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How much of a cushion do you need between your fully loaded boat, trailer, people, and gear and your vehicle's max towing capacity?

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So, I've had a few threads on here about getting a tow vehicle for my Stratus 186VLO. I'd love to get a pickup truck but it's just not in the cards right now. I looked at minivans but the max towing capacity is 3,000-3,500lbs. I have looked at the Subaru Ascent SUV which has a max towing capacity of 5,000lbs. 

 

I was able to get my fully loaded boat and trailer weighed today. It weighed 2,960lbs. I was told that when vehicle says max towing capacity they are also including the weight of passengers and gear in the vehicle also and not just the boat and trailer. 

 

So, if my fully loaded boat and trailer weigh 2,960lbs. and I add 2 adults, say, 400lbs. that makes it 3,360lbs. for my boat, trailer, people, and gear. 

 

If the Subaru Ascent's max towing capacity is 5,000lbs. that leaves a cushion of 1,640lbs.  Would this be enough of a cushion?

 

I know that your not supposed to tow anywhere near what the max said and that how much you tow affects your vehicle's ability to drive safely. So, what is the cushion from your max weight and the vehicle's max tow weight, 1,000lbs., 2,000lbs, 4,000lbs.......what is should it be?

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Personally, I'd want a 10%-15% cushion. So for a 5000# towing capacity that would be 500#-750# - 1640# is more than enough.

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Does your boat trailer have brakes? And which Ascent transmission would you buy?

 

Ascent manual   https://cdn.subarunet.com/stis/doc/ownerManual/MSA5M1900D_STIS.pdf

 

From page 391...

 

When towing a trailer without brakes - total trailer weight of 1000 pounds.

When towing a trailer with brakes - "Models with air-cooled continuously variable transmission fluid cooler: 5,000 lbs  Models without air-cooled continuously variable transmission fluid cooler: 2,000 lbs"

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The bigger the cushion, the better.  It's recommended to not come that close to your max rationg on a regular basis. The vehicle will have a GCWR rating as well, which is the weight of the everything (vehicle, trailer, all the stuff in said vehicle) you can use to compare against.  While I'm not the biggest fan of a unibody tow vehicle, it should move it alright.  My concerns would be with how well the vehicle would be able to stop with a trailer, and how much the trailer will control the vehicle when towing.  I do not know enough about the Subaru Ascent to give an opinion on it.  It may be just fine.

 

For reference, I pull my stratos 200xl with a diesel canyon.  My tow rating is 7,600# with a GCWR of 12,700#.  I think my trailer weight is in the realm of 1000# heavier than yours.  I have plenty of power pulling the thing and can stop well, but I can definitely feel the boat back there.

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I'm not a fan of anything that isn't body on frame (read: TRUCK) for towing, but looking at the specs, it looks like any trim level, Premium and above, will be capable.  Will it be the best? No.  I've also heard opinions from guys that won't go below a 3/4 ton diesel for a 20' bass boat.  That seems like overkill, but okay.  Can you get on some Suby forums or FB groups and search/ask if any current owners have experience?  Suby owners are almost cult like with their enthusiasm, and would definitely share their experience.

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1 hour ago, Johnbt said:

Does your boat trailer have brakes? And which Ascent transmission would you buy?

 

Ascent manual   https://cdn.subarunet.com/stis/doc/ownerManual/MSA5M1900D_STIS.pdf

 

From page 391...

 

When towing a trailer without brakes - total trailer weight of 1000 pounds.

When towing a trailer with brakes - "Models with air-cooled continuously variable transmission fluid cooler: 5,000 lbs  Models without air-cooled continuously variable transmission fluid cooler: 2,000 lbs"

 

Well, good to know. 

 

I'm pretty sure it does not have brakes. 

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I would have no hesitation using that vehicle for your boat. I towed a 16ft stratos around for a few years with a 4 cylinder 4x4 ranger. Probably not the safest combination but I took it slow and never had any problems.  As stated the braking was the biggest problem.  I'm sure it will do just fine.

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Where do you live? Years ago I towed a 17ft aluminum boat with a V6 Dodge Dakota, 3500lb towing capacity. I'm guessing,  but the tow weight was probably no more than 2500lbs. It was a slug. When I'd travel south thru the Appalachian mountains, going uphill, I might as well have been going in reverse. Personally, I'd never tow with anything less than a V8.

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The issues with small SUV's is vehicle weight vs towing weight, stopping quickly and safely is important. The next problem is overheating the engine and transmission and voiding warranty. 

If the towed weight exceeds 50% the tow vehicle gross weight you need trailer brakes, about 80% with brakes.

You have 3,000 lbs GTW without brakes, you need 6,000 lb gross vehicle weight, including passengers etc, or 4,000 lb tow vehicle for trailer with brakes.

Look into standard size SUV with towing capacity between 6,000 to 10,000 lbs equipped with factory tow package or get brakes added to your current trailer.

Tom

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5 hours ago, WRB said:

The issues with small SUV's is vehicle weight vs towing weight, stopping quickly and safely is important. The next problem is overheating the engine and transmission and voiding warranty. 

If the towed weight exceeds 50% the tow vehicle gross weight you need trailer brakes, about 80% with brakes.

You have 3,000 lbs GTW without brakes, you need 6,000 lb gross vehicle weight, including passengers etc, or 4,000 lb tow vehicle for trailer with brakes.

Look into standard size SUV with towing capacity between 6,000 to 10,000 lbs equipped with factory tow package or get brakes added to your current trailer.

Tom

 

 

Good to know.

 

Thanks for all of the help everyone.

 

I've been able to talk my wife into a truck, so we'll see how it goes.

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Tow vehicles with 7 contact connectors operate electrical trailer breaking systems. Electrical break kits for single axial boat trailers are readily available under $500 installed, something to consider.

Tom

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Better to have too much truck than not enough.  Period.

 

I'd rather have my 3/4 ton diesel not even breathe hard pulling my lead sled than to have a V6 that is exhausted in 5 minutes and needs a new transmission and engine in 2 months because it couldn't handle the pullin'.

 

My truck feels like a bulldog trying to pull out of it's leash when towing.  I barely give it gas going up the mountains of east TN and it rumbles past everyone else while staying in 6th gear at 1200-1300 rpms.  My 5.3L V8 Tahoe would have to downshift and the rpms shot up over 3k on the slightest of inclines pulling my 2009 Z520.  I couldn't imagine what a V6 would do trying to go up a hill, let alone stopping.  I'll never go back to gas for towing...

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