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  1. #1
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    Default 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. #2
    Lieutenant Junior Grade DuckHunterJon's Avatar
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    Default 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.
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    Rear Admiral oldjeep's Avatar
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    Default 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
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  4. #4
    Seaman
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    Default 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.

  5. #5
    Rear Admiral oldjeep's Avatar
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    Default 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.
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  6. #6
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    Default 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.
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  7. #7
    Rear Admiral oldjeep's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

    Quote 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
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  8. #8
    Seaman
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    Default Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

    Quote 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.

  9. #9
    Rear Admiral oldjeep's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

    Quote 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.
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  10. #10
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    Default 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.

  11. #11
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    Default 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.
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  12. #12
    Seaman
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    Default Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

    Quote 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.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

    Quote 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.
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    Rear Admiral oldjeep's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

    Quote 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.
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  15. #15
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    Default 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 !!!

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

    My next tow vehicle will likely be a Chevy Colorado / Canyon with the 3.7L/ 4x4 and Crew cab. even though the EPA would rate them the same as the full size, they do get better MPG in real life then the full size.

    I have 2 cars also and it works out, my GTO is my nice weather car and due to my commuting, I have a 2002 Civic also. The Civic gets 2x the MPG of the GTO in real life (18 gto/ 36 Civic), and having an extra car really comes in handy. The change to my insurance was really minimal as I did all the math of added car insurance vs fuel and it works for me.
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

    Quote Originally Posted by oldjeep View Post
    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.
    My experience ranges from Ford 5.0, Chevy 5.3, Ford 2V and 3V 5.4L, Chevy 5.7L, Ford 5.8L, Chevy 6.0L, 6.2L (both Ford and Chevy). Remember that for a truck to be used for a daily driver AND for towing, the gear set can't always be optimized for both. There are times when I've been in 6.2L with the lower set of gears and tried to get on a busy expressway with a heavy load and wished I had 4.11's. I have little experience towing with a Hemi as I'm not much of a late-model Dodge fan (aside from the Challenger ). My point was simply to state that opting for the most fuel efficient new model may cause more compromises than desired as opposed to buying a cheap truck to suit the towing needs, and a separate daily driver to cover the daily driving.
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    Default Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

    Quote Originally Posted by haulnazz15 View Post
    My experience ranges from Ford 5.0, Chevy 5.3, Ford 2V and 3V 5.4L, Chevy 5.7L, Ford 5.8L, Chevy 6.0L, 6.2L (both Ford and Chevy). Remember that for a truck to be used for a daily driver AND for towing, the gear set can't always be optimized for both. There are times when I've been in 6.2L with the lower set of gears and tried to get on a busy expressway with a heavy load and wished I had 4.11's. I have little experience towing with a Hemi as I'm not much of a late-model Dodge fan (aside from the Challenger ). My point was simply to state that opting for the most fuel efficient new model may cause more compromises than desired as opposed to buying a cheap truck to suit the towing needs, and a separate daily driver to cover the daily driving.
    Do keep in mind, most gear options are region based anymore. Walk a lot looking at new trucks and you'll see most 1500's have the same choice and most 2500/3500's are ordered one way too. The choice of what gears are offered are also scaled back a bit due to the increase in 6+speed transmissions. No longer are 4:10's necessarly or even really available because we arent depending upon 3 and 4 speed transmissions to do all the work. 4:30's and 4:56's are gone!
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

    Not so fast there. The Toyota Tundra with the 5.7+tow package is only available with a 4.30. At least it was in '07 when I last looked at it.

    I would also consider a Yukon, YukonXL, Tahoe, Suburban, Expedition. The GM sisters, get the 5.3l with 3.73. In the Ford get the 5.4l.

    Having said that, the pair of 5.4l Fords I have owned only got 15mpg hwy tops.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

    Quote Originally Posted by oldjeep View Post
    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.
    Torque is torque and gear ratios are gear ratios. Your 400 foot pounds of torque thru a 3.21 rear puts 1,284 foot pounds at the rear wheel.

    The Chevy 5.3 with its 330 pounds of torque and a 3.73 rear is going to put 1,230 pounds on the rear wheel.

    A 4.3% increase in torque is not going to make much of a difference in the acceleration of the two vehicles. Certainly not a "world" of difference
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    Default Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

    Quote Originally Posted by dingbat View Post
    Torque is torque and gear ratios are gear ratios. Your 400 foot pounds of torque thru a 3.21 rear puts 1,284 foot pounds at the rear wheel.

    The Chevy 5.3 with its 330 pounds of torque and a 3.73 rear is going to put 1,230 pounds on the rear wheel.

    A 4.3% increase in torque is not going to make much of a difference in the acceleration of the two vehicles. Certainly not a "world" of difference
    I'm afraid that comparison doesn't mean much unless the trans is in 1:1 or the trucks have the same trans gear ratios. (btw in the ram 1:1 is 5th gear)

    In any event I've owned 5.3L chev and 5.4L fords and they were both pretty weak compared to my 5.7L Ram. By comparison the 6.2 GMC my buddy has much better accelleration/tow power than my 5.7
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  22. #22
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    Default Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

    your looking for a good looking 4 door vehical that is gas savy and can easily tow, lets say 20 foot bow rider. any one of the 3 major car companies make your perfect vehical. the f 150, dodge ram 1500, and the chevy hd 1500. you also mentioned a spending cap of about 18k i am pretty sure you could find an 08-09 1/2 ton 4 door in that area. brand new 1/2 tons start in the 25,000 range if your really shopping around looking for deals.
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

    Quote 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.
    thank you for using your head in this mini van can tow anything era we seem to be evolving into........as for a fuel efficient tow vehicle i cannot help you there as i dont feel they exist! lol but a pathfinder could be a fair choice. but i dont think theyre mileage in reality is much better than a truck

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

    Quote Originally Posted by gtochris View Post
    Do keep in mind, most gear options are region based anymore. Walk a lot looking at new trucks and you'll see most 1500's have the same choice and most 2500/3500's are ordered one way too. The choice of what gears are offered are also scaled back a bit due to the increase in 6+speed transmissions. No longer are 4:10's necessarly or even really available because we arent depending upon 3 and 4 speed transmissions to do all the work. 4:30's and 4:56's are gone!
    Really?... cause my tow rig's a 2008 model and has 4.30 gears and a 6 speed auto. a2a.jpg
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  25. #25
    Lieutenant Commander 642mx's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fuel efficient tow vehicles options?

    Quote Originally Posted by MilChad View Post
    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!
    I guess it depends on what you call "decent". I had an 02 Tundra that was decent in my opinion... 4x4 d-cab with a V8 and I got 16-17 with a mix of city/highway. You could probably find one of those in your price range 99-06 Tundra's were a little smaller than your regular half tons, but they do a very nice job of towing and hauling the family. My newer Tundra (see pic above) does everything better than my 02 did, but may be a little more than you want to spend. The Gen II Tundra's started in 07 and up.
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