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Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

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  • Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

    Hereís my dilemma. My work is 25 miles from my house. Not too far, but it adds up if you have a gas hungry vehicle. I plan on getting a 18í-19í bowrider in the future and the tow vehicle will also be my daily driver. What are the best (used) options are out there for about $18k that gets decent gas mileage? Iím interested in either a 4 door truck or mid-sized SUV.

    Thanks!


  • #2
    Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

    My choice would be for a newer (+07) Chevy or GMC 1500 with the 5.3 Variable Displacement motor. Basically, it will run on 4, 6 or 8 cylinders depending on the load. I have two friends that have them and they get 19 - 21 miles to the gallon on the highway. Still plenty of power to tow when needed.
    Jon Hunter
    Marion, NY

    2006 Procraft 200 Combo with Merc 200 Opti
    2007 Homemade Duck Boat with Merc 39

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    • #3
      Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

      09 and up dodge ram crewcab gets 18-21 hwy. I've got an 09 with 3.21 gears (2wd) and it tows very well. Same sort of system as the chevy - MDS allows the Hemi motor to run on4 cyl when it can. Might be tough to find one of the newer crewcabs for $18K though
      2012 Malibu VTX 5.7 Monsoon 350
      2009 Ram CC 5.7 Hemi

      www.oldjeep.com

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      • #4
        Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

        Another idea I've been kicking around is to keep my current daily driver ('09 Jetta) and get a high mileage vehicle for about $5-6k and use it only for towing. Something like a '99 2000 4Runner.

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        • #5
          Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

          Just make sure to factor in the insurance when you are deciding if it makes sense to do that. For me the extra money to buy a second car and insurance would never be paid for in fuel savings, and I drive about 24K miles a year.
          2012 Malibu VTX 5.7 Monsoon 350
          2009 Ram CC 5.7 Hemi

          www.oldjeep.com

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          • #6
            Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

            Any of the American 1/2 ton trucks get the 20-21 mpgs, variable displacement or not. However, you need to note the gear ratio, cab size, and engine option needed to acheive that mileage. Many use 3.31's or lower gear sets (read poor acceleration), small V8 or even V6 egines, and a standard cab configuration to save weight. Truck be told, you could probably find a mid-size SUV to suit your needs with a V6 to help with the gas mileage. If you have the option, an older pickup truck could be purchased just for towing/hauling, and you can use the savings in money to buy a regular car or suv to use as the daily driver.
            1976 Mark Twain 200VBR w/Mercruiser 233 (Ford 351w) "Heart & Soul"

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            • #7
              Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

              Originally posted by haulnazz15 View Post
              Many use 3.31's or lower gear sets (read poor acceleration),
              LOL - slow accelleration? 3.21 with a hemi still gets you fast accelleration towing 5K lbs. 400ft/lbs of torque comes in handy
              2012 Malibu VTX 5.7 Monsoon 350
              2009 Ram CC 5.7 Hemi

              www.oldjeep.com

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              • #8
                Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

                Originally posted by oldjeep View Post
                Just make sure to factor in the insurance when you are deciding if it makes sense to do that. For me the extra money to buy a second car and insurance would never be paid for in fuel savings, and I drive about 24K miles a year.
                It's unlikely I'll do that option for that very reason. We are a family of 4 and already have a 2011 Honda Odyssey but after reading many posts on the pros and cons of towing with a minivan, I'd rather be safe and secure with a vehicle that's made for towing. The Nissan Pathfinder is one that keeps standing out due to their price and most of them come with the tow package. However, Iíve read mixed reviews on their gas mileage. That's why I started this thread to (hopefully) uncover more options for towing a boat and go from there.

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                • #9
                  Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

                  Originally posted by MilChad View Post
                  It's unlikely I'll do that option for that very reason. We are a family of 4 and already have a 2011 Honda Odyssey but after reading many posts on the pros and cons of towing with a minivan, I'd rather be safe and secure with a vehicle that's made for towing. The Nissan Pathfinder is one that keeps standing out due to their price and most of them come with the tow package. However, Iíve read mixed reviews on their gas mileage. That's why I started this thread to (hopefully) uncover more options for towing a boat and go from there.
                  Fuel milage can be somewhat of an overrated concern depending on your annual driving milage. My wife is a good example of that. Her car gets 35mpg, she drives 5K miles a year - who cares So you might want to calc out what a 12-15 mpg vehicle would cost you in terms of price and annual fuel costs and compare that to a 20mpg tow vehicle using the same factors.
                  2012 Malibu VTX 5.7 Monsoon 350
                  2009 Ram CC 5.7 Hemi

                  www.oldjeep.com

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                  • #10
                    Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

                    A Toyota Tacoma would be a good choice. If you have room for a second tow vehicle, its nice to have a truck and an early 2000s F-150 or chevy 1500 would be obtainable.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

                      Another option may be a Toyota Tacoma 4 door, or a Nissan Frontier. I see plenty of those as tow vehicles, and a friend of mine had a 2wd Tacoma (on the 4wd chasis) and was getting 24 mpg on his daily commute of about 20 miles one way. Those smaller trucks have a respectable tow capacity. Nothing like a 1/2 ton truck, but unless you are towing a lareger boat, you may not need a 1/2 ton truck. Unless you have to tow over some hills. No replacement for displacement in my eyes.
                      2000 Chris-Craft 200 BR
                      5.0 Volvo Penta EFI

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                      • #12
                        Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

                        Originally posted by oldjeep View Post
                        Fuel milage can be somewhat of an overrated concern depending on your annual driving milage. My wife is a good example of that. Her car gets 35mpg, she drives 5K miles a year - who cares So you might want to calc out what a 12-15 mpg vehicle would cost you in terms of price and annual fuel costs and compare that to a 20mpg tow vehicle using the same factors.
                        I'm glad you posted this because I just crunched some numbers and they really don't look all that bad. I drive my car during the week and we take the wife's car the rest of the time. I typically drive 15-16k miles a year and assuming gas stays near the same current prince ($3.60 here in NC) a 20 MPG truck would cost about $2,700 per year to run. This is assuming my calculations are correct which could be a stretch considering I suck at numbers.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

                          Originally posted by oldjeep View Post
                          LOL - slow accelleration? 3.21 with a hemi still gets you fast accelleration towing 5K lbs. 400ft/lbs of torque comes in handy
                          Acceptable acceleration rate is purely relative. What some people find acceptable won't be for someone else. I don't think the Hemi has much to do with anything. Horsepower is horsepower regardless of what marketing ploy is used. I didn't say it wouldn't suffice while towing/daily driving, but it is something to consider. The most common gearing in 1/2 ton trucks is usually around a 3.73:1. Dropping .50 is a pretty big reduction if you're used to having something like the 3.73.
                          1976 Mark Twain 200VBR w/Mercruiser 233 (Ford 351w) "Heart & Soul"

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                          • #14
                            Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

                            Originally posted by haulnazz15 View Post
                            Acceptable acceleration rate is purely relative. What some people find acceptable won't be for someone else. I don't think the Hemi has much to do with anything. Horsepower is horsepower regardless of what marketing ploy is used. I didn't say it wouldn't suffice while towing/daily driving, but it is something to consider. The most common gearing in 1/2 ton trucks is usually around a 3.73:1. Dropping .50 is a pretty big reduction if you're used to having something like the 3.73.
                            Towing and accelleration is all about torque, not horse power. Your experience from 1/2 ton to 1/2 ton will vary a lot too. The ford 5.4 is a nice enough motor but a real dog when it comes to accelleration when towing, the 5.3L chev is in the same boat. The newer chev 6.2L and the 09+ Dodge Hemi are a world apart from what it sounds like you have experience with.
                            2012 Malibu VTX 5.7 Monsoon 350
                            2009 Ram CC 5.7 Hemi

                            www.oldjeep.com

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                            • #15
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                              Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

                              When I bought my first boat, all I had was a Honda Civic, so I immediately went out and bought a proper tow vehicle- a old Ford Ranger pickup. for $3,500. This worked fine, for a while, as I kept my (great mpg) Civic and only used the truck for dump runs and towing the boat. However, after time, the truck's battery kept going flat - I wasn't using it enough, and also due to its age other things started to go wrong with it.

                              With only a two car garage I was constantly having to move move my wife's Accord, my Civic, and the truck around. Finally I had had enough and sold the truck, and my Civic for a year old Toyota Tacoma 3.4 v6 (enough power for towing). I love it and although I did have to get used to the lower gas mileage, I don't regret my decision.

                              Now the Tacoma is my daily driver, boat hauler, yard hauler and many more things. It solved a lot of headaches from having an extra vehicle.

                              Just food for thought !!!

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