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post #1 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 07:49 AM Thread Starter
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Towing capacity

Hey guys,
New to the site and Toyota's. I have a ford F-150 but the old lady has a 2011 RAV4 base model I4. She currently does not have a towing hitch installed. We never needed one until recently we were gifted a 2010 viking pop-up trailer. So now we have an issue. I typically pulled our boat which is nearly 5k lbs and we just tented. But i was wondering if her car could pull the pop-up so we can bring the boat and camper. The pop-up specs are listed as follows. Tongue weight is 287 lbs. Dry weight is 2696lbs and Gross is 3500lbs. I have done some research and some places i look people say yeah its fine just tow it others say the Toyota just cant handle it. Braking is not an issue because it has electric breaks that i would have hooked up if i were to install a tow package. I am very familiar with towing trailers. I have experience operating heavy machinery so its not my skill im too worried about as much as it is the capabilities of the RAV4 to pull this. Any input would be great.
It has just been killing me to beleive that her car wont pull it when i see cars such as chevy impala's pulling pop-ups of similar size but idk ill leave it up to you RAV4 experts. Once again thanks for any advice/input you may have.
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post #2 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 08:59 AM
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According to the owner's manual, the maximum for towing with the four cylinder is 1500 pounds (V6 is 3500). That may be the limit the lawyers told them to use. I suppose there are many factors which would determine whether or not you'd want to go beyond that and it's ultimately up to you. I have a four cylinder that I'm planning to tow with and I'm going to stay within Toyota's recommendations.
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post #3 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 09:56 AM
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My boat is about 2k and I live in a hilly area, my old 08 6cyl ran away with this boat no sweat now I have a 2012 I4, yikes I am going to try it. I would say on level roads I may be ok, getting out of a steep ramp could strain the drivetrain. IMHO 3k is way too much for the I4 set up.
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post #4 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 09:58 AM
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Can vs should are two different things. I'm sure it'll tow your camper, but whether you should is the bigger decision... For me, I wouldn't risk it (too many bad things can happen from messing up your nice Rav mechanically to being involved in an accident and potential subsequent lawsuits for being overloaded.)
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post #5 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 10:10 AM
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That is almost twice the towing capacity and tongue weight for I4 RAV models in North America. You need a bigger stronger vehicle.

2008 Base V-6
2008 Limited V-6
Tow Prep Package & front wheel drive (both)
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post #6 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 10:17 AM
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I would not risk it. Flat surface for 2 km, may be.
Hills, more than 5 km, ... definite no.

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post #7 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 10:24 AM
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I'd say "yes if."
The ifs are:

If you're familiar with towing. With the boat & F-150 you are.

If you understand the safety issue. The fact you know about the brake controller means you understand the main safety issue, stopping.
(IMO, the V6 which raises the "rating" from 1500 to 3500 lbs doesn't change the stopping power. Therefore the I4 with the same trailer brake setup could stop 3500 lbs.) Neither does the V6 have any stronger frame which would make the tongue weight of the I4 any lower.

If you don't beat up the I4 drivetrain by expecting it to pull steep hills or high speeds. Your heavy equipment experience MAY mean you have a feel for not overtaxing things mechanical. As you know there are guys who can break ANYTHING. In the Navy we used to say, "That guy could break an anvil in a padded room!"

If you keep the camper weight to a minimum. Carry the load in the pickup. Transfer the gear to the camper on site.

And last, if YOU drive the RAV4.

2006 RAV4 V6 4WD Red Limited - wife's
2006 Accord V6 Hybrid - Dr. Dyno's - quick as the RAV but +8 mpg
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post #8 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 01:50 PM
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I agree with the comments about the brakes and the vehicle's frame. I don't believe they're different between the I4 and the V6 (whether or not the V6 has the tow prep package).

BTW, here are the max towing capacities (from memory):

I4 - 1500 lbs
V6 - 2000 lbs
V6 w/ tow prep package - 3500 lbs

I believe max tongue weight is usually specified as 10% of the max towing capacity.

I don't think the rear suspension is different either (anyone?) so one would think any RAV4 could handle 350 lbs tongue weight, HOWEVER, a fair amount of tongue weight you can get away with may depend on which hitch you have installed.

The OEM hitch from Toyota is much beefier than most (all?) aftermarket hitches. Aftermarket hitches bolt on with either 4 or maybe 6 bolts, the OEM hitch attaches with upwards of 20 bolts.

If you were talking about towing something weighing maybe 1800 lbs, possibly even 2000 lbs, there's a decent chance you could get away with it, particularly given your experience levels.

But you're talking a minimum of 1200 lbs above the 1500 lbs max towing capacity rating, and to me that seems like just asking for trouble, mostly from the perspective of damaging the transmission and possibly the engine of your RAV4.

Sorry to say, if it were me I wouldn't even try it.


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post #9 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 04:08 PM
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Just two-cents worth from a conservative olde pharte who towed car trailers with electric brakes using a modified GMC Suburban. Length of the tow vehicle means a lot. Longer is better. The RAV4 isn't much more than a tall sedan. I would not exceed its recommended towing limits. And the I4 is not, IMHO, up to the job you mentioned anyway.
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post #10 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 06:53 PM
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DVS, I don't agree with the 4/6 and 20+ bolt hitch comparison since the "extra" bolts are pretty puny little ones, but I think you've hit on the weakest part - the transmission. I doubt you could hurt the engine but the transmission might not take much abuse. But it could be driven to minimize stress by letting it shift at low throttle and locking out OD before using full throttle. But then with 100 HP less engine in front of it than the V6 it could survive quite well. And he's towing a nice low tent camper not a fully upright trailer with all its wind loading.
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