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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've got 2-3 weeks to find a new car. I occasionally pull a boat/trailer that I calculated at about 2000# (including all the fluids/gear/junk/etc) It tows very well behind my 4 cylinder Outback and stops just fine too, even without trailer brakes. Which makes me think maybe I've rounded up a bit much on the weight.

Anyhow I had it in my head a little truck would be fun so I drove a Tacoma. Only to find out the adaptive cruise control cuts out below a certain MPH. Which is completely dumb - I use it daily on my commute 45mph-0-back to 45mph following a line of cars behind a school bus on a busy country road. Salesman said the Rav4 and highlander have the better cruise control so I drove a Rav4 Hybrid and loved it. Especially the sticker price - cheaper than another Outback! And 40mpg on the test drive was impressive. Salesman told me it'll tow 2500# I was ready to locate one in the color I want. While he's running some numbers I decide to check his facts on my phone. Nope. Only tows 1750#.

European-spec ones tow the equivalent of 3600# with seemingly no difference than European sensibility and restricted towing speeds. And less lawyers.

Does anyone real-world tow over the 1750# limit? How does it do? Feel free to PM me if you're afraid of armchair litigation. The Subaru forum was full of those folks - maybe it's not like that here?

The Prime version is supposed to tow 2500# but the few I've found out of state haven't arrived yet and will be selling for more than MSRP when they do. Otherwise I'd just get one of them and be done.
May even go used if an older one will work for my needs.
Thank you for your observations.

Edit: I'm going to borrow some automotive scales and weigh my boat and trailer as soon as I'm out of quarantine. If I'm under 1750 I'll go for it. But using MFR numbers for the hull and motor, and title info for the trailer, plus anchors, batteries, gas, etc. I'm probably a bit over. At least the boat is pointy and aerodynamic. Tongue weight is light enough I lift it by hand, and I'm no weightlifter. The scale will tell all, but it's maybe 70#.
I've heard stories of early Highlander Hybrids getting stuck on steep boat ramps, pulling boats that were within their limits. If that happens with the Rav4, that's no good for me. I'm often the only person at the ramp.
 

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The exact weight will tell the story. Isn't the hybrid all wheel drive? If so that should alleviate launch ramp fears.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The exact weight will tell the story. Isn't the hybrid all wheel drive? If so that should alleviate launch ramp fears.
The story of the Highlander getting stuck wasn't a traction issue. It was a "not enough oomph" issue.
 

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The story of the Highlander getting stuck wasn't a traction issue. It was a "not enough oomph" issue.
That's entirely possible with a four cylinder engine but it would likely have to be at max load or more. Was this a article from an auto journalist or here say from your "advisors"?

If your weight estimate is correct I still can't foresee a problem at the boat ramp unless the angle is like this........ /
 

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I saw that! That's a Prime, isn't it? And he didn't do a pull out from a dead stop on a steep hill, which is what a boat ramp retrieve is. His off-road video was impressive too!
No, it's an XLE Hybrid, he doesn't have a long term Prime.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Even worse - it was on a forum! Probably the previous model Highlander too. It was a while ago. Just don’t want to spend $34k on a car that leaves me stuck on the boat ramp at 2AM.
 

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European-spec ones tow the equivalent of 3600# with seemingly no difference than European sensibility and restricted towing speeds. And less lawyers.
In Europe they allow 5% tongue weight versus 10% in US. Since the true limit is the maximum axle capacity, that makes the difference in total towing capacity.
Why is that higher in US? Because less tongue weight makes vehicle unstable at high speeds.
That's why in EU they limit the speed of trailers. In US, same limited speed would make you drive too slow on highways, impeding the traffic. Plus those EU caravans don't climb up in the Rocky Mountains.
So if you will drive the car with the trailer/boat in US you need to obey those numbers.

A load distributing hitch is a way to keep the trailer weigh partition with 10% tongue weight, but sending back some of that (5%) on the trailer's wheels. Keeps the inertial stability like with 10% TG, while loading the rear axle only 5%.

The exact weight will tell the story. Isn't the hybrid all wheel drive? If so that should alleviate launch ramp fears.
Until the electrical motor in the rear get splashed with or even submerged in water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
In Europe they allow 5% tongue weight versus 10% in US. Since the true limit is the maximum axle capacity, that makes the difference in total towing capacity.
Why is that higher in US? Because less tongue weight makes vehicle unstable at high speeds.
That's why in EU they limit the speed of trailers. In US, same limited speed would make you drive too slow on highways, impeding the traffic.
So if you will drive the ca with the trailer/boat in US you need to obey those numbers.

A load distributing hitch is a way to keep the trailer weigh partition with 10% tongue weight, but sending back some of that (5%) on the trailer's wheels. Keeps the inertial stability like with 10% TG, while loading the rear axle only 5%.
I've never seen a boat trailer with a weight distributing hitch. On boat trailers, the rear axle is really far back just because of boats being really tail-heavy. Moving that fulcrum rearward adds significantly to stability. Lets one get away with lower tongue weight and still have ample stability. My tongue weight is 5% or even less. And I've never had a stability issue, even at Beltway madhouse speeds. I'm well versed in the physics of it. Just trying to get information on this car I'm thinking of buying. But you've got me thinking. If I can lift the tongue by hand, I can weigh it with the bathroom scale.
 

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Just make sure you set the parking brake when on a ramp!!


Here's the nuts and bolts of US vs Euro and other country tow laws.


I wouldn't worry too much about normal boat launching as far as immersing the rear axle, normally you wouldn't need to back in any further than just getting the tires wet, I never have in over 50 years of boat launching.

 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Just make sure you set the parking brake when on a ramp!!


Here's the nuts and bolts of US vs Euro and other country tow laws.


I wouldn't worry too much about normal boat launching as far as immersing the rear axle, normally you wouldn't need to back in any further than just getting the tires wet, I never have in over 50 years of boat launching.

I always set the parking brake on the ramp. Once I accidentally left it in reverse and the parking brake held it! Although it would have been a blessing if that GMC Sonoma had gone into the drink. When I'm taking the kids boating they are all out of the car before launch too. For anyone else reading this - do the same. If you struggle getting them out of car seats in your driveway, imagine it under water. Not good.

I see you have a new Venza. The one thing I was thinking on the test drive was how absurdly hard the interior was trying to look like a Star Wars prop. I was wondering if there was a Lexus version that might have a more adult interior. Then I saw the Venza sitting there for about the same price. Much more grown-up looking. But not even a mention of towing, in fact the website calls the tow hitch an "activity hitch" or something. Implying it's for bike racks, not trailers. Have you heard anything to the contrary? It's supposedly the same guts underneath, maybe different programming?
 

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I see you have a new Venza. The one thing I was thinking on the test drive was how absurdly hard the interior was trying to look like a Star Wars prop. I was wondering if there was a Lexus version that might have a more adult interior. Then I saw the Venza sitting there for about the same price. Much more grown-up looking. But not even a mention of towing, in fact the website calls the tow hitch an "activity hitch" or something. Implying it's for bike racks, not trailers. Have you heard anything to the contrary? It's supposedly the same guts underneath, maybe different programming?
I think the no tow rating on the Venza HV is a marketing ploy to sell Rav4s, the subframe on the Venza appears identical to the Rav4, I suspect aftermaket Rav4 hitches would bolt right on, but I think the drop of those hitches wouldn't fit right at the bumper valance. I bought the "activity mount" which is just an 1¼" receiver hitch, it has the same sandwich style subframe brackets as the OEM Rav4 hitch and the receiver cross bar is bolted to them just like the OEM hitch. As soon as Etrailer or someone makes a tow harness for the Venza HV I'll be towing my small utility trailers with it, I'll need to add a safety chain anchor point tho. The Prius and Prius Prime are not rated for towing either, but hitches and harnesses are available for both, I expect them to be available for the Venza HV as well.
 

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Just to add too...
If you really towing 2k. Get the OEM hitch. It has more mount points than aftermarket and it sits higher so not interfere with clearance.
 

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I have towed my Sea Doo GTI ski which is about 800 lbs dry, that doesn't include the trailer weight. I am not sure what the tongue weight is that is being applied to the hitch, but it towed fine and the front end did come up a bit. I personally wouldn't try to tow anything more than 1k unless it has brakes and is weight distributed very well on the trailer axle.

My experience in towing is that if the car company states you can two 5k, then I wouldn't go above 4k, but that is just my personal opinion. Going beyond what they rate the car at your just asking for trouble.

One may also want to consider if you get into an accident while towing something over the specs of what the car can handle, your insurance may not honor covering your claims. Definitely a risk to consider.
 

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I really can't see you having an issue with the Rav4 pulling a boat up a ramp. I can see a major issue if you run the back wheels off the ramp. Usually there is a drop off that will give just about anyone a problem except if you have a truck with 4 wheel low setting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I really can't see you having an issue with the Rav4 pulling a boat up a ramp. I can see a major issue if you run the back wheels off the ramp. Usually there is a drop off that will give just about anyone a problem except if you have a truck with 4 wheel low setting.
I haven’t had that happen yet. I had a sailboat that had to go very far down the ramp to float off the trailer and I worried about that - as I was towing it with a Mercedes wagon. (Which wasn’t rated to tow anything in the US)
 

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Part of the reason I went with a Rav4 hybrid was it's towing capacity. I have a boat that is right at the towing limit of 1750lbs. Currently tow it with a 2wd 4cyl. Tacoma but been having trouble getting it up the local ramp. Not power related but loss of traction on the ramp especially at low tide. When I test drove the Rav4 I purposely stopped on a steep hill to gauge the pulling power from standing still. Applied the throttle and noticed ample torque distributed to both front and rear wheels so recovering a boat up a ramp will be no problem. Plan on installing an aftermarket class II (3500lb load,350 tongue) as I prefer the compact 1 1/4" receiver. All hitches for this vehicle utilize the same four factory mounting points so a class III hitch would be a bit of overkill and the smaller receiver looks tidier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Part of the reason I went with a Rav4 hybrid was it's towing capacity. I have a boat that is right at the towing limit of 1750lbs. Currently tow it with a 2wd 4cyl. Tacoma but been having trouble getting it up the local ramp. Not power related but loss of traction on the ramp especially at low tide. When I test drove the Rav4 I purposely stopped on a steep hill to gauge the pulling power from standing still. Applied the throttle and noticed ample torque distributed to both front and rear wheels so recovering a boat up a ramp will be no problem. Plan on installing an aftermarket class II (3500lb load,350 tongue) as I prefer the compact 1 1/4" receiver. All hitches for this vehicle utilize the same four factory mounting points so a class III hitch would be a bit of overkill and the smaller receiver looks tidier.
Thank you! I know exactly where I can go to do that same test on another test drive! It’s a bit far away so I’ll do it with whatever car I’m going to buy. A good shakedown cruise to find any rattles.
 
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