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2013 VW Touareg 4Motion TDI (Volkswagen)
2013 VW Touareg 4Motion TDI (Volkswagen)

You’ll need a big (read: expensive) vehicle to tow that big trailer Add to ...

Our young family of four needs to purchase a second vehicle to tow a 21-foot travel trailer weighing 4,500 pounds. We want it to provide a solid, safe and comfortable ride while towing. However, while driving around the city the rest of the year, we want to use the least amount of gas possible. We want to buy new, but don’t want to spend any more than we have to. I am also thinking of resale values for the future. Help! – Thanks from Winnipeg

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Cato: A 21-foot trailer – I just looked at a run-down investment property in Vancouver, one listed for $1.45-million and it was on a 25-foot lot.

We’re talking a house almost as wide as Winnipeg’s home-on-the-road is long.

So here’s the reality: you’re going to need a pretty big rig to pull that thing safely and it’s gonna cost you – at least $60,000 with taxes and fees.

Vaughan: Cato forgot to mention stopping power. How quickly and safely you can stop matters more than how much you can pull.

If you’re going to drag that giant trailer around, you’ll definitely need to go big and expensive.

Cato: Fuel economy? Ugh. Winnipeg, you’re gonna need something big and heavy; and you’ll feel the pain at the pump when you’re running errands in the Peg for the 11-1/2 months of the year you’re not on vacation.

Have you thought about selling the trailer?

Why not replace it with a luxurious Class A motorhome, then get a $13,000 fuel-miser for running about town – something like this new Nissan Versa Note hatchback that starts at $13,348?

Right now, I am looking at pictures of a “must-sell” 39-foot Winnebago Adventurer on Kijiji.ca – $79,000, complete with two 18-foot sliders, automatic hydraulic levelling, parking cameras, electric fireplace, maple cabinets, two TVs, 7-foot-2 ceiling. Way nicer than that $1.45-million house.

Vaughan: Cato, I don’t think Winnie is going to walk away from the trailer – not like you have wandered away from the actual question.

Cato: But an interesting alternative.

Vaughan: Yes, but trailers, Cato. Most trailers that size are seen attached to great, big pickup trucks that are built on great, big steel frames, but Winnie hasn’t asked about trucks.

You seem to be hoping for a compact sport-ute that would deliver decent fuel economy, but that won’t work for you.

Put that trailer of yours behind something economical like a Mercedes GLK diesel ($43,500) and you’ll get flung into the ditch on a steep downhill turn.

2013 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid LT 4x2
 

Cato: Yikes! The GLK250 BlueTec has the muscle to move a trailer, but not the heft to control it: maximum tow rating at 1,588 kilograms or 3,500 pounds. That’s normal for this size of sport-ute. Winnipeg needs to step up in size.

I have two bits of advice: get something with a tow rating at least 1,000 higher than your trailer weight; and accept the fact you want either a diesel or a hybrid for fuel economy.

A Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid starts at $69,190, minus a couple of grand in discounts.

Tow rating 2,812 kilograms or 6,186 pounds. Or there’s a Volkswagen Touareg TDI diesel that starts at $53,975 and can yank around up to 7,700 pounds or 3,500 kilograms.

Both have the fuel economy of a big sedan, not a truck.

Vaughan: See, I told you it would be expensive, but the hybrid will help you on the fuel costs in your non-towing days. I’m also thinking of a Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel. They’re not being introduced until the fall, so I don’t know the price. But I’m confident it will tow your trailer safely.

Cato: Can’t tell you about diesel Grand Cherokee resale values, but your best options there are an Infiniti QX56 or a Lexus LX570.

Both are gas, though, and both will hold about two-thirds of their value after four years.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
 

Vaughan: If gas is in the discussion, Winnie should probably look at a new Chevy Silverado with the big crew cab.

It’s probably not what you want, but Chevy claims its gas engines deliver the best fuel economy in the pickup segment.

But only gasoline engines are offered. It will easily and safely handle your trailer.

Cato: The V-6 versions will, in fact. GM swears up and down that four-by-four versions of the 2014 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra with the new V-6 has the best fuel economy among full-size pickups – and a 7,200-pound or 3,273-kilogram tow rating, to boot.

Vaughan: I think it’s the Touareg for Winnie. I know several people who are happy with the Touareg, although they complain about the horrible fuel economy with gasoline engines on premium fuel. Diesel is the way to go and Volkswagen Group makes excellent diesel engines.

But why not go see a Jeep dealer and find out about the diesel coming in a few months?

Cato: I’m on board with the Touareg TDI, though that Winnebago looks stunning in pictures.

Send your questions to globedrive@globeandmail.com

*****

HOW THEY COMPARE



2013 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid LT 4x22013 Volkswagen Touareg 4MOTION 3.0-litre TDI diesel2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 4x2 Crew Cab

Wheelbase (mm)

2,9462,8933,898

Length (mm)

5,1314,7956,085

Width (mm)

2,0071,9402,032

Track, front (mm)

1,9531,7321,875

Engine

6.0-litre V-8 with hybrid electric drive3.0-litre V-6 turbodiesel4.3-litre V-6

Output (horsepower/torque)

369/380 lb-ft240/406 lb-ft285/305 lb-ft

Drive system

Rear-wheel driveFull-time four-wheel drivePart-time four-wheel drive

Transmission

Four-speed automaticEight-speed automaticSix-speed automatic

Tow rating (kg)

2,8123,5002,994

Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

10.1 city/8.4 highway10.8 city/6.7 highwayTBD

Base price (MSRP)

$69,190$53,975$34,760

Source: car manufacturers

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.

Send your automotive questions to globedrive@globeandmail.com

Follow on Twitter: @catocarguy

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