TOWING w/ 3rd GEN MDX- Lightweight Travel Trailer? - Acura MDX Forum : Acura MDX SUV Forums
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post #1 of 75 (permalink) Old 07-16-2018 Thread Starter
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TOWING w/ 3rd GEN MDX- Lightweight Travel Trailer?

I have a 2015 w/ Tech SH/AWD, Dealer installed 3500 lb hitch w 7 pin at time of purchase new-
Currently considering the purchase of a Lance 1575 Lightweight travel trailer.

Gross Dry Weight 2775 Lbs.
Hitch Dry Weight 245 Lbs.
Axle Weight 2530 Lbs.
Cargo Carrying Capacity 925 Lbs.
GVWR 3700 Lbs.

I would like to know if anyone is and or has used this gen to tow anything similar and how did it do?

My intentions would be to have the dealer install the ATF cooler accessory to get me to the 5000 lb capacity to be safe. I do not have intentions of even coming close to maxing it's capacity out-

Also considering adding a brake controller

I can not find much info out there related to the MDX's and towing but being that Honda Pilots and Ridgeline's routinely tow this camper I was thinking I should be alright

I live in the Rocky Mountain West of Colorado, so high elevation and steep grades are a concern.

I have read maybe one or two comments related to the ATF Cooler effecting the performance of the vehicle in a negative manner-

Any experienced information and or feedback would be very much appreciated!

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post #2 of 75 (permalink) Old 07-16-2018
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The only problems I’m aware of with the accessory ATF cooler are when it is installed on vehicles with the 9-speed ZF transmission. Your 2015 MDX has the Honda 6-speed transmission, so it should be fine. Given the steep grades and long mountain passes, I would strongly recommend adding the ATF cooler for ANY towing.
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post #3 of 75 (permalink) Old 07-16-2018
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Advertised dry weights are never anywhere close to the ready-to-camp weights. Plenty disagree with me but I personally would never tow anything more than a light motorcycle or utility trailer with any generation MDX. I would have bought a Tahoe if I wanted an SUV to tow a smaller travel trailer with.

I have a toy hauler that I towed with a Titan (since upgraded to a Ram 3500 diesel), well within its rated capabilities and it struggled in everything but flat, windless conditions which in NorCal is rare.

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post #4 of 75 (permalink) Old 07-17-2018
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I agree about the dry weight fibbing by manufacturers, but that's a little harsh on the towing capabilities of current generation MDX or Pilot. I used to tow a roughly 3500-4000 pound boat and trailer in moderately hilly terrain with multiple generations of MDX and Pilot without major problems. And I once towed a 6'x12' U-Haul trailer across a couple states with our 2014 MDX. That trailer weighs 2000 pounds empty, and it wasn't empty.

One issue with travel trailers will be the frontal area that sticks out above the roofline of the MDX. That creates a constant aerodynamic drag. And long travel trailers may have issues with sway because of the relatively soft suspension of MDX compared to a big honkin diesel truck. Both issues can be mitigated by just slowing down.

As for weight, Acura says to deduct 200 pounds from maximum tow weight for every 1000 feet of elevation. That's about 1200 pounds for you, CO, so even with the ATF cooler, now you're at 3800 pounds capacity. And without the cooler, it would be 2300 pounds. You're also supposed to deduct the weight of cargo in the vehicle, and "excess" passengers ( more than one in addition to driver ). So it's not really very hard to bump up against the limits of what's "recommended". But unlike some manufacturers, Honda/Acura does actually test their vehicles to ensure they can handle the rated tow weight.

If you're willing to slow down and enjoy the scenery, and you're willing to pack light, it may be fine. If it's going to be a routine thing, a pop-up trailer might be a better bet.
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post #5 of 75 (permalink) Old 07-17-2018
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The only problems I’m aware of with the accessory ATF cooler are when it is installed on vehicles with the 9-speed ZF transmission. Your 2015 MDX has the Honda 6-speed transmission, so it should be fine. Given the steep grades and long mountain passes, I would strongly recommend adding the ATF cooler for ANY towing.
Just curious, what problems were reported with the ATF cooler and the 9 speed? I did a search and found one report that may or may not have had anything to do with the cooler.
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post #6 of 75 (permalink) Old 07-17-2018
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Just curious, what problems were reported with the ATF cooler and the 9 speed? I did a search and found one report that may or may not have had anything to do with the cooler.
A couple users have said they "hear" the transmission when the cooler is installed. The theory is that the additional piping may cause some amplification of internal transmission noise. Not every one with the ATF cooler has the complaint... So I'm not sure if it's just different user preference/sensitivity... or if fluid level is playing a role... or if it's something else, altogether.


AFAIK, the issue is merely noise, and I'm not aware of any actual damage reports.

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post #7 of 75 (permalink) Old 07-17-2018
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A couple users have said they "hear" the transmission when the cooler is installed. The theory is that the additional piping may cause some amplification of internal transmission noise. Not every one with the ATF cooler has the complaint... So I'm not sure if it's just different user preference/sensitivity... or if fluid level is playing a role... or if it's something else, altogether.


AFAIK, the issue is merely noise, and I'm not aware of any actual damage reports.
Oh, you mean the clunk between gears 4 and 5 is louder with the cooler? That's the only noise my transmission makes. (I have the cooler).
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post #8 of 75 (permalink) Old 07-17-2018
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Oh, you mean the clunk between gears 4 and 5 is louder with the cooler? That's the only noise my transmission makes. (I have the cooler).
It's probably more accurate to say the clunk is unique to vehicles with the cooler, not that it's "louder". But AFAIK that's the issue.
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post #9 of 75 (permalink) Old 07-17-2018 Thread Starter
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this is all great input- i do appreciate everyone taking the time to post. The Acura and my Wife's Subaru Outback are paid for- I did not buy the Acura to tow- I had a very nice F150 prior to the purchase- Just was not sure i wanted to get another truck and if the MDX could be a capable tower with a lightweight travel trailer, then...well that would be great. I don't like car payments and buying a truck and a camper at the same time doesn't get me all giddy- it is what it is though

I have reservations using it, safety comes first and no since in trashing a very good vehicle. When I bought the Acura, at most I thought from time to time I would tow a drift boat and or raft- no biggy. It does handle a bike rack quite efficiently

Life has changed and we now have an interest in a travel trailer and have settled on the Lance- I'm not going to put the cart before the horse though-
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I had the cooler and it is a "clunk" 4-5 shift. It also deteriorates over-all performance (I know, because I had mine removed and over-all got smoother) but does NOT cause harm to the transmission according to Acura service. In my case, it was pronounced, but other report that it is no big deal. It is important to note you rarely, if ever, hear stories of outright transmission failure and even issues...only driving experience.

As for towing, my boat, motor, trailer is 2300lbs and I can report that the MDX pulls it like it isn't even there..
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I have towed my A-Frame trailer more than 15K miles with zero problems. 3100 lbs actual weight loaded.






When driving through rolling hills country, I lock it it 5th gear so that it doesn't hunt between 5th and 6th. I also change my transmission fluid every year before towing season.

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I have towed my A-Frame trailer more than 15K miles with zero problems. 3100 lbs actual weight loaded.






When driving through rolling hills country, I lock it it 5th gear so that it doesn't hunt between 5th and 6th. I also change my transmission fluid every year before towing season.
Nice combo..rear world experiences are always better...

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Nice combo..rear world experiences are always better...

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I also tow a pop-up trailer close to 4000 lbs. (it's the biggest pop-up I could find, but not high-wall)
MDX tows it easily no problem.

In fact, pretty much all (with a few budget SUV exceptions) modern SUVs could handle a light trailer. Modern engines provide more than sufficient power to tow beyond the specified rating. Stability is the issue here. Trucks have longer wheels base to provide better stability, SUVs are shorter, but any 7-seater should work just fine for light trailers.

your dry weight of 2775 would be approaching the limit considering 1000 ft elevation, 4 passengers with cargo, all the trailer camping gears, hiking gears, kayaks, bikes.... But it's definitely doable.
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post #15 of 75 (permalink) Old 07-18-2018 Thread Starter
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PTC Dawg-Do you have a brake controller installed and or the ATF Cooler? or are you just rolling with the 3500lb hitch install from dealer etc?
Looks like a nice set up
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