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Towing Report: 2008 TRD OR w/ 2300# (Dry)

Discussion in 'Towing' started by Big_Red_Taco, Jul 21, 2020.

  1. Jul 21, 2020 at 12:51 PM
    #1
    Big_Red_Taco

    Big_Red_Taco [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2017
    Member:
    #230346
    Messages:
    120
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    Male
    SoCal
    Vehicle:
    Rad Red '08 DCSB TRD Off Road
    Mostly stock: AP rear plate bumper, CR D-Lights, 4600s
    Hi Everyone,

    I thought it might be helpful to post a report of my 2nd gen towing experience over the past week since there are always questions about what and how these trucks can tow.

    Here's a few specs to start out:

    Tow Vehicle:
    • 2008 Tacoma TRD Off Road, 4x4 Double-Cab shortbed with factory tow package*; 6.5K# towing capacity
    • 4.0 1GR-FE with 198,700 miles (rolled over 200,000 during the trip)
    • Automatic (5-sp)
    • *Custom weld-on hitch receiver with All-Pro rear plate bumper, rated@ 6K# (NOT All-Pro hidden hitch)
    • Weight Distribution Hitch & Tekonsha Primus IQ Brake Controller
    Trailer:
    • R-Pod 171 Hood River Ed. (OR package) ~2200# dry + 2/3 freshwater tank + camping gear = ~2900#
    Additional Weight in Truck:
    • 2 12ft Ocean Kayaks + kayak gear ~150#
    • 2 adult passengers + 1 child
    • Honda generator + gasoline ~150#
    The trip length was 2,500 miles towed over mountains and deserts, prairie and passes - using back roads and interstates.

    Our route started in the Sacramento area north to Lassen Nat'l Park, then north taking back-roads to eastern Oregon, east across lower Idaho, then up into Jackson, Wyoming and Teton/Yellowstone Nat'l Parks. Then back through central Idaho, then down through Nevada, over the Sierras and back to California.

    RPod1.jpg

    Summary:

    As per the manual, I drove in "4" when pulling the trailer to avoid using 5th gear.

    Pulling flat without a headwind was nice, with the truck settling into a groove at 65mph, 4th gear, and ~2900rpm.

    In the mountains outside of Lassen Nat'l Park, google led us down a single lane country road that ended up climbing very steep (10%+) switchbacks at ~15-20mph. This is where I felt the transmission heating up noticeably through my very scientific measurements of feeling the shift knob stalk and transmission tunnel with my hand.

    Once I got back on the main road to 40-50 mph speeds the transmission cooled noticeably, due to better airflow over the radiator and trans-cooler.

    Pulling in the Cascade mountains of Nor-norcal was not bad, with the transmission occasionally kicking down to 3rd and 3800rpm to maintain speed uphill on mountain 2-lanes (50mph). Same for pulling across eastern Oregon outback to Idaho (65mph).

    Once I joined the Interstate in Idaho, there were more winds to contend with, and the truck struggled to maintain 65mph at 4th gear in western Idaho hills to Twin Falls. There was a lot of downshifting and holding in 3rd to maintain speed. Speed limit was 75-80 I think in this area, so no keeping up with traffic.

    Twin Falls to Idaho Falls was better since I had a tailwind. I was able to use cruise control effectively here, staying in 4th at 2900rpm most of the way. Climbing to Jackson via Swan Valley was good too, keeping up with traffic fairly easily in the hills with minimal downshifts to climb short grades.

    I towed about 5 miles up a rough dirt road to dry-camp in the Bridger-Teton NF one night, and encountered no towing issues. 4x4 was critical to negotiating some climbs and a three-point turnaround on soft soil/grass.

    Leaving Jackson via Teton Pass was slow going, with a long 10% grade up the east side then a long 10% grade down the west side. I didn't have a problem going up, just slow going at 4000rpm at 40-45mph. Downhill was a little scarier- I combined downshifting to L2-L1 @ 20-25 mph at some points with judicious braking to avoid cooking my brake pads. Adjusted boost to 2/3 on the brake controller. This worked well and didn't smell any burning brakes (not mine, at least, after inspection).

    Going west, encountered strong headwinds that made it difficult to maintain 60mph without running at 4000rpm continuously - especially going through the desert up through Idaho National Laboratory (1st nuclear power plant!) through Arco, ID (first town lit by nuclear power) and through Craters of the Moon Nat'l Monument.

    Pointing south down from Twin Falls to Wells, NV, was 65 mph and desert crosswinds, which the truck and trailer handled beautifully. The W-D hitch was a huge help with this. I drafted a semi this entire stretch which assisted with fuel economy on this stretch. Moderately hilly country, no problems.

    Turning west on I-80 back to California across Nevada was steady-as-she-goes. I was at 65mph the whole way (80mph limit) which kept the truck at 4th at ~3000, at least when it was flat. On even some slight uphill stretches with a slight headwind, the truck wanted to shift to 3rd at 4000rpm for extended periods to maintain speed. No temperature problems even in the desert heat with A/C on.

    Incidentally, on more severe climbs, I would turn off A/C every time.

    Climbing back into the Sierra up the east side of Donner Pass was fine, but I could tell the transmission was heating up during the climb - I was pushing a little harder as I felt very comfortable by this point in the trip. Coming down the west side of the Sierras was fine. This transmission is pretty smart at holding lower gears to control downhill speed.

    Overall Impressions:

    The Tacoma is not a heavy hauler. It's a fine and capable truck, but it's not going to be able to keep up with the big boys out there, even towing half capacity. I was being passed easily uphill by 2500HD trucks with 50ft horse trailers full of horses at over the speed limit. I knew this going in and I feel it's obvious, but this comes up as a question frequently. You have to be O-K with slow and steady and not let full sizers towing fast lower your self esteem.

    Let it REV. As I mentioned above, the 4.0 (and even more the 3.5) needs to rev up to get to its peak power. You need to be OK with this and a little engine noise when going the distance in the Tacoma - especially when you have a headwind or even a slight grade.

    You don't want to tow more than 50% capacity for a long distance. Especially when encountering mountainous terrain and, again, extreme winds. Towing more than what I towed will only make you go slower, rev it out more for more extended periods. Probably fine for 100 miles to the beach, but not across 1/3 of the continent.

    Try to minimize wind resistance. The kayaks I was hauling contributed to wind drag, but the day before the towing trip involved a 400 mile run with just the kayaks (no trailer) and I felt minimal wind resistance compared to normal driving without them. I attribute this to the way I mounted the kayaks to show the lowest aerodynamic profile (see pictures). The R-Pod is also a narrow trailer that is about the same width as the Tacoma, which assisted with wind resistance significantly. This is a nice feature of the R-Pod design.

    Be prepared to fuel up - a LOT. I believe I was averaging around 10mpg overall for the trip, but some days were better than others, depending on weather and terrain. But it was significantly worse than normal (which is normal when towing). Some remote stretches I needed to be careful of the fueling intervals - especially in northeaster CA and remote eastern Oregon with 100+ miles between stations.

    I recommend the lightweight trailers. We loved the R-Pod. but we're also looking at the No Boundaries and E-Pro, both from the same company and in the same weight class. I wouldn't look any heavier than 2800# dry, in my personal opinion. At least not for extended trips - the truck will do it, but you'll be pushing hard the whole time.

    RPod2.jpg

    Overall it was a great trip and successful. I have never towed more than 400 miles before this trip, and this was a great learning experience.

    Let me know if you have any questions about towing with this 2nd gen - I know there are often questions about doing a trip of this type with this equipment.

    I hope this gives an idea of what it is like to tow with the Tacoma.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
  2. Jul 21, 2020 at 1:14 PM
    #2
    varmintshooter

    varmintshooter Member

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    Thanks, nice write up. Sounds like a nice trip.
     
  3. Jul 21, 2020 at 5:15 PM
    #3
    Sprig

    Sprig Well-Known Member

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    N. Calif. The Twilight Zone
    Vehicle:
    2009 Tacoma TRD double cab 4x4
    Off road lights, aux backup lights, bull bar, Lear camper shell, camo seat covers, nerf bars
    Great trip and great write up. Very good information. As you found out you really learn what your truck while towing can do on long trips that include mountains. Most people tow a couple hundred miles and base their opinions on those short trips. I agree 2800 lbs dry is the max for long trips with the Taco. More than that on long trips becomes a hassle and a tiring, unpleasant experience.
    Again great write up, thanks. You should do a write up of the trip itself along with pics.
     
    Big_Red_Taco [OP] likes this.
  4. Jul 21, 2020 at 10:37 PM
    #4
    TacoTrooper

    TacoTrooper Well-Known Member

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    Vancouver, Canada
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    2013 TRD Double Cab 6-spd manual
    2013 TRD Sport DCSB 6-spd manual
    Great trip report; I also have a RPOD and towed it around BC the past 2 years. I have the manual transmission so not the same experiences but definitely mirror most of your experiences. I have an inflatable packraft vs rigid hull kayaks to avoid the extra drag and do my best to minimize the load. I prefer the backroads to the busy freeways but can haul at a good speed if necessary.
    The Tacoma is no heavy hauler but also no slouch either. Good to see you using your truck and getting to some great spots with your POD.
     
    Big_Red_Taco [OP] likes this.
  5. Jul 22, 2020 at 12:48 PM
    #5
    NV_Spencer

    NV_Spencer Well-Known Member

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    Really great review! I recently purchased an Airstream Bambi with plans of extended NP road trips & even though it's a 3000 lb trailer, I'm looking seriously at a bigger truck. When you factor in the terrain you're traveling & the amount of cargo you need for 6+ days on the road/dry camping, it's WAY more involved than just looking at the Toyota towing capacity number. Thanks OP.
     
    Sprig and Big_Red_Taco [OP] like this.
  6. Jul 22, 2020 at 1:42 PM
    #6
    Big_Red_Taco

    Big_Red_Taco [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2017
    Member:
    #230346
    Messages:
    120
    Gender:
    Male
    SoCal
    Vehicle:
    Rad Red '08 DCSB TRD Off Road
    Mostly stock: AP rear plate bumper, CR D-Lights, 4600s
    Towing with the Tacoma is nice, in that it's not a HUGE truck that takes up space in tight campgrounds and you can park it easily in small towns.

    But then again, at some points towing was work. Especially on the interstate - I had to mentally settle with myself early that I wasn't going to be able to keep up with traffic without revvvvvving the whole time, and with a 200K+ truck I didn't really want to push it that hard for that long.

    Even my SO, who isn't one for spending big money easily, was looking at brand new Tundras passing us with bigger trailers and actually wondering if it would be worth it to upgrade. But that to me is also a trade off - I don't need a full size truck, except maybe to occasionally tow a travel trailer. But boy would it be that much easier...

    That being said, the Tacoma performed beautifully, being very stable and reliable, even at nearly 13 years old and 200K+ miles. At NO point did I feel under-powered, or in danger. When I needed to dig in for the power, it was there, and kept pulling when I needed it. I saw zero warning lights or bad indications. I was very satisfied with its performance.
     
    TacoTrooper likes this.
  7. Jul 22, 2020 at 1:43 PM
    #7
    Big_Red_Taco

    Big_Red_Taco [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Vehicle:
    Rad Red '08 DCSB TRD Off Road
    Mostly stock: AP rear plate bumper, CR D-Lights, 4600s
    I like the idea of the inflatables now, haha. Some people had the inflatable packrafts to drift on and I thought that was brilliant.
     
  8. Jul 22, 2020 at 1:50 PM
    #8
    Big_Red_Taco

    Big_Red_Taco [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Vehicle:
    Rad Red '08 DCSB TRD Off Road
    Mostly stock: AP rear plate bumper, CR D-Lights, 4600s
    I realized by the end the variance in the terrain I was traveling, so I hope this is a good indicator of the Tacoma towing experience. I should do a trip report - I need to compile my pictures together.

    It's true that there's so much more than "it says I can tow 6500 so 6475 is OK!" Haha. The truck was a trooper and strong, but there was more than once where I side-eyed the full size trucks and thought about how much easier it would be. To me it's all up to whether it's worth it for easy pulling (but new truck expense) or using current equipment. I saw a few of those Bambis and they looked really nice! I'd like to get into an Airstream someday.
     
    Sprig likes this.
  9. Jul 22, 2020 at 3:51 PM
    #9
    TacoTrooper

    TacoTrooper Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    First Name:
    James
    Vancouver, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2013 TRD Double Cab 6-spd manual
    2013 TRD Sport DCSB 6-spd manual
    Ive had the same thought "I don't need a bigger truck" and the Tacoma is perfect size for 90% of my needs, just thinking about those camping trips and how a bigger truck "would" be nice. No plans to upgrade here.
     
    Big_Red_Taco [OP] and Hartman like this.
  10. Jul 26, 2020 at 5:59 PM
    #10
    Toyanvil

    Toyanvil Well-Known Member

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    Great review, I have a 08 4x4 Double-Cab long-bed with factory tow package and tow a 178 R Pod and have the same results. One thing I found out was the R Pod decal shows 2780 lbs, but is closer to 3200 on the scales. R Pods do not include options in the weight, like AC, micro waves and spare tires. Did you weigh your R Pod or go by the decal?
    [​IMG]
     
    Big_Red_Taco [OP] likes this.
  11. Jul 26, 2020 at 7:42 PM
    #11
    Big_Red_Taco

    Big_Red_Taco [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2017
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    Messages:
    120
    Gender:
    Male
    SoCal
    Vehicle:
    Rad Red '08 DCSB TRD Off Road
    Mostly stock: AP rear plate bumper, CR D-Lights, 4600s
    Nice setup - looks familiar...

    I didn't know that. I went by decal dry weight - but I could very well be under-estimating the actual weight, I've never weighed it on a scale. I don't have a slide, AC, or a microwave/oven, so it's still pretty light overall, but looking back now I'm sure I was either at or over 3000# during the trip.

    I've been looking at newer (used) 178s because my wife would like more interior space with the kitchen slide, and I'd like to have AC when overnighting in hot regions between destinations, and we like the layout separation between the table/bed and queen bed for us and the kids. It was hot in Twin Falls when we overnighted and everyone in the RV park had AC but us.

    I'm just a little leery of the weight penalty, especially with the slideout. Nice to know it's more or less a similar towing experience.
     

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