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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-01-2018, 05:25 PM Thread Starter
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Towing with the Rav4 Adventure?

We are interested in the Rav4 AWD Adventure as a camping trailer tow vehicle.
Would have one already if it came with a V6 option. But seriously uncertain about whether the 176 hp and 172 torque are up to the job. I've read all the Toyota marketing material, talked to the local dealership, searched reviews, but there just isn't much info on towing/engine performance out there, other than mentioning the components in the tow prep trim and larger towing capacity number. Hoping to tap into collective experience out here!

On the daily, the Rav4 Adventure would primarily be a commuter/family car for us.
The Adventure Rav4's gas mileage is a deciding factor (better mpg on the daily commute vs. a Highlander, or Hyundai Santa Fe/Kia Sorento)

Here is my big question for this forum: Can the Adventure back up the claims regarding towing capacity (can we reasonably expect this vehicle to pull our camper in the summers), or is the tow prep more PR marketing and show?
** I ask because many Adventure "upgrades" seem to be more about eye candy than performance. For example, the marketing material reads like the Rav4Adventure is off-road ready, but it looks to be more dirt road, or puddles in the Pottery Barn parking lot ready. I don't know how to sort out similar info related to towing capacity.**

Here are our details:
  • Plan to use it as a tow vehicle to pull an 1800# Safari Condo Alto camping trailer (dry), expect it to weigh 2500# loaded.
  • Trailer will have brakes, WD bars and a remote anti-sway braking switch. Not worried about Rav4 brakes too much.
  • Noted upgraded radiator and engine oil/transmission coolers, but wonder if that is really enough to support increased towing capacity?
  • I don't get how they can go from 1500 standard towing capacity to 3500 with these couple add-ons, and without beefing up the actual engine. What is it that makes the Adventure able to pull so much more?

Additional points/questions about pulling the camper trailer:
  • We live in MN, so not a lot of terrain here, but we will get up to the North Shore w/some slight elevation climbs.
  • Would the Rav4 Adventure be able to pull us through the SD Badlands or Black Hills in the summer (high temps and some altitude gain) or get us across ranges in Montana or the Sierra Nevada in CA? We won't be there often, but expect a few trips pulling the trailer each summer we have the car.

I don't care about being the slowest kid up a mountain pass, but I do care about stressing / burning the engine up before its time - especially if we are buying a vehicle new and make the choice based on towing capacity.
Also wondering if the littler engine will require more fuel, defeating our hopes for better trailering mpg?

So is this the vehicle for our purposes, or should we bite the mpg bullet and get the bigger (but more able to pull) Highlander, Santa Fe or Sorento? (we are soon to be empty nesters, so getting a vehicle w a 3rd row seat seems gross, but if that is what we need to pull this trailer, we would. ultimately would prefer the Rav4 Adventure if its truly up to the job.)

Thanks for any insight, experience and wisdom you guys can offer!

p.s. I should note we are a Toyota/Honda family - current vehicles are 2011 Rav4 and 2008 Prius, previous vehicles were 99 Honda CR-V and 99 Honda Civic, and my first car ever was a 1980 Toyota Corolla that I drove for over 300,000 miles before selling to a guy who put another 80k on it :-) My only non-Toyota/Honda cars have been regrets :-)
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-01-2018, 05:56 PM
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Been asked before, not many Adventures available yet, most dealers don't even have them on their lots so far, and no one has reported towing with one.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-01-2018, 06:51 PM
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I would go for the Highlander or one of the others you mentioned. I also have a problem with a few add ons increasing towing weight by 2000 lbs with the same puny engine.

Being an empty nester you may want to upgrade the camper in the near future. I'd say something capable of pulling 5,000 lbs without strain would make more sense. Maybe abandon the whole ute idea and look at 4 door pickup trucks.

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-01-2018, 09:14 PM
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I would be concerned about towing your camping trailer in the Sierra Nevada with the engine in the Adventure. Suggest going with one of your other considerations - Highlander, Sorento, or Santa Fe, or a Tacoma or Chev Colorado with a V6 engine upgrade.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 08:50 AM
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I tow with a 2014 Rav4 AWD, a 1994 Lund Rebel 14ft with 25hp 2017 Suzuki, with gear it is about 900-1000lbs and I consider my load maxed out. I installed a transmission cooler ( which I disconnected in late November because of Minnesota temps in winter) and got rid of the horrid Toyota WS transmission fluid and put in full synthetic Redline D6. The Rav has 26,000 miles on it. so it is in it's prime.

When towing, I only run it in manual mode and do not go higher then using 5th gear on flat roads. When towing and starting out from Minneapolis I can use 5th gear if I can go 70 mph, less the 65mph I have to go into 4th. Once I get past St Could that slight elevation increase makes me 90% of the time because of summer heat go into strictly 4th gear only and back speeds back to 65 mph max. Fall and ambient temps in the 60s I can keep it in 5th till just before Brainard. I run premium gas when towing. You will never be happy with this setup out West. Get the Highlander. PERIOD. I think I am completely maxed out where I am at. Engine and trans are being strained here. A safe maxed out, but maxed out never the less.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-05-2018, 10:20 PM
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I concur with the previous posts and I would strongly suggest purchasing a different vehicle with higher tow capabilities. I don’t see the existing 2.5 litre engine being powerful enough to tow what you want to tow. I have towed my 500 lb utility trailer with approximately 500 lbs of cargo and the RAV4 engine struggled going over British Columbia mountain passes. I don’t see it working well with another 500 lbs of weight. If one was towing on flat land, then perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad. I use to tow the same utility trailer with my Toyota Sienna (3.0 litre V6 - 3500 lb towing capacity) and it was a night and day difference.

I also need a vehicle with a higher tow capacity and I am holding out for the next generation RAV4 with hopes that it will be more like the third generation RAV4. Looking back, I should have purchased the Highlander but I was looking at fuel economy not towing.

If you purchase the Adventure and tow 3500 lbs, you will be that person holding everyone up on those long hill climbs where there is no pull out or passing lane. Hope these posts assist you in your decision. Good luck and let us know which vehicle you choose. Cheers..

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-06-2018, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Slash65 View Post
I also need a vehicle with a higher tow capacity and I am holding out for the next generation RAV4 with hopes that it will be more like the third generation RAV4.
Fat chance. I can't imagine the RAV4 will ever again have GOOD power for towing from the factory unless some all new power train comes along. DiLithium crystals, for example. The vast majority of customers in this segment want good cargo capacity but are laser-focused on MPG, MPG, MPG (for proof, look no further than the endless posts on R4W 4.4 sections about MPG) and that is flat-out incompatible with towing. Toyota knows MPG is what RAV4 customers are focused on, which I'm pretty sure is one of the main reasons why they castrated the RAV4 in 2013.

My guess is there will be a smaller turbo 4-cylinder in the next generation, but it will only come with a CVT, so there goes your towing. Well, it's not really a guess, as Toyota will almost certainly just clone the Honda CR-V (again), which maxes out at 1500 lbs towing capacity.

Originally Posted by Slash65 View Post
Looking back, I should have purchased the Highlander but I was looking at fuel economy not towing.
That is the trap, isn't it? If someone wants really good MPG for their daily driving and they sometimes need to tow a significant load, there is only one good and appropriate solution:

Two vehicles.

One for each opposite end of the spectrum. But I gather most customers find that unacceptable, e.g. "too expensive." So...they can afford the boat, but not an appropriate tow vehicle? Really? Can they really afford the boat after all, then? Sheesh!

Toyota ISN'T HELPING with the Adventure. Just because it CAN tow 3500 lbs without overheating doesn't mean its power train SHOULD (try to) pull 3500 lbs on real American roads under real American driving and traffic conditions.

Ultimately the Adventure is really, functionally just an appearance package, but the way it's marketed I think it's doing more harm than good. Lipstick on a pig, so to speak.


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-06-2018, 12:07 PM
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The Highlander or even RAV4 V6 (Gen3) would be better for towing if you want something reliable. The Highlander can tow 5000 lbs and would be more comfortable on very long road trips since their suspension is much smoother. The Adventure engine is under powered and you will feel it going up hills especially with a 2500 lb trailer loaded.

A Highlander would be my recommendation for towing on long trips. Make sure it has the towing package.

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-19-2018, 10:30 PM
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I had a 252hp? 2008 Odyssey with tow package and towed a 2000lb 2002 Viking Legend pop up wea few times locally and sure felt it behind me. I sure as hell wouldn’t try that with my new Rav if it had the adventure towing package.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-20-2018, 01:45 AM
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I've had a good bit of experience with towing and have a couple things for folks to think about. First, I would never consider towing anything with a front drive vehicle. The tow almost inevitable takes weight off the front wheels. Even a weight distributing hitch can't overcome that tendency. Second, any vehicle with unibody construction presents challenges when mounting a hitch receiver. Go for a vehicle that lets you attach the receiver to the frame. Third, you are going to be a much happier traveler if you don't have to be thinking all the time about whether you are putting a strain on your vehicle, your transmission, your brakes, whatever. Fourth, you're not going to get "good" gas mileage whatever you do, but the relative costs between 10 mpg and 14 mpg are so small that it's just not worth having too wimpy a vehicle for the job you want it to do. Do the arithmetic for a trip you would like to do. You'll be surprised. Fifth, get a vehicle that you would be able to use for the next trailer you might want to have. Believe me, you are someday going to want something just a little bigger than the one you like so much now. Good luck, and Happy Trails!

Last edited by tom senior; 01-20-2018 at 01:48 AM. Reason: Spelling errors
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