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SUV/small truck recommendations

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  • SUV/small truck recommendations

    I am finally ready to give up on my aged Saturn, since the brakes are smoking, the oil is leaking, the transmission is slipping, the front tires need to be replaced every month because the front end is FUBAR, and it is wet inside and smells like mold because the sunroof is permanently open. (: I think I am finally going to bite the bullet and get a good, grown-up used car rather than my usual beaters.

    I don't currently have a trailer, but keep toying with the idea of getting one, since I keep my horse an hour away from my lesson barn and trailering costs me a fortune. I saw some used trucks on the dealer's website, but they all seem to have 14-19 mpg, and so I'm a little leery of that.

    I hate SUVs, but I've been told that there are some that can pull a small trailer safely, and I would assume they get slightly better mileage than trucks. Does anyone have any recommendations for SUVs or small trucks that don't have horrendous mileage, can pull a small trailer, and would be reasonably priced (under $10k) if found used at a dealership? I don't really know the first thing about cars or trucks, so I don't know specifically what to be looking for when it comes to hauling capability.

    I am going to a large dealership where the owner is the dad of one of my friends from the barn, and the finance manager is the youngest brother of my barn owners, so I am at least confident that they'll treat me well and not take advantage of my greenness... but I don't expect them to know anything about hauling horse trailers themselves. (:
    "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

    Graphite/Pastel Portraits

  • #2
    Any SUV that's going to be safe enough to pull a trailer (like a Suburban) is going to get that same 14-20 mpg. Anything that's getting better than that is not going to be safe enough to pull a normal trailer.

    I guess you could get a Brenderup...there are many threads on here with people pulling those with more efficient cars. But those are quite pricey.

    What I would do? Get yourself a cheaper car...maybe a few years old, but nice, something like a civic or a corolla. Whatever you want, that's going to get good gas mileage. Then spend just a couple grand on a big beater truck, which will be able to pull anything you want it to pull, safely.


    Especially since you are not experienced with hauling, you want to be as safe as you can possibly be. I pull with a giant heavy '89 diesel Suburban....just the fact that the truck is huge and can stop a trailer in seconds has saved my butt. Hauling with a less-than-ideal setup should be something done only by those experienced with trailering.

    So, I just did some quick c-list searching in my area (western mass):
    $8 grand could get you a nice 07 Cobalt, or an 05 Accord, or a wicked cute 06 2.5 Subaru Impreza. Among many others.
    $2 grand for the truck could get you a 95 F-150, a nice looking 88 GMC 2500, or a 95 F-350 that's not pretty but in great mechanical condition. (Again, those were just the first few that popped up.) Any one of those trucks will pull any bumper pull trailer that you need them to.

    And the insurance on an early nineties truck is going to be next to nothing. I checked into it just the other year, and it was going to cost me another $500 a year in addition to my regular Jeep Cherokee. And I'm a "High Risk Driver" (under 20...just last year I paid $1600 for the year for my Jeep. That's split in half for this year, thank god, now that I'm almost 20 with a good driving record)



    So, the moral of my long post: get a nice commuter car, and then a giant old beast of a truck to use for hauling. You're not going to find a safe small truck that gets over 20mpg but can also haul a trailer. (The key word being SAFELY. In my opinion.)

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by SarahandSam View Post
      I don't currently have a trailer, but keep toying with the idea of getting one, since I keep my horse an hour away from my lesson barn and trailering costs me a fortune. I saw some used trucks on the dealer's website, but they all seem to have 14-19 mpg, and so I'm a little leery of that.
      Sorry to tell you this, but you're not going to do much better than that with an SUV. At least not an SUV that can pull a traditional bumper-pull horse trailer and is reasonably priced (under $10K).

      Some people say you can't/shouldn't pull a horse trailer with an SUV at all. SUV's have inferior suspension and braking systems to trucks and they have a shorter wheelbase. In reality, some people do it--and if they have any sense in their head, they do it with a larger SUV and resign themselves to the fact that their vehicle will eventually feel the strain. Your suspension system, braking system, and transmission will take a beating.

      Most people agree that a Suburban-sized SUV can pull a trailer since it's basically a "soft" version of a truck in all regards (there are some ugly reports of the newer 'burbans having bum transmissions, but still). Some people pull with something slightly smaller, like a Tahoe/Excursion/Hummer, which you can do if you're willing to sacrifice the vehicle's longevity and take extra safety measures (weight distribution hitch, really good electric brakes, etc.) pintopiaffe here on COTH has some good stories about pulling with a smaller truck, I want to say it was a Dodge Dakota? It's doable. I won't get into the politics of whether it's safe--some people say yes, some people say no. I wouldn't do it with my horse, not for all the tea in China.

      You're going to meet a lot of car dealers who will tell you that an SUV can pull a horse trailer. They're going to throw some big numbers at you: this thing can pull 5000 pounds, 7500 pounds, etc. etc. And it's true that it can PULL it. It cannot safely STOP that amount of weight, much less maneuver it well in a dangerous situation. The car dealers will throw out numbers that assume inert weight that is balanced close to the road. It does not assume live weight from a horse that is top heavy.

      That said, I sympathize with you. I can't afford to drive a high-mpg vehicle, and I don't like driving big vehicles anyway. The thought of paying insurance, maintenance, and gas on a dedicated beater of a towing truck that I would use less than a dozen times a year makes me throw up a little in my mouth. So I bought a Brenderup, which is the only brand in the US that uses European towing technology that makes it possible to tow SAFELY with a smaller vehicle.

      Brenderup has its haters--mostly people who have not done their homework on the product and just assume it's a "Chinese takeout box on wheels". I have not yet met someone who OWNED a Brenderup who disliked it. I met one person who owned it and felt it wasn't the ideal choice for her particular needs, but she had no complaints about how it pulled.

      Practically any SUV on the market can pull a Brenderup Solo. Most of them can pull a B'up 2-horse trailer. I just bought a Solo to replace my 2-horse trailer, and in the recession they are cheaper than they used to be. Check horsetrailerworld.com and tacktrader.com to get a feel for pricing. It's very comparable to the price of buying a dedicated beater truck + bare-bones 2H traditional trailer. I get 24-26 mpg from my daily driver vehicle and about 16-17 mpg when it tows.
      Last edited by jn4jenny; Oct. 17, 2009, 12:24 PM.
      Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

      Comment


      • #4
        I drive a Ford Ranger. There's no way in hell I'd tow anything bigger than a small utility trailer with it. Light pickups just don't have the substance to safely control and stop a horse trailer.

        Comment


        • #5
          An SUV might save you a mile or two in MPG's but you'll make up for it in brakes. Over and over again. Then add in the chance that you'll smoke the tranny and the cost savings are negligible. Much also depends on the conditions, terrain etc that you will be towing under. Here we are hill after hill after hill.

          I couldn't imagine ever towing with a SUV safely around here. I know lots of people who do it, but even they admit it isn't the best option.

          I have a half ton Dodge with the big V8 and towing package and even that groans with a two horse and a big TB.
          I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

          Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.

          Comment


          • #6
            You can never go wrong with an F-150. They're great trucks and are *fairly* economical and practical for everyday driving (as far as trucks go anyway). Mine is an 06 with 97,000 miles on it and runs as well and the day I drove it off the lot. I've also towed some smaller (brenderup and smaller aluminum) trailers with it without problems
            Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
            My equine soulmate
            Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding

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            • #7
              I have an older steel 2h BP, no dressing room, nothing fancy. It weighs under 3000lb unloaded. There is no way I would pull that thing with any of the SUV's that will get better than 15-20mpg. As it is, we use an 85 diesel 3/4 ton Suburban. With hubby's Silverado 1/2 ton with towing package, it is a bit much loaded.

              I'm with everyone else. Get a decent used car and an older truck. The insurance on our Suburban is next to nothing, even though hubby is under 25 and male (obviously), and was unmarried when we added the Burb to his insurance.

              Comment


              • #8
                One more thing to add: Think really hard about how much it's costing you to haul to those lessons. Even at $40 or $50 in hauling fees per trip, it would take you years of lessons to equal the cost of owning a trailer. $50 per trip x 100 trips = $5000, and that's still less than you'd pay for the average truck + trailer or Brenderup trailer. For someone like me who only hauls 6 to 12 times a year, the value equation doesn't really add up.

                OTOH, the freedom of trailer ownership is addictive. I love being able to pick up and take my horse anywhere I want, anytime I want. It is an expensive addiction.
                Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Thanks everybody... it does sound like I'd be better off just getting a car now and holding off on the trailer for a few years yet. Everyone keeps telling me, "Just get a truck and a trailer... trailers are cheap now!" and it's hard to keep putting them off. (:
                  "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

                  Graphite/Pastel Portraits

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As noted: the only SUV safe to tow with is your bigger SUV and that is because they are built on the same frame a light truck is so will get the same gas mileage. I have had a 2H get trailer sway with a 2H trailer until I stableizer bars (pre big truck and trailer) and that was scary enough........an SUV would be worse. I would not take an SUV rig on a highway...local non highway driving ONLY for short distances. That would limit you so much it's probably not worth bothering.
                    Providence Farm
                    http://providencefarmpintos.blogspot.com/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Consider a used Chevrolet Tahoe. They will pull a 2 horse pretty well.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I used a GMC Envoy once in a pinch to pull one horse, never again. Even though I was well within the range for weight for pulling capacity, road stability and stopping ability weren't good. Said Envoy was destroyed in a car accident a couple of months later and was replaced with a Suburban so that I could comfortably pull a trailer.

                        I agree with those who suggest getting an older truck to keep around for hauling if you want to haul and use a Civic or Kia for daily driving.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          A SUV can and will pull if you get the correct one. A Ford Excursion (built on the 250 frame) or the Chevy Suburban (built on the 2500 frame). I get tired of reading on here that SUV's wont pull. No the little ones wont. I wouldn't pull with a 150 truck either or a Tahoe or half the stuff I see pulling a horse trailer.
                          We have an Excursion V-10 4X4 with the 250 frame (which is all the Excursion is built on) it pulls a 2 horse with dressing room long distances up and down mountains and we have had a blow out on the back tire of the truck on the interstate doing 70. It handled just like a car with a blow out. Trailer never swayed back there. It wont meet the OPs criteria as it gets about 14 miles a gallon tops.

                          OP you sound like a smart young lady. Get you a nice Mazda/Honda/Nissan/Toyota used that you can drive the wheels off of. That will enable you to afford that truck and trailer down the road. I have a Mazda with 156k and going strong. Trucks and trailers even on a budget get expensive. We got both of ours used. Truck when gas was $4 a gallon, one owner, great shape $10k and the trailer used 7 years old used tops 7 times for $4.5k. Put tires on the trailer this year - $600. Going to go get tires for the truck today another $650+. Safety is priceless!!
                          Pamela Ellis

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by belleellis View Post
                            A SUV can and will pull if you get the correct one. A Ford Excursion (built on the 250 frame) or the Chevy Suburban (built on the 2500 frame). I get tired of reading on here that SUV's wont pull. No the little ones wont. I wouldn't pull with a 150 truck either or a Tahoe or half the stuff I see pulling a horse trailer.

                            Both the Suburban and the Excursion are not considered SUV's btw. When we talk of SUV's we are talking about the SUV as it is defined by the automotive manufacturers...a vehicle built on a wagon or light truck chassis. This would be your Jeeps, Explorers, Envoy, Trailblazer etc.
                            I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

                            Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I am vet student and lately have seen some interesting suv's pulling 2 horse bumper pulls:

                              One of the new mid-size Mercedes SUV's and the Volkswagen Tourareg - that does not seem safe in my mind! What do you guys think ?
                              ~ Scarborough Fair Farm ~

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Iluvgoldies View Post
                                I am vet student and lately have seen some interesting suv's pulling 2 horse bumper pulls:

                                One of the new mid-size Mercedes SUV's and the Volkswagen Tourareg - that does not seem safe in my mind! What do you guys think ?
                                Just 'cuz you can doesn't mean you should...
                                I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

                                Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by belleellis View Post
                                  A SUV can and will pull if you get the correct one. A Ford Excursion (built on the 250 frame) or the Chevy Suburban (built on the 2500 frame). I get tired of reading on here that SUV's wont pull.
                                  If you actually go back and read the posts, you'll see that that is what everyone is saying. That an "SUV" that's going to be able to safely pull a horse trailer is going to be the giant ones built on truck frames, and that those are not going to fit the OP's requirements of over 20mpg.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    My .2 cents worth... well maybe like .25 cents

                                    I think there is some confusion over the different classes of SUV because they are all NOT created equal.

                                    There are your small or "compact" SUVs like Jeep Liberty, Rogue, Saturn Vue, and Chevy Trailblazers. I would NOT pull a horse trailer with these SUVs.

                                    The mid-size SUVs are your Envoy, Traverse, Acadia, Explorers, 4Runner, Cherokee, Highlander, Murano, H3, and FJ Cruisers. I would NOT pull a horse trailer (unless it's an emergency) with these SUVs and ONLY a very small one at that or a Benderup.

                                    The last category is the large or "Full Size" SUV or SUW (sport utility wagons), which are usually made on a truck chassis with more rugged frames and tow packages like the Z71 Off Road Package. They are the SUV/SUW: Yukons, Tahoes, Durangos, Amadas, and the SUWs: Expedition, Excursion, and Suburbans. You can pull a small horse trailer like a 2H BP quite comfortably with these vehicles. However, I would also consider the brand as the foreign-made SUVs are not likely to cater to hauling or towing like the US-made SUVs. (This is not necessarily true however in Trucks ever since the Toyota Tundra came out). But, of course, it ALWAYS depends on the type of trailer, size, and materials used. My 2H BP is aluminum/steel and only weighs 3000pds. The same trailer made out of all steel would probably be closer to 5000pds and would put me out of the large SUV class.

                                    Length of wheelbase compared to the length of the trailer can be a concern which is why a 2H BP with a small tack room is probably all I would ever pull with my Tahoe although consider that the Yukon XL, Suburban, Expedition, and Excursions are several feet longer than the Yukon or Tahoe making wheel base much less an issue in these large SUVs.

                                    I don't understand why breaking will be an issue... most trailers 10 years or newer have electric brakes on both axles making it much easier for any vehicle to brake with a trailer.

                                    I also wouldn't consider any SUV made by a luxury car manufacturer like the Mercedes or BMW to be anything other than a luxury sedan car on a lift frame. There is nothing "SUV" about those cars but the height.
                                    Most friendships in the horse world are just an opinion away from doom.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by GoForAGallop View Post
                                      If you actually go back and read the posts, you'll see that that is what everyone is saying. That an "SUV" that's going to be able to safely pull a horse trailer is going to be the giant ones built on truck frames, and that those are not going to fit the OP's requirements of over 20mpg.


                                      And if you go back and read my post, I said it would not meet her requirements as the gas mileage is crap. "It wont meet the OPs criteria as it gets about 14 miles a gallon tops."

                                      The point of my post is the SUV's wont pull: Everyone lumps them all together they are not the same. I would only pull with an SUV that is a 2500 framed Suburban or an Excursion. Just like all trucks are not the same. But everyone is entitled to their opinion. I just try to stay away from them on the highway while pulling with their little bitty truck/SUV.
                                      Pamela Ellis

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Have to agree... you're not going to find a small truck or SUV with good mileage that can safely pull a horse trailer.

                                        I haul with a 97 Tahoe, but I invested in the weight distribution hitch and really good electronic braking system. And although its still on its first transmission with 175K miles, I think that's an probably not very common, Ijust got lucky with this particular truck. Plus, this truck's only real job since 2005 has been to haul horses once a week. I did commute in it for 6 years before that, but got tired of parking the monster in the downtown parking garages! But still, its probably at the very bottom of my comfort level for hauling, and when I do have to replace it, it will be with a heavier duty truck.

                                        I'd invest in a nice reilable small car, like a Honda, for commuting, then get an older, mechanically sound truck like an F-250 for hauling the horses. If you take care of them both, they'll last. If you do decide to get an SUV, nothing smaller than a Suburban or Excursion. Then newer Tahoe's, from 2000 on up are not anywhere near as heavy duty as the older ones. And I don't know anythng about the Ford Expedition at all. The only person I know who tried hauling with one quickly replaced it as their tow vehicle with an F250.
                                        Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                                        Witherun Farm
                                        http://witherun-farm.blogspot.com/

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