It’s Dinghy Time

Bob Livingston

Bob Livingston
February 28, 2012
Filed under Dinghy Towing, RV News

It’s amazing how many motorhome owners are towing dinghy vehicles. Makes sense; you can’t beat the versatility and convenience of having another vehicle for tooling around town. Call it sort of an on the road game, but I find it very interesting to check out what others are towing while I’m on trips.

The field is pretty extensive with the list of capable dinghy vehicles expanding each year. That becomes obvious after checking out our annual Guide to Dinghy Towing. You’ll see 128 listings of vehicles of all configurations ready to be towed without making drivetrain modifications. Surely, there are others that can be towed on a dolly or trailer or by modifying the transaxle or driveshaft, but the Dinghy Guide is dedicated to those vehicles that are ready to roll right off the assembly line. All you have to do is add a base plate, wire it up for the turn signals and running lights and attach the tow bar. Of course, we also recommend some type of auxiliary braking device.

2012 Dinghy Guide

Click here for the 2012 dinghy guide!

Dinghy vehicles are extensions of an owner’s personality and lifestyle. For example, I tow a yellow Jeep Wrangler with a soft top. The yellow color and fun-to-drive factor make me feel younger than my age suggests. I can drop the top after settling in camp and tour the surrounding areas with the wind blowing through my (remaining) hair. I’m an off-road enthusiast, although the hard-core stuff has long been crossed off my bucket list. Now I just enjoy exploring back roads and negotiating dirt trails that are somewhat less technical.

On a trip last fall when our group of 13 rigs gathered on California’s central coast for a jazz festival, I couldn’t help but notice the variety of dinghy vehicles. Probably the most unique was a Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible. The owner searched aggressively to find a ragtop with a manual transmission and turbocharged engine. Rare find, but he managed to acquire one with very few miles and in mint condition. It was the most fun dinghy vehicle in the group.

The more eccentric motorhome owners gravitate to dinghy vehicles with unique character. I often thought that a Volkswagen Thing would be a neat dinghy vehicle, albeit one that offers less-than-sterling comfort and luxury. Every time I see one behind a motorhome (a rare occurrence), I get the hots to have one, even though its Spartan attributes make it a vehicle that’s far less than practical — and my wife, Lynne, gives me the “growing up” speech when I broach the subject.

There are many cool vehicles on the suitable dinghy list and the introduction of the Fiat 500 to the field this year will certainly turn some heads. The diminutive Fiat is a sporty car with just enough Italian flair to make it really fun to drive. It gets terrific gas mileage out of the feisty four-banger and only weighs 2,360 pounds, which makes it easy on just about any motorhome. For me, the convertible is the only way to go, and the car will work nicely until you try to shoehorn two additional passengers into the back seat. By now it’s pretty apparent that I don’t have much use for roofs that don’t come off.

No longer are small cars, well, just small and boring to drive. Offerings from Ford and Chevy, for example, make excellent dinghy vehicles that exude a lot of pizzazz and decent performance. And, of course, on the more practical side, Honda’s CR-V — especially in all — wheel drive — is one of the most versatile dinghy vehicles on the market.

Combine the great list of suitable vehicles for towing with base plates that virtually disappear when not in use, hightech braking systems and sophisticated tow bars, and a dinghy vehicle becomes the quintessential option.

Enjoy the guide and your ride.


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39 Responses to “It’s Dinghy Time”

  1. Rodney LeNoir on March 15th, 2012 8:37 pm

    I have just purchased a 2008 F-150 XLT, Super Crew 4D and I am wondering if it can be towed w/o modifications.

    Any help will be greatly appreciated,


    Rodney LeNoir
    Cell- 225-772-1645


    JOEL Reply:

    Rodney- I am a Ford Sales Manager in Oregon. No you can not towed four down with out mofifications to the transmision. In 2008 the only F-150 that could be towed four down had to be with a man transfer case. Yours has shift on the fly 4×4 system.


  2. Martha Bell on March 22nd, 2012 1:04 pm

    There is some misinformation in the Dinghy guide. We were about to close the deal on an 2012 Hyundai Elantra when we read the owner’s manual, it clearly states that the Elantra CANNOT be towed by a motorhome, whether it be a manual or an automatic.


  3. Larry Jones on April 12th, 2012 6:01 pm

    My wife and I just purchesed a class A motor home and looking for a auto to tow. I was wondering if a Nisson x-terra can be towed four wheels down without modifications.


    William Dennis Reply:

    I purchased a 2007 Nissan Xterra 4 WD to tow behind my Class C. Two weeks ago it broke down and the dealer informed me that i had ruined the transfer case by towing 4 wheels down, even though the owner’s manual said it was ok. The company will replace the transfer care but told me that I had voided the original warranty by flat towing. Let you know what happens.


  4. Brit Robinson on April 30th, 2012 5:03 pm

    we have been looking for a SUV that we can tow, and in the the 2012 dinghy towing magazine you said that the Durango 4×4 can be towed. Well, Durango no longer makes a 4×4, they are all AWD. Our dealer also told us that only some of them with 2-speed transfer case can be towed, the otrhers cannot. Brit Robinson.


  5. Boyce on April 30th, 2012 9:25 pm

    after reading “outfitting a Honda CRV for flat towing” there some auto trans dingy out there that is a hassle free hookup for 4 down?? I mean no transverse case worry,no fuse worry,no drop receiver worry,lightweight,…i’M A ROOKIE and need to keep it!


    R. E. SHARP Reply:



  6. steve linser on May 7th, 2012 3:43 pm

    bought a new 2011 ford escape for towing, says in the manual it is flat towable, towed it 230 miles burned up the transmission, ford did replace transmission and they tell me it is towable, but now i hear the later edition of 2012 manuals will say the escape is not towable with all 4 down.
    so i am stuck with a car that they tell me is towable until the new manual comes out and says it’s not anymore.
    check on line many instances of this transmission problems.
    my advice is not to buy an Escape to tow.


    dan mcgowan Reply:

    My local Ford dealer told me that escape has transmission trouble towing all 4 on the ground and that Ford is now declaring ESCAPE NOT a towable vehicle . I would look for updates from FORD for your owners manual. This I learned when I took my MKX in for a small battery drain issue while towing.


  7. Scott Stephens on May 19th, 2012 11:15 am

    Will a 2008 28 ft Class C with a V-10 pull a 2008 F-150 about 6000 lb? Or am I going to be sorry for pulling a vehicle that heavy It’s a 450 chassis.


  8. Scott Hadley on June 3rd, 2012 7:05 pm

    Just wanted to thank the magazine and the people that write in the forums. Was prepared to purchace a 2012 Escape tommorro and did an about face after reading the posts of the trouble people are having with the transmisions. I had no idea. This obviously saved me if not a lot of money certainly a lot of time and aggrivation should I have purchased one and had a breakdown while towing it. Looking at an Equinox or a CR-V now.


  9. Mike Morgan on June 13th, 2012 1:31 pm

    I have a tow dolly now and am looking to buy a Honda CR-V. Can it be towed on the dolly without being modified?


    Gerald Williams Reply:

    The CR-V can be towed 4 down, as per Honda and instructions are in owners manual. as per Honda of America and Don Ayers Honda in Ft. Wayne, In. It’s the only Honda they ok to tow 4 down, as well as the new FIT.
    Want to sell the dolly? Serious, as I may need one.


    Gerald Williams Reply:

    By now you may have sold the dolly or decided to tow the CV-V on it, which as I mentioned earlier is totally unnecessary as the CRV is towable 4 wheels down. If you don’t want to sell the dolly ,sell me the CR-V so I can go back to towing 4 down.
    earlier reply to you went unanswered??? or you can call @260-437-6870


  10. Chris on June 24th, 2012 10:31 pm

    I am looking at a 04 ford focus, is it towable?


    Rod Stout Reply:

    I bought a 03 Ford Focus SVT. Am going to Blue Ox for installation, dealer could not do it. Is this installastion do-able? any experience out there.


  11. Roger on July 7th, 2012 12:13 am

    Has anyone had any experience, good or bad, with flat towing a Mini Cooper?


  12. Gerald Williams on July 18th, 2012 7:19 pm

    purchased a 2008 Chrysler town-n-Country to tow 4 down using a Remco lube pump setup. Have read people have had problems towing this 08 T/C even Remco admits there’s a issue with proper tranny fluid levels, as they started with 56 milleters, went to 40 ‘s now at 44 ml, but people are having issues. Remco will not pay to replace yout tranny using their pump if your tow car has over 50K miles.
    Some dealers listed by remco and even camping world say either they have never installed roemco’s pump on the 08 chrysler t/c or just plain don’t do it. Remco says if you feel uncomfortable with therir pump , don’t do it. Now what?
    Dolly towing isn’t much of a option, and Master Tow dolly company say the 08 t/c is too wide for their dolly’s. It measures 78-79″ from outside front tires to other side????


  13. Joe Mobley on August 1st, 2012 4:56 pm

    I am interested in buying a new F-150 gas engine withe the ecoboost motor to tow behind my 45 ft motorhome. I don;t want to use a dolly if I don’t have to. I read somewhere that they are towable but not with the ecoboost engine. Can anybody clear this up for me. I have been towing a F-250 diesel for years with a drive shaft disconnect without problems but don’t want to use the disconnect system again. Joe


  14. keith on August 18th, 2012 1:58 am

    what is better to tow 1997 ford ranger 4cyl manual or 2008 hundi sonata 4cyl auto on a dolly 2 wheels up. thanks


    Gerald Williams Reply:

    stay American and go with the Ford period and let the foreign crap alone, most can’t be towed at all.
    check withFord for their input on towing the Ranger before you tow But since it’s a manual they would tell u straight.


  15. Nick Szichak on August 19th, 2012 9:36 pm

    On the Ford Escape being towed on all fours. We tow a 2008 Escape hybrid on all of our trips. Have done so since it was purchased new. We have not had any trouble what so ever. We’ve towed it for a 600 mile stretch. It is still in one piece.
    Once you secured the tow bar. Simply start the car. Move the shifter to (D) drive, then up to (N) neutral and turn the key off. The key must remain in the ignition. Then enjoy your trip. 2008 was the first year Ford made a vehicle for towing on all fours.


    Pam B Reply:

    I have a 2008 Ford escape LXT Can it be flat towed?


  16. floyd on August 21st, 2012 1:15 pm

    We are looking for a car that can be flat towed, can any one help us on what cars would be good for this.


    Gerald Williams Reply:

    Go with the Jeep follow guide in the owners manual under Recreational towing. towed one for three years, best vehicle out there for towing and everyday driving. jeep grand cherokee or liberty, made for hassle free 4 wheel down towing, no lube pumps or modifications just everyday driving.


  17. Joe Martino on August 21st, 2012 5:32 pm

    I am told that a drive line disconnect is ok to tow an automatic transmission.
    I plan to buy a Toyota Tacoma with an automatic and want to tow it with all four wheels down…..It makes sense that if you disconnect the diferential from the transmission or transfer case that nothing will move up front. Is this true????


  18. Joe Tambe on August 27th, 2012 7:21 pm

    Can a 2000 Hyundai Elantra stick shift be towed 4 down?



  19. Pam B on October 1st, 2012 6:07 pm

    2008 Ford Escape LXT is it Flat towable?


  20. Terry Smith on October 14th, 2012 8:39 pm

    I am planning a trip next year with the family and need some advice on vehicles that can be towed four wheels down. I need seating for six(four adults and two boys (11 & 9) Automatic trans. is preferred due to different drivers. The vehicles need not be new. I just need some suggestions on possible vehicles.


    Terry Smith


    henry Reply:

    The best used vehile to meet your requirements is a 2004 or 2005 honda PILOT . I use my 2005 honda pilot as a Dinghy (4 wheels down towing) Curently it has over 50000 miles on it and we have never had any problems with this vehicle. It is automatic and seven passenger.


  21. Paul Hawley on October 16th, 2012 1:51 pm

    We were looking at the 2012 Dinghy Towing guide, and it states that the Kia Sportage (automatic) can be towed four wheels down. According to the dealer, as well as checking the owner’s manual, this vehicule cannot be towed. Can someone clarify if this was just a typo or is this really a vehicule that can be towed.



  22. alfie ware on October 21st, 2012 8:50 pm

    i have a 2004 short bed 4×4 dodge with electronic tranny very easy to
    prepare for towing behind motorhome follow instructions in manual


  23. Fran Sanner on December 2nd, 2012 11:34 am

    Hi Just bought a 2004 VW Beetle manual shift trans. The vw dealer told me I could tow it on all four. After doing some research I’m beginning to worry if I can. SOS CAN ANYONE HELP ME PLS



  24. gary schrick on December 8th, 2012 12:00 pm

    I just purchased a 2013 chev equinox to flat tow behind the motorhome. The manual tells the procedure to do for towing. I removed fuse 32,but there still are dash lites on. Is there something I am missing? Seems like this would run the baterry down.


  25. richard carignan on February 2nd, 2013 8:59 am

    I have a 2002 lexus convertible, can I tow 4 wheel behind my motor


  26. Lisa on February 12th, 2013 11:54 am

    We are thinking about purchasing a 2013 Ford Focus. Does anyone know if it is flat towable? The Motorhome Magazine Dinghy Guide states that previous models are towable. Any help would be appreciated.


  27. Jerry Minnis on April 26th, 2013 8:55 pm

    I know I can tow my 2005 Saturn VUE w/automatic with 4 wheels down. However I wonder if my Dodge Durango SLT V-8Magnum w/automatic can also be towed with all 4 wheels down. There have been times I would have liked to use the 4WD on some of our side trips with the Class C motorhome (once the RV was paked, that is). Any thought or answers?


  28. Jackie LaDart on July 31st, 2016 11:00 am

    We have a 2015 VW Beetle automatic trans. We know we can only tow it on a dolly or trailer. We bought a Master Tow Dolly, but the configuration was wrong for the VW. Can anyone recommend a brand of tow dolly for this vehicle?


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