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Towing Impressions with the Xterra

48969 Views 117 Replies 45 Participants Last post by  Tlrtucker
Towing with the Xterra

I just got back from a trip which involved towing a 6x12 U-Haul weighing about 3500's. While no where close to the tow rating of the X, it gave me a pretty good idea of how the X handles towing.

Here's my impressions:

Power: There's plenty for towing at this weight. On the flats and slight inclines, 6th gear and cruise control worked at speeds up to 75mph.

On larger hills, a downshift to 5th was all that was required. Cruise control would hold up to 75mph with out any problem.

Accelerating up to speed was a snap, especially once the engine was above about 3000 rpm's.

Technically, I could have left it in 5th the entire time, but I wanted a little better mileage.

Mileage at speeds from 65 to 75mph varied from a high of 13.5 to a low of 11.8. This is a 6 speed manual that is just past its break-in period.

Brakes worked well. The U-Haul has hydraulic surge brakes. I didn't test full bore stops, but stopping power seemed adequate.

Handling was good. The very responsive steering of the X requires a bit of getting used to, but it's no different than when it's unloaded. There was no sway evident, except after my first attempt to load the trailer. I had temporarily loaded a Dana 60 and 14 Bolt axle in the back half of the trailer to transport them a short distance before I reloaded the trailer. Once I reloaded the trailer, all was good. Weight distribution ended up being about 70% front and 30% back, so it was a bit front heavy.

Suspension: This is the only thing I can find fault with. The rear of the Xterra sagged more that I would have liked, but this is not unexpected. Overall sag was about 2 at the hitch. It was not on the bump stops and did not bottom out very often. I would run a weight distributing hitch at tongue weights over about 300's but these are not recommended with U-Hauls.

Overall, this is a pretty good little tow vehicle within its limits.

-Old Army
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It depends on the trailer. The lightest aluminum car haulers in the 18’ range weigh about 1000#’s. A more typical steel utility trailer of that size will be over 1500#. At that weight, you will be approaching the limits of the X’s rated capacity. I would ensure the trailer has good working brakes and invest in a weight distributing hitch. If you stay within those capacities, you should be OK.

-Old Army
I've got the 6 spped manual. Towing with an auto is a different story. Leaving it in overdirve builds heat in the tranny and the general recommendation is to tow in your 1:1 ratio. For the 6 speed manual tranny, thats 5th gear. For the 5 speed auto its 4th gear. For a four speed auto its generally 3rd gear.

I'm not worried about heat with the manual, only lugging the engine. At 70mph its turnning over 2000 rpms and holds its speed without lugging. So as long as its holding its own, I wont downshift. In reality, the savings in fuel is probably small over leaving it in 5th.

Old Army
I've tested this, although at low speeds. See

Once I get an electric braking system for the CJ, I'll do a more in depth test.

-Old Army
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