Tips for Choosing the Right Tow Vehicle for RVing
Tips for Choosing the Right Tow Vehicle for RVing
Plus, why we picked a Jeep to tow behind our motorhome.
By: Kenny & Sabrina Phillips
There are several reasons why we chose to travel with a tow vehicle. Tow vehicles can make exploring a city or town easier, by allowing us to set up camp with our RV and remain setup for the duration of a stay. A tow vehicle is also much smaller than our RV, allowing us to maneuver through narrow city streets and find parking easier.
You can learn more about towing a vehicle with your Winnebago, including the pros and cons of towing, here.
Choosing the Right Tow Vehicle for RVing
When Sabrina and I bought our Winnebago Vista, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that our Ford C-Max was flat towable (otherwise known as four wheels down). This is not the case for all vehicles. There are some vehicles that can only be towed on a car tow dolly where two of the wheels of the tow vehicle are on the ground. Some vehicles cannot be towed at all and need to be trailered.
So, as you can imagine, we had it pretty easy because we did not need to search for a vehicle that could be towed. All in all, our C-Max has been a great tow vehicle and we have towed it behind our Winnebago for more than 100,000 miles. Is it perfect? No, it is not.
It has one big flaw and that is ride height. Our C-Max is a hybrid, designed to get the most MPGs as possible, and because of this it sits low to the ground which means so does our tow bar. It sits so low that it occasionally has scraped the ground while entering driveways of gas stations and convenience stores.
Honestly, other than that, the C-Max has been perfect and we would recommend it as a tow vehicle. Always be sure to check your owner’s manual to find out if your car can be towed and how to properly do so.
What to Look for in a Tow Vehicle
Other than ground clearance, what else should you look for in a tow vehicle? Sometimes a vehicle can be flat towed but needs a series of steps to put the vehicle in tow mode. This can be daunting if you move often, so you may want to look for a vehicle that has an easy setup.
The weight of a vehicle is also important, you need to know what your Winnebago can tow. A breakdown of how to find this out can also be found in this article. For your safety, you always want to be sure you are towing within your tow capacity.
You should also consider where you will be traveling. This brings us to why Sabrina and I have now bought our new tow vehicle: a Jeep Wrangler. If you are mainly staying in campgrounds and touring cities, national parks, and state parks in fair weather, then a standard two-wheel drive vehicle will be perfect for your needs. If you want to explore off road or somewhere like Colorado in the winter, then you should be looking at AWD or 4X4 vehicles.
Why We Chose a 4X4 for our Next Tow Vehicle
I have wanted to own a Jeep Wrangler since I was a teenager - or in other words, a very very long time. Most of my friends have owned Wranglers and I have always enjoyed going for a ride in them, or on the rare occasion driving.
Now that Sabrina and I have a home base in Arizona, we felt this was the perfect time to finally purchase a Jeep. Our home is literally surrounded by off-road trails, and I always thought a Jeep would be a great tow vehicle for when we explore new locations with our RV.
With a Jeep Wrangler, we now have the ability to get off the paved road and reach hiking trails that others cannot. This not only means that the locations we visit with the Jeep are less crowded, but we also feel like we are exploring and seeing things we would have never been able to see before. A huge perk of having a 4X4 vehicle!
Recently, we took the Jeep to an area called Council Rock, in the Dragoon Mountains. This is a location that our C-Max could have never made it to. We parked the Jeep at the bottom of one of the trail areas in search for some petroglyphs, which we did find! It was a great little adventure for the two of us that was made possible by having an off-road-capable vehicle.
I am now in the process of having the Jeep fitted to be flat towed behind our Winnebago. It will need a breakaway cable and a base plate, as it already had the wiring harness installed from the previous owner. We are guessing they took the base plate and cable off when they traded it into the dealer.
What Will We Do with Our C-Max?
We are also keeping our Ford C-Max, mainly for two reasons. One because I had a very narrow window of what type of Wrangler I wanted and a five-speed and manual was a must. Unfortunately, Sabrina does not know how to drive a manual. So, I will be teaching her, but we’ll need the C-Max until she is comfortable with it.
The second reason is because not all locations we travel to will have great off-road areas to explore and in these cases, we will take our C-Max since it gets more than 40 mpg. Compare that number to our Jeep Wrangler that only gets 14 mpg. This is another good example of what items may also be important to you when choosing a tow vehicle.
Another reason for keeping both vehicles is because they are both paid off and the insurance to add the Jeep was ridiculously low. There really was no financial burden to keep both vehicles. Although, if you know anything about Wranglers, you know it is fun to add mods to them and I have been making slight changes to it over the course of ownership. In fact, as I type this, there is a new bumper for the Wrangler on its way.
Final Thoughts on Picking a Tow Vehicle to RV With
- Can it be towed and how easy is it to set up?
- How will you use the tow vehicle while traveling?
- Is the vehicle weight within the tow capacity of your RV?
- What will it cost me to tow a vehicle (including things like wiring kit, base plate, tow bar, safety chains, possibly a dolly, etc.)?
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