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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just returned from a ~1400 mile trip, with about 1000 miles of that towing a 2019 Mossy Oak 180BHS trailer. It is listed as 4900 GVWR, but we were probably closer to 4300-4400 pounds since we left the water tank at about 1/3 full and didn't pack a lot of unnecessary stuff.

Power-wise the truck did good. I was able to maintain 65 MPH on the freeway with no problems, but did have a stretch of two lane road where I was fighting a bad headwind that kept me closer t 60 MPH. There were a few sections of I-17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff that I dropped to about 50 MPH (still passing the semi trucks). I could have gone faster but didn't see the need to abuse the truck when I wasn't holding anyone up.

The camper had a weight distributing hitch, which made it handle very well - no issues with wind buffeting from the semi trucks, tracked very well on the twisty roads, and it stayed perfectly straight during an emergency stop (thanks to a semi truck that cut in front of traffic on the freeway at about 30 MPH:mad:).

Even with the weight distributing hitch the rear sagged noticeably, which I expected. If I tow a similar unit again I would install airbags first. There were a few sections of rough/uneven roads, and while I couldn't feel it I could see where the bumpstops had been making contact.

The biggest complaint - and again it was expected - was the poor gas mileage. On the long climbs on I-17 I got 7.7 MPG, which was the worst tank. Best was 11.6 MPG, average was mid to high 8 MPG range. I really miss my Dodge with the Cummins...even loaded to the max it would get 12 MPG towing.

Bottom line for me is that the truck is capable of safely towing an RV suitable for my family. I wouldn't hesitate to take a similar trip with a similar trailer, but probably wouldn't do a cross-country trip with one, even with airbags - it's just a lot of work on the truck, which I'm comfortable it would handle, but it would also cost a fortune in gas. Between the rental fees and added fuel costs it wouldn't be worth it.

It was a fun trip: two days each at Zion and Bryce Canyon (we stayed in state park campgrounds a short distance from the National Parks), with a day at each end and half a day in the middle for travel. Weather didn't cooperate though, had a storm move in late the first day at Zion with a ton of rain and wind at the campground (thought the camper was going to blow away), and a whole lot of snow around Zion. The storm had moved out by the time we started for Bryce, but it was VERY cold there, with tons of snow and ice. Beautiful to look at, but with the high temps in the low to mid 30's in the park, with significant wind chill, it made it a bit uncomfortable for my wife and daughter, so it limited our hiking.


Quick stop for lunch on the way to Bryce:
Tire Wheel Sky Automotive parking light Land vehicle


Zion in the snow:
Sky Plant community Snow Mountain Plant


Bryce Canyon:
Cloud Sky Plant community Mountain Natural landscape
 

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Looking at your pic, the weight distribution hitch as not properly set for the truck, way too much squat in the back.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Had plenty of tension on the bars, but since it was a rental I wasn't going to screw with it too much. If it were mine I'd play around with it and see if I could get it to do a little better. I do know that it doesn't take much weight in the bed to squat the rear - made a few dump runs and towed a small landscape trailer a few times and it's pretty apparent that the rear leafs are not capable of supporting a whole lot. I guess Nissan doesn't expect Frontier owners to use them as trucks on a regular basis.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Air bags are a must for our leaf springs, it is probably the best upgrade I did on this truck other than my suspension.
Yep, definitely something I will do if I ever do any significant towing again. I had them on my Dodge, and even on a 3/4-ton they were very helpful when I had the camper on (Palomino pop-up cabover), especially when combined with the Jeep on the trailer. They are a very worthwhile investment, but damn the price has gone up on them!
 

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Had plenty of tension on the bars, but since it was a rental I wasn't going to screw with it too much. If it were mine I'd play around with it and see if I could get it to do a little better. I do know that it doesn't take much weight in the bed to squat the rear - made a few dump runs and towed a small landscape trailer a few times and it's pretty apparent that the rear leafs are not capable of supporting a whole lot. I guess Nissan doesn't expect Frontier owners to use them as trucks on a regular basis.
I agree that our leaf springs suck, I upgraded mine years ago. probably why I don't need air bags. It also took me 5 times to get my WD hitch set just right.
 

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Just returned from a ~1400 mile trip, with about 1000 miles of that towing a 2019 Mossy Oak 180BHS trailer. It is listed as 4900 GVWR, but we were probably closer to 4300-4400 pounds since we left the water tank at about 1/3 full and didn't pack a lot of unnecessary stuff.

Power-wise the truck did good. I was able to maintain 65 MPH on the freeway with no problems, but did have a stretch of two lane road where I was fighting a bad headwind that kept me closer t 60 MPH. There were a few sections of I-17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff that I dropped to about 50 MPH (still passing the semi trucks). I could have gone faster but didn't see the need to abuse the truck when I wasn't holding anyone up.

The camper had a weight distributing hitch, which made it handle very well - no issues with wind buffeting from the semi trucks, tracked very well on the twisty roads, and it stayed perfectly straight during an emergency stop (thanks to a semi truck that cut in front of traffic on the freeway at about 30 MPH:mad:).

Even with the weight distributing hitch the rear sagged noticeably, which I expected. If I tow a similar unit again I would install airbags first. There were a few sections of rough/uneven roads, and while I couldn't feel it I could see where the bumpstops had been making contact.

The biggest complaint - and again it was expected - was the poor gas mileage. On the long climbs on I-17 I got 7.7 MPG, which was the worst tank. Best was 11.6 MPG, average was mid to high 8 MPG range. I really miss my Dodge with the Cummins...even loaded to the max it would get 12 MPG towing.

Bottom line for me is that the truck is capable of safely towing an RV suitable for my family. I wouldn't hesitate to take a similar trip with a similar trailer, but probably wouldn't do a cross-country trip with one, even with airbags - it's just a lot of work on the truck, which I'm comfortable it would handle, but it would also cost a fortune in gas. Between the rental fees and added fuel costs it wouldn't be worth it.

It was a fun trip: two days each at Zion and Bryce Canyon (we stayed in state park campgrounds a short distance from the National Parks), with a day at each end and half a day in the middle for travel. Weather didn't cooperate though, had a storm move in late the first day at Zion with a ton of rain and wind at the campground (thought the camper was going to blow away), and a whole lot of snow around Zion. The storm had moved out by the time we started for Bryce, but it was VERY cold there, with tons of snow and ice. Beautiful to look at, but with the high temps in the low to mid 30's in the park, with significant wind chill, it made it a bit uncomfortable for my wife and daughter, so it limited our hiking.


Quick stop for lunch on the way to Bryce:
View attachment 337608

Zion in the snow:
View attachment 337609

Bryce Canyon:
View attachment 337610
what are you using for trailer brakes ? electric or surge
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

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OP I'm late to the party but I figured I'd drop some more data related to your experience. I towed a U-Haul tandem axle enclosed trailer across the country. Twice. Loaded to the gills. Weighed at ~4650lb on one trip. It felt heavy, but being lower and more aerodynamic than that rental TT of yours I got significantly better mileage. I averaged 14.5 for both trips with worst tank at 13.8. Keep in mind going West -> East made the winds through the midwest come from the rear/side so I didn't have to suffer through that. I've gotten in the 14s unladen doing 75mph the opposite way due to wind. I drove 60mph the whole way back. 5th gear in my 6M. Sometimes 4th on long uphills.

What I'm saying is: the frontal area of that trailer is above what Nissan says is okay for the truck (30 sq ft). Going slower would help. The truck can handle that much weight (although barely IMO) but it has a hard time maintaining freeway speeds with poor aero. I wouldn't buy a TT of that type planning to use the Frontier. 1/2 ton trucks would be well within their comfort zone, though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
There is no doubt the frontal area was a significant factor in the poor fuel mileage, and I was fully expecting it to be low. Personally, I wouldn't tow a trailer that size cross country - I know there are quite a few that do - but for shorter trips I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. If possible, I would try to find a rental camper with a little more of a sloped front, which would mitigate the frontal area issue a little.

If I were to buy a camper it would be a pop-up for a few reasons, with the frontal area being one of them. When I camp, I prefer getting well away from people, so a pop-up would also give the option of doing an axle flip for more ground clearance, allowing me to get out further from civilization.:) Heck, I'd be perfectly happy with a good quality tent, but my wife and daughter aren't a fan of tent camping....

When it comes time to replace the truck I will likely go with a full size. I still have about twelve years before I plan to retire, and our goal is to do more traveling. The Frontier just won't handle a camper large enough to spend that much time in. In the meantime, it is capable enough to handle the more frequent short trips we plan to take.
 

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If you are interested in pop ups with some clearance look at some of the off-road models. I have an 08 Fleetwood Evolution and although I wouldn’t take it on some serious trails, I think it would do fine down some easier trails or fire roads. As for gas mileage I am not sure I always forget to track it but I don’t burn through gas either. That’s one of the reasons I bought it, easy to tow, good mpg, and I love pop up campers lol.
 

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I second the idea of the ultra lite pop up type campers for these trucks. I recently borrowed my best friend's ultra lite pop up and I couldn't even tell it was there and it barely affected my MPG. I often tow my 12 foot enclosed trailer across the country and actually I'm about to do it again in the next week. My MPG goes to nothing. The wind is the killer. It sucks. Great for around town though. I know the area you drove very well, you've got skills and patience to drive that big of a trailer through those areas with a little truck like these. Well done and it looks like it was a cool trip.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
If you are interested in pop ups with some clearance look at some of the off-road models. I have an 08 Fleetwood Evolution and although I wouldn’t take it on some serious trails, I think it would do fine down some easier trails or fire roads. As for gas mileage I am not sure I always forget to track it but I don’t burn through gas either. That’s one of the reasons I bought it, easy to tow, good mpg, and I love pop up campers lol.
Those are nice, I've had a chance to check a few out and if they had an inside shower and bathroom it would be a great option. I was fine with the outside shower and port-a-potty with my old Palomino pop-up slide in, but it was just me, and my standards of comfort are less than my wife and daughter. ;)

I second the idea of the ultra lite pop up type campers for these trucks. I recently borrowed my best friend's ultra lite pop up and I couldn't even tell it was there and it barely affected my MPG. I often tow my 12 foot enclosed trailer across the country and actually I'm about to do it again in the next week. My MPG goes to nothing. The wind is the killer. It sucks. Great for around town though. I know the area you drove very well, you've got skills and patience to drive that big of a trailer through those areas with a little truck like these. Well done and it looks like it was a cool trip.
I've done quite a bit of towing before, but with other vehicles (mostly a '92 Dodge D250 with the Cummins). It definitely was different with the Frontier but I wasn't disappointed with how it did. As long as you use common sense - and definitely patience - it will tow a suitably sized camper.

I think a lot of people who haven't towed much don't understand how the dynamics change once you get hooked up, which can lead to either being unhappy with the truck or getting themselves into trouble. We saw quite a few people towing campers way too big for their vehicles (a lot of SUVs, and one Frontier with a 25-foot or so bumper pull), and just looking at their faces it was obvious they were in over their heads...
 

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I had a jayco 8’box popup, (1800lbs fully loaded) I got 15MPG @65-70MPH. Now have a Forest River 16BHS (38xx loaded). I wouldn’t want to tow anything any heavier/larger frontal area. MPG went to 11or lower. Rear leaf springs are ****!
 

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Going slower would help.
Yep.

Air drag increases exponentially with speed - so even a small speed reduction can have a huge effect.

Tow at 55-60 MPH (instead of 65-70), and you'll see major gains in fuel economy.
 

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I used to have the Cummins on a junky dodge. Truck camper pulling a small cargo trailer and would get between 16 and 19mpg. I do not miss it though, I love the unlimited turbo power, but hated the bigness of all the expensive and hard to work on parts.
The same little cargo trailer is now a cargo camper behind my Fronty, 5 feet wide, bull nose shape, and easily 19mpg, maybe 20 if all interstate but Im yet to drain a tank only on the interstate, its usually half and half driving and as low as 16mpg if lots of stop/go roads.
The brick aerodynamics kills mileage.
 

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Towing a 21 ft Wildwood FSX, around 4,000 lb loaded, using Haul Master WDH and Curt friction sway bar, pulls great even in wind, 2021 Pro 4x , did add helper springs to weak leaf springs to help with squat.
Wheel Land vehicle Tire Sky Car
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Towing a 21 ft Wildwood FSX, around 4,000 lb loaded, using Haul Master WDH and Curt friction sway bar, pulls great even in wind, 2021 Pro 4x , did add helper springs to weak leaf springs to help with squat.
I'm wondering how much better the 3.8 and new trans contributes to your experience? Having more gears to keep the engine in its optimal powerband would make sense.
 
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