Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Test Flight

By the time you read this, Christmas will have come and gone. I hope that you had a blessed holiday season with family and/or friends.

I suppose I could have done the Los Algodones trip as a one day, out &  back trip but it seemed like a wonderful excuse to put some miles on the new truck towing the Scamp. It was about 240 miles from our house to the Sidewinder Road boondocking area north of Interstate 8 in Southeastern California.

On the trip, I made no effort to conserve. I wanted to see what sort of temps I would see when the truck was working. Not only did I run at 65 mph, I was dealing with a 15 to 20 mph headwind. Even with the headwind, the temps were very comparable to what I've observed when driving without the trailer. Because of the extra headwind, the truck ran most of the trip in 7th gear.

On the way back, I have very little headwind, but no tailwind. The truck ran the vast majority of the trip in 8th gear with temps very similar to what I observed on the westbound trip.

I still haven't pulled the trailer on significant, long grades, but I was very pleased to see how it did with the hill east of Yuma. It pulled the hill at speed with no change in temperatures.

All in all, I'm very pleased. It would be nice to have more useful load. With the hitch and all my additional options in place, full (32 gallons) fuel and me, we have 1000 pounds left for tongue weight and extra bodies.  Not a lot, but adequate for us. We're WAY under the combined gross weight rating, and comfortably under both front and rear axle ratings.

The 5.7 liter Hemi engine has lots of power and torque. The truck's traction control software keeps it from being a tire burner which is both good and sometimes a bit disappointing. It's not a neck snapping drag racer! Even in tow/haul mode, the shifts are notably softer than the old Tacoma transmission but it does a wonderful job of picking an appropriate gear without building excess heat in the transmission. I'm of the opinion that the 8HP70 transmission is the best feature of the truck.

We took a towing mileage hit of about 10% compared to the Tacoma, it seems, but it's a much more relaxed experience. Meanwhile, the optional 32 gallon tank gives me just about twice the towing range of the Tacoma.

I went with the 3.92 gear ratio in order to get the maximum certified trailer towing weight. I certainly didn't need that for the Scamp and it may be overkill but I wouldn't know without towing with the stock 3.21 or optional 3.55 ratios. Similarly, the 3.6 liter gas V6 engine may have been adequate (and lighter) but the Hemi doesn't break a sweat. I seriously considered the 3.0 diesel engine but took it off my list because of the 300 pounds of extra weight. Now, I'm glad I did. They still haven't started delivering the 2017 EcoDiesel trucks - some hangup in the EPA certification.

Speaking of weight, I could have saved about 300 pounds by not ordering the 4WD option but ...

I picked it because of the physical fit, but it turned out to be much more. It's a keeper!

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