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Author Topic: Towing question/suggestions...
rjive
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Hey everyone,

I'm a newbie to the forum as well as SM. I'm looking to get involved in SM. I'm starting from scratch... Looking at a truck right now. The mrs. is letting me buy one. I like the Toyota Tacoma. I know that the towing capacity w/ the towing package is 6500 lbs. Anyone have any recommendations on a truck? I'd like a mid-size, but I am realistic as well. Is anyone towing with a Tacoma? I'd love to hear your input. Thanks in advance...

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I use a 2005 4Runner 4WD V8, same chassis as a tacoma. The truck isn't unstable at all, in fact it's great on the highway. As far as the difference in power between the V8 and the V6 power on the Tacoma I couldn't tell you.


My real advise would be to get the Tundra if you like the Toyota nameplate. It's a whole lot easier to get more truck than you need now. If you ever decide to step up to an enclosed trailer a Tundra with a V8 will pull a 24' trailer with a miata and golf cart with.

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rjive
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I'm sure it's easier to allow for growth. I'd prefer any truck that is not American made. The American big three don't have the best rep out there. I was looking at the Toyota Tundra, Tacoma as well as the Nissan Titan. Consumer Reports doesn't have a favorable position on the Titan. I've heard great things from owners though.

On my budget, I will probably not be running every weekend during the season. I don't want to buy a 1 ton dully turbo disel for 5 race weekends a year. [Smile]

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dtfastbear Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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As Jason mentioned, the big questions is what will you be pulling? If you are sure that you're going to stick with an open trailer, then a Tacoma with the V8 is perfectly fine. The V6 will get you by just fine for the local tracks in SFR (read no big hills...) I tow an open trailer with an older (97) V 4Runner and don't have any problems, although I do often wish for a little more power.

If you believe that an enclosed trailer could possibly be in your future, then you'll definitely want something in the Titan/Tundra full-size range as opposed to the Tacoma or other (Nissan Frontier?) mid-size truck or SUV.

Now that I think about it, since you're just getting started, you should buy a USED truck and spend the extra $$ to buy Rampelberg's spec miata. Might as well start with a no-excuses car! [Smile]

Cheers,

Dean

rjive
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Thanks Dean. Since I'm just starting out, I'm trying to factor in a few things. I think the open trailer is the best bet. I would doing races in the SFR region and there are no hills (Thunderhill, Infineion and possible Laguna Seca). I'm also trying to create a list of things that I'll need, create a budget and then figure out how much time it will take me to get on track... Thanks everyone for the help and info so far.

I'm probably going to the dealer today after work to look at trucks, test drive etc.

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NV Racer Verified Driver
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I just got my new truck two weeks ago. I have to pull over the sierras for every race so I went big. I got a '07 Dodge 3500 Quad cab Diesel to replace my '02 Dodge Diesel that was totalled just before the Sept. Infineon race. I ended up renting a F150 with a V8 for the Infineon race and Double at Laguna. That convinced me I needed to buy a diesel to replace the one I lost. The F150 was fine until I hit the hills plus I got 5 mpg less. If looking for used, the Dodge with the Cummins diesel is a good choice. They last along time and will pull anything you like. If looking new they are pricey my sticker was $44K, with incentives it was about $35K. I plan on this being the only truck I will need, with proper care it will last me until I decide to retire from racing or it gets totaled like the last one.

Good Luck,
Dennis

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rjive, for 5 race weekends a year, consider hiring someone to do the hauling for you and save yourself a 3rd vehicle payments, insurance, and taxes as well as maintenance. Start adding it up and see what it will really cost you per race, then go from there.

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rjive
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Antonio, I never thought about just renting a truck. I'd replace my daily driver with the truck. That's the biggest reason I want a mid-size truck. I'd like to run more than 5 and you never know... I may end up running that. I'm realistic, with two kids, mortgage etc... I may not be out there every weekend! [Smile]

Thanks for all the advice though. Any other input is welcome.

dtfastbear Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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Don't forget that many of the SUV's are simply trucks in disguise and are much more practical as daily drivers. For instance, the 4Runner is a Tacoma, the Pathfinder is a Frontier and the Armada is a Titan (for the most part).

You might find any one of those more practical with the kids and such on non-racing weekends, as well as more relaxing to drive day-to-day. And they are all fine tow vehicles, as long as you have "the tow package".

Cheers,

Dean

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rjive
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Yeah, good point Dean. I'd like to have a truck. More manly. hahahaha. I do like the 4-runner though. That's a nice ride.

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Neil Made Donation to Website
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This comes up from time to time.. I have admited that in a past parts life I worked at Toyota and I have tremendous respect for their truck/suv line, owned and beat on quite a few.. Always happy with how they towed.

Being a Mazda guy now I have to at least pitch the B4000 (Ford ranger). Wouldn't reccomend the 3000 for towing that much, but the 4.0 is strong and I may get one myself. I am also waiting to see how the new CX9 turns out and what it's towing capacity is... We have a ride and drive (Thrash and Bash) coming up for the employees and I look forward to the test track. Will know more after the middle of January. May lie and not admit I'm a manager.. My back counterman got twice as much driving time while I got to do the corporate stuff! [Sleep] [duck]

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Sean Yepez Verified Driver
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I went with the Lexus GX470, which is essentially a plush 4Runner with the V8 and AWD. It tows an open trailer and Spec Miata with ease. It does get a little rev-happy when you put it on cruise control while towing, though. The LS hills are no problem in 3rd gear.

I wish I had a lighter trailer... mine must weigh more than my Miata does. Do you guys know any Miata trailers for sale in the Bay Area or a place where they sell them?

rjive
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Check out the classifieds on Specmiata.com and/or the NASA site classifieds. I've found lots of trailers for sale on that site.

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John Wymore
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I currently have a V6 4-Door Tacoma that I am using to pull my Miata in a 16 ft. enclosed trailer.

To be honest, it works OK but if you are travelling far or have a lot of hills to climb it's very marginal. I wish I had a bit more power and torque but for short flat runs though it works fine.

Since it's also my daily driver it's nice to have the smaller size and good mileage when not towing.

The biggest suprise to me with the 102 wide enclosed trailer was that the small profile of the Tacoma leaves a big portion of the flat trailer front surface exposed so anything in excess of 60 mph generates a tone of drag!!

Lastly, if you go with the Tacoma invest in a load leveler hitch. It helps a ton with stability.

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When I was shopping for my exporer, I did not find that there was much difference in fuel economy between V8 and V6 trucks or SUVs (of a given size).

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rjive
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Thanks for the info on the Tacoma. That's the same truck I was looking at. I think the Tundra will be a little better. It will come down to the price. I'd like to get the best truck for the dollar. I hear that the Tacoma will be ok for towing what I anticipate towing, but not much room for growth.

I'm going to test drive a few trucks this week and should be able to make a selection soon. Thanks everyone for the input.

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cam Verified Driver
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IMHO, towing to and from the track is the most dangerous part of racing.

Just an other data point, I started out driving my car to the track, that lasted the first year. Then picked up a used and very abused Toyota 4Runner. The 150 HP 3.0 V6 w/ 5sp version. With a cheep open trailer w/o brakes and 4Runner, I had under $4K invested in towing. The 4Runner was way underpowered and under braked but in flat Texas, it was almost OK. Iím now using a Nissan Pathfinder (3.3 V6 5sp). The Nissan has a little more power and longer wheel base and can hold 12 tires if I fold down the rear seat. Again, in flat Texas, it is OK and better the than the 4Runner but still underpowered. I think the newer versions have a lot more power. It is nice having the enclosed cargo space of the SUV since I have an open trailer. And the Pathfinder is my wifeís daily driver to haul kids and stuff.

Iíve heard that Jeep is suppose to come out with a diesel version soon, so a Grand Cherokee with a diesel and manual transmission will be on my ďupgradeĒ list when they become available.

Moral of the story is that Iíve gone the cheep route and find myself needing to upgrade. If you buy the right equipment upfront, the whole experience will be safer and more enjoyable. Hope this helps and good luck.

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rjive
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Thanks again everyone for the input. Now to go out and test drive & price a few different trucks. I can't wait to get this thing started.

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Edwin Ho Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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In the interest of full disclosure, let me first say that I work for DaimlerChrysler on the Ram 1500 program. Having said that, I think you would be mistaken to not at least consider a domestic product. One thing we do know how to build is trucks.

I have driven many of the competition, and they all have their redeeming qualities. The bottom line is value and you'll have to decide for yourself what characteristics are most valuable to you.

If you decide you want a full size truck and want to stick with Toyota, the new Tundra will be available early in the new year. This is going to be a serious truck and will likely be a real contender in the light duty truck market. The current Tundra is a nice truck with a very plush ride. It's too "shaky" for me and the steering and safety handling are terrible.

One thing important to many is price. You can easily find pricing info online, but for example a Tundra Double Cab has an MSRP of $26,620 while a Quad Cab Ram is $26,240. I don't know if there are any incentives available on the Tundra, but there is currently a $5000 incentive on Reg & Quad Cab Ram 1500. I think there is a lot of inventory on hand right now, so I'm sure you'd be able to find a dealer willing to bargain down from there too.

Towing capability is not a problem with the Ram, as it is rated to as much as 8700#. If you're wanting a mid-size truck, there's also the Dakota which can tow as much as 7100#. A Quad Cab starts at $22,480 and currently has a $2000 incentive. Again, I'm sure you'd be able to do better than that.

Personally, the characteristics important to me are steering and ride. Money no object? I really like the Avalanche I've been driving. The Delphi active damping is sweet. The thing is halfway decent looking now too (boy was it butt-ugly before). However, it stickers north of $40k. I don't know how the base Avalanche rides, but if its anything like the new Silverado, they can keep it.

Sorry for the long post, but I'm on vacation and have the time. [Smile]

BTW, I drive a '96 Ram. The ride is ok, the steering is terrible, but it was CHEAP!

Ed.

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quote:
Originally posted by rjive:
... I'd prefer any truck that is not American made. The American big three don't have the best rep out there.

I (as politicians like to say) rise in opposition to the undeserved criticism of the American truck. I'm on my second Tahoe and after an accumulated 200,000 + miles on the pair and zero dollars in repairs, I think it's not a deserved rap.

The Toyota 4Runners are admittedly great vehicles, but I get 13 MPG towing (both my SM and a Corvette) in the relatively hilly regions of Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania. What's more, they are practically giving away two year old American SUV's versus pretty proud prices for similar Toyota's.

SUV vs. truck, here's the deal...And after you unhook, you have a great daily driver/family car that averages 16 MPG to and from work. Oh, and if you're willing to rough it, it's a great camper at the track.
Rick

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why not domestic? they build great trucks!

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dtfastbear Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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I won't consider this question a thread hijack since it is still about towing...

I know NOTHING about load-levelers, but even with the Air-Lift system inside the rear coils of my '97 4Runner, the rear of the SUV rides lower than I'd like. It is usually only bad when I load up the tire rack on the front of the trailer with two extra sets of wheels. I get a lot of people flashing their lights since I'm probably blinding them... The whole rig still handles just fine.

Are there different "types" of load levelers to consider? I know there are different "sizes", but how do I know if the 600, 800 or 1200 lb tongue weight system is right for my application? Are they a pain in the ass to hook up?

For the record, I've got an open aluminum trailer with a nice tire rack (holds 8-10 wheels) and bin right at the front of the trailer.

Any advice is appreciated.

Dean

--------------------
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Jim Boemler Verified Driver
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Tie the car down a little further back?

jim

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NV Racer Verified Driver
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quote:
Originally posted by Jim Boemler:
Tie the car down a little further back?

jim

Weight distribution hitches are designed to transfer some of the tongue weight back to the trailer. They are primarily for undersized tow Vehicles . My Dodge Ram 3500 only drops an inch or so with my open trailer is on back.

Greg Bush Verified Driver
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quote:
Originally posted by djmisc:
Weight distribution hitches are designed to transfer some of the tongue weight back to the trailer. They are primarily for undersized tow Vehicles.

Huh? [Confused]

I have a F-350 crew cab 4wd that can tow between 16k and 19k depending on the trailer setup.

I have a 20' enclosed trailer, that with the Miata in it weighs around 6k.

For short trips, like down to the storage lot, I don't bother with the weight distributor bars. On the highway they make a big difference.

When you hit a bump, the truck and trailer don't bounce the same, and a "porpoise" type action happens. Basically the hitch moves vertically a lot more than either the truck suspension or the trailer, it acts like a hinge.

The weight distributor is a spring that fights that action, and adds to stability greatly. It transfers some of the load forward onto the front axle of the truck, by resisting the hinge motion.

My truck doesn't sit any different with them on, but it rides and handles a lot better.

As far as being for undersize vehicles, some trucks ratings are increased if using a WD hitch, read the owners manual. That being said, it would probably increase the capacity of an undersized rig, making it less undersized.

It can't imagine the downside of too much spring rate in a WD hitch. The bars on mine are 1" square, so I think they are whatever the maximum is.

I now have a 40' gooseneck trailer, so my wife doesn't have to drive her SM to the track anymore. The little towing I've done in the off season has shown me a lot. The new trailer tows straighter than my old 20'. Very little interaction between the truck and trailer, they feel like one unit.

I actually did forget it was back there.

(It was dark out and the trailer is black, that helped a little) [Big Grin]

Greg

Jim Boemler Verified Driver
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Note to self: never parallel park and leave an F350-size opening in front of me.

jim

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23 feet long with the hitch, for future reference.

Greg

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quote:
Originally posted by G Bush:

As far as being for undersize vehicles, some trucks ratings are increased if using a WD hitch, read the owners manual. That being said, it would probably increase the capacity of an undersized rig, making it less undersized.

[Big Grin]

Greg

I agree they do help stabilize when towing heavy especially when they come with sway control. I was referring to the guy I am sure everyone has seen driving down the highway with his front end up in the air and his tail end practically dragging on the ground due to excessive tongue weight. That is where WD hitches really help. I plan on getting a enclosed trailer when I find a good deal. At that time I will get a WD hitch with sway control but with an open trailer it's not necessary.

Dennis

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Check out the new Avalanche. I am towing a 24ft closed trailer with lots of tools and parts and it tows like a dream. Its the wifes daily driver, nice and posh for her with a great ride and great gas mileage for a v8 truck.

It comes with a 100,000 mile warranty, but I have yet had a reason to take it back to the dealer.

Its a good looking truck with a lot of versatility and features.

give it a test ride. I think you will be very pleased and delighted.

The added bonus is its a Chevy.

Give the home team a shot. We send enough of our money out of this county.

I work for a company that supplies parts to all automotive companies foreign and domestic. The quality issues on domestics are more of a thing of the past.

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John Mueller Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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I use a 14,000lb 28' Motorhome with a 454 Chevy BigBlock! It's a bitch going up mountains but worth the pain to have a queen size bed, AC, a fridge, and a shower at the track... Yes, I get to use them all each day because these SM's just don't break!

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quote:
Originally posted by 38BFAST:
The quality issues on domestics are more of a thing of the past.

This is quite true. Talking to some of our marketing folks, they said that it takes two product cycles to overcome the perception of poor quality (two cycles with good experiences, that is). I'm glad that I'm no longer met with blank stares when I tell people that we build quality products (as they're envisioning K-cars!).

Ed.

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I drove everything before settling on the Titan. The Dodge trucks had awful interiors. The Chevy's drove like wallowing pigs with really sloooooow steering. The Fords I liked at lot, but having owned a Ford in the recent past, I'll never ever do business with them again. The Tundra was a creampuff -- beautifully done but no guts.

The Titan has been troublesome, but the dealer experience has been good. The biggest problem with the 'domestic' products is the dealer experience. All the way from sales to service it just sucks. As long as the service experience is as bad as it is, the quality problems will be magnified.

Spud99
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One thing that is not mentioned much here is the braking capability of the truck and trailer combo. Make sure the trailer comes with good brakes and you have a brake controller installed. Trying to stop a car trailer with car on it with a mid size or even a full size truck with out trailer brakes during hard braking can be interesting [Smile] .

Don't forget if you are in an area that has high winds then more power is needed as well. It is just as tough pulling into a head wind as pulling over a pass.

I use a Chevy K3500 to pull my car in a 26' V nose enclosed trailer. If you do choose to go enclosed later try a V nose trailer.

If you do decide on a Tacoma get a canopy, cap, topper or what ever you call them in your area to store your gear inside.

Mike

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Dealer issues are not a domestic only issue. You have to find a good dealer with all makes foreign or domestic. I bought may Dodge from a dealer 45 miles from me because the local dealer sucks. The same with the local Mazda dealer. They will not deal with the "S" plan had to drive to the same city in fact they are across the street from the Dodge dealer.

Dennis

rjive
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Thanks for all the input. I guess my next topic should be trailer recommendations... hahahaha. That's after I get the truck.

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quote:
Originally posted by rjive:
Antonio, I never thought about just renting a truck. I'd replace my daily driver with the truck. That's the biggest reason I want a mid-size truck. I'd like to run more than 5 and you never know... I may end up running that. I'm realistic, with two kids, mortgage etc... I may not be out there every weekend! [Smile]

Thanks for all the advice though. Any other input is welcome.

I know a pro driver who rents a dodge dually from armarda everytime he has to pull his own car, he said it costs around $500 a weekend as opposed to buying, storing, & insuring something he only uses a few times a year.Makes a lot of sense.Also haveing an established team tow you will cost you roughly the same & supply much needed advice at the same time.

If you are new to the racing game, understand escalation is the key word, as in your spending will escalate as well as your desire to do more & go faster bla bla bla.

Trucks are like boats , you need the biggest engine you can get or you will,absolutel;y, be sorry you didnt spend the extra $$$ in the first place.

I dont know where you got the idea that US made trucks suck. Ill rate my 2003 f250 as one of the best built cars I have owned bar none,( I currently own 8 vehicals & have bought at least 30 new)look around any paddock & see what the majority tows with & understand they do it for a reason.

Toyota may build a fine little truck, but why comprimise your daily driver & buy something just for 5 races a year?

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dklogic Verified Driver
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Region: NNJR
Car #: 41
Year : 1999
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Well, I may new to spec miata racing but I have been trailering my other car for the last year and I wouldn't trade my truck for anything. Yeah, I know your are going to laugh but I can take it. HONDA RIDGELINE!!!

Yes, you heard right. I use this as my daily driver for work. Seats 5 better than the Avalanche, is rock solid, and can pull my car and trailer at 80mph without the slightest instability. Even the big hills of the NE are not a problem. Does the engine have to work hard up some of the hills...yes, but it keeps on pulling and can carry good speed. Brakes (with elec trailer brakes) are fantastic.

There is a catch. In order to not exceed the 5000lbs towing capacity I had to go with a trailex aluminum trailer (925lbs). So I did spend a premium on the trailer but I also have a premium trailer that will never rust and holds its resale value.

Combined, the truck and trailer were about 31k which, for a completely new setup, is not too bad. Unless I step up to an enclosed trailer you will find me and my trusty Honda at the tracks. By the way, my last run to Pocono I averaged 14mpg doing 70 to 80 for most of the trip.

If you need versatile, fantastic driving, everyday pickup, you must test drive the Ridgeline.

smtejas Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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Change of heart. I've just decided that I'm stepping up to the plate this year and buying a new Newell Coach and toter for S.East campaign and National Bid for SM title.

Ed Koop Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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Year : 1993
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I'll and to the list of options and add the Nissan Armada. I have a 2005 that can tow 9,000 lbs which is great for either an open or enclosed trailer. I've done both (as well as pulled a 32ft travel trailer). It has no problem with the hills going to Laguna or Sierra Nevadas. It also has great room inside (you can even buy a tent that connects to the open hatch in the back - pretty neat).

Just food for thought...

Chris Sinnett Made Donation to Website
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One thing to consider - if you buy a used truck that wasn't previously set up for towing, make sure and have an additional transmission cooler installed when you get the hitch added on.

   

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