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Old 04-27-2021, 02:47 PM   #1
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Best Vehicle to Tow Micro Minnie

Hi everyone,

I am brand new to this and looking to purchase a 18ft Micro Minnie. Probably looking at 4,000 with all my stuff. Problem is, I dont know what the best suv/truck to haul it is.

I've done a ton of research and realized there is more than just needing 5,000lb towing capacity. I also need to be aware of power, safety, etc. I am a single mom with a little girl and need to get this right :P

In many forums, I saw that people regretted buying a certain truck/suv because it struggled going up hills or scared them (brakes) downhill or swayed with strong winds so I'm trying to figure out what is the best option.

I also would like something that is great for everyday. It's just the two of us so I didnt want to buy a huge vehicle. I would also love to be able to fit the vehicle in my garage.

We will mostly be going out from San Diego to Havasu, maybe Big Sur, Zion, and possibly up to Oregon this summer. So what is the best vehicle?

Ford F150, Chevy Colorado, Jeep Gladiator or something like the Tacoma, Highlander, Explorer, etc. ?

What specifically should I look for in a package - diesel vs. gas, certain features tow/haul button, etc). I want it to be as easy as possible and know how to safely and automatically when possible change gears.

I really want to get this right! and would so appreciate any advice! - Jessica
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Old 04-27-2021, 06:15 PM   #2
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First thing I would suggest you consider is what percentage of vehicle use do you expect to use for towing the camper versus general commuting/driving. This will determine how important unladen fuel economy is. If you will be towing at altitude an engine with turbo charging is a good idea (Ford ecoboost). You don’t really need a diesel for towing but a colorado with the 2.8 deisel is a good choice as is the F150 2.7l ecoboost if you prefer gas. I would avoid the Tacoma and Jeep as they are underpowered.
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Old 04-27-2021, 10:15 PM   #3
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Ahhhh yes, it’s a question as old as time, or travel trailers anyway.

You should start with a basic question. Do you want a truck or SUV?

Next, what’s your budget?

Start with those two and we can go from there.
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Old 04-28-2021, 08:01 AM   #4
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Obviously a personal choice as long as it’s properly capable. But consider that you may start with a smaller lighter TT now but upsize later. This frequently happens. So, the best tow vehicle is the one that you want to own, that you can afford and that is the most capable today and in the future. The ball is in your court on most of that.
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Old 04-28-2021, 08:22 AM   #5
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We had very good luck with a 2004 Nissan Titan crew cab pulling something in the vicinity of 6k lbs. Its towing capacity can handle a larger trailer if you decide to move up and it had a comfortable, car-like ride and fit in our garage. If you go too small and decide to get a larger trailer you'll be looking at a new tow vehicle as well. The Nissan Armada is the SUV version. Alternatively the F-150 and its Chevy and Dodge brothers are good choices.

A good rule of thumb is to not exceed 80% of the advertised tow capacity, so your 5,000# estimate is pretty good, depending on your 4,000# trailer weight estimate and as long as you stick with your Micro Minnie. Your plans include some mountain driving which argues for more capacity, better brakes, etc. Aside from physical size, few complain about having too much tow capacity.

I don't want to start a Diesel vs. gas debate but I don't think you need to go the Diesel route. I also don't think you need a 3/4 ton tow vehicle, which would never fit in a typical garage.

I'd consider buying used, especially if this will be your second vehicle and if you stick with a 5,000# tow capacity. That way you won't take a bath if you do decide to move up in trailer size.

And, whatever you get, you want the full tow package.
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Old 04-28-2021, 10:53 AM   #6
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1/2 ton and 3/4 ton (full size) pickups will not fit in a normal garage, so that rules them out. You could get an SUV, but it would need to be on the large side, which may also not fit in garage. Whatever you get, you definitely want a vehicle with factory installed tow package, including braking system mounted on the dash, and a 2Ē hitch receiver with 7-pin connector. Mid-size crew cab pickups are convenient, comfortable, and economical. Some of them can cost nearly as much as a full size pickup, but theyíre easier to park, and might be able to squeeze into your garage. My wife didnít want to drive a full size, so we settled for a mid-size. We are pleased with our GMC Canyon. In many ways, wish we had gotten a diesel model, but that really drives up the purchase price. The six cylinder in our Canyon has no problems pulling our 4,600lb (laden) Micro Mini up and down mountains. At (4x4) 7,000 lbs, there is Plenty of reserve towing capacity. Fuel economy not towing is 22-24 mpg. 10mpg while towing. Chevy Colorado is itís mechanical twin. People on this forum who have Tacomaís are happy with them. The only other mid-size to consider is the Ford Ranger, but I think Ford doesnít have the kinks worked out on it yet. Most people prefer pickups because of their versatility, and because you can stow a gas can in the bed. Youíll need a gas can if you buy a generator (unless itís lpg powered), and you shouldnít stow a gas can in the back of an SUV.

Good luck in your travels, and take your time before making a purchase decision.

And Jessica, as Creative mentioned, if you think you might get a bigger trailer than a Micro Mini in the future, youíll need a bigger truck than a mid-sized.
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Old 04-29-2021, 05:50 AM   #7
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All good info here. An additional few pennies of thought...

I'm originally from SoCal and have been to all the places you've mentioned. Lots of mountainous territory, so do not skimp on towing capacity. Totally agree with the factory towing package! With my MM fully laden at 4500 lbs., I'm at the limit to what my TV is capable of. Note that passengers, gas, step bars, tongue weight and whatever you have in the bed counts against payload. It all adds up quick.

It's not only engine size/type, but the amount of torque the TV delivers. I replaced the oversized type C tires on my 4X4 with stock size type E and the amount of torque and stability I gained was quite noticeable. Out of the hole quicker and downshifts less often. 1 MPG better also

Final notes:

My 2001 F-150 Super Crew 4X4 fits in the garages in both my homes (with inches to spare). Wise to measure before you buy of course.

Another advantage with a pick-up, is that along with gas, you'll also able to store black tank gear bin in the truck bed. Even with a lid, unless it's watertight, the smell WILL escape.

My son has a 2019 Tacoma and pulls his 5000 lb. Center Console boat w/ trailer comfortably. It has almost the same towing capacity as my Ford, however, it sagged at the tongue a bit. He installed some Timbrens and the ride/sag was much improved.
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Old 04-29-2021, 07:39 AM   #8
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Agree with Rock,
After we load up for a trip, we only have about 25lbs of reserve payload capacity. We have to be careful about putting too much “junk in the trunk”. After filling the pass through, some stuff has to inside the MM and be tied down. If you don’t mind driving a full size pickup, and it fits in your garage, you might be happier with a late model F150 with the turbo six.
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Old 04-29-2021, 08:50 AM   #9
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Best will be different for everyone.. my notes from our vehicle search/decision

1) payload capacity is most important #. You would likely run out of this before tow capacity in many cases. It's not talked about much by dealers/automakers, I think because it's often shockingly low and it varies on nearly every vehicle

2) fuel capacity.. also never really mentioned.. but bigger tank means less stops. You will probably get 10-12mpg with whatever you tow, and refueling with the trailer is often a pain, so bigger tank is better. At least as of early 2020, F150 and Ram 1500 had the biggest tanks available, by a wide margin

3) start looking at costs.. new vehicles are expensive

4) if you do go with full size truck, read #3 again.. they get stupid expensive very quickly. You may want to look at ordering exactly what you want, we found most of the F150s at dealers seemed to have weird options and/or some "appearance package" that added $2000 in cost, and ate up ~150lbs or more of payload

5) see what's available.. no clue on new vehicle stock right now, seems like it's a tight supply

We have F150 supercrew short bed with 3.5L ecoboost. It's a beast towing our 2100bh, even up at 10k+ elevation it can accelerate up mtn passes if needed. Having a truck bed of any size is always nice for "stuff", if it's mainly 2 of you, regardless of size that might be nicer than an SUV.

Finally a tangent... if you are going to go out this summer starting getting reservations now, things are very very booked/busy.
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Old 05-02-2021, 05:25 PM   #10
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I have a 2020 Micro and I tow with a 2019 Ram Rebel with a 5.7 ,no issues going through the mountains, but I had bought my truck way before I decided to buy my Camper
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Old 05-02-2021, 05:32 PM   #11
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You’re going to get as many answers as there are vehicles. I use a Chevy Tahoe, handles the towing beautifully, super comfortable, still pretty easy to get around town with. Having said that, look for towing capacity about 1-1/2 times the trailer weight and get an equalizing hitch.
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Old 05-02-2021, 05:38 PM   #12
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Longer wheel base is better than short wheel base. Pickups should fit into your garage. My Ram 3500 diesel 4 door with an 8 foot bed fits mine but barely.
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Old 05-02-2021, 07:07 PM   #13
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Honda Ridgeline

I know that people don't think of the Ridgeline as a tow vehicle however I bought a 2017 used and tow a 2018 Micro Minnie 2100BH. The truck is rated at 5000lb. My Micro Minnie 2100BH is probably close to that when loaded. Have only traveled around New England, primarily NH. It is also my commuter. I'm getting around 23mpg overall, 26 on the highway when not towing, 20 around town and 11 to 14 when towing. The truck handles the job beautifully and we all ride in great comfort.
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Old 05-02-2021, 07:44 PM   #14
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Smile

We tow our Micro Minnie 2108DS with our Nissan Frontier pro 4X. We have no problems and are not near payload. It pulls up large hills without issue but we donít expect to be flying past everyone doing 70. Great to have a smaller truck for regular day to day driving vrs a larger truck for us as we donít need it. We love it. There is great info noted in these responses so good luck on your hunt!
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Old 05-03-2021, 07:54 AM   #15
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Jessica, I believe you are ahead of most everyone in that you thought to ask this question before you bought your trailer! Even if you aren't sure of pickup vs. SUV, new or used, or whether the vehicle will be for daily use or primarily for towing, you should seek out and understand what the GVWR and GAWR numbers mean and do some back of the envelope math with some vehicles and your favorite trailer to get you oriented. There are pretty good youtube videos on this. What you'll find is you need more capacity that you'd think from the simplistic "towing weight" number that a car manual or dealer will give you. Btw, finding these numbers for SUVs is a lot more difficult than for trucks. Just ask on the forum and someone who has the vehicle you are seeking might read out the numbers from their driver's side door tag for you. The pickup's have nice towing guide brochures you can download and read.

Also, when considering miles-per-gallon remember that nobody quotes such a number for towing. Everyone seems to land at around 10mpg even for pretty big differences in trailer size, I suppose due to the overall wind resistance. So for mpg it's mainly a question of non-towing use. Someone already said a bigger gas tank is handy. Sure wish that was an option for me. And, btw, I do really like my Toyota LC but it's stupid expensive so not sure I'd recommend unless you have money to burn and want one anyway .
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Old 05-03-2021, 09:00 AM   #16
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There is no perfect single answer. It's all about selecting the best compromise, based on your perceived priorities. I agree you don't want a short wheelbase when towing like a jeep would have. I think a truck is a solid choice. And you will find having a covered bed for STUFF is more than just a little convenience. Having a jump seat in a truck is a must for your coat, groceries, and occasional extra traveler. (Or the dog you said you'd never have.) A crew cab will depend on if you're willing to have the tradeoffs, so you and haul a load of friends; or giggling little girls occasionally.
Wind buffeting is a reality, and the longer a wheel base, the more stable it is. As a rule, I'm a firm believer in buying a used vehicle. The depreciation of a three year old vehicle is best suffered by the last owner. There are odd exceptions for hard to find vehicles, but not likely in what you need.
Pulling long hills quickly requires horsepower. More horsepower burns more fuel. Young bucks want to be able to pull any hill at the speed limit. (I remember those days.) But accepting the fact that you will be down-shifting, and dropping to 45 MPH on some hills is a lot cheaper, and in the course of a day's drive might cost you 15 or 20 minutes in total time. (Yes, those people behind you may not like it, but that's their issue - don't make it yours.) And your truck will get better MPG with a smaller engine, when you're not towing a load.
Also pay attention to how big the gas tank on the vehicle is. At maybe 10MPG under load, a smaller tank means limited range, so more careful planning and additional stops.
The best solution for trailer sway I ever had was a friction anti-sway bar, like a The Curt Sway Control Kit. There are multiple brands, that do the same thing. I just picked this one because it has everything in it, for a fair price.
Years ago, we had a real problem with our twin axle trailer. Having twin axles is said to help with sway. Well ours swayed anyway. Once we added the device, we never had an issue again.
Lastly, don't set yourself up to think you have to get it right the first time - or else! if you buy a 3 year old vehicle, use it for a year; and in your experience decide it wasn't the best choice; you sell it, and buy the one you've decided will be a better choice. The lateral move in a used truck will not be costly. Don't drive yourself crazy on this.
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Old 05-03-2021, 10:32 AM   #17
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Rick is absolutely right about wheelbase. Longer wheelbase = towing stability. Even mid-size pickups have a much longer wheelbase than all but the largest SUVs.

I advocate buying used only if you and your certified mechanic agree that the vehicle is in good shape, has all maintenance records, has less than 100,000 miles, is less than 5 years old, and can be purchased at or below book. In my area, you can buy a new pickup for only $5,000 more than a 3 year old. Good used pickups are in demand and can sell for more than book. If you aren’t careful, you can easily spend more than $3,000 on unexpected repairs, like drivetrain.

We tend to buy new because we always keep for 10 years or at least 200,000 miles. You get warranty, and are in charge of vehicle’s maintenance from day one. Gave my 300,000 mile Prius to charity to make room for our pickup. Not happy with the small gas tank, but at my age, we have to stop every three hours anyway, and I carry a gas can in the bed in case we run out of fuel.

All that said, because the F150 is so popular, there are a lot of low mileage used ones out there. If you find a good deal, bring your mechanic. I would have bought a used F150 eco boost if my wife would drive it.
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Old 05-03-2021, 10:35 AM   #18
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There is so much good advice in this thread. When researching this in the past, the biggest mistake people make is not understanding the payload of their vehicle. It isn't hard at all, even with a small trailer, to have 600 lbs of weight added by the trailer and hitch. Then you've got the weight of the people and whatever gear you carry in the vehicle (firewood, tools, air compressor, generator, extra fuel, bikes). I'd definitely do some calculations to figure out what payload you'll need. That may help you eliminate some of the options. As mentioned above, you'll want to look at the sticker in the driver's door jamb to see the payload capacity of the vehicle as configured. The truck guides seem to focus on max payload (which comes from a stripped truck that almost no one actually buys).

Also, unibody vehicles (most SUVs) may or may not be able to use a weight distributing hitch. You'll want a weight distributing hitch to place some of the trailer weight onto the front axle (so that you keep the front axle load close to its normal value). Airbags that level the rig (avoid rear-end sag) are not a substitute for a weight distributing hitch. Without a weight distributing hitch, your steering may feel quite light, especially over bumps (mid-corner bumps can be thrilling at highway speeds).

Edit - Ignore the F-350 in my signature. It was bought to tow a fifth-wheel and is far in excess of what I think is actually needed for a Micro Minnie. I'll likely be getting a twin-turbo Tundra in 2023 (assuming they increase the payload capacity).
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Old 05-03-2021, 11:19 AM   #19
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Not much I can add to this thread but speaking as someone who has towed a Micro Mini with a Tacoma, it was work on the truck. With empty tanks not so much and issue but loaded down the Tacoma struggled. The sweet spot was 60 to 65 and dont get me wrong, it towed it just fine, but was underpowered at times.
Get something that will not be a struggle for you, you dont want to worry when traveling. Yes, pay attention, but you need confidence your equipment is up to the task.
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Old 05-03-2021, 04:20 PM   #20
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I'm a huge Toyota fan. Plenty of power plus, dependable as all heck! Not as popular as they're a little behind the times so you can pick up a great three year old at half the price of a new Ford, Chevy, Chrysler and it will outlast them probably.
Other choice for a Micro Minnie would be a diesel Canyon.
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