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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 2016 RAV4 XLE AWD.

I'm looking to tow a boat about 100 feet out of the lake and into the driveway once a year and launch it in the spring. I just sold my tow vehicle as I just don't tow it further than my driveway which is right on the boat launch. I suspect I may get up to about 6 mph and I have a nice concrete launch. I have a Draw-Tite Max-Frame Trailer Hitch Receiver - Class III - 2 rated up to 4600 lbs.

I'm pulling a 2006 Mastercraft X9, the boat weighs 2850 lbs dry, plus single axle trailer so I suspect the entire rig is 3800-4000 lbs.

I am well aware of the tow rating on the RAV4, 1500lbs. I'm also curious about the tow ratings of the UK version of the RAV4 which I've seen as high as 4400 lbs. Is the US version lower b/c of government regulations or is there a difference in the transmission and suspension in the UK version?

I have no intentions of ever pulling it on the open road with my RAV4, thoughts?
 

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My concern would be pulling everything out of the water...how steep is the boat ramp?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply. It's not that steep, concrete all the way in the water. My previous vehicle was a 2015 Toyota Highlander and I barely touched the gas to pull it out, never spun tires, etc.

Here's a picture of the ramp with my highlander, it was a great vehicle but I got it for towing the boat and I didn't tow past my driveway and my wife wanted her Sienna back.

 

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You could try it, but have another larger vehicle there ready to pull the rav4 out in case it can't...let's see what some of the other more knowledge members have to say too
 

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You might send a PM to member RTexasF and ask his opinion. Has lots of experience with boats, towing vehicles, launching and retrieving, etc.
 

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Might have traction issues. I would have a backup vehicle attacked to your tow loop. Just for the first try. Also try it with the ramp wet and dry. Front wheel drive with "awd" isn't the same as real awd or 4wd. I pull a boat all over the place. Mostly with my explorer but we added a hitch to my RAV4.
 

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While the question of towing capacity (trailer weight) is a good one, I would be particularly concerned that the boat is so heavy it would push the back of the RAV4 down into the water too far, or that you'd have to back so far into the water that too much of the undercarriage would get lake water in it. For just one example, I can't imagine how long or well the engine would run with the exhaust pipe fully submerged.

The RAV just wasn't built for that, and doesn't have the ground clearance (6.1 inches) even the Highlander (8+ inches) did. But the Highlander, which is rated to tow 5000 lbs (V6 non-hybrid version), had significantly beefier brakes - important on a ramp - and a significantly beefier suspension.

Ask yourself this question: Would you try it with a 4-cylinder Camry?

Because the 4.4 RAV4 is effectively and functionally just a tall 4-cylinder Camry with an AWD system optionally available. That's it. It literally has the same ground clearance as a Camry, with slightly higher towing capacity than the Camry.

If you do try it (I wouldn't), please be sure to let us know how it goes.

Who knows? You may get lucky, and there may not even be any adverse affects that show up in the future.

.
 

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how much tongue weight? unless TW is in the 350+ range I don't think you will have a problem.
 

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I agree with Octane. I can't imagine your TW is over 200# so unless you back too far into the water (which you have the experience not to do) I doubt you'll have any problems launching or retrieving the boat on the ramp pictured.
The speed is so slow and the forces so light that probably a garden tractor could do it. Towing down the highway would be another matter indeed.
 

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It's like the double of the capacity...I wouldn't do it, kind of looking after troubles.

Envoyé de mon SGH-I337M en utilisant Tapatalk
 

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My major concern would be traction.

You aren't driving down the highway or anything, just pulling a boat and trailer a little bit.
 

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I think it will work fine, hit the AWD lock switch and traction shouldn't be an issue, just be sure to turn it off before making any turns on a hard surface.
 

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Rav4 isn't a real awd or 4wd. You don't have to turn the "awd" back off. In my explorer if don't turn it off you get bad tire scrub and it's horrible. When I did it in my rav out of curiosity it didn't do anything funky. The system even turns itself off at 30mph.
 

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I'm pulling a 2006 Mastercraft X9, the boat weighs 2850 lbs dry, plus single axle trailer so I suspect the entire rig is 3800-4000 lbs.
I'd say you are way short of the actual weight with fuel, batteries, tower, & gear aboard. 5,000 lbs is closer to the actual weight. Tongue weight will be considerable and likely far in excess of the limit by hundreds of pounds.

In view of the fact that you are simply launching and recovering give it a try BUT with a suitable vehicle standing by to pull you out. I consider this vehicle abuse, you have the wrong car for this usage. The rig weighs far more than the vehicle so you might just launch the whole shebang one day.......not nice.

Also consider will the ramp always be that perfect, dry, no moss??? You're asking for it. Buy a car (truck) designed for what you want to do. I wouldn't even put a V-6 AWD RAV to this test but do as you please.
 

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I'd say you are way short of the actual weight with fuel, batteries, tower, & gear aboard. 5,000 lbs is closer to the actual weight. Tongue weight will be considerable and likely far in excess of the limit by hundreds of pounds.
It never ceases to amaze me how so many owners think that "because it's an 'SUV' with an AWD system" that it's automatically a heavy-duty 4x4-type vehicle, when in reality it's literally barely more than a Camry. A 4-cylinder Camry at that.

If it turns out to go badly, I wonder if we'll hear the truth? I can't imagine insurance would cover any damage either, given the load is about triple the max tow rating.

I also wonder if putting that boat into the water with a 4.4 would be more interesting than pulling it out, as the brakes with an extra 5,000 lbs behind them would really be put to the test. Maybe at slow speed they'd be fine, though, even with the rear ones wet.

Of course, for all we know the vehicle is fully capable of doing this, and the lawyers were simply vastly over-cautious when defining the tow rating.

Only one way to find out, I guess. It would sure be interesting to know the details, one way or the other.

But another thing I'd be concerned about if it's a non-hybrid AWD RAV4 is getting water in the rear differential vent holes (presuming it has vent holes). Water in the rear diff is not good. That's a problem that may not be readily apparent for a while.

I would suggest that if this is to be tried and a suitable alternate vehicle will be standing by, with a spotter carefully guiding, to take the boat out of the water with the RAV4, then put it back in from beyond the top of the ramp (performing next year's task) then take it back out again.

Then repeat that with a wet ramp.

If the RAV passes those tests, you'd not need to worry about having a suitable alternate vehicle standing by in the future, at least presuming the combination of water level and ramp angle is reasonably consistent each year.

While I wouldn't even contemplate of doing this myself (especially with an I4 RAV4), I do wish the OP the best of luck nonetheless.

.
 

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I agree with RTexasF. Seems that I recall that he has seen some rather comical situations regarding boat retrieval while selling boats and with related customer service.
 

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While I definitely defer to Tex when it comes to boats, am I missing something here? A boat that was easily towed by a Highlander and is now towed down the road by a Sienna is going to kill a RAV4 trying to move it 50 feet? Just doesn't compute for me.
 

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While I definitely defer to Tex when it comes to boats, am I missing something here? A boat that was easily towed by a Highlander and is now towed down the road by a Sienna is going to kill a RAV4 trying to move it 50 feet? Just doesn't compute for me.
To my mind it's not really a concern about pulling the weight, it's more concerns about damage from the water, given how extremely low the 4.4 RAV sits to begin with and how it's not designed for up to perhaps as much as 500 lbs of tongue weight, which will make it significantly lower due to extreme sagging in the rear.

In the past the boat was launched and retrieved with a Highlander, which has much more ground clearance and a stronger suspension to handle its much greater towing capacity plus 3rd row passengers. If you look closely at the original photo of the Highlander on this ramp with this boat, it's pretty obvious the exhaust pipe would either be touching the water already or just barely above the water.

Now drop two inches of ground clearance and then another couple inches for excessive sag from the extreme tongue weight for a RAV4, and things get worse.

The question is: would it be bad enough to kill the engine from a completely submerged tailpipe (probably not terribly likely, but if so, stranding both the RAV4 and the boat) OR cause water damage to things like the rear differential or rear wiring, or even water intrusion into the cargo area from the rear vents?

As I said before, there's only one way to find out. It's just not something I would even consider risking myself with a RAV4, especially a 4.4 RAV4. And that's really what it boils down to, I suppose: personal risk tolerance. I'd simply get a vehicle that's much better suited for this job.

My only goal here has been to raise awareness to the OP (h2osnow) for some of the water damage which can occur to their RAV4 in this situation, because the focus was solely "can it pull the weight?"

Nobody else mentioned the bigger picture thought: But what about the water?

I am, however, extremely interested to hear how it turns out, and hoping for the best.

.
 
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I've been towing and launching boats for nearly 50yrs, never had an issue with rear wheels or the tail pipe under water, it's a fact of life for launching boats depending on how steep the launch is and water conditions, when the tail pipe goes under water it just bubbles away like a fart in a bathtub, doesn't hurt a thing, done it many times seen it many more, I usually back in until the boat floats or the tow vehicle rear tires get to the water's edge. As far as launch accidents, those are caused by operator error, not normally by inadequate tow vehicles, if the parameters the OP stated are correct, I see no reason why it wouldn't work just fine for his limited use, he can always add a set of lift bags to the rear coils for less than $100 to deal with the tongue weight.
 
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