QOTD: Towing With Trucks for Twenty Bucks?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Yesterday I received a used car recommendation inquiry from TTAC reader Nicholas. He’s looking for a truck — on a budget — to help him tow around his new boat. Think we can help him find the right ride?

Nicholas writes,

I’m looking for something to tow our new boat, but don’t want to buy a new vehicle. I thought we could get a 4Runner but they’re really expensive used. Could you make any recommendations? I really didn’t want to spend more than $20k, but don’t want something so old it will be impossible to find parts.

I feel Nicholas’ pricing pain there. Used Toyota 4Runners and Tacomas across the country have heavy “because you can” markups applied to their asking prices. Some call this the Toyota Tax, but I usually refer to it broadly as the Purp Drank Tax. You’ll be familiar if you’ve seen a purple Impala SS for sale at any point between 1998 and today. I wrote back to Nicholas to ask a few more questions, and obtained the following general guidelines beyond the $20,000 price point:

  • The truck shouldn’t be too old — no vintage metal.
  • Nicholas lives in central Florida, where things are flat and paved, and occasionally wet.
  • Four-wheel drive is not required.
  • The boat being towed weighs 3,294 pounds, including the trailer.

Staying away from miscellaneous brand taxation, I think I’ve got a good recommendation. Have a look.

It’s the later version of the first-generation Honda Ridgeline. Some of you will of course hate this recommendation, causing you to shout “It’s not a real truck!” Calm down for a second — think of your blood pressure! The name of the game here is practicality, which the Ridgeline has in spades. It can tow 5,000 pounds in four-wheel drive guise, can carry plenty of people and cargo, and even has a trunk. It’s also more comfortable than your standard full-sizer. It’s key to remember here that the towing task is not a 12,000-pound horse trailer in Colorado, but a single boat in Florida. There’s no need to overdo it when truck shopping.

The current-generation Ridgeline is out of budget, but there are nice later examples of the first generation within reach. This particular example is in the area, and has a trailer brake controller already installed. It’s the highest RTL 4WD trim, offering nice wheels, leather, a sunroof, and aftermarket navigation. It’s also that blurple color Honda is so fond of. With just under 64,000 miles, it’s listed at $21,737.

Got a better recommendation as Nicholas prepares to BOAT? Let’s hear it.

Update: Nicholas has informed the truck will not be a daily driver, but see primarily boat use and a weekly run to Costco.

[Images: Ford, seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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2 of 83 comments
  • Jagboi Jagboi on Feb 20, 2020

    Why do you need a truck? A Crown Vic/Grand Marquis with a frame mounted class III hitch can easily tow the boat. They used to be quite common tow vehicles, and could be factory ordered with a tow package for up to 5,000 lbs. Been there, done that, they make great tow vehicles. Plus they have a gigantic trunk that can hold more than the cargo area in most SUV's smaller than a Suburban.

  • Scoutdude Scoutdude on Feb 20, 2020

    How far and how often will it be towing the boat, that's a big factor. Just going across town every once in a while, then the Frontier can fill the bill. If you are going any distance or very regularly then get the full sizer. Yeah you might be paying a little more at the pump when you are heading to Costco but once the boat is on there the gap in MPG will narrow or disappear.

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