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SUV questions - trailering and general driving


I am moving to western PA (chambersburg) for school, and am looking at an 08 Chevy Trailblazer 4WD (50k miles).

It is reasonably priced (for a girl out of college heading back to school), and I am getting a good deal from the dealer with a college grad discount and some extra discounts they are giving me. I was hoping to get some feedback from anyone that has ever owned one if they can be used to haul a 2-horse BP trailer as well. It has the factory tow package already installed.

I have been reading up on anti-sway and weight distrubtion bars to get a better understanding of what I need to ask for. I am resisting getting a truck mostly because its a 3 hour drive for NJ to PA, and because I don’t have any experience driving the big trucks.

I will only be hauling to and from NJ-PA 6 times. I figured it would be a better investment to get a trailer than paying a hauler to do it every time and if I need to get him to the vet for any reason. Unless anybody has any recommendations on haulers that are reasonable between PA and NJ feel free to pass on their info.
I appreciate any advice :smiley:

I owned one back from 2004-2010, I had to pull my two horse in an emergency unloaded.

I would never use this to pull with horses in it and was uncomfortable with is empty.

My trailblazer was a v6 and there was not enough power. Not to mention it’s not built to tow that kind of weight.

IMO I would look at a Tahoe, Expedition, Suburban or something along those lines. You should be able to find something fairly nice.

BTW welcome to the area, I’m in York only about 40 min from Chambersburg!

I tried ONE time with my Explorer. I went about 1/2 mile and slowed to a stop…I could feel my 2 horse bumper-pull (with one horse in it) push my Explorer. We turned around and went back home to get the truck.

No. I believe the 2008 is only rated for 5400 lbs. with the V8 and the tow package. This should not tow a conventional trailer. You would likely be fine with a European style trailer, like a one-horse Brenderup.

However, don’t forget that the 5400 lbs. needs to include the trailer, everything you put in the trailer, and everything you put in the truck (except the driver). In order to inflate the tow capacity numbers, most manufacturers test their vehicles with only a 150 lb. allowance for the driver (some even do so before installing the A/C system).

A 2 dr 1/2 ton pickup with a v-8 will comfortably tow, and STOP a 2horse bumper pull, and isn’t any harder to drive than an SUV. Any of them. Get an older one, and have enough money left over to get an econo-car as a daily driver.

You are not going to get any sensible answers. You have not given enough information for anybody who might give an intelligent answer, so the only answers you are going to get are from the “OMG an SUV or half ton truck is a flaming deathtrap!!1! Don’t drive it near me. It’s not the pulling it’s the stopping!!!1!” crowd.

That year Trailblazer had a tow capacity of up to 6800 lb, so it presumably tows about as well as a half ton truck although the rear suspension is presumably softer so you would be better off with load levellers.

You’d need to find out what that exact vehicle is rated for though. There will be a big difference between the automatic V8 4WD version and the stick V6 2WD version and maybe between less obvious differences in specs. You should figure that out by reading it on paper yourself. A dealer with a vehicle to shift will tell you whatever they think you want to hear. The owner’s manual or online data will be able to give you a real answer.

What Tangledweb said…“it depends”…and more information is needed about the specific vehicle. You want factory towing and the V8 for best results, a brake controller and…a WDH for best results on that long haul. You’ll want a lighter weight 2h BP, too. The bottom line is matching the tow vehicle, trailer and load so that you can safely pull and stop.


I will only be hauling to and from NJ-PA 6 times. I figured it would be a better investment to get a trailer than paying a hauler to do it every time and if I need to get him to the vet for any reason. Unless anybody has any recommendations on haulers that are reasonable between PA and NJ feel free to pass on their info.
I appreciate any advice :D[/QUOTE]

No, for several reasons.

  1. A gas-gazzling, underpowered, American-made small SUV is not an “investment” in today’s world.
  2. That trip will cost ~$300 through a reputable shipper. You’ll save that in car payments alone if you go with a smaller vehicle.
  3. That $300 gets eaten up QUICKLY when you’re talking the TrailBlazers 15 mpg vs the 35+ of a Civic for the same money, if that’s going to be your daily driver. Seriously. You’re talking about TWICE the gas used on a yearly basis.
  4. Bigger vehicles mean bigger tires, do factor that into your maintenance cost comparisons.
  5. You’ll also have to factor in yearly trailer maintenance and insurance, again that’s going to eat up that modest amount you spend on trailering.
  6. Oh, and don’t forget to factor in the trailer purchase itself. I’d recommend a minimum of $4k for your basic safe trailer (yes, it can be done for less, but you usually have to have knowledge/manpower hours to get away with that)…that $4k works out to 13 trips.

If you were going to be regularly showing, and had your own property vs. being able to toss him on a barn mate’s trailer, I’d say sure, look into the bigger vehicle. (Although a TrailBlazer is NOT, in my opinion, a suitable vehicle for a horse trailer, not even close.) But if it’s just for a few trips here and there? Pay someone else, and be glad to be out from under the costs that comes along with owning your own larger vehicle and rig.

I would say no simply due to the fact that it’s built on a mid-size SUV platform and not a full-size truck platform. The wheel-base isn’t long enough to trailer safely.

I have a 2002 Trailblazer and I haul with it all the time. Granted, I have a Brenderup Royal 2H trailer but have also done a 18’ car hauler with all sorts of loads - a small car, small loads of hay, shoeing stocks, lumber, etc. I feel that this set up is perfectly safe and I’ve hauled thousands of miles with no mishaps or scary incidents related to my rig. I also use the truck as a daily driver and it now has over 200,000 miles. I average 21MPG and that average includes the miles spent hauling as well as my commute. For hauling MPGs, I would say that I average about 15MPG.

Big thing to look at with these trucks is the tongue weight of the trailer. Before I got the brenderup, I had a Shoop 2H steel bumper pull and that thing was HEAVY. No way I would haul that trailer with the trailblazer because it would be way too much on the rear suspension. When it came time that I needed rear suspension work, I beefed up the whole rear end and that did make a big difference, but I still wasn’t foolish enough to think it could haul the older trailer.

If you were to buy the trailblazer with the intent to haul, I would look for the smallest, lightest trailer that will be appropriate for your horse. This truck will not be a good fit for an older steel trailer but for a newer small aluminum or Euro-style composite trailer, I don’t see any problems with hauling with it at all.

Here’s a picture of my truck and trailer, the the first leg of an 800 mile trip home.


IIRC there are hills between Chambersburg and NJ and the possibility of bad weather, so no, I wouldn’t do it.

NO! I made the mistake of buying an Explorer for my first tow vehicle. Tow ratings don’t mean diddly. It was not fun when the transmission was screaming, trying to dump into second and I couldn’t break 50mph up a hill in headwind as the semis were flying past me at 75mph. The wheel base on a mid size SUV is very short which increases the possibility of getting pushed off of the road by sway (no, sway bars do not eliminate this). I sold that BRAND NEW Explorer 6 months later and bought a used F-250 PowerStroke. For my 2 horse bumper pull. Don’t repeat my very expensive mistake!

From Western PA to NJ you have to cross the Allegheny mountains.

I would go with no less than a V8 1/2 ton truck like a Chevy or Dodge 1500 or Ford F-150. These aren’t “big trucks” but will give you a whole lot more towing capacity for your dollar. Even if it doesn’t show on the tow rating numbers, having the longer wheel base, more powerful engine and beefier suspension will make a world of difference.

I would never haul with a SUV, nor allow any horse of mine to be towed in a trailer with a SUV.

If you are looking, look for a truck. Speaking from an accountant’s point of view, since you are going back to school, yadda yadda, if you have to haul your horse, pay somebody. Vets do make farm calls. If your horse has to go to hospital, pay somebody. I haul for people all the time doing just that. They either can’t get off work, or no hauling equipment, or just want somebody else to haul.

We all want a high mpg, jack of all trades, vehicle to pull our trailers. But you won’t see me pulling with DH’s Prius.

I went to school in Chambersburg and am quite familiar with that drive. Unless you are looking at hauling something like a Brenderup, I would not do it. That is not an easy trailer drive. I did haul a 2H BP for a while with my Ford Explorer- it had the right engine, a transmission cooler, tow package, etc. I think the third or fourth time I towed with, the transmission literally blew into pieces.

As has been said, there is a big range of tow capacity on these vehicles - that’s why statements like “no SUVs” or " no 1/2 ton trucks" are not that helpful.
Find out exactly what the vehicle is rated to tow, and then go ballpark how much trailers you could afford weigh.

I agree that hauling 6 times a year means there is no way you will come out ahead financially owning your own rig. It may be worth it to you in peace of mind or independence, but strictly on $ terms,no.

I have been hauling with an SUV, a Sequoia, since 2001. I had a Blazer before that and wouldn’t have even attempted it.

Forget the SUV. Just don’t, for all the reasons others have listed. I live in Harrisburg and am very familiar with the drive to NJ, as I grew up in the Poconos; you have some big hills to get up (and down) as you get to Allentown and beyond. And if you’ve never hauled before, that’s all the more reason to have a vehicle that’s more than capable of handling your hauling needs-- an inexperienced driver doesn’t have the skills and instincts built in to handle those OMG moments like trailer sway and whatnot, which are very likely to happen with an underperforming tow vehicle. Far better for you to have a vehicle that can pull (and stop!) the trailer without question so you don’t have to worry about it.

You can get a great deal on a suitable truck on Craigslist and have money left over for the daily driver if necessary. There is a 2000 Chevy 3500 diesel on sale on the Harrisburg Craigslist right now for $3800; there are plenty more in that ballpark.

I picked up a '94 Chevy 2500 on Craigslist last fall; it had 90K miles and needed nothing. I paid $2600 for it. Got my trailer (2H Arndt BP) this spring, also on CL. The trailer was in rough shape, and I spent 2 months rehabbing it with some automotively-inclined friends and family; purchase price + repairs was about $3k. My truck and trailer aren’t pretty, but they’re both functional and SAFE, for under $6k total.

Trailblazer – no. They are light and small. Period. No.

I have an 09 Trailblazer and honestly don’t even like pulling a u-haul with it! Probably because growing up we always hauled with a 3/4-ton truck for our trailer. Not sure if you are looking at the V8 or not, but mine is the V6 4WD with tow package and like I said I did not like pulling the U-haul with it, especially through any hills/mountains (it wasn’t too bad where it was flatter, Mississippi to Arkansas, but from Oklahoma to New Mexico and New Mexico to Arizona were not as much fun!).

I am not saying No because it is an SUV, as there are some that I would tow with if I had to, but that size SUV and having towed u-hauls with one similar I would not tow with it ever.