Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby woodi » Sun Sep 28, 2014 12:05 pm

I've got about 20,000 miles in towing my camper with a 2009 Ford escape hybrid. Fully loaded the car is sitting at about gross and there's #1400 on the trailer Axel (this weight was measured on a truck scale after driving over Teton pass from WY to ID). It has been a great hauler. Average fuel economy for an approximately 12,000 mile several month road trip around the western us last fall was 22mpg. Driving to Alaska this spring towing the camper and averaging 70-75mph with a ski box on the roof and snow tires mounted we averaged around 18mpg. With the instant torque of the electric assist I've never felt under gunned on the highway with our load, just put your foot down and she scoots.

The only place I've felt the vehicle has struggled is long mountain descents. When you shift the transmission into "low" (it's an ecvt so there isn't actually a low gear) the computer uses a combination of regenerative and engine braking to slow the vehicle but if you are on a long enough decent once the batteries are fully charged you lose some of your braking performance. At that point you end up asking a lot of the normal braking system to keep things in line. That being said of all the mountain passes I drove in the past year only one of them (6 miles at 12% grade sticks In my head) did I ever feel like I was smoking my brakes and running into trouble.

The escape hybrid is only rated to tow #1000 but there are plenty of examples of people regularly towing much more. No one is quite sure why ford set the limit so low, the same chassis with a conventional 4 banger is rated for #2,000

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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby catinmoon » Mon Sep 29, 2014 8:06 am

Woodi thanks for sharing your experiences with the hybrid. I have also suspected manufacturers of under rating their towing capacity. It seems that in many realms it only takes one incident of someone mis-using a product for the liability folks to step in to try and save us from ourselves. Of course I have no way of knowing any of this. Was recently shopping for baby cribs with my sister in law and was somewhat surprised to learn that it is a miracle that we are all alive, having survived the dangers of the baby cribs of the past! Now they are designed like large fortresses. But I digress.

Just out of naive curiousity, would trailer brakes help you in the type of situations that you described in terms of the long downward grades? My teardrop weighed in at 600 # empty, but I suspect is more like 1000# as currently packed.

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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby woodi » Mon Sep 29, 2014 8:50 pm

Yeah, trailer brakes would definitely help the brakes to last longer on big downhills. You still won't get any more engine breaking performance out of the cvt but you'll be sharing the braking work with the trailer brakes which would help to keep things cooler and more in control. Honestly with the amount of weight we are hauling I dunno as the standard ford 4 banger drive train would do much better on the descents.
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby woodi » Mon Sep 29, 2014 9:17 pm

Also I suspect even if your TD weighs 1,000# loaded an escape hybrid would do just fine handling that weight even without brakes. I suspect you might do a few mpg better too, our rig is very heavy and a bit larger than your average TD so the aerodynamics suffer a bit.

With folks with lighter rigs I suspect even a c max might work quite well. Even though it's not rated to tow at all
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby wincrasher » Fri Oct 03, 2014 8:42 pm

I'm not sure a hybrid anything is good for towing. You end up defeating the hybrid part and are essentially towing with a maxed out 4 cylinder.

I'm thinking about putting a hitch on my V6 2014 Accord. This car is consistently getting 38 to 40mpg on the highway! The new Hondas have an "eco" mode that essentially adjusts the shift points and engages cylinder deactivation. The car is a screamer when this mode is off, but with it on, the performance is more than adequate. It's rated at around 270 hp or so, so plenty of power available.

I'm suspecting, that towing a light trailer like a teardrop (1000-1200 lbs), this car would get high 20's to 30 on the highway.

Granted, it's not a truck or SUV. People towed with cars for decades. My 2014 Ford Escape Titanium AWD will tow in the low 20's. It has a 4 cylinder turbo. It runs very well towing and is a smooth cruiser on the highway. Downside is only a 13 gallon tank, so lots of stops.
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby Ned B » Tue Jan 27, 2015 1:44 am

woodi, that's a great bit of news. I have two hybrids, which I bought when I was working as a courier. The first is my 2005 FEH, which I'm hoping to build a foamie to tow behind this later spring and summer. The second is my 2007 Prius which I'm definitely Not going to be towing with. I ran the heck out of the prius in the 6 months I've owned it, and it is currently in the shop getting some engine work done... not to mention that the traction battery is acting up, so it will be on limited duty for the forseeable future.
I'm going to do my best to keep the weight under 1000 lbs which form what I've heard is just fine with the FEH. I've seen some threads on various hybrid and other 'green' sites where owners have reported towing upwards of 2000 lbs with their FEH. I'll be happy if I 'go over' just a couple of hundred lbs when I'm done and at 'wet' weight. Most manufacturers de-rate their GCWR, but I don't really want to push it. The FEH is a 4 cylinder with help... and most owners treat it as if it were a v6.

As for whether or not to tow behind a hybrid at all wincrasher... let's keep this in perspective. While we as a group tend to overbuild our trailers, a conscious effort to keep the weight down, and reasonable driving habits should allow anyone to tow with a hybrid. 800-1000 lbs ought to be doable. We're towing lightweight trailers, not fully laden semi trailers after all. True, anyone towing with a hybrid won't get the maximum mpg, but that's because the drivetrain is working harder. We don't get high mpg in winter either, in the case of my Prius it is because a) I put snow tires on it (they have more rolling resistance) and b) the heater is electric and the motor runs to recharge the batteries more.
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby canned o minimum » Tue Jan 27, 2015 8:11 am

Mileage,towing capacity, power, and not a mention bout...izzit FUN to drive. Lets address mileage first : Hows 19 mpg ? I can't find ANY tv that gits much better, but I'm open fer sum experiences. Towing capacity: Lets all agree that this is a touchy one and jus say that if you've been towin fer years with yer tv...it WILL tow yer td. I've towed mine fer 6years. Power: Many times I have towed my td up the local mountains. I've towed it up Big Bear Mtn, been to Mammoth,Crater Lake,Mt.Hood. Climbed Cajon Pass to Las Vegas,the Grape Vine to Sacramento, and even to Tucson. (n There are enuff uphill grades to test ANY tv)

Now fer MY favorite subject... FUN to drive !

My 1965 VW Beetle has towed many trailers( all in the 800lb range) and let me assure you...IT IS FUN !

( We will leave all the obvious safety questions alone since I have had NO issues in 7 years ! )
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby rowerwet » Tue Jan 27, 2015 1:54 pm

I still don't know the loaded or empty weight of my tear, but we don't pack light. when we go camping we have a tandem kayak on the roof (65 lbs) two bikes in the tear, a commercial grade ez up (heavy to move by myself), our webber Q200 grill, IndelB 12/120V fridge (the biggest one), kayak gear, chairs, etc. the mileage on my Focus drops from high 30's (I've seen as high as 42 on long trips) all the way down to 32 if I take it easy on the speed, I can go 75 mph towing, but the MPG can drop as low as 25. Not sure what the extra spent for a hybrid would really save over a convetional car.
the Focus is a 2.0 liter 4 cyl, with the "automatic" (a standard shifted by the computer), it cost about 20K new.
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby wincrasher » Tue Jan 27, 2015 5:58 pm

That's my point. It's one thing if you already own the hybrid. If you do, you can tow, but your economy will drop below that of a conventional drivetrain, but it's probably far cheaper to just keep going with the car you have instead of buying a new/different one.

If you are choosing to buy a new tow vehicle, that's a different equation. A properly sized conventional drivetrain will yield better economy towing than a hybrid at a much lower up-front cost.
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby Ned B » Tue Jan 27, 2015 9:55 pm

wincrasher wrote:That's my point. It's one thing if you already own the hybrid. If you do, you can tow, but your economy will drop below that of a conventional drivetrain, but it's probably far cheaper to just keep going with the car you have instead of buying a new/different one.

If you are choosing to buy a new tow vehicle, that's a different equation. A properly sized conventional drivetrain will yield better economy towing than a hybrid at a much lower up-front cost.

There's only been one time I bought a specific vehicle or drivetrain set up for a trailer: I had a 27' 5th wheel, and I found an f150 which had tall enough gearing to move the trailer, yet not give 'bad' economy, back in the heady days of 88c a gallon gas.

I think most of us here are going to work hard to fit the trailer to our vehicle, not the other way around.
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby Jim.M » Sun Feb 15, 2015 10:47 pm

I was just driving home today and saw a VW beetle towing a sailboat (one with a cabin) on hwy 66 south of oatman, AZ.

I'm hoping it was a diesel beetle. I would guess the boat would weigh as much as any (homebuilt) teardrop. I would think a diesel beetle would get better fuel economy than any hybrid while towing, or even driving at 'real' highway speeds.

I have no idea how they made it through the mountains. but they were traveling in a 'flotilla' (another sailboat was being trailered right in front them).

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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby sdiver68 » Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:22 am

I doubt you can do much better than an Audi/VW TDI...2.0L for smaller trailers and 3.0L for larger loads. I've posted these figures as a challenge on motorcycle racing forums and have yet to be "beat" for MPG towing a similar sized enclosed trailer at same speeds.

My Q5 TDI gets 18-19mpg towing a 2000lb 6x12x6 V-nose enclosed trailer at 68-70mph on cruise control. I usually get ~32 mpg mixed suburban and 34-36 mpg steady state 75-80mph interstate cruising with no trailer. Most of the time diesel is priced lower than premium fuel.

Those small turbo gas engines don't do that great towing. Ecoboost Escape owners with 5x8 enclosed trailers are reporting large mileage drops due to the engine being on boost. Surprisingly and in interest of full disclosure, a couple of guys report well over 20mpg towing 5x8 enclosed trailers with a Ford Mustang GT. :shock: I have my doubts.

Keep in mind all of these are examples towing larger area "box" enclosed trailers that most gas pickups and SUV's (including my former V6 Nissan) struggle in the 9-13 range.
Last edited by sdiver68 on Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby sdiver68 » Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:33 am

woodi wrote:The escape hybrid is only rated to tow #1000 but there are plenty of examples of people regularly towing much more. No one is quite sure why ford set the limit so low, the same chassis with a conventional 4 banger is rated for #2,000


Here is 1 take on that question:

http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2008/0 ... onspiracy/
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby wagondude » Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:19 pm

sdiver68 wrote:
woodi wrote:The escape hybrid is only rated to tow #1000 but there are plenty of examples of people regularly towing much more. No one is quite sure why ford set the limit so low, the same chassis with a conventional 4 banger is rated for #2,000


Here is 1 take on that question:

http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2008/0 ... onspiracy/



That^^^. Well that and the fact that all that Hybrid gear has weight to it ( batteries and such). What is the curb weight of the hybrid vs. the regular Escape?
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby rgambord » Wed Feb 18, 2015 4:19 pm

If you really want to know what you can tow, you need to calculate it with some readily available specs regarding your vehicle. You need to know the peak torque, and your gear ratios. Here's a worked example for my subaru crosstrek:

Note: you can use google calculator or wolframalpha.com to do all the unit conversions for you.

Peak engine torque is 197 Newton meters @ 4,200 rpm
1st gear ratio is 3.545
Final drive ratio is 4.444
Tire radius (diam) is 14.5 inches (29 inches)


The amount of force my car can apply at peak is:
197 Newton meters (peak engine torque) * 3.545 (1st gear ratio) * 4.444 (final drive ratio) / 14.5 inches (tire radius) = 8425 Newtons @ 4,200 rpm

The speed at which I will be able to attain this torque is:
4200 rpm / 3.545 (1st gear) / 4.444 (final drive ratio) * 29*pi inches (tire circumference) = 23 mph

So, I can produce 8400 newton at 23 mph in first gear. At a 15 degree slope (~25% grade), 8400 newtons is 3300 kg, or 7,293 lb

Subtract the weight of the car with passengers ~ 3500 lb, and I can tow 3,793 lb at 23 mph in first gear up a 25% grade.

This is the absolute upper limit of what my car can do on a fairly steep incline, with a running start. I'd be able to do steeper inclines for short distances, by accelerating before the hill. As you can see, engine capacity is not much of a factor when it comes to towing.

What really matters is braking ability, which is heavily dependent on the heat dissipation abilities of the brakes, road surface, tire rubber material, and tire pressures. Lower pressures = more surface area in contact with the road = more static friction when you apply the brakes. Trailer brakes are also very important. On inclines and straightaways, this mainly affects braking distance, but it's a possibility that you would be unable to decelerate a vehicle/trailer combo on a sufficiently steep decline, causing a runaway scenario.
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