New owner [email protected] 320s. I want to use Audi Q3 as my tow vehicle

I take delivery of my 2021 320s in February. I am concerned that my 2015 Audi Q3 Quattro AWD may have trouble pulling the camper. I will be a solo camper and don’t expect to carry much extra stuff. 320s weighs 1950 lb. My car‘s tow limit is 2200 lb.  My car weighs 3650 lb, GVWR is 4900 lb, and tongue wt is 220 lb. 
What problems will I encounter? Should I get another tow vehicle?


  • TomCanadaTomCanada Member Posts: 78
    Is that the dry weight?  Filling up tanks and loading up with goods will likely take you near or over the limit.  That said, if you're under the limit you're fine. I plan on towing my 400 with a Q5.  If you look at what people are able to tow with these same cars in Europe, you'll see the ratings on the vehicle are extremely conservative.  The one thing I would confirm is your car's payload capacity.  But a quick google indicates that's 1100lb on our vehicle so even with a 220lb tongue, you've got about 900 lbs left for passengers and cargo.  

    There's a lot of people that say you need some beast like a Ford truck for these trailers, but that's truly overkill IMHO.  Perhaps if you're in the Rockies and want to be able to overtake vehicles on the uphills, but I'm expecting to be in the granny lane and driving a constant 60-65.  If you are too, you should be fine.  

    Again though, watch that total weight. The cars have a lot of safety margin built into the ratings and assume worst case inclines/max speeds - but you really shouldn't push beyond them. No need to eat into your margin for safety :).  I bought a tongue weight scale just to make sure I wasn't too heavy..

    Just my 2 cents..
  • SugarShackSugarShack Member Posts: 2
    Thanks TomCanada! I’m on the ragged edge with the weight...just want to be safe. I’ve also seen Q3 tow capacity in Europe is rated significantly higher. Very confusing. 
  • VictoriaPVictoriaP Member Posts: 994
    edited January 15
    TomCanada said:
     If you look at what people are able to tow with these same cars in Europe, you'll see the ratings on the vehicle are extremely conservative. 
    To be clear: Europe’s tow ratings are only relevant if you live in Europe. If you live anywhere else, your country’s standards prevail, and your domestic insurers will use those standards. Telling your insurer, “But the European limits are higher” after an overweight accident simply means they will deny your claim and leave you 100% out of pocket liable for any damage or injuries. Do I think most vehicles in the US are under rated for towing? Maybe. But my opinion is as relevant to my insurer as those European stats. What matters is that you are potentially increasing your risk of an accident according to the manufacturer, and absolutely increasing your risk of losing a LOT of money if you are unfortunate enough to get into an accident. Additionally, admitting you are deliberately exceeding those limits anywhere online is evidence enough to deny your claim. 

    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
  • 4ncar4ncar Member Posts: 894
    Your vehicle is woefully underrated. The dry weight of your tab is listed at 1908 lbs. that does not include water, battery or propane tank. These 3 items alone will bring within 100 lbs of your tow capacity. You will likely press 200-225 in tongue weight once you add battery & propane as well.  Performance will probably not be very good(to include mpg) but the safety factor is troubling. 
    TV- '16 Chevy Colorado LT Crew Cab-DuraMax
    2018 320S Outback
  • TomCanadaTomCanada Member Posts: 78
    @VictoriaP why do you recommend 3500lbs is needed for a 320?  What's the expected wet weight of a 320?  While I agree we shouldn't exceed mfg ratings, if you tow 2100lbs with a 2200lb TV, you are 100% ok safety-wise, as long as you keep to towing speeds as specified as your manufacturer.  Loading close to the "limit" is both safe, since the cars are designed with a crazy amount of margin to account for all conditions, end cases, and buffer, as well as legal.  Of course, if you're really close to the limits, you'll want to take extra careful measures to confirm your weights (CAT scale, tongue weight scale, etc), but while a more capable tow vehicle allows us to pack less carefully, have more power at our disposal, and feel less like we are dragging something behind us, from a pure safety perspective there's no need to artificially buy a larger TV than needed.  Each to their own - I get the appeal of a bigger TV, but also feel a lot of us can get by with what we have (which is also usually more fuel efficient than something bigger).
  • dragonsdoflydragonsdofly Member Posts: 1,420
    @SugarShack, agree wholeheartedly with @VictoriaP. Also agree with @TomCanada to the extent that you don't or won't need a monster truck to tow a [email protected] 320 S, but only that. There are suv's out there that will meet your needs. One of the problems with towing at near your vehicle's capacity is that you have absolutely no margin of weight or power to control a bad situation. If the trailer rolls, it will roll the tv, with everyone aboard. And while that is a worst case scenario, it does happen. If you are in a windy situation, your Audi does not have enough weight while towing to hold the road or "bull" it's way through with sheer horsepower. Almost all of us who tow have been hit by an unexpected gust of wind. You probably need something a little beefier, with larger safety margins, than your present vehicle. Our first tv was (and still is) a gmc envoy xl with tow ratings of 5,000 lbs and 500 lbs tongue weight. I found that was more than adequate for the 320 S, and gear for 4 people. We took extended trips that way (were raising 2 boys at the time), traveled 10,000 miles and 6 weeks the first time. That's just my personal opinion. I feel much more comfortable towing knowing (and physically feeling) that my tv can handle most situations. -Denise
    2017 [email protected] sofitel([email protected])TV 2015 Silverado 2500hd(Behemoth). Wyandotte, Michigan.
    Draco dormiens numquam titilandus.
  • TomCanadaTomCanada Member Posts: 78
    I know my view of things on tow capacity isn't mainstream, but coming from an engineering background, everything is always overdesigned. Would you feel comfortable as a 200 pound individual sitting on a chair with a 200 pound weight limit?  Well you should - because in testing that same chair can likely withstand 240 or more pounds, and that's at extreme conditions (eg. temperatures) where the materials are most brittle. Likewise, with tow ratings, there is an element of overdesign ever-present. Towing 3000 pounds on a 3000 pound vehicle will be fine.  Will it wear faster? Sure.  But it's all relative. Your brakes will also wear faster if you eat a donut before stepping into the vehicle due to the added weight. It's not that at a certain weight, everything breaks down - though of course some things DO wear more quickly with more stress.  Now arguably would a 3000lb trailer on a 5000lb-rated truck have less wear/tear?  Hard to say. Depends on a lot of factors, including the design and manufacturer.  All else being equal - perhaps.  German cars like the OP's aren't the most reliable, but they're engineered like heck so you'd expect less impact from driving them hard.  

    Anyways I'm sure this is quite a contentious topic so everyone needs to make the choice they're comfortable with.  100% stay within manufacturer limits.  And there're definitely advantages of bigger vehicles beyond safety. Drive safe and sane either way! 

    @dragonsdofly makes a good point - there's likely a very happy medium between extremes :) 
  • VictoriaPVictoriaP Member Posts: 994
    edited January 13
    @TomCanada The reason for 3500lbs towing capacity is that size vehicle typically has more power, more torque, and as @dragonsdofly noted, often has more weight that makes it harder to throw around in sway conditions. Can you tow right at the limit? Probably. Can you do so as safely and as effectively at the speed of traffic, even over mountain passes, as someone towing with a decent safety cushion from towing 1000 pounds below their limit? No.

    Additionally, many, many, many Tab owners have found that the overall limit isn’t the problem, it’s the tongue weight. People who buy RVs don’t tend to pack like they’re backpacking into the Grand Canyon, they want to bring ALL their toys. It’s not at all uncommon for people to weigh a 320 tongue and find they’re at 300 lbs or more due to their gear, bike racks, extra battery capacity, and carrying the spare up front. A safe tongue weight starts at 10% of trailer weight, but even at 10%, it is far easier to trigger sway conditions at highway speeds than with a heavier tongue. 12-15% is ideal. 12% of a lightly loaded 320 is 270+ lbs.

    But here’s a real world practicality issue with trying to stay right at a specific tongue weight so you don’t go overlimit: My previous Subaru has just a 200 lb tongue weight limit, despite having a 3000 lb overall towing capacity. Certain fellow Subaru + Tab owners told me it was fine. It was not fine, it was stupid, reckless, and dangerous. I later found that most of those owners have never weighed either their trailers or trailer tongues, and having seen what they carried, they are nearly all well over their limits.

    My trailer, VERY lightly loaded, weighs just under 2300 lbs. So right off the bat, I couldn’t reach the safety of even the 10% mark, and yes, I experienced sway as a result. I quickly discovered literally anything forward of the axle could put me over that rigidly defined 200 lb limit. Groceries in the fridge for one person for three days was enough to put me over. It was impossible to be absolutely sure I was always below that limit, because there was truly zero room for error. I know this, because I weighed the tongue every single time I towed. I couldn’t add a pair of 6v batteries, couldn’t move the spare tire to the tongue. Just towing the trailer to the dump station from my campsite, I would be 40+ lbs over due to the black tank contents. The OP’s tongue weight limit is dangerously inadequate, full stop. Their vehicle cannot safely tow a loaded Tab 320.

    And aside from the very real insurance reasons I listed above, going over-weight on the tongue or overall trailer weight can damage the frame or unibody construction of your car very easily, even if the trailer itself is below the overall towing capacity.

    The new Subaru I bought has a 350 lb tongue weight. I can move the spare forward, can choose to have adequate battery capacity with being forced to spend 3x as much on lithium, and can actually carry food in my fridge, which will be a novelty in itself. I’ll be at that 12% ideal...while still having a 75 lb margin of error. I don’t have to worry about damaging my car’s construction or transmission. I can worry a lot less about dangerous sway. I have made myself and others traveling alongside me on the road safer by making a sensible tow vehicle choice.

    Look, the oldtimers will tell you never to tow above 50% of your tow rating. I’m not preaching that. They’ll also tell you the ONLY vehicle capable of towing is a truck, which is also overkill. A truck may well be best, but plenty of SUVs and crossovers and minivans are adequate and reasonably safe. But towing a loaded trailer that weighs in at about 2/3 or max 3/4 of all your capacity limits means you won’t ever have to worry about your insurance calling you to deny your claim based on towing over the manufacturer’s limits, lengthens the lifespan of your vehicle, and reduces your risk of an accident in the first place. 
    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
  • TomCanadaTomCanada Member Posts: 78
    @VictoriaP fair enough - definitely with a 200lb tongue limit you'd definitely be challenged, and OP's 220lbs may not be enough either, nor would the 2200lb tow rating if a wet weight of 2300lbs is a reasonable expected minimum.  Having the margin of a higher tow capacity definitely makes life easier when you're at the limits - no argument there!
  • MarcelineMarceline Member Posts: 897
    @SugarShack, agree wholeheartedly with @VictoriaP. Also agree with @TomCanada to the extent that you don't or won't need a monster truck to tow a [email protected] 320 S, but only that. There are suv's out there that will meet your needs. One of the problems with towing at near your vehicle's capacity is that you have absolutely no margin of weight or power to control a bad situation. 
    WADR @TomCanada is correct. Those safety margins are built into the tow ratings. Americans are just nutty about towing capacity. The question is whether @SugarShack can keep her loaded weight under 2200#. If she loads it like a backpacker, it's theoretically possible, but I'm skeptical. 
    San Francisco Bay Area
    2013 CS-S [email protected]
    Battered but trusty 3.5l V6 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 4ncar4ncar Member Posts: 894
    As I previously stated, the tongue weight will be the issue.
    TV- '16 Chevy Colorado LT Crew Cab-DuraMax
    2018 320S Outback
  • DougHDougH Member Posts: 949
    edited January 13
    @SugarShack I'd consider trading in the Q3 for a Q5, Q7 TDI if you can find one, or even an SQ8 if cost is no object.

    To your question on problems you would encounter: A 2,200lb towing capacity limit for a 320 sounds like you would be limited on the grades you could climb (or at least the speed you could maintain on them), and similarly the speeds you could maintain when fighting a headwind.  However, the standard newer Q3 has 260ft-lbs of torque, and I've been towing a 320 for years with only 280ft-lbs (though at a lower RPM than a petrol Q3 would likely be at), so the Q3 wouldn't necessarily be a bad choice... if only the allowed tongue weight was higher than 220lbs. That low of a limit may imply the rear subframe is not considered stout enough by Audi to handle the deflection and stress induced by a 200-250lb typical 320 tongue weight. And on bad roads, there's a lot more force being put on the hitch and whatever vehicle frame components it is attached to.

    I currently tow with a BMW diesel station wagon good for 3,950lbs, with a hitch/tongue weight limit of 350lbs. Those are European numbers, where I believe the speed limit for towing is 50 or 55mph. I rarely tow faster than 60mph. I could not even find towing capacity numbers for my car from BMW North America when I first bought the vehicle. It's been fine though (aside from the defective tow bar I started with), but I limit my speed to 40-45 mph on steeper mountain grades. I slow down to always keep the instantaneous fuel mileage above 10mpg (to limit the strain on the engine and vehicle in general). My car routinely gets over 50mpg highway driving, and tows between 20-30mpg depending on winds and terrain.

    I personally don't like to tow with a vehicle that can handle 2X-6X more than the trailer because of the poor fuel mileage. It hurts the pocketbook, and it harms the planet. And I have frequently towed with a hitch weight of 8% the trailer weight at 60mph without a hint of sway, even when passed at high relative speeds by 18-wheelers... but I keep a hand near the brake controller in those situations just in case. But that is with a relatively long wheel base length. The Q3 wheel base is a bit shorter, and thus may require a 10% or 12% trailer hitch to total trailer weight to dampen sway at that speed. So that vehicle dynamic brings you back to the tongue weight again... with full fresh tank, upgraded battery, maybe a spare in front, or generator or bicycle, to achieve that 12% safety goal... you might need to be at 250-270lbs just to prevent sway. Yes, a friction anti-sway bar may be able to reduce that number back to 10%. But anti-sway bars rely on a stout hitch and a relatively heavy tow vehicle for safety in some situations... which the Q3 is not.

    But I understand the folks who shoot for 25-50% more capacity in their tow vehicle than whatever they will be towing, and I think it makes sense in this case.  I am hoping to switch to a diesel mid-sized truck in the next month though, but only in anticipation of a future 3000-4500lb dry weight trailer.

    Good luck, and let us know what you end up choosing to do.
    2014 328d diesel wagon, 2017 [email protected] S Max, Austin TX

  • AirBossAirBoss Member Posts: 544

    Don't forget...this whole RV thing is supposed to be fun, right!  ;)

    Do yourself a favor...find a TV that has a comfortable margin WRT tow, tongue, cargo weights for the type of camping you do. 

    One less thing that "weighs" on your mind (sorry, that was too easy to pass up!).

    Good luck and enjoy the journey!

    2020 [email protected] 400 "OTTO" (build date 08/19)
    Factory Victron Solar; Norcold 3-way fridge
    '04 Chevy Tahoe Z71 5.3L Dino-killer
    San Diego, CA

  • rfuss928rfuss928 Member Posts: 657
    edited January 13
    The frequently asked question " Is my marginally adequate TV OK for towing a [email protected]?" brings the same spectrum  of responses every rehash.  Experience teaches it is manageable with careful caution.  Inexperience looks for reassurance and verification.
    As I have said before:
    Any machine being run at or near its maximum rated capacity requires constant attention and adjustment to avoid problems.  This is true whether your are talking about a small hand held mixer or an eighteen wheeler rolling down the highway.  This required attention causes stress and anxiety that is very fatiguing and can quickly take the joy out of travel (or mixing).  Unexpected situations can quickly cause conditions that easily exceed yours and your vehicles capabilities.
    Keeping in mind that everything you put in your TV including the driver and passengers lowers your towing capacity pound for pound.  Then there is the added weight of anything added to the trailer.  All these things can easily add up to hundreds of pounds.   It is generally considered prudent to have a TV rating about 50% greater than the expected load.  This will create a comfortable and capable rig and helps assure even unexpected events are manageable.
    Have fun!


  • max_tab320smax_tab320s Member Posts: 9
    I drive a VW Tiguan which has the same towing specs.  I travel light, no need to bring everything I own out camping. Just the basic stuff. I also put a tandem kayak on the roof of the truck and 2 bikes on the [email protected] I have had no problems at all. Been doing so for 3 years already.

    People are mainly unsecure. Try it for yourself and see how comfortable you are. Try shorter trips at first and go further down the road. If you think bigger is better, than you will not regret changing to something better suited for you.

    Lots of people have different opinions, doesn't mean they have the absolute truth.

    Enjoy your camper!
  • 4ncar4ncar Member Posts: 894
    The other issue, one will hopefully not run into is, knowingly towing over stated limits and to have an accident. This may very well negate your insurance coverage, leading you to be personally liable for all damages.
    TV- '16 Chevy Colorado LT Crew Cab-DuraMax
    2018 320S Outback
  • OlenaOlena Member Posts: 81
    Where does the square foot measurement of the front area of the [email protected] fit into all of this? It’s listed in the manufacturer’s towing specs. Doesn’t a larger frontage create more drag and lower the tow capacity? For instance, would you be able to tow a heavier pop up than a [email protected]?
    2013 Ford Escape 2.0 and 2017 [email protected] Q basic with 210W Zamp solar
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 2,177
    Camper frontal area and total tow weight are different.  A trailer needs to conform to each rating.  Towing a large frontal area does add more drag, and engine load that a smaller area.  Tow weight remains constant, and is more to do with tow vehicle dynamics, than horsepower needed to move it.
    2018 TaB400 Boondock, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast.
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