What are the best vehicles for towing something?

Thinking about towing something? Well, you’re going to have to know how heavy the object you want to tow is — and then see what additional weight you might have to factor in.

Towing a Boat?

There are lots of vehicles on the road that can tow a boat. You just need to know how much the boat weighs. Something else important to consider — and some folks do overlook this — is how much does the trailer weigh? You have to add those two together and you have the weight of what is being towed.

So, let’s say a 19-foot boat weighs 1,500 pounds with an engine that weighs 400 to 500 pounds. The trailer might weigh another 500 pounds. That should mean you need a vehicle that can tow 2,500 pounds, correct? Nope, you want something that can tow at least 3,500 pounds once you figure in fuel, supplies, ice, etc.

You never really want to tax your engine to the full weight capacity if you can help it. Plus, you’re vehicle is going to be struggling if it’s you and three of your buddies along for the ride.

A couple vehicles to consider would be the 2016 Chevrolet Traverse, which is rated at 5,000 pounds of towing capacity, and the 2016 Ford Flex, which has a rating of 4,500 pounds. The latter is a personal favorite of mine for its, well, flexibility and driving characteristics. It’s really an oversized station wagon.

Matt McCombs, new vehicle inventory manager at Las Vegas-based Fairway Buick GMC, said the 2016 Chevrolet Traverse has an advantage over a truck when it comes to towing.

“It’s a good option because a lot of people think you need a truck when towing, but you don’t always,” he said. “It’s holds between seven to eight passengers whereas a truck only holds four to five so you can carry a lot more passengers and still tow 5,000 pounds. It’s a great option for larger families.”

Towing a Horse Trailer?

OK, this one is outside my area of expertise. I turned to the University of Maryland’s Extension Service. It has some real practical advice.

As they point out, “A vehicle must be able to pull the trailer but, more importantly, it must be able to safely stop the trailer as well.” Remember that some vehicles can pull their weight but they can’t stop all that well.

Consider the 2016 Nissan Titan XD that hits dealerships soon. Its long list of technologies include an integrated trailer brake controller, trailer sway control, tow/haul mode with downhill speed control and a trailer light check system that allows one-person hook-up operation — including checking turn signals, brake lights and running/clearance lights. Assisting trailer hook-ups is a rear view monitor with trailer guides.

As the University of Maryland points out, it is also important to consider a vehicle’s gross combination weight rating. This is going to tell you the “maximum that the entire rig can weigh as hauled by that particular vehicle. This value includes the weight of the vehicle itself, the trailer itself, and all cargo in the vehicle and trailer.” That includes humans and horses.

Towing a Camper?

Obviously there is no one-size-fits-all camper. As with the boat and the horse trailer, you’re going to need to know the weight of the camper, as well as figure in all the extras that go with it, like water, supplies, and various sundries.

Factor in at least 2,000 pounds more than the camper’s weight. Fortunately modern pickup trucks do have trailer braking like the Nissan Titan XD mentioned above. The Ford F-250 is going to be more than up to the task and probably its little sibling the F-150 as well, depending on your needs.

Talk to friends who tow. See what their experience has been. Real world, practical experiences are going to serve you well, too.

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