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Discussion Starter #1
Just thought I would post up my thoughts on the Ridgeline's towing capabilities for those that are wondering.

My brother in law bought a car in Houston. It was a 2000 Suzuki Esteem, weighs right aroudn 2300lbs. We used an auto transport from Uhual, which claims to have an empty weight for 2000lbs. My wife was with me and we brought our dogs. The trip was from Houston to Dallas.

The weather was nice, low 60's, there was a stiff breeze and occational heavy cross wind.

General observation:
The rear end of the truck did not drop too much when fully loaded down with the trailer and the car. The only time when I could really tell that there was infact some lowering in the back was at night. At night I can see that the cut off of the headlights were higher than an unloaded truck. But visually, the back end did not sag too much. Atleast at LOT less than I expected. Interestingly, I've seen F150's(though not current gen, but previous) that's been loaded down similarly and the rear end sagged more.

Handling:
The Cliff's notes version is, it handles very well. Much better than other trucks in this segment. The truck's suspension controlled the load very well. The up and down motion was dampened very well, frankly you wouldn't be able to tell that the truck had 4300lbs behind it in terms of bounce. There were no side to side motion that can occur with heavy loads. I think the wide track and IRS really helps here. The truck tracked straight and the trailer have no influence on the track of the truck, period. The only thing that made me know that there was a trailer in the back was the front/back motion. You know, the trailer "surges" forward after a bump and then the surge brakes kicks in, trailer slows down, then the surge brakes backs off and then you feel the tug of the trailer. Surge brakes kinda of sucks btw. :)

The truck handles so well that it might actually be a hazard. I honestly had to remember that I had 4300lbs behind me when taking some curves because the truck would just track and turn without complaint.

My father in law has a Frontier. We've driven it loaded and with a trailer. The Frontier is NOT fun when loaded down. The rear end bounces all over the road. There's a lot of side to side motion that comes with the bouncing around. Cross winds will move that thing all over the road when it's got a trailer behind it. They also had an Ford Explorder (R), THAT was even worse. Infact my wife did not want to buy a truck initially because of these experiences. But after test driving the RL she knew it was a different beast.

Drive performance:
The truck has plenty of power to tow 5000lbs. No, it won't win any drag races. Yes you can tell there's 5000lbs back there. But it will pass just fine, and it can maintain speed just fine. The problem is the tranny programming. In the name of MPG, the truck cruises at very low rpm, ~1900rpm at 65. So because it's a V6 and relatively small displacement and aggressive programming in the tranny, there's a lot of kick down. It's hard to maintain 5th gear going 65mph when going up and down hills. HOWEVER, it's actually much easier trying to maintain 5th gear if you go 70. The power is fine for towing, just don't expect to win races and get good MPG.

Speaking of MPG, we were averaging about 14mpg. It's ok, but there was head wind and we weren't exactly going slow. Plus we were stuck in rush hour traffic in Houston for 2 hours.

Overall, it was a very pleasant experience. I didn't buy the Ridgeline with expectations to tow ALL the time. But I did expect to be able to tow a light weight race car + gear once every month or so to the track. I have confidence that this will work no problem.

So for those that want to tow, go for it.



Key words: towing cars; towing; trailers; uhual trailer; uhaul auto transport
 

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shingles said:
Key words: towing cars; towing; trailers; uhual trailer; uhaul auto transport
Thanks for the post -- and for posting keywords, that's a nice touch! :D

So, surge breaks suck, eh? I've been wondering. We're thinking about buying some kind of car/utility trailer (we're rebuilding a classic car that will need to be repainted soon) and I'm most interested in finding a dual-axle trailer with brakes... but not so much interested with having to install a "brake controller" in the cab. Surge brakes are the kind that are built-in to the trailer hitch mechanism, right? So it automatically detects when the truck is slowing down, and slows down the trailer accordingly? Please excuse my ignorance... I'm new to the trailer world, as this is my first vehicle that could tow anything!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
flymuck said:
Thanks for the post -- and for posting keywords, that's a nice touch! :D

So, surge breaks suck, eh? I've been wondering. We're thinking about buying some kind of car/utility trailer (we're rebuilding a classic car that will need to be repainted soon) and I'm most interested in finding a dual-axle trailer with brakes... but not so much interested with having to install a "brake controller" in the cab. Surge brakes are the kind that are built-in to the trailer hitch mechanism, right? So it automatically detects when the truck is slowing down, and slows down the trailer accordingly? Please excuse my ignorance... I'm new to the trailer world, as this is my first vehicle that could tow anything!
Well, I don't like surge brakes. But I suspect that there are probably better designs than that which was on the uhal auto transport. Surge brakes has an attachment on the front part of the trailer. As the tow vehical brakes, the trailer will naturally want to push forward. This pushing forward will push a brake cylinder which brakes the trailer. It's kind of like using the trailers for to push a brake peddle built in to the trailer. :)

But I still think that a good controller (Prodigy brake controller for example) + electric brakes is superior. Ofcourse if you are towing a boat, my understanding is they are almost always surge brakes since the brakes get wet. And you know how well electricity and water get along.
 

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I agree with "Shingles". Surge brakes can be adjusted to minimize the surge but it cannot be eliminated. I have electrics with the Prodigy controller for our pop-up and couldn't be happier.
 

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Interesting -- thanks for the replies, Ahab and Shingles. I guess my big question for those of you with lots of experience with brake controllers is this: what if you have to stop suddenly, and don't have time to hit the brake controller (or don't think to do it)? Won't you potentially lose control of the trailer? I'm thinking of emergency stops here...
 

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Thanks Shingles for your outstanding post! And thanks Ahab and Flymuck for your replies. I really appreciate the information that you shared so that we all can benefit from your experience. I am also somewhat new to towing and I do not have any experience with towing 5000 Lb trailers or with brake controllers. Your information gives me confidence that I can successfully tow what you did without problems. The information on this thread and others about brake controllers is invaluable.

Once again, I continue to be amazed about the quantity and quality of information that is freely posted and exchanged on this ROC site. I learn something new every day right here. Thanks, again! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
flymuck said:
Interesting -- thanks for the replies, Ahab and Shingles. I guess my big question for those of you with lots of experience with brake controllers is this: what if you have to stop suddenly, and don't have time to hit the brake controller (or don't think to do it)? Won't you potentially lose control of the trailer? I'm thinking of emergency stops here...
Oh, it's automatic. Our trucks are prewired to have a brake controller installed. The brake controller taps into the brake switch. When you brake, voltage is sent to the brakes in the trailer. Controllers like the prodigy sense brake force and will adjust voltage as appropriate. There's no need to do anything manual other than intial adjustments.
 

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what if you have to stop suddenly, and don't have time to hit the brake controller (or don't think to do it)? Won't you potentially lose control of the trailer? I'm thinking of emergency stops here...
You don't have to engage the brake controller. It engages electonically from the brake light circuit. Controllers like the Tekonsha Prodigy are interia based and do a great job of controlling brake application.

My boat trailer has surge brakes and my folding trailer has electric brakes. I do have have the surge problem as stated above with the boat trailer. It may have something to do with the fact that boat trailers carry less tongue weight as a percentage of total weight than do conventional trailers. The advantages of surge brakes is that no controller is necessary in the TV and they can take immersion much better. Electric brakes have the advantage of the load always pulling on the hitch rather than pushing when braking is required. They both have their places.

My boat/trailer combo weighs 3,250 lb. and the folding trailer weighs 3,500 lb.
loaded. Living in Oregon, I do a lot of towing in hilly and mountainous terrain.
I started keeping detailed mileage records about 900 miles ago. A little less than 50% of those miles have been towing miles. I am currently averaging 14.17 mpg with the last mileage reading being 3,733. The rest of the miles have been combined city/hwy.

I find the power to be more than adequate. It does a much better job than my Ranger 4.0L ever did. While there may be frequent shifting in the hills, they keep the engine working at its optimum. Many times the shifts are so smooth and the engine so quiet that the only way you have any idea you are in a lower gear is to look at the tach.

I will be leaving on a 700 mile trip the middle of next week with the folding trailer and will report back on updated mpg figures then. The trip will include climbing Cabbage Hill in eastern Oregon, which is an approximately 8 mile stretch of 6.5% grade freeway. I have no doubt the RL will take it with ease.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Webwader said:
Many times the shifts are so smooth and the engine so quiet that the only way you have any idea you are in a lower gear is to look at the tach.

This is very true. A few times, I find that I was running at 3000RPM at 65mph and not know it. What I do in these situtations is I just back off of the throttle and the truck would shift into 5th and run at 1900rpm.
 

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Webwader said:
My boat/trailer combo weighs 3,250 lb. and the folding trailer weighs 3,500 lb. loaded. Living in Oregon, I do a lot of towing in hilly and mountainous terrain... I am currently averaging 14.17 mpg with the last mileage reading being 3,733. The rest of the miles have been combined city/hwy. I find the power to be more than adequate.
Webwader, thanks for the camper and boat info. My boat has similiar weights and I have been worried about towing it. How does your ridge handle steep wet ramps?
 

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How does your ridge handle steep wet ramps?
No wheelspin and I have never had to engage VTM-4 Lock. Haven't tried an unimproved ramp yet.
 

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I would like to thank all the ROC members and escially webwader for the assistance and for assuaging our (my wife and mine) fears and trepidations. Thank you all.:) :D from one now cool and satisfied customer:cool: (yes, I am also just playing with emoticons!)
 

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This is a great thread, very helpful. I am just about ready to purchase an all aluminum car trailer that weighs 895 lbs. I will be using it to haul a 2700 lb car. The manufacturer will sell me the trailer with electric brakes or surge brakes. He insists that surge brakes are better for this use and less to worry about over time. He will however sell me either set-up. What should I do, I am a newbe to towing?
 

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Thanks for the info - this is great to know. So much for those "real truck he-man" claims the RL is just an overgrown grocery getter. I, too, want to get a lightweight trailer to move my "toys" around ('73 TR6 and '68 E-Type) on occassion - each of them weigh about 2000 lbs. Sounds like the RL will handle this with no problem.
 

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dasto said:
This is a great thread, very helpful. I am just about ready to purchase an all aluminum car trailer that weighs 895 lbs. I will be using it to haul a 2700 lb car. The manufacturer will sell me the trailer with electric brakes or surge brakes. He insists that surge brakes are better for this use and less to worry about over time. He will however sell me either set-up. What should I do, I am a newbe to towing?
The reason he wants to sell you the surge brakes is because the trailer is so light and you are saying that your only use for it will be a light car. Surge brakes will work for this application, be cheaper, and most importantly be MUCH easier to maintain. But if you ever intend to tow anything other than this car, you might want electric brakes. Electric brakes are more responsive, will help you control your load better, and for the most part provide better stopping power. But be warned - they are a pain in the @$$ to maintain. For your application (ONLY the 2700 lb car) the surge brakes will probably be better for you. Just make sure that before you get the trailer you sit down and think about everything you could ever want to tow on that trailer. Be sure that car is going to be it. Also, will you be modifying the car? That could (theoritically) add enough weight to it that the electric brake option would be better. Electric brakes are required on trailers over 2000 lbs in some states, you should also check your local laws before buying.
Coincidentally, when you get pics - post em! I would love to see whatcha got.
 

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Electric brakes are required on trailers over 2000 lbs in some states, you should also check your local laws before buying.
I know of no state that specifies whether the brakes must be electric vs. surge and the weight at which brakes are required varies from state to state.
 

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Great report and pics, Shingles. Thanks. I often wondered about towing a vehicle and how it would handle. I've only towed a U-Haul 6x12 so far and it handled great!
 
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