Here is an update on my recent towing experience (last weekend, middle of June) with my 2021 Outlander PHEV.
I towed a pop-up trailer up into the Sawtooth Valley, over two passes (Horseshoe Bend, which is about a 1600ft elevation gain, and Banner Summit, not sure about the gain, but it is at 7500ft). About my trailer, I’ll just say that I was not maxed out considering the rest of the world’s Outlander tow limit, but I was over the US limit (though well under the GVWR).
On the highway getting to the first pass, I drove about 55mph and kept the car in “charge” most of the time so that by the time I came to the first pass the car had at least 70% SOC, and I kept the car at 50mph up the pass. The battery drained to about 50% by the time I hit the summit. Going down into the valley, I gained back a considerable amount of battery through regen. For the next 50 miles or so there was a constant up and down, and the max posted speed limit is between 40 and 60mph, so I kept between 40 and 55. But from the town of Lowman we climbed from 3500ft to 7500ft, over the course of 20 miles, up and down, then a long, long climb. On the final climb, the car began with about 75% soc, and I kept the speed to 50mph. It was so long (should have kept track of the miles), with very few “pauses” in the climb during which the car could actually charge (mostly the engine drove the front wheels and the battery drove the rear), that I was pretty sure I would hit run out of battery and get the “turtle” I’ve read so much about, but we made it to the summit with probably 10% showing on the battery meter. Made it! It was a warm morning, but most of the time we had windows cracked and the fan on, but no AC. The fuel average for this part of the trip was 21mpg.
We returned home on the same route, and we averaged 34mpg. It was a really pleasure to watch the battery fill up going downhill for so long! So our average mpg for the trip was 27, and I’m quite happy with that. My Nissan Frontier (which I traded in for the Outlander) averaged about 22mpg for the same trip with the same pop up.
This was literally the toughest route I’ll ever do with this vehicle and trailer, so all is good. I have no problem going 50 or 60 (and I don’t think anyone should be going faster than that with trailers, but we Americans think we have to have gas-guzzlers for everything!)
I think the most difficult thing about driving with the Outlander and a travel trailer in Idaho is the very curvy roads on which 25-35MM is the maximum speed. The vehicle does best with the trailer when it can power the front wheels with the ICE and add power with the back. That’s the only way to get the 220HP. If you’re stuck pulling a trailer on a hill and have to keep the speed under 35MM, then max horsepower is 170 or less. My next route will test this.
However, net time I will have a different travel trailer: roughly the same rate, but a large “teardrop,” rather than a pop-up, so there will be wind resistance to deal with. But at 50-60mph, perhaps that won’t be so bad.
Thank you to all who have written so many informative posts on this forum!