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Discussion Starter #1
We pick up our new Ascent Limited in the next few days - can’t wait! Then we need to reserve a U-Haul cargo trailer for a cross-country move (MA to WA). We’re trying to decide between the 5x8 trailer (empty weight = 900 lbs; max load = 1,800 lbs; GVW = 2,700 lbs max; no brakes) and the 6x12 trailer (empty weight = 1,920 lbs; max load = 2,480 lbs; GVW = 4,400 lbs max; automatic hydraulic surge brakes). We’re likely to have 1,000-1,500 lbs of stuff (mainly small boxes; no furniture).

With the Ascent Limited (5,000 lb towing capacity) would it be better to tow a close-to-fully-loaded smaller trailer with single axle and no trailer brakes OR a partially loaded larger trailer with double axle and automatic hydraulic surge brakes??

Our top priorities are overall safety while on the interstate (avoiding excessive swaying, tire blowouts, and other disasters) and not overly taxing our new Ascent. Unfortunately pulling a trailer is our only option ... we’ve ruled out hiring a mover, using a U-Box, and renting a U-Haul truck.

Lastly, we bought the Ascent as a towing vehicle because we hope to buy a pop-up tent trailer or small travel trailer in the the next year. So pulling the U-Haul trailer will be a test run of the Ascent’s handling and towing abilities! :)
 

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I’d go with the bigger one. At 2000lb + 1500lb you’re still only at 3500lb which the Ascent should handle well, even on the mountains. You’ll have the extra security of brakes on that one too. Just watch how you load it to not exceed the 500lb tongue weight.

Do you already have a brake controller?
 

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My personal thought is that you generally should choose the smallest trailer that you can use to "do the job" without leaving things behind because that will be more economical to pull from the standpoint of wind resistance, etc. The cost to rent is also likely a little lower. That said, I also believe in the value of having trailer brakes. If the smaller unit doesn't have them, I'd have to think very hard on going with the larger trailer simply because of the added safety factor that trailer brakes bring to the table. U-Haul does indeed employ inertial/surge brakes on its trailers because many renters do not have controllers for electric brakes and this insures that folks are within the various states' rules for when trailer brakes are required based on weight...which is sometimes lower than expected. Please note that I do not think you will be safety compromised with the smaller trailer if it doesn't have brakes...I'm only saying that my "preference" would be for brakes.

I'm actually going to be faces with this very shortly myself as after I get my 89 year young mother moved from her current independent living apartment into her new assisted living suite room in central Florida, I'm going to need to rent a small trailer from U-Haul to bring a bunch of things back north when I'm done cleaning out the apartment...a few pieces of small furniture and a bunch of boxes of family "stuff" that I don't want lost or destroyed. I will likely end up with a pretty small trailer for both cost and to keep the wind resistance to a minimum.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
You really should avoid towing with your new Ascent for the first 1,000 miles of ownership.
Just curious why you say not to tow for the first 1000 miles. We don’t really have a choice. We needed a vehicle with enough towing capacity for the move. Old vehicle (minivan) was rated at only 3500 lbs. We need to start the drive in about 10 days. I guess we’ll brake in the Ascent while towing cross country!
 

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4342D49F-C103-43E2-A51F-435569B63BBE.jpeg

From the owners manual. You’re likely to exceed the 4000rpm when towing, especially uphill. Also, the starting suddenly and rapid acceleration is for reducing the load on the engine during the period, which is higher when towing.

If your trip is planned in 10 days, and delivery in a few days, you’ve got about a week to have a little road trip fun while breaking her in!
 

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Yeah, get out and just drive it before you have to move. You really don't want to strain your engine during break in and towing is the hardest thing you could do to it. 10 days, 1000 miles, 100 miles per day. At least get up to the 700-800 mark before hooking up a loaded trailer.

In the mountains I wouldn't want a trailer without some kind of brakes. I do regularly haul 3,500 to 4,500 lbs in the mountains and I love how my Ascent handles it. No regrets trading in the GMC Canyon!
 

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I have a 5x8' trailer half loaded that I recently towed 400 miles on an 80 mph freeway. Other than wishing I had a hitch tightener to cut down on the rattle, I barely noticed it was there. The trailer doesn't have brakes and in no way did the Ascent feel compromised. If you can fit it in a smaller trailer, I'd do smaller. I'm out west so am traveling thru mountainous areas but this trip had no really high mountain passes. Towing and driving fast will kill mileage - I got between 13-14 mpg.
 

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I rented a UHaul trailer. For what I was moving (a couch), we picked the 5'x10' cargo trailer more for size than weight capacity. It was an easy tow.

For the cargo weight you are carrying, I think you are into weights that really should have a trailer brake. Most UHaul trailers don't have brakes, and I think the two largest cargo trailers (5x10, 6x12) do have the hydraulic surge brake. While it's not an electric brake and does wait a split second for the hitch to compress, it's a working trailer brake, and I felt safer with it. The Ascent felt like it was braking normally, and the trailer was taking care of much of its own braking. Again, after a split second lag.
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For me, the Subaru hitch mount that came with the factory hitch was at the right height for the 5x10 cargo UHaul.

F.S.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I rented a UHaul trailer. For what I was moving (a couch), we picked the 5'x10' cargo trailer more for size than weight capacity. It was an easy tow.
First Subie - Thanks so much for the info and photos. We’d really like to rent a 5x10 cargo trailer, but apparently they’re hard to find out east (we tried MA/CT/NY/VT). We read somewhere that they’re being phased out by U-Haul. We like the max cargo load of the 6x12 (given that we have 50+ boxes ... some quite heavy). However, the trailer size (height, length, trailer weight) seems really big for us. But after reading everyone’s posts, we think the surge brakes would be nice to have for safety reasons. Also we don’t want to overload the 5x8.
 

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One note on surge brakes. They are aptly named because they do "surge" in some situations. In particular, going through a sharp dip makes the brake grab, and multiple dips can make the trailer feel like someone is pulling and pushing. So driving across wavy intersections can feel odd! Nothing dangerous, and I just took intersections at a steady, conservative speed.
F.S.
 

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We hauled a 3,000 lbs. boat around the Idaho mountains, and I never saw more than 3,000 RPM on even the steepest climbs (and usually around 2,500 RPM) (I also didn't push it hard but still easily maintained 55 mph). We broke ours in over 1,000 miles before towing, but if you don't have a choice, and you don't push the RPMs too hard, I would think it will be OK.

I found the rear camera to be great for backing up the ball to just under the hitch -- just turn off the warnings first (two squares on the bottom of the video screen). I can get it dead on every time.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
So we booked the 6x12 cargo trailer. Turns out we have close to 2000 lbs of cargo plus the 1920 lb trailer so we’ll be pulling close to 4000 lbs from MA to WA. We’ve put 800 miles on the new Ascent - not 1000 miles but close. Wish us luck!!! I’ll report back either during or after the trip.
 

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Have a safe trip! 800 miles is good!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
We’re happy to report that our new Ascent is towing like a champ! We’ve gone two days on I-90 in 90+ degree weather. Have maintained a fairly consistent speed of 65 MPH with 16 MPG. Mainly flat terrain. A few times the engine revved over 3000 RPM. Engine temp has been fine. The Ascent has done a terrific job with adaptive cruise control. Doesn’t really feel like we’re towing 4000 lbs! Overall a great experience so far.
 
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