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Old 02-15-2014, 07:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Insight (1st gen) as a motorhome towed vehicle

First a bit of background, I have a rather small 23' motorhome with a 2001 Ford E150 chassis and 5.4L V8 engine. It has an empty vehicle weight of about 9,200lbs and a max total gross vehicle weight of 11,500 making it only able to tow a car weighing less than 2,000 lbs considering passengers and all the stuff you take with you. I had been searching for a small lightweight car to tow but other than a Smart car, there didn't appear to be many. I test drove a Smart but hated it's ride and fuel economy since I expect to drive the towable vehicle for day to day errands as well. I had just about given up hope when I stumbled on a motorhome forum where one guy had towed an 2002 Insight. He mentioned a 1600 lb. curb weight but I soon discovered it was more like 1800, about the same as a Smart. That got me looking and I found a 2001 Insight with only 100K, one owner, and new tires at a Toyota dealer about 3 hours away. Price $5500. I spoke with the salesman on the phone and he took photos of the underside to show what appeared to be a nearly rust free car in upper Michigan. I was able to take him down to $4800 due to unknown battery condition and put a deposit on a credit card. Once I finally made it up to purchase, we discovered it had a brand new IMA battery installed 2 months earlier as well so I was very pleased.

Drove it home and purchased a towbar and baseplate from Blue Ox. The baseplate was a bit challenging to install but securely attached to the octagonal bumper mount frame as well as the aluminum casting attaching to the main frame, so a very secure setup. It protrudes through the grill to attach to the towbar. I installed tail light wiring, brake cable for the surge brake towbar, and a battery minder to keep the 12v battery charged since you need to leave the key in unlock mode to allow the steering to free steer as it is being towed.

All in all this appears to be one of the most fuel efficient, lightest weight towed vehicles available for motorhomes to tow. I have a manual transmission so it is not an issue to tow 4 wheels down. Heading to Florida in the near future to escape this horid winter weather.

Rick
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Old 02-16-2014, 12:20 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Just something to note, the gross vehicle weight rating is just what's supported by the vehicle's axles (vehicle weight, passengers, cargo, and tongue weight if towing). The gross combined vehicle weight is the max weight for the vehicle plus whatever you're towing, likely much higher than your 11,500lbs GVWR rating. So you probably could have gone with something bigger. However, you'll likely barely notice that you're towing the Insight, and you'll get great mileage when you're driving it around. Congrats.
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Old 02-16-2014, 08:24 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You are absolutely correct, I just discovered that 11,500 is GVWR but the GCWR is actually 15,000 so now I have 5,800 lbs to play with, don't know how I missed this one but the GCWR is not include on the vehicle placard and I just now found it in the sales brochure. Thanks for pointing this out, now I can bring my wife!

Oh and yes, I do love the Insight!
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Old 06-24-2014, 07:02 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Towing the Insight behind RV

An update on the use of a 2001 Insight as a motorhome towed vehicle...just returned from a 450 mile roundtrip towing the Insight with the Blue Ox towbar. All I can say is WOW. I normally drive at 65mph and consistently get 10mpg on the motorhome, and got exactly the same mileage towing the Insight at 60mph. Granted the additional 5 mph will net me about 1mpg less on the open road but even after lots of non-expressway driving towing, I netted a trip total of 10mpg, the same as all my other trips without towing.

The Insight tracks perfectly behind the motorhome with absolutely no issues due to the zero caster in the steering that some say would cause problems. No transmission issues towing it in neutral and hardly noticed it even during acceleration and braking.

This has to be the BEST toad vehicle available!!!!

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Old 09-16-2014, 07:28 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Grimmrig. I just logged in to find info about this and sure am happy to read of your success and happiness with your Insight toad! I have a 2000 and plan to do the same. I may get a bus conversion so they should look interesting together!

My main concern was whether being towed 4-down would stress the car, if it would bounce around or be too low to the ground or something like that. But it sounds like yours was not affected. Just had it serviced and checked and my mechanic says it should be fine. We hope to hit the road by 11/1!
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Old 09-16-2014, 08:38 AM   #6 (permalink)
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2nd update, 3 trips now and over 3000 towed miles, the Insight is still towing great with no problems! Enjoy your towing experience.
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Old 09-16-2014, 10:17 AM   #7 (permalink)
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By placing the key in the unlock mode aren't you turning on the dash? Is your insight accumulating miles as you tow?
Thanks
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Old 09-16-2014, 12:16 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by galevin View Post
By placing the key in the unlock mode aren't you turning on the dash? Is your insight accumulating miles as you tow?
Thanks
Gerald
The first position is acc. just the radio and the 12v plug get powered-dash, ecm ect are all still off.
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Old 09-16-2014, 12:48 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Would towing it in the 'on' position charge the battery while you tow? This would be interesting to know... Probably not but I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask.
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Old 09-16-2014, 04:58 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Balto View Post
Would towing it in the 'on' position charge the battery while you tow? This would be interesting to know... Probably not but I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask.
You are correct. No.

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