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Wormhole 09-01-2006 03:41 PM

Towing with a Nissan X-Terra
 
I’ve fought it off for as long as I could but it’s time to join the ranks with the rest of the oversized gas guzzling commuters. I pretty much made up my mind on the X-Terra, just as long as it can tow my needs. This will double as an everyday commuter, and a tow vehicle, so regardless of what my girlfriend says size does matter. My goal is to have it tow a 2500lb 944T on an aluminum trailer for a combined weight of somewhere around 3500-4000lb with cargo.
The towing capacity on the X-Terra is surprisingly 6000lbs, not bad for a compact.

So any real life experience with this combo? Should I kiss this dream goodbye?

M758 09-01-2006 03:48 PM

If you go slow, don't have hills and only tow short way I think you can get by.

I towed my 944 on an open trailer behind my 4.0L Jeep Cherokee. Worked fine, but I was never comfortable towing more than 60-80 miles from home. Maxed out at 70 mph. Lucky for me I still had plenty of track time that close Even so here towing (in town) to/from tracks meant 1000 ft elevation change. Later on I got Dodge 2500 V10 so I could venture to California and Nevada. Sure it sucks the gas down, but tows like the car is not there, plus hauls all kinds of crap er spares :)

ltc 09-01-2006 04:04 PM

I agree with M758.
It is a marginal combination of wheelbase (stability) and HP.

You will also be stopping for refueling quite often, due to the small gas tank and low expected MPG.

FWIW, I use my bride's vehicle for the family towing (son's kart and my car)....only cost me one trip to Tiffany's website:

https://rennlist.com/forums/attachme...chmentid=97134
https://rennlist.com/forums/attachme...hmentid=132962

44gallon tank, extending tow mirrors, diesel engine......LOTS of range and torque and stability.

Tom W 09-01-2006 04:07 PM

I towed a 2800 lb 911 on an open steel trailer for 2 years using an ML430. It worked but was less than ideal in terms of stability and power (tow capacity is rated as 5000 lbs). Use of a load distributing hitch help a lot - I would not tow using an X-terra without one.

I now have a Chevy 2500 with the Duramax turbo diesel and Allison transmission and it's a dream for pulling a 24' enclosed trailer with the car now weighing 2500 lbs (total of about 8000 lbs now). I also have a load distibuting hitch and integrated sway control for this combo.

Wormhole 09-01-2006 04:10 PM


If you go slow, don't have hills and only tow short way I think you can get by.
I’m afraid that may be an issue. It's very hilly around this part of NY, and I live on top of a mountain. I plan on going as far as Mt Tremblant, and I have a sickness that uncontrollably forces my right foot down no matter how hard I try to fight the temptation.

It’s hard enough to cope with the idea of driving an SUV everyday, please don’t tell me I need something bigger….

Gary R. 09-01-2006 04:10 PM

Yep, you only need to tow with an undersize vehicle ONCE to learn... At least with an open trailer you just have to contend with getting horrible MPG and being underpowered (if the transmission is up to snuff). If you ever see yourself upgrading to an enclosed trailer of ANY size forget it.. I get 12.5 MPG towing a 24' enclosed aluminum trailer (avg. 75 MPH on trips) and over 20 MPG normally with the new Duramax Diesel. I could hook a HOUSE behind my trailer and rip it off it's foundation! LOL

Very comfy on trips. I would consider an 3/4 ton SUV if they put the Duramax in them.. :)

Bull 09-01-2006 04:16 PM

I agree it will be marginal at best. With most vehicles today, "pulling" isn't the limiting issue. It is usually the brakes or chassis, or both. With any vehicle, I would not go over 75-80% of the rated towing capacity, which is set by most manufacturers with an assumption of one 150 person (driver) and NOTHING else in the truck. Being slow up hills is inconveient and bothersome. Not being able to stop going down that hill, or not being able to control the towed mass, is something far worse.

Wormhole 09-01-2006 04:16 PM


Use of a load distributing hitch help a lot
I never heard of that before, thanks for the advice, I'll have to research it. Do you have any reference material I can view?

Gary R. 09-01-2006 04:19 PM


Originally Posted by Bull
I agree it will be marginal at best. With most vehicles today, "pulling" isn't the limiting issue. It is usually the brakes or chassis, or both. With any vehicle, I would not go over 75-80% of the rated towing capacity, which is set by most manufacturers with an assumption of one 150 person (driver) and NOTHING else in the truck. Being slow up hills is inconveient and bothersome. Not being able to stop going down that hill, or not being able to control the towed mass, is something far worse.

Got that right Bull! A BIG feature of the Allison 6 spd is the trailer mode down hills. I can simply lift off the gas and the truck will hold speed down a mountain without me so much as touching the brakes. Damn thing amazes me.. and like Tom W. (who types faster than me it seems :) . ) I put the Reese combo weight distributing/anti-sway system on from day one. Forget sway and keep looking in the mirror to see if the trailer is there!

Wormhole 09-01-2006 04:23 PM


With any vehicle, I would not go over 75-80% of the rated towing capacity, which is set by most manufacturers
With the X-Terra that puts me right where I would need to be.. I'm sure I'm being optimistically naive, but I'm fighting hard.

purplehaze. 09-01-2006 04:48 PM

Wormhole,

Just ignore Gary. He's compensating for low power on the track .... DOH! That should get up his dander appropriately.

He's right in that the torque and stopping power of the bigger rigs makes towing easier. I've got a Suburban towing a steel open trailer, plus that load balancing thing. It's pretty good, but I'm considering your path as well.

There were a couple guys at WGI recently that had 6-cyl's, 4-Runner and a Volvo Wagon, both towing lightweight alum opens, said no problem. They had to use momentum up the hills - like Gary at Lime Rock ;)

I do 6-8 events a year but otherwise use mine for commuting. I'm thinking go with the primary use of the vehicle (daily life) and make do with the not-optimal trailer package.

Just my thoughts, but let me know how you make out. I plan to test drive the Pathfinder, 4-Runner, etc soon.

Good luck!

Glenn

Tom W 09-01-2006 05:03 PM

I found this refence helpfull when I got started towing: http://www.sherline.com/lmbook.htm
This is the system I have now for load/sway control: http://www.etrailer.com/mm5/merchant...tegory_Code=WD

I may type faster than Gary, but we agree that while you can do it with a V8 SUV, the Duramax is a dream. And the Duramax with the Reese hitch takes away a lot of the worry/stress while driving (because you almost forget it's back there). Many of us started with an SUV buy moved to something a big more stable/safe/comfortable after a couple years. I never would have tried to use the ML to get over the Sierra's to Reno-Fernley. I did it with the Duramax at 70 mph with outside temps of 110 °F and the transmission or cooling system never even got hot. And, wow, do I love the Allison on the downhill portions. Just sit back and cruise down without the pucker and excitment of trying it in the ML with marginal braking.

SundayDriver 09-01-2006 05:11 PM


Originally Posted by Wormhole
With the X-Terra that puts me right where I would need to be.. I'm sure I'm being optimistically naive, but I'm fighting hard.

Rather than consider the best case of going slowly, you should really consider worst case - that is what will get you through safely or get you killed.

You are going down a long hill. Brakes are hot and getting a little weak. It is slick and ou are taking it easy. An 18 wheeler blows by 20 mph faster and the wake pitches you a bit sideways. This is what you need to plan for. If you are marginal on the vehicle (short wheelbase, high load) you may end up in the ditch. If you are well within margins, you feel the twitch and the rig settles into a straight line. (BTW - Short wheelbase is a real bitch in these situations.)

You can probably tow double the rating of any vehicle on a nice level road with no upsets. The real questions are what is your life worth (and those of your family and others on the road) and how much risk are you willing to take just to tow a trailer.

ltc 09-01-2006 05:18 PM


Originally Posted by Gary R.
... I would consider an 3/4 ton SUV if they put the Duramax in them.. :)

And Chevy/GMC continues to refuse to install the Duramax in the Suburban.
Luckily Ford put the Powerstroke in the Excursions from the beginning....my wife's 2000 7.3L and now her 2005 6.0L have been fantastic. It's a shame Ford decided to discontinue the Excursion (F250HD 3/4 ton luxury SUV)

ltc 09-01-2006 05:21 PM

John (Wormhole),
I think what you are finding out is that tow vehicles are like track appliances.....

You can start out on track with a daily driver/stock Porsche, but soon you begin down the slippery slope, adding bits and before you know it, you own a full blown factory race car....ask me how I know.

Same thing with towing your track appliance. You start out with an open aluminum trailer and a car being pulled by your daily driver SUV, then you add wheels/tools/fuel, then an enclosed trailer and before you know it, you're driving a fully equipped diesel tow vehicle.

SundayDriver 09-01-2006 05:25 PM


Originally Posted by ltc
And Chevy/GMC continues to refuse to install the Duramax in the Suburban.
Luckily Ford put the Powerstroke in the Excursions from the beginning....my wife's 2000 7.3L and now her 2005 6.0L have been fantastic. It's a shame Ford decided to discontinue the Excursion (F250HD 3/4 ton luxury SUV)

My understanding is that the Burb's firewall does not allow the Duramax but the next generation will. I have a PSD Excursion and love the combo of extra seating/interior storage and the Diesel.

ltc 09-01-2006 05:35 PM

Begin :_otopic:

I hadn't heard that before about the firewall. I would have thought since they put a 454 in there, they could fit a diesel.
The new 6.4L Powerstroke is due out next year.....everyone is waiting for the new 'low sulfur diesel' to become standard.
No idea if they plan on offering it in a Expedition XL (the 'successor' to the Excursion) or not.
I haven't heard anything about the new 'low sulfur/low emissions' Duramax and it's size yet.

This country is WAY behind on deploying diesels :soapbox:

End :_otopic:

Gary R. 09-01-2006 06:22 PM


Originally Posted by odellconsult
Wormhole,
Just ignore Gary. He's compensating for low power on the track .... DOH! That should get up his dander appropriately.
There were a couple guys at WGI recently that had 6-cyl's, 4-Runner and a Volvo Wagon, both towing lightweight alum opens, said no problem. They had to use momentum up the hills - like Gary at Lime Rock ;)
Good luck!
Glenn

:grr:
Ya know Glen, I have $125K itching a hole in my pocket and I saw a NEW 05 Cup car for sale around here somewhere..... https://rennlist.com/forums/racing-and-drivers-education-forum/295877-new-05-cup-for-sale.html
:p

Gary R. 09-01-2006 06:25 PM


Originally Posted by ltc
And Chevy/GMC continues to refuse to install the Duramax in the Suburban.
Luckily Ford put the Powerstroke in the Excursions from the beginning....my wife's 2000 7.3L and now her 2005 6.0L have been fantastic. It's a shame Ford decided to discontinue the Excursion (F250HD 3/4 ton luxury SUV)

And that is the main reason I bought my truck. If they make a Yukon XL with a Duramax and Allison then that would be kick-ass..

tchandler 09-01-2006 06:51 PM

I pull my 2200 lbs car and 1100 lbs steel trailer with my Toyota Sequoia. Was slow going through the Sierras once. Not much of a problem on smaller foothills of NorCal. Feels stable on the downhill. I'd think you would need the Nissan Armada at the very least. Longer wheel base, 9,000 lbs towing capacity.

Wormhole 09-01-2006 08:23 PM


I think what you are finding out is that tow vehicles are like track appliances..... You can start out on track with a daily driver/stock Porsche, but soon you begin down the slippery slope, adding bits and before you know it, you own a full blown factory race car....ask me how I know
I think you nailed what I was thinking. The weekend that started out for all of us as a simple DE only to become an obsession that transformed our daily driver into a track whore, then to realize our new daily driver is no longer up to the task of transporting our once daily driver. Oh.. the money pit..

Okay guys, some very good points, and I do appreciate them.. I think I know what I need to do……. marry into money.

ltc 09-01-2006 09:20 PM


Originally Posted by Wormhole
I think I know what I need to do……. marry into money.

If she has sisters........you know where we are.

Bull 09-01-2006 09:20 PM


Originally Posted by ltc
And Chevy/GMC continues to refuse to install the Duramax in the Suburban.
Luckily Ford put the Powerstroke in the Excursions from the beginning....my wife's 2000 7.3L and now her 2005 6.0L have been fantastic. It's a shame Ford decided to discontinue the Excursion (F250HD 3/4 ton luxury SUV)

While I would never want to be seen as defending GM :rolleyes: , I will say that there is a reason why the diesels of GM, Ford, etc. are not found in their SUVs and 1/2 ton trucks....that is the differing emissions requirements for vehicles under a certain GVW, which long a go was 6000lbs, then was raised to 6200lbs and now is likely even higher. Today's US Diesels won't meet the lower emission requirements of the vehicles under that Federal Government set weight limit. Why don't they make that fact more well known to those that have been asking for the diesels in SUVs, etc, for a long time? The Corporate PR types don't want any communication that could sound like "our big rigs are polluters"!

It will be interesting to see where the new '07 Ford Expedition XL, sort of a replacement for the Excursion, falls in this situation. Unfortunately, likely not on the diesel side of the line.

RedlineMan 09-01-2006 10:21 PM

Didn't read all the responses;

It's a really tough deal, this towing thing. It's hard to justify a real tow vehicle sometimes. It's easy to get sucked in by posted capacities and think you'll get by too. And you can. Lots of people do.

You can tow a lot with a marginal setup and never have a problem. Problem is, if you do have a problem towing, it is usually never a small one. Take the craziness of a spin at the track and quadruple it. It's utter mayhem when a rig goes South.

That will be an EXCEPTIONALLY marginal tow vehicle. The reality is that your anticipated load is right at the limit, regardless of what the rating is. If you plan to tow a little, do it at a very moderate speed and you might be OK. If you plan to tow a lot, you will kill that toy truck in short order. Hopefully not anything else.

A half ton pickup is marginal in MY book.

DrJupeman 09-01-2006 10:46 PM


Originally Posted by ltc
It's a shame Ford decided to discontinue the Excursion (F250HD 3/4 ton luxury SUV)

Agreed! We love our Powerstroke Excursion (7.3).

lowside67 09-01-2006 11:02 PM

Just a thought, but I have no problem towing my boat with my 04 X5 4.4i with the dealer-installed tow package. The boat is about 4500lbs with trailer and though the truck is no speed-demon with the trailer, it is able to pull up hills at 70 with nary an issue.

kgorman 09-02-2006 02:36 AM

I agree with all the comments regarding safety. It's not just your safety, but everyone around you if/when it goes south. I have seen some horrendous towing vehicles on the hwy. I think the Hwy Patrol should be more aggresive about pulling over guys w/ obvious violations.

I tow only occasionally, but I am now using an F350 Superduty Powerstroke 4x4. It is an exceptional towing vehicle, and I feel very safe when towing my (generally) 4k-6k loads. Especially in tricky situations like weather, or hills, or traffic, or the entrance to Laguna Seca. ;-).

Also, I have electric brakes, this is a key feature I have not seen mentioned yet.

I don't use a load distributing hitch, this rig is OK w/o it.

Hope this helps! Whatever you decide, be safe out there.

renvagn 09-02-2006 10:35 AM

FWIW...I tow a 3,000 lb "89" 951 with a new Trail-X (full Deck) with a 2001 Pathfinder. I have been from VIR to WGI numerous times. The Pathfinder while down on power 250 HP and close to that in torque is pretty stable on the road. It ( motor) seems pretty happy at 70-75 mph and is very stable in turns. We oten take PA Rt 6 to WGI and it all quick hills and twisties. The Xtera seems to sit higher than the pathfinders (xtera's had previous poor roll over stats) and I would question the stability of towing a car. The other major concern is cargo space. You won't have enough if you plan on taking anyone with you by the time you get tools, jack, stands, coolers, clothes and second set of tires. If you add a tire rack to the trailer you will significantly change it's tongue weight and handling for the worse with an Xtera.

Since you are just now looking for a tow vehicle go with a V-8. Try Sequoia or and Armada (9,000-10,000 tow cap) or the Titan pick up if you want to stay away from US products. You will gain road stability, cargo space, towing capacity, power and torque. I will upgrade mine next year to an Armada or Sequioa. GL.

M758 09-02-2006 10:49 AM

couple of points from my 4.0L Cherokee towing experience.

1) I never had load equalizing hitch so I learned where to place the car on my trailer to keep the tongue load in workable range. The jeep also had a 4.5" lift on it so it was a challenge to ensure the rear did not squat. It was possible however

2) brakes... The trailer always had electric brakes. Driving without them would have sent me off the road at my first stop. Even so I had to plan all my braking zone well in advance. I do remember one night making a left onto the freeway. Light turned just before I got there. I applied brakes and I just slide about 1 car lenght in to the intersection. Lucky for me it was late at night and there was no one around. Not fun at all.

By contrast I have run my 3/4 Ton Dodge without trailer brakes a few times and it felt more stable than with brakes on my jeep.

3) power & tranny. I always had to watch my RPM's and engine temps. It was easy to fall below my torque curve with 4.0L and thus need 3rd gear. 2nd gear gave me 3000 to 3500 rpm, but driving like that for 10 min ran up the engine temps. So I needed to pop the gearing to 3rd and hope to bring the rpm to 2500. This is the point where I could make enough power to pull the trailer, but also not burn up the motor.
in the dodge.... just drive it and never even worry.

DanS911 09-02-2006 01:55 PM

John
Back to the Xterra, my daughter has one she likes it a lot.
It does however have drum brakes on the rear, I am not so sure I would be comfortable with that set up when towing.
When the sh!t hits and you are towing it is often all about the brakes.

renvagn 09-02-2006 02:54 PM

I

tow only occasionally, but I am now using an F350 Superduty Powerstroke 4x4. It is an exceptional towing vehicle, and I feel very safe when towing my (generally) 4k-6k loads. Especially in tricky situations like weather, or hills, or traffic, or the entrance to Laguna Seca. ;-).

Also, I have electric brakes, this is a key feature I have not seen mentioned yet.

I don't use a load distributing hitch, this rig is OK w/o it.

Hope this helps! Whatever you decide, be safe out there.
__________________
:burnout: F350 super duty......All you have is what, a whimpy 12,000 pound towing capacity. :burnout:

renvagn 09-02-2006 02:58 PM

Wormhole,

Better yet.......Skip the beginning step of an open trailer, the middle step of the closed trailer and your tow vehicle problems. Go right to the Chrome tractor/camper and two car level transport combination. Be the envy of your region and address your lodging requirements in the process.

Rick964 09-02-2006 06:17 PM

This is all great information and stuff I will deeply consider when I get ready to buy a tow vehicle down the road. However I can't help but think of all the Europeans who tow all kinds of stuff without having any of the full size truck/SUV options that everyone is talking about here. Over there a Cayenne is a big SUV and I often see people towing boats, campers, cars, etc. with station wagons.

Bull 09-02-2006 07:05 PM

Yep, there are people who don't have the rich aray of choices we have. As a good friend of mine says about playing golf in Scotland..."do you really think they would choose to play in those conditions, on those courses, if they had choices like Pebble Beach, Baltisrol, etc."? Same thing here...all kinds of reasons ...economic, political, etc.

RedlineMan 09-02-2006 08:03 PM


FWIW...I tow a 3,000 lb "89" 951 with a new Trail-X (full Deck) with a Pathfinder.
Substitute:

- Cherokee, Grand or not.
- Explorer
- 4Runner
- M class MB
- Any midsize P/U
- Etc., etc....

That's about as light a load as you can get. Still an accident waiting to happen. It just hasn't yet. :icon501:

Please be careful, folks.

Chris White 09-04-2006 01:07 PM

I can something from experience – the Nissan Titan transmission does not work well if you have to back up a hill with a trailer. My transmission trips the overheat ‘safe mode’ and stops the truck three times (every time) while backing up my 250’ fairly steep driveway.

I have been trying to get them to do something but Nissan refuses – they claim it is a safety feature. I went through the Lemon law procedure and lost because the Nissan tech rep lied at the hearing. The arbitrator decided that there was not a ‘loss of value” to the consumer. BS, I bought the truck to tow with - 9500lb capacity - and it can’t push 4500 lbs up my driveway in reverse. Furthermore Nissan customer service absolutely sucks.

So – be careful with Nissan, they can be a pain to deal with.

Chris White

kgorman 09-05-2006 02:12 AM

12500 :D


Originally Posted by renvagn
I

:burnout: F350 super duty......All you have is what, a whimpy 12,000 pound towing capacity. :burnout:


Gary R. 09-05-2006 10:57 AM

My 2500HD Duramax Ext. Cab 4x4 -

Box Length (ft.) - 6.5/8
Max. Trailer Weight (lbs.) - 14,800
Required Axle Ratio GCWR2,3 (lbs.) - 3.73
GCWR2,3 (lbs.) - 22,000

:p


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