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Toyota 4Runner Towing



  • I am looking at getting a new 2011 V6 4Runner. It says it has a 5,000 lbs towing capacity. My boat and trailer weigh 4,000 lbs. Has anyone towed this much weight with one of the newer V6 4Runners? If so how did it do?
  • You have to keep in mind also how many passengers and ice chests, etc. This all takes away from the GVRW. What is the weight that will be resting on the hitch?

    If your going to tow this boat and passengers with some cargo on a regular basis, I would suggest looking at a Full size 3/4 ton pickup. Look at the GVRW - it's a yellow sticker on the driver's side door jam. Also, I would assume the weight on the boat is the DRY WEIGHT. Once you add fuel, and other items it's going to be more.

    I tow a 5,000 pound travel trailer with an 05 Sport Edition 4Runner w/V8. But it's rated at 7,500 pound towing. And my wife is the only passenger. Toyota, IMHO really blew it by not offering a V8 with the redesign.

    Good luck!
  • Rule of thumb is that you should not tow more than 80% of the listed towing capacity. Thus, 4000 lbs is just at 80% of 5000 lbs, and hence should be okay.

    Good luck.
  • Towing capacity is indeed important. Most people forget about the GVWR.

    If your in an accident, and even if in your tow rating, BUT OVER GVWR you have big problems.
  • I just bought an 07 4Runner V6. It is an automatic. My understanding of towing is that if I am going to tow anything with an automatic transmission, the vehicle needs the transmission cooler. There is no record or information from toyota that states that my vehicle has a tranny cooler. Though the vehicle was built with a trailer hitch receiver. The dealer states Toyota never installed tranny coolers on 07's, and that it doesn't need it. Any help in this issue would be greatly appreciated!
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    The cooler will be located in front of the radiator-it's very easy to see. Your dealer is an idiot. They can run your VIN and see exactly what it came with.

    If your towing-you need a cooler. In addition, if your going to use a weight distributing hitch, you need to check to see if your receiver can handle one of these. At some point Toyota started putting receivers on that can't handle the load of a WD hitch. (I believe it was after '06)

    If your trailer has electric brakes, you will need a brake controller mounted in the 4Runner.

    I towed a 21 foot -5,000 pound travel trailer for 4 years with my '05 Sport Edition with a V8. The 4Runners are OK tow vehicles, the 110" wheel base however never gives you the confidence you need while towing. At 98,000 miles (it still ran great) I traded mine in on a Silverado, it's a much better tow vehicle.

    Check your owners manual for maximum towing capability and DO NOT exceed 21 feet in length for your trailer.

    Good luck!
  • Thank you for your response.

    So, even though the dealer is stating the car DOES NOT a transmission cooler, you think it does? The dealer claims the car is good, as is (without the cooler), and it doesn't need one to tow.
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    edited October 2011
    Look for yourself. It's located directly in front of the radiator. It's in plain sight. It looks like a mini radiator.

    Dealers know nothing about towing. Are you ready to put the safety of your loved ones at the knowledge of the dealer? Please read the following:
  • My family decide to purchase a travel trailer.would like to buy a 24 ft.I have no knowledge need some help.
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    edited November 2011
    Go through the pages on this forum. Others, and myself have posted a lot of useful information. I towed a 21 foot travel trailer with a '05-2WD V8 4Runner for 4years. Please note due to the 109.5" wheel base, the 4Runner IS NOT an ideal tow vehicle. But can be used if you plan to stay mostly in the flat lands. Make sure your 4Runner has the hitch that can accept a weight distributing device such as an Equalizer hitch. This device distributes the weight among all 4 axles of the rig. The two axles on the 4Runner and the two on the trailer. Make sure it is set up properly. ( At some point (maybe '08?) Toyota starting putting lesser hitches on the 4Runners. The stronger hitches (from the V8 can be interchanged) on the V6s on those years with a lesser hitch.

    Your also going to need an electronic brake controller, I would suggest the Prodigy brand.( You can go to the Toyota dealer and buy a factory wiring harness to connect it, it makes it very easy.

    I would suggest no longer than 24 feet, that is the maximum length that should be towed with a 109.5" wheelbase vehicle.

    If your towing with 4 passengers I would highly recommend purchasing a bigger SUV or truck. You can get $9,500.00 off sticker on a new 1/2 ton Silverado, that is what I bought to get a proper tow vehicle for what I needed to tow.

    BTW-there is alot of info out there-google is your friend.
  • boats3boats3 Posts: 42
    I tow a 24 foot Travel Trailer with the V8 2005 Limited model with the air ride. I have the weight distro hitch which is super important to help control sway and distro the weight. That type hitch is attached to the frame. Watch your tounge wait too, it should not be more than 700 lbs but I would reccomend not going over 450. My TT is an Ultra Light which tows nicely behind the 4Runner and works well for us and weighs only 5500lbs. The key to remember when towing is that speed is not your friend. I live in the East and have gone from Disney World to the Airdonack Mountains but not on the same trip. All worked well and had no problems. Any questions you can give me a shout.
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    edited November 2011
    Towing with 4 (3plus driver) passengers and any luggage at all (suitcases-ice chest, etc.) will put the 4Runner over GVRW.
  • boats3boats3 Posts: 42
    NO, fully loaded I am 5500 lbs, the V8 4Runner is capable of towing 7K, but thanks for your concern.
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    edited November 2011
    Towing capacity is not GVRW----

    It's the tongue weight, plus passengers, plus cargo, plus fuel.

    If your tongue weight is 500 pounds, and you have three passengers at 150 pounds each (450lbs) and three suitcases at 50pounds each (150) pounds plus a full tank of fuel (20 gals @6.073=121 pounds) for a total of 1230. That is part of the GVWR.
  • boats3boats3 Posts: 42
    You are incorrect and trying to give readers the wrong impression. EVERYTHING is in the camper. I don't know about you but I do not bring suitcases with me when I go camping. The entire unit fully loaded is 5500 lbs., been to the scales.
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    Nope, I am not trying to give the wrong impression. All I am saying is that you must include any weight in the tow vehicle.

    In the event of a serious accident, the first thing the other parties lawyer and insurance company will look at is your GVWR. If your over...try to prove you could operate safely being over the manufacturers recommendations-it will be a tough thing to prove.

    This is the most often overlooked item when it comes to towing.
  • Good point Boats3
    With that understanding, my 2008 4.0 V6 has a curb weight of 4320 and GVWR of 5580. If I subtract the curb weight, I have 1260 lbs to account for fuel, passengers, cargo and tongue weight? Currently I am pulling a pop-up that weighs 1550 and tongue weight is only about 200lbs. Me, wife, dog and luggage probably less than 600 lbs so I should be fine. Once we add some goodies to the pop-up it probably weights 1800. It seems to pull fine and my trailer hitch company told me I don't have enough toungue weight for a WDH to work properly so I pull with factory hitch. Everything seems to work fine, but I am not going to try to pull a TT with this 4Runner. On the 2008 V6, the hitch is bolted to the frame only in the center of the rear frame, so for a WDH you do need to buy a hitvh that bolts onto both side rails of the frame. Sounds like the Lexus model is a choice of some. I am a little disappointed in the towing capability of the 4Runner. I thought I could upgrade to a 21' TT if I wanted too, but sounds risky. I've never had a SUV before and didn't think about how limiting the wheel base was. Better safe, but I'd love to be taking a TT from Ohio to California versus the pop-up. Wife will just not invest in a big truck :-). Also, from a towing standpoint, this is the best and most towers I've found anywhere. Real life experience beats opinions. I love the 4TR site, but it's best for mechanical stuff. Thanks
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    edited September 2012
    Some factory hitches will not handle a WDH. However, there are after market ones that will.

    I towed with a 21 foot 4,000 pound travel trailer with an '05 -4Runner with the V8 for 4 years. I wanted a bigger trailer so I traded it in on a Silverado. It had almost 100K on it when I traded it in.

    The 109.5" wheelbase does not make the 4Runner a great tow vehicle. It can be done but it's not a comfortable tow- it's really not that stable. It's the tail wagging the dog situation! :)
  • Thanks Chuck,
    What do you think about this option. I found a Jayco Featherweight, 18' TT. It's a M-165 Sport. The unloaded weight is 2850 and loads out at 3500 max. The tongue weight is 450. With the V6 option, this seems like the weight of a good size pop-up, just catching more wind. My hitch shop is saying I probably only need anti-sway, but they'll put a WDH on if I think I need it. Is the WDH mainly for any sag? I have a lift, so the rear sits level with 450lbs on the tongue. I am going to take it for a test tow this afternoon and see how it does. The length seems within your recommendations. I just can't trade tow vehicles, so I'll either keep my pop-up or see if this smaller TT will tow safely. Feedback much appreciated. Best regards, Doug
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    That's a safe tow combination you are considering with the M-165 Sport. The best way to know if you need a WD hitch is to hook it up. If the front end of the 4Runner raises more than an inch or so - this is taking the weight off your wheels that do the steering and IS NOT a safe situation. As I think I mentioned, the WD hitch distributes the weight evenly among all axles.

    When I tow my 5,500 pound TT with about a 700 pound hitch weight, after I put the WD bars on the front of the vehcile is raised only 1/2" which is acceptable.

    So just hook it up and take a tape measure to the front end both before and after.

    Good luck.
  • Thanks Chuck,
    I just got back from towing it. I should have checked this, but I didn't see your response before I went. The trailer pulled up and down hills very good with the V6. I also got her up to 55mph on some 2 lanes and it felt very stable even without an anti-sway bar. The rear obviously sank down some after I hitched it up, but with my lift I am +2" in the rear versus the front. After hitching, I would say I was level at worse. I took a side picture of it I could send you. I don't see where you can post pics here. My email is If you shoot me a PM, I'll send you that picture. The front axle did not feel floaty at all reunning 55mph, so I don't think I lightened the front significantly. I think with an anti-sway bar I would be comfortable. I don't think the trailer is even designed for WDH. I didn't see any provisions that I am familiar with that would have the attachment points for the bars. Even the anti-sway bar attachment would have to be added, but this is common. Best regards, Doug">
  • Looks like they do sell a WDH and anti-sway system that will attach to this camper. Equilizer E-2 system. I think with that addition, this will be a pretty stable unit. The 4Runner curb wt. is 4300. The camper GVWR is 3500 packed out. Best regards,
  • I tow a 2012 Flagstaff KS25 "Microlite" with my 2005 4Runner SR5 4WD V8. 74,000 on the clock. This 25' TT weighs approx 4500# dry and 5500# all up...verified on truck scale. TT's tongue weight is 700#, verified by scale. I carry 2 bikes on TT's rear bumper. Per owner's manual, the 4Runner is rated for 7000# with a 700# tongue weight. The 4Runner's factory class 4 hitch has a sticker on it stating 7300# tow and 1095# tongue weight capacity when used with WD hitch. I use a Hensley Arrow hitch. When hitched and WD bars adjusted, the 4Runner sits level. I've added a Hayden trans cooler in series with the OEM cooler. Otherwise, the TV is all stock. I run syn oil in everything. Based on all this, here's my experience, towing in all kinds of conditions: Tows very well, tracks flawlessly under all normal conditions. Performs well on twisty mountain roads, too. The 4Runner pulled the Tehachapi Grapevine, I-80 to Lake Tahoe, and the Oregon 1-5 passes at max legal speed, accomplished by manual gear selection using 3rd and sometimes 2nd when speed falls towards 50 mph. All temps remained normal with outside air at 90-95 degrees and A/C on. Towing at 55-60 mph, I average 10 mpg +/- 2 mpg. Have seen it drop to 8 mpg on long hills and headwinds. Biggest issue I've encountered was fighting a 30-40 MPH gale headwind heading up I-5 in California between Sacramento and Redding...I could barely hold 55 mph in 4th gear on flat land. But that was the only time and everybody was moaning about it at the roadside rests. I never use 5th gear, only use CC on long, FLAT stretches. The remarkable Hensley Arrow hitch positively solved the crosswind / semitruck passing "twitch" I saw with my prior EAZ-Lift simple WD hitch with two friction sway dampers in use. I HIGHLY recommend the Hensley on this shortish wheelbase 4Runner! I use the same gears going downhill as going up and watch my speed carefully. No brake issues noted. Prodigy brake controller. Clamp-on mirror extensions. Yes, I'd like to have a Gen2 Sequoia 5.7, but the tough little 4Runner is getting job done and the extra $15k I'd have to lay out for even a 2008 used Sequoia is savings in my pocket. Plus the 4Runner is nimble, gets 22 MPG when not towing, and fits in my carport with the trailer behind it. Note that it is just my wife and I kids. So the 4Runner is pretty much empty inside...thus, it works for us.
  • Ok- replying to my own prior post, above. I decided to trade in that great 4Runner for a new Gen2 Sequoia 5.7. Just returned from a nice long,challenging trip towing our 25' 5500# Trailer. MUCH better in every respect. I just realized that the 4Runner -while it did the best it could- was just too marginal for this task. Now I feel RELAXED instead of tense. The Sequoia is the undisputed rig Boss. Yup, it cost more than double what I had in the Runner. But, I am telling you... It is night and day....especially with that Hensley Arrow hitch!
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    As I mentioned earlier, the 4Runner is a great vehicle! However, it has some real limitations that does not make it a great tow vehicle.
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