Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby 8 » Sat Aug 15, 2015 10:06 pm

Toyota is updating the RAV4 this fall and adding a hybrid with a rated towing capacity. It will be a similar drivetrain as the Prius in the front plus electric drive in the back for traction control. I've seen mixed estimates as to actual towing capacity ranging from 1500 to 3600 lbs.

One advantage with a hybrid and camping is you could use the car as a generator. I would suggest a high amperage separate battery (or two in parallel) as a buffer to prevent the onboard 12v battery from depleting if the car gets shut off and if the car is off separate the circuits. I have a Prius V myself (which I will not tow with) and I want to set up a battery to go with it to use with my 1000/2000 watt pure sine invertor in case of power failures. (keep the beer cold and maybe run a window AC unit) I have run a window AC unit for about an hour on just a five year old deep cycle battery just to see if it would work. The Prius V 12V system battery is not a starting battery and does not put out a lot of amps. It is there just to run stuff like the car computer, lights, etc. You cannot jump start someone else with it. If you leave the lights on and kill the 12V battery, it can be jump started with another car..but jump starting it just involves supplying an external 12v source (like from a second car which should be turned off) and pushing the "on" button. This turns on the cars electrical system which turns on the DC to DC converter which then supplies 12v from the high voltage (288v?) traction battery. The DC to DC converter has a 100 amp fuse protecting it on the output side. So, whatever method I use to charge an external battery from the internal battery, I need to be sure I don't draw more than 100 amps (minus any other accessories in the car) I heard that fuse is expensive. As a generator, the gas engine will turn on and off as needed to keep the high voltage battery charged.

I have read online where someone used a similar setup to run his house after a bad storm and it used about half a tank of gas over five days. (it was online so its gotta be true)

For now, I'll stick with my wife's Honda Odyssey as the TV and drive my Prius V as my daily ride. That is unless my wife wants to downsize to a RAV4. The RAV4 is about the same size as the Prius V. It just sits higher, has a tow rating, and probably gets 25% less in MPGs. (it is not rated yet)
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby kudzu » Sun Aug 16, 2015 8:56 am

Very interesting! Previously owned a 2002 Prius, so called Gen 1 type. It was ten years old & had a few miles shy of 260,000 on it before it was totaled in an accident. It still averaged 48 mpg in combined city/hwy driving. That was down from it's original 52 mpg it maintained for its first 6 years. I'd give a Toyota hybrid another go if I could even possibly make it fit my needs, but with something as small as a Rav4 I'd have to pile most of our stuff on the roof! Of course, the roof would be lower than it is with my high roofed '10 Transit Connect. Would sure love to get dramatically better gas mileage. Will keep an eye out for that. Thanks!

PS Owned the Prius before I had anything to tow, but still used it as a beast of burden for dog events. We piled so much stuff into the trunk & rear seat area, including multiple dogs, crates, x-pens, EZ-Up, chairs, etc. Folks were always astounded when we started unloading & setting up.
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby catinmoon » Sun Aug 16, 2015 1:34 pm

kudzu, are you towing a teardrop with your Transit connect? Do you find the high roof an issue in high winds?

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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby 8 » Sun Aug 16, 2015 3:10 pm

Next month will be two years since I got the Prius V. In the back row I have a car seat in the middle and a booster seat on each side for the kids. With those still in place, I fit 21 bags of red mulch in the back when Lowes put it on sale this Spring for a buck a bag. It sat a little low. I could fit more if I slide the back seats forward. I keep good track of what I put into it and the actual miles driven. The MPG stated in the dashboard is high 80% of the time. It is usually about 3 MPG higher than what I calculate. Percentage-wise, that is no different than my old 2003 Volvo S80 used to report. Even with my lower calculation, I have never been lower than 40 MPG. The best I have done is 530 miles on a single fill-up. You never know how far you can really go unless you run it out of gas. I have a Bluetooth ODBII module plugged in and the Torque app on my Android phone which gives me real-time data from the cars computer. I can get useless stuff like the HP currently used by the AC and the individual rotation speed of each wheel. But I also get how much gas it thinks it has vs what the dashboard tells you. When the low fuel light goes on, the dashboard says I have ten to twelve miles remaining on the tank. But, the computer tells me I have about 1.6 gallons of gas left when I have zero miles remaining. At 40 MPG, that's over 60 miles more I should be able to go. I have pushed it more than 40 more. I think they have the dashboard lie so people don't run out of gas. It's bad publicity to see the cars on the side of the road. I also used the app+adapter to disable the annoying backup beep that Toyota decided to put INSIDE the car. You're supposed to be able to temporarily disable traction control with it as well but I have not figured it out.
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby rowerwet » Sun Aug 16, 2015 8:53 pm

The fuel pump is in the gas tank, it is cooled by the fuel in the tank, running it below about 2 gallons means that you are not cooling the pump. Electric motors short out internally when overheated. Getting a pump changed is not easy or cheap as the tech has to drop the fuel tank out of the car to get the pump out of the tank.
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby MtnDon » Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:19 pm

I think they have the dashboard lie so people don't run out of gas.


I don't know if this is true or not, but years ago I read someplace that gauges in the USA and Canada are calibrated to still have fuel left when 'E" is showing. Gauges on cars sold in Germany are supposed to have their gauges calibrated to indicate greater accuracy. It was claimed that the auto manufacturers do surveys and use that data in their design. I'm more of an accuracy lover.
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby DrewsBrews » Sun Aug 16, 2015 10:07 pm

Ever consider raising the rear of the legacy? http://www.rallitek.com/lift-kits/6361-rallitek-rear-lift-kit-all-impreza-2008-2014-legacy-2000-2009-outback-2000-2009-baja-2003-2006.html

Scraping the receiver isn't the end of the world. Unnerving yes, but usually not a big deal. Scraping the trailer however is no good. If the trailer is angled up when hitched to the truck, that points the rear of the trailer down and would explain the rear end scraping. This can be altered with different raise/drop on the ball mount on any vehicle.
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby kudzu » Mon Aug 17, 2015 9:51 am

catinmoon wrote:kudzu, are you towing a teardrop with your Transit connect? Do you find the high roof an issue in high winds?

Though I joke that it's like driving a sail, it actually has not been a problem yet. You definitely feel it in high winds more than a lower roofed vehicle. It's also visible in lowered MPG in high winds. It's comparable to my old Ranger with the high top cap on the bed. So far it has not adversely effected handling. If we got into really high winds while towing, even with my comparatively low profile trailer, I'd want to pull over. Driving without the trailer, wind is no problem.
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby kudzu » Mon Aug 17, 2015 10:09 am

Looking at a Rav4 in person reminds me that they really are too small to be practical for toting all the dogs & our gear. Too much would have to go on the roof with is much less convenient that going inside. Reading a write up on the upcoming Rav4 hybrid it sounds like it will be a Toyota version of the Lexus RX450h which only gets 28 mpg hwy! That's no better than my van. By the time I hitch up the camper & then pile things on the roof it's almost guaranteed to get worse highway mileage than my van. Will check again when the final specs are listed but for now, I'm very disappointed.
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby catinmoon » Mon Aug 17, 2015 10:14 am

DrewsBrews I have asked about raising the legacy wagon and people just look at me like I'm crazy. Just to understand, would it be something where you can see the butt stick up as you are driving down the road? I mean, would it look strange? It seems you are only gaining an inch, but it could be the crucial inch. I'm not too worried about how I look, but am curious about the effect.

Years ago my Dad had an old station wagon (Oldsmobile?) with a hitch and it was constantly scraping bottom. I will look into this.

Thanks
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby Prototear » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:40 am

I have a 2008 Highlander Hybrid and plan to use that as my main tow vehicle. The trailer I'm building will eventually probably weigh 1100-1200 pounds has electric brakes but I'm doing that just to save wear on the tow vehicle brakes, whatever I tow it with.

When I first brought the naked trailer frame home from Portland (about 180 miles) with this vehicle my mileage dropped more than I expected from about 25 mpg on the way there to 19 or 20 on the way home. I'm not sure why but I'll keep close watch when I actually get it finished and start using it. The axle it had at the time did not ride smoothly and bounced due to the light loading; I have since replaced it with a new torsion axle so maybe that will be better.

One unexpected benefit of the hybrid has been minimal brake wear because all the light braking is done with the regenerative brakes instead of the calipers: after about 110,000 miles I still have about 70% of the ORIGINAL brake pads remaining, which seems pretty good for a 7-passenger SUV build on a car chassis. :thumbsup:
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby DrewsBrews » Tue Aug 18, 2015 8:54 am

catinmoon wrote:DrewsBrews I have asked about raising the legacy wagon and people just look at me like I'm crazy. Just to understand, would it be something where you can see the butt stick up as you are driving down the road? I mean, would it look strange? It seems you are only gaining an inch, but it could be the crucial inch. I'm not too worried about how I look, but am curious about the effect.

Years ago my Dad had an old station wagon (Oldsmobile?) with a hitch and it was constantly scraping bottom. I will look into this.

Thanks
Stephanie


Modifying cars for towing doesn't seem to be very common in the US so you won't find many folks who even know it's possible, or if they do they think it's some sort of voodoo. I use helper air bags in my Scion xB that allow me to stiffen and raise the rear for towing/hauling and air them back down for normal use. It uses the same air valve that tires use. Unfortunately I believe Subaru uses struts in the rear so that solution isn't possible unless converting to a total airbag system ($$$).

Adding shims above the strut (as linked in my previous post) should have little to no affect on handling since the springs and shock are not altered. Since your Tear is pretty light weight you wouldn't need much extra spring stiffness anyway. I'm sure you will be able to see the difference since you probably look at it every day. I figure it would make it look more like a normal American car... a little less "sleek" since it isn't hugging the ground quite as much. But you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone else, besides maybe another legacy owner, who will notice anything out of the ordinary. Plus the extra weight of a receiver will likely drop it back down ever so slightly. If you want to see what it might look like before committing you could use the tire change jack to lift the rear end, often there is a rear jack point on cars. Measure from the fender to the ground and adjust the jack accordingly to get the appropriate amount of lift.

I saw a post of yours asking about 1.25" vs 2" hitch.. Looking at how they make the legacy hitches I do think a 1.25" tube would be farther from the ground by roughly the size difference. But whether or not it would make any real difference would probably depend on other factors such as the draw bar/ball mount you use.
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby catinmoon » Tue Aug 18, 2015 10:42 am

DrewsBrews wrote:
Modifying cars for towing doesn't seem to be very common in the US so you won't find many folks who even know it's possible, or if they do they think it's some sort of voodoo. I use helper air bags in my Scion xB that allow me to stiffen and raise the rear for towing/hauling and air them back down for normal use. It uses the same air valve that tires use. Unfortunately I believe Subaru uses struts in the rear so that solution isn't possible unless converting to a total airbag system ($$$).

Adding shims above the strut (as linked in my previous post) should have little to no affect on handling since the springs and shock are not altered. Since your Tear is pretty light weight you wouldn't need much extra spring stiffness anyway. I'm sure you will be able to see the difference since you probably look at it every day. I figure it would make it look more like a normal American car... a little less "sleek" since it isn't hugging the ground quite as much. But you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone else, besides maybe another legacy owner, who will notice anything out of the ordinary. Plus the extra weight of a receiver will likely drop it back down ever so slightly. If you want to see what it might look like before committing you could use the tire change jack to lift the rear end, often there is a rear jack point on cars. Measure from the fender to the ground and adjust the jack accordingly to get the appropriate amount of lift.

I saw a post of yours asking about 1.25" vs 2" hitch.. Looking at how they make the legacy hitches I do think a 1.25" tube would be farther from the ground by roughly the size difference. But whether or not it would make any real difference would probably depend on other factors such as the draw bar/ball mount you use.


Thanks, I already have some 2" equipment so am inclined to stay with that. My previous Subaru wagon had some sort of "air shocks" that raised the car up about an inch or so. They were very expensive when they went out, and I had the car retrofitted with normal shocks, splitting the difference between the low and high settings.

my decision is to try and refit the existing vehicle (Subaru wagon) or get something else of a similar vintage with better clearance and awd or at the very least, front wheel drive. I have looked for a 2005/6 CR-v but so far haven't found one that will stay put long enough for me to investigate. I have found a few manual transmission ones that I would enjoy (my previous subarus have been manuals--seems as if they don't make them much anymore).

Best, stephanie (catinmoon)
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Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby Ned B » Fri Sep 04, 2015 9:44 am

I am a hybrid owner I have both a 2007 Prius and a 2005 Ford escape hybrid. I'm also in experienced RV her I had a full-time rig back in the early 90s with three years straight living out of it full-time. Your mileage decrease when towing is to be expected by one third is pretty typical. One thing to remember when dealing with a hybrid transmission and drivetrain is that they are underrated for capacity versus a straight gas drivetrain. You are essentially asking it to do a job that it was not designed to do. That being said the Ford escape community has numerous examples of towing using the hybrid with no effects on the truck so long as the trailer is sized weight wise. Your Highlander will likely do quite well so long as you do not overloaded with a large heavy trailer. The Toyota V6 that you're driving with is Stout, the hybrid allows you to get better gas mileage but it is more of an assist then a replacement for the gas engine. What kind of trailer are you planning to build? Your application sounds like a perfect opportunity for a foamie! That is what I will be building hopefully next summer for my trailer.

Going back to traditional towing situations, one aftermarket addition that frequently helps with drivetrain longevity was the addition of a transmission cooler and essentially an add on radiator dedicated to the transmission fluid. I'm not sure that would help in the case of the Toyota hybrid transaxle however. As for braking; if the trailer goes over 1000 pounds I would recommend electric brakes on the trailer.
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Re: Tow Vehicle possibilities Best Mileage-Hybrids?

Postby catinmoon » Fri Sep 04, 2015 9:51 am

DrewsBrews wrote:Ever consider raising the rear of the legacy? http://www.rallitek.com/lift-kits/6361-rallitek-rear-lift-kit-all-impreza-2008-2014-legacy-2000-2009-outback-2000-2009-baja-2003-2006.html

Scraping the receiver isn't the end of the world. Unnerving yes, but usually not a big deal. Scraping the trailer however is no good. If the trailer is angled up when hitched to the truck, that points the rear of the trailer down and would explain the rear end scraping. This can be altered with different raise/drop on the ball mount on any vehicle.


Hi again, from Stephanie
Delayed reaction, but I am getting back to this idea. I see on the website they have both a front and a rear lift kit. I just need more clearance so wonder if raising both front and rear makes sense? thanks
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