Benny our Hyundai Sante Fe 2.2L R Highlander long-term test vehicle has towing duties this week. The Sante Fe Highlander with its torquey motor is ideal for towing medium size loads.
Welcome back everyone. I was all geared up to go and have some fun in the burnout play car the other week but ran into some problems with my trailer and had to put it off for another week. After champing at the bit for a couple days the opportunity finally came to hitch the trailer up and see what Benny could do.
Getting Benny hooked up was a cinch with the centrally mounted reverse camera making it too easy. The tow ball is right in the middle of the screen so even a monkey could do it. With the trailer coupled there was minimal difference in ride height.
After checking the lights and double checking the ball and chains we were off on the start of our adventure. Pulling out of my yard and onto the road it was almost like I didn’t have anything on the back. The reassuring rattle from the trailer and hitch letting me know that everything was still there though this would soon become tedious as there is no rattle bolt fitted to take up the slop in the hitch. With the amount of torque available there was only minimal lag before we got moving but if I kept pushing at this pace the results were sure to show in the fuel economy.
Settling into my towing mode it soon became obvious that Benny will make an accomplished tow vehicle. While not having the outright power and mass of other rigs on the market he is big enough to take what the average person will ask of him and 2000kg is enough for most people and on par with most others in his class.
Rolling along the major secondary roads on my way to where the play car is stored Benny pulled well. I even surprised a few motorists taking off from the traffic lights. Handling changed only slightly with a bit more care needed when cornering. I forgot the trailer was on the back at one stage and came into a slow corner at the speed I would safely take it normally, it was just lucky it was late at night and there was room for me to correct on the exit of the corner as we ran a bit wide.
Braking was still good unloaded with a bit more thought about distances needed to come to an easy stop. You have to allow for people who have no idea of how much more distance is required to stop a trailer and my point was proven when someone obliviously cut in front of me at a set of lights requiring a bit more pressure on the pedal to stop safely behind them. Hopefully you would never be put in the situation to have to do an emergency stop with any trailer on as the results are never good but I get the feeling that Benny could pull you up reasonably well under those circumstances. With moderate throttle the fuel consumption hovered between, shock horror, 9-10L/100km. I think about my old rig that does this kind of economy with nothing in the tray and me driving sensibly and start to cry, but wait till you see the figures when I put the play car on the back.
When we got there and got the play car out and sorted (It’s funny how rough a V8 will run with the leads on in the wrong order) it was time to load up. With the Rona on the trailer there was a fair bit of sag in the rear. This would be solved with a weight distribution hitch but I don’t have one fitted to the trailer and my rig doesn’t move in the rear even with V8 XC Falcon on the trailer.
With the Rona chained down and ready to go I jumped in and headed for home. It was immediately evident that if you were going to tow this kind of load regularly you should fit a weight distribution hitch as the front end felt a bit light at times, that said Benny still felt sure footed. Performance wise you could tell there was a load on the back but that said when I really stuck the boot in he still took off at a fair rate of knots. Keeping things sensible there was enough torque to get you going without straining and enough power to keep things chugging along nicely. We even managed to keep at the speed limit on the long windy hill climb that is near my place.
Handling was still good with the whole assembly cornering nicely and pulling up well under moderate braking (again from people who don’t know about stopping distances). On the steep descent down the other side of the range the sheer weight of the trailer started to push us around a bit but all it took to settle things down was a sharp tap on the brakes to get the overriders to come on on the trailer and things were honky dory again. If you had electric brakes fitted to your trailer and a control unit inside this would be easier.
Now for the fuel economy. Drum roll please……. (Again it brings me to tears) 10-11L/100km was my average spiking to 11.7L when I was pushing hard. Where was this technology 12 years ago when my rig was built?
Now the waiting game was on. Each day getting more and more excited as Wednesday finally approached. Finally the day was here, phooey to the weather man, late showers what would he know can’t get it right most of the time. Hi ho hi ho it’s off to work we go, but instead of a pick axe I’ve got the Rona. I know whose going to have more fun and its sure not the dwarves.
Up the steep climb on the range it was definitely more obvious that we were towing, needing a lot of right boot to keep Benny moving near the speed limit. I guess Benny found his Waterloo. I didn’t check the economy going up here as it was going to be horrendous. Down the twisting section on the other side the ride was good taking the corners well though greatly under the posted limit, I don’t usually do the posted limit even in cars as the corners are off camber. Then for the fun bit, taking up as many parking spaces as I could possibly manage just to hear some of my work colleagues howl with frustration, maybe I’m a bit sadistic.
Throughout the day I heard the same over and over again on the radio, showers developing. Again what would they know, I remember when they got it wrong for an entire week. Knock-off time and off we head to the track. These sprinkles won’t put a damper on my evening it’s going to be clear by the time we get there. We pull into the gates and I’m greeted by silence, not a revving engine to be heard.
Surely that minor dampness on the ground can’t be holding up proceedings well get the Rona off and change the tyres anyway. Oh drat another shower, oh well it should be cleared up by the time I’ve done my paper work. What another shower, that’s ok by the time we’ve been through scrutineering the track will have dried out enough for this long line of cars waiting to go to have evaporated.
Sitting in the Rona waiting for our turn there is one car in front of us and he is just finishing up when all the doors open and the boys jump in, the meet has been canned, the track is too wet, go home and well give you a credit for next time you come out. Oh deary me what a shame is not what I said, so back to Benny and the trailer to change tyres , load up then take the Rona back to storage and head home to wait another fortnight till I get another chance. Some days you can’t win.
Till next time, safe motoring.
Ps. this is what happens when you forget you’re not driving a Ute and need to cart some fencing supplies.