I Inherited A Boat, Now I Need To Tow It! What Car Should I Buy?

Illustration for article titled I Inherited A Boat, Now I Need To Tow It! What Car Should I Buy?

Debjoy had a very nice Honda Fit until the transmission exploded, he also inherited a boat that weighs around 6,000 lbs, including the trailer. He needs something small but mighty that can tow his boat and is relatively easy to park in the city. What car should he buy?


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Here is the scenario -

The 09 honda fit transmission literally exploded after 250k miles (I have a picture). We inherited a boat that weighs 3500 dry, 4000 wet, and a 1500 lb trailer for it. We live in Baltimore city and have a really tiny garage, so it would need to be as small as possible for city street or garage parking. Specifically, the garage is barely wide enough for the s2000, but is plenty long. Our boat launch is about 35 miles away, and we tend to like to bring big crowds to the boat, so extra seating would be nice. Crazy set of wants, I know. I have a pretty healthy budget and can spend up to $60k if necessary.

Quick Facts:

Budget: up to $60,000

Daily Driver: Yes

Location: Baltimore, MD

Wants: Towing capacity, compact size

Doesn’t want: Something too big

Expert 1: Tom McParland—Big Torque, Reasonable Size

Illustration for article titled I Inherited A Boat, Now I Need To Tow It! What Car Should I Buy?

Hey Debjoy, boating is a great way to spend some time on the water with family and friends. Getting a rig that can tow a decent sized boat within your budget isn’t too hard, but finding one that can reasonably fit into most parking spots is another story. As for hauling your friends around you are going to have to make a choice between people capacity and ease of parking, but there is a vehicle that will provide a middle ground.

You need a Jeep Grand Cherokee with the EcoDiesel. While the Grand Cherokee isn’t “compact” it’s not an unwieldy car to navigate city streets and park. If you find one with the 3.0-liter diesel motor and the right towing package these, Jeeps can tow up to 7,200 lbs. It has seating for five if the person in the middle seat is on the smaller size, but any of your friends that are serious about going on the water will find a ride to the docks.


Well optioned Grand Cherokees are luxury-ish cars and you can find lightly used examples like this Limited trim well below your budget range. Trust me, now that you own a boat, you are going to want some cash to spare.

Expert 2: David Tracy—Get Yourself An Econoline

Image: Facebook
Image: Facebook

There’s a reason why darn near every outdoor camp/skiing operation/canoeing outfit in the U.S. has been using Ford Econolines for the past few decades. They’re tough as nails.

The Econoline passenger van—around since the early 1960s and phased out in the U.S. in the early 2010s—is long, body-on-frame van with leaf-sprung solid rear axle. The latest generation, shown above, used a twin I-beam front suspension that you’d find under Ford pickups for many years, and it offered big, tough motors.


The example above, for sale not too far from you for around $16,000, is outfitted with the Navistar 7.3-liter turbodiesel V8, which makes a modest 215 horsepower, but also cranks out 425 lb-ft of torque. That’s absurd, and is enough to help the big van tow over 6,000 pounds.

The hauler shown here doesn’t have seats in it, so you’ll want to find one that does. Because if you’re looking for a great day out on the water, why limit yourself on how many friends you can bring along? Bring the whole neighborhood! An Econoline will fit over a dozen people comfortably.


Expert 3: Rory Carroll—It’s Suburban Time

Illustration for article titled I Inherited A Boat, Now I Need To Tow It! What Car Should I Buy?

Boy, that is a crazy ask. Are you sure about this boat? Have you heard all the stuff about boats? The little sayings? Break Out Another Thousand, etc.? If you’re sure, I’ll give it a shot in the spirit of cotmer sevis.

Your $60,000 budget gives you a lot of options, including my first thought, a new or newish GMC Yukon XL. Those are comfy, commodious powerful and in my opinion, the best looking SUV on the market. But it’s also 80.5 inches wide, almost a foot wider than your S2000. We’re not going to get a truly small vehicle with the towing capacity you need, but we can get much smaller by going back in time to a few years before the EPA started incentivizing larger footprints. This 1996 Suburban is only 76.7 inches wide and it has you covered on the towing and seating fronts, plus it’s Redwood-eligible. (This one, too.) It’s comfy, ruggedly built and it’ll lend a sense of occasion to those dusky, dehydrated rides back from the boat launch. Maybe that two-tone paint will be enough to distract you from that mysterious leak.


Expert 4: Jason Torchinsky—Defend This Idea

Illustration for article titled I Inherited A Boat, Now I Need To Tow It! What Car Should I Buy?

Debjoy, you’re a mariner now! A captain of your own sea-going vessel, ready to do battle with krakens and justify a whole new set of clichéd tattoos. I’m sure it’ll be great and probably expensive, but I absolutely understand your conundrum: finding a vehicle that isn’t so damn huge.

You need something that can really haul a lot of mass, yet isn’t colossal itself, and I think I know just the thing: a Land Rover 90. Yes, the short-wheelbase LR isn’t really all that big—it’s almost cubic in proportions—but it can still tow a hell of a lot.


The one I’m thinking about for you is this lovely wine-colored 1994 Defender 90 with the turbodiesel 300TDI engine—one of the more reliable engines used on Land Rovers, but not one that made it to American-spec ones.

This one looks to be fully restored, already has a meaty tow hitch, and even a snorkel, in case you forget to set the parking brake as you back down the boat ramp.


These should be capable of towing over 7,000 pounds, and even though it’s small outside, I bet you could cram six people in there in a pinch, since it has those cool inward-facing rear bench jump seats, though four is likely more comfortable.

See those extra lights at the rear? Those are perfectly placed for launching your boat at night, in secret, in case you need to, you know, lay low until shit blows over, or something.


At $36,995 it’s well within your budget, and it’s a genuinely cool car no matter what it’s pulling or not pulling. These will hold their value well since they have such a strong cult following, so I bet if you decided to sell it later you’d come out okay.

Do you want us to help you find a car? Submit your story on our form.

Tom is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He saves people money and takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. (Facebook.com/AutomatchConsulting)


Future next gen S2000 owner

Paging functionoverfashion..we need good opinions

These are all bad ideas. Let me start.

Grand Cherokee - not bad idea honestly. You would be right at the limit with people, coolers, gas, and all that fun water sports stuff that is going in the boat.

The rest are just bad ideas.

Good ideas:

1. Sell the boat. Where are you going to store said boat when you aren’t on the water? Also, you just inherited a lot of costs you weren’t expecting.

2. Rent a slip. Keep using a cheap, small city car. Pay a towing company to move it to the winter storage facility.

3. Buy a truck. It won’t be fun in the city, but guess where it will be very useful? Safely towing a boat at highway speed.

I own a boat and bought my truck with intention of buying a boat. Boats are great but are crazy expensive and don’t get used often even by those that use the hell out of theirs. I use mine about once a week and I would consider myself a high frequency user.