During Season 1 (Summer 2020) we were frustrated with having to hook up and unhook the RV (water, electric, sewer hose) to do sightseeing.
For example, in Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore and the Badlands (see earlier Season 1 posts) we ran into roads we couldn’t take RV on or parking a 24’ RV was an issue. It was annoying.
So, for Season 2 (Spring 2021) we decided to try to get a car we could tow and a tow package to attach to RV. This was all facilitated by the fact that I hated our second car (Hyundai Sonata 2013) and have been wanting to get rid of it for years. The problem was it (Sonata) was paid off and had low miles. We bought it because we lost our vehicles to Hurricane Sandy and we needed affordable replacements. Buying a car after a hurricane has trashed your house is super depressing.
News picture/view of Barnegat bay and bridge across from our house.
Bottom line, we took what we could get car-wise with little time for research. We were 19 days without power. It was a drama. Everything sucked.
My husband didn’t mind the Sonata – it was a constant annoyance to me though. Maybe PTSD from hurricane and associations- who knows.
Enter CarMax. https://www.carmax.com/
Shopped online at Car Max. Submitted our car license plate (Sonata) for a price estimate. Read car life/accident history of car we wanted to buy (FIAT). Then, you basically take in your car to Car Max, they inspect, drive, and value it. They give you a price (it’s their bottom line – no haggling). They were good about Covid-19 procedures too. We then traded Sonata 2013 for a FIAT 2015 and they did all the licensing paperwork. Test drive of FIAT was great.
And the whole process was so easy. If you don’t like the car you can bring it back with 30 days – 1000 miles no questions asked for your money back. The price they gave us was in the middle of Carvanna and other similar companies. Maybe I could have squeezed out another $300 elsewhere, but maybe not. The fact is, this is a reliable business that knows what they are doing. Highly recommend. Although they were a bit silly with final sale thing. A bow on a used car?
Or maybe I just need more whimsy in my life. And a better sense of humor. Quite possible. It’s all snark all the time around here. I’ll work on that humor thing… or not. Anyways….
So how we decided on FIAT? Seats 4, room for groceries in hatchback, and 11.5 feet long and 3,300 lbs GVW. (The Sonata was 15.8 feet long and 3.544 lbs curb weight? by way of comparison).
We looked at many small cars. Many. Read tons of RV tow reviews. Tons. Watched YouTube re install of tow/breaking systems and decided there was NO way in hell we could manage it on our own.
As for size requirements – I was just really nervous about towing a car behind an RV that was already 25 feet long. This is our first RV. I see people towing jeeps behind 40’ Class A’s. I’m just not there yet. Maybe ever? My husband was completely unconcerned about the whole thing -the rat.
Basically, we (I) needed a small car that I felt comfortable towing and driving AND that we could put a car seat in for the small spawn. The car had to have a decent safety record. I also needed a manual (stick) transmission.
I love driving a manual car. Our first car together as a married couple was a used Ford Cobra Mustang. Loved it, but very stiff clutch. Also, wasn’t comfortable with towing a car that long.
When we talked with dealers and read RV reviews they explained that many cars cannot be towed flat (four on the floor) without having the mileage increase or wrecking the transmission. I would have LOVED an electric FIAT, but the new car dealer said it could not be towed flat. I really appreciated their honesty.
Anyways, in 2.5 hours at CarMax we traded in 2013 Hyundai Sonata for 2015 FIAT Pop and got an extra $800 back to help offset the price of the tow package.
The tow package was NOT cheap: $4,020. We went to S&R Motorz. Highly recommend.
These guys ordered the parts and did install for $1000 less than other companies we called. And we really liked Ritchy (one of the owners). He apparently used to work at UHaul before he opened his own garage and he had the install done FAST. We got FIAT, had parts, and had tow package installed in 10 days. Efficiency!
We went with Roadmaster system. It had good reviews and was recommended by two different garages. https://roadmasterinc.com/m/.
Easy to follow re system and FIAT install. YouTube https://youtu.be/F1fvVKDTvEQ . Of course it wasn’t so easy that we wanted to do it ourselves….
So how did RV towing the FIAT turn out?
It turned out GREAT! Did I remember to get a picture of us towing?
I did NOT!
Update: picture months later of towing FIAT.
We towed FIAT behind RV for 12 hours roundtrip. We did 65 mph on expressway while towing FIAT with no problem. We towed on narrow roads and around sharp curves. The Thor Delano FB is a v6 Diesel on a Sprinter chassis. It’s tow rating is 5,000 lbs and it was not slow or sluggish when towing the FiAT.
We tooled around the redwoods, dirt roads, Crescent City, CA with no issues. Quick trips to grocery stores in that FIAT – with no problems.
Towing a car was a game changer and a big improvement for our RV trips. Highly recommend.