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Towing an RV using a car or truck needs you to carefully understand the weight limits. A pop up camper generally weighs much less as compared to travel trailer or fifth wheel.
Having said this, it’s still important to know if your car can tow it safely or not. In this post lets explore all things concerning “towing a pop up camping using car”.
How to know if your car is capable
There are two important parameters to determine whether your car can tow the camper or not. And those are Gross Vehicle Weight rating of your camper and the cars towing capacity, which is also known as GVWR.
Each car has its manufacturer decided towing capacity and its only logical not to exceed that. In fact it’s safe to stay withing 80-85% of its capacity. A lot of cars have good towing capacities but its always better to recheck with the manufacturer listed capacity of the car.
Bigger travel trailers are heavy and can be as heavy as 20,000 pounds or even more.
Pop up campers are relatively less in weight and thus it can also be towed using a normal car. But still you need to verify the towing capacity of the car.
Bigger SUV’s have higher towing capacities which can be used to tow lengthy travel trailer. Trucks again have similar capacities and they are used to tow bulky fifth wheels.
Know the towing Capacity
Well, enough said than explained. How do you find the towing capacity or GVWR of your car?
Its in the manual.
Get it out of your glove box and look for that number stating the maximum towing weight allowed for your car. Sticking to this capacity is very critical as otherwise you would be putting pressure on transition.
Brakes and the entire vehicle won’t be able to cope up with the extra weight. So, stick to this rule and do not exceed in any case.
What if the manual doesn’t state the capacity or if you don’t have it with you anymore? Try contacting the manufacturer for same. Getting professional advice can also help but it’s better to ask the manufacturer who will be in a better position to explain.
Pop up campers are tiny and weigh much less. So, thus that mean almost every car can tow it? Well, that is not true. Infact some cars are not at all designed to tow. So that answers this question, not all cars can tow pop up campers or tent trailer even though they weigh less.
Know the weight of your camper
The first thing, as we discussed above is to know the capacity of your car. Next, is obviously the weight of your pop up camper.
Tent trailers or pop ups are less in weight as compared to other mammoth RV’s like Class A or Class C. Even travel trailers weigh so much more then them. Pop up campers on an average weigh around 600 to 2800 pounds.
With this weight most cars should be able to tow them. But wait, what about the stuff that you will be putting inside the camper? That isn’t considered on the weight stated above.
So, how do you go about this then? Better RVers would always weigh their camper before towing. That’s a great way to stay safe and within limits. Read the article that i wrote previously on how to weigh your RV or camper.
When we speak about camper weights there are in fact a lot of things to know. It’s just not about its dry weight but a lot of other things about weights that you should know.
We can quickly go through these camper weight terminology before jumping to other points related to pop up camper towing and cars that are better suited for towing campers.
RV Weight terminology you should know
GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating): This weight rating is nothing but the maximum weight that is allowed on the camper. This will include everything including the appliances, fuel, water, passengers on the RV.
It means you cannot exceed this limit with everything onbaorded. GVWR as said earlier is also applicable in the towing vehicle. With towing vehicle it obviously will include the towed vehicle generated tongue weights (this we will discuss below).
UVW (Unloaded Vehicle Weight): This is self-explanatory. It means the weight of the camper when its fully unloaded and nothing is put on inside it. Normally a lot of people are confused with this weight and the GVWR.
UVW is the weight that you would see at the dealer when it’s not yet sold. So be careful when you are choosing the pop up camper with that weight in mind. You need to remember that you would be pulling a camper that is going to be heavier than with all items packed in.
GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating): This is basically the combination of both the towing vehicle and the towed camper. There are limits on this as well but if you keep GVWR of both car and camper in mind then you won’t exceed GCWR.
GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating): This again is important from a safety point of view. You cannot exceed the weight that cannot be handled by your axles. The tires of the camper are designed to support certain weight and you cannot exceed it. This limit is for the cargo that you can put inside the RV that can be handled by the axle.
Tongue weight: This is nothing but the weight towed camper exerts on the hitch. Tongue weight should be between 9 to 15 percent of the Gross trailer weight. A too little tongue weight can result in trailer sway and too much of it can result in vehicle sag.
What kind of car you need (car types and capacities)
Having discussed the two important aspects of towing a pop up camper lets deep dive into other important topic.
What kind of car do i really need to tow a pop up camper? Do i need a SUV or a premium sedan? Can my small car or hatchback do the job?
Oh, so many questions! This is an important and most confusing part to those who are very new to campers and towing. Towing alone behind a car can be frightning, so the confusion and questions are obvious i guess.
Having seen that you need to tow not more than cars capacity, it is also good to know average weights that different types of cars can pull.
On an average a SUV can tow around 7000 to 8000. A compact SUV on the other hand can pull in between 3500 to 4000 pounds.
On average most sedans are capable of towing a trailer or camper weighing 1500 to 1800 lbs. Trucks can tow anything between 6000 to 25000 lbs depending on what kind of truck it is.
A small quarter ton truck can tow approximately 6000 to 6500 lbs. All these are average number which only mean what car you have may tow lesser or even higher than its average. But knowing these average numbers gives you a great idea and you can have a fair idea of what it is going to be for you.
This, I am sure, has given you an idea on what kind of car you need for your new pop up camper.
Best car to tow pop up camper
So, are there any cars that can be best suited for towing pop up campers? Well, there are many that can do the job.
But i wouldn’t call them best pop up camper towing cars for a simple reason. They weren’t designed to pull pop up campers specially.
Most cars have their towing capacities and if they can pull your camper without any issues then its the best car to tow. Anyways, lets go through various cars that people use and find great for towing the campers. It’s best to discuss popular cars rather than cars that aren’t sold much.
Here again be sure that you recheck the towing limits as cars have different models and with years the towing capacity changes. So don’t presume this number will be for the model that you own.
- Mazda CX-5: This amazing car that looks so sporty can tow around 2000 pounds which can be good enough for your pop up camper. Mazda CX-5 is my personal favorite, not for towing but as a sporty looking compact SUV. So if you own it then that’s the weight limit for you.
- Volkswagen Tiguan: This is another popular mid-sized SUV that is popular among young people and its a perfect towing vehicle for your tent trailer or pop up camper. This is again capable of similar weight of around 2000 to 2200 lbs.
- Mitsubishi Outlander: This solid looking SUV by mitshubishi is strong enough to tow 3500 lbs.
- Ford Escape: Ford has been producing cars that are solid in built and thus can tow nicely. This popular car is great for towing and can pull up to 3500 lbs too.
- Jeep Cherokee: Nothing is more satisfying than a solid-built jeep. They are great vehicles and due to their solid built-up, they can tow higher up to 4500 lbs.
- Huyndai Santfe: This awesome looking SUV is another vehicle that can tow pop up camper of around 3500 pounds.
Popular cars that can tow
Here are some other examples of popular cars. Lets see how much they are capable and if they can tow your “not so heavy” tent trailer or pop-up camper.
This SUV can tow a weight between 3500 to 5000 lbs and it depends whether it is 2WD equipped or AWD system. Its a powerful car and is definately capable of pulling pop up tent trailer
Other car from Honda which is very popular among people is odyssey. This can tow weight of around 3000 lbs and is again suitable match for your pop up camper.
This car is capable of towing around 1500 lbs so be sure to check your camper’s weight. Pop up camper or any RV when loaded with things can weigh much more. So be sure to know what it is weighing when fully packed.
This beautiful looking car has good power and it can tow around 1500 lbs similar to CRV. This is with 1.4 liter power engines. With higher capacity engine of 2 ltr it can tow upto 3500 lbs.
This so much seen car is definately popular among young generations. It can tow less than 1500 lbs and you need to be sure about how much your camper is going to weigh.
What small cars can tow pop up camper’s
What about small cars? Lets check out some small cars or family cars that can tow. Here again it depends on how heavy you camper is going to be. And its also better to talk to manufacturer or professional before making your car pull that trailer.
- Dodge Challenger: With 3.6-liter engine it can tow trailer weighing upto 1000 lbs.
- RAV4 : This toyota car is capable of towing campers weighing less than 1500 lbs
- Honda Accord : This awesome looking car can do the job as well. It can tow campers weighing around 1000 lbs when its 2.0 liter.
- Ford Edge : This car can tow pop up camper weighing less than 3500 lbs with its 2.7-liter engine.
These are just examples of some popular cars and their towing capacities. There are several other cars that can tow and probably with higher limits. It all depends on the kind of camper you have.
Whether the car can tow better or not is also dependent on the kind of camper you tow, your hitch equipment, driving skills, and experience as an RVer.
Towing a tent trailer or pop up camper using car is easier than a bigger travel trailer. But, still you need to follow proper steps and make sure the travel goes safe. If you have been towing trailer for years then its an easy thing for you. But, if you are new to RVing world then it can be little difficult initially. Whatever RV and towing car you choose make sure you enjoy thoroughly.