In the pre-purchase phase of the [email protected] 320. Have some questions!

jamiej529jamiej529 Member Posts: 2
Hi Everyone!
With retirement less than a year and a half away, I've been starting to plan my grand adventure of a year of camping.  After quite a bit of online searching, I've decided I'll go with a [email protected] 320.  Some of my decsion has been because of this great forum...the "[email protected] Tribe!"  In my dreams I'd by a new Boondock, but may need to get a used rig.  I will also need to by a towing vehicle.  I'd prefer to buy an electric or hybrid auto, but they're either way too expensive or don't have enough towing capacity.  What would you all say would be the smallest, most reliable and fuel-efficient used SUV that would easily pull the 320?  Should I go for a vehicle that can tow 5K or is 3500 enough?  

Also...where do people hang thier clothes?  In their cars?  

Thank you!

Comments

  • NovaTabNovaTab Member Posts: 43
    well I think the 3500 is ok, but perhaps more important is you will need room in that vehicle for storage, so going bit larger is something to consider the cubic feet in the rear seat area.

    I just went thru the same issue and just got a Grand Cherokee TrailHawk, it is towing machine and not too much more than a subaru etc.
    2021 TaB 320 Boondock, Gran Cherokee TrailHawk
    365 Watts of Solar
  • VictoriaPVictoriaP Member Posts: 994
    If you’re planning on full time (or much of the time)? Absolutely do not pick a tow vehicle capable of towing less than 5000 pounds. It’s not just about the overall towing capacity...a larger vehicle will have a greater payload as well, and payload = driver + passengers + pets + gear inside + gear outside/on top + trailer tongue weight. This adds up incredibly fast if you are carrying the bulk of what you need with you everywhere you go, if you travel with a partner, or if you want to carry things like bikes and kayaks.

    As someone who actually tows with a lesser vehicle, I can assure you that I would not consider doing so if I were in a different situation...they’re only adequate with a stripped down camping setup, and anyone planning on traveling extensively isn’t going to be packing all that lightly. Nothing at all wrong with that, mind you, I’ve carried a lot more gear too with previous RVs, and when traveling with a partner versus solo. But it does put you in a different category than someone like me who drives two hours from home for a 3-5 day trip. Just the amount of food you need to carry is going to differ from a casual camper.

    Unfortunately vehicles in the 5000 lb towing category are not known for their fuel efficiency. But there are plenty of options in that category, and many are available in good used condition. For a fulltimer planning on extensive travel, I’d be looking at the smaller pickup trucks with that towing ability—Ford Ranger, Ford F150, Canyon/Colorado, Honda Ridgeline, Toyota Tacoma. Put a cap on the bed and you’ll have all the storage you could possibly need.

    As far as hanging clothes in a 320? You can use a tension bar in the bathroom which you’ll need to remove when showering, hooks can be placed anywhere there’s a solid wood surface (which is not the exterior Tab walls), or use a bar or extendable hanger in the tow vehicle (lots of options commercially available). Most people go instead with clothes that don’t need hanging. There are quite a few posts here about how to manage the extremely limited storage in a 320.

    As a side note: Online research and anecdotes can only take you so far.  If you haven’t spent at least a few hours in a 320, I strongly suggest you do so before you get your heart set on this plan. If you can possibly rent one, do! They’re terrific niche campers, no doubt, but I can’t tell you how many people start out enamored of the idea of a tiny trailer and quickly realize it’s not practical for the way they want to camp. And this happens even more frequently with people setting out on major journeys. We’ve even seen people who upgraded to the 400 just a couple weeks into a continental tour. I tell everyone interested in these that they need to go to a dealer, tell them you need time alone, and then act out everything you would do on a daily basis. Pretend to get dressed (and discover how low the ceiling really is! LOL) Act out cooking, setting up the bed, showering and using the toilet in that very small bath...especially in a pre-2021 320, where the bath is miniscule. Think about what it would be like to be stuck inside in bad weather for a couple of days. Fulltiming in a 320 can be done, and we have plenty of folks who’ve done it, but it does take a lot of compromises that you wouldn’t experience by going with even a little larger trailer.

    (One other thing, because not all our newcomers realize this...there are pretty major differences between a 2021 and all the older 320 models. Make sure you are OK with those differences whichever model year you choose, and understand their impact on your camping style. Two of the biggest are the switch to the 12v only fridge, which basically mandates a bigger battery setup than is offered stock, and the cassette toilet versus black tank waste setup.)

    Good luck with all your decisions!
    2019 320s BD Lite, white with blue (“Haven”)
    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6r (NOT recommended)
    2020 Subaru Outback XT
    Pacific NW—stuck at home this season
  • Basil48192Basil48192 Member Posts: 43
    We purchased our 2021, 320S in late July, 2020.  I have to say I love it so far.  We squeezed in 5 outings before winterizing in late October.  We have used our camper for dispersed camping as well as at multiple full hook-up sites.  Now, we purchased the 320 because of its smaller size.  I wanted something that I could store in my backyard, pull easily without over-taxing my tow vehicle, pull for long distances without costing a fortune in gasoline, and pull through fire trails and two-tracks to get to remote dispersed campsites.
    Now, don't get me wrong.  It does taking some getting used to...especially for two people.  The evening routine of getting ready for bed, brushing our teeth, etc. is a choreographed dance that we are still perfecting.  But, when camping, we are outdoors whenever possible.  For us, the [email protected] is perfect for a warm, dry place to relax and sleep after a full day outdoors.  
    I will say that, even on short weekend trips, we basically fill the back of my Ford F150 with additional gear.  I do not like clutter, so I try my best not to overfill the [email protected] or the cab of my truck.  But we do tend to fill the truck bed with food, a cooler, fishing gear, our sun/rain canopy, a portable grill, my dutch oven, etc.  I have a tonneau cover to keep things dry and installed some ladder racks to hold my kayaks.  My next upgrade will probably be a 'Jack-it' style bike rack...again...because by truck bed is full.  
    The bottom line is that I agree with the others above.  I would recommend that you do not 'undersize' your tow vehicle just because you have a small, light camper.  
  • pthomas745pthomas745 Member Posts: 1,684
    The longer a thread about tow vehicles go, the larger the vehicles will get.
    Ford Escape Eco Boost is fairly popular if you don't plan to camp with an extra kitchen sink.

    2017 Outback
    Towed by 2014 Touareg TDi
  • OlenaOlena Member Posts: 81
    I’ll pipe up here because I tow with a Ford Escape. I have been very happy with it overall and have not had any issues (I’ve towed the [email protected] with it for four years). But like VictoriaP stated, it all depends on you situation. I usually camp alone and usually only drive two to three hours from the house. When I have done longer treks with DH (and his 500 lbs of T-shirts), and two bikes on the roof, the Escape still performed well. The big negative with the Escape is the small gas tank - you really need to keep your eye on the needle and plan where you think you can stop for gas when on a longer trip. 
    2013 Ford Escape 2.0 and 2017 [email protected] Q basic with 210W Zamp solar
  • 4ncar4ncar Member Posts: 894
    I have a Chevy Colorado crew cab with the diesel. Pulls the 320s beautifully. Plenty of torque for the hills. Excellent fuel economy as well:  20 mpg average with the trailer and 37mpg without. Hwy miles of course. 7200 lbs tow capacity.
    TV- '16 Chevy Colorado LT Crew Cab-DuraMax
    2018 320S Outback
  • NovaTabNovaTab Member Posts: 43
    one point not mentioned is the hwy speed you want to tow at and be comfortable.

    If it has border line capacity how will it tow at say 70 or 75mph??
    2021 TaB 320 Boondock, Gran Cherokee TrailHawk
    365 Watts of Solar
  • VernaVerna Administrator Posts: 6,392
    You do need to check your tires to see what the speed limit is on the tires. I tow at 55 to 65, depending on the speed limit. Yes, even on 80 mph interstates, I am towing at 65 mph Max.  

    The tires used to be rated at a Max of 65 and I got used to it. I do not know what my speed limit rating is now, but I will still drive 65 mph.  

    Why?  You will not believe how many people do not realize that it does take just a bit more for you to stop, windy conditions can give you problems, etc.  It give you control for those who are unknowledgeable and inconsiderate while driving on the roads. 

    You said you were coming up on retirement. What’s your hurry?  I gave my radar detectors away when I retired and haven’t needed them since.  70 mph is for when I’m not towing, but I’d just as soon take the roads less traveled and go 55 to 60 mph. 
    Verna, Columbus, IN
    2021 [email protected] 320S  Boondock
    Towed by a white 2019 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab, 3.5L V6 Ecoboost
    [email protected] Administrator
  • Sharon_is_SAMSharon_is_SAM Moderator Posts: 6,700
    The OP has asked for the “smallest, most reliable and fuel efficient SUV.”  

    jamiej529 - you don’t need a truck and you don’t need a 5,000 # tow capacity for the 320.  The 400 is another story.  Just realize that towing will greatly reduce the fuel efficiency of most TVs.  Take advantage of vehicles with tow packages including transmission coolers.  On the forum, you will find TaB owners using Toyota Highlanders, 4 Runners, Honda Pilots and Passports.   The Jeep Cherokee is also popular.  Some report a good experience with the RAV 4 Adventure.  Volkswagon Touareg (diesel) has very good mpg.  The Chevy Equinox and Ford Escape have turbocharged versions that tow up to 3500#, but not sure how many TaB owners are using these.  The new Subaru Outback with turbo may be an option and some owners report good success.  As far as hanging clothes, I suppose you can put a bar across the seats of an SUV, but most fold and stow their clothes - you are camping!  Do a search here on the forum.  You will get lots of ideas of where to start.
    Sharon / 2017 [email protected] CSS / 2015 Toyota Sienna Minivan / Westlake, Ohio
  • Jackie_DaveJackie_Dave Member Posts: 70
    We have and still do on occasion tow with our 2017 Ford Escape ecoboost with tow package. It tows the 320 just fine and have had no issues. We have stayed on the east coast with it but have traveled up and down the Blue Ridge Mountains as well as the Adirondacks. The only reason we now tow with a 2007 Tundra is we couldn't pass up the deal on it and we wanted more space for bringing our creature comforts along. Gas mileage is a little better with the Tundra if you can believe it. 13 mpg with the Escape and about 15 - 17 with the Tundra. I don't think the Tundra knows it's back there. We have not been west of the Mississippi with it yet so I can't comment on the larger mountains. Just be prepared to stop often for gas if you choose the Escape. The small gas tank is one obstacle that you need to consider. We never left home without at least a full 2 gallon gas can.
    2018 [email protected] 320-S / 2007 Toyota Tundra
    Harpers Ferry, WV
  • VictoriaPVictoriaP Member Posts: 994
    edited January 12
    Sorry, but I have to argue against the idea that someone who is planning on full timing with a 320 can go with a 3500 lb tow limit. Doing any boondocking (which most of our full timers do plenty of) typically means higher tongue weight due to the need for greater battery capacity, and the Boondock model the OP prefers also has the spare up front. As I detailed above, the problem is that everything that doesn’t fit into the trailer must go into the vehicle, and vehicle payloads include the trailer tongue weight.

    I own the Outback @Sharon_is_SAM suggested. It has just 900 lbs payload, which sounds like a lot until you start adding things up. Again, payload = people, pets, gear, and tongue weight, everything in or on top of the car. 10-12% tongue weight of a loaded 2300 lb trailer = 230-276 lbs (of your 350 lb limit). Google says the average weight of a US female is 170 lbs and male is 190 lbs...to simplify calculations, let’s say 150. Per person, so double that if it’s a couple. Add in 50 lbs for the mid size dog many of us bring along. Oh, and an extra 30 lbs because you’ll need to have a full size spare for the AWD, the included donut won’t cut it for towing.

    Without ANY gear in the car, no bikes, kayaks, canopies, chairs, or coolers, we’re already at 600 lbs+ payload for a reasonably fit traveling couple. It’s a bit better than that if you’re solo and dogless, of course, a bit worse if you struggle with weight or are traveling with two big dogs, as we’ve certainly seen people do around here. But regardless...how many Tab full timers do you know you who don’t load up their vehicle with a ton of stuff? Your average Yeti cooler is 30lbs empty...now add another 20 lbs of ice and then your food or drinks. How about an ebike or kayak (or both, as I’ve seen plenty of people do)? Extra clothes? Extra water at 8lbs per gallon? Tools? Other hobby gear? I used to carry 50 lbs of camera stuff on trips, not exaggerating. Or the 15 pound bag of dog food that doesn’t fit in any of the Tab cabinets. It’s all too easy to push your vehicle to its limits before you know it when your limits are that low and you’re carrying everything you own around the country.

    The Outback XT is a perfectly adequate tow for short trippers (especially solo). It is really not suited for a full timer. I cannot in good conscience recommend it, or anything else in that weight category, as a full time tow vehicle. They basically all have the same payload problem, and not one of them was designed to physically hold up to the rigors of full time towing. Even the one full timer I know who was towing with an Outback gave hers up for a Ridgeline and has said she was crazy for not switching sooner.

    Truck versus SUV argument: I almost always argue on the mid size SUV side, because I personally dislike driving (and especially parking!) trucks. My exception to that recommendation is again, full timers. Trucks are built to tow and haul gear with ease, plus no worries about where to carry your backup generator and the fuel for it, or extra propane, or a full cassette/small blue boy tank for dumping, none of which should ideally be in the passenger cabin. And, in an accident, having your heavy or bulky gear in a contained truck bed is far safer for you than the back of an SUV. SUVs are built to carry people, towing is pretty much an afterthought on a lot of them, and especially on the smaller ones. Because trucks are built to tow, with bigger engines and beefier transmissions, it’s not uncommon for them to get a bit better mileage when pulling a 320 than a comparable SUV. The only reasons I can think of to go with an SUV for towing full time are that you need to carry a large family (and well, at that point, we’re no longer talking about a 320) or you already have one and can’t afford to switch right now.

    But if you’re like me and absolutely can’t stand trucks? Any SUV in the 5000 lb towing class is a much, much better pick for a 320 full timer than the smaller and lighter vehicles. You’ll basically never have to worry that you’re carrying too much to be safe, and many of those bigger SUVs have added safety features such as built in leveling or anti sway tech that isn’t usually available on the smaller ones. The Ascent, Highlander (not the Hybrid, has lower towing limits), Explorer, 4Runner, Grand Cherokee....these are all good SUV options to tow a 320. And heaven forbid, if you change your mind about the 320’s size after just a few weeks of your grand tour, by going with one of these, at least you won’t be faced with the additional financial hit of having to switch your tow vehicle again too just to jump up to a 400. 
    2019 320s BD Lite, white with blue (“Haven”)
    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6r (NOT recommended)
    2020 Subaru Outback XT
    Pacific NW—stuck at home this season
  • jamiej529jamiej529 Member Posts: 2
    Wow, this is SUCH an awesome forum...I am excited to eventually get on the road and meet some of you!

    Thank you all!  
  • dragonsdoflydragonsdofly Member Posts: 1,420
    @jamiej529, I absolutely second what @VictoriaP has said. We have a beast of a tow vehicle. Overkill for our [email protected] 320 S. We could put the [email protected] in the bed and tow our 30 ft, 10,000 gvwr trailer behind and be very comfortable with towing capacity. On our extended [email protected] trips, 10,000+ miles, we carry a bbq, site carpet, dome shelter, XL visor, 2 bikes, cooler, trailer spare, tools, extra propane tank, more than adequate clothing for all weather types, portable solar panel suitcase, small propane generator and much more, so that we can adapt from +120°F to zero degrees and be ready for all terrain and weather variations. It is a lot, and most suv's are not up to the task. There are a few that might meet your needs, but you will have to decide what your needs are before you can search to cover those needs. All of this, including the prep you are doing, questions you are asking and those to come, are all part of the extraordinary adventure you are undertaking. Enjoy it. Slowly work your way through and the pieces (as is said) will fall into place. Good luck. -Denise
    2017 [email protected] sofitel([email protected])TV 2015 Silverado 2500hd(Behemoth). Wyandotte, Michigan.
    Draco dormiens numquam titilandus.
  • TabbieannecamperTabbieannecamper Member Posts: 26

    jamiej529:    You are making a great choice with the 320. We have owned our 2015 since new and love it. I have done a few mods and enjoy camping in it. We have a small dog and he is a great camper too, We tow with a 2016 Toyota 4 Runner and can't even tell it is following us. I keep looking in the rear vu to check on it. You are embarking on an exciting adventure. The [email protected] are so well built, I have not had any problems. Austin is a great resource to help out when you have a question. Good luck my NuCamp friend.

    2015 [email protected] 320 TV Toyota 4 Runner  Rockford, IL


  • MarcelineMarceline Member Posts: 897
    jamiej529 said:
    I'd prefer to buy an electric or hybrid auto, but they're either way too expensive or don't have enough towing capacity.  What would you all say would be the smallest, most reliable and fuel-efficient used SUV that would easily pull the 320?  Should I go for a vehicle that can tow 5K or is 3500 enough?  

    Also...where do people hang thier clothes?  In their cars?  
    I think that it is possible to full time with a vehicle with the lower towing capacity but if you're buying a vehicle specifically for the purpose of a year-long trip you might want to bite the bullet and go for a higher capacity - especially if there are two of you. I have done about 2 continuous months with my setup (about 3500# towing capacity) and it's been fine for one person and a small dog. I don't think that I would need to carry any more for a 12 month adventure. But I scrutinize the weight of everything. I've gone so far as to switch to a lithium battery, which is pretty expensive, but cheaper than replacing my tow vehicle. I don't carry any cast iron cookware and I travel with empty tanks. My campchairs/tables are are mostly lightweight aluminum. Buying a vehicle with a higher towing capacity gives you a lot more slack to carry whatever you like. The tradeoff is that they burn a lot more fuel when not being used as a tow vehicle. So you really have to figure out what's more important to you - everyone has their own priorities.

    Hang clothes? It's camping. During long adventures I have one or two "nice" outfits that I keep clean in vacuum bags. I have a few command hooks on the walls to hold some coats. Everything else gets stuffed into cabinets & duffle bags. 
    San Francisco Bay Area
    2013 CS-S [email protected]
    Battered but trusty 3.5l V6 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • CharlieRNCharlieRN Member Posts: 68
    edited January 13
    jamiej529 said:
    Hi Everyone!
    With retirement less than a year and a half away, I've been starting to plan my grand adventure of a year of camping.  After quite a bit of online searching, I've decided I'll go with a [email protected] 320.  Some of my decsion has been because of this great forum...the "[email protected] Tribe!"  In my dreams I'd by a new Boondock, but may need to get a used rig.  I will also need to by a towing vehicle.  I'd prefer to buy an electric or hybrid auto, but they're either way too expensive or don't have enough towing capacity.  What would you all say would be the smallest, most reliable and fuel-efficient used SUV that would easily pull the 320?  Should I go for a vehicle that can tow 5K or is 3500 enough? 

    @jamiej529 I can identify with your situation, though in my case, I am headed to Retirement Part Deux, and a bit sooner than you, hopefully early this spring. As others have said, it's very valuable to spend some time in a 320 before going ahead and getting one. We were lucky enough to have had the opportunity (pre-Covid) to do that, not only with [email protected] campers but also with several others. The 320 is small - or cozy if you like - but we think it will work for us and our mid-size Welshie. Only time will tell however. We're still waiting for our 320BD to be delivered but are in the stretch run on that and should see it early in March. The spring retirement is not a coincidence.

    We plan to use our [email protected] for long trips, often to fairly remote locations, and also want to be able to access the occasional boondocking site via unimproved roads. Our mid-sze V-8 powered AWD SUV will work fine for the 320 (it worked well towing my SunCat), but since it is 13 years old, is likely to need replacing a few years down the road. I would prefer to go with a BEV, and while that's not a viable solution at present, the situation should be quite different in a few years.

    For example, GM and Ford will have capable electric SUVs and pick-up trucks on the road by 2023 (the new Hummer and the electric F-150). There are also start-ups like Lordstown and Bollinger that will be selling similar vehicles by then. With range and affordability being key however, the only real options seem to be the Tesla Cybertruck and the Rivian SUV or pick-up. For various reasons, the Tesla doesn't work for me, but the Rivian seems to fit the bill.

    There are two Rivian variants: SUV (R1S) and pick-up (R1T). Towing and payload are sufficient for trailers far larger than even the [email protected] 400. The R1S can tow 7,500 lbs and has a payload capacity of 1,800 lbs. The R1T can tow 11,000 lbs and has a 1,760 lb payload capacity. All Rivians are built on the same platform with a 4-motor 4WD system, fully adjustable air suspension, have tons of storage, very nice cockpits and Level 3 autonomy at release, with L4 soon (and L5 hopefully in the not-too-distant future). As with all EVs, acceleration is outstanding - zero to 60 in 4 seconds. The ideal vehicle in all but one way: Range.

    The R1T has just started production and will begin delivering in June; the SUV will be available starting in 2022. Unfortunately the range of the launch editions of either model are not sufficient at only 300+ miles. An extended range aka, Max Pack variant, will have a much larger battery pack and a nominal 415 mile range. The Max pack equipped pick-up is scheduled to start delivering in late 2022 or early 2023. Of course, the nominal range will drop considerably hauling a trailer.

    Rivian says its data show that range for the R1T is decreased by 50% when towing at max capacity (testing was with a box trailer at 11,000 lbs.) The lighter and much more aerodynamic [email protected] should do far better, but the actual range hit is not linear and so tough to calculate. If we assume the impact is 25% rather than the 50% hit of the 11,000 trailer used for testing, that means a routine effective range of about 250 miles. This assumes starting with 80% SoC and recharging at 20%, as generally recommended by EV makers. That's almost good enough for use with today's charging network. The EV fast-charging infrastructure is rapidly expanding however and it not unrealistic to assume it will be greatly enlarged by 2023. In addition, Rivian has already started building out their Adventure Network which aims to put fast chargers in more remote locations, like near national parks, and should have a fair number in place by 2023.

    As far as cost, the Rivian is roughly the same as fully equipped Suburban or Expedition, maybe a bit less if you get in early enough to take advantage of the Federal tax credit (not sure if Canada has something similar.) The true cost to own should be much lower than for an ICE vehicle however, so in the long run, something like the R1S/T may represent a better value proposition.

    I have no connection to Rivian but in the interest of full disclosure, must admit that I put a (fully refundable) pre-order in for one.
    2021 [email protected] 320 S Boondock (on the way) / 2008 XC-90 V8 Sport
  • ontheroadontheroad Member Posts: 442
    We were previous [email protected] owners that had a tow vehicle that was too tight in towing capacity.. especially once the gear was included..we decided to upgrade to a minimum of 5000 lbs, in case we upsized to a [email protected] we did this year..we both feel confident that both work well together. I think most of us pack too much at the beginning and then streamline. As far as clothes, we do have a hanging bar in the tv, but we tend to use packing cubes and a duffle bag. I have seen solo travelers install a hanging bar close to the television.
    Former 2017 [email protected] Max XL
    2021 [email protected] Boondock CS-S
    2018 Nissan Pathfinder
    Ontario, Canada
  • NovaTabNovaTab Member Posts: 43
    We're confirmed to pick our new 320 Monday, getting hitch set up etc.
    2021 TaB 320 Boondock, Gran Cherokee TrailHawk
    365 Watts of Solar
  • CharlieRNCharlieRN Member Posts: 68
    NovaTab said:
    We're confirmed to pick our new 320 Monday, getting hitch set up etc.
    I'm jealous - we still have 6-8 weeks more waiting for our BD. Enjoy and best of luck!
    2021 [email protected] 320 S Boondock (on the way) / 2008 XC-90 V8 Sport
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