Towing my horse trailer

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Hi Eric,
I would like to get a vehicle to tow my 2500# horse trailer with (not big on new car payments though). I generally haul one horse that averages a 1000# on occasion I haul 2 horses so total 4500-5000# is a safe total trailer weight. The trailer has dual axles and a 50# tongue weight. I would like to find something that is not a bemouth truck, I live in Alaska and have a econmic car to run to work with. I would not mind driving something higher off the ground! Everyone here seems to have bright bright lights and lift kits.


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  1. I understand the not wanting a behemoth truck, both for the size as well as the expense. You’re question is an interesting one because of that.

    First I think you have to decide diesel vs. gasoline. If you do a lot of towing of this sort, or plan to, you’re going to be better off with a diesel. Not only do you get better gas mileage, but you have better reliability and they just plain pull better than a gas engine, almost regardless of the horsepower rating. However, diesel costs a little more than gas, gallon-for-gallon, and is a little harder to find at your typical gas station. I would imagine it’s pretty popular, though, in Alaska, given the sheer number of trucks and semis that crisscross that beautiful state.

    The main problem I can see with diesel from your post, though, is that most of them will be heavy duty pickup trucks of an American design. While these are good vehicles overall, you didn’t want a behemoth. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a diesel engine in a fairly recent American pickup that wasn’t paired with at least an extended cab, if not crew cab, long bed form factor.

    One consideration, though, is the VW Toureg diesel. Though I cannot recommend it from a reliability standpoint, it gets good mileage for a diesel and it will pull a mountain. There may be other non-pickup diesels that can pull a load that large or more, but I’m blanking on them.

    On the gas front, you’ve got more options.

    Most truck-based SUVs and pretty much all pickup trucks I know of could pull a 5,000+ lb trailer of the type you’re talking about without any trouble at all. Even some “crossover” SUVs can hack it, though you’d look kind of silly doing it.

    However, just reading between the lines a bit, you may want to check out the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma mid-sized pickups built in the past 10 years or so. I believe they both pull around 6,000 lbs or more, with a V6, and are much more manageable in the size department than even a short-cab full-size pickup. They WILL NOT get appreciably better gas mileage than a full-size pickup, though. I can also highly recommend the older Toyota Tundra (previous gen) as well as it’s progenitor, the T100. Both are smaller than full-size and are solid pickups with good tow ratings.

    I do love my full-size GMC crew cab, and it has a tow rating of around 10,000 lbs with a gas engine. If you can handle the size, a full-size pickup is fully capable of matching your needs otherwise, and there will be a ton of them out there for relatively cheap. They’re all easy to fix with plentiful parts as well.

    In short, you’ve really got a wealth of options to choose from. Hopefully that’ll give you some ideas.