Latest Reader Question (April 8, 2018)

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply:

Thomas asks: Eric, What’s the best late model SUV to tow a 5,000 lb. camper in the Rockies? What is your thinking on Hemi technology? Thanks.

My reply: Hi Thomas! The good news is you have a lot of options given your 5,000 lb. tow criteria. There are many SUVs rated to handle that, including some that are based on car-type/FWD platforms (as opposed to truck-type/RWD-based platforms).

But that is their maximum – they have no reserve to spare.

I italicize that with reason given you will be towing in the Rockies. 

That is extreme duty – extreme grades. A vehicle that’s maxed out towing 5,000 lbs. will likely be struggling; at the least, it will be working very hard to keep up. This means it will probably be unpleasant to drive it while towing your camper (it’s no fun being the slow poke in the right lane, struggling to maintain 60 on a 9 percent grade) and it’s hard on the vehicle – all its systems – which will probably reduce its service life.

I would therefore be looking at SUVs that can easily pull that weight – with reserve to spare.

Something with a max tow rating around 7,500 lbs. at the least.This will give you power to spare as well as (probably) cooling/brakes/transmission ands other such hardware that can handle the load without being maxed out or close to it.

My personal choice would be something truck-based, with a V8 or diesel engine. There are models such as the Ford Expedition which can tow like a Clydesdale but they have turbo (gas) V6s and the jury is out as far as how they’ll hold up over time.

V8s are known to be long-term reliable, as are diesels.

Speaking of that

I’d love to recommend the diesel VW Touareg – but they are no longer available.

So, which ones can I recommend?

Even though I am at odds with GM over their politics (vs. mine) they make an excellent (and very capable) vehicle, the Tahoe/Suburban (and its higher-trim GMC equivalent, the Yukon). 4WD models are rated to tow 8,400 lbs. (I’m assuming you’ll want 4WD, given Rockies!) and the 5.3 V8 has ample reserve power. This is also a full-frame/truck-based SUV that is tough and durable and ought to last 15-20 years with proper maintenance.

One caveat: The new/2018 model got “upgraded” with GM’s new 10-speed automatic, if you buy the optional 6.2 V8. I’d avoid this transmission for now – as the jury is still out about its reliability.

The Toyota Sequoia is another similar – and similarly excellent – choice for this kind of work. You will read that it’s an “old design” in the Metrosexual Press – which is true. It does not have an “eco” turbo gas V6 or ten speed automatic or the other prone-to-break/over-complex/over-expensive stuff you don’t want in a vehicle that will be used for real work. Like the Tahoe, this is a simple, rugged SUV that won’t let you down. And – I promise – it is also not a crude beast, as the Metrosexual Press implies. They hate it because it isn’t as “green” as they like.

Ok, but what if you need something smaller? You might take a look at the Jeep Grand Cherokee. But you’ll want the optional Hemi V8, not the standard gas V6. With the Hemi – which seems to be a generally reliable engine (and plenty strong) you’ll have reserve power for pulling that 5,000 lb. trailer int he Rockies.

Sadly, the diesel which was available in this model last year is currently – and probably permanently – on hiatus, because of the Emissions Imbroglio.

Hope this helps steer you in the right direction!

. . .

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  1. eric, you call it Emissions Imbroglio being the professional you are. I would have described it a bit more accurately in that the entire mess stinks to high heaven bringing to mind just plain old horseshit.

    • Morning, Eight!


      I know I harp on it a lot – but that’s because it bears repeating. The vehicle emissions problem was solved at some point in the mid-late ’90s. Since then, cars have been practically free of harmful emissions and any “improvements” have been fractional and come at very high cost.

      But the general public does not understand this – and it’s on purpose, in order to justify new and more aggressive/expensive regs, as well as (ultimately) to force-feed electric cars to people.

      • eric, it seems every issue at stake in this country now is being argued with no facts on at least one side. It’s nearly all double-speak.

        Talk about your teeth aching, I seem to have a perpetual headache these days when I try to read plain old lies or simply gross ignorance…….or a mix of both. Just took two ibuprofen and would readily take something stronger if I had it.

        I wish I had that “stick my head in the sand” attitude so many have. You know the ones. When you mention an important subject of debate they simply say they don’t know anything about it or repeat some bs they hear or read on LSM.

        One of your horror stories I was unaware of came true for me just a couple months after you wrote about GasTV. I’m finding it hard to find a pump without it now. If I only had that time machine…..


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