Monday, October 20, 2014

Towing a Teardrop Trailer with a Prius

The appeal of the Prius is irrefutable. The hybrid car from Toyota can get over 50 miles to the gallon and does it with style and roominess. However, Toyota does not rate any of its Prius vehicles capable of towing any weight. That doesn't stop some intrepid Prius owners from giving it a shot.


Pat and his wife Judy tow their 500 lb. homemade wood teardrop trailer with their Prius.

"I think it is workable so long as the trailer is small (4x8) and light (400 to 600 lbs.)," Pat said. "You can't drive very fast—60 to 65 mph on the freeways, but we got 36 mpg on a 2,700 mile trip from Redding, CA to Tucson, AZ, and 38 mpg on a trip to the coast over hilly Highway 36. This is down from 47 mpg without the teardrop."


 Pat and Judy's teardrop was built to go with the Prius and Pat used a technique called "stitch and glue" which is used to build strong, but lightweight, plywood boats.

"It is 48" x 96" x 42" high above the Harbor Freight trailer," Pat said. "The amenities are basic—just storage for all the stuff we used to take car camping. I added roll-out shelves for the ice chest and pantry box under the kitchen counter."

The couple do have to care a little more for their tow vehicle when using it for camping.

"Our Prius has 100,000 miles on it," Pat said. "I changed the transmission fluid, and will do so again in a couple years if I continue to pull a trailer on long trips now and then. The manual recommends against towing anything with the Prius, but there are pre-drilled and threaded holes in the frame to attach an aftermarket hitch to. You have to add trailer wiring off of a tail light in the trunk."

Pat warned that there could be warranty issues if a Prius owner has transmission problems after towing anything with their vehicle since the manual recommends against towing.

"Our Prius has over 100,000 miles on it and is no longer under warranty as far as I know," Pat said. "We haven't had any problems."


The couple save a lot of money on gas, lodging and food while traveling in their Prius/teardrop combo and Pat now has the itch to build another trailer.

"This one will be for solo travel—smaller, lighter, and simpler," he said. "I hope it comes in around 350 lbs."


A thread on the PriusChat forum discusses the options for towing a teardrop trailer with the fuel saving vehicle. One argument is that if a larger motorcycle can tow a teardrop—so can a Prius.


Photos by PriusChat, Outdoor Adventure USA and Christina Nellemann

5 comments:

  1. Great post, Towing services is need of traveling in the case of any unexpected situation, A1towing Inc. is also providing very good towing services in Calgary.

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  2. I bought a taller trailer that is 5x12 I think? It sucks to tow on the interstate it gets only 20 mpg. BUT on city streets I can get 38 mpg. When I bought it got it in Ga and towed it back to Louisiana ran hard figured I give it the worst when I got it that way I never have to worry if I drove mildly, had a horrible headwind the entire trip when I got to town I thought I had burned up my engine car was trying to quit on me. Got it home and it was a quart low on oil. Tow with the car but keep the speed down from now on when I tow I don't go over 55 mph. Besides I rarely tow got this trailer for a motorcycle and for utility. Very helpful when you have to haul plywood sheets 4x8.

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  3. Well that is good to know that the Prius is capable of towing. I absolutely love mine. The mileage you can get on it is just unbeatable. It has saved me thousands of dollars. My concern will be for when the battery dies. I have heard those are expensive. But for now I will look into towing my new trailer.

    Donald Corral @ Hansen & Adkins Auto Transport

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  4. My toyota celica has only 114, 000 miles,, can it tow a little guy teadrop?????

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    1. My V6 vehicle has over 100,000 miles and tows 850 lb. just fine. It looks like the Celica's towing capacity is 2,000, but I would try to keep it under that. None of the Little Guy trailers (except for the T@B) are over 1,000 lb.

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