Towing update: 9 speed, 3400 lb travel trailer in the mountains - Honda Pilot - Honda Pilot Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-07-2016, 11:40 AM Thread Starter
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Towing update: 9 speed, 3400 lb travel trailer in the mountains

Update from first impression thread after 9 days of towing and camping in British Columbia.

Setup:

2016 Pilot Touring (Canada) with 9 speed
Honda tow package with transmission cooler
Prodigy P3 brake controller
Andersen hitch system

Trailer:

2017 KZ Spree Escape e196s
21 feet including hitch
Single axle
Approx 3400 lbs - not 34k! :P
Hitch weight ~380 lbs





Pros:

  1. No issues through some decent mountain passes. The Pilot always had enough power to maintain the posted speed limit up almost any hill. The engine was revving, but honestly no issues. Quite pleased.
  2. Once the Anderson hitch was properly tightened, bounce was significantly reduced and sway was very minimal.
  3. Mounting the brake controller on the e-brake pedal an excellent location - super easy to access and adjust. Braking was excellent when the controller was properly set (see below).
  4. Backup cam is great for hitching.
  5. No warning lights, error messages or electronics problems as I had on the first trip (they were related to the ridiculous amount of bugs covering all the sensors).
  6. Suspension handled the load well with very, very minor sag.





Cons:

  1. Fuel economy was inconsistent and overall poor (expected). Wind and speed was a major factor. The difference between traveling at 90-95 kph vs 105-110 kph was at least 2-3 L/100km.
  2. Before I left I had a transmission software update applied. It's a different topic but shift patterns changed in a negative way. First and second gears would hold shifts until far too high RPMs and I would often get rejected manual shifts in the higher gears where shifts should happen. I know that if you try to shift into 8/9 and the rpm is too low the Pilot will reject it, but I had that happen a number of times while towing where it should have shifted and had to paddle shift 3 times before it actually went.
  3. Reversing the trailer up a sidewalk really felt taxing on the transmission. It's one thing to have to give it some extra throttle, but I could feel it's pain.
  4. Mounting the brake controller on the e-brake pedal an excellent location except that the Prodigy controllers sense the fact that you take off the emergency brake as a massive stop (angle change). So for the next 1-2 minutes after releasing the brake, the controller doubles or triples the brake boost automatically until it re-learns the angle. Not a big deal, just very noticeable as you leave a parking spot. No plans to change location.
  5. I tried a U-Bolt device similar to this to stop hitch rattle and add some extra rigidity. Even when torqued as instructed it always came loose. Kind of meh on it.
  6. The Milenco Aero towing mirrors were easy to install and were decently clear, although a bit of vibration. I may have noticed some very small hairline cracks in Pilot mirror assembly. Will update in the future.

The verdict?

As I mentioned in the past, the Pilot isn't a Ford F350 diesel towing monster. But it honestly did a really fine job with the trailer we tow. Wind resistance felt more of a factor than weight and power was there to tackle the big mountain passes. As long as you don't like to speed, the Pilot does fine.

Pete


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Last edited by mountainpete; 09-07-2016 at 12:26 PM. Reason: format
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-07-2016, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mountainpete View Post
Update from first impression thread after 9 days of towing and camping in British Columbia.

Setup:

2016 Pilot Touring (Canada) with 9 speed
Honda tow package with transmission cooler
Prodigy P3 brake controller
Andersen hitch system

Trailer:

2017 KZ Spree Escape e196s
21 feet including hitch
Single axle
Approx 34000 lbs
Hitch weight ~380 lbs
Hauling 34,000lbs, what a BEAST!

I agree on the reverse gear...i backed into a buddies steep driveway and just backing up with me in the car, I felt i needed to give a good amount of gas.

Glad the Pilot is working out great for you. Very refreshing to hear good news on this thread!
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-07-2016, 12:26 PM Thread Starter
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Stupid iPhone keyboard!
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-15-2016, 03:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mountainpete View Post
Update from first impression thread after 9 days of towing and camping in British Columbia.

Setup:

2016 Pilot Touring (Canada) with 9 speed
Honda tow package with transmission cooler
Prodigy P3 brake controller
Andersen hitch system

Trailer:

2017 KZ Spree Escape e196s
21 feet including hitch
Single axle
Approx 3400 lbs - not 34k! :P
Hitch weight ~380 lbs





Pros:

  1. No issues through some decent mountain passes. The Pilot always had enough power to maintain the posted speed limit up almost any hill. The engine was revving, but honestly no issues. Quite pleased.
  2. Once the Anderson hitch was properly tightened, bounce was significantly reduced and sway was very minimal.
  3. Mounting the brake controller on the e-brake pedal an excellent location - super easy to access and adjust. Braking was excellent when the controller was properly set (see below).
  4. Backup cam is great for hitching.
  5. No warning lights, error messages or electronics problems as I had on the first trip (they were related to the ridiculous amount of bugs covering all the sensors).
  6. Suspension handled the load well with very, very minor sag.





Cons:

  1. Fuel economy was inconsistent and overall poor (expected). Wind and speed was a major factor. The difference between traveling at 90-95 kph vs 105-110 kph was at least 2-3 L/100km.
  2. Before I left I had a transmission software update applied. It's a different topic but shift patterns changed in a negative way. First and second gears would hold shifts until far too high RPMs and I would often get rejected manual shifts in the higher gears where shifts should happen. I know that if you try to shift into 8/9 and the rpm is too low the Pilot will reject it, but I had that happen a number of times while towing where it should have shifted and had to paddle shift 3 times before it actually went.
  3. Reversing the trailer up a sidewalk really felt taxing on the transmission. It's one thing to have to give it some extra throttle, but I could feel it's pain.
  4. Mounting the brake controller on the e-brake pedal an excellent location except that the Prodigy controllers sense the fact that you take off the emergency brake as a massive stop (angle change). So for the next 1-2 minutes after releasing the brake, the controller doubles or triples the brake boost automatically until it re-learns the angle. Not a big deal, just very noticeable as you leave a parking spot. No plans to change location.
  5. I tried a U-Bolt device similar to this to stop hitch rattle and add some extra rigidity. Even when torqued as instructed it always came loose. Kind of meh on it.
  6. The Milenco Aero towing mirrors were easy to install and were decently clear, although a bit of vibration. I may have noticed some very small hairline cracks in Pilot mirror assembly. Will update in the future.

The verdict?

As I mentioned in the past, the Pilot isn't a Ford F350 diesel towing monster. But it honestly did a really fine job with the trailer we tow. Wind resistance felt more of a factor than weight and power was there to tackle the big mountain passes. As long as you don't like to speed, the Pilot does fine.

Pete


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Thanks for taking the time to review this. I am setting my Elite up to tow and have been reading input from folks. I am mainly buying the hitch to carry a couple bikes on a trailer, so nothing more than probably 1200#. I will forego the cooler for now as it seems like a lot of work. I bought an aftermarket hitch, but I'm thinking I might get an OEM unit instead, looks a lot cleaner! I am really worried about the 9 speed and how it will perform. I don't really care for it without a trailer, let alone with.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-15-2016, 06:48 PM
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Mountainpete - there's a separate thread on the GVWR of the Pilots we've been trying to get an answer in, maybe you can help - seeing as you have the factory tow package (and not just the ball hitch for bike transport and the like), what does the little in-door badge say of the GVWR weight rating? I'm curious if factory installed tow package brings this up and is reflected.

Thanks!
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-15-2016, 07:12 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swtc View Post
Mountainpete - there's a separate thread on the GVWR of the Pilots we've been trying to get an answer in, maybe you can help - seeing as you have the factory tow package (and not just the ball hitch for bike transport and the like), what does the little in-door badge say of the GVWR weight rating? I'm curious if factory installed tow package brings this up and is reflected.



Thanks!


I will take a look. I don't think it's different though. The tow package is dealer installed and the sticker that is in the package is for beside the hitch.


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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-15-2016, 11:14 PM Thread Starter
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The GVWR in kg of my 2016 Touring (Canada) as per drivers door sticker.




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2016 Honda Pilot Touring (Canada)
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-15-2016, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
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Note: that I don't believe there is such a thing as a "factory tow package" for 2016 Pilots in Canada. All tow products are dealer installed accessories in three basics categories of just the hitch, hitch and wiring and hitch, wiring and cooler.

With the third option, at least in Canada, the dealer adds a sticker for updated tow ratings to the vehicle that states the tow capacity and max tongue weight. It does not change the GVWR.


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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-16-2016, 01:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mountainpete View Post
Note: that I don't believe there is such a thing as a "factory tow package" for 2016 Pilots in Canada. All tow products are dealer installed accessories in three basics categories of just the hitch, hitch and wiring and hitch, wiring and cooler.

With the third option, at least in Canada, the dealer adds a sticker for updated tow ratings to the vehicle that states the tow capacity and max tongue weight. It does not change the GVWR.

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Right, there is no such thing as a "factory installed tow package" for any 2016 Pilot, Canada or USA. Some trims of 2nd-gen Pilot came with the tow package pre-installed at the factory, but it has never been a separate option. For 2016 Pilot, it is dealer installed, end of story. No impact on GVWR.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-16-2016, 03:11 AM
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Pete - thanks for the efforts in submitting this thorough assessment. Just in the stages of selecting a trailer to match up with our Pilot here in BC and your experiences are positive and comforting to know. Loukas

2016 Pilot Canadian Touring (American Elite), Black Forest Pearl, Black Leather Interior
ZF 9, Engine Block Heater, Power Folding Mirrors, Trailer Hitch, Harness, Wiring, ATF Cooler
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-11-2017, 01:16 PM
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Hi Pete,

I was wondering if you would share some of your thoughts on the KZ Spree Escape itself? I have been looking at this trailer as well as the Coachmen Apex Nano 193BHS which has a similar layout but quite a bit heavier (3370 Dry / 4600 GVWR) however given your feedback above i think i would be pushing the limits too much with the heavier option.

One thing i noticed about the KZ is that the cargo volume on the trailer itself is limited to about 600 lbs. This will be our first trailer so I have no basis for comparison but it sounded on the low side and i was wondering if you found this to be a problem.

Really appreciate any feedback you might have,
Dave

2016 EX-L, OEM Roof Rails, OEM Cross Bars, OEM Hitch, OEM Cargo Tray, WeatherTech Floor Liners, PIAA 85115 Superior Bass Horn, Interior LED Lighting
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-11-2017, 04:59 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by daveb926 View Post
Hi Pete,

I was wondering if you would share some of your thoughts on the KZ Spree Escape itself? I have been looking at this trailer as well as the Coachmen Apex Nano 193BHS which has a similar layout but quite a bit heavier (3370 Dry / 4600 GVWR) however given your feedback above i think i would be pushing the limits too much with the heavier option.

One thing i noticed about the KZ is that the cargo volume on the trailer itself is limited to about 600 lbs. This will be our first trailer so I have no basis for comparison but it sounded on the low side and i was wondering if you found this to be a problem.

Really appreciate any feedback you might have,
Dave
Hi Dave,

We actually went through the exact same comparison of the Spree Escape vs the Apex Nano 193. They are very, very similar. Our requirements were bed at the front, comfortable dining table area, small cooking area, bunk beds and a shower that was as close to usable as possible. All under our comfortable max of 3700 dry. I liked the Apex, my wife liked the Spree. This discussion went on for over a year. This was also our first trailer. The last >10 years have been this so we were in new territory:



The two trailers are very, very similar. To me, the folks who made the Spree almost said: "Can we make one like this Coachman Apex but do it under 3500 lbs?". The answer is yes. Personally I don't feel like any quality suffered. We've only used it for part of one season but I feel like the quality is there.

There are trade offs though. The fresh water tank is, I think, 10 gallons smaller on the Spree. Not a huge issue but we go through the tank fast if we are not attached to water. The awning is smaller by a foot or so. There is no storage under the lower bunk bed unless you unscrew the deck. You can't walk on the roof of the Spree (not sure about the Apex). The mini-blinds are a bit on the cheap side. The holding tanks are not heated and it doesn't have a built in black tank flusher (which I think are both available at least as options on the Apex are both nice). There is a bunch more little things about the Spree that aren't there on the Apex that are in the nice to have category.

At the same time, the Spree has a U-shaped dinette which is simply fabulous - it was a very big factor for us. Very, very comfortable. All LED lighting. The bunks are on the door entry side which means you can keep an eye on the window while sitting outside at the campfire (for kids again). Very nice kitchen sink. The interior is bright and the quality is there. Ride height was a bit lower so it mated up to the Pilot nicely. The biggest is the weight. It's super, super light which is a big plus for towing but also for resale value. In the used market the Spree can attract a lot more buyers than an Apex because it's (on paper) towable by a wider range of vehicles.

Hitch weight was a worry about the Apex. Unloaded with a weight distribution system is was, I think, around 470 lbs empty. Getting on the heavy side especially if you are going to have 4+ people in the Pilot.

In the end, the U shaped dinette and the weight were the biggest factors to selecting the Spree. On paper, we could put 7 people in the Pilot and still be able to tow the Spree. Do I wish we had the extra few hundred pounds of capacity weigh capacity of the Apex? Sure, but we really don't need it.

Hope that helps.

Pete
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-14-2017, 10:26 PM
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Hi Pete,

This really helps, thanks for your feedback on the Spree, i think we are definitely going to go that direction.

- Dave

2016 EX-L, OEM Roof Rails, OEM Cross Bars, OEM Hitch, OEM Cargo Tray, WeatherTech Floor Liners, PIAA 85115 Superior Bass Horn, Interior LED Lighting
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 12:22 PM
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If you are in BC and looking at trailers, you should really take a look at the Escape. Made in Chilliwack and super high quality. We are driving up to pick up our 17B in a few weeks. A guy I know with a 2013 Pilot was reporting 17 MPG (US) when towing. Lower wind resistance due to a rounded shape and narrower width.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-21-2017, 09:15 AM
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As a guy that has been towing trailers for years, I would suggest that Pete take his trailer, loaded for a trip, to the scales and get his total weight and then unhook the trailer and re-weigh. To determine his ACTUAL weights.

585lbs of cargo capacity can be used up pretty fast. A 30 pack of 12oz brews weigh 22.5 lbs. Water is about 8.5lbs per gal. A decent battery is 60+lbs. Ammo, depends????

If you take normally take 4 folks camping, take them to the scales.

Maybe in Canada it is different, but in the USA weight is often times on the light side. Also note on the KZ web site, the weights have a "*" by them, which is the "average" weight and it will vary depending on options.

In the pic, it looks like Pet's trailer is nose high in the campsite. The RV frig needs to be as close to level as possible. The cooling system works on gravity, and if not level, it will not work.

A old retired RV'er.

Jim
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