If you’ve been around enough RVers, you’ve probably heard the term “RV toad” once or twice. It’s not a special pet that motorhome owners have. You won’t find one in an aquarium or zoo. So what is an RV toad, and why do you need one if you own a motorized RV? Let’s dive in!
What Is An RV Toad?
An RV toad is a car that you tow behind a motorhome. The name probably comes from “towed” referring to the car in tow. While it’s the most common term for an RV tow vehicle sometimes you will also head it referred to as an RV dingy. This is a term that comes from the boating world as they too use a small boat called a dingy to get around.
Many people have an RV toad to run errands efficiently and visit famous attractions without taking the RV.
Can Any Car Be An RV Toad?
Depending on how you tow the vehicle, you can pull most cars behind a motorhome. You must consider the hitch rating and gross combined weight rating (GCWR), so you don’t exceed the weight the motorhome can safely tow.
For example, a small Class C may have a hitch rating only of 5,000 pounds, while a big diesel Class A may have a hitch rating of 15,000 pounds.
If you’re going to flat tow, you can’t have any vehicle as an RV toad. Flat towing requires special modifications or specific vehicles since all four wheels are on the road. Parts of the drivetrain and transmission need to be disconnected or they need to be designed to operate under tow. If they are not extensive damage will occur if you attempt to tow a vehicle even in neutral.
Dolly towing works for most front-wheel drive cars but some 4×4 cars still cannot be towed this way. If this is the case then the only option is to put the entire vehicle on a trailer to tow it. Keep in mind the added weight and complexity when towing an entire trailer.
What Are the Benefits of Having An RV Toad?
An RV toad opens many more possibilities for RVers to experience local attractions. You can head into a big city for the day without calling an Uber or renting a car. You can go to the grocery store or visit a National Park without pulling up with a motorhome. An RV toad makes traveling in a motorhome more convenient.
Plus, it’s more economical since smaller vehicles are more fuel efficient than motorhomes. You’d much instead fill up a Jeep Wrangler once a week than a giant motorhome. Fuel station visits add up as you travel.
Pro Tip: These 10 Ways to Make Towing a Big Rig Less Dangerous can keep you safe while on the road.
What Are the Disadvantages of Having An RV Toad?
You can weigh the convenience and fuel efficiency against the hassle of hitching and unhitching an RV toad. Travel is much easier when you can back up without getting out and unhitching an RV toad. On travel days, you have to hitch or attach the RV toad to a dolly or trailer. It is another item to do in a long checklist.
The upfront cost of an RV toad is also pricey. Regardless of whether you flat tow or tow with a dolly or trailer, there are expenses. An RV toad also requires maintenance, like any other vehicle. So not only do you have to take care of your motorhome, but you also must properly maintain and repair an RV toad.
Finally, the towing experience can be a bit more challenging when towing another vehicle. You lose a couple of miles per gallon due to the extra weight, and the maneuverability isn’t as easy. However, these disadvantages are often worth it for RVers who want the freedom to explore.
What Are the Different Ways to Tow Another Vehicle?
Many RVers purchase a dolly or trailer to tow another vehicle. A dolly will raise the front two wheels off the road while a trailer will lift the entire RV toad off the ground. As long as you have the correct equipment and your motorhome can handle the load, you can tow almost any vehicle using a dolly or trailer.
On the other hand, flat towing requires specific modifications. Only certain vehicles can have all four wheels on the road. Generally, some AWD/4WD vehicles are best for flat towing due to particular features from the manufacturer, like a transmission disconnect and steering lockout override. Popular vehicles for flat towing include the Honda CR-V, Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Wrangler, and Ford F-150. However, the vehicle’s year will also matter, so always read the owner’s manual before deciding to flat tow.
How to Choose the Right RV Toad for You
When choosing an RV toad, you want to pick the best vehicle for your traveling needs. Purchasing a Jeep Cherokee for a family of eight probably isn’t the best idea. If you already have a car you like, figure out if your motorhome can safely tow its weight and how you want to tow it.
How Many People Will Be Riding?
If you’re a solo traveler or a couple, you’ll have more options for an RV toad. You could flat tow a Mini Cooper or Jeep Wrangler. You could dolly tow or trailer tow a small sedan or truck. But if you’re a family, you’ll need to be more selective. When you want to leave the campground to visit a national park, choose the best vehicle that will suit your needs.
How Much Gear Will You Be Transporting?
Like the number of people riding, you also want to consider the amount of gear you’ll transport. If you love to kayak, you’ll need a vehicle with a roof rack or a truck bed. With smaller children, you’ll need space for car seats, diaper bags, and backpacks. If you’re going backcountry camping, you’ll need a trunk for a sleeping bag, tent, and other necessities.
Will You Be Off-Roading?
You also want to think about where you’ll take your RV toad. If you plan on driving into downtown areas or parking in state parks, then you have many options. But if you’re going off-roading, you’ll be more limited. The Jeep brand is one of the most popular vehicle brands to tow because so many campers enjoy exploring the outdoors on rough terrain. Off-road tires, a more robust suspension system, and a higher clearance are all essential features for an RV toad traversing boulders or dirt roads.
How Important Is Fuel Economy?
If fuel economy is crucial to you, this will factor in during the buying process. Some RVers will choose an RV toad based on their family size because options are limited. Other RVers with more selection can narrow their choices by fuel economy. If you’re planning a road trip and are driving an hour or more from every campground, fuel economy will be more essential than someone who needs an RV toad to go to the grocery store once a week.
What Type of Method Will You Use to Tow?
Finally, don’t forget to consider your method of towing. If you’re going to flat tow, you only have specific makes and models that will be safe to haul. Don’t forget to pay attention to the year. If you’re towing with a dolly or trailer, consider the weight of the vehicle and the towing capacity of the equipment. All these things will factor into the critical decision of which RV toad is right for you.
Pro Tip: Make sure you know and follow these 10 Camper Towing Rules You Should Never Break.
What Are Popular Vehicles to Tow?
The Jeep brand has several models that are popular RV toads. According to Curt, a company that manufacturers towing equipment and gear, the top ten vehicles for flat towing are the Jeep Wrangler JL, Ford F-150, Jeep Wrangler JK, Chevrolet Equinox, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Cherokee, Chevrolet Colorado, Honda CR-V, GMC Terrain, and Jeep Wrangler TJ.
Camper Report shares that the top RV toads for couples include the Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Liberty, Toyota Corolla, Ford Fusion, and Fiat 500. You can’t flat tow all of them, but they are popular RV toads. RV Magazine writes that the Dodge Durango, Chevy Blazer, Chevy Equinox, and Ford Escape are excellent RV toads for families.
Do More Exploring With Your RV Toad
If you’re an RVer traveling in a motorhome, consider all the adventures you’re missing out on without an RV toad. Think of the places you won’t see, the people you won’t meet, and the food you won’t taste. When you add another vehicle to your set-up, you’re opening the door for further exploration and more memories.
Yes, it’s more costly upfront. It can be a hassle to set up and tear down. But the convenience of going wherever you want trumps all the disadvantages.
Will you travel with an RV toad on your next journey? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
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Tuesday 28th of February 2023
When I purchased my first class A I dollies a Buick LeSabre...big mistake. Straps always seemed to loosen, still couldn't back up, dolly had a small "swivel" tray. Within months traded for a Liberty but terrible ride. Best toad ever was the Ford Flex. Just put in neutrally hook up my Blue Ox n Go. Had two over the years and yes this worked easily with AWD.
Monday 6th of February 2023
We flat tow a Mini Cooper S Convertible, which has a curb weight of only 2750 lbs and thus has a minimal impact on our RVs mileage. Please note that only a manual transmission is towable, and that BMW, maker of Minis, claims that the car is not flat towable. Blue Ox and other companies disagree. We have flat towed our Mini over 6000 miles with no problems at all, and we know others who have had a similar experience with the Mini Cooper.