailer, youre looking at over 2 tons behind the truck... a ranger extended cab weighs in a good bit less than that (and doesn't have the cooling or braking to support 2x the weight).

I like the minivan suggestions... I had an astro and it was very nice, and they are really cheap. They have their quirks but its a practical vehicle you could sleep it. 20 mpg is a pipe dream tho. The FWD minivans might get better mpg but probably wouldn't tow nearly as well, especially not in slick conditions.

I'm pretty confident if you find yourself, say, an F150 work truck, you could get something with under 100k miles, v6 engine, auto trans, for your price range.

If you go back a generation and look at 96 and under trucks, the I-6 is known for its extremely long life... 200k and beyond are common. I've seen this engine in 250's and 350's towing 8000 lb loads. Its not gonna go 65 up the hills, but it will do it.

pinchvalve
pinchvalve SuperDork
5/11/09 11:14 a.m.

The Dakota with a Extra-Cab and a V6 seems to be a good option. No idea about reliability or costs, but seems like the right size and plentiful.

An Astro with AWD seems to the the best all-rounder, and I think they are pretty cool looking. Get a conversion for track-side comfort and camping.

A VW Van has a slick, euro look but IIRC they have the same hp as a Beetle. :(

Don't be afraid of a big car, I towed my Civic Sedan with my Intrepid R/T. 250ft/lb is 250ft/lb whether it is in a car or truck. I would prefer something with a full frame: Impala SS? Buick Roadmaster Wagon? Diesel Mercedes?

93celicaGT2
93celicaGT2 Dork
5/11/09 12:03 p.m.

Thanks for the ideas so far!

I'm really wanting to stay away from the "car" idea. I didn't think of the Astro, that's a possibility.

I liked the idea of a truck/suv/van(thanks!) so that i can also just chuck spares/crap that i find at the junkyard in it and not car about the back. If i got a car, that would be a little harder.

I'll look around and see what i can find 'round there here parts. I see old 3.5 v6 Pathfinders for cheap a lot... would those cut it do you think?

I'm liking the Astro idea, too.

93celicaGT2
93celicaGT2 Dork
5/11/09 12:05 p.m.
P71 wrote:
DILYSI Dave wrote: Camry V6. Duh. :)
Ahahahaaaa!!!

Oh, if i was just looking for a DD for long hauls, would have already been done.

Sadly.... P71 doesn't meet the requirements either, so we both lose.

P71
P71 Dork
5/11/09 12:14 p.m.

It gets more than 20MPG highway and can tow about a dozen Celicas, so what requirement doesn't it meet?

You do know an entire Ford 302 V8 with transmission will fit in the trunk, with the lid closed. Also an entire FB RX-7 interior including seats and a pair of doors and the hatch glass. Both times with the full size spare and toolbox in the trunk.

Just saying...

If you absolutely have to have a "truck" though, the Jeep Cherokee with the I-6 (4.0) is where it's at. Decent mileage unloaded, can tow like a full size, and ridiculously cheap. NEW brake rotors are $21!!

psteav
psteav Reader
5/11/09 12:17 p.m.

Dakota. The "tweener" size is nice, it's essentially the same length as a full size but narrower. Nicer on tight city streets, but no better to parallel park.
The 97-05 ones look great, they're dirt cheap, and they're common. 3.9 V6 is "enough", 175hp/225 lb/ft. They will tow your miata no problem.

They're reliable...ish. You will not get Toyota reliability out of one, but you won't pay toyota prices when it breaks, either. Little stuff will go out, but junkyards are full of them and parts are cheap at the store. Only seriously weak point is the automatic trans...so either find a stick, or find one that's had the trans rebuilt by a reputable shop.

Look for a '97-'99 Ex cab. Get 4wd if you want it. (It's a torsion bar IFS setup, kinda like the Toyotas of the era). Fuel mileage will push 20 on the highway, but frankly pretty much everything you'll find that will tick all your other boxes will be hard-pressed to do better.

Woody
Woody Dork
5/11/09 1:04 p.m.

I've had two Dakotas, both purchased new. The size is perfect, plus it's nice to have the pickup bed in back to haul around all the extra transmissions you'll be replacing.

neon4891
neon4891 SuperDork
5/11/09 1:16 p.m.

ARRRGGGG, why did I have to read this, now you guys have me wanting to go get that Dakota I was going on about last week

DrBoost
DrBoost Reader
5/11/09 1:17 p.m.

I'd go with a Jeep CHerokee or Grand Cherokee, a Dakota, Astro or a P71. But when I was towing alot I decided to get a used Dodge with a Cummins. Now I can tow my house and get 23 mpg on the highway and the way I figure it, the engine has about half a million miles left on it.

BTW, the I-6 in the Jeeps are well known to survive past a quarter million miles and the auto trans in the Cherokee is un-freaking-breakable!!! I know a guy who wheels with an XJ, he has the 360 (fuel injected) with headers and a few bolt ones with the AW-4 auto still behind it. You just can't break them.

ClemSparks
ClemSparks SuperDork
5/11/09 1:42 p.m.
DrBoost wrote: ... and the auto trans in the Cherokee is un-freaking-breakable!!! ...the AW-4 auto still behind it. You just can't break them.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who reads these types of things and sees them as an opportunity/challenge ;)

Bobzilla
Bobzilla Reader
5/11/09 1:47 p.m.

Full Size chevy/GMC 4.3L 5-spd. Won't be super powerful, but will be a good DD, get 20+mpg daily and still pull your Celica. I've had 3 of these and they are always a good, dependable ride for several hundred thousand miles.

DrBoost
DrBoost Reader
5/11/09 1:50 p.m.

haha, I'm sure you could break it, somehow. Here's a quick little story. I had an 89 Xj with just over 220K on it at the time. I was 'wheeling with my wife, no other vehicles around. So I see a mud hole and get out to give it a look-see before I venture alone. I decided to turn around and head back. As I'm turning around I notice the trail where my jeep had been was red. I look under the jeep and the trans cooler line had been cut by a control arm (I replaced the rear-main seal the day before and forgot to put the line in it's proper place). Well, my first thought is shut it down and get a tow. But I know that once you get off-road it get REALLY expensive to get a tow, normallyl double the hood up fee the they charge by the 100 yards, not mile. Anyway I figure I'll just head back up the trail till I feel it slip then get a tow. Well, long story short I drive the 6 or 7 miles up and down hills and through mud holes, then an additional 2 miles on surface streets. When I get back to my wife's friends house I put almost 11 quarts of fluid in it!! It never slipped and I put another 65K on the Jeep before I sold it. I call that bullet-proof!

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