By on September 16, 2013

TTAC commentator Trend-Shifter writes:

I have a 1984 Audi 5000S Avant that is used as the wife’s car and our traveling/towing vehicle. Here is my dilemma…

  1. The air conditioning works as designed in 1984 (still using R12) but it is not to the standards of a modern “Merican” car. It is only comfortable at freeway speeds and without too much sunlight in that expansive greenhouse. The wife complains loudly all summer!
  2. The engine is only 110 horsepower. So when the air is turned on it dramatically impacts drivability. If I pull any kind of grade I need to turn the air off as not to impact drivers behind me.
  3. Right now I tow my jet ski with the car. It pulls it great at any speed as long as the air condition is off. (Refer to item 2, Wifey is not happy when the air is off!)
  4. I also have an 18 ft boat that I will need to tow in 2~3 years as my Grandsons get of age.

So based on the fact that the Audi 5000 Avant will not pull the boat, I think my best plan is to replace the Audi 5000 Avant in the next two years to fix all the problems I identified rather than modify the air conditioning or the engine.

I have looked at various SUV’s for towing. I want just real RWD, not some wannabe FWD disguised as AWD. The big ole freighter SUV’s are really expensive, not good at high speeds, and suck a lot of fuel. So I started to lean towards a 2006~2009 Cadillac SRX with the Northstar V8. (engine issues resolved in 2005) I think a 2000~2010 low mileage (under 40,000 miles) Lincoln Town Car is the best choice for all my problems. (Can’t handle the Grand Marquis & Crown Vic styling)

The Lincoln Town Car is RWD, has a V8, sits lower, cuts the wind, is very reliable, and gets decent mileage compared to other RWD frame SUVs. A set of plus wheels, Michelin Pilot Sports, and a transmission cooler should complete the package.

Does this sound crazy –OR- crazy as a fox (I mean Panther). If you agree, what years are the best?

Audi 5000 pair

BTW… My other car is also an Audi 5000. It is an 1987 Audi Quattro. (I drive it 110 miles round trip everyday to work on the Deeeetroit freeways) So the RWD Lincoln can sit in the garage on those snowy days.

Sajeev answers:

I’m impressed with your Audi 5000 collection (sorry I couldn’t do a Vellum Venom remotely) but I had no clue der avant was a tow vehicle! Good to hear this rig is saying Audi 5000 to THAT job! And your wife has the patience of a Saint to put up with situations that inhospitable for 110 horsepower. But I digress…

“The Lincoln Town Car is RWD, has a V8, sits lower, cuts the wind, is very reliable, and gets decent mileage compared to other RWD frame SUVs.”

I found this quote interesting, as I should also find it appealing. So you need a tow vehicle for bulky things, but you want one with a design aesthetic as your 5000. Longer, lower and wider than an ordinary truck?  More fuel-efficient too, right? So why not?

This is a fool’s errand. You WANT a bigger and taller nose/face when towing to punch a bigger hole in the air for your trailer! A Panther can do the job adequately, but it will struggle more because the boat will make it its bitch. I’d recommend a full-sized conversion van to maximize the size of the hole punched for that 18ft boat.

Not that you NEED a conversion van to punch an adequate hole for a boat that small, but why the hell not?  SUVs and real pick-em-up trucks lack the aero of a van, are overpriced, and vans are so frickin’ great for road trips. Keep the 5000 Avant for your wife’s normal commute, buy a nicely depreciated custom van for towing.

A 1994-2003 Dodge Ram Van, 1996-present Chevy Express Van and the 1992-present Ford Econoline are the proper successors to your Audi 5000 tow vehicle.  Find one with a towing package and the options you’d like.  I’d go with a mid-90s Econoline for it’s most Bauhausian Styling to appeal to your Audi-conscious style, get it with the torquey (but thrifty!) 4.9L big six, modernize/upgrade the brakes/wheels/transmission cooler for light towing duty and lose the conversion van paint job for a stark, Germanic gun metal gray. Yummy.

A perfect machine for one’s Piston Slap pragmatism and one’s Audi 5000-worthy Vellum Venom demands.

And for you Best and Brightest peeps who thought I’d take the Panther Love bait: I never did, son!

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

 

 

 

 

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122 Comments on “Piston Slap: Say “Audi 5000″ to your Tow Vehicle!...”


  • avatar
    mkirk

    Hard to argue with a conversion van on a road trip so long as you have a sizable limit on the ol’ Exxon card. You will probably bust all those ground effects on the boat launch though. I’d love a van, but I’d go the other way. Plain Jane econoline, SWB and a 7.3 Diesel.

    • 0 avatar

      If you want an Econoline with the 7.3, that limits you to mid-2003 and earlier. The E350 7.3 can tow 10k lbs, the boat will be about half that. Perhaps a newer van with a gas engine would do.

      Also, the E350 is wearying to drive long distances. The seats are OK, but they kind of wander and follow seams in the road. (I’m getting a stabilizer installed which is supposed to be a big help, we’ll see.)

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I agree that the 7.3L Econoline is overkill for this duty. If he was towing a tri-axle house trailer, I’d say go for it. Since he’s just towing a smaller boat, a smaller SUV or Panther would do just fine and be suitable for his wife to daily drive.

        • 0 avatar
          paullubbock

          What? Are all you guys European or from the east coast? Your towing with cars and vans? You know, most pick up trucks from, Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge and Toyota have had nice big roomy air conditioned extended cabs since at least 2004. Surely there is a pickup (which are actually meant for hauling and towing) that you can find used for a reasonable price.

  • avatar
    BMWnut

    Or you could convert the Audi to V8 power…

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Without larger displacment you will need torque at low rpms, as I tow dolly other cars with a Saab 9-5 LPT, 5-speed with ecu tune. It has around 300 lb-ft comes on about 2,000 rpms and has no problem accelereating past big trucks on the steepest hills in 90F heat. Some say you can’t tow more weight than your tow vehicle, especially without body-on-frame. With smooth inputs, tightened up suspension, fresh brake fluid, and no additional trailer brakes are needed. It get 23.5 mpg at the speed limit too!

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      Trailer brakes are your friend, especially if you tow your car’s weight or more. They don’t just help stop the trailer, they help keep the trailer behind you while you’re braking. You ought to rethink this…

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Lotsa states require trailer brakes for trailers weighing, IIRC, more than 1,500 – 2,000 lbs. Pulling a a non-trailer-braked trailer the same weight as the towing vehicle is certainly a death wish. It’s not just the extra-long braking distances; its the fact that, at anything less than a perfect straight line, the trailer will tend to push the rear of the car around, if the car is trying to stop. That’s called a “jacknife” and it’s not pretty.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        It is fun turning into a gravel driveway…downhill…heading toward a fence. Definitely no trailbraking and textbook HPDE braking in a straightline. It does tend to understeer on onramps in typical FWD fashion I used to autocross with.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      I just hope Norm is never behind me on the highway towing with his Saab if I ever have to make a panic stop. Because he won’t even slow down until he slams into the back of me as he’s jackknifing.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Is that true? Braking from 70 mph in a 9-5 is almost half a Tahoe/Silverado from a decade ago. My brakes are near new and fresh fluid every two years, not so with most GMT 800s from that era today.

        Towing is not for the fate at heart. First wet day after a hot summer had pops in his Tacoma towing empty trailer sitting on the highway cable divider.

        I’d put my Saab 9-5 up againist any FWD minivan on a slick, wet, uphill. Minivan is about the worst fwd for traction with so much weight on the rear axle and not low center of gravity like a car.

        Remember low center of gravity and passenger tires are the best vs high cog truck on”wilderness” rubber.

        • 0 avatar
          Carlson Fan

          I’ll take a nice long wheel base and plenty of curb weight from the tow vehicle as what’s best/safe when talking tow vehicles. Along with proper set-up which includes but is not limited to; proper tongue weight, brakes, and a WD hitch if neccessary.

          • 0 avatar
            MK

            Bah! GVWR is for pansies dude!

            ;)

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            I’ll take eight wheels on the ground end-to-end with a car-cardolly-car setup with low center of gravity to drive around an accident than have to worry what the 80,000 lbs tractor driver who’s been on his cell phone all day is going to do with over 300 foot stopping distance.

      • 0 avatar
        Beerboy12

        That depends on flowing distances…

    • 0 avatar

      I like your 9-5 idea, as long as you’re smooth on the clutch (I wouldn’t tow with an auto) but not your no-trailer-brakes plan. Yikes.

    • 0 avatar
      MK

      Holy schnikes! Towing more weight than your tow vehicle with no trailer brakes is not the best plan. At least let us rubes know what locales you’re towing through so we can GTF out of your way.

      It’s not the “towing” part I worry about as much as the “stopping” part, I’ve had those terrible Uhaul trailers push my f150 in a panic stop, I don’t even wanna think about what would happen with a Saab … But I can probably find an illustrative YouTube video! Lol

    • 0 avatar
      claytori

      +1 to Norm. My 2005 Saab 9-5 Aero wagon is rated at 3500 lbs towing without any added equipment. Yes, trailer brakes are required for that. I pull my 17′-4″ Silverline I/O with it. That is at least 2500 lbs on the trailer, probably closer to 3000. Power, no problem. Brakes, no problem. Pulling it up the launch ramp, sometimes a problem due to FWD traction, but it hasn’t ever stopped me. You can always get a passerby to stand on the front bumper. Fuel economy on the highway with this runs about 9.5 l/100km or say 23 mpg, so you are just about bang on Norm. The 2005 has been very reliable compared to my previous ’99.

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    Full size van when he’s used to a small car, 110 horsepower and decent fuel-economy?

    I’d say to get over rear-wheel-drive. A Rav4 V6 has a 3500lb tow rating, plenty of power, 29mpg highway, and your wife will love it. Or a Honda Ridgeline, towing capacity 5,000 lbs. Both options can be had for around $12K for a 2007.

    That said, a lot depends on the towing distance and frequency. Twice a year if you have boat storage at the lake is a lot different than every other weekend all summer (domestic pickup or full-size SUV).

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      “I’d say to get over rear-wheel-drive.”

      I was thinking that, too. We tow with an FWD minivan and it gives us no trouble.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        Yep, fwd vehicles are excellent performers at wet boat ramps.

        • 0 avatar
          Trend-Shifter

          I would respectfully disagree.
          I have seen several FWD vehicles on wet ramps not have traction. The combination of the weight on the rear, wet ground, and the ramp incline can limit traction in the front.
          I would also say it would affect the road stability for the same reason. There is a reason pick-up trucks are not front wheel drive.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            I was being sarcastic. I watched 2 minivans take turns squealing their wheels at wet boat ramp one time. Luckily there were enough people around to help push because that was the only way they were leaving the ramp that day with the boat in tow!…….LOL

          • 0 avatar
            Trend-Shifter

            @ Carlson fan, sorry I missed it being sarcasm. I can be a little dense at times.

        • 0 avatar

          I totally missed the sarcasm too. Never seen a FWD rig on a boat ramp, but the lack of weight on the nose (compared to tongue weight on the back) must make it interesting at times.

        • 0 avatar
          ash78

          I got the sarcasm. I lament FWD every single day, especially on wet hills.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Indeed, I have similar feelings.

          • 0 avatar
            VoltOwner

            Yup, there’s nothing quite like hydroplaning at speed (55, it was pouring) when going up a slightly curved road in my old Caravan. Luckily the curve was to the left, so I just did a quick lane change rather than kissing the guard rail. Snow/ice is another one of those weak points of FWD. Uphill even chains did not help one place I used to live.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Might be a Caravan thing, I’ve never had hydroplaning issues in my FWDs and all three have gone great in the snow over the years (02 Grand Am, 98 Saturn SL2, 08 Grand Prix).

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Body-on-frame wiggle like a belly dancer after a pot of coffee. Down right scary until the bushimgs are loaded up mid-turn. I’d take a car towing 4,000+ lbs anyday over a truck.

  • avatar
    ash78

    I assume you already asked this question of the experts at Audiworld and decided that “Swap in a 2.7tt w APR stage 3!!” was not a practical answer.

    I totally agree with the RWD van idea. I could also get behind a crewcab pickup which, depending on your non-towing lifestyle, could work really well for general hauling duties.

    Nice Audis, really impressive. I haven’t see that generation Avant since they were BRAND NEW. Everyone down here in the sunbelt with an old Audi is a fringe lunatic.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    An 18′ powerboat with trailer weighs 1500-2500 lbs. You don’t want to “punch a big hole in the air” for it, and shouldn’t spend either the gas or car money needed to do so.

    Any ol’ Subaru will do – 2000-on Legacy, Impreza, Forester. They have at least 165 horsepower and they sold a lot of them with manuals.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      For several years, I towed a 2000-lb travel trailer with a Subaru Forester. Ii did surprisingly well overall, even in the mountains, with no turbo. But Subies have a crucial weakness as tow cars– their MacPherson strut rear suspensions will squat under tongue weights beyond 150 lbs or so, and there are no good aftermarket solutions to increase the load capacity. You can’t add air bags inside a spring that’s full of shock absorber.

      • 0 avatar
        salguod

        Reese makes a weight distributing setup for small trailers called the 350 mini. I used it with my Odyssey and Jayco pop up trailer. Worked great in leveling the soft Ody butt.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Tint the windows in the Avant. that will help the a/c work a lot better. IIRC, the Audi is rated to tow 1500kg. It will be fine. I used to dolly-tow dead Volvo 240s with a Volvo 245 Diesel, with all of it’s 82hp. It can be done.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      Amen. I had a professional tint my windows for my ’08 Saturn 5 dr Astra and ’13 Mazda5 GT for less than $400. I skirted the limits of the law by having 50% tint on the windows from the B pillar back and 30% on the front two. Make sure you get a thin strip to go across the windscreen otherwise you’ll find that the sunlight that beams in through that raked shield will heat the dashboard and your legs.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Rated/possible and “pleasant or a good idea for any length of time” aren’t quite the same thing…

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Before the SUV/pickup craze, guess what pulled 95% of the boats and travel trailers around? Big ol’ V8-powered American land barges. And they are pretty darned good at it too. An 18′ boat weighs about nothing, I would have no qualms pulling one of those with my BMW wagon, and HAVE pulled one many times with a Volvo 745T.

    Get thee that nice Panther (can’t believe I just said that) and tow that boat. Personally, I would want upgraded brakes and dampers in addition to that tranny cooler, but I would want those anyway if I had to drive one of those every day. Make sure the air suspension is in tip-top shape, and you probably want to make sure to get one with it for the self-leveling.

  • avatar
    Toad

    Old conversion vans seem to be the creepiest vehicles with the creepiest owners on the road. Every time I see one I think “pedophile express.” Unless you are part of the belt+suspenders set your wife will probably think the same thing.

    They are also awful to drive, have huge blind spots & terrible handling, the doghouse for the engine makes the footwells tiny, the aerodynamics are similar to a cement block, and have horrible fuel economy in the city and on the highway. As a bonus, since most are very heavily upholstered they are a bear to keep clean and smells/spills/fluids that get in them tend to stay in them.

    Other than all of that, go for it.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I tow a car trailer (sometimes with a car on it!) and I’ve considered a lightly modified Town Car for this duty. It’ll have no problem towing an 18′ boat. I’d say go that route, there are plenty to choose from for reasonable prices, and they’re inexpensive to own.

    The Audi 5000 is an interesting vehicle to have around in this day and age, but cars from 1984 were made in dark times. I remember when we wwere in high schoo, I guy I knew bought an Audi 5000 because he was under the impression that all German cars handled well and were at least somewhat fast. I raced him in my similar looking 1990 Taurus (mad Vulcan powa!) and blew his doors off.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Did you also scream “Mad Vulcan Powah” out the window at him as you passed?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I had my 87 5000 in 2002, and nobody in the high school parking lot knew what it was. Made me so happy. They heard it coming though from the ticking lifters.

      It didn’t ride terribly well or handle, and it was floaty like my grandpa’s old 86 Fifth Avenue. I concur with the AC issue, it was terribly slow with it on – when the AC (or rather the entire climate control unit) worked, which was about 85% of the time. Had to kick around at some wires under the dash if it cut out.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    There is nothing thrifty about the 4.9L six suggested.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I agree. since it’s the same displacement as the V8, it drinks almost the same amount of fuel. A little bit less, because it makes quite a bit less power.

      • 0 avatar
        dswilly

        It’s worse than the V8. The 4.9 six is a antiquated engine design from the sixties and there is nothing efficient about it. It makes great torque, tows great and is indestructible but eats fuel like a big block. I had a 96 F150 with one, even had the fuel injection and it would never break 12mpg, highway, city, tailwind, downhill, towing, empty, etc. Always 12mpg, at least it was consistent.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          I still have my ’87 and was always able to get better than that. Mine is a 4spd manual, I know the automatics were pretty terrible when paired to the 300 I6.

          • 0 avatar

            That’s odd, I’ve seen myself and heard from others how the 4.9L tows FAR better than the 5.0, and gets better mileage too. The only way to pull more is with a 5.8, but it’s far thirstier than the big six.

            Never towed with a 305/350 Chevy, however.

        • 0 avatar
          Roader

          ’88 F-250, injected 4.9 + M5OD, 14mpg was the lowest, can eke-out 18mpg lightly loaded @65mph. Typically 17mpg @65mph with a 750lb load. Not great but it grunts up 7% grades with ease: 260 ft/lb @ 2000 rpm.

      • 0 avatar
        azmtbkr81

        Both engines are great but to me the 302 is better suited to highway cruising while the 300 is the better truck engine: lots of low end torque, 7 main bearings, timing gears (no chain), etc. If I were hauling heavy loads or driving off-road every day the 300 would win no question.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    “You WANT a bigger and taller nose/face when towing to punch a bigger hole in the air for your trailer!”

    Are you sure about that? Sure enough for an exclamation point? How is a blunt, boxy van more aerodynamic than a speedboat? Boats are designed to carve, not punch, through a much thicker fluid than air. I bet you could have a more aerodynamic rig if you could hitch the boat in front of the car!

    If you like vans, fine. They’ll haul plenty of the lawn chairs and PFDs and gas cans and more gas cans that accompany a boating weekend. But if this correspondent simply likes driving cars, more power to him. More power than 110 hp, anyway. But many questions aren’t asked or answered here. How heavy is the boat and trailer? How often will you tow it? How many passengers are along for the ride? depending on those facts, I think a Fox/Panther would do quite well. Even though you will stand out in this Land of Underemployed Trucks.

    • 0 avatar

      Very good point, but what about the trailer? If the extra height/width helps clear the trailer’s axles/railings the van-truck will still win. That said, boat trailers are far sleeker than others…so I’d have to agree with you.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        A pair of tires with fenders might create about six square feet of frontal area. The front of the fenders usually is canted back, reducing the effective frontal area. That’s a smaller amount of added drag, I’d think, than the van’s additional fontal surface. I’d estimate that could be 3′ H x 6′ W — you can do the math.

        Recent aero styling practice seems to show that the greatest factor in aero drag comes from blunt surfaces at the rear. Look at the moveable fairings at the back of semis, lengthening and narrowing the shape. Then look at raindrop profiles, and fish. Vehicles spend more energy dragging around small partial vacuums behind them, than pushing the air in front of them. Air is compressible, but nature abhors a vacuum.

  • avatar
    Øyvind Birkeland

    There is the ’88-’93 Audi V8, also based on the C3 platform. More power than a Town Car, it has Quattro, you can have it with a 6 speed and it fits very well into the collection. It might be difficult to find one though, especially with a tow hitch!

    My first car was an ’84 Audi 100 and I just loved it! They are on the verge of extinction here i Norway now, winters are cruel on them. Nice to see those two good looking ones in such nice condition (even with the NA bumpers and headlights)

    • 0 avatar
      Trend-Shifter

      I put the hitch on the Audi myself. I do not think rear frame is substantial enough to be a viable tow vehicle other than class I or II.
      I would also want an automatic transmission to work the boat in and out of the water. An Audi V8 automatic transmission would probably cost more than the car to repair.
      I would question the Audi transmission under a constant load having a boat/trailer behind it. Even worse on the grades. It is one thing to be broken down on the road with just a regular car, now think of an Audi with a boat attached.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Don’t need a tow vehicle with a big nose/face to punch air with a boat. They pull easy becsause they are shaped like a wedge.

    My 18′ boat goes close to 3K. The Tahoe gets around 14 MPG towing it and handles it with ease. That’s loaded with gear, 2 dogs, 3 kids and 2 adults. A full size car won’t do any better. Maybe worse because it won’t be geared for towing and performance and mileage will suffer.

    Look for a 2WD Tahoe w/ tow paxkage. That will handle that boat better than any car and return great towing fuel economy. It is basically the equivlant modern day fullsize station wagon.

  • avatar
    jrhmobile

    I vote for a van, which on balance is, I think, an inspired choice.

    If the vehicle is only going to be used for towing, a solid body-on-frame truck serves the purpose easily. Buy a solid, reliable 10-12 year old truck at the bottom of the depreciation schedule with a diesel and heavy-duty automatic, and years of trouble-free towing are in your future.

    Sure, as others have offered, you can tow an 18-foot boat with a Volvo diesel or a Subaru Imprezza, but why the Hell would you want to? You don’t want to work at it, and for maintenance purposes, you probably don’t want your tow vehicle to strain at it either.

    And yeah, a full-size van would guzzle gas. But in the total scheme of things, is it really enough to matter? You’re not going to win any economy runs towing 2500-3000 lbs with anything.

    On a 100-mile round trip, the difference between the 8mpg you’ll see with a full-size gas van at 8 mpg and a car getting 15mpg (if you’re lucky, 10-12 mpg is more likely and you’ll see that kind of mileage with a light-duty diesel truck) is about $23 — $50 vs. $26.67 — at $4 a gallon. Not cheap, but compared to maintaining a straining car for towing duty, I’ll bet it’s cost effective in the long run.

    So if the vehicle’s purpose in life is weekend towing, and maybe on occasion hauling stuff and/or the Spare Car of Last Resort, get a vehicle suited for the task. If you’re running off a hitch, it doesn’t much matter between a van or a pickup for towing, but more inside seats and covered, lockable space for the assorted kit/flotsam that Boat People accumulate tips the balance in a van’s favor.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The conversion van is great advice, conv vans though are a major bitch to work on for the DIY (which I assume he is running an ’84 100 Avant in 2013). I’ll throw late model short bed four door truck out as well, in particular the depreciated Explorer Sport Trac as opposed to an F150 which you’ll get reamed on.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    Might want to rethink AWD/4×4 vs. pure RWD. Assuming that you plan on frequently launching the boat from a ramp vs. just toting it around with you.

    My first ride was a 1988 Dodge Ramcharger RWD with 318 and 3.21 highway gears. It said in the manual not to tow with that rear axle, but the original owner towed his bass boat with it. When I was in college I towed my buddy’s 18ft ski boat to the municipal boat ramp. We lived in a flat area on the eastern seaboard so the truck’s ~140 horsepower didn’t get taxed too badly despite the 5500lb curb weight, plus boat, plus A/C (the V8′s ~250+ torques probably helped). The problem came when retrieving the boat from the water. The ramp was rather steep and the water was rather stagnant and therefore coated in moldy slime. The open differential of my truck wasn’t having the boat come out of the water. Only by clicking the parking brake on incrementally could I get enough of a “limited slip” effect to extract the boat and trailer far enough to get traction. A lighter tow vehicle would exponentially compound this problem.

    Turns out the previous owner of this truck sold it so he could buy a 4×4 Mazda Navajo (Explorer) so he could continue launching his boat.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    Get a recent Volvo wagon. They are cheap used, drive nicely, get decent fuel economy, and can tow 3500 pounds.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    That’s a good point cdotson. Some of the boat ramps in MN are gravel and I’ve watched people with RWD vehicles rut them up spinning their wheels which in turn only makes it worse for the next guy. You can get by without a 4WD vehicle if your at a good ramp that isn’t too steep.

  • avatar
    peekay

    How about a 2011-14 Grand Cherokee? The 3.6 litre Pentastar V-6 is quite economical and still provides a 5000 lb tow rating. The 5.7 V-8 would probably be better. Rear drive architecture but full-time 4WD/AWD. There’s also a RWD-only version sold in the US (but not in Canada afaik).

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So let me ask this: If the RWD vehicle is old enough or low optioned enough (doesn’t have traction control) don’t you need a locking or limited slip rear diff to get up the boat ramp? I ask because my brother-in-law has an old fiberglass boat with an outboard motor that he’s restoring and when he finishes he is worried that his RWD Mitsubishi Montero Sport won’t be up to the task of pulling it up and down boat ramps. He thinks he needs a 4×4 pickup. I told him; “You like the Montero, the Montero fits your lifestyle, the resale value is low on the Montero, why don’t you just call around to the local off-road shops and see if someone makes a locking rear diff for the Mitsu?

    Did I give him the right advice?

  • avatar
    Slave2anMG

    I’d like that Avant myself… :)

  • avatar
    jco

    after spending the summer hauling a 23ft boat in and out of the water, I will never do it without having actual 4wd even if it’s just part time.

    i see no issue at all hauling small stuff like skis with even a fwd econobox. for something with the weight of an actual boat, you will hate life if you have to launch on anything other than a dry ramp with no incline. which doesn’t happen in real life. and even if it did, the guy who pulled out before you just soaked the ramp anyways.

    it’s bad enough sliding down a wet ramp with the brakes full locked. but get the the boat on the trailer, put it in drive, and try to climbing that grade when it’s wet and you’ll spin the tires and possibly start sliding back towards the water. happened to us at one point in the truck that was even in 4-LO

    i know SUVs are almost always overkill for most people. but honestly, for the particular job of towing/launching a boat, i really believe you need awd/4wd and also a vehicle that has some weight to it. right tool for the job and such…

  • avatar
    50merc

    If the guy wants a REALLY capable tow vehicle, he should get an International CXT. Plus, it’s a diesel, for real economy.

  • avatar
    phreshone

    I thought the correct answer for any question where it isn’t ‘panther’ was Used Ford Flex Ecoboost AWD… you know, for the grandkids

  • avatar

    Van.

    The depreciation on these is insane. I bought a high mileage E150 Club wagon for $850. I towed race cars, motorcycles, junker and a host of other crap all over Colorado. I slept in it on motorcycle trips, helped friends move, watch the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb and parked it downtown with a load of friends who either taxi’d it home or brought a DD more times than I could count. That van saved lives!!!

    Want to spent a weekend at the lake with the grand kids? Boom. Plus most have TVs DVDs and video game systems.

    Did my buddies write “Free Hanna Montana Tickets and Puppies” on the side? Sure. But after three years I sold it to a buddy for $600 and have regretted it since. It was cheap enough to park until I needed it, and versatile enough to justify its existence when I did.

    Towing? It yawned at anything under 4,000 lbs and came with a built in brake controller. The awful mileage was actually consistent with a small trailer or without. Forget pedovan, get some Crager SS rims, shag carpet and a mural on the side and go 70s on that sucker!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “get some Crager SS rims, shag carpet and a mural on the side and go 70s on that sucker”

      Nice!

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      There’s something to be said about a cheap full size van. All the utility adn then some of a full size pickup, with none of the style at a fraction of the price.

      I’ve considered many a full size van for towing duty, but getting a 4×4 means finding a Quigley, and those owners really hand onto those things. I just don’t have the space for my 4×4 pickup and a Dajiban, so the van is off the list for now.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        A high school friend of mine was in a family whose business involved some heavy equipment but was still a small operation. When Ford started to put the PowerStroke in the E350 van my friends father went out and bought one. It was perfect for his business, good towing and locking storage.

    • 0 avatar
      jimbob457

      The legendary 1920′s financier Bernard Baruch once offered the timeless advice “buy your straw hats in the Fall”. Few motor vehicles are less trendy these days than the dreaded used van. If it suits your needs as a vehicle, and it appears to do so, then go for it. Laugh all the way to the bank.

      Don’t worry too much about gasoline prices. Fracking will break $100 oil in six months, or a year at the outside.

  • avatar
    hands of lunchmeat

    Ah. The 5000. Back when audi was the infiniti of the luxury game. Anyone who has a fleet of typ44s like that deserves some sort of commendation, or committal. Either or. As for the a/c, you may want to make sure the evaporator core in it is not completely covered in dust and garbage, as after 25 years of service this can definitely happen, and definitely affects cooling output. I have a friend who was an audi tech back then, and he kept picking up old stray 5000s well into the late 90s, and they always had ice cold ac when he was done with them. As also said, a light tinting does wonders as well lessening the solar load.

    I got the idea that OP was trying to replace the 5000 with another vehicle to daily drive, which would explain the town car reasoning. Buying a diesel 4×4 or free candy van to daily drive and only occasionally use to drop a boat down a slippery launch really isn’t worth it. Anything rear drive with a LSD unit can handle the same without the weight and mileage penalty.

    Sajeev, I’ve literally never seen a conversion van with the base motor. Any sort of older ford sin bin conversion usually has the 5.8 in it. And while they are a bit gross, you can purchase one in great shape for peanuts, then only use it just for towing purposes.

  • avatar
    Habibi

    I tow a 23 ft Yamaha jet boat with my AWD Flex and absolutely love it. At 3000 lbs. the boat is on the light side for 23 ft. The trailer has brakes. The Flex is amazing for road trips with or without a trialer. We recently towed the boat 7 hours each way to Lake Superior. Search Pictured Rocks online, they are very cool. Zero issues pulling the boat up slippery ramps. We have a variety of other trailers (a two place jet ski, fishing boat, and utility trailer) but the boat is the biggest load. If you are using the vehicle daily, don’t need a truck, and you want to tow, the Flex is ideal.

  • avatar
    AlfaRomasochist

    2014 Durango with the Pentastar V6 and 8 speed auto checks all your boxes. RWD, relatively good MPG, 6200 lb. towing capacity, not too spendy. Done.

    I almost got one myself but went with a 2013 CX-9 instead, since I won’t be towing any more than about 2k pounds, and the end of year lease incentives + owner loyalty made it way cheaper than the Dodge.

    For what it’s worth you CAN pull a boat up a slick ramp with a minivan (2004 MPV, in my case). I don’t recommend it. Bring a change of underwear.

  • avatar
    Dan R

    Look at that style, 1984!
    If you were blowing up engines, big deal.
    You still look as good now as you did then.

  • avatar
    Tostik

    Towing a boat out of water with an XC70.

    youtube.com/watch?v=HWLJPEqSajo

  • avatar
    Spartan

    2006 – 2010 Ford Explorer 4.6L V8 would be perfect, not to mention cheap to maintain as well. Even with an 18 foot trailer, you want something with at least a decent wheelbase so the tail doesn’t wag the dog.

    7400lb tow rating, BOF, RWD, AWD or 4×4 option, perfect for boat ramps in the wet. You’ll thank me later. I’ve since upgraded to an F-150 for my towing duties since I have a much larger trailer to tow these days, but you can’t beat the reliability or the unkillable-ness of a Ford Explorer.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    I say go for the Town Car but make sure you add a trans cooler. If you are worried about the boat ramps, get an ARB air locker installed. The TC has the venerable 8.8″ Ford rear axle, and ARBs are available for them thanks to years of duty in the Explorer, F-Series and Ranger. 1,800 lbs for a Townie is nothing – you won’t even notice it back there.

  • avatar
    pbxtech

    I have had a couple of full size Dodge vans as work vehicles and I hated everything about them. They suck gas, the seating position is behind the window (this makes a lane change very difficult,) the ride is choppy, they eat transmissions, they are noisy, and there is no foot room. Had I not already owned one of their minivans I would never have set foot in a Dodge dealership. They did a lot damage by selling that dinosaur for so long.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    I’m late, and I’ve said it before, but if the original poster sees this.

    Used Liberty CRD.

    I can’t say it’s the best most perfect vehicle ever. But I tow a 3,400lb camper with mind; it’s rated at 5,000lbs. I usually use it on trips, and when not towing I get 30-32mpg on the highway. Ice cold A/C for the summer, heated leather seats in the winter. Doesn’t ride as smooth as a town car I’m sure, but far more capable. Plus with the AWD transfer case it’ll tow up a boat ramp like nothing.

    It really is a surprising little SUV. Not too big, fuel efficient, fairly comfortable, great low-end diesel power. Find them used for under $15k now, but they’re rare and go quick.

  • avatar
    Illan

    A 2005- 2009 Dodge Magum R/T might fit the bill. that 5.7 hemi is rock solid and its a nice rundabout. it also has cylinder deactivation for better fuel economy.

    BTW, Im loving your beautiful 5,000 avant. we had a blue 84 avant years ag. It was my favorite car in out house when i was a kid (yes i liked it over my dad’s awesome 89 Mark VII 5.0 LSC)

  • avatar
    The Dark One

    TRAILER BRAKES FIRST! TRAILER BRAKES FIRST!

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      I couldn’t any comparisons between trailer brakes and none, but did find SAE J2807 requirements interesting:

      http://m.automobilemag.com/features/news/0912_sae_tow_ratings_finally_pass_sniff_test/viewall.html

      A lower center of gravity car with a loaded car dolly should be able to match the braking requirements along with handling as it has eight wheels down.

  • avatar
    mypoint02

    Roadmaster Wagon. Might be hard to find, but they gotta be dirt cheap by now and you’ll still have a wagon. LT1 FTW!

  • avatar
    Scribe39

    I agree with those who say go with a 4×4 SUV. Check the data on fuel economy if it is important. All sizes are out there.

  • avatar
    djn

    The Audi 5000 will be just fine. I know from personal experience.
    In the early 90′s I had a business that imported shirts from the former Czechoslovakia. I was traveling to visit a factory one evening in an Opel rented from the Vienna airport. My agent, an Austrian was driving us. We were driving on an icy two lane highway about an hour north of the Austrian border. My agent, Horst the Austrian was driving when he hit a patch of ice. We rolled over and landed in a ditch upside down. The car was damaged but we were unhurt.
    A passing motorist called the towing service. Not too long after, the “towing service” showed up. A Czech guy with an 80′s era Audi 5000 (100) diesel. It took a semi with a chain to pull us upright and out of the ditch and then the Audi towed us to the nearest “hotel” about 30 minutes away.

  • avatar
    KennethofGA

    Since towing is my business I think I might have some advice to offer here. The towncar is IMHO the better choice “IF” you have a decent boat ramp and don’t intend to do long interstate pulls. Yes the van, suv, or truck are better options for towing but since this is to be your wife’s daily and she apparently isn’t into the bigger is better vehicle set, get the Towncar. Normally I’m the guy who defaults to “bring enough truck” but in this case it isn’t necessary and the aero is at most a concern at speed in high winds. After almost 9 years in trucking (6 of which have been hauling oversized freight) I’ve come to realise the single most important towing feature is in between your ears base your decision on where your going and what your doing then just get a little more vehicle than you need for that. Now if your boat ramp stinks, if you need to spend a lot of time on the interstate, or if your hitting up a high mountain lake get the bigger better towing vehicle otherwise the Towncar is fine. If you do decide to go with a bigger vehicle though I’d let your wife pick out the style since she’ll be stuck in it most of the time though I would get it in 4×4 since even if its only needed twice a year you’ll be glad you have it. Also if you do go big don’t rule out a pickup they’ve gotten much nicer over the years but then what do I know I’m just a stupid gear jammmer. :-P

  • avatar
    teejot

    2009 4Runner with the 4.7… Smallest body on frame truck I could find with a genuine iron block V8. They are comfortable, easy to live with and very, very hard to kill. Make sure you get the Limited so you can have all the goodies. I’ve got an ’05, but ’09 was the last year for the V8, so might as well get the newest you can find.
    Driving around the lake where I live at around 30 I actually get over 20mpg. Mixed travel is around 18-19mpg, and towing our little 22′ 3,200lbs trailer is 9-11mpg believe it or not.


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