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Old 24-10-2013, 23:51   #16
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Re: Best small car for towing a small boat

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Don't get a stick. Auto trans are the way to go for pulling things.
At the top of any long climb in the country, you'll see a bunch of burnt patches. There's one in Northern California on I5. This is where the automatic transmissions of tow vehicles overheated to the point where the seals failed and all the fluid leaked out, onto hot exhausts, starting a fire. It happened to my friends Ford Explorer, towing a race car.

This is because the 10% or so energy loss in a torque converter can equal an awful lot of heat. Manual transmissions don't have this loss, and hence this issue.

The automatic transmission in a small car is a definite weak point as it's likely to have only marginal fluid cooling.

Add to that fact the improved control, engine braking, and hill-climbing ability, and a manual transmission is a no brainer.
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Old 25-10-2013, 00:47   #17
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Yes, it does still need to be built to actually tow. But the tow ratings need to be compared stick vs auto; towing capacity for a stick is almost always lower than an auto in my exp and much easier as well.
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Old 25-10-2013, 07:59   #18
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Re: Best small car for towing a small boat

I also have a f250 crew cab 4x4 7.3 powerstroke diesel with an automatic which I tow with and , yes,its a great tow vehicle but when I was faced with a 3000 mile round trip to pick up the p cat I decided it was the wrong tool for the job, waaay overkill. I was a bit nervous about using the passat only because it had 240000 miles on it at the time and I had no idea if the clutch had ever been replaced, on the other hand I had put 60000 of those on it and knew of nothing wrong with it so it seemed like the better choice.I did not realize beforehand that we had to pass through mountain ranges coming through. West. Virginia but the tdi handled them without even the engine temperature noticably rising, and like I said we got 30 mpg on that tank, actually the worst tank, towing, was on level ground with strong crosswinds where we dropped to 28 and change. It turned out to be a perfect tow vehicle even though its not rated for towing. A friend tows a smaller boston whaler with his jetta tdi. A lot of people tend to buy a bigger vehicle to tow their boat and then suffer lousy mileage for the 99.9%of the time when they are not towing. Btw, I now have a 2005 passat tdi wagon with an auto and while I have towed a utility trailer with a similar weight load on a 2800 mile trip, while it did it just fine the mpg was not as good, still good though compared to any gas vehicle.

Steve.
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Old 25-10-2013, 12:56   #19
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Re: Best small car for towing a small boat

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...a manual transmission is a no brainer.
Maybe for you. To recommend that to someone who doesn't have a lot of experience with manual transmissions, though, is a really bad idea.

Automatic transmissions have a higher tow rating because they are pretty much fool-proof. The majority of Americans have never driven a stick, and if they have they've done it wrong. So vehicles with a manual transmission get a "least common denominator" tow rating, meant to prevent damage when driven by the average driver.

This is a case where, anyone who has to ask doesn't know enough to be using a stick. Put another way, if you are familiar enough with manual transmission vehicles to be able to use one properly for towing, you won't be on an internet forum, reading the advice of a bunch of strangers, and trying to decide whether your next car should have an auto or a stick. You'll know the answer to that question without having to wonder.

So, to the OP, get a car with an automatic transmission. That's what you need for towing. Good luck to you.
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Old 25-10-2013, 13:02   #20
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Re: Best small car for towing a small boat

For the Op,
that Matrix does look good. Toyota's are great vehicles. And your tow is that long, is the plan to routinely tow it down to the water once you're home?
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Old 25-10-2013, 13:08   #21
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Re: Best small car for towing a small boat

Honda CRV, Ford Escape, Chevy Equinox, GMC Terrain, Toyota Highlander. My daughter has a 2013 CRV EX-L and it routinely averages 30+mpg on the highway and is rated to tow 1,000#. Had the most legroom in the backseat of all the small SUV's we looked at.
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Old 25-10-2013, 13:13   #22
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Re: Best small car for towing a small boat

Sorry I vanished for a day or so... work has been crazy.

I've been driving exclusively manual transmission since 2000, so I'm not concerned that. If I wind up with an automatic I won't be upset (driving in Boston traffic has convinced me the automatic has its place), but I won't worry if it's manual.

The initial drive will be long -- Augusta, Maine to just outside Boston, Mass -- but after that I'm hoping to find a good place to sail within a short drive. The boat may still make a trip up to Maine a couple times a year, though.
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Old 25-10-2013, 13:33   #23
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Re: Best small car for towing a small boat

I have to jump on this stick vs auto thing.
Most cars are not setup to tow if they are auto.
They do not have transmission coolers.
They do not have towing transmissions.

If your going to pick stock to stock, go stick.
If you cant drive stick, learn. Its super easy, far eaiser then sailing well.
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Old 25-10-2013, 13:34   #24
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Re: Best small car for towing a small boat

If you're going to get a manual, I'd be looking at a Subaru Forester, as they have a low range. Manuals are fine on the highway, but boat ramps can be very hard on clutches.
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Old 25-10-2013, 13:37   #25
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Re: Best small car for towing a small boat

Matrix/Vibe (same car, different badges).

The Toyota Matrix and Pontiac Vibe are the same car?...really?
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Old 25-10-2013, 13:42   #26
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Re: Best small car for towing a small boat

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Matrix/Vibe (same car, different badges).

The Toyota Matrix and Pontiac Vibe are the same car?...really?
As I understand it the frame, engine, transmission, and electronics are the same. There are some style and trim differences, but for practical purposes they're the same car.
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Old 25-10-2013, 22:31   #27
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Re: Best small car for towing a small boat

A 30mpg gasoline vehicle will be very lucky to get better than the high teens towing a load on the highway. Any of the subarus would be good as would the vibe/matrix,
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Old 26-10-2013, 07:12   #28
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Re: Best small car for towing a small boat

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A 30mpg gasoline vehicle will be very lucky to get better than the high teens towing a load on the highway. Any of the subarus would be good as would the vibe/matrix,
Yeah, I'm pretty much expecting that. But I'll only be towing a tiny fraction of the time, since I have to work five days a week and will probably be able to sail, at most, a couple times a month for six months or so out of the year. If I'm able to sail more than that, it'll probably be worth paying for mooring somewhere.
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Old 26-10-2013, 08:03   #29
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Re: Best small car for towing a small boat

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after that I'm hoping to find a good place to sail within a short drive.
You won't have any problem finding a good place to sail near Boston! The Harbor Islands are our own little slice of tropical paradise, at least in the summer. I'm about to head out to tour Rainsford now, and a longer sail to Greater Brewster tomorrow. Highly recommend you check these out if possible - a few mooring balls off Gallops that are free if you need to sail in from out-of-town and stay overnight ever, and, with the exception of Greater Brewster which has some rocky patches, much of the holding is harbor mud that even a light Danforth will hold firm in.

Hope you find a car that fits - after years of overloading our Volvo wagon with rock and dirt, it recently bit the dust. It did take it 180,000 miles to do so, however, so wasn't a complete loss
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Old 26-10-2013, 12:51   #30
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Re: Best small car for towing a small boat

Like I said, I'm out of practice enough to not be comfortable sailing in the ocean right away, but visiting the Harbor Islands is high on my list of things to do once I am!

It's really looking like the Matrix is my best bet, unless I want to just buy something fun to drive and rent a truck when I want to pull the boat or give up on the concept of fuel efficiency and buy a truck.
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