Little bit of Heavy(ish) towing with the Ranger (Towing Review)

Jun 12, 2004
Athens, GA
As I mentioned in another thread, "Spot" my 2003 Accord decided that it didn't have need of 3rd gear anymore. This vintage of transmission is problematic on a good day and they just don't last much past 150k even with religious services including filters, pressure switches, and oil changes. (The car has around 270, the transmission was replaced at 110k by the dealer).

Luckily it happened at a time when I was able to go fetch a U-Haul trailer and tote it up to a (fairly) local guy that built his business around rebuilding Honda transmissions. He'd done my wife's 2000 and my brother's 20something Civic. Good dude, does good work, at a fair price. The kind of person that's hard to find these days. I decided to tow it as opposed to diving to keep it from causing itself any other harm and I wouldn't have to bother the wife to follow me up there.

Total trip is about 45 miles, including a mix of 4 lane, city streets, and country road.

Uhaul reports the car trailer as being 2210 pounds and the Accord should be about 3360, so slightly over 5500 pounds being pulled. The Uhaul trailer seems to be slightly tongue-heavy although I have no weight for that, but I'd suspect it was probably near the 750# limit for the truck, although I have nothing to judge that by other than the similar weight travel trailer I've pulled just seemed a little better balanced.

Power - The 2.3 and 10R80 sure is quite the combination, it punches WAY above its weight in my opinion. At no time did I want for any power. You can accelerate to highway speeds with no effort and no need for full throttle. Uphill starts, no problem at all. I was monitoring boost, and took the opportunity to do a full-throttle accel run a few times and watched boost top out around 20-21 psi and stay there, so there's quite a bit of air being force-fed into that little mill. Steady-state cruising it is running between 2-3 psi, all as reported through Torque. Shift programming in Tow/Haul is very good. It eliminates any shift skip and shifts sequentially, holding onto gears longer and downshifting sooner under throttle. It also grade shifts and will drop many gears to help with engine braking (see below).

Brakes - No problem stopping the trailer, although as usual, surge brakes are a little odd in my opinion. Wished they had electric brakes as I have a very nice brake controller that works great. There are some other people on other forums that praise the transmission programming and engine braking. Well, the 10R80 does have good logic and will drop many gears, but that little 2.3L just doesn't provide much resistance. It's not surprising, but it doesn't really help all that much. "A" for effort though I suppose.

Handling - No issues, although I do have Bilstein 5100's in the rear of the truck which I did because from the time I took it off the lot I knew the FX2 ('offoad') shocks were garbage for what I wanted, but I wanted that package for the electronic locker and not the 'offroad' angle.

Gas Mileage - No clue, can't fight physics though so it was probably between 10-15 mpg, maybe slightly more. Wasn't important to me at the time as I had other things to do Saturday.

I actually had torque running while I was pulling. Not an overly hot day, probably 70 degrees out at the time, but engine and trans temp both hovered right around 200 degrees almost the entire time. The only time the trans crept up was idling through a few red lights when it climbed to around 210. The engine never got any hotter than 205. We're planning on a south Florida trip in August with a travel trailer, so it will be interesting to see what happens then.

Would I have bought the Ranger if I were towing all day every day? No, probably not, but you can get some 'real' work done with one. Next up will hopefully be a travel trailer this summer as the wife and I sort of switch gears in our life and start doing more weekend traveling, and some longer distance stuff. (Yes, I know a travel trailer is a different beast with the wind loads and all. We will be using a WDH and all the fixings with it, and I've got plenty enough experience to feel safe.)

Verdict - Big thumbs up from me. If you told me I needed to drive this combination several hundred miles and through the mountains, I'd have had no problem. The truck just got the job done with no complaining and not feeling like I was torturing it.

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Love this!

I tow a 1400kgs/3000lbs caravan with a tiny 1.5 litre 3 cylinder diesel in my Vauxhall Insignia (Buick Regal) and manage perfectly fine (and legally, might I add!). It's amazing what you can get away with when towing.
I guess I could have mentioned in the original post for those who don't know. The 2019-2022 Rangers are rated to tow 7500# with a maximum of 750# of tongue weight. Also, Ford rates the full weight as being able to be done without a WDH. (Although it is a good idea, especially with travel trailers).

As with any towing endeavor, comfort, experience level, mechanical empathy, and preparation will dictate more of what you can do with your truck rather than a number in the manual.
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I typically only tow a boat trailer. And I hate the feeling when a heavy trailer is pushing my truck. Even if the trailer weighs less than the rated towing capacity of my truck.

A 3/4 ton pickup with a PSD engine solved the problem for me.
Love this!

I tow a 1400kgs/3000lbs caravan with a tiny 1.5 litre 3 cylinder diesel in my Vauxhall Insignia (Buick Regal) and manage perfectly fine (and legally, might I add!). It's amazing what you can get away with when towing.

The difference between US and UK/EU trailering philosophy is staggering.

From what I understand, target tongue weight in the UK/EU is 5-7% of gross trailer weight and the trailers are designed to hit that target. That's why caravans in the UK look so different than US camper trailers: Weight is balanced over the axle(s), which pushes the axle(s) more forward in the trailer. US camper trailer axles are more toward the rear.

Tongue weight in the US is targeted at 10-15% of gross trailer weight. Americans put lots of weight on the tongue because it make for a more stable tow, especially at speed (very few states seriously enforce a trailering speed limit or any speed limit for that matter), and our trucks have the payload capacity to handle it.

For the OP's rig, UK target tongue weight would be 275-375 lbs. In the configuration he had, actual tongue weight was probably near 800 lbs., which is pushing it based on the specs noted above. The hitch on the truck likely has a 900 lb. max rating and the truck probably has something in the 1700 lb. range for total payload. Put four 200 lb. guys in the truck and that 800 lbs. of tongue weight, you're actually getting pretty close to max payload.
August camping in Florida? Even the Natives don't go outside in August!

I've had several boat trailers with surge brakes. The trick to get them to operate correctly is proper brake adjustment. Don't adjust them like the trailer manual says unless you like the way they go from off to on and jerk the vehicle. Adjust them close like on a regular vehicle (slightly dragging).
Nothing but solid respect for the 4 cylinder eco with the 10r80. I think it’s one of the best powertrains out there. 21psi of boost stock? That’s crazy!
Nothing but solid respect for the 4 cylinder eco with the 10r80. I think it’s one of the best powertrains out there. 21psi of boost stock? That’s crazy!
Even crazier is the additional 50hp with a tune that you can buy straight from Ford, including a warranty, and certified for towing.

I thought it was something that I would want to do, now I'm not so sure. Tempted to leave well enough alone. We'll see how it does on a long-distance trip with a travel trailer behind it.

I mean, it wouldn't JUST be for towing. Who doesn't want another 50hp?
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Hand calculated mileage over almost a full tank of gas today running a steady 75-80 with 3 adults and a bed full of heavy luggage came out to 24.6 mpg. Slightly worse than the Acura used to get during family trips, but I've retired that car from trip duty these days.

Not terrible for pushing a brick down the road, can't fight physics though.

Nothing to do with towing, just a real-world highway mpg report.
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Yea, my TL will do almost 30, so it's not quite that good, but fair for a truck.

The above was south GA and into Florida, so it was flat as well, that helped.
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I haven’t seen this question, so I’ll bite-why didn’t you tow it with a dolly instead? Would have been lighter & easier on the truck.
Don't care for using a tow dolly. I just prefer to use a flat trailer.

Wasn't hard on the truck in any way.
An update of a different kind. We finally decided to pick up a travel trailer as we're rapidly headed towards empty-nesting and really need something that both the wife and I can agree to enjoy. Picked up a new unit today. Cherokee Grey Wolf 26DJSE. If you're curious as to why a bunkhouse. We've got some close friends that we will be camping at lake Hartwell with. Part of the deal we came to is, we bring the house, they bring the boat. Plus I can use the bunks for inside storage if the wife and I take a longer trip and need the space.

Before anyone comments. Yes, it is long. It is the absolute maximum trailer I would ever consider pulling with this truck. Not due to weight, just due to the sheer size. No, I also don't think just anyone should buy one, hitch up, and drive off. I've got plenty of towing under my belt, enough that properly equipped, I feel safe with it.

I spent all evening loading up all the crap I've got to put in the thing, so tomorrow I'm pulling it on the flat road to re-set the E2 hitch, as the guys at the dealer just tossed it on and I'm not entirely sure that it is adjusted properly, but I'll get that taken care of tomorrow.

As built, with propane and battery we are at about 4870 pounds. After loading it full of our junk, we will probably be 5500 or so, weights will eventually get done on a CAT scale once we finish loading it up. I will still be within the limits of the truck, although the hitch weight will probably be over 700# (750# Rated). Remember that the payload of my particular truck is just over 1700# and the only thing in the truck when we're traveling is me, the wife, and the dog. Everything else is in the trailer.

If you've been following the weather here in GA, it is hot hot. I was showing anywhere between 94-98 on the dash on the way home from the dealer.

Temps as reported by Torque.

Coolant - 199
Trans - 186

Loaded after an hour drive home
Coolant - 203
Trans - 211

Trip MPG. 14.5 over 60 miles. Stop and go, 12 miles of 70mph interstate, and the rest 2 lane 55mph roads.

Of course the AC was blasting the whole way home. Moderate small hills in this area, nothing spectacular. Cooling package that Ford put on the truck is doing a pretty good job of getting rid of heat.


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your 26 looks really similar to the double axle 24 bunk I pulled with the tundra. Of course I want to ask about how the 4T responded under load, but more than that - and you mentioned it, how did the chassis feel with the trailer behind it?

the 10r80, as we know shared with a bunch of ford and Chevy half tons, is certainly up to the task. Did you basically feel like you were driving the turbo once moving on the highway?