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Old 10-16-2014, 12:33 AM   #1
D-Man
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Towing bikes- small car vs small SUV?

So I'm needing some opinions on something. My old trusty steed, current daily driver (when I'm caging anyway) and current towing vehicle, a 2002 Ford Explorer is about to bite the dust, and I'm gonna be in the market for something new fairly soon. I'm looking for something quite a bit smaller, with better gas mileage, yet still able to tow a bike or two. My other hobby is music, and I sometimes I need to carry a lot of gear, so it has to be a hatchback or SUV. My last ride was a Chevy HHR SS, 2.0L turbo, great little car. Decent cargo room, unique looking, decent power/weight ratio. Never tried to tow with it, though, since I didn't have a trailer at the time.

Now I have a trailer, 5x8 wooden floor utility trailer with wheel chock set up for hauling 1 bike. Rarely, I might need to haul two of my bikes, but the vast majority of the time, just 1. The trailer weighs about 500lbs. Loaded with both my bikes, I figure it might weigh 1500lbs altogether, the most I would ever need to tow.

My question is this: I'm currently thinking of a few small SUVs (Jeep Cherokee V6, Ford Escape 2.0 Ecoboost), and also of a few hatchbacks (Volkwagen GTI, Ford Focus ST). I've noticed car companies post tow ratings for the SUVs (I think ~3500lbs for the Escape and Cherokee), but not for the cars they're based on. They usually say something like "not recommended". I'm more of a hatchback guy, as far as looks go.

Assuming I can find the right hitch, how do you guys think one of the hatchbacks, or the small crossover SUVs would be at hauling my trailer? At the track, I've seen everything from GTIs to CR-Vs to Audi and Merc sedans hauling bike trailers, but never knew anybody who'd done it. Any thoughts?
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Old 10-16-2014, 12:40 AM   #2
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The trailer and the trackbike. Even loaded with the big Multi, I can push/pull it around the parking lot pretty easily.
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Old 10-16-2014, 12:42 AM   #3
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Been researching the exact same thing and just ordered a hitch for my versa.

I think you will find that most economy cars that are rated as "don't bother" here in the US are rated for 600 kilos or 1324 lbs in europe...1500 lbs may be pushing it, but research tow ratings in europe, Im sure there are some crossovers that are easily capable.

Oh and when you get a hitch, buy "euro" style it really off the coal rolling WT crowd.
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Old 10-16-2014, 12:43 AM   #4
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Best advice i can give is look up the tow hitches and if they make one for the specific car your looking at, it will tell you which class reciever it uses and the towing capacitys , best of luck on a new vehicle
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:27 AM   #5
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I have a grand Cherokee with the 3.7 v6...it tows my bike and trailer without a problem. It's a 2010 but gas mileage is a pita, I average 18 in two and only about 22 without !
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:37 AM   #6
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I used to tow two bikes on a Kendon behind a diesel Jetta with no problems
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Old 10-16-2014, 03:45 AM   #7
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Ive towed my 5x10 trailer with 2 full size sport bikes, grill, all track gear for two people etc. Roughly 1800-2000 lbs.....no issues at all with my G35 sedan. Before my job gave me a truck, I towed with my car a lot.
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Old 10-16-2014, 04:31 AM   #8
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i've towed my bike w/ a miata before.
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Old 10-16-2014, 06:52 AM   #9
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This should be done ONLY with a lifted 4wd diesel truck. Otherwise, the terrorists win.
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Old 10-16-2014, 07:03 AM   #10
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I second nastynestos advice...see what's available for the vehicle your interested in and go from there. I believe a small SUV is better built to handle your needs, but a large hatch should work too. My main concern for you is overloading your brakes, but your trailer looks manageable. I'd put a hitch on a Speed3 wagon if possible...I really dig those cars!
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Old 10-16-2014, 08:03 AM   #11
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Quote:
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i've towed my bike w/ a miata before.
I know a guy who tows behind a 2009 Acura TSX-R and its only a 4 cyl engine.
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Old 10-16-2014, 08:13 AM   #12
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Diesel jetta would be a good option for a car but an SUV will do it much better. Do a lot of research to see the pros and cons of each between mileage wear and tear and being able to handle it.
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Old 10-16-2014, 08:18 AM   #13
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I tow with my 2005 Acura TSX (6 speed manual) with no problems at all. I usually try to make it to the track at least once a month so I tow quite often.

Usual load is harbor freight 4x8 trailer with spare wheel and jack, Triumph Daytona 675, 5 gallon jug, fr/rr stands, gear, tool box, and other track essentials (fan, chairs, etc). Been towing like this for about 3 years. The weight is noticeable, but I don't find it at all unmanageable or uncomfortable. I've also had no problems towing the D675 and Ninja 250 together either.

If you're towing all highway, I get 350 miles to 14 gallons of fuel ~ 25 mpg if you're using cruise control going <80MPH.

I'm not saying a car is the route for you, just saying it can be done without significant compromise. An SUV would allow for more space and towing ability though.

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Old 10-16-2014, 08:47 AM   #14
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I have a new Hyundai Santa Fe 2.4l 4cyl. Gets about 26mpg pulling one bike on a kendon.
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Old 10-16-2014, 09:16 AM   #15
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Goes without saying, but if you are using a vehicle that wasn't originally intended for towing, I'd look into transmission coolers and keeping an eye on the transmission fluid.
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Old 10-16-2014, 09:54 AM   #16
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I've got a diesel jetta wagon as well and have been looking at hitches. The biggest thing you'll want to watch for with smaller cars is that most will only have a class 1 hitch available. This gives you 2,000 lbs capacity (enough for your use, I'd think), but only a 200 lb tongue weight capacity. You'll need to be careful in how you're loading your trailer if you're only using a class 1. Most cars don't have a frame anymore, making the hitch attachment to the car the weak point (assuming your brake system and drivetrain are up to the task).
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Old 10-16-2014, 10:15 AM   #17
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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.L HEMI V8. 2 bikes, no problem. Gas mileage, always a problem.
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Old 10-16-2014, 10:23 AM   #18
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Old 10-16-2014, 10:45 AM   #19
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If all you do is towing the bikes to local tracks, the hatchbacks you mentioned will work fine, or just about any car that you can buy a hitch for. Go to www.etrailer.com and look up the cars you are interested, and go by the trailer hitch rating listed. Car owners manuals are just CYA spiel.

RWD is obviously preferred, but at less than 2000 lbs, most FWD will pull it around town.
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Old 10-16-2014, 11:41 AM   #20
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I tow bikes with a mazdaspeed 3 and before that a regular mazda 3 all the time, if you choose a turbo car I would just take it easy on the boost when pulling. Overseas everyone pulls trailers with cars.
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