Trailer Towing: The Great Evil

2003 Chevrolet Suburban 2500

It’s boat season.

This is the time of year when swimsuits emerge and boats wake from a long winter’s nap. It’s a beautiful season of water skiing, boat food and kids chattering like baby birds as they are towed through the water on inflatable tubes.

It’s a beautiful season, but there is one huge problem. For me, boat season also means trailer-towing season.

Have you ever tried backing a 30-foot trailer around a corner and through a 10-foot wide space between other boat trailers? That’s my personal definition of hell. My soon-to-be wife, though, could handle the maneuver with a few flicks of the wrist. It’s quite humbling.

There’s no vehicle that will remove the pain of backing up a trailer, but this weekend reminded me of the importance of choosing the right vehicle to tow your boat, travel trailer or whatever other toys you might lug around these great United States.

We use a 2004 Suburban with the 8.1-liter V8. It’s a monster of a truck and makes easy work of the 28-foot pontoon our family shares. After launching the boat this weekend, I noticed something peculiar in the parking lot. There were several small crossovers with trailers much too big for their tow ratings. They were like little baby trucks pretending to be all grown up.

What are people thinking? If you’re going to tow a boat, or a trailer of any kind, use a vehicle appropriate for the job. We bought the Suburban used about 5 years ago—a time when 8.1-liter engines weren’t exactly popular.

Today, trucks with powerful engines can still be had at great prices. You may not find a guy desperate to unload an 8.1 at any cost, but you will find plenty of capable trucks at great prices. If it were me, I’d look for a used diesel, because our Chevy, at about 160,000 miles, is starting to feel tired. A diesel would barely be broken in at this point.

If only they came with an automatic trailer back-up feature…

What’s your perfect tow vehicle?


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Used Chevrolet Suburban

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