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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2017 Rav 4 Hybrid AWD. I have installed trailer lighting, a 3500 pound/ 350 pound tongue weight hitch, and rear air bags. I will be installing an electric brake controller.
So far, the heaviest thing I’ve towed was our 16 foot boat, which, along with the trailer and motor weighs about 2300 pounds. I towed this 125 miles at near 70 mph with no apparent ill effect. No heating, etc.
We are looking at buying a teardrop camper which when loaded will max out at no more than 2300 pounds.
I’ve read the different figures for US and Canadian cars.
Will someone who actually KNOWS the truth just tell me simply if this vehicle is capable of towing that trailer (estimated loaded tongue weight 200 pounds) without hosing something up?
I have 21,000 miles on the car now.
Thanks!
Bob
 

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I'm not an expert, but I tow more than the average guy...

I tow a boat and a travel trailer that are about the same weight, the boat is a lot easier to tow since it's not as high, and a lot more aerodynamic. when towing the travel trailer my transmission temps get a lot hotter (even with the external trans oil cooler) I would start by getting something (scangauge or app) to check the temps when pulling the boat, and determine if you need more cooling for a camper...
 
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I have a 2017 Rav 4 Hybrid AWD.
We are looking at buying a teardrop camper which when loaded will max out at no more than 2300 pounds.
Towing a camper even an aerodynamic one is totally different than a much lower boat. And, from personal experience, if there's a woman involved with the loading :winkyou'll go over the 2300 lbs quickly.
I’ve read the different figures for US and Canadian cars.
And if you check European ratings you may get even more encouragement but I doubt there's any difference in the actual chassis or drivetrain.

I've personally done a lot of by-the-book overloaded towing so I'd probably try this one, but with several cautions. Keep speed down! 60 mph max on the level. Keep trailer as light as possible. Keep the water & waste tanks empty while towing. Water is heavy. And as mentioned monitor transmission temps.
 

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Question for 3 folks above that don't seem to own a hybrid and mentioning transmissions. :confused:

You do realize that the Hybrid has a completely different transmission?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Good stuff so far, BUT.......

OK.
I’m not a total newbie on the RV or towing scene. We started out with an Aliner pop-up, and went 10 years with a 38 foot (Newmar) Diesel pusher motor home, so I am somewhat familiar with how to properly load an RV.
The driving force for my inquiry is twofold:
1.i REALLY don’t want to trade in an 8 month old Rav 4 and get another Tacoma. I’ve grown fond of the 35 mpg I’m getting and am not eager to have our primary vehicle drop back to the 20 mpg of our former 2011 Tacoma V6.
2. If this vehicle really IS capable of towing over 3600 pounds right out of the box, and mine will be upgraded with rear air bags and trailer brakes, WHY is mine only good for 1750 pounds?????
I am going to attempt to contact someone at Toyota US for an answer, but my hopes are not high on getting any good info there. If there IS an actual knowledgeable Toyota employee or service person monitoring this that can chime in with some hard facts to justify the US versus everywhere else towing specs, PLEASE DO!!!!
Bob
 

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2. If this vehicle really IS capable of towing over 3600 pounds right out of the box, and mine will be upgraded with rear air bags and trailer brakes, WHY is mine only good for 1750 pounds?????
Towing 3600+ pounds in a 3900 pound small footprint vehicle is very questionable to begin with.

But no, it's not capable of towing 3600 pounds since it's a unibody vehicle. The tow hitch is bolted to sheet metal. Simple as that.
 

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OK.
I’m not a total newbie on the RV or towing scene. We started out with an Aliner pop-up, and went 10 years with a 38 foot (Newmar) Diesel pusher motor home, so I am somewhat familiar with how to properly load an RV.
The driving force for my inquiry is twofold:
1.i REALLY don’t want to trade in an 8 month old Rav 4 and get another Tacoma. I’ve grown fond of the 35 mpg I’m getting and am not eager to have our primary vehicle drop back to the 20 mpg of our former 2011 Tacoma V6.
2. If this vehicle really IS capable of towing over 3600 pounds right out of the box, and mine will be upgraded with rear air bags and trailer brakes, WHY is mine only good for 1750 pounds?????
I am going to attempt to contact someone at Toyota US for an answer, but my hopes are not high on getting any good info there. If there IS an actual knowledgeable Toyota employee or service person monitoring this that can chime in with some hard facts to justify the US versus everywhere else towing specs, PLEASE DO!!!!
Bob
No one at Toyota USA/Canada will tell you that you can tow above 1750 lbs, in any circumstances. It's at your own risk and it could void your warranty. The question now is how will they prove that your car was pulling a trailer too heavy if you have mechanical problems under warranty ...

The RAV4's bodywork can certainly support a little bit more since the Adventure can pull 3500 lbs, but it has an additional radiator for the engine and for the transmission, and it does not have the temperature of the battery to handle.

In my opinion, pulling a trailer of 2300 lbs with your Hybrid is not too bad if no additional weight is added in the trailer or in the car. Also, I would avoid driving fast and I would avoid mountain roads and extremely hot days. But it's no scientific what I say, just precautions I would take.

Certainly I would not go on vacation on a long distance with a trailer of 2300 lbs with luggage and passengers.
 

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Towing 3600+ pounds in a 3900 pound small footprint vehicle is very questionable to begin with.

But no, it's not capable of towing 3600 pounds since it's a unibody vehicle. The tow hitch is bolted to sheet metal. Simple as that.
the rav4 adventure is the same unibody and is rated at 3500# towing, the highlander is rated at 5000# and is also a unibody, it only depends on what they are designed for...

the main question is about the CVT, how does it handle towing...
 
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Discussion Starter #12
Getting closer!

the rav4 adventure is the same unibody and is rated at 3500# towing, the highlander is rated at 5000# and is also a unibody, it only depends on what they are designed for...

the main question is about the CVT, how does it handle towing...
I installed the hitch myself (easy job). The “frame” member’s it’s hooked to looked pretty solid to me.
So, the “chassis” looks like it can handle it. The air bags can support the tongue weight.
The actual trailer we are looking at is the [email protected] 320 CS-S. The actual weight of the rig including a 20 pound LP tank and battery is 1851 pounds. I would only carry enough fresh water to service us enroute, probably 3 or 4 gallons at most, so there’s another 24-32 pounds. We would be careful about adding weight, so I’m sure we could actually be happy at 2100 pounds if not a little less.
As for the CVT, wasn’t there another thread where this was found to be a strength rather than a weakness?
I’m more familiar with the snowmobile torque converter type of CVT, but someone had mentioned that this one is somehow gear driven, so there is no belt involved. If someone is familiar with how that’s done, that might be interesting.
And one more thing to consider: this vehicle is propelled by the 2.5 liter gas engine as well as TWO electric motors, one of which drives the rear wheels independent of the transmission the other two power plants share.
To satisfy my curiosity, I selected the “ECO” app on the dash display and watched the rear motor switch on and off as the load varied. Cool!
Bob
 

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I installed the hitch myself (easy job). The “frame” member’s it’s hooked to looked pretty solid to me.
So, the “chassis” looks like it can handle it. The air bags can support the tongue weight.
The actual trailer we are looking at is the [email protected] 320 CS-S. The actual weight of the rig including a 20 pound LP tank and battery is 1851 pounds. I would only carry enough fresh water to service us enroute, probably 3 or 4 gallons at most, so there’s another 24-32 pounds. We would be careful about adding weight, so I’m sure we could actually be happy at 2100 pounds if not a little less.
As for the CVT, wasn’t there another thread where this was found to be a strength rather than a weakness?
I’m more familiar with the snowmobile torque converter type of CVT, but someone had mentioned that this one is somehow gear driven, so there is no belt involved. If someone is familiar with how that’s done, that might be interesting.
And one more thing to consider: this vehicle is propelled by the 2.5 liter gas engine as well as TWO electric motors, one of which drives the rear wheels independent of the transmission the other two power plants share.
To satisfy my curiosity, I selected the “ECO” app on the dash display and watched the rear motor switch on and off as the load varied. Cool!
Bob
the electric motors are not made to work that much when you are driving down the highway, it's more when accelerating, or at lower speeds, but the full torque of them will really help when leaving a stop/light. for the rest (CVT, gears, belts...) I have no knowledge on those...

that little travel trailer looks really cool, and most importantly, aerodynamic! I would not be too worried pulling that... but I would not expect the same durability out of the car either...
 

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Question for 3 folks above that don't seem to own a hybrid and mentioning transmissions. :confused:

You do realize that the Hybrid has a completely different transmission?
Well aware of it. That makes it even more fragile than an automatic transmission in my view.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
I just looked through a very convoluted explanation of how the CVT-ish tranny works. They said it was an adaptation of the system used in the Lexus line for this car.
There was no mention of it being delicate.
I also found a UK review of the Hybrid. They said that if you wanted to tow something larger, you need to get the four wheel drive (AWD, actually) version for the extra 68 hp that the second electric motor gives the rear wheels.
Without it, the car is limited to 800 kg (1760 pounds). With AWD, the limit goes up to 1650 kg (3630 pounds) with a braked trailer.
So far, this is the ONLY factual information I have found for two different towing capacities.
I’m beginning to feel a bit more comfortable with the idea of towing an aerodynamic sub-2100 pound trailer.
Bob
 

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I’m beginning to feel a bit more comfortable with the idea of towing an aerodynamic sub-2100 pound trailer.
Bob
And with your research and previous and current towing experience, so am I.
 

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Following the special operating conditions(severe service) maintenance schedule you should be fine as far as the eCVT transaxle, there are several Prius tow articles on the net, some with upwards of 200,000 miles of towing loads up to 1600lbs, changing the transaxle fluid regularly keeps the MGs working fine, too many metal particulates in the fluid can short the motors out apparently.










 

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I also found a UK review of the Hybrid. They said that if you wanted to tow something larger, you need to get the four wheel drive (AWD, actually) version for the extra 68 hp that the second electric motor gives the rear wheels.
Without it, the car is limited to 800 kg (1760 pounds). With AWD, the limit goes up to 1650 kg (3630 pounds) with a braked trailer.
Aren't all versions of the Hybrid made in Canada and sold in the USA all wheel drive? If that is correct then Toyota still limits that drive train to 1750. Frankly I doubt you'll have a problem providing you ACTUALLY WEIGH what you are towing when loaded and don't use guess work.

My concern is using a grocery getter designed for mileage and not much else being assigned to towing an over sized load. Life expectancy may be short, very short
It's not a risk I would take considering the price of the tow vehicle.

Just because you've owned a giant diesel pusher does not make you any kind of an expert on towing an oversized load with an undersized Hybrid vehicle. That's all I have to say here, I'm out. Your risk, your reward.....or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
I’ve also owned two Prius cars, a 2005 standard, and a 2013 Prius V, and towed with both of them.
However, I make NO claim to expertise in this area.
Bob
 

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The biggest constraints on towing (up to a certain point) with vehicles like ours tend to not be thermal limitations, not structural ones. The chassis of the Hybrid is more or less the same as the Adventure model (rated to 3500 lbs of towing), so from that perspective there's probably not a lot of reason you can't technically tow that amount.

The cooling system is pretty robust on the Hybrid, but it's worth keeping in mind that powerful electric motors - and possibly more importantly their associated electronics like the Inverter - generate quite a bit of heat. Overheating your ICE is tough to do these days. Overheating electrical systems is far easier even though the important components are tied to the cooling systems of their own. Another issue is that MGR (the rear motor) is entirely air cooled and is definitely NOT designed for continuous output - even Toyota will tell you as much. MG1 and MG2 are better cooled because they're pretty much in continuous use, but they would definitely be more strained (and thus producing more heat) when towing heavy loads especially at lower speeds. On the freeway it probably matters less because you have a lot more air flow and the ICE is contributing most of the power. I would be very hesitant to overload the Hybrid drivetrain. Certainly not cheap to repair / replace...

The other issue (depending on where you are) is that you can create a lot of legal liability for yourself by towing beyond your rated capacity. Getting sued may be a far larger problem than overheating your drivetrain. Certainly here in California people have successfully sued and won against vehicle operators that have exceeded the manufacturer's stated capacity and there may even be some criminal liability. Just something to be aware of...
 
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