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Long Haul towing with the Ranger

Yamahauler

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Hey guys,

I'm in the midst of planning a trip from Boston to Moab with some friends to ride dirt bikes, and we're trying to figure out our best option for a tow vehicle. I have a '19 ranger, my friend has an xterra (tow rated 5000lb), and we have access to an older duramax that needs a little tlc before the trip.

We will be hauling a double axle 7x14 trailer with electric brakes, loaded with 5-6 dirtbikes plus tools, fuel and gear. Looking at ~3800-4000lb give or take.

The route is 2300 miles and 35hrs each way. The plan is to try to blitz it by taking shifts, but Im iffy on that plan, lol. The route will take us through mountain highways with elevations up to 10k.

I know this load is well within my ranger's towing capacity, but I'm questioning whether real world experience will match ford's marketing. However I have serious doubts that the xterra is up to the task.

tl;dr: Has anyone hauled a decent size load for long stretches (10hr+)? How did the ranger perform? I'm wondering what I can expect for performance, mileage, and wear and tear.



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the1mrb

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First, I would personally knock the Xterra off the list right away. I wouldn't want to tow for that long with something that close to the tow limit like that, especially through the mountains.

As for the Ranger, I once towed the largest U-haul trailer (double axle, about 5500lbs when loaded) for 7 hrs straight. Not through the mountains, but definitely some steep hills. Ended up getting 16mpg on the trip (your mileage may vary depending on speed and driver intensity). And honestly, even with that size load, the truck had no problems what-so-ever. Still had plenty of power leftover to pass people with expediency. The Ranger's turbo will also help in the mountains where the air gets thin.

I've also towed a smaller load (our teardrop camper, about 1800lbs when loaded for this trip), for about 3500 miles on our long trip last August, and again, no worries what-so-ever. With something that light, you barely notice that it's there.

Also, Tow/Haul mode works very nicely to hold the gears and downshift the transmission on the downgrades. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with how well this thing tows. But the only thing would be whether you want to put all those miles on your truck for a group outing. I personally wouldn't mind, but I know some people would.

Enjoy your trip either way!
 
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Yamahauler

Yamahauler

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Thanks for the response, that's reassuring. I have some qualms about using my truck for a group truck, but not enough to prevent me from making the trip. Why have a truck if you're not going to use it, right? My friends will chip in for the brake controller and WD hitch we'll need, so it's all good.
 

the1mrb

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Thanks for the response, that's reassuring. I have some qualms about using my truck for a group truck, but not enough to prevent me from making the trip. Why have a truck if you're not going to use it, right? My friends will chip in for the brake controller and WD hitch we'll need, so it's all good.
My thoughts exactly! That's why I've already got 17.5k miles on my truck over the last 7 months, have already helped my brother move twice, hauled junk to the dump, brought home plenty of loads from the home improvement store, loaded it up with my wife, our 2 dogs (at the time, 3 now), both our kayaks and bikes for a week at our cabin in Canada, and been on many trips with our camper. Among many other things.
 

Blue Streak

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Thanks for the response, that's reassuring. I have some qualms about using my truck for a group truck, but not enough to prevent me from making the trip. Why have a truck if you're not going to use it, right? My friends will chip in for the brake controller and WD hitch we'll need, so it's all good.
Exactly. I have 17,500 purchased in June. I have towed a 6x12 U haul cargo trailer 4 trips up to Mo from TX in the process of a move. One more in 2 weeks will be the final. It is about a 11hr drive. Truck performed flawlessly. Tow mode is excellent. Cruising speed I liked to run about 2000rpms with the loaded trailer. I felt it had good response to change at that rpm. Also had plenty of passing power. Use it for what it is built for.:thumbsup::clap:
 

dmeyer302

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We will be hauling a double axle 7x14 trailer with electric brakes, loaded with 5-6 dirtbikes plus tools, fuel and gear. Looking at ~3800-4000lb give or take.
Flatbed or enclosed? I'd drive around the world with a load like that on a flatbed. Not much wind to deal with. The truck doesn't care about that amount of weight. Enclosed is still not a big deal but you may get pushed by the wind just a little.

Of your 3 vehicle options, the Ranger is way, way ahead, and the Duramax is a distant second choice for me.
 

VAMike

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My friends will chip in for the brake controller and WD hitch we'll need, so it's all good.
I don't think you need a WD hitch for this application--a regular hitch should work fine and be cheaper. (And easier, if you haven't used a WD hitch before.)
 
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Yamahauler

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It's an enclosed trailer, which I think is necessary for security when bringing a bunch of dirt bikes and gear cross country, unfortunately.

I know Ford says the ranger doesn't need a WD hitch, but since most other brands would limit towing without one, I was thinking better safe than sorry. They are expensive though, I was looking for a used one on fb marketplace, if I cant find a good deal I'll probably go without.
 

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I haven't done *extended* towing with the Ranger yet, but I took a Uhaul car trailer about 4 hours to pick up a 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and drove it back through some decent hills (from LA->San Luis Obispo and back, trailer was ~2200lbs and the car is ~3100-3500lbs, for a total of 5500-6000lbs), and it handled everything like a champ. On the steeper grades down I had to use brakes, but for most of the time the engine was enough to help keep the speed under control, never had a lack of power, the ride was crazy comfortable, BLIS working past the trailer was awesome, and knowing that it has detection for trailer circuits (it noticed that the right signal was out on the trailer before I left the uhaul lot and had to exchange the trailers) as well as anti-sway control, it didn't have any vehicle-connected trailer brakes (only a 4-pin connector), but their "hydraulic surge" braking and I felt in control the whole time. I averaged about 16.5mpg for the trip which seems really solid to me.

Personally I wouldn't be at all concerned about throwing 7k lbs behind the Ranger and marathoning with it.
 

AirborneRanger

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I just recently towed 7250 lbs from Georgia to washington. 22 ft trailer loaded with most of my tools and my 69 awd twin turbo irs fairlane cobra. I even went through the Rockies in the snow. You'll be well off. I was getting 11.7 mpg averages through the entire trip. You should be getting better mpg than me. I kept trailer sway on as well. Safe travels and have fun!
 

JimJa

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Two towing experiences with 4cyl turbo engines. '17 Escape 2.0L w/tow pkg. Rated at 3500# and load was ~3000# including trailer. 1000 mile one-way trip. Second with Ranger 2.3L w/tow pkg. ~3,000#. 1,200 miles round trip.

Escape was from San Diego to WY, 1,000 miles. Two significant grades. El Cajon pass in CA, and from Park City, UT to Evanston, WY (a 20 mile-long grade). It's pretty hilly between SD and L.A. too so MPG was 13.5. Afterwards was about 17.

Truck trip was from NW WY to central UT and back. Popped a code coming out of SLC, went into limp mode which was cleared by the Park City dealer and has never returned. Over all MPG ~17.

In both cases I didn't know the load was back there. Was able to maintain speed limit 80 in UT although only drove 70. Able to increase speed and pass traffic w/out issues even on steep grades. Speeds above 65-70 quickly reduce MPG. Bottom line - don't worry about it and I don't think a WD hitch is necessary.

Recommendations:
- Increase your tire pressure 4-5 pounds but remember that will increase as you increase in altitude because of reduced outside air pressure.
- Since you will be doing long haul freeway driving be sure and let your turbo spin down and cool when coming to a stop by idling for a minute or two before shutting down. Like when getting gas.
- HIGHLY recommend getting off I-80 as soon as you can. It's no longer Interstate 80 but is better called truck route 80. You will get frustrated as you are constantly held up while attempting a pass when a truck pulls out to pass another. Five minutes later... and so on. Gets frustrating after the zillionth time. For example, in NE at any one time there are between 8,000 and 9,000 18-wheelers. I've made that trip more times than I can count - lived in IA and went to school in UT.
- Get a Maverick and Pilot rewards cards. Just have to ask for the card and you'll get 3 cents/gallon discount. Pilot card also works at Flying J. Out west they are the cheapest fuel you'll find. They won't bother you with e-mails either even tho you have to give them your address.

Enjoy your trip...you'll love Moab.
 

Jason Vanlandingahm

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My in-laws towed a twin axle enclosed trailer from San Antonio, TX to Dayton, OH with their '19 XLT FX4. The loaded weight of the trailer was around 7,400 lbs. They used the stock hitch with a ~6" drop drawbar rated for 7,600 lbs. They didn't have any trouble with it.

Remember, though, when towing heavy loads it is recommended that you use premium fuel, especially in areas where you'll do a lot of climbing. I don't know whether my in-laws filled up with premium on their trip or not.
 

Joe.sbg

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Here’s my suggestion
1. Rent dirt bikes when you get there. Best answer.
2. Rent someone to haul your bikes there. Good answer.
3. Rent a vehicle to tow the trailer. Also good answer.

I wouldn’t use my truck for such an outing and I could understand why your friends would like you to do it.
 

J Krutsch

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I pull an RV trailer at a bit over 5,000 lbs (depending on how loaded). It has 48 sq ft of frontal area. I added a WDH as it was a bit squirmy without it. Engine has no problem holding speed up a 6% grade and temp gauge doesn't move on a long uphill pull. I run regular gas and average about 10 mpg when pulling. The hassle with that is with the (too) small gas tank one has to stop for fuel rather often.
 

Marshal.

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I pull an RV trailer at a bit over 5,000 lbs (depending on how loaded). It has 48 sq ft of frontal area. I added a WDH as it was a bit squirmy without it. Engine has no problem holding speed up a 6% grade and temp gauge doesn't move on a long uphill pull. I run regular gas and average about 10 mpg when pulling. The hassle with that is with the (too) small gas tank one has to stop for fuel rather often.
One thing to note, is the temp gauge is horribly inaccurate. My typical water temps are 197-202F while driving and even while towing. Up any sort of grade, as soon as the boost builds and you’re going full throttle, it doesn’t take much to see 230F. I typically let off and slow down as soon as I see 220F. This is while towing my camper as well, it’s 4000lbs, and very aerodynamic.
 
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