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Toyota Tacoma, Truck
#21 of 98 Re: Tacoma for Travel Trailer Towing? Power? [tent2tt]
Jun 13, 2007 (11:56 am)
tent2tt: Whew, hope I don't miss a question! But I know this is important to you so I'll give my honest opinions.
First, my trailer is a 2005 22 foot Outback by Keystone(although model is listed as 21RS, the length is 22.1 feet), and hard-sided, two axles. This is not one of the so called 'lite' models. It has every option available (A/C, microwave, awning etc.) so that puts the unloaded weight up to the 4340, although the brochure says it's 3990. And like I mentioned before, it is probably around 5,000 when I tow it (and 1,500 under the Tacoma's rating). The queen bed slides out the rear so it's essentially a 26-27 footer once it's set up. Frankly, from what kind of trailer you're thinking about, the weight should be much less than my trailer.
Yes, it will pull a long, mild grade at 50mph or better, but you will have your foot in it a bit, and of course, we're talking 4th gear, not overdrive. On the trip I took it on last year (and will again next week), I got up to 7,500 ft. elevation and there's a long, very steep grade (like 10-15 miles or so long) that seems like it is 30 degree's, that I pulled at 35mph, but could have gone 40mph (and I could have gone 140mph coming down that sucker..). Btw, they say you lose 3% hp for every 1,000 ft of elevation, so at 7,000 ft, I was 21% short of sea level hp.
I use an equalizer hitch and sway control bar (very unwise for anyone not to I think). Also, Toyota gives you a handy little pig tail plug-in (they hide it in the glove box) for connecting up your electric brake controller (I put in a Prodigy model)- to the left of the steering column, making the spare change holder inaccessible
I think a 2x4 PreRunner model will be fine, and perhaps even better since it won't have as much to haul around as a 4x4. That said, and it sounds like you plan on doing some mild off-roading, so you get stuck just once in sand and you'll wish you'd bought the 4x4! I mainly got the 4x4 for my quail hunting trips, but there is peace of mind knowing that I can probably get my trailer out of mud, deep sand (when we beach camp) or anything else if need be, especially with the locking differential (part of the Off Road pkg). Btw, I put 140k miles on my last Toyota 4x4 and it never needed an alignment so I wouldn't be too concerned about that...although that was a solid front axle, not like these new independent front ends.
I don't have any other optional equipment (other than I just bought clip-on extender mirrors, the regular mirrors wasn't quite enough). . The tow package comes with the good stuff - aux. transmission cooler, aux. engine oil cooler, HD battery, alternator etc. The only things Toyota should have included, but didn't, was the brake controller and extendable mirrors.
Well, hope I didn't miss anything! And good luck!
#22 of 98 Re: Thanks, gandalf1!
Jun 13, 2007 (12:51 pm)
You really took some time and effort to answer my questions and provide some important details that are very helpful. Your trailer actually sounds lighter weight than many of the supposedly "lightweight" models we are looking at, so I will check out the smaller Outback models to see what they have to offer.
It does sound as though the 4 x 4 option might be smarter for our needs. We were recently trying to drive a "shortcut" dirt road on our way to Southern Utah. We were in my little Nissan Altima, which did as well as it could considering that it has hardly any clearance and the road was very rutted and washboarded. When we came to a sand pit, however, we had to turn around and go the long way (turned out to be the more scenic way anyway, but the dirt road would've shaved an hour off our time and gotten us a better camping spot). The trucks of course were plowing right through, though in slightly rainy conditions, I bet only a 4 x 4 would have made it.
Really helpful also to hear about the brake controller set up and extendable mirrors. Thank you again and happy trailering!
#23 of 98 Re: Thanks, gandalf1! [tent2tt]
Jun 14, 2007 (6:20 pm)
There will be probably be times when you will be towing and maybe thinking you should have gotten a Chevy or Ford half ton and their 9500lb (or whatever) tow rating, but I look at it this way. The Tacoma is just about the perfect truck for me the 99% of the time when I'm not towing (carries stuff - bed extender is cool, good mileage - esp. compared to a V8, and goes like stink - no kidding, it's fast), so I can handle the 1% 'adequate' while towing. And by adequate, I'm saying pretty good, and that's including towing up some major mountains.
Good luck, and happy trailering to you too!
Ps. Today, at the 10,000+ mileage mark, it needed a new air filter so I sprung for a lifetime K&N filter at Auto Zone for $36.99 (best price I found), instead of a standard filter for $20+ that will need replacing in another 10k miles. Plus, the K&N is supposed to flow a lot more air.
#24 of 98 Tow Envy or Toyota Envy?
Jun 15, 2007 (10:07 am)
You know, it really is a question of being willing to make some compromises and determining in what areas those will be.
It looks as though the Cummins diesel engines last a long time without issue, but it's the other parts of the American vehicles that I am worried about: transmission, AC, electrical, fuel pumps, etc. There is deep loyalty and pride expressed by many diesel owners and at the same time, the reliability reports of the Ford/Chevy/Dodge products and warranty services are not anywhere near those of Toyota or Nissan. There must be some deficiencies in order for the reliability to be considered "average" or "below average" as compared with "above average." I wonder if the diesel owners giving their trucks rave reviews are just used to having to deal with a certain amount of chronic repair issues and consider them normal, or if in fact their particular truck has not had problems?
If the Tacoma can tow 5,000 lbs. safely and steadily, and get better overall mpg, then I am willing to make do with going slower uphill (within reason) at times and having the diesel owners wave at me as they pass by. I am also considering the Nissan Frontier because it has higher torque than the Tacoma, which might give it a little more oomph up the hills, but the Taco gets better mileage (reliability wise, I have a Nissan Altima which has been terrific and my wife has a Toyota Echo, which is also fantastic, so I feel pretty confident in both makers).
I really appreciate learning of the 10K air filter--I am right with you in being willing to spend a little more to improve performance and increase the car's longevity--after all, new cars cost as much as a downpayment on a house (well, maybe not a house in CA, but in a lot of other places still). These forums are really helpful and I thank you again for sharing your experience and great tips!
#25 of 98 Re: Tacoma for Travel Trailer Towing? Power? [tent2tt]
Jun 15, 2007 (8:13 pm)
1. In my towing of our trailer which is a 21 foot hard sided hybrid (pop out beds), I have always taken it easy on the big hills simply because of the mileage. I could have given it the gas and gone faster, but whats the point. I live in Iowa and was going to take it to Montana this summer until we found a house to rent north of yellowstone. I don't think that I would have had any problems with the hills in WY and MT. I know that I would be using more gas.
2. I have the 4x4 sport package and use it in the snow here in Iowa and beach driving down in Texas. I plan on using it this summer on national forest roads in Montanna. I wouldn't change to a 4x2 even for better gas mileage.
3. The Equalizer brand hitch is the best and works great with the Tacoma and my Starcraft. I purchased mine online and saved a bundle (free shipping). I also got the Prodigy brake controller. It was a snap to install witth the tow package and also works great. My other option was the skid plate which we used while beach driving
4. We had been looking at the 2006 Jayco Feather Lite campers for $16,000-$20,000 when we found this hardsided 2001 Starcraft 21ck for sale down the block from our house for $4000. It is 21 feet long and has a queen pop out in the front and a full pop out in the back. It has the bigger dual powered fridge, microwave, hot water, air, and a 30 gallon water tank. The only thing that it lacks is an oven. On a few trips with the wife and my self, we did not put out the pop outs and slept on the dining table bed. Our next camper most likely will be a 25 foot Jayco Feather Lite. They have a slideout and an oven.
#26 of 98 Re: Tacoma for Travel Trailer Towing? Power? [banowetl]
Jun 17, 2007 (6:27 am)
Yours sound similar to our needs and we are happy to stay with a smaller footprint TT anyway...thank you for sharing what has worked for you and the excellent tips on hitch and brakes!
We are both dreaming (literally) of taking some wonderful road trips soon.
#27 of 98 Re: Thanks, gandalf1! [tent2tt]
Jun 27, 2007 (9:52 am)
First, I just wanted to comment on the truck purchase issue.
Go Toyota!! Nissan's are way less money for a reason. Dodge are scary too. Toyotas run and run and run.
I will be getting my Pre-runner V6 4x2 w/ towing package set up this week. I am being quoted $700.00 to 900 for hitch, weight distrib., brakes and anti-sway. Also need the wiring redone for 7 prong instead of 4. Is this w/in reason?
Tent2tt - I am purchasing a trailer that weighs 5100 dry and a little concerned myself. I hooked my truck up to a similar trailer at the dealership to test and it felt pretty good w/ out any of the equipment on yet. I have to wait for my trailer to come in so they are giving me a loaner w/ similar weight to take on a trip July 15th. I will be going into the mountains then. When I get back, if it felt like too much, I am going to jump down to a 4300 lb trailer instead. I will post my findings when we get back.
#28 of 98 Re: Thanks, gandalf1! [bototow]
Jun 27, 2007 (10:16 am)
That trailer weight of 5100 dry is worrisome... the dry weight, as you know, doesn't include all your fresh water, your food, your cargo and your passengers, so a dry weight that high could easily surpass your max towing capacity if you aren't really careful. We are looking at trailers with GVWR (that's dry plus all cargo) of 4300-4500 lbs., allowing a safety margin for towing up steep grades and at high elevations. Also, if you haven't bought your trailer yet, you may want to join the RVConsumer Group as a member--we did and believe it's well worth the membership cost because they rate trailers, campers, toyhaulers, etc. in terms of quality, durability and safety/highway stability. There is a huge amount of crap sold because there are few standards for the manufacturers, so if you are planning to really get a lot of use from your trailer, it may be worth narrowing it down to the best makes and models that would suit your needs. We have narrowed it down to just three manufacturers.
A tow package price of $700-900 seems okay, but only if you are getting a good wdh/sway control with that--the Equalizer brand is particularly favored on online forums, as are the Prodigy brakes, so if you are getting a less-expensive brand for that price, then it is not a good deal.
Really glad you like the Tacoma so much. We test drove a Tacoma 4 x 4 but didn't like how much it swayed back and forth when driving down the highway as well as off-road. Because we are planning to take a 5,000 GVWR trailer on backroads that can be muddy or sandy, we need a 4 x 4, so we took the Frontier out and really love the ride...it's much smoother. It's a matter of ride preference though, certainly not performance. We own both a Toyota Echo and a Nissan Altima and they have been equally excellent cars, so we like both manufacturers.
Please do post your experiential results after your trip to the mountains! We would be eager to know how things went.
#29 of 98 No "tow package" blues
Jun 27, 2007 (4:55 pm)
I have a 2006 V6 Tacoma Double Cab 2wd with TRD. I want to kick myself for not getting it with a tow package. Even without the constant need for towing I'd rather have the extra goodies for better performance.I have to tow a 19' travel trailer with a dry weight of 2900. Is there anyway I can get the tranny cooler, oil cooler, and 130amp alt and install them myself or have someone else do it?Toyota parts dept. says they don't sell those parts as accessories and if you don't have a tow package you're out of luck...told me to get another Taco with the package. That was a dealer in So Cal 909.Other inept parts workers don't even know what I'm talking about. One told me that a Taco without the tow package can tow up to 5,000lbs. What can I do? I went to the dealer yesterday and looked at the tow package Tacos and saw that the installation of the tranny cooler is pretty straightforward. Now the oil cooler was different.I don't know if it's an internal cooler within the radiator or something like that. Also if I tow...does it need to be in 4th gear so as not to burn out the tranny?For those in So Cal, I have to tow north up the Cajon Pass and then through the desert on the 395 and up Tioga Pass.I want to make sure my lil Taco can tow through this.
#30 of 98 Re: No "tow package" blues [tacowoody]
Jun 27, 2007 (7:07 pm)
I know what you mean about the parts and service people knowing jack squat--that's been true with Nissan too. However, I called a transmission shop and asked them and they said that an aftermarket transmission oil cooler could be installed, but they didn't think an engine oil cooler could and they do not recommend changing the alternator from 110 to 130. For one thing, it doesn't make that much of a difference to go from 20 amps higher, for another, putting in an after-market alternator in can apparently mess up the electrical components in the vehicle. Personally, I would talk to a few more transmission and repair shops that deal with trucks instead of talking to the dealers--they just seem intent on selling new cars and not providing good information and service on the ones already sold. If you find out any more details, please post them as I am sure we would all be interested to hear more on this subject!