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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been reading for some time here and elsewhere of people raving about their Armada "towing beasts". Although, I do note that many live in flat lands, traveling between Florida and the Midwest, or out on the Canadian prairies. Out West here though, the only beast I would compare it to is a dog.

We've owned our 2006 LE with 121,119 miles for 12 years. I've been towing an est. 5500 lbs TT for 4 years now (Factory spec 4,300 lbs with full propane)
My only addition is 2 bikes in back, an extra battery up front and a small 2000W geni which I move around depending on current tongue weight. We also travel with full fresh water tank (330lbs), and the usual food for 4 days and clothes.
Regardless of my estimate, I'm way below the 9000lb tow spec. It's the engine that, to me, is not up to it.

Mods are:
New radiator before the known failure of the OEM
External trans cooler to supplement new radiator
JBA catback
K&N air intake
Tow with Andersen WDH

I have no complaints about this 1/2 ton truck frame handling the load. But when I come to a long 6% grade and am shifting between 2nd & 3rd just to stay above the 3K power band and am doing 40-45mph, THAT to me is not a beast. And let's not even mention the pwr/tq roll off when you get above 5000 ft.

I should have maybe invested $500 in a custom towing chip. But, as it is we are now saving up to get a new Turbo 3.6L Expedition with same tow capacity but WAY more torque and WAY better gas mileage.

In a few weeks, we'll be heading out on a 10 week 5,000 mi tour of the west. I can already feel my puckered nether regions and white knuckles as we get to the top of every climb with our AC turned off! :rolleyes:

20180723_185753.jpg
 

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Hello X XPat

Sound like you want 3/4 or 1 ton capacity to tow your trailer. You like many others want to get up the hills quick. The only way to do that is a favorable power to weight ratio. I'm no engineer by any stretch so someone smarter than me can give you the math. I tow my behemoth up and down the west, CA to WA, AZ and Navada (coming up). I'm feeling you man, I too am slow on the hills. With this SUV there is no way around it. I however am not in a hurry so I hold it in 2nd and run the tach at 3500 rpm's for fan speed and let it grind. I get where I'm going just fine. I hope your new truck doesn't disappoint. I've heard good things about the 3.6L turbo ecoboost. You'll have to Iet us know how that works out for you.
 

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I've been reading for some time here and elsewhere of people raving about their Armada "towing beasts". Although, I do note that many live in flat lands, traveling between Florida and the Midwest, or out on the Canadian prairies. Out West here though, the only beast I would compare it to is a dog.
We just did our first tow with our new to us 2019 Armada, and I am disappointed as well.

Our Retro 176 camper weighs 2750 lbs by the tag on the body, and about 3500 loaded. Inside we only had two adults, two kids and two dogs. Well below the max of this tow 'beast' we purchased for this purpose.

We were previously towing it with a 2019 Jeep Wrangler with a 2.0l four cylinder turbo with 270 hp and 290 ft-lbs. It pulled that thing like it wasn't even there. It went up and down the mountains with ease. Only once did it not maintain 65 mph and that was at about 7000ft during a very long incline, and even then, it only dropped down to 60 mph. So if 270 hp can be that good, my thinking was that near 400 hp ought to have no problem, even with some altitude loss.

Boy was I wrong. During several sections I struggled to maintain 40 mph. I found it did better taking it out of tow mode. At another point I put in manual mode and dropped it down to third, and then I was able to get back to 50 mph. And I got 8.2 mpg for the trip whereas in the Jeep I got 11.5. So the reward for the abysmal daily gas mileage is that it's a dog towing.

On paper I thought this thing seemed purpose built for towing, but in addition to the lack of power, it also has a number of other problems for towing. Like starting with the low quality and off-center back up camera - making it useless for trying to line up with the trailer tongue. Also, I got the camper hitched up and the weight distribution hitch set, and everything was beautifully level. By the time we made it to the first stop the back of the Armada was totally sacked out.

I know the air system can be fixed or replaced. I can probably find a replacement backup camera and mount it in the center. But the lack of power can't be fixed, nor can it's mpg. So I'm now regretting not going with the twin turbo Expedition. But at least the Nissan has some style, which can't be said of the Ford.

50389
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi ODDs

I didn't want to inspire an Armada dissing thread, but I understand where you're coming from. Thanks for the feedback. Just a couple of comments:

We bought our '06 LE in '09 with low milage. We bought it to tow our 26ft sailboat, which it did flawlessly, flying over the mountains like the boat wasn't even there. But of course the bow cutting through the air made a big difference. The TT now is a whole different experience.

I've learned not to trust the Tow Mode for downshifting. I seriously overheated the xmission once on a very long, very gentle incline. Too much friction on the torque converter. I down shifted, got back above 3K and it cooled right down. Now, I still put it in tow mode but I downshift manually as soon as the RPMs role off. It's taken awhile to get used to the sound of the high reving engine, but that's where it wants to be. OHC motors like the higher rpms.

Since you're invested now, you might look into one of the custom chips set up for towing. I DID notice better throttle response around town after I put on the K&N intake and JBA catback.

The '06 didn't come with a camera. I bought one (wireless to my phone) that came with a bracket. Instead of permanently mounting it, I epoxied an old speaker magnet to the bracket. Now I can stick it to the back gate just above the hitch, plugged into the outlet in back. If I need it to back up the trailer, I can stick it on the trailer's back bumper. I put in a cable and plug from the trailer running lights.

I keep a copy of this Armada power/torque curve in the glove compartment just to reassure me that those high rpms are good :)

Armada torque curve medium.jpg
 

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Hi ODDs

I didn't want to inspire an Armada dissing thread, but I understand where you're coming from. Thanks for the feedback. Just a couple of comments:

We bought our '06 LE in '09 with low milage. We bought it to tow our 26ft sailboat, which it did flawlessly, flying over the mountains like the boat wasn't even there. But of course the bow cutting through the air made a big difference. The TT now is a whole different experience.

I've learned not to trust the Tow Mode for downshifting. I seriously overheated the xmission once on a very long, very gentle incline. Too much friction on the torque converter. I down shifted, got back above 3K and it cooled right down. Now, I still put it in tow mode but I downshift manually as soon as the RPMs role off. It's taken awhile to get used to the sound of the high reving engine, but that's where it wants to be. OHC motors like the higher rpms.

Since you're invested now, you might look into one of the custom chips set up for towing. I DID notice better throttle response around town after I put on the K&N intake and JBA catback.

The '06 didn't come with a camera. I bought one (wireless to my phone) that came with a bracket. Instead of permanently mounting it, I epoxied an old speaker magnet to the bracket. Now I can stick it to the back gate just above the hitch, plugged into the outlet in back. If I need it to back up the trailer, I can stick it on the trailer's back bumper. I put in a cable and plug from the trailer running lights.

I keep a copy of this Armada power/torque curve in the glove compartment just to reassure me that those high rpms are good :)

View attachment 50390
Thanks for the info. I'll work on keeping the RPM's up while towing. Maybe I will look into a chip for towing.
 

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Our 2018 Armada pulls our 8,000lb travel trailer with no problems. I just set cruise to 60 and I haven't had a hill slow me down yet. The engine is the strongest link when towing our 38 foot travel trailer in my opinion.
 

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2004 qx56, can't even notice when I pull 4000 lbs uphill hauling stuff in my work trailer. It's pretty hilly in WA. So something is not right if towing around that amount is noticeable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
"Our 2018 Armada pulls our 8,000lb travel trailer with no problems. I just set cruise to 60 and I haven't had a hill slow me down yet. The engine is the strongest link when towing our 38 foot travel trailer in my opinion."

Do you mean mountains or hills? If you're cruising up a 5 mile long 6-7% grade in +90 degree heat cruising at 60mph, then wow maybe there is something wrong with my rig. Although it doesn't throw any fault codes, and the tranny & motor temp gauges stay to the left of center. Maybe I should check the compression.

"2004 qx56, can't even notice when I pull 4000 lbs uphill hauling stuff in my work trailer. It's pretty hilly in WA. So something is not right if towing around that amount is noticeable."

We bought our Mada when we lived on Camano Island, to tow a sailboat. With the trailer it came to 3500lbs. With it's bow slicing through the wind, I don't remember any difficulty at all climbing to Snoqualmie and then the Rockies.
But... add another +2,000 lbs and a blunt front, it's a whole different scenario. As I said, on those long 6% hot grades, it's 3rd gear until several miles into the climb at 40mph, I cycle in and out of 2nd. And I use premium gas, plus the mods listed above.
 

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"Our 2018 Armada pulls our 8,000lb travel trailer with no problems. I just set cruise to 60 and I haven't had a hill slow me down yet. The engine is the strongest link when towing our 38 foot travel trailer in my opinion."

Do you mean mountains or hills? If you're cruising up a 5 mile long 6-7% grade in +90 degree heat cruising at 60mph, then wow maybe there is something wrong with my rig. Although it doesn't throw any fault codes, and the tranny & motor temp gauges stay to the left of center. Maybe I should check the compression.

"2004 qx56, can't even notice when I pull 4000 lbs uphill hauling stuff in my work trailer. It's pretty hilly in WA. So something is not right if towing around that amount is noticeable."

We bought our Mada when we lived on Camano Island, to tow a sailboat. With the trailer it came to 3500lbs. With it's bow slicing through the wind, I don't remember any difficulty at all climbing to Snoqualmie and then the Rockies.
But... add another +2,000 lbs and a blunt front, it's a whole different scenario. As I said, on those long 6% hot grades, it's 3rd gear until several miles into the climb at 40mph, I cycle in and out of 2nd. And I use premium gas, plus the mods listed above.
1500 lbs more, I still don't think I'd notice. Like I said, I can't even tell when I'm towing 4000 lbs - literally - as if there's nothing there at all. There is something not right somewhere if you have that much trouble with 5500 lbs. When one gets close to the max - 8000+, then it would be much harder.

I just remembered I towed a compact tractor+front loader home a few years ago that was about 5000 lbs (including trailer). Again, not a struggle.

Front "blunt" is not really a big deal here. We are not going rocket ship speeds. My "hill" going home is at least 6% - that's only 3.4 degrees. Some areas you slide just sitting still when it is frozen. IOW, it is very steep relative to many areas. For sure more so than pass.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
@randomlag & Remenar

OK, well your testimonies have convinced me to take it in to Nissan and see if anything's wrong. For $1,000 they will check out the whole ignition/timing/coils/plugs etc and the whole fuel/injector/filter/pump etc even remap the ecm if needed. I'm a hands on guy, change my own fluids, replaced the starter last month etc, so it's difficult to fork over this much money (did my own tuneups back in the distributor & carburetor days).
But, if this means I'll be towing like you guys next week, it will be worth it.
I'll post my results here after we've climbed our first pass in our tour of the West starting in 2 weeks.
 

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@randomlag & Remenar

OK, well your testimonies have convinced me to take it in to Nissan and see if anything's wrong. For $1,000 they will check out the whole ignition/timing/coils/plugs etc and the whole fuel/injector/filter/pump etc even remap the ecm if needed. I'm a hands on guy, change my own fluids, replaced the starter last month etc, so it's difficult to fork over this much money (did my own tuneups back in the distributor & carburetor days).
But, if this means I'll be towing like you guys next week, it will be worth it.
I'll post my results here after we've climbed our first pass in our tour of the West starting in 2 weeks.
Good luck. I don't know if maybe our rear gear ratios are different? There was something about that some time ago, but I can't recall. I do get horrible gas mileage in town -12, but decent on the road -18
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Good luck. I don't know if maybe our rear gear ratios are different? There was something about that some time ago, but I can't recall. I do get horrible gas mileage in town -12, but decent on the road -18
I assume the diff gear ratio is whatever comes with the 4x4 & tow package (If it's different then non tow)
The only time I check the mileage on the road is when we're towing. It's 8mpg.
 

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I assume the diff gear ratio is whatever comes with the 4x4 & tow package (If it's different then non tow)
The only time I check the mileage on the road is when we're towing. It's 8mpg.
Yes there are 2 ratios, 2.94 & 3.36. I wonder if somehow it got the lower number? What is your engine RPM at 60mph? That should be enough to compare.

I just check mpg to verify nothing weird going on. The displayed number is 1 mpg optimistic - I guess to make one feel better.
 
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