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Towing A Travel Trailer With a 6 Cyl Toyota 4 Runner?

Towing A Travel Trailer With a 6 Cyl Toyota 4 Runner?

Everyone said it can’t be done … or worse, it isn’t safe.  But so far, we’re convinced it’s “the little engine that could”.  Towing our travel trailer with a 6 cylinder Toyota 4 Runner apparently isn’t conventional RV wisdom.  Especially when our first trip involved over 10,000 miles, cross country through mountains and flatlands, through desert heat as well as 6″ of snow.   People would stop in campgrounds across the USA and ask “can you really tow that trailer with that tow vehicle?”

Calculating How Much a 4 Runner Can Tow:  Click Here

UPDATE:  Please also read “The Dark Side of Towing a Travel Trailer with a 4 Runner”, click here

Between Capitol Reef Nat'l Park and Blanding, UT

Between Capitol Reef Nat’l Park and Blanding, UT

When I wanted a travel trailer to explore USA National Parks, David agreed with one major condition:  it had to be a trailer we can pull with our existing tow vehicle … a 2006 6 cylinder Toyota 4 Runner.  Luckily our 4 Runner already had a factory tow package including extra transmission cooler (whatever that means).  Rated for 5,000 lbs towing capacity, we knew that after almost any trailer was loaded, we were pushing the limits of our little 4 Runner.

Shakedown - Myakka River State Park, Florida

Shakedown – Myakka River State Park, Florida

The Lance 1685 fit our needs … approx 3800 lbs dry weight (we figure almost 5000 lbs loaded) and just under 21 feet bumper to hitch, with 45 gallon black/fresh/gray water tanks and 2 axles.  We travel with empty tanks other than just a bit of “emergency water” in the fresh water tank.

We added a Fastway E-2 weight distribution hitch with 600 pound round sway bars, heavy duty rear suspension and expensive Michelin tires (David’s choice), and away we went.

The dirt road to Chaco Canyon National Historic Park.

The dirt road to Chaco Canyon National Historic Park.

That’s not to say we went fast … we just went.  There’s something of a liberating feeling knowing you can’t go over about 55-60 mph – slower on long uphill climbs.  We just stay in the slow lane and enjoy the ride. Vehicles whishing around us all on their way in a frenzy to get wherever as fast as they can … we decided we like the slow lane.

Someone told us about a 2/2/2 guideline – no more than 200 miles a day, camp set up by 2 and stay at least 2 nights.  When we were moving cross country, we varied the guideline to include “travel days” – we’d leave at a civilized time in the morning and drive until 4-ish – so maybe 5-7 hour drive days to get across Texas or Kansas.

All the way to Chaco Canyon! We made it!

All the way to Chaco Canyon! We made it!

A few more considerations … Lance built the 1685 to be towed by a Honda Pilot, which as near as I can tell has a tow rating of 4500 lbs, 500 less than our 4 Runner.  Not sure how comfortable that would be.  There were times when despite being in low gears, the 4 Runner was straining.   Going up and down hills, we’d always gear down.

Zion Nat'l Park, Watchman Campground, Site #56

Zion Nat’l Park, Watchman Campground, Site #56

The 4 Runner has a 22 gallon gas tank.  At 10-13 mpg, that gives us only about a 200-230 miles range before having to stop for more gasoline.  It wasn’t really a problem, although while out west, there were a few times we filled up before we needed to just because we were unsure when we’d find another gas station.

Fruita Campground, Capitol Reef Nat'l Park.

Fruita Campground, Capitol Reef Nat’l Park.

Another consideration:  Route Variations & Flexibility.  We’re flexible.  For the first two months of our out west trip, we planned our route to make sure we weren’t going over 12% grade mountain passes if we could avoid them.  And we really didn’t re-route that included any more distance, just different routes than the most direct route sometimes.

Despite taking evading tactics, we didn't escape all the snow, just the blizzard over the mountain pass.

Despite taking evading tactics, we didn’t escape all the snow, just the blizzard over the mountain pass.

But the May drive from Durango to Denver was different.  The day we were scheduled to leave there were blizzard conditions forecast over Wolf Creek Pass, the highest pass on the trip so far.  Blizzard doesn’t sound encouraging in any vehicle, let alone a 4 Runner without snow tires pulling an almost 5,000 lb travel trailer.  Ugh.  So we left a day earlier and drove the long way back to Interstate 25.  Turned out it took a bit longer, but it was an easy drive, when the pass did end up with blizzard conditions – smart move on our part.

I figure if that was the only serious deviation from plan to error on the part of safety in the 4 months we’d been traveling with the trailer, life was all good.  It’s all about attitude, no “got to go no matter what” macho attitudes in our camp.   🙂

Cottonwood Canyon Road

Cottonwood Canyon Road

On the other hand, we discovered we love dirt road driving – NOT pulling the trailer, just exploring – Cottonwood Canyon Road, House Rock Road, Hole in the Rock Road … the list goes on, but the reality is the 4 Runner is well suited to dirt roading – good ground clearance and the ability to negotiate ruts/washboarded dirt roads.  We chose good weather, wouldn’t want to try it in wet weather, but for what we did it was a wonderful way to reach trailheads and arches we couldn’t have seen otherwise.  The Wave and Grosnever Arch come to mind.

Grosnever Arch on the dirt Cottonwood Canyon Road.

Grosnever Arch on the dirt Cottonwood Canyon Road.

The Wave -- off House Rock Road -- 8.3 miles of rutted washboard dirt.

The Wave — off House Rock Road — 8.3 miles of rutted washboard dirt.

We have no major excursions planned until next summer when we’ll head west once again … this time to Glacier National Park and beyond.  We’ll keep our “little engine that could” 4 Runner until then and likely do alot of weekend and weeklong camping throughout the Midwest and Northern Midwest.  But for the Glacier trip, it’s possible we might look at a different tow vehicle.  It’s also possible it might end up being another 4 Runner!  But time will tell.

Cottonwood Wash Trailhead, Cottonwood Canyon Road

Cottonwood Wash Trailhead, Cottonwood Canyon Road

Cottonwood Canyon Road, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, UT

Cottonwood Canyon Road, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, UT

Any other crazies out there towing with an “undersized, unsafe” 6 cylinder vehicle on a 5,000 lb trailer?  Please leave a comment and share.   You can even feel free to tell us how dangerous what we’re doing is and leave photos of larger, more capable tow vehicles flipped on the side of the road … we’ve seen & heard lots of tales of woe …    🙂  Cheers!  Jan

Trailer Traveler 

#towvehicle, #roadtrip, #4Runner, #Lance


  1. Hello Jan and David,
    May I pick up brains?
    I have a 2006 V6 SR5 4×4 4Runner.
    I’m in crisis mode, might be homeless any week. I thought about buying a small trailer to survive with my 2 service dogs. Unfortunately I didn’t get the V8 when I should have and bought the V6, is strictly does have tow package.

    But that’s history.

    Trailer price is a concern, but so is the truck’s capability. I really don’t want to burn out , abuse my 4Runner.

    Was looking at Retro trailers, they’re not great, but low cost. Would love at small airstream, but money’s the issue.

    Any ideas other than the retro? I do need a real bed for my injuries and space for my dogs. I can’t convert the dining seats to a bed, my body wouldn’t handle it.

    Thank you for your posts, they really help and just so happens we have/had the same truck.

    The link shows the dealer with the retros

    • Hi Ross! I hope all is working out well for you. Not sure about the specific trailer, probably try craigs list or maybe a brand forum website. With your 4 runner, think lightweight. Likely no more than 4000#-ish dry. Good luck & be safe! Jan

  2. Just wondering I til with a 2016 four runner does anybody out there running fourth gear instead of leaving it in fifth which is the regular driving here.

    • Hi Steve! We did while using “manual” mode, but our 4 Runner was a 2006. But then we didn’t have any problem with it kicking in & kicking out of overdrive. It worked much better, especially out west. 5 was OK on flat ground, but anywhere else, we switched. Cheers! Jan

  3. Thank you for all of the good information! We have a 2016 4Runner and are getting ready to start the process of buying a travel trailer. Do you have any suggestions? I am concerned that the salesmen are focused on sales vs. safety.
    Also, we are planning a trip for next summer. We live in North Carolina and are considering Maine. Have you been there and if so, any suggestions?
    Have fun at Glacier! I spent 2 summers there and it is amazing!



    • I have 2016 Toyota 4Runner and 2014 Rpod 178 with dry weight 2800 pounds and by my estimate 3500 pounds loaded. I use husky weight distribution hitch TS with sway control. We just finished our trip Chicago to Florida and back with no problems. We drove for 8 straight hours, slept for 6 and then 9 straight to the campsite. We drove most of the time on the cruse control set up to 65-67mph with the average 10.2 mph for the whole trip. With the Husky we did not have any problems with sway and our 4Runner never had problems with keeping the set up speed. In Tennessee and north Alabama our 4Runner had to work little harder buy did not go over 4000 rpm most of the time. According to the Toyota dealer 4unner has all necessary coolers installed with the towing package installed. In the future I thing I will upgrade to Lance 1685 which I would love to have. I think I should not have any problems with 1000lb more weight. As long as you are under 5000lb and take it easy 4Runner will manage.

  4. Happy to hear positive comments on towing with a 4runner. I have a 2005, V8 with the tow package and only 90,000 mi. I do not want to invest in a new tow vehicle. I have been considering a 2018 Camplite 14DBS or 16BH….in addition to the new Rockwood Geo Pro G16BH (18’4in.) If I keep the trailer length at 20 ft. max and the loaded weight at around 3,700 lbs. with WHD and anti sway, I should have a good towing experience. My plan is to begin full-timing in early 2019.

  5. So good to read your post! We just bought a 2018 Starcraft Launch (4000 lbs) to tow with our 2008 Toyota 4 runner. Tows like a dream! We did add a 4 point Equilizer tow bar that makes all the difference in stability even in the worst winds! You are right in that the uphill can be slow but boy do we love it!

  6. Note that the new gen 4Runners are certified by J2807 for 5000#. My 2005 4Runner 4WD V8 was mfgr-rated at the time for 7000#. That pre-j2807 rating is way optimistic. Indeed, the new gen Runner has about the same power and size yet is now J2807 rated for only 5000#. Clearly, either Runner would be way over-matched bu a 7000# trailer! My big new Sequoia 5.7 4WD is J2807 rated for 7100#! And that’s why I traded in the Runner. It FELT scary and twitchy and was always shifting while towing our Flagstaff 25KS 6000# box. The Sequoia does NONE of that…its the BOSS. The Runner was NOT. And the Hensley Arrow hitch is wonderful, too…a vast improvement.

  7. Hi there! We have a 2013 4 Runner and want to tow our our 2012 Jayco Ultra Featherlight. I was happy to see you had a good experience towing. Curious, did you add a whole new brake system to your vehicle?

    • Yes, Our dealer added a brake controller to the 4 Runner – as I understand it, it makes the trailer brakes work the same as the 4 Runner brakes so there’s no push or pull between the truck and trailer. Cheers! Jan

      • I’m looking at a trailer with a unloaded weight of 4308. In your experience is that doable with the 4Runner 4L V6 ?

        • Hi George! You’ll get different answers from everyone. Personally, our Lance 1685 net weight was just under 3800 lbs and after the fact, we felt we might have been pushing the edge of safety.

          The Lance 1885 is about 300 lbs net heavier than our Lance 1685 – be sure to read the Dark Side of Towing with a 4 Runner about a 4 Runner towing a 4100 lb net trailer… similar to what you’re thinking.

          If we were getting a trailer specifically to tow with the 4 Runner these days, we wouldn’t go heavier than 3000 – 3200 net weight. Keep in mind, alot depends on how much weight you put in it, counting the propane tanks, batteries & weight distribution hitch, plus your personal stuff.

          On the other hand, after experiencing the difference between the 4 Runner & our new Tundra, we’d probably not tow with a lightweight tow vehicle again. But we did it and had nothing bad happen in 10,000 miles … were we just lucky? Who knows.

          Whatever you decide, be safe!!! Cheers — Jan

          • Thanks Jan,

            I appreciate all of your input, and this blog…

        • Is the max tow capacity on your 4Runner 5,000 lbs? It doesn’t take much to quickly add additional weight.

          Our 2008 Toyota Highlander with the tow package and over 200k miles under her belt, pulled a small single axle Coleman trailer that had a dry weight of about 3699lbs. Our approximate tow weight with all the gear, hitch and safety bars was 4600lbs. We made certain the TOYO brakes and tires were in optimum condition. We had a weight distribution and anti sway bar installed.

          We managed to pull the camper without much difficulty but you definitely feel the difference with pulling uphill. We got accustomed to traveling in the slow lane.

          I see trailers that well exceed maximum towing capacity and the drivers recklessing driving too fast. Just because posted speed limit is 70mph does not mean you can or should pull any rig that fast, especially if you are at or over that maximum rating. And don’t forget tires on the trailer! What a lot of folks don’t realize is that most new travel trailers come equipped with underrrated tires! Not only for weight load but also maximum speed!!! Be sure and look up the tire specs!

          • Thanks Brenda,
            It appears that I would be wise to forgo the trailer that I wanted and look for an alternative, or upgrade my tow vehicle. All of this because I have a class A motor home with a Coleman Mach basement air conditioning unit that NOBODY knows how to fix! Aggravating!

      • I just made a x country trip from PA to Dakotas then down through Arkansas. Se have a 14 Pathfinder 3.5 w factory equipped tow setup inc electric brake setup. We were pulling a dual axle 7×14 motorcycle trl w 2 big Harleys. I figure I was at 4200lbs. Except for atrocious gas mileage (10-13) the Pfinder had no trouble. Yes a little planning for long hill pulls, sort of like the 18 whlrs, but other than that the 3.5 V6 did fine. We were gone 27 days

      • We are new with our geopro, and learning something simple with each trip. We have yet to find it easy to get our t.t unhitched.

  8. Hi. I’m so glad to see recent activity on this post. I was wondering if anyone had any insights into my dilemma. I have narrowed my towing search to a 2017 4runner TRD Pro model, OR a 2017 Explorere XLT 4wd with a class 3 tow package and trans cooleralready installed through the factory. Any one have any ideas about how the Explorer would differ, or compare with the 4runner. I like both vehicles, and they will both tow what I need them for with my RV. And they cost about the same. I just can’t decide!

    • Hi Drake – can’t offer any firsthand experience with the 4Runner vs the Explorer – we’re obviously biased toward the 4Runner (had 2 of them, now have a Tundra). One thing we didn’t realize was that our 4 Runner with the factory installed hitch package included the transmission cooler. That was a 2006, so out of date, but might want to check on the 2017 4 Runner. Hopefully someone with more experience will chime in. Whatever you choose! ENJOY! Jan

    • 4Runner!

    • How long are you going to keep your new vehicle? The Toyota will last longer, but the Explorer is more comfortable and pleasant to drive. Both likely have the same tow rating of 5,000 lb.

    • I just bought a 2016 4Runner V6 and was hoping I could pull a Rockwood Mini Lite 2104S, but having read these posts it doesn’t look like a good idea. The Unloaded vehicle Weight of this trailer is 4304 lbs., so I would guess that I’m over the 5000 lbs. tow rating once loaded.
      If anybody knows – from experience – that this is actually doable, please let me know…

  9. Hi, thanks for this post lots of good info, and lots of people wondering the same! I have a 2015 4runner and am looking at an airstream sport 16 base weight of 2860 and GVWR of 3500. It seems I have plenty of leeway, but just looking for any extra advice before I decide!

    • Hi Kel! We’ve learned it really doesn’t matter what the trailer specs say, what really matters is how much the trailer weighs fully loaded – which is generally considerably more than anticipated. Keep in mind the GVWR doesn’t include propane and tanks, batteries and other essentials – not to mention personal “stuff” – our screen enclosure, folding picnic table, so on & so forth – which can easily add over 1,000 lbs. Tongue weight is another important consideration and it varys by trailer depending on where the axle(s) are located and how much weight is forward in the trailer. So I hate to say I can’t give a good answer, but, error on the side of conservative for safety’s sake. Good luck & enjoy your adventure! Cheers — Jan

    • We’ve been towing our Airstream 16’Sport with our 2015 2-wheel drive 4runner. We added Timbren rear suspension stops and a Derale transmission cooler kit to the 4runner. Had my mechanic do the work. For towing we’re using a Curt round bar weight distribution hitch and a Tekonsha Primus trailer brake contoller. We put Maxxis M8008 tires and a Lifeline AGM 12v battery on the trailer. Added a portable 120watt solar panel to charge the battery when boondocking. We’ve been very happy everything.

  10. We are about to embark on a trip from Oklahoma to CA in our 4Runner towing our 21.5′ travel trailer (3050 lbs dry). Heading through NM, AZ and then up the coast to Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz. I saw a comment about avoiding routes with more than 17% grade. Did you use an app or rely on an atlas? Any other advice for us? We’re a little nervous, as we’ll be with our little one in tow. Planning to take it slow and be flexible but tips and tricks are appreciated!

    • Hi Rebecca! We’ve only done the Oklahoma to Flagstaff AZ portion of your trip, so can’t comment firsthand. We had no problems with I-40 between Flagstaff and eastern Oklahoma. We’re not lucky enough to have spent any time in California yet. I usually google or ask online in a widespread forum like – folks there will likely be happy to answer your questions. California is on our bucket list, just not yet! Cheers! Jan

      • Try googling
        1) i 40 drive from nm to ca
        2) i 40 arizona steep climbs and descents
        3) mountain directory for truckers, RVs and Motorhome drivers
        4) Larry’s Phat page: Highways Interstate 40

        Then study them carefully. It seems that those 17% grades are on lesser highways than I 40, and actually, some of those highways restrict trucks and RVs. I’d stay on I 40. When I read through the pages, it seemed as though there were several 6% and a few 7% grades on I 40, some of them somewhat lengthy.

        • Thank you! We needed up coming down 17 from Sedona to I-10 and through Joshua tree. Then we came up 101 on the coast and ended up in Northern California. On the way back, we will head up 15 to Zion. Still unsure about some of the roads there and also back down through page,AZ and back to NM. We will be doing that leg in August. For now, we are staying in NorCal.

          • Ended* up

    • P.S. Don’t know where you’re planning to stop, but we enjoyed Palo Duro State Park just south of Amarillo. The Mosquito campground was one of our favorites from our entire winter. The road up from the canyon was a bit steep but it was not a problem for us or any of the other RVrs in the several campgrounds. Cheers! Jan

      • Thanks! We are planning Palo Duro as our first stop, actually! I’ll update on how it goes!

        • Great choice Rebecca! Best campsite in Palo Duro Mesquite (oops) Campground is #85! Outside row, nice view down the canyon, very private. ENJOY! Cheers — Jan

  11. I REALLY appreciate this post. I am just in the beginning stages of going full time, but I am a dog trainer, with two large dogs of my own and the occasional 3rd or 4th one in tow, so finding as much space as I can while still staying safe is imperative. Toy haulers seemed like the perfect solution. I have a 2016 4Runner Limited, which I don’t think has any of the additions you mentioned in your post, so I’ve been looking at smaller toy hauler travel trailers. I was entertaining the idea of ones that are between 4000-4500lbs, thinking “Well, I’ll never have it at capacity while towing it, and I can’t possibly have 500lbs of stuff!” But based on this, I should probably realign my thinking with something under 3500lbs – which is a bit of a bummer space-wise or bed-wise, I’m finding. I’ll keep researching and looking for the right vehicle! Any other tips you can offer?

    • Hi Dani! In case you didn’t see the latest post on this subject, be sure to read “The Dark Side of Towing a Travel Trailer With a Toyota 4 Runner” Yet another caution to error of the safety when choosing a travel trailer/toy hauler. Also, be sure to read the sticker inside the 4 Runner’s drivers door which will tell you the cargo your 4 Runner can carry. I’m a bit concerned when you say 2 large dogs and the 3rd or 4th one in tow, it’s possible you may be exceeding the cargo limit (remember that number has to have the roughly 500-550 lbs of tongue weight from the trailer – lighter trailer = lighter tongue weight). FYI – we love our Tundra Crew Cab – click here to see why. Enjoy and BE SAFE! Cheers! Jan

      • Is the concern for the dogs that I’d be exceeding the cargo weight of the trailer or of the 4Runner? I’m expecting a minimum of 80lbs of “dog weight” and a max of maybe 200lbs. The maximum payload according to the sticker is 1575lbs.

        I did read the other two articles you’ve posted re: towing with a 4Runner. Definitely a lot of things to consider!

        • Hi Dani! The total cargo weight of the 4 Runner. When you said big dogs, I was imagining some friends’ dogs that are easily 80-100 lbs each! That might mean an additional 400 lbs of cargo. 🙂 Just read the sticker on the drivers side door and know the limits and ENJOY!!! I’d still think seriously about a trailer in the 3000-3500 lb dry weight range, for a 4 Runner if the 4 Runner is rated at 5,000 lbs. Cheers! Jan

  12. Hello- great information! I have a 2006 4Runner and want to buy a camper, but am not ready to purchase a bigger truck at this time. Have any of you considered a pop-up style? I am considering a -forest hills rockwood HW296. Dry trailer weight is approx 3900 lbs and loaded is 5,000 lbs and it has 2 axles. After reading your posts I have to make sure I have a trans cooler and will look into beefing up the rear suspension. Is there a reason I should stay away from a pop -up and should consider what campers in some of the above posts are pulling? Thank you.

    • Hi Dave! There’s no reason not to have a pop-up style trailer. We prefer hard sided because we camp alot in national parks out west and often there’s a bear issue. Some parks rangers make anyone in a popup camper store ALL foodstuffs, including stuff like tooth paste & toothbrushes in the vehicle every night to keep the bears out. We’ve even heard of rangers coming around to check nightly. The other downside, in our opinion, is the necessity to “put it up” or “take it out” every time you reach a new campsite. But if those things don’t bother you, pop-ups should be fine! ENJOY! Cheers — Jan P.S. Your suspension may be fine, ours wasn’t, hence the reason we had it beefed up.

    • Dave, you might look at TrailManors…….they are a hard sided ‘pop-up’……with dry baths. The most popular model is the 2720, which when ‘down’ is 20 feet long, but no higher than a car, so it tows like a dream. Dry weight is 2850. When ‘up’ it is 27 feet long. There are used ones on rv trader, and the TrailManor Owners Forum, and on Craigs List. We have a 3124 – which we love. It is 24′ towing length, 30 feet ‘up’, dry weight 3150……with a king sized bed, good kitchen, dry bath, sofa etc. We tow with our Highlander……perhaps pushing it’s capacity, but we just took a 7000 mile trip out west and it did fine. I AM looking at perhaps a better tow vehicle (that’s why I”m here!), but not sure we’ll switch.

      • Thank you- that is a pretty neat camper that I have never seen before. After reading the info that Jan is providing and reading the replys, I actually am considering a travel trailer now. The one I am looking at now is a Starcraft Launch Mini 19BHS. 22′ long, 3,965 lbs dry-GVWR of 4,750. It has a rear slide out with a queen bed and 2 bunks up front for my kids. I already have the trans cooler, hitch with sway control, and rear suspension bags in my amazon cart. There is a big RV show here in PA in September, we may wait until then to purchase unless a good deal comes before that. Has anyone bought from an RV Expo, would prices typically be lower at a show? Thank you again.

        • Hi Dave! We always guestimate at least 1000 lbs on top of the trailer’s dry weight to accommodate all your “stuff” – it adds up quickly, especially if you have 2 batteries, 2 propane tanks etc. When you’re talking about right on the edge of safety, even a few extra pounds can make a difference. Personally, if we had another 4 Runner, we’d go with something smaller and lighter than almost 4,000 lbs dry weight. I have a post coming up on Sunday 6/4 entitled “The Dark Side of Towing with a 4 Runner”. It’s a personal experience post from another Lance trailer owner and you’ll want to read it before making any decisions, especially with the safety of the kids involved. Cheers! Jan

          • Ok thanks I will be sure to read that. We went out last night and found another travel trailer that we love-Jayco Jay Feather X213 . This is heavier and longer than the Starcraft at GVWR 5,500 and 24′ long. We would not tow this with the 4Runner and are actuall considering to upgrade to a Tahoe or a 8cyl 4Runner. Thanks I really enjoyed reading your posts.

          • Hi Dave! Don’t consider an 8 Cyl 4 Runner with that heavier trailer … rationale coming Sunday … towing a 3700# net weight trailer … now totaled… stay tuned. Stay safe! Jan

          • We had been pulling our 19 ft coachman freedomexpress for the past year with our 2015 4 Runner. The dry weight of camper is 3780 lb. we were always concinsious of what we packed but never weighed the camper. I just by chance took the camper and had it weighed and was shocked, it weighed 4500 lb and this was with out any food, clothing and all water black gray and fresh empty. This would explain why our 4 runner seemed to struggle while pulling in the Carolina mountain area. We have now purchased a 2017 Tundra crew max and are getting it ready for our next adventure.

  13. Very interesting discussion. I hope it’s not too late to post my experience, which is almost unheard of. I tow a Lance 1475, empty weight 2,777 lb., loaded it’s approx. 3,600 lb with a 2016 Ford Flex, front wheel drive. The tow capacity of the
    Flex is 4,500 lb. and I’ve added a tranny cooler and rear suspension air bags. No super long trips yet, but I’ve gone up and down medium grades to 4,300 ft. elevation. Total miles towed is around 3,000. Flex tows beautifully on the flats, even in moderate winds, getting 17 mpg. She labors just a little up the grades but does okay. Max speed rating for the trailer is 60 mpg, so I do not go faster than that. The real test is whether I am willing to try a trip through Northern Arizona and New Mexico to those elevations. Am a little
    apprehensive but may try it in a few months. What are your thoughts?

    By the way, I do have a weight distribution hitch. Cheers.

    • Hi Anthony! It sounds like a similar weight comparison to us and our Lance 1685 (4600-5000# loaded) and our original Toyota 6 cyl 4 Runner (rated at 5000 lbs towing). We also had the tranny cooler, extra suspension, a weight distribution hitch & sway bars. (I assume you have sway control?) Not familiar with a Flex – I assume you’ve checked the sticker inside the drivers side door for towing and cargo numbers.

      Let us know how it goes – as trailers get lighter (Lance didn’t offer a 1475 when we bought our 1675), tow vehicles seem to be getting smaller. We saw some interesting combinations over the winter while living as “part-time full-timers”.

      Having said that, err on the side of caution. When we had to replace the 4 Runner, we opted to go with a Tundra for the added towing capacity and heavier vehicle. There is a major difference that we feel every mile. Since we tend toward cross country trips and mountains, it makes us feel safer. As David says “we knew the trailer was back there every inch of the way with the 4 Runner, with the Tundra we have to be careful to REMEMBER the trailer is back there!”. 🙂

      Cheers! Jan

      • Hello Jan and followers,

        I came across this blog as I am seriously looking at a Lance 1685 to tow behind a Current model V6 Jeep Grand Cherokee. With a wheelbase of about 115 inches this is what I’ve set as a safe length to tow. The 4runner has certainly proven itself to be a capable hauler and was a runner-up in our vehicle decision. As you wisely did, I’m seeing that a Weight Distributing Hitch and Trailer Brake are absolutely needed if towing more than a very small open trailer of less than 1-2000lbs and required in most states.

        Looking into the requirements for towing I’ve come to understand the towing limitations set by the vehicle manufacturers take into consideration not only the power available from the engine but also the capacity of the brakes drive train, transmission, cooling system and weight carrying ability.

        I’ve seen some here planning to tow 24′ and longer trailers with their 4runner. While they may have the power to tow it, the trailer length combined with a relatively short wheelbase Tow Vehicle is not a good combination when cross winds or side forces from passing Semi’s becomes a factor. Remember, if the trailer floor length is 24′, add 3 more feet for the Trailer Tongue so the overall length becomes 27’… suggesting a tow vehicle wheelbase of a Full Size Pick-Up Truck would be appropriate for safe stable towing.

        Like you, I’m expecting to be comfortable traveling at the speed-limit and enjoying a few more minutes of scenery when encountering grades but have limited my choice of travel Trailers to one that fits into the capacity of the Tow vehicle. I’m sticking with a Trailer that at max weight is still well below the 6200lb tow rating of the vehicle and loaded will be kept below 5000lbs, will keep the tongue weight at least 10% of the trailer loaded weight and will have and use a Brake Controller and Weight Distribution Hitch with anti-sway.

        I’m happy to see that you have had many wonderful travels with your 1685. It’s a great Trailer and with the new designed aerodynamic front and relocated should be a great addition to our explorations.

        Thanks for hosting this forum………. Ken

        • Hi Ken! Sounds like you’re doing your homework & should have a wonderful adventure in your 1685. We had the extra tranny cooler in our 4 Runner, didn’t notice if you had one on your Jeep, but you may want to find out.

          Ours is the old style 1685 (2014) without the new aerodynamic front, but we love it even so!

          BTW, we ended up trading our 4 Runner in on a Tundra when it was time (we upgrade vehicles every 10 years). We would have happily gotten another 4 Runner except the price was so much higher and had less towing capacity, so it really didn’t make sense. The new Tundra gets 10-11 mpg with is close to what the 4 Runner got, and we don’t notice the Lance 1685 is even back there. With the 4 Runner (and the 6 cyl Jeep Grand Cherokee, I suspect) we always knew the trailer was behind us. 🙂 Here’s a post I wrote comparing the two after we’ve towed over 10,000 miles with each truck: 4 Runner vs Tundra as a Tow Vehicle.

          Enjoy your Lance 1685! Cheers! Jan

      • Jan, thanks for the reply. I enjoy these conversations, as we are able to muddle through to learn from each other and hopefully stay safe on the road. Will continue to read others’ entries. Safe driving to you.

  14. I love this posting and comments about towing with an SUV. In summer of 2016 we bought a 2013 Highlander SE rated for 5,000 lb tow capacity to tow a used 2001, 22′ long, 78″ wide Taylor Coach . It sleeps 5. I’ve had the dry trailer weighed last year at our local recycler and it was on the order of 2850 pounds. The Taylor website show hitch weight on his trailers are about 10% of trailer weight. I’ll use what I’ve learned here to measure mine, but have not done it yet.

    I wanted to mention Taylor Coach. They have been in business for 50 years making quality, ultra low weight trailers. They are located in Millgrove, Ontario, Canada. Used Taylor Coach trailer are hard to find . I can send pictures or post a description if interested.

    We are thinking about buying a trailer with a larger bath (ours is the mid size toilet and sink) and have been looking around. The postings here have convinced me to stay with a Taylor Coach and purchase his largest unit. Look for his postings on YouTube. At this point we plan to purchase a 24′ by 90″, Designer Series, large bath, walk around queen bed, 4 person dinette, range, oven, microwave, roof AC, ducted heat, rear bumper with hitch for bike rack, thermopane windows, full length awning that weighs about 3,000 lbs. All of his coaches are built in his shop. He makes and uses high quality materials and parts. Highly customizable, uses all available space. He is open to make a floor plan that customer would like, subject to changes that might be required to produce the unit. His videos show some of the floor plans that have been made.

    I think this has turned into an advertisement, but I really meant to emphasize the low weights his trailers have. He will not make a slide out unit.

    • Update. I’ve found my Scale Weight Slip. My current 2001 Taylor Coach 21′ long by 76″ wide, dual axle trailer dry weight is 2560 lbs.

      • Sorry, 22′ long, 78″ wide.

  15. Not sure if you have installed a tranny cooler but I highly recommend it, google “toyota pink milk shake”. Now I stumbled on your article cuz i am researching 06-09 4runners and perhaps a smaller trailer behind, but I will not exceed 4500lbs and upgrade the tires and shocks (good call on that), for our 2700 trip cross country

    • Thanks Frank! We had a tranny cooler. Loved our 4 Runner. Enjoy your trip! Cheers — Jan

  16. Great post! My wife and I are currently shopping for both a car AND a trailer. Looking to purchase both in April. We’re looking for a light trailer, around 20′, and under 5,000 lbs GVWR. There are plenty to look at, but I’ve already had to rule out several because I’m 6’2″ and most beds don’t work for me. If I can replace the bed, then it’s fine, but in many, you can’t. Then there are just the other nice-to-haves, like a larger fridge, full bathroom, etc. We’ve narrowed it down to a small handful.

    The reason I want it under 5,000 fully loaded is because I don’t want to have to get a car any bigger than mid-sized SUV. No monster trucks. I love Toyotas and really trust their reliability over most other manufacturers. For that reason, I’ve been trying to decide between a Highlander and a 4Runner. I realize there is only a certain model of the Highlander that can actually tow 5,000 and the rest can’t. But I like the idea of the car handling and the better gas mileage. That said, though, I’m starting to worry that I might be pushing it with the Highlander, especially considering the trailers we have it narrowed town to are very close to 5,000 GVWR, much like your Lance (which I love, but is out of my price range, unfortunately). So now I think I might be leaning towards the 4Runner instead, simply because it seems to be built more for towing. Plus I’m sure there will be plenty of times I’ll want to drive on some harsher dirt roads while out adventuring – not with the trailer attached, of course, but just while on our trips.

    Have you driven both, and if so, how drastically different do they feel? I’d be switching from a car, so a 4Runner might be a shock, uncomfortable and noisy, but maybe it’s not too bad? Also curious how you do on gas mileage. I think the Lance is probably around the same GVWR as the ones we’re looking at (Keystone Bullet Crossfire, Pacific Coachworks Econ or Gulfstream Vista Cruiser).


    • Hi Brian! We have a friend with a Highlander, so we’ve ridden in it and we’ve towed with our 4 Runner. We personally wouldn’t tow with a Highlander unless the trailer is significantly lighter than our Lance (3800# dry; 5000# loaded). The 4 Runner did fine, but it was definitely extended. As I understand it, the Highlander is built on a car frame and the 4 Runner on Toyota’s truck frame? Yes, the Highlander rode smoother – we preferred the 4 Runner ride since prior to two 4 Runners we had two Jeep Cherokee Sports (didn’t tow anything other than an 18′ sailboat). And the 4 Runner is a blast exploring dirt roads! Gas mileage was atrocious at between 10 – 12 (more 10s than 12s). Our new monster truck Tundra gets the same mileage, I think maybe it’s a given unless you have a diesel. Enjoy! Jan

      P.S. Our Lance 1685 is perfect for us, and we have a full size queen. Be careful though, it wouldn’t be comfortable for 6’2″ with it’s lower ceilings and small shower. Be sure to actually see whatever you decide to purchase/order, sit in the seats and lay on the bed!

      • We have a 2015 highlander we tow our Lance with. I do feel more movement than i did when towing with our last pickup. It does make me drive at the speed limit , no pushing it. Mileage driving in the Northwest, Eugene to Bend 11-13 MPG. The 4 Runner should have less movement but the features/option we have with the Highlander sealed the deal for us.

        • Thanks, yeah definitely still considering the Highlander too. Would be nice to have the extra comfort and better gas mileage when not towing too. I guess I’m still wondering how handy it would be to have the better offroading capabilities of the 4Runner. Hard to say how often I’ll want to take it off road, but I’m assuming quite a bit.

      • Hi Jan, thanks for the reply. Yes, the 4Runner has a truck body and the Highlander a car body, so I could see why the 4Runner would be the preferable one for towing. It’s just so hard to figure it all out though, since now I’m seeing that the 4Runner technically can only tow 4,700 while they’re saying a fully loaded Highlander XLE can tow 5,000. Makes no sense. I’d still lean towards the 4Runner I guess, because of the offroading capabilities when we’re not hooked up.

        Yes, I’m definitely a heavy researcher, so I’m visiting every trailer model on my list and checking out everything. The bed is a huge dealbreaker for me, so it’s ruled out several. Ceilings haven’t been an issue in many in the main living area, but yes, many bathrooms are too cramped – especially the wet baths, which I’ve ruled out.

        Difficult, but exciting stuff. Thanks again for the reply, and happy travels!

        • Hi Brian! Our 4 Runner was a 2006 6 cyl factory installed hitch (with tranny cooler) so it had the old 5000# tow rating. The 4700# tow rating on the new 4 Runners is a major reason we now have a Tundra…. well, that coupled with the fact that the Tundra was less expensive, go figure. Personally, I would have preferred our 3rd 4 Runner! 🙂 Stephen says he’s towing with a Highlander & happy – be sure to read his input below. Cheers — Jan

          • Thanks, yeah I just saw Stephen’s reply too. Definitely still on the table, the Highlander. But yeah, that version might be getting pretty expensive. A friend of mine has the Tundra and pulls a much larger trailer with that. I’m really looking to spend between $25K-$30K on the car, since I have to also buy the trailer at the same time, so I know my options are limited. Definitely will have to go used, but hopefully not too used! Would like under 50K miles on the car, so that’s probably going to be a really tall order.

  17. My wife and I are looking to buy a Coachmen Freedom Express 192RBS with a UVW of3852 and tow it with a 2005 Toyota Tacoma V-6 with tow package. I’m nervous having friends tell me that’s too much trailer. I can’t afford to buy a bigger truck and my wife and I need a trailer with a walk around bed due to our age and health.
    Do you guys think I’m being foolish to think this combo will work?

    • Hi Frank! You’ll need to check the Tacoma’s door sticker to see what it says it will tow. We add 1000# to the trailer weight to account for “stuff” so you’re somewhere around 6000# round numbers on the trailer. It’s better to load up the trailer and then take it to get weighed, but when you’re in the planning stages, that’s not practical. Hopefully your Tacoma has the factory tow package with the transmission cooler. You’ll also need a good weight distribution hitch & sway bars and a brake controller. We’ve met Tacoma’s rated to 7000#, if so, you’re probably good to go, with the WDH set up & brake controller. Just don’t expect to go fast, we enjoyed going 55 and seeing the country – uphill sometimes less, flat sometimes more. Enjoy, do your own research and don’t necessarily trust a dealer – they want to sell you a trailer and two different dealers told us we could tow up to 6000 # with our 4 Runner which was clearly untrue. Cheers! Jan

      • Thanks for your quick reply. Yes, our Tacoma has the tow package rated at 6500lbs and I have a Tekonsha brake controller. So, with the trailer weight + 1000lbs, it looks like we’d be right at 75% of max. I will plan on a weight distribution hitch with sway control, looking at the Equal-I-zer.
        I’ve also hear people say never to tow with your automatic transmission in over-drive (5th gear) but to always select 4th gear.So much to learn! Ha Ha!

        I appreciate your help, Frank

        • Hi Frank! We always used 4th gear in the 4 Runner – 5th gear seemed to rev up and down so much that it was bothersome. 4th gear seemed to be much better and David didn’t feel like it put as much pressure on the transmission – our own observations, not a mechanics recommendation. ENJOY! Cheers — Jan

          • Our 2008 Toyota Highlander (w/tow package rated for 5,000 lbs) also runs better in 4th gear pulling out 2017 Dutchmen Coleman (abt. 4,000 lbs loaded). We recently traveled to Florida, her first maiden voyage, through mountains and flat country without any problems. Once we were on flat open interstate and traffic flow opened up I found it did ok shifting into 5th. Very important to make certain tires are properly inflated! We had a very bad experience with the factory installed nitrogen inflated Lionshead Constancy tires before taking it out on first trip. A blowout with less than 190 miles and $3,000 worth of damage later, we had to pay out of pocket for 3 new tires and one wheel. Our insurance company is covering body damage and the wheel but not the tires. However, they are going after the tire manufacturer as they feel the tire was defective. Tire company will hopefully pay us for the tires that we replaced. After much research make sure tores tires are rated for your load range! Oh, and check the recommended maximum speed rating although weight and speed were not a factor in our case with the Lionshead tire that “exploded.” I was traveling 42mph in 45 zone on a cold day (snow flurries) and pulling trailer with at most 500 lbs of cargo from RV technician where they had done some upgrades like heating pads for water tanks. Luckily our trailer can accommodate the wider 215 tires and I was able to find load range D with maximum 85moh highway speed although I would never pull any trailer with any tow vehicle going that fast, even with weight distribution and sway bar. I was able to travel in the slow lane and let other folks pass us by.

  18. Enjoy your ventures towing with the 4Runner. I have a 2008 4Runner with identical towing capacity as your 2006 4Runner. Great vehicle and really like it! I have installed a transmission cooler and use an Equal-i-zer hitch with sway control and weight distribution rolling on Michelin tires. Just wondering which Michelin tire model do you have and what is the tire pressure (PSI) you inflate to for towing?

    • Hi Sid! We put Michelin tires on our 4 Runner a couple years ago … and since traded it in on a Tundra, so I don’t have the exact answers. But David remembers 3 things – the tires were on sale and 50K-60K tires, the tire place inflated them with nitrogen because of the hot/cold fluctuations we’d be encountering and they were kept inflated to whatever it says on the sticker on the DOOR of the 4 Runner (not on the tires). We loved the 4 Runner & those Michelin tires. Enjoy your 4 Runner – I wish the new ones weren’t so dang expensive – more than the 2016 Tundra which we lucked into with 800 miles “used”. I miss our 4 Runner, but the Tundra is nice too. Cheers! Jan

  19. We have a 2008 4Runner SR5 4×4 and pull a 4500 lb (loaded to travel) Bigfoot trailer, 19 feet long. We have one battery and no water except the six gallons in the water heater. The tongue weight is about 12%. The SUV has tow package and added trans cooler. We towed for six years with no weight distributing hitch or sway control with no problem. But we were over weight for the rear axle rating . So last year I added a Reese weight distributing hitch with sway cionrl to control where the weight is carried. We usually go 60 mph, and much slower in the mountains. Usually the payload of an SUV is the limiting factor, not the tow rating. A 500 lb tongue weight like ours is part of the payload so we have to be careful not to go over the 1250 lb payload of the SUV. The 4Runner is a good tow vehicle within limits; for example it has a short wheelbase so long trailers are a no-no.

    • We towed a 21 foot travel trailer for a couple of long trips (4000+ miles) with a 2011 V-6 Honda Pilot at its max tow rating of 4500 lbs. It had the full tow package with transmission cooler. Fine on the flat, but it really strained at high rpm’s going up steep grades. No mechanical problems occurred, but I was concerned about (1) having no reserve power at all and (2) shortening the life of the car by pushing it so hard. So we got a beefier TV, and I am much more comfortable towing, plus we don”the have to worry about leaving a little water in the tank, going a couple of days between dumps, etc.

  20. I am planning to purchase a 2016 4Runner that comes with the 4 litre V6, 5 speed transmission, transmission cooler and rated at 5000 lbs. This will tow a trailer with a 2950 lb dry weight. I have heard various opinions about this with not all of them being positive. I have enjoyed your article and would like some reassurance. Am I out to lunch with this plan?

    • Hi Ray! We don’t think you’re “out to lunch” planning to tow a 2950 lb dry weight trailer with a 6 cyl. 4 Runner. In theory, if you use an average of 1000# added to dry weight for cargo/trailer weight, you’ll have 3950#-ish. You don’t say if you have a factory installed tow package, but I’m assuming with the transmission cooler, you’ll have it. People all across the US told us we were out to lunch, that towing with our 4 Runner wasn’t safe, so forth & so on. But we never had any trouble.

      Having said that, we’ve upgraded to a Toyota Tundra. For the rationale and specific differences we’ve noted in towing 10,000 miles with our 4 Runner and 10000 miles with our Tundra, see this post: Don’t forget a weight distribution hitch, sway bars and extended towing mirrors. Our trailer is 3800# dry weight, so we’re towing more than you’re referencing at 2950#. 🙂 Be safe & have FUN! Jan

      • Thanks for the quick response; the vehicle will have the factory installed hitch receiver and 4/7 pin connectors.

        • So, it has happened. We got our 2016 4Runner in December and picked up our 2017 Escape 19 in July. We picked up the 3000 lb trailer on July 7 and towed it 2500 km from Chilliwack BC to Kenora Ontario over the next three days. We found the 4 Runner worked well for this. The first challenge was driving on the Coquihalla from Chilliwack to Kenora. Temperatures were 35 degrees Celsius with some very long grades. We found that we could go 80 km per hour in third gear at 3000 rpm. Transmission temperatures went to 249 degrees Farenheit. Across the prairie we drove 100 km/hr in fourth gear at 2500 rpm with transmission temperatures running around 170 degrees Farenheit. Upon arriving in Kenora I spoke to the service manager at the local dealership about the transmission temperatures suggesting that I needed to replace the stock transmission cooler. He was unconcerned with the occasional foray into temperatures in the mid 200s while towing uphill and suggested that I just change the transmission oil more frequently, say every 50,000 km if towing a lot. So, in the end, it has all worked out well. The 4runner will do the job and we are happy with our new trailer.

          • By the way, we got 16 mpg coming from BC to Ontario.

    • We recently purchased a 2017 Coleman Lantern dry weight 3088. Tow vehicle is our 2008 Toyota Highlander, V6 5-speed Automatic AWD with factory installed towing package. We had a hitch installed some years back and the RV dealership included a Reese weight distribution setup with Stable bar and power tongue lift. We towed the “empty” trailer feom the dealership about 120 miles without any problems. I started out on a less traveled road before it merged into a major interstate heavily traveled by trucks. Quite a few ilong grades and I had read beforehand to drop out of overdrive. Thanks for blogs like this one for very useful tips! I had it in 4th gear most of the trip and on the flatter sections I had it 5th and the Highlander did surprisingly well.

      What I didn’5 have was extended side mirror for passenger side. My mistake thinking the package I purchased contained only one mirrors. It clamped onto mirror but I found t too small for my liking so now I need to research on bigger and better towing mirrors.

      Unfortunately my husband broke his leg and we were unable to take it on our Florida trip but I did take it to an area RV tech sonthey could show me how to winterized it. I haven’5 had our rig out on the road that much but so far I have been pleasantly surprised at how well it handles. Now, it is slow going on he steeper grades but it goes!!

  21. Jan
    Is your 4 Runner a 4×4? I have a 06 4×4 4 runner with 212,000 and am looking for a trailer to travel with. Great adventures


    • Hi Robert! Yes, our 4 Runner was a 4X4 -with factory equipped tow package (including extra transmission cooler) and we added the weight distribution hitch, sway bars and external mirrors. Great vehicle. There are a variety of trailers to chooose from – be sure to try and get one under 3500 # NET weight. Ours is 3800 # net and loaded it’s very close to the 5000 lbs recoommended for the 4 Runner. Lance makes a 1575 as well as a tiny 1475 that are smaller. Depending on your camping style, some of the RPods looked really nice when we were looking, just not enough storage for longer term camping. Cheers! Jan

  22. We pulled a 1985 from NE FL to NJ with a 2016 Tacoma TRD sport with the towing package and it performed well. It did downshift from 4th into third a lot and turned a lot of revs.

    • Welcome Uncle Lou! Great travel trailer! Our experience is when we headed west (as opposed to East of the Mississippi), our 6 cyl 4 Runner labored more than previously. Now that we have the Tundra – the mileage isn’t much worse and the truck doesn’t work nearly as hard to tow up mountain passes. We spent the month of September 2016 crossing the Continental Divide 10 times with no issues. Having said that, our 2006 4 Runner could have managed the same passes. Cheers — Jan

  23. Thank you for the very useful information. We are in the process of purchasing a Dutchmen Coleman Lantern, abt. 3100 dry weight) to be Townes by our 2008 AWD Toyota Highlander Sport with the towing package with. 5,000 lb towing weight. We have plans to travel west (from Virginia) in a year or two). For now we will do shorter trips. The different trailer dealerships recommend weight distribution and sway control. The trailer shop that installed our hitch says we should not need the sway control. After reading lots of info, I would rather play safe. I once saw a trailer in tow fishtail coming down a mountain along a straight stretch (no crosswinds or excessive speeds). The back end of that trailer crossed well into the passing lane and left rear corner actually reached the left shoulder. I kept waiting for it to jackknife and kept well back. Luckily the driver maintains control of the TV and the trailer eventually leveled out.

    Three different dealerships all have said our vehicle will have no problem pulling the 21.5′ trailer when loaded. It will be just my husband and I traveling with two Cairn Terriers. In addition to small fresh water tank, one small propane tank, and battery, we will have about 100lbs for a 10×10 popup canopy and 60 lbs of weights. The queen sized mattress is being replaced with a memory foam/latex that comes shrink wrapped into a smal tight roll.

    Having never towed anything other than the smaller U-Hauls, I want to be prepared before getting on the road. We will have to have the flat 4-pin connector changed to the 7-pin round and powered electric break control box installed. And while we’re at it, an eclectic tongue jack to save further wear and tear on arthritic next and shoulders.

    We only ride on Micheleins’s. You mentioned this but I wasn’t sure if you had them installed on the trailer. Would the factory installed radials be ok for shorter trips and then switch to the Michelins for a long haul?

    I need to build my confidence level driving in mountain terrain. We are at the foothills of the Blue Ridge and Afton Mountain is a steep ridge to practice on. (Nothing Hong line those out west.)

    • Hi Brenda! We cannot comment on a Highlander’s towing capability, I was under the impression that they had a lower towing capability than the 4 Runner — you may want to look in your manual or call Toyota. Dealers all told us we could safely tow 6500 lbs with our 4 Runner – we didn’t believe them. Toyota told us 5,000 lbs. The 4 Runner towed our 3800 lb dry weight Lance 1685 just fine, but we’re glad we switched to the Tundra when it was time to replace the 4 Runner. We wouldn’t be without our E-2 Weight Distribution hitch as well as our 600 # round sway bars. We have Michelins on both the trucks, but our trailer has the factory racials – and we’re going on 25,000 miles. You’ll get some experience driving in the Blue Ridge – we drove to the N. Georgia Mountains the first week of August – those roads are steep and curvy – we havne’t encountered anything quite so steep and curvy on our 10,000 miles west this September. Try it out first close to home, you’ll be fine. Cheers! Jan

      • Our 2008 TOYO Highlander sport does have the optional towing package (factory installed) and is rated to two max load of 5,000 lbs.

        The dealership installed a Reese weight distribution/sway control system as well as electric power tongue lift. Because of heavy rains and flooded roadways we delayed hauling our new 2017 Coleman Lantern TT (3,088 dry weight) until this week.

        Will post on how that trip goes which will be first time towing a TT.

        • Safe Travels & HAVE FUN Brenda! 🙂 Cheers — Jan

  24. I have a 2005 4Runner, V8. I currently have a little ALiner, which is nothing for the Toyota to pull. However, we have been looking for a bigger camper. So far we have looked at Forest River Vibe 2258RKS, dry weight 5073 lbs and a Salem Hyper Lite 26RLHL, dry weight of 5708 lbs. I have only been looking at campers that weigh less than 6000 lbs.
    My 4Runner hitch says 7,300 lbs when used as a weight distribution hitch. There are only 2 of us, but I really have no idea how much weight we put in a camper, I can’t imagine more than 700 pounds.
    Does anyone have any experience towing anything this size with the V8. I would add the sway control and already have a brake controller.
    Thanks for any input

    • Hi Stephanie – sorry, no idea. We only wish we had the V8 4 Runner! I know that both those trailers would not have worked with our V6. Good luck & be safe! Cheers! Jan

  25. Just got back from Jasper. I saw a lance trailer and white truck. Jan did you and David make it this far north? On another note we had a great 5 day trip. Lots to see and many memories to cherish. The Jayco towed well and the Toyota did a great job.

  26. Could you shoot me a message? I’d like to use one of your images on a blog post about “What can I tow with a 4Runner?” I’m redesigning my blog and would love to use one of your beautiful pictures where you’re towing something with the 4Runner.

    • Hi Doug! Thanks! I sent you an e-mail. Cheers! Jan

      • Hmm, I don’t see it and it isn’t in my Spam folder. Maybe try again?

  27. Jan are you and David heading North West or just West? If Alberta is in your plans try Dinasoure provincial park on your way to Banff. Also put the Columbia ice fields and Athabasca falls on the list as well. We have one last 4 day trip planed in September, back to Jasper for us before the snow flys .

  28. Great write up!! I have a 2004 V6 4X4 4Runner. Tow capacity = 5,000lbs. I’m wanting to get a travel trailer that is just under the 3,500lb mark when fully loaded. We’ll be doing a 4-month trip through the states out west and Canada. Do you think the 4Runner will hold up? Is there anything I should be cautious of? How do I know if I have the extra transmission cooler? Any advice would be great thanks!!

    • Hi RC! With 3500 lbs fully loaded, you should have no problem other than maybe going slower on inclines. We didn’t know we had the extra transmission cooler until a dealer that changed the oil in New Mexico checked for us. The dealer told us that MOST factory tow package vehicles have the extra transmission cooler. Don’t forget you’ll likely still need a weight distribution hitch and maybe sway bars (not sure with that light a trailer). Another thing to be aware of is gas mileage – don’t forget the 4 Runner has a small gas tank when you’re only getting 11-13 mpg. We tried to get gas anytime we were at 200 miles, just because in some places you never know where the next gas station might be. Oh, and pick your weather, no use trying to negotiate a mountain pass in a blizzard – one day we opted to leave a day earlier than planned and took a somewhat longer route to avoid the mountain twisty road, blizzard and winds. 🙂 ENJOY! Cheers — Jan

  29. Jan and David I hope your having a great summer. Well we just pulled the Jayco 23b another 1700 Km. She pulled great in 4S as usually. We maaged 100 th 105 Km per hour. We were in no rush and saw 3 other 4 Runners pulling trailers as well. The trailer had full water on board, I didn’t even notice the extra 240 lbs.. We went for 2 weeks and had a great trip. I am guessing we were pulling around 4900 lbs. or may be a little more. 4 bike 2 kids and a border collie all came along for the ride. We were a little lighter coming home we had 3 cans less bug spray.

    • Hi Marcel! Good to hear you had a great trip! We’re headed west in 3 more weeks, can’t WAIT!!! Cheers! Jan

    • Marcel,
      We are debating on purchasing a Jayco Jay Feather x23b (4,200 lb.dry weight) to be towed by our 2016 Toyota Highlander. The Highlander has a 3.5 ltr. 6 cylinder engine including a tow package. Toyota states it’s has a 5,000 lb. towing. We have two teenagers that will usually be traveling with us. We want to be safe and comfortable. Were not sure if we should settle for the smaller and lighter x19h 3,600 lb. We really, really, like the x23b!

      Any feedback would be appreciated.

      • Hi Marcel! Personally I think any trailer at a 4200 lb dry weight is too heavy to be towed by a 4 Runner. Keep in mind a 20# tank full of propane weighs approx 37 lbs full (we have 2). A Group 27 battery weighs approx 65 lbs, again, we have 2. These items are not included in the dry weight of the trailer. If you travel with any fresh water in your tanks for emergencies – we usually have about 10 gallons, that’s just under another 8.5 pounds per gallon – so another 85 lbs. Already without adding food or anything else, we’ve added about 300 lbs (of our everyday use 1000 lbs) and we haven’t added a thing to eat or wear. If you start doing the math, you’ll see that 1000# number is nothing to disregard. Be safe out there! And don’t forget to allow for the extra passenger’s weight in the truck. Enjoy, and be safe! Cheers — Jan

      • Eddie I think Jan is right. Our Jayco 23 B is just 3950 lbs dry. The 2011 4 Runner we pull her with is rated at 5000 lbs tow capacity.. It is pushing the limits of the Suv. Once loaded with food water kids toys, bikes we are pretty well at the limit. Like Jan and David we to carry an extra battery and 2 full propane tanks. Our water tank on the Jayco is right over the dual axles, in my eyes it provides extra stability and trailer braking power. I have added all of the weight up and we come in around 4900 lbs. I don’t think I would put another 200 lbs in there just to test the limits. We try not to exceed a safe driving speed, slower is faster. Don’t forget your on holidays to, if your white knuckling it and are exhausted when you get to your destination no one will have fun.

      • Eddie don’t forget to check that you need a electronic brake controller for either trailer. On the 4 Runner it was plug and play, about $170.00. It is a must with all that weight behind you.

  30. I’ve been reading through all of the comments and would like an opinion. I’m a single female wanting to travel and may or may not have an additional person with me. I have a 2002 4 Runner Limited in excellent condition with 138,000 miles on it. It is a V6. I am seriously considering the Lance 1685. Am I going to be OK? I’m not interested in purchasing another vehicle so it has to work with my 2002 4 Runner. I appreciate any advice you can give. I can go down to the 1575 but I don’t like the fact that there is no sink in the bathroom.

    • Hi Jane! Our 4 Runner has 160K on it, so I think as long as you have a factory tow package and use a weight distribution hitch, it should work. It’s alot of trailer for the 4 Runner, but we didn’t have any trouble in over 12,000 miles. If you need a sink in the bath, look at the 1475 – there’s a sink in the bath, but no slide (simplification). We’ve never seen one, so I can’t comment, but it’s lighter than the 1675. We liked the 1575 and the lack of sink in the bath didn’t bother us as much as the smaller tankage for 2 people full-time (sometimes). With just one person, you could probably get by with smaller tanks – especially if you plan on camping mostly with full hook-ups. Brushing teeth & washing hands in the kitchen seems to happen often in our 1675 anyway – the kitchen sink is only a few steps away. Good luck & ENJOY! Cheers — Jan

      • Thanks Jan. I have seen pics of the 1475 but I would rather have the dinette than two chairs and a table. I may reconsider the 1575 though but the 1685 is what I really want. There is a Lance dealer not too far from me, I’m going to look at the 1475, I may be pleasantly surprised and decide I don’t need a dinette. Also, reconsider the 1575. I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew, especially if I may be traveling alone at times. And yes, more than likely I will be staying where there are hook ups. I will keep you posted!

        • Good Luck Jane! Hopefully we’ll cross paths somewhere “out there” and meet in person someday! Cheers! Jan

    • Jane, I would second the caution given by JanIrons about the 1685 being a lot of trailer for the 6 cylinder 4-Runner. I know it worked okay for JanIrons, and as I said in an earlier post, an almost identical travel trailer worked okay for our 6 cylinder Honda Pilot. But it really was just “okay.” We were comfortable at 50-55 mph on the flat, but the car strained on long climbs and just felt like it was mostly at its limit doing any uphill towing. We had friends who pulled a similar weight trailer this summer with a 6 cylinder Toyota Highlander and had the same experience. We never felt unsafe with our Pilot(but a WDH and sway control are MUSTS), but it always felt that it was really working hard.

      • Although the 1685 is my ideal trailer, I’m thinking it may be safer for me to go with the 1575 or take a good look at the 1475. The last thing I want to do is end up being scared while traveling and since I may be alone at times I don’t want to get in a predicament. I really don’t want to buy a different vehicle and whatever I end up with I’m sure I will be happy, I was hoping to hear ‘sure the 1685 will be perfect’ but I’m starting to have my reservations. Better safe than sorry. I really appreciate everyone’s honest input, I’ve been thinking about this for over a year and want to make the right decision.

      • The Honda Pilot also has about 80 hp more than 2002 4runner v6. My 2006 4runner with 4l on the other hand pulls our 3000lb dry weight better than our pilot 3.5L did.

        • I wonder if the Pilot’s gear ratios are not as well suited for towing as the 4-Runner?

  31. Hi,
    I have a new 2016 Toyoya 4Runner SR5, came with the hitch, round plug &4 prong plug but can’t get anyone to tell me if it has already installed a sufficient transmission cooler to haul a little over 5000lbs? Or should I have an additional transmission cooler installed at a reputable place? I’m purchasing a Lance 1995 but would love to purchase the 2285 with the outdoor kitchen. Hope you can help me with an answer…By the way, it’s a V6, 4×2….

  32. I sure HOPE that combination is a good one, because I bought my 2013 4-runner SR5 just for that purpose of pulling a light trailer, a vintage 23′ Streamline Countess with a factory weight of 3500#. I was glad to read your blog. Thanks.

    • Hi Tom! Enjoy! Sounds like you’re all set for fun! Cheers! Jan

  33. Can anyone tell me what the Weight Distribution Specs are on a 2016 4runner with a factory hith on it?

    • When I was looking for this information, Toyota Customer Service came the closest to providing me with real data, but it’s been so long ago, I don’t remember. I got the number out of our owner’s manual. Good luck! Jan

      • We have a 2015 4 Runner the book says 5800.

  34. Well me and my crew of four took a 5 day trip to Jasper Ab. It ended up being 1301 Km, the 4 Runner performed flawless. My wife and the kids loved the trip. .We hiked 2 times, saw Elk,deer, black bear and big horn sheep. We managed a 5 day trip with 2 group 24 battery’s, running the furnace blower and water pump only.. The trailer towed very well at 100 to 105 km per hour.

  35. Swaying trailers are almost always the result of insufficient tongue weight, because adding tongue weight adds stability.

    If there is zero tongue weight, the trailer’s center of gravity (CG), the point around which it pitches, yaws and rolls, is centered between the tires’ contact patches. This will provide no stability, specifically in yaw, or sway. Adding tongue weight, by moving cargo in the trailer forward, pulls the CG forward of the tire contact patches. The drag of the tires will tend to pull the CG back onto the centerline of the truck and trailer. The more tongue weight, the farther forward the CG goes, and the more stability in sway, right up until you add too much tongue weight for the tow vehicle’s rear suspension to handle. Industry-wide, the target recommendation for tongue weight is 10 to 12 percent of total trailer weight. Here’s how to check tongue weight if your trailer weighs so much that your bathroom scale won’t read high enough. With the tongue resting on the beam one-third of the distance between the pivot and the scale, a 140-pound reading means that the total tongue weight is 420 pounds, just about right for a 4000-pound trailer.

    • BINGO!

      Exactly the information I did not have! And this would have taken me FOREVER to track down. Thank you.

    • Thanks so much Marcel! Can’t wait to get our trailer out of storage, loaded and get out my bathroom scale! 🙂 Cheers! Jan

  36. Your load doesn’t seem to be centered correctly. There seems to be a lot of distance, too much distance, between the front of the trailer and the trailer hitch???? Is it just me. I would think you want load centered right between the double axle, have only enough room between the front of trailer to Trailer hitch to accommodate turns. I would also stow the propane tanks in area right between axles. Those bikes also. Torque is force X distance. When you start putting mass further away from your axles, either on the trailer or your 4-runner, the more torque you produce on the trailer hitch. Does that make sense?

    • Hi Billy! Ummm, OK. We’re newbies and don’t have alot of experience. But our Lance 1685 is a 20′ trailer and visually maybe that’s part of the reason it seems like there’s too much distance? There is only enough room to accommodate turns – with the bikes on the bike rack. That’s the only place we can carry bikes on this trailer. I’ve never seen any RV carry propane tanks between the axles, but like I said, we’re new at this. Yes, it seems logical that putting mass further from the axles would produce more torque on the trailer hitch. Your analysis is above my pay grade. 🙂 THANKS! Jan

      • Each of those propane tanks is 20 lbs? Each of those bikes is 20lbs? So that is 80Lbs. t=M x A x d = 80 lbs x 32 lb ft/lb x 12 ft = 30720 ft lbs. of torque.

        32 lb ft is acceleration due to gravity and the tanks and bikes look to be 12 ft away from center of axle.

        It is way oversimplified because you also subtract the torque counteracting this from the trailer hitch to the tanks and bike from the other direction…looks like 4 ft??? So it would be

        80 lbs x 32 lb ft/lb x (12 ft-4ft), but that is still 20,480 ft lbs.

        You are subjecting the trailer hitch to at least 20,000 ft. lbs. of torque which could be eliminated IF you could place this mass between the axles. Either the axles of the trailer or the axle of the the 4-runner. Since torque = Force x distance, if there is no distance between the axle and the weight there is no torque associated with that weight since the distance is zero.

        Pack your load so all the weight is as close to axles as possible, this will put less torque at your hitch.

        Basically you want your center of mass to be right in the sweet spot between the axles. You will know this when you can lift the trailer hitch with one finger, then you will know your load is balanced over double axle. You should shift the load either forward or aft until you can raise or lower the trailer with one finger, then you will know there is no torque on trailer hitch. Then securing the load so it doesn’t shift. You have seen people lift a trailer with their finger? Well there is nothing that says you can’t keep those propane tanks inside the trailer, in transport, Also water is 8 lbs/gallon, 5 gallons = 40 lbs, you can counter balance each propane tank by putting five gallon water jugs as far aft. this will create torque which will counter the weight of the bikes and propane etc. You want to eliminate any excess weight, obviously, but you can also use water jugs to ride apt of the axle. If you cannot lift the trailer at the hitch really easily, your load is not balanced, there is too much torque at your hitch point, you want to move the center of mass to achieve the finger lift….the ole’ redneck trick. I know you have seen them do this and now you know the reason why.

        When you can lift your trailer with a finger then you have packed your load correctly and you will get a much smoother ride, it will reduce stress on hitch hence your 4runner. I don’t know if this is a design flaw in the trailer or a issue with your load center of gravity, but you can play around with your loading technique to center load directly over double axle. You can do this by storing water as far aft to counteract mass forward of the axle. Think of your double axle as the center of the scale, you want to balance so each side is even so torque on either side is equal, then you should be able to lift hitch with pinky finger. then you know load is centered correctly. Yes?

        Also: if you are travelling with just two people you might consider removing back seats, weight, from your 4runner, this will give you more storage (room for propane tanks?) Or you could move the spare tire from underneath to shift that weight forward. I am thinking about doing this to make my 4runner ride better.

        Just a thought.

        • Billy — since I didn’t know the answer to your questions, I consulted the Lance Owners Assn & in a nutshell… They agree that in theory, it’s best to have the weight over the axles, however, water tanks are where the water tanks are, same with the black water tanks. Unless we’re constructing our own trailers, there’s no choice, other than to buy a different travel trailer. “The A-frame distance on a Lance trailer is not excessive. The fifty degree angle A-frame Lance uses on the 1685 and longer trailers is common in the RV industry. Having the propane tanks and bikes loaded on the A-frame is not a problem either, unless the tongue weight exceeds, 15% of the trailer’s weight or the A-frame’s weight limit of 975 lbs.” Thanks for your input, but I think we’ll stick with the rig we have. Cheers! Jan

          P.S. What brand travel trailer do you tow with your 4 Runner? Does it meet the above criteria?

          • Haven’t bought a trailer yet, that is why I am thinking so much about it. I just commented because one of the profile pictures you posted showed the back end of your 4runner riding low and there seemed to be a lot of torque from trailer pushing on hitch. I don’t know what kind of analysis went into design, how the weight is distributed. I always remember my super redneck friends always had their loads centered so you could lift the trailer with one finger. I might find out soon, I’ll let you know. You could try different things, see what works best. There ought to be a load cell you could use to support the trailer to see how much torque is at the hitch point. Maybe I’ll invent one if I don’t see it on the market.

            I would think that if you cannot lift the tongue of the trailer off the ground with minimal effort there if too much torque at that point and the center of mass would need to move aft. It is a simple proposition. You could try to lift before you have propane tanks and bikes loaded, then after to see if there is a big difference. If there is you might consider another option like mounting the bikes on the back of trailer. Even a little mass can make a huge difference because of the distance from the center of axle. There is a direct proportional relationship between this distance and torque generated. Less distance, less torque.

        • Billy, you don’t multiply by Earth’s graviational acceleration. That’s already included in weight. Torque is just weight (force, in pounds) times distance (in ft) to arrive at lb-ft of torque.

  37. Hello all,

    We have a 2013 4-Runner Limited (which we love) and towed a Travel Lite Idea I18 “Cobblestone” with dry weight 3700lb. for several years with great success. It was our first travel trailer and we really enjoyed it. Took it from Southern Oregon to Victoria B.C. and on many other weekenders to the coast and mountains. It was, for the most part, a very comfortable design, but small and lacking quality and ease of use. So, we wanted more, of course. Several of my coworkers have Lance campers which appear to be good quality, so we began looking at them. We really like the floor plan of the Lance 1995. It is 1 foot wider than the Cobblestone, 2 feet longer, and has a slide out dinette. So we began researching the fit for our tow vehicle. This site was a great resource for us. The gross dry weight of the 1995 is 3,950, but with the optional equipment installed, ours weighs in about 4,400. We know that we must limit cargo to 600 pounds in this case.
    So, with everything calculated out carefully, we purchased the 1995 and carefully loaded it with lightweight stuff (cut half of the handle off of the toothbrushes as we used to do with backpacking (just kidding)).
    For our first trip, we decided just to go 45 miles North to a nice RV park. We wanted to check everything out. So, fully loaded we spent about 45 minutes carefully extracting the trailer from its home parking spot (yes, that extra foot wide and extra length really makes a difference squeezing in between eves, air conditioner, fence gates, and that stupid green utility box that doesn’t allow us to back straight in.
    So, on the road, everything went well, until… we merged onto the freeway, I5, at an uphill on ramp, and came up to 60 MPH quickly in 3rd gear. We approached a schoolbus going slower, spead up to 65 MPH, passed the bus, and quickly moved back into the right lane. Great, but then the trailer began to sway REALLY hard. I let off of the gas and held on, but was close to loosing it. My wife was sacred to death hanging on and yelling “what’s happening” “I don’t like this” “SLOW DOWN”! Thankfully, I had read the Lance manual which recommended not to apply the brakes in this situation, and steered straight, let the combo slow down and regained control. I must admit, this scared me also. It was hard to keep control. We pulled off at the next exit and checked everything out – it all was good. So, we carried on, but at slower speed with more caution. Note that Lance says NEVER to tow faster than 60 MPH and maybe for good reason (especially if towing near capacity of vehicle and trailer).
    We finished our trip, which included many hills climbing up and down 6 degree grades with many curves at less than 60 MPH without incedent. Climbing up was at about 45 – 50 MPH in most cases in 3rd gear, sometimes 2nd to get a little more torgue for a short while, and decending in lower gears also.
    So, the only real question we ended up with was, why didn’t our anti-sway system work. Upon return home, we studied our weight distribution and anti-sway system to see what might have gone wrong. Here are the stats:
    We weighed our rig at the local gravel sales scales while heading out; 10,480 combined weight, 5,780 loaded 4-runner, 4,700 loaded trailer (1/3 fresh water filled, full tank of gas).
    Our WDH, recommended by the dealer we bought our Lance from, is a Eaz-Lift R3 ReCurve 600 lb. I really like the ease of installation, but now question its ability to control sway. After reading online, and watching some videos, I discovered that there is a friction brake pad that is adjustable on the hitch. I’ll need to adjust this by trial and error to see if the sway can be improved (carefully). Make sure your dealer completely trains you on the use of your WDH (and other equipment, such as trailer brakes_). Bottom line – the Lance 1995 with Toyota 4-Runner 2013 is really testing the limits, so be thorough and carefull.
    We are considering a more powerful and larger tow vehicle, for both safety and power (trade up to Toyota Sequoia maybe).
    Does anybody have experience with the Eaz-Lift R3 ReCurve? I wasn’t able to find too many reviews for this.

    • THANKS Hop A Long for sharing your experience! It’s all well & good until it isn’t and this is a good example of what can happen. We’re newbies with absolutely no knowledge of the Eaz-Lift R3 ReCurve WDH/sway system. Our dealer recommended & installed the Fastway E2 with 600# sway bars (the round ones). But we’re towing a 1685 (a bit smaller & lighter). Anyone else comment on this WDH/sway solution? THX! Jan

  38. I just purchased a 2017 Starcraft 26bh with a weight of 4,578lbs. I towed it home from the dealership in my 2004 4Runner V6 with a 2.5 inch lift kit and with 265 70 17 Nitto Trail Grappler tires. I bought a weight distribution stabilizing sway control hitch and a break controller. It towed it ok, I hit up to 65mph on the flat and dropped down to 50 when going through a mountain pass. I would say I felt the difference going through the pass but it handled it. I am going to the White Mountains in AZ at the end of June and I will update you how it does then with a load.

    • I have really appreciated this blog and ALL the comments. I have just purchased, but not yet picked up a 25’10” travel trailer that I thought I could tow okay with my ’04 v8 4Runner, but the hitch guy just scared me to death. My tow package is capable of pulling 7300 lbs and the trailer’s dry weight is 4450. Of course I plan on the weight distribution hitch w sway control – which is why I was talking to the hitch guy. All input would be appreciated. BTW, I lived in the keys for about 10 years. Y’all have a great lifestyle!

      • Hi Laurie! A 4 Runner capable of towing 7300 lbs because of the V8. I assume you have the factory tow package with the transmission cooler. Even so, that’s a lot of trailer to be towing with a 4 Runner even with the WDH & sway bars. The truck is pretty small comparatively, not sure how well it would do in a cross wind or any other challenging conditions. Good luck and be safe! Sorry we can’t be more help. Cheers! Jan

        • I disagree. That old V* model may have been rated for 7300 at the time….but would only be rated for 5000 today by J2807 tests. The latest V6 4Runner has the same power and weight as the old V8 yet is only rated for 5000 under j2807. Heck- my massive new Sequoia 5.7 4WD is only rated for 7100 under J2807…’nuff said! I traded in my V8 Runner for the Sequoia because is was obvious the Runner was outclassed by my 6000# Flagstaff 25KS. Nite and day difference with the Sequoia!

          • Thanks John! That explains why our 2006 4 Runner was shown on several towing charts as being 6000+ pounds capable but when I called Toyota directly (this was in 2013) they said 5000 pounds max. We know for a fact, our 4 Runner 6 cyl wouldn’t have been safe towing more than 5000 lbs gross. Yikes! Thanks again for the clarification from the mid-2000’s to now…. Cheers! Jan

      • You should be fine with the towing that trailer with your V8. The V8 comes with a transmission cooler when equipment with the factory tow package unlike the V6, I had to install one myself. You will also need a break controller to help you stop. You can adjust them to how you like the feel of the brakes. I have a trailer the same size as mine wich will make it a little tougher to tow due to the total length of the trailer. Also take the easiest route to your destination and try to avoid the windy roads, steep inclines and declines ect. You should be good, just take it easy, take your time and enjoy the ride.

        • Thanks Tobias and Jan. I’m initially bringing it to a tiny campground for a couple of weeks and will practice driving it around nearby. I guess I can always sell it if driving frightens me!

          • Hi Laurie! Enjoy & please report back & let us know how it goes! Wish Toyota still made a V8 4 Runner! Cheers! Jan

  39. Thank you for the info on the mirrors. We will check them out.

  40. Jan if you and David ever make it up to Alberta and the Canadian Rocky Mountain range, we would love to show you guys around. The invite goes for the Sanjuan and Golf Islands. We also go up to Desolation Sound every now and then

    • Thank you Marcel! We definitely have Alberta & the Canadian Rockies on our camping “bucket” list! Cannot wait, we’ll stay in touch! THANKS! Cheers — Jan

  41. We’re taking our 2016 lance 1575 to Alaska this June and will be pulling it with our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk. it’s rated to pull 4500 lbs so we don’r anticipate any problems from the vehicles just from the humans 🙂 Mike and Shirley

    • What a great trip! We’ve been to Alaska, but rented an RV to go to Denali … one of the things that fueled our desire to buy own travel trailer! ENJOY! Jan

    • My wife and I did the Alaska trailer trip last summer, towing a Rockwood 2109S with a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I know from our experience and everyone else we know who has done it that you will absolutely find it the trip of a lifetime! Enjoy!!

  42. Jan what kind of mirrors do you guys use for the 4 Runner? By the way great blog keep up the good work.

  43. We recently purchased a Lance 1985 and tow with a 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee
    with the 3.0L diesel. So far I have been very impressed with this package but we have only been in the Rocky Mountain front range. Can’t wait to get in the mountains or in a situation with more cross winds to see how it handles.

  44. Thx Jan. Any preference on what might be more suitable for towing?

    • Hi Robert! We’re looking at larger capacity SUV’s, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel mentioned in another comment above, and also some pickup trucks. When we get back from living on the sailboat, we want to test drive the 2016 Chevy Colorado (turbo-diesel) and GMC Canyon – they claim a towing capacity of 7,700 lbs, but we haven’t seen, or driven one yet. We test drove the Toyota Sequoia and I could barely see over the hood – we suspect the Toyota Tundra will be the same. We’ll test both the Chevy, Ford & GMC truck options. And then hope the 4 Runner improves it’s towing capacity with 2017. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Cheers! Jan

      • Hey Jan where did you go cruising this year? We have a Beneteau 340 that we sail out of the pacific north west.

        • Hi Marcel — we cruised the Florida Keys, then went to Cuba, then back up Florida’s west coast – further north than we’d been before. My blog isn’t up to date, still featuring Cuba posts, but if you’re interested. The Pacific NW is somewhere we’ve always wanted to sail, but haven’t gotten there … yet. 🙂 Cheers — Jan

  45. I have a 28′ ultra lite that has a dry weight of 4280 lbs. I’ve been looking at certified pre owned 4runners 2014, 2015 that show 2700 lb. tow capacity and the 2016 that show 5000 lb tow capacity.I’m told by my local dealership that there is no difference in the mechanics of the 4 runners, just a difference in the way the capacities are calculated. what do you think of this combination of of 28′ camper and 4runner? We too are planning trips into the mountains and cross country.

    • I think a 28′ camper is way too big to be towed by a 4 Runner. If the dry weight is 4280 (ours is roughly 3800), and you add the usual 1,000 lbs to the trailer for “stuff” – batteries, propane, a generator, and usual living stuff, it’ll be over the limit for safety. Our 4 Runner tows our 20’9″ trailer but it struggles up mountains. Overall we’re happy with it, but we deliberately did not buy the trailer we really wanted (a 23 footer) because the 500# increase in trailer weight and the length would make it less safe to tow, bordering on unsafe. We also use the weight distribution hitch and sway bars. 28′ is too big for a 4 Runner, in our opinion. Cheers — Jan

  46. Hey guys we just pulled home a new to us Jayco Jayfeather 23b. It pulled quite well with our 2011 4 Runner, by the way rated to tow 5000lbs. The new Jayfeather is 3950lbs dry with a tounge weight of 395lbs. Fully loaded she should come in around 4950lbs. We can’t wait to start our new adventures in the wilderness of Canada.

    • That sounds great to me! I have a new 2016 Highlander that we would like to pull the Jayco 23b with. But I’m sure this is a good idea to be right at my maximum tow rating of 5k. Please let me know how ride is!

  47. I am towing a Lance 1575 with a 2013 4Runner. The anti-sway bars the dealer installed are pretty useless, as they click out when we turn corners. Can anyone suggest a good anti-sway bar?

    • Sorry Jean, we have no experience – our dealer installed a Fastway E-2 WDH with 600# round sway bars when we bought the Lance 1685. It’s noisy, but it works great. We’ve not had any experience with any other types of sway bars. I hope you find the answer – I would strongly recommend asking over on the Lance Owners Forum – there are lots of folks much more experienced than us! And if you’re not already a Lifetime Member, for $25 one time, you’ll have access to lots more information on the owners forum. 🙂 I highly recommend it! Cheers! Jan

    • try equalizer, solid bar, no chains. otherwise best is Hensley but $$

  48. Last year we bought a 2015 Jayco Baja 15ft foot and it proved to be too small for me. We just bought a 2016 keystone hideout dry weight 3285. What a difference 2ft and a different floor plan can make. It is more open and feels roomyer than the Jayco It’s just us and the poodle so I can’t see going over 900 lbs. Reading all the stories has given me more piece of mind about towing. I do go by myself and camp with sister’s. We have a 2010 Toyota Highlander that will tow 5000 lbs. It has a tow package and electric breaks installed by Toyota dealer so we feel everything is good thay also installed the hitch.

  49. Hey there! We tow a 24 foot trailer that’s 4650 dry. My guess is that it’s 6000lbs when packed up.

    My 2014 Fj cruiser pulls it just fine albeit thirsty. Fuel mileage is abysmal but it doesn’t feel unsafe in any way. Get a quality weight distribution setup and brake controller and take your time.

    People who tell you otherwise just don’t have experience. We have pulled it over 5000kms in the last 2 years.

  50. Hi, I love seeing your guys’ adventures with your 4Runner and lance. My wife and I have a 2006 4Runner v6 and we are about to buy a lance 1995 or 1985. We have been concerned about towing it with the v6 but you have re-assured me. I don’t mind being in the slow lane, and am glad you guys were able to tow it as far as you did with no problems. Did you guys ever have any issues with towing in the wind? That is my only concern going into this whole thing. Thanks!

    • Hi Brad! Not sure about the 4 Runner and a Lance 1985. We bought the 1685 specifically because of the lower tow weight. Friends have the 1885, which would be our dream trailer, but we felt it was beyond our towing capacity with the 4 Runner. Having said that, we didn’t really have issues towing in wind, but we only had wind a couple of days over 3 months. A cross wind would be problematic I think, and we’d probably opt to stop and wait it out. Good luck & be sure to doublecheck your trailer weights & tow capacity. Cheers! Jan & David

      • I would also recommend the diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee. We pulled a 21 foot Rockwood — very similar in size and weight to the Lance 1685– with our Honda Pilot 6 cylinder and found the experience okay, but not great. The Pilot handled the New England mountains, but it strained sometimes, and I was concerned about taking it through the Rockies. So we bought the JGC diesel for a Rocky Mountain trip, then used it for the Alaska Higway the next year- 11,000 miles round trip. Fabulous, incredible tow vehicle for all the reasons given by others on this post.

  51. Hi Jan We pull a 19’2″ Airstream 3800 pounds dry, 4500 pounds loaded with a 2015 SR5 4 Runner. It is rated for 4700 lbs by SAE J2807 standards. I suggest you review the SAE Standard results for any TV you consider. We love our 4 Runner and have no issues using the factory hitch receiver and a good Weight Distribution Hitch.
    I loved reading your story because I had my doubts about using the 4 runner for a TV but after a few steep grades those doubts have been put to rest.

  52. Enjoyed your adventure. We just bought a 2014 192RBS coachman and are pulling it with a 2015 4 Runner. Wanting to know what gear you were in the majority of time. We have only done 1 short trip and ran in 4th gear at around 2300 rpm the Runner pulled good and was able to maintain 55-58 mph. If I put in (manual) 5th it seemed sluggish and would drop back into 4th. Thanks for any information you can provide. Joe

    • We use 4th gear, no cruise control & it runs about 2300 RPM’s. Sounds about like our experience … for over 10,000 miles now. Not sure what your Coachman weighs, but our Lance is 3800 dry weight and just under 5000 lbs loaded. Curious because we love the 4 Runner, but the 2015’s say they’re only rated for 4,500 lbs towing, and we’re pretty sure we’re above that. Do you know the loaded weight of your Coachman? I’d love another 4 Runner to replace our 2006, but they don’t make a V8 and the tow rating decreased from our 5,000 lbs to 4,500 lbs. ????? Input? Any help appreciated! Cheers! Jan

      • We contacted Toyota and were told the capacity of the 2015 runner was 4700 lbs. The dry weight of the 2014 192RBS Freedom Express Coachman is 3700 lbs. Prior I have only pulled our 20’pontoon, and was not sure what to expect pulling an RV.


        • Thanks Joe! We appreciate the info. We love our 4 Runner and would love another if ours ever dies … only 10 years old and 146K including 10+K pulling our Lance 1685 out west & back to Illinois. I hope you love the 4 Runner and your Coachman as much! Cheers! Jan

          • On your trip what type of camp grounds did you stay? Did you plan the trip making reservations at specific places or did you just use the option of luck at finding camping spots.

  53. Greetings. I’m a professional truck driver who does a lot of trailer towing. When you’re loaded halfway to max, expect any vehicle to not pull fast because in reality, no matter what vehicle you’re towing with, it wont be fast unless the engine is heavily modified and even then, it’ll be just a bit faster. The 4Runner is a good tow vehicle but I recommend a Lexus GX if you’re looking for a V8 4Runner. It’s also got self leveling rear suspension as an option so that’ll help keep your headlights pointed downwards. Either a Lexus GX or a Toyota LandCruiser/Lexus LX if you’re looking for off-road driving and reliability. The LandCruiser offers a more stable wheel base and track width for stable and confidence inspiring towing than the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Lexus GX/4Runner also have longer wheel bases which give better stability in crosswinds but the Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel is a good choice for fuel economy.

    If it’s strictly SUV’s you’re looking for, then your list shouldn’t be anything more than LandCruiser, 4Runner, LX, GX or Jeep Grand Cherokee. You wont get a better combination for off road driving and towing capability but the Jeep does use an Italian made diesel and those have yet to be proven on our shores.

  54. Last week I Towed my 2015 Keystone 210LHS Hideout from Denver to Northern Montana with no problems..:)

  55. I pulled a 18′ Layton tandem axle trailer with a 6-cylinder Chevy Astro van up the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming, east of Greybull, WY. It made it with several stops to cool down. 1st or 2nd gear the whole way. Wouldn’t want to do it too many times. Coming down was not bad, 1st or 2nd gear and pulsed trailer brakes. That’s what people don’t think about – coming down and brake capacity. Sure, the engine can pull you up, but don’t forget the brakes. Many people don’t downshift, either and ride the brakes the whole way down. General rule is same gear down and up. I always downshift going down, even when not towing anything. Also, never tow in overdrive.

    Appreciate the blog!

    Came here to see your review on the Clam screen house. Just bought one on Amazon and will try it out this weekend in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana.

    • Thanks Tom! Enjoy your Clam Quick-Set screen enclosure! We love ours! Cheers — Jan

      • Bought a 2015 Keystone Hideout in July and took it on its Maiden Voyage from Denver to Northern Montana! I have a 2005 Toyota 4Runner SE, 4.0L V6 (VVTi)and it did really well for the Dry weight of the trailer being 4,800#’s with 4 adults and an English Mastiff in the Cargo area…:) We were carrying about 1,300 additional #’s fully loaded with a total weight of around 6,100#’s!!! I was able to maintain 65-70mph on the interstate at about 2800-3800RPM’s In order to get up the steeper hills I did shift down to 3rd and had to go about 50-55 mph. (4000rpm) I had a Pro Series V-5 Rated (10,000Lbs) WDH put on with a Tekonsha Prodigy-P2 breaking system put in as well, which I keep at 7.0 and “Boost-3” settings. Winds through Wyoming (30mph) were a not a problem at all and I was VERY pleased with the 4Runners performance. Gas mileage was about half 10-12mpg, so it was a little thirsty! A little more power would be nice, but not completely necessary in my opinion..:)

  56. Great article. Thanks. We have a new 2015 Highlander that we will use for our 1685. Haven’t had the opportunity to tow with it yet but love the car and great gas millage.

    • Interesting that Toyota is rating the Highlander at a 5000 lb tow capacity and the new 4 Runner at only 4700 … this may deserve a phone call to Toyota for an explanation… I don’t get it. THANKS! Cheers — Jan

      • I have a 2016 4Runner, it’s rated for 5000# tow capacity. Looking forward to camping with it very soon.

        • Hi Ben! Enjoy your camping! Cheers — Jan

    • Have you had a chance to tow your 1685 with your Highlander? If so, how did it work out? I have a 2015 Highlander I plan on towing a 4,200 pound dry weight trailer with.

      • Hi Eddie! We’ve never owned a Highlander, only a 4 Runner and now a Tundra. But after our experiences with towing the 1685 with the 4 Runner, we wouldn’t think a Highlander would tow a 4200# dry weight trailer – our 1685 is only 3800 dry weight. Be safe out there! Cheers — Jan

      • I have a 2016 Toyota Highlander. I would like (love) to buy 4,200 lb. dry wight Jayco Feather. I’m not convinced this is a good idea. It sounds like I may need to stay around 3,500 lb. dry wight. I would love to know if you have pulled the 4,200 dry weight trailer with your Highlander and how it was!!

    • I have a 2015 highlander, thinking about a 1685. Would appreciate feedback when you begin towing with your highlander.

      • Hi Stan! Not sure about towing a 1685 with a Highlander. We were towing with a 4 Runner and it was at the max of its tow limit even with the factory tow package (i.e. transmission cooler etc). If I remember correctly, the 4 Runner is built on a truck frame and the Highlander is not. Personally, I wouldn’t think of towing with it unless you’re on very flat terrain all the time (at sea level). We don’t see many Highlanders as tow vehicles, unless paired with a lighter weight trailer than a 1685. Whatever you decide, ENJOY and be safe! Cheers! Jan

  57. We tow our 23′ Lance 1985 (3660 lbs dry) with our 2004 V8 4Runner and so far it has worked out great. We use it a lot for skiing and it has been up/down/over many steep mountain passes. We definitely need to downshift on steeper grades, but are able to maintain fairly normal highway speeds otherwise. Also love how nimble and versatile the vehicle is when unhitched. It’s passed 120K miles and I only wish they still made the 4Runner with the V8 as I’m not sure what we’ll replace it with when the time comes.

    • P.S. that is also with the e2 weight distribution hitch, which really creates a smooth towing experience.

      • What is the e2? I own the v8 and am thinking of pulling this fall.

        • Hi Brian! The E2 referred to in the blog post is the Fastway E2 Weight Distribution Hitch that we used with our 2006 6 cyl Toyota 4 Runner. We have 600# round sway bars to go with it. Definitely add a weight distribution hitch if you’re towing with a 4 Runner, but there are other brands that I understand work just fine. Cheers! Jan

    • Way to go Greg, you just burst my bubble…. secretly I’ve been thinking all along that when the time comes, we’ll just “upgrade” to the 8 cylinder 4 Runner … but I checked and you’re right, no 8 cylinder version for 2015. What was Toyota thinking? Aaarrrggg…. 🙁

  58. Great blog, we have the 2011 1685 and love it. We are in the opposite spectrum of the tow vehicle with Dodge Ram with a cummins turbo diesel. We could have gone with a larger trailer but we liked the 1685.

    Hopefully we can hit the road like you some day but for now, we are stuck with weekend getaways on the west coast.

    Cheers and happy travels.

    • Thanks Ann! We like our 1685 better than we ever anticipated! We like that it’s big enough for boondocking (although we haven’t tried much yet, that’ll be the next trip?), we like that it’s big enough for us to spend months at a time living in very comfortably and we like that it takes us to amazing places that we’ve never experienced before. Great things to come, I can’t wait to see where we go & what new adventures lay in store for the next few years! Thanks! Cheers! Jan

  59. We too started with a lance 1575 and a 2014 4 runner.. We upgraded to a Lance 2285 that has a loaded weight max of 6000 pounds. We then traded in the 4 Runner for Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel. Best vehicle I have ever owned. Pulls 7400 pounds with an 8 speed automatic. We are getting 13.5 to 14.6 mpg depending on terrain and wind. Not towing we get 28 to 31 mpg combined city and highway. You might want to give it a look

    • Thanks Paul! We are compiling a list of vehicles to test drive for some future time when we decide to switch tow vehicles. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel is already on the list. The only problem is finding somewhere we can test drive one since we live in the middle of nowhere – maybe St Louis or Indianapolis or Chicago (when we take the trailer in for the very few warranty issues). Looking forward to it! In a prior life, I drove two Jeep Cherokee Sports and loved them before switching in 2000 to the 4 Runner (the 2006 is our 2nd 4 Runner). David had a Chevy Tahoe prior to combining households and going with my 4 Runner. I think he’d like another Tahoe, but it may not be as good on the dirt roads we liked… but since we’re not planning on switching right away, we have time to explore the possibilities! Thanks for the vote of confidence in your Grand Cherokee Diesel! Cheers! Jan

      • Stay away from Chrysler products unless you want to be stranded in nowhere land. The worst cars and trucks there is. Stick with Toyota if you can. Your 4 Runner is typical of their quality. They run forever.

        • Completely agree Robert! We love our Toyotas – we traded our 10 year old 4 Runner this past summer for a new to us 2016 Toyota Tundra. It’s my MONSTER truck – didn’t think I’d care for a truck that large, but David wanted it. Turns out it was a great decision (except for the gas mileage). But our friends say you don’t buy a pickup truck for the mileage. 🙂 Cheers — Jan

          • I am happy for both of you enjoying your Toyotas. But please don’t completely trash another manufacturer! We love our Jeep Grand Cherokee for towing — great features and performance for over 25,000 miles of towing. We had only one mechanical problem that was not disabling and that was quickly fixed under warranty. We also have owned 3 Chrysler minivans over the last 30 years and put over 100,000 flawless miles on all of them.

          • I grew up with Pontiacs and Chryslers. (My parents first Chrysler, the Newport. We owned a Chrysler Town and Countey minivan with longer base and larger engine. It was very comfortable from day 1. The major problem with these larger and beavier “minivans” was the inadequate braking systems acknowledged by the dealerships’ service departments. Instead of heavier duty systems the equipped brakes quickly wore out. Riding brakes was never an issue as I would downshift on steep grades, etc.

            Unless Chrysler now installs adequate braking systems on their larger vehicles like the minivans then my concern would be adding additional weight like a very small trailer.

          • Agreed. We never towed with the minivans, other than a small utility trailer. Just lots of great road trips with the kids.

          • Hi John! Agree. I owned 2 Jeep Cherokee Sports before switching to Toyota. Loved them. But we only towed a sailboat with them so I have no idea how towing with a Grand Cherokee would feel. Enjoy! Jan

        • We finally took our first camping trip with the 2917 Coleman Lantern towed by our 2098 Toyota Highlander with the factory installed towing package with 5,000 lbs tow rating.

          Before we could take this first trip and with less than 190 miles, one of the new tires exploded destroying the wheel and causing over $3,000 in damage. Most of that was cosmetic and it was drivable with new tires and wheel. Our insurance is covering the damage but not the tires which we upgraded to Taskmaster Provoders. They replaced the factory installed Lionshead. Luckily we were able to get the wider tires with pay load D.

          We traveled from Central Virginia to NE Florida and we had no issues with the trailer or two vehicle. Ok, there was one thing—very low mileage. We averaged 11-12.4 MPH. The Highlander has over 190,000 miles and has been a workhorse through the years. Would we get better mileage with a newer tow vehicle? Maybe. Maybe not. Then we would have an additional monthly car payment.

          Our trailer is 21.5′ total length with a dry weight of 3,088. We traveled light and may have at most 500 lbs of stuff in the trailer and that is being very generous.

          • Hi Brenda! Sorry, but I think 11 – 12.4 mileage is amazing! So far we’ve found that just about everyone we talk to is getting more like 10-11.5. Our 4 Runner got 10-12 mpg depending on terrain and our Tundra gets 10-10.5 mpg. The new diesels are reported by owners to do better, but I couldn’t talk David into replacing our 4 Runner with a GMC Canyon or Chevy Colorado diesel. But all’s well that ends well & we like the extra room and towing capability we have with the Tundra. Cheers! Jan

            P.S. We’ve had several dealers tell us that often brand new trailers tires explode before they even reach the dealer — i.e. between the factory and the dealer. Apparently the tire quality issue is a big deal. Buyer beware!

    • I used to to a similar sized trailer with my 1998 I6, 4×4 Grand Cherokee. I could not believe how well it pulled the trailer. I could easily maintain 65-70 MPH of flat roads but had to slow down to about 45 on the steep grade mountain roads. I still have the Jeep but also own a 2016 4Runner. We are thinking about buying a travel trailer again. I think the 4Runner should be able to pull 6,000 lbs trailer with auxiliary brakes on the trailer. I will install a transmission cooler and will fill the rear differential with Amsoil 75W-110 GL5 hypoid oil.

      • We have been towing a Lance 1985 with a 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0L diesel for several month now. We have been out 6 times in the Rocky Mountains over some very severe passes. The Jeep has done an outstanding job and I recommend this combination. We have been twice over Berthoud pass (11,307 feet) with no issues and average 18.6 MPG towing the Lance loaded with fuel and water.

      • I have a new 2016 Toyoya 4Runner SR5, came with the hitch, round plug &4 prong plug but can’t get anyone to tell me if it has already installed a sufficient transmission cooler to haul a little over 5000lbs? Or should I have an additional transmission cooler installed at a reputable place? I’m purchasing a Lance 1995 but would love to purchase the 2285 with the outdoor kitchen. Hope you can help me with an answer…

        • By the way it’s a V6, 4×2.

        • I would call Toyota (or your dealer) with the VIN number and tell them you need to know if it has transmission cooler. In 2006 the factory tow package came with the transmission cooler, no idea about the new ones. Online the tow capacity for the 4X2 with the factory tow package is 5000 lbs. Keep in mind, you’ll likely add at least 1000 lbs to the dry weight of the trailer for everyday use. Personally we feel that our 4 Runner pulled our 1685 (3800# dry weight) with some struggle on hills and mountains, but we wouldn’t want to try pulling more weight. We decided against the 1985, even though that was our dream trailer because of the extra few pounds (300-ish?). Keep in mind a 20# tank full of propane weighs approx 37 lbs full (we have 2). A Group 27 battery weighs approx 65 lbs, again, we have 2. These items are not included in the dry weight of the trailer. If you travel with any fresh water in your tanks for emergencies – we usually have about 10 gallons, that’s just under another 8.5 pounds per gallon – so another 85 lbs. Already without adding food or anything else, we’ve added about 300 lbs (of our everyday use 1000 lbs) and we haven’t added a thing to eat or wear. If you start doing the math, you’ll see that 1000# number is nothing to disregard. Be safe out there! Cheers — Jan

          • Thank you for your response. I already tried calling the dealer and they don’t have a clue. I sent an email to Toyota’s Corporate Office & haven’t heard back from them so,tomorrow, I’ll try calling them with the VIN and hopefully I get an answer.
            I’ll let you know so if anyone else is in this predicament, you’ll have an answer to give them…
            Cross your fingers…….

  60. Hi Jan and David,
    Looks like you’re having a great trip. We used our 2006 Highlander rated for 3500# to tow our Aliner which loaded up was a right lane only in the mountains. We think we actually saw our taillights on one wet switchback road in Oregon. But a Ranger said we should be able to do it…
    Carry on and leave great times in your rear view mirror!
    Pam & Bob

    • Pam & Bob — we saw a TON of ALiners on this trip west – we thought of you every time! Friends we had camping with us for 5 weeks were very interested in the different models — they asked for tours of several and their owners were happy to show off their traveling homes. 🙂
      Cheers! Jan

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