What Should I Use To Tow A Car?

[CEW – 99/01/20] For towing the NSX, I use a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 5.9. The operative part of that is "5.9". I have seen others use vehicles such as the "standard" Jeep, Infinity QX-4, Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator, and Range Rover.

My search originally ended with an Expedition. Last fall I had a chance to drive with a fellow NSX owner towing an NSX to Watkin’s Glen. The brakes were not sufficient for going down steep grades, nor was power enough to get back up quickly . . . After this experience, I cancelled my MONTH OLD Ford order, and looked for the new, at that time, 5.9L Jeep.

Unless the 4.6 HSE Rover is used, I’d stay away from Range Rovers for towing more than a cheese platter.

For the money, I’d say avoid the QX-4. Very nice interior, but not the ultimate towing machine.

As many will recall, I towed my NSX from Colorado to CompTECH last year. I used a U-Haul truck/trailer combo. It was so slow it was pathetic 🙁 At best, I could get 65mph on a downgrade. The mountains out west are HUGE. Whatever your choice is, make sure it has plenty of power.

On a final word on towing units. . . I hear the new Navigator (in showrooms now) has over 375 #/ft. of torque.

As for trailers, U-Haul trailers are nice (hydraulic brakes, low decks). They are currently the only nationwide trailer rental company that will rent just the trailer.

If you want to buy a trailer, they will run from $1000 up. A nice Aluminum open trailer with tool storage, etc will be around $4500. For enclosed trailers, expect anywhere around $4500 and up . . .

[DF – 2000/9/11] Tongue weight is the measure of downward force applied at the hitch ball. Think of the trailer as a see-saw (remember them…) with the trailer wheels as the balance point. The front half of the trailer is slightly heavier, so that the trailer pushes down on the back of the towing vehicle. The measure of "how much" its pushing down is the tongue weight. Ever seem some Lincoln Towncar with a U-Haul trailer, and the car looks like it’s about to wheelie? Too much tongue weight. The opposite, negative tongue weight, actually pulls the back of the towing vehicle up, which reduces traction and screws up the handling. You can adjust the tongue weight by shifting the load fore and aft on the trailer. And conversely, you can screw up the tongue weight by shifting the weight the wrong way.

When they say MAX they mean it. Truck people have bragging rights for towing capacity just like car people have 0-60 times. Both measures are extreme limits.

I just experienced towing my NSX with my 1/2 ton Suburban with an open car trailer that I rented from U-haul. The first time I put it on the trailer I drove it straight on the trailer. The tongue weight was too light so the trailer swayed terribly at 50+ mph. The next time I loaded it, after the track event, I backed the car onto the trailer. I could then tow it at most any speed without a problem. This is because an NSX is heavier in the back.

Also what is most important about towing with any vehicle is the transmission rather than the engine. Yes, you must have a strong enough engine to pull but the transmission must have proper cooling to put a lot of weight or it will burn it up fast. Check with the OEM towing recommendations. I would think you are towing at least 5,000 lbs. with trailer, car and you have to count everything you are taking in the car as part of the weight. A transmission cooler would be highly recommended.

Bigger is better when towing.

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