Toyota 4Runner Towing

mrjb68mrjb68 Member Posts: 1
Thinking about buying a 2006 4Runner, but want to make sure it can pull my 2000lbs pontoon boat. Any pros/cons to the towing capabilities of the 4Runner??


  • nedzelnedzel Member Posts: 787
    The V6 has a towing rating of 5000 lbs. The V8 has a towing rating of 7000+ lbs. Either will do fine pulling a 2000 lb boat. I do suggest that you get 4WD to deal with slippery ramps.
  • ckshubin1ckshubin1 Member Posts: 11
    My family and I are considering purchasing a travel trailer. Would like to buy a 24ft. Unfortunately that means giving up my current car - which I LOVE - an 05 Honda Pilot - mainly because it can't tow anything more than a pair of Seadoo's.

    My question - I know the V8 is rated at 7000# but can the 4Runner really pull a travel trailer with a GVW of around 5000# well? What other vehicle should I consider?

    I cringe at driving a Tahoe - don't like quality of American cars - especially paying that much money for a car with an interior STILL behind about 10 years - even though they recently re-designed the whole thing.

  • biglatkabiglatka Member Posts: 78
    Although I haven't towed a 24 ft travel trailer with my V8 2005 4Runner, my wife and I looked into this a great deal. The conclusion, and we were biased toward buying a 25/26 footer, was not to do it because of the 4Runner's short wheelbase, not because of the load. The V8 4Runner can easily handle the 5000 lb “loaded weight” trailer, but I'm afraid that it will/could be a case of the tail wagging the dog in some towing situations with a trailer this long. The bottom line for us (and we don't like this, but do love our 4Runner) is to limit our choices to no more than a 20 ft. trailer. Just my opinion that is not based on actual experience but rather on those I've contacted who seem to be very knowledgeable. I know there are some who do tow a 25/26 ft. travel trailer with their 4Runner and claim no problems, but I wouldn’t chance it. Hope this helps although it's probably info you didn't want to hear. :(
  • ckshubin1ckshubin1 Member Posts: 11
    Went trailer shopping today and found a 22' trailer that is absolutely perfect for our family. It has a dry weight of 4545# - are there any websites you can recommend I look at that list formula's or recommendations on towing and weights and vehicles? Does a weight distributing hitch with an anti-sway bar change how a truck tows a trailer? I don't trust the car dealer or the rv dealer because they'll sell you anything sometimes so I would love to have a website that would help with these "newbie" questions.
  • ckshubin1ckshubin1 Member Posts: 11
    I actually found the Outback by Keystone trailer to be to my liking the best. They are a lighter trailer (but not ultralight) and the best features on it are the rear slide Queen bed (so traveling your pulling a 22' trailer but camping it's at least a 24') and the rear bottom bunk bed folds up and the area become a bike storage area for traveling with door access to load and unload bikes and has areas to tie bikes down with bungee cords so you won't get the "thump, thump" everytime you brake or accelerate. I like the aerodynamics of the front of the trailer and the warm look of the colors and flooring on the inside. Nice, bright and airy looking too.

    here's there website: The model I am leaning toward is the 21RS. The 23RS is nice too but lacks the bike storage area - instead it has a double bed with a twin bunk on top in the same space.

    check them out - might be something you like.
  • zahrezahre Member Posts: 3
    I am new to this forum and need some help. We have just ordered a horse trailer. I have a 2002 Toyota 4Runner 6 cyl. 2 wheel drive. We have had a class III hitch installed rated 5000lbs., which is our maximum towing capacity. We plan on having a transmission cooler and a trailer braking system installed this week. Would the weight distribution hitch and Air shocks be a good idea also? Or should we just go out and get a used truck for trailering? Trailer weight empty is about 2500lbs. We will be mostly hauling 1 horse about 1000 lbs.(3500 lbs. total for horse and trailer) around town for lessons etc. occasionally 2 horses for about for horse and trailer. I am new to trailering and I just want everyone to be safe. Any advice would be appreciated.
  • ckshubin1ckshubin1 Member Posts: 11
    As you can see by my last post - on August 15 - that at least a week has past and i've learned a LOT about towing.

    I've upgraded to a Denali as a tow vehicle and will end up with a lightweight travel trailer that will max out at 6440#.

    For full control, best towing and safety you really only want to tow at 75% of your max. Being your max is 5000#'s you only should tow 3750#. Weight is weight - doesn't matter if it's a horse or a travel trailer. with your trailer and 2 horses you are 2000#'s OVER your tow weight. Not good for your car or for us on the road with you.

    My opinion - buy a truck for towing the horse trailer and 2 horses. My friends tows her 2 horses and trailer with a Lincoln Navigator and it tows it with ease. They are actually looking into buying a smaller car for everyday use thus allowing to keep the trailer hooked up to the Navigator and they won't have to hook/unhook daily. Just load the horses and go.

    You can do the opposite. Find a truck to tow the horses, keep the trailer hooked up and use your 4Runner for everyday driving. Also look into a good weight distributing hitch - such as the Reese dual cam, Equalizer or, if you have the money, a Hensley (though with the right truck that one could be overkill with just a horse trailer)

    check out the following website to help you understand the whole towing/weight/safety issue. It deals with Travel Trailers but info would be the same for horse trailer:
  • jjoliverjjoliver Member Posts: 1
    Can a Toyota 4-Runner V8 tow 4500 lbs? Thinking of buying a 2006,need to know if the transmission will hold up to the towing.
  • thebluewavethebluewave Member Posts: 11
    A 4Runner v6 can tow 6400 lbs with a weight distributing hitch installed, and if planning to do lots of towing of any weight, a v6 should have the external tranny cooler installed. v8's already come with the external cooler and WDH so to answer your question, yes, the tranny is designed to hold up against the 4500 lbs you are talking about. Don't use "D", use "4" for the extra engine braking and avoidance of bogging down the tranny with extra shifts between 4th and 5th gears.
  • biglatkabiglatka Member Posts: 78
    The Toyota 4-Runner V8 4WD can tow 7000 lbs (2WD = 7200 lbs). It already has the transmission cooler and weight distributing hitch as standard equipment.
  • chuck1chuck1 Member Posts: 1,405
    Here is a great website that explains wheelbase vs, trailer length:

    Please note the 4Runner comes standard with a hitch - but it is not weight distributing! The entire hitch weight rests on the rear axle. To overcome this you need to buy either an "equalizer" or "Hensley" hitch. You can do a search. These hitches put the weight of the trailer on all axles. That means both axles of the tow vehicle and both axles of the trailer. (Assuming a dual axle trailer). And the tow vehicle will stay level if installed correctly.

    It's complicated... read up on it. But DO NOT consider the weight of the trailer alone! The length must be considered.

    I have a '05 4Runner w/the XREAS suspension and tow a 21 foot trailer (about 5,000 lbs.) with an "Equalizer" brand weight distributing hitch. IT tows OK - still some sway due to the 109.5" wheelbase. A "Hensley" hitch is better.. but costs about 3K. It would allow a slightly longer trailer to be towed.

    Good luck!
  • jdowerjdower Member Posts: 1
    I am towing a boat trailer with my 2004 - 4.7 V8. The trailer is between 4500 and 5000 lbs. It pulls fine and has good control, I keep it in 4th gear while towing and it occasionaly drops to 3rd on long hills.

    My concern is the gas mileage. Without the trailer it gets 18 - 20 mpg on the highway, but once I put the trailer on it immediatly drops to 9 - 10 mpg. Uphill, downhill, fast or slow does not matter; it is as if someone flipped a switch to low mpg mode. Once I remove the trailer, it takes about 30 miles of driving, and then the mileage goes back to normal. I even checked the computer when filling up and it is accurate.

    I would expect some drop in mileage, but not this much, and not all the time. Any idea on what is going on and does this seem normal? Anyone else check their mileage when towing?
  • chuck1chuck1 Member Posts: 1,405
    When I tow my 5,000 pound trailer (shaped like a big box) I get 10 miles per gallon.

    So, it seems that pulling about the same weight, our miles per gallon are the same.

    It also seems that those who tow with Suburbans, get slightly less 8 to 9 miles per gallon.

    I guess if you play...ya gotta pay!
  • 4driver4driver Member Posts: 1
    Howdy, I have 2004 V8 4Runner and after extensive research I bought in 2005 new 25Z (25’ 6” - exterior travel length 27’ 6”) Jay Feather hard-walls trailer, dry weight 4635 lb, when loaded about 5400 lb., and I have put a lot of miles on it since. I have asked two RV experts to test drive the combo before I bough it, and they were both comfortable and found the towing safe. I use equalizers and anti-sway bar; it can get pretty windy in some mountain passes around here, and one can only imagine the wind load on the side of the trailer. I have never experienced unsafe conditions. One thing I should mention is that my trailer is fairly low and has TorFlex® independent torsion-axle suspension. I used to hauled “normal height” 16’ trailer with Ford Expedition, and am not finding any difference in terms of safety. Mileage? About 7.8 on flat, 6.7 up hill……best I had at speed of 55 miles about 9 miles/gallon (US). Of course this is only my personal experience, but I hope it might helps to someone who likes extra space in his/her trailer and owns 4Runner (V8); happy towing!!!
  • blufz1blufz1 Member Posts: 2,045
    I think the "problem" is that when you are not pulling the trailer your car is shifting into top gear which is more efficient than your towing gear of 4 sometimes shifting down to 3. That is probably several mpg. Hope this saves you a trip to the dealer.
  • chuck1chuck1 Member Posts: 1,405
    According to all the research I have done, about 21" feet (take or give a foot) is all the 109" wheelbase of the 4Runner can handle.

    I tow w/ an '05 Sport w/the V8 (2WD) (with the equalizer as well) and wouldn't want to tow anything longer than what I tow.

    You will not find anything different in terms of safety until you get in a severe sway situation. The 25 foot plus length of your trailer will be the "tail" wagging the "dog".

    Good luck!
  • geetgeet Member Posts: 1
    I always wonder what exact criteria the manufacturers use to justify a towing rating. The 4Runner V8 has all the power you need to tow but the short wheel base, small brakes, smaller suspension, cooling system, transmission and rear end make it a poor choice to tow much over 4500 pounds. I pulled a 5500 pond poat with trailer brakes and was pushed all over the road by it. I now use a 3/4 ton long bed pickup to tow with and feel much safer.
  • chuck1chuck1 Member Posts: 1,405
    My 4Runner has the tow pkg. from the factory. This includes transmission cooler, power steering cooler, and larger brakes are standard on the 4Runner Sport.

    But all this being said - the wheel base is SHORT at 109.5". The information I have learned (and I did extensive research) is that you can safely tow about 21 feet. Anything more than this and it is the "tail" wagging the "dog". And I have an "equalizer brand" WD hich!

    Ran in to significant cross winds coming back from Palm Springs, Ca this weekend. Even in a full-size truck you would have been pushed around. In my 4Runner towing a 21 foot trailer it was downright scary!
  • tidestertidester Member Posts: 10,059
    In my 4Runner towing a 21 foot trailer it was downright scary!

    That's a surface area effect; the greater the area, the greater the force of the wind! You do have to be careful.

    tidester, host
  • cohorsewomancohorsewoman Member Posts: 1
    I have a two horse bumper pull trailer (17', 4500# loaded), and I need to downsize trucks. I currently have a turbo diesel (way more truck than I need) and a small commuter car and I plan to sell both and get a midsize truck or SUV.

    I am interested in buying a V8 4WD 4Runner, but I am concerned about the rear suspension. I don't want the rear of the truck to sink when I hitch it up. Years ago I used to haul the same trailer with a GMC Yukon and it SANK when hitched up! I hated towing with the Yukon, so I bought the full sized truck.

    Any advice from people who tow with their 4Runners is much appreciated!
  • canddmeyercanddmeyer Member Posts: 410
    I haven't towed, but the Limited V8 model has the 'optional' Rear Height Control Air Suspension which will eliminate the sag. The air suspension is optional on many vehicles including the Expedition, Armada, Yukon, and Tahoe, but I'd save the $40,000+ and keep what you have.
  • chuck1chuck1 Member Posts: 1,405
    I tow a 21 foot travel trailer with an '05 4Runner w/the sport suspension. The hitch weight is 474 pounds. As long as you stay within the proper specs of the vehicle, any sag can be adjusted for with a proper weight distributing hitch.

    You can search the net for The Equalizer, Reese, and Hensley hitches.
  • 07sport07sport Member Posts: 1
    Hey there.. I have an 07 4-runner and i'm looking for a 2" front end hitch.. I have looked everywhere and can't find one.. does anyone know who makes one or where i can get one? Custom made? anything... thanks
  • tent2tttent2tt Member Posts: 46
    I am trying to find a reliable truck or SUV with as good gas mileage as possible that can safely tow a maximum 5,500 lbs hard sided (not fold-down) travel trailer (that's the GVWR fully loaded up + 2 passengers)without overtaxing the engine going up hill and while still getting decent gas mileage towing and around town (particularly around town), and that can handle rutted and washboard dirt roads. Decent gas mileage to me is at least 20 mpg when not towing. Vehicles I am considering are: The Toyota 4Runner, Tacoma and Tundra, the Nissan Frontier and the Dodge Ram 2500 Turbocharged Cummins Diesel. I see that the short wheel base of the 4 Runner might be an issue and I noticed that several versions of the Tacoma have a GVWR tow rating of 6,500 lbs, but no one seems to be using them for towing trailers--why is that, if the tow rating is that high and it has a greater wheel length? Would it overtax the Tacoma? I have seen one posting about using a Tundra for towing loads, but the gas mileage on the Tundra looks awful. What are people using for towing travel trailers in the 5000-6000 lb. range? How does your vehicle do uphill and in challenging conditions, and what's the towing and non-towing real world mpg? Is it true that I should get a Dodge Ram 2500 with Cummins Turbocharged diesel instead of a gas engine both for better power and better mpg? I have seen numerous posts on travel trailer sites by people saying that they can get 20mpg empty and 11-15 mpg towing (heavier weights than my prospective TT) in their Dodge Ram TCD with the Cummins engine, but the overall reliablility of the Dodge, Ford and Chevys seems very worrisome compared with Toyotas great consumer report ratings and reliability reviews. I need a truck or SUV that I can take to travel that will be reliable, strong and get good gas mileage, especially when I drive it when I am not towing. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
  • chuck1chuck1 Member Posts: 1,405
    I tow with an'05 4Runner Sport model with the V8 and 2WD. Your only going to get 14-15mpg when not towing around town. If you stay at 65mph you will get 20ish on the Highway.

    You can only safely tow a trailer that is nolonger than 21-23feet to be on the safe side. The 109.5" wheelbase of the 4Runner is a factor.

    You can expect no more than 10mpg in normal conditons towing.

    Personally, the Suburbans get the same mpg as the 4Runner V8. They even do better on the highway (when not towing) than the 4Runner due to cylinder deactivation.

    I persoanlly would not buy another 4Runner for towing purposes. Even with a WD hitch, you get the "tail wagging the dog" when a semi truck passes or in a cross wind.

    You must have a good weight-distributing hitch. Make sure you get one with your trailer. If you buy a V6 4Runner, make sure the factory hitch can handle a WD hitch. I heard they cannot.
  • tent2tttent2tt Member Posts: 46
    Thanks very much for the feedback. I am leaning more toward a truck based on your and other's suggestions about wheelbase length for towing. The Tacoma may be able to meet my needs--I am just not happy with the air pollution ratings it has. Hard to believe that Dodge Ram 2500 6.7 L Cummins Turbocharged diesels are now being produced to meet 2010 clean emission standards, but Toyotas trucks and SUVs are still so polluting--if they can make a Prius, they can beat Dodge on emissions too!
  • nedzelnedzel Member Posts: 787
    A heavy duty diesel pickup truck like the Dodge 2500, Ford F250, etc., will certainly tow a 6,000 lb trailer. But that's overkill -- hitting a fly with a sledge-hammer. Do you really want to be commuting in that big a truck?
  • tent2tttent2tt Member Posts: 46
    No, we have reconsidered that and have instead been tailoring our travel trailer requirements to be able to safely and easily tow with a Nissan Frontier V-6. The Tacoma was a contender, but we didn't like the ride nearly as much... it sways back and forth like a little boat. Interesting to note that, while there are dozens of RV manufacturers making bigger and bigger RVs, there is only a handful making small, towable units of any quality, so we are zeroing in on those. Two of the highest rated small towable manufacturers are based in Canada.
  • chuck1chuck1 Member Posts: 1,405
    You can look at the Forest River/Rockwood products. The hybrids have canvas, the "expandables" have a queen bed that is a "hard slide" that slides out once you get to where you are going.
  • tent2tttent2tt Member Posts: 46
    We started to look at that brand, but found upon research that they were not well-rated for "rv trekking," which is going off the beaten path, so have focused instead on Escape (first choice), Bigfoot, and Casita. Scamp is well-rated too, but we are still trying to determine whether or not it would hold up to washboard roads, ruts and sand... so far, we have one vote for, and one against from current Scamp fifth wheel owners. BTW, Scamp and Escape are the only fifth wheels in production right now that are highly rated and will fit on a V-6 with a long or standard bed. Nifty!
  • chuck1chuck1 Member Posts: 1,405
    I agree - I would be afraid that some of these "Ultra Lite" trailers would fall apart during off road use.

  • jbrewjbrew Member Posts: 1
    Good Evening,

    I have a 2003 4Runner that I want to use for towing...will be towing boat and trailer which weighs about 3,200.

    The 4Runner did not come with the transmission cooler installed. Is it okay to haul the boat without having a tranny cooler installed.

  • chuck1chuck1 Member Posts: 1,405
    If you are going to tow only once in a while - you should be OK. If you are going to tow on a frequent basis, install a tranny cooler and start with clean transmission fluid. IMHO!!
  • dennismndennismn Member Posts: 4
    Greetings, all,
    I have recently purchased a 2007 2WD V8 to tow my ultra light travel trailer. Had the maiden voyage this week. It sure isn't the old F150, but overall, not bad. We did have a goofy experience, though. The VSC and TRAC lights came one when I accelerated to get on the highway. I am assuming this means these functions were shut down (probably due to the anti-sway hitch). Being a 2WD, there is no on/off switch for this. Once we turned off the car, the lights went out. No other problems unhitched. Anyone have an experience like this? This appears to be the only place on the internet talking about 4 runners and towing.

    Peace, Dennis
  • chuck1chuck1 Member Posts: 1,405
    I tow a 21' foot TT with a Weight Distributing hitch as well with an '05 4Runner Sport (V8) 2 wheel drive. I was going down the freeway when towing once, it was windy and these lights came on as well.

    They went off when I shut down the motor.

    I believe it has something to do with the sensors located on the truck for the computer that controls these devices.

    I think the WD hitch in certain situations puts more pressure on the SUV (perhaps) on one side causing them to come on.

    Just my guess. I am not worried about it.
  • bobw1bobw1 Member Posts: 19
    I looking at buying a '07 V-8, 2WD to pull a 21 ft. trailer. The brochure gives the max. trailer weight, but not the max. hitch weight. Does anyone know. Thanks...
  • chuck1chuck1 Member Posts: 1,405
    If the dealer doesn't know, I wouldn't buy the vehicle from them. But that being said, I believe it's 750 pounds.

    But verify that figure. My hitch weight is around 500 pounds. A little on the heavy side for 21 foot trailer I pull with my V8 4Runner.

    Make sure you have a good weight-distributing hitch.(Hensley, pull-rite, or equalizer, etc.) And make sure it is most of all set up correctly.
  • scruggsscruggs Member Posts: 1
    we have a 2003 4 runner 2wd v-8. 24 foot tt. question should i pull in overdrive? trailer is 3800 lbs with about 460 lbs at hitch. i understandwhen pulling hills to stay out of overdrive but what about flat out highway. thanks for any advice you may offer. jim
  • chuck1chuck1 Member Posts: 1,405
    I do not pull my trailer in overdrive. I want the power for going up hills and for passing semi-trucks. I tow and get between 10-12 mpg depending on terrain, winds, etc.
  • jcheek42jcheek42 Member Posts: 1
    i need some info. about towing a 4x4 4runner with all 4 wheels on the ground.i have a motor home that i will tow the 4 runner with.can some one tell me if this can be done.
  • dennismndennismn Member Posts: 4
    Just returned from a short shakedown cruise. To recap, we have an '07 V8 2WD, Equalizer hitch, towing a 26 ft Jayfeather, loaded wt about 4800#. I had the dealer set up the hitch and install the Voyager brake controller.

    Well, it isn't the F150, but overall, it did well. It was a bit windy here in MN, and I found it pays to keep your hands on the wheel on the 2 lanes when trucks are passing, but I never felt unsafe. The VSC/TRAC lights came on (see above) but went out as soon as we turned off the truck. Plenty of passing power, and the torque range is very good,with a minimum of shifting. I think this thing will pull all day long at 55-60, but the wind resistance will start to drag if you think you are going to tow at 70.

    As noted elsewhere, have a good hitch and get someone experienced to set it up properly. The Voyager brake controller works much better than the old one we had on the pickup, so I never felt the trailer was pushing the 4R even on the off ramps.

    This was a short trip, but first impression is good. I hope everyone will keep posting their experience here.

    Peace, Dennis
  • chuck1chuck1 Member Posts: 1,405
    Glad you had a good trip. I believe I will be heading out this weekend to Palm Springs, CA with my 21 footer TT and 4Runner. You are right both hands on the wheel when semis pass. You feel a little sway - but nothing that will make something you don't want to happen....happpen! The V8 has plenty of torque and will pull all day long at legal towing speeds!

    Happy trails!
  • dennismndennismn Member Posts: 4
    Where do you have your brake controller mounted? The RV dealer put mine under the dash where my right shin rubs against it. Any other ideas?

    Peace, Dennis
  • chuck1chuck1 Member Posts: 1,405
    Mine sounds like it's mounted right where yours is. The thing is that the wiring harness for the brake controller is just to the left of the steering wheel underneath the bottom of the dash.

    So the controller can be moved a few inches either way, but that's really the only area for it.

    I really can't figure out why arragements are not made to mount it closer to arms reach, after all if you get severe sway, you need to be able to reach the lever on the brake controller to correct it.

    Have him move it a few inches away from your knee if it bothers you. Or, you can do it your self assuming there is enough loose wire.

    Good luck!
  • demagoguedemagogue Member Posts: 1
    Ok, I have done some searching and havent found what I am looking for. Or at least it was over my head and didnt know it.

    I just bought a 4Runner (V6) and need to hall a 10ft flatbed trailer in a parade. I checked the reciever and but the ball on but I didnt see the wire connector for the trailer. Do I need to have it wired? Am I missing something?

    I have never towed anything and honestly didnt buy this vehicle to do so but I got wrangled in...

    Thanks for the help!
  • newdavidqnewdavidq Member Posts: 146
    The wiring harness is to the left of the receiver underneath the bumper; you have to get down on your hands and knees to see it. I now plug in by feel!
    Good towing!
  • koolraulkoolraul Member Posts: 4
    I have a new 2007 4Runner SR5 4x4WD and has a boat to pull which is about +/- 2000 lbs. The Owner's manual suggestion under Trailer Towing Tips is not to put transmission in 'D' (Overdrive) to maintain engine breaking efficiency. It doesn't mention specifically what level to put on. I'm assuming it to be at '4'. So do you downshift to 4 when towing on flat roads as well, the same way you drive uphill or downhill? tnx.
  • chuck1chuck1 Member Posts: 1,405
    Yes, when I tow my 5,000 lb. travel trailer I keep it in "4th". The electronic transmission will do the rest.

    I guess if it was a real steep hill, I could down shift further.
  • koolraulkoolraul Member Posts: 4
    I have a new 2007 SR5 4Runner and has a receiver socket for trailer. I was looking at the wiring harness and saw two of them, one is black and flat the other one is white and a little bit round. Both wirings are connected to the receiver socket. Is the harness you're talking the black one? Do I just have to disconnect it and use the (female) portion to connect my boat trailer? My trailer wiring has the typical, green, yellow, brown and white wires. I'm just a little bit afraid of disconnecting the harness in my 4R. Would appreciate your help. Thanks.
  • kipkkipk Member Posts: 1,576
    Boat trailers and small utility trailers typically have a 4 pin flat electrical connector.

    Travel trailers typically have a 7 pin round connector.

    Apparently your 4 runner is equipped to handle either.

    All you have to do is to Plug your trailer into whichever connector on your 4Runner matches the trailer connector.

    Generally the 7 pin round connector will have a flap that swings opens to make the pins accessible. The 4 pin connector typically has a plastic cover that pulls off to expose the pins. They are both designed so that you can't make a mistake while plugging in.

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