Any one towing with a prius?

-- Last Updated: Mar-04-11 8:54 PM EST --

Does anyone on the board do any towing with a Prius? If so how is it working out? Thx


Check your insurance policy. If the Prius has no rating for towing and you set it up for towing and have an accident with it while towing it might make your coverage null and void.

P car

Toyota does not recommend towing with the Prius, so the factory does not provide any engineering data or specifications for towing.

That said, there are some light-duty hitches available through the aftermarket that will install on a Prius. They typically are not load-rated, as they were designed to carry add-on fixtures like a bicycle carrier. However, it may be possible to add a draw bar in the appropriate size that can accept a trailer ball. If you can obtain the correct wiring converter for trailer lights, then what’s to stop you?

If you’ve decided to pursue things this far, a good rule of thumb would be to not exceed the manufacturer’s Gross Vehicle Weight rating, which is the combined weight of the car, fluids, passengers, luggage (and trailer).

Don’t even mention warranty coverage…it’s not gonna happen.

Read more:

yes, towed a Hobie 16 sailboat
I have towed a Hobie 16 sailboat with a Prius but not a long distance. There’s a Yahoo group devoted to towing with a Prius:

folks are towing all kinds of stuff without much problem…

Towing what?
A trailer with a couple of kayaks on board? A travel trailer? What kind of hitch? Etc.

What kind of transmission
A few years ago someone told me that the Prius uses a CVT transmission that is ill-suited to towing.

Even before that, someone I know who owns a Prius said there was no place on the Prius to attach a trailer. This may have changed, though I doubt it.

There is now a roof rack option (aftermarket), which was not the case at the time.

If you’re planning to tow with the Prius from somewhere lower to Colorado (based on your handle), you’re really asking for trouble.

Prius Towing
I have personally priced a class 1 hitch for my Prius (one of the two or three major brands). At a landing, I ran across a prius with a kayak trailer (they were in the water and gone again before we finished our paddle).

I might set mine up to tow a Rack & Roll trailer (now Yakima Rack & Roll).

A Rack and Roll with 2 or 3 kayaks on it, weighs less than two offensive lineman from the local high school sitting in the back seat so the CVT won’t have a problem.

Bill G.

Prius towing
I have a Malone trailer (about 200 lbs) and a couple kayaks (100 lbs total)with about 100lbs additional gear. I am no expert on towing but I was thinking just about anything could tow 400 lbs. I am aware of the prius having no tow rating but I figured If two additional adults weighing around the same could ride in the back I could get away with pulling the same. Thx for the info on the prius towing link, will do a little more snooping around. I will most likely be buying a prius soon and was curious. Thx all…


Towing particulars
In general–not just with a specific vehicle–manufacturer tow ratings are the “best-case” scenario. The advice I read in a towing manual said to shrink the max towing number for long or steep climbs.

Kayak trailers are light so you might be able to get away with it, at least for a while. Long-term damage to the drivetrain or suspension or brakes is another question.

Why don’t you ask Toyota or borrow another Prius owner’s manual?

400 pounds

– Last Updated: Mar-05-11 11:12 AM EST –

I think you are right that "just about anything" can tow 400 pounds. Of course, that's assuming the car itself isn't heavily loaded. Even the smallest cars normally have payload ratings of around 800 pounds and I think 900 pounds is a typical rating for a small four-door car, so having one or two normal-size people in the car and another 400 pounds being towed "shouldn't" be a big deal. I'm not familiar with CV transmissions though, and if for some reason the Prius isn't even rated to carry a full load of 200-pound passengers like a normal small four-door vehicle can, then I'd think twice about pulling a light trailer.

Owning a Prius…
I don’t think I’d want to tow anything with it, but with the Thule racks available now, I’ve been very pleased with how it cartops canoes. Can’t hardly tell the canoe is on top, and the gas mileage drops VERY little when cartopping. Overall, I’ve really liked owning one.

Let me know how Monarch pass works …
I don’t think I would want to tow with my Prius in Colorado …

I had a four cylinder Ford Ranger when I lived there and I almost had to get out and push every time going over the big passes.

Regenerative Braking
One of the issues with using a Prius for towing is the regenerative braking system. The system differs from what we are used to to in conventional cars. While hybrid cars still use conventional brake pads at highway speeds, electric motors help the car brake during stop-and-go driving. As the driver applies the brakes through a conventional pedal, the electric motors reverse direction. The torque created by this reversal counteracts the forward momentum and eventually stops the car. I’m far from an expert on regenerative braking but in most cases the braking system of a car or truck is one of the governing factors when they calculate the towing capacity.

I’ve no clue on how a trailer would effect the braking more then a couple of heavy people in the back seat but you can bet Toyota would use it against you to void any warrantee work involving the drive train for brake system.

Don’t do it.
Your asking for big trouble. I have a Prius and use a Thule roof rack for my kayak. It works well and saves the car. FishHawk

I’m not so sure about that

– Last Updated: Mar-06-11 10:54 AM EST –

He already has the trailer, so it makes sense fr him to consider using it instead of racks. You say that using roof racks "saves the car." What is the logic behind that statement? I've seen a few posts here over the years by people who get better fuel economy hauling kayaks on a trailer than by carrying them on the roof, and I've never seen a fuel-economy comparison saying the opposite. If fuel economy is better when using a trailer, that means there's less strain on the engine and drive train as well. That can't be argued, so what's the logic behind your statement?

If the O.P. goes with roof racks instead of the trailer, the only thing he won't have with him is the trailer, which he says weighs 200 pounds. I suspect it weighs less, but let's say it's 200. The only fuel-economy comparisons I've ever seen make it a safe assumption that the car will be under less strain on level roads when pulling the trailer than when fighting the extra air resistance with the boats on the roof. Will an extra 200 pounds be enough to damage the car on steep mountain roads? I don't know the answer to that, but consider the fact that it would be like carrying one extra passenger (actually, in this country that's less than one passenger, since very few people over the age of 45 weigh less than 200 pounds). Common sense would suggest that even the most fragile Toyota should be able to handle that. Again, I don't know what the real answer is, but if that extra 200 pounds actually IS enough to cause a problem, that would be reason enough to not trust a Prius to hold up very long anyway, don't ya think?

Wrong forum
try here

Toyota says no. Seems that hitch receiver might get you into trouble should you ever need warranty service.

Lots of mis-information …

– Last Updated: Mar-06-11 4:07 PM EST –

The regenerative braking works at all speeds, *except* at very low speeds, actually (it turns off under about 8 mph or so on my prius and works at any other speed higher than that).

Whether one is towing 300lb or carrying 300lb inside, the effect on the regenerative braking system is exactly the same.

Now, adding 200lb for the trailer compared to may be 50 for the rack - there is a difference, but it is not that big (about one person in the car) and the car will run more efficiently with a trailer than with a rack.

Second, if one is car topping 2-3 kayaks, the air resistance raises significantly and the car struggles at highway speeds above 65mph. My fuel economy drops from about 50mpg to between 35 and 40mpg with one or two kayaks and driving at about 62-65 mph speeds on relatively flat roads and just me in the car.

With a trailer the air resistance and overall resistance will be much lower compared to car topping, so it will actually be easier on the car than cartopping.

Insurance not covering you when towing? Up to you to figure that out...

Similar experience for me
When I moved to CO, I was aghast at how underpowered my '86 Mazda B2000 was. It was fine in New England. My first clue came somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains, on one long climb.

Passes in northern NM and southern CO were even worse, as were the rest of them in CO, as I later found.

And that was without a heavy load or a trailer, and no passengers.