"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