Last post on Nov 07, 2010 at 3:21 PM
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Honda Element, SUV
#12 of 14 THinking about towing a camper w/honda element --not a good idea
Nov 06, 2010 (6:12 pm)
For anyone reading these posts on towing with a Honda Element I wanted to share that our experience has been very disappointing. We have a 2007 2wd and tow a 1300lbs Fleetwood Cobalt popup. I weighed the contents of the additional cargo in the camper to make sure that it did not exceed the 1500lb E tow limit. We have trailer brakes (and braking/control was not a problem because of the trailer brakes) The E struggled pathetically towing the popup over mountain passes in Colorado (like VW van struggled if you've been lucky enough to experience that). The engine got hot and I had to pull over and let it cool down on more than one occasion. The absolute worst problem though, was the lack of traction. If you plan on pulling anything with the E on gravel roads (think all those forest service campground roads), on muddy roads, on ANYTHING but asphalt or concrete pavement---forget it.
I wish that I would have known this before purchasing the E as we needed our 'new' car to be able to do double duty as the tow vehicle--I still would buy an Element because other than NOT being a good tow capable vehicle, it's a great car. I'll have to go back to the drawing board to find another vehicle with good gas mileage for towing the popup on those camping trips out West. Maybe a Suburu Outback??
#13 of 14 Re: THinking about towing a camper w/honda element --not a good idea [foggymountain]
Nov 07, 2010 (7:07 am)
FWD vehicles do not make good tow vehicles. Its simple physics. The trailer tongue weight raises the front drive wheels - exactly the opposite effect that you want for your drive wheels. Traditional rear wheel drive (RWD), all-wheel drive (AWD) or traditional part-time 4WD are all better options. Personally, I would not tow without a true limited slip rear differential. I own a subaru outback which is rated to tow 2700 lbs - but I don't tow with it. I tow with a full-size v-8 Ford pickup with true limited slip.
Its not specifically the fault of the E, especially the 2wd version, that it is a poor choice for towing. Its no better or worse than any 4 cyl minivan for that purpose. My son owns an AWD E and I would highly recommend against towing with this vehicle. Its low HP, small brakes (fine for normal driving but not for towing), and unibody construction are all negatives for towing.
I hypermile with my 09 Outback and get great mpg. Its rated at 20/26, but I've averaged 29.7 for the first 37K miles, ranging from a low of 25 to a high of 34. But few people drive like this (I coast & rarely touch the brakes). If towing, and I would not recommend it for towing long distance, I would expect the mpg to drop like a rock (maybe 16-18 mpg). Remember that you must not tow in overdrive or without a trans cooler or you will cook your transmission. And it will be considered abuse - not covered under warranty.
I do not recommend towing with your E. But if you insist on doing it, then you can look into reducing the trailer tongue weight (weigh it first with a bathroom scale). The easiest way to do that is to move the trailer axle forward. But you have to be very careful because shifting the load may increase the tendency for the trailer to fish-tail. And you'll need to have an auxiliary transmission cooler installed at the very least and not use 5th gear.
Nov 07, 2010 (3:21 pm)
I tow a Trillium Travel Trailer with my 2000 Subaru Outback with manual xmission and average 19.8 mpg. The Subaru is rated at 2000# and I probably fill that out. The trailer follows like it is on rails. Of course I keep the speed down. In CA you are limited when towing to 55mph and I usually follow the truck speed limit or less. Of course I am retired and usually don't have a strict schedule to follow when traveling like I did when I worked.