Edmunds Answers



  • MrShift@Edmunds 11/02/11 9:24 pm PST

    It's not recommended and there is no tow package, and probably it would void your warranty if they saw a trailer hitch...BUT...if you must...there have been people who've done it successfully....if you can keep the weight down to 500 lbs or so with trailer + cargo.

    Here's a discussion and some links to hitches at PRIUS CHAT

  • thecardoc3 11/13/11 9:16 am PST

    I have only ever heard do not tow with your Prius, and with the cost of the components that could be damaged, not to mention the fact that only dealers and true top shop independents are trained, qulaified and equipped to do repairs at that level, I'd highy advise against it.

  • iambowie 11/16/11 1:04 pm PST

    Yes, you can absoletely do very light towing with a Prius V. Curtis makes a tow hitch (Class 1 rating or 200 Tongue/2000 GW).

    I have Prius V (shiny & new) and the same company makes the hitch that I put on my previous Prius (this is my second one). I towed my off-road motorcycle on it - the GVW of the trailer and the bike were less than 1,000 pounds. I also used the hitch with a bicycle rack attachment. I got the hitch because I did not want to use a roof rack on the Prius.

    Folks do not realize that the Prius V (and other current models) have a 1.8 liter engine ---- that is not a small engine.

    Everywhere else outside the U.S., a 1.8 - 2.4 liter engine are used for light TRUCKS.

    Regardless of what anyone says here ---- they only are only spouting the what the manual says ---- you can haul stuff on your Prius V. There are plenty of Prius out there using this hitch --- take this from someone that has actually used one.

    Please keep in mind that you can DAMAGE the VERY EXPENSIVE plastic bumper on ANY vehicle if you two something incorrectly. Making a turn too tight or backing up wrong will push your trailer into the back bumper and the damage can run 4 figures if the bumper is ripped out or punctured. All you have to do is drive carefully and smoothly. It helps to use a spotter when you back up.

    That said, keep the load light (well under 1,000 pound GVW) or just use the Hitch for a bicycle or carry rack attachment (Thule makes a good one).


  • thecardoc3 11/17/11 9:08 am PST

    Having repaired my share of Prius transaxle or invertor assembly failures I still highly advise against towing anything with one of these cars. While it does have a 1.8l engine, the engine never propels the vehicle all by itself, one or both of the electric motors have a hand in helping the engine deliver torque to the wheels, and that means heat will be generated beacuse of the flow of electricity. This heat shows up as "wear and tear" damage in every component from the HV battery, to the invertor, as well as the transaxle itself.

    To prove this all one would need to do is monitor the temperature data pids for the above components, and compare them during normal operation to the kinds of temperatures that are achieved when "towing".

    The last poster may have gotten away with this, only to have the next owner fnd out what kinds of failures this can cause. I would advise anyone considering purchasing a used Prius to avoid one that has evdence that it was being used to tow anything.

  • texases 11/17/11 10:38 am PST

    "Regardless of what anyone says here ---- they only are only spouting the what the manual says "

    And I always put "what the manual says" ahead of what folks on the internet say, no matter how well meaning. Just because a company makes a hitch for the Prius V doesn't mean it's a good idea. Also, the 'trucks' that have 1.8 to 2.4 l engines are designed for towing, and are often diesels, not hybrids.

  • MrShift@Edmunds 11/17/11 12:14 pm PST

    If someone wanted to tow with the Prius (and I'm not recommending that you do), I'd sure keep the load pretty light. If you got denied a warranty based on towing, you'd be in very deep doo-doo trying to repair a damaged Prius drivetrain.

  • rwhein 11/22/11 6:23 pm PST

    can you post the curtis hitch model you used. i have used curtis hitch on a 2002 and 2007 model prius, each requiring a different model hitch. the v looks like it will require a different model also. i use the hitch for a yakima bike rack and ski rack. obviously have been doing it a long time. the 2002 just turned 190k miles and my son still uses the bike rack. my 2007 had 105k when i traded it for the v.

    i don't like the strap on carrier on the back of the vehicle as it is not as secure and prevents rear access. as for a roof mount, 2 problems, one i now have that lexan moon roof and i have difficulty lifting the bikes to the roof level.

    i did haul a trailer with the 2007 prius but that was a harbor tools fold up and i only went to the lumber yard and back distance of only about 3 miles and never more than a couple of undred pounds. biggest problem was getting a wire harness adaptor, but i found one.

    never had the dealer question either hitch. but in the manual the word was "NOT RECOMENDED" now the wording is "DO NOT"

  • nh_dealer 11/25/11 3:26 pm PST

    I have found on many occasions that when towing is "not recommended" by the manual, especially on Japanese cars, you can actually find an overseas rating. Here in the US towing is generally prohibited because of liability concerns. However, I've never research hybrids previous to this. I see a lot of folks online that do tow with the Prius, that being the case, I assume that you are going to tow with yours. Make sure that the ball is mounted high enough to balance your trailer (decreasing tongue weight) and keep it under 1,000 lb. And be aware that you may void your warranties.

    And a 1.8 L engine is tiny.

  • iambowie 12/17/11 5:48 pm PST

    Here's the site at Juiced Hybrid where you can order the Prius V hitch: http://www.juicedhybrid.com/2012-Prius-
    . I've used Curtis hitches and this one is a Class I. I use this to haul an ultra lite portable trailer and an 80cc or 125cc dirtbike. The total weight is well under 600 pounds and the tongue weight is less than 200 pounds.

    I'm sure the mechanic that replied above has repaired many Prius, but these failures would NOT be due to towing such a small load. The Prius battery has a load/temperature sensors that will turn cause the bypass of the electric motor if the torque required or temp is exceeded. To see this in action, just put the Prius in "EV" mode and floor pedal or simply go up a steep hill --- you'll see the Prius disable EV Mode and go totally on the gas motor.

    One thing I must stress is that I only haul very light stuff ---- WAY UNDER 750 pounds GVW. I also run it off ECO mode when towing and I must say I am being totally un-green.

    Towing this small weight is actually less than having 4 adults in the Prius V (that's not including the Driver), so the thought that the drive transaxle, battery, circuits can't handle this weight for long periods is not founded. Bottom line is that the Prius V can carry five 150 pound adults all day (which is 750 pounds dead weight) - 365 days a year and not be stressed out - PERIOD.

    In reply to another post above, a Ford Ranger comes with a 2.4L IL4 and it can haul well over 1,000 in its back (I owned one). Yes, a 1.8L engine is small, but it is being tasked to pull very little (about 1/4 of a Class 1 rating here after all). Again, don't go crazy hauling stuff with the Prius, keep the weight low and it'll do a fine job.

  • phoneyfarmer 01/27/13 11:23 am PST

    I'm surprised no one mentioned the CV transmission. That would seem to be the weak link in transferring power/momentum between the engine and load. These transmissions are not designed to transfer a lot of torque and that's where you would get into trouble towing.

  • jmb2004 03/13/14 4:30 am PST

    Can you tow a light trailer with the Toyota

    The Quick Answer
    is: YES you can definitely pull a
    trailer with a Prius.!

    But the more complete answer is a bit more complicated.

    Experience: Over-the-Road, Commercial Truck Driver 10
    yrs. Three years of which was as a Team
    Driver on a Round-Trip Los Angeles – Boston weekly, 6000 miles round trip, 5 ½ days.
    I have driven in Rain, Snow, Ice, Sleet, Blizzard, Tornado, Hail, Lightening.

    I have had a boat since I was 17 years old. Have been towing a boat, utility or car hauler
    trailers for 45 years. Yes, I am 67
    years old.

    Advice: If you DO NOT HAVE TOO
    drive in bad weather DON’T. Wait for clear weather to pull anything.

    Learn EVERYTHING about pulling the Trailer you are going to
    pull. Practice: Starting, Stopping, Turning, BACKING,
    Parking, Pulling IN-OUT of Gas Stations.
    Practice, Practice, Practice.
    Find out if you can pull thru McDonalds Drive-Thru with the Trailer on
    behind. ( Been there, Done That )

    I have a 2010 Prius.
    Love the Car! (Its name is
    Stealth…’Silent Driving’)

    This car is just like my Prius.

    I get 55-60 MPG, because I drive 64 MPH. I use the Cruise control at 36 MPH
    in ECO mode in town and get 100 MPG as often
    as I can. Haven’t had any problems with
    the car. Currently at 39,000 miles.

    Last year I bought a house in Las Vegas,
    NV which is 325 miles from my home in Southern
    California. After checking
    prices to move my household goods, I decided to purchase a Cargo Trailer and
    move everything myself.

    Get Hitched

    I recommend that when buying a hitch; get a good solid steel
    hitch that is welded to the ‘frame’ of the towing vehicle. I would NEVER buy a
    bolt-on hitch today. (OK, so I bought a bolt-on for my 71 Bronco, that bolted between
    both rear frame members and was just as solid as if it was welded-on.) Cars
    (especially Prius) today don’t have solid steel frames. I found a shop that builds and welds-on steel


    Some U-Haul Stores can install hitches also.


    You can also get Hitched on-line:


    Make sure you get the right size ball for the hitch that
    fits the trailer you will be towing.
    Also MAKE SURE the top height of the ball is the correct height for the
    trailer being towed. If the ball is too
    high, YOU will have to lift the
    tongue of the trailer, when loaded, up and onto the Ball. That will be 200-250 pounds. Hope you have muscles.

    Electrical Connection

    Here is where you really lucked out. You can purchase a pre-made trailer wiring
    harness especially made for the Prius:


    I bought this one, and it was really easy to install. Just READ and FOLLOW the instructions.

    Buy a Cargo Trailer

    This is the Cargo Trailer I purchased:


    The Trailer is 5’ x 8’ and has a single axle. The empty weight of the trailer is 751
    lbs. The Gross Vehicle Weight Rated
    is 2760 lbs. That means I can load the trailer with about
    2000 lbs of goods per trip. It is VERY
    important to load the trailer with the weight evenly over the axle (front and
    back). I try to keep the tongue weight (
    the weight of the trailer on the ball of the hitch) to 200-250 lbs. This is VERY IMPORTANT!!!

    If you have too much weight on the hitch, the back of the
    car will weigh down, lifting the front of the car, and the front tires will
    rapidly wear on the sides of the tire.
    You can ruin a new set of tires within 500 miles with TOO
    MUCH WEIGHT on the hitch. (Been There,
    Done That!)

    Expensive Trailer Tongue Weight scales can be purchased:


    I chose a less
    expensive method to weigh the tongue weight.

    I purchased a scale from Harbor Freight Tools:


    I purchased a piece of ½” plywood
    12” x 12” pre-cut from Home Depot.
    I cut a notch in the plywood to allow reading of the weight.

    I then place the Trailer Jack Foot Pad on the plywood that
    is placed on top of the scale and read the (close enough) tongue weight.

    After I weigh the tongue of the trailer, I adjust the load
    as needed, to be within the 200-250 lbs tongue weight limit.

    The Trip

    I had driven back and forth between SoCal and Vegas many
    times, and knew 55+ MPG was normal.

    I purchased a load of new Floor Tile in SoCal for the House
    in Vegas and thought the tile would fit into the rear of the Prius with the
    rear seats folded down. So I bought 44
    boxes of Tile and decided to deliver them to the new House. I was right, the Floor Tile did ‘just’ fit in
    the back of the Prius. After lifting a
    box of tile I guessed it weighed 25-30 lbs.
    44 * 30 = 1320 lbs. That should
    be fine for the Prius. Loaded up the
    back of the Prius with the 44 boxes of 18”x18” Floor Tile and after
    re-adjusting the air pressure in the tires, off to Vegas. The Prius seemed REALLY weighted down in the
    rear, but slow careful driving was in order (50-55 MPH). There are a couple of mountains that had to
    be traversed, but ‘Stealth’ made it up the mountains with NO TROUBLE with
    cruise control ON. Even got 50 MPH
    on the trip.

    After unloading the Floor Tile, I noticed that each box
    weighted 28Kg. OK, let’s see how much
    each box weighs. Using Kg to Lbs
    Converter on the internet, 28 Kg = 61 lbs. 44 *
    61 = 2684 lbs
    . That’s Right…
    44 boxes weighing 61 pounds each is 2684 pounds in the back of the
    MUCH WEIGHT IN THE BACK OF THE PRIUS. I now have great respect for Toyota and the
    Prius. And still got 50 MPG on the trip… HAHAHAHA!
    I now call ‘Stealth” my ‘Prius Pickup’.

    First Trailer Trip

    OK, got the hitch installed.
    Bought the wiring harness. Bought
    the Trailer. Now time for the first Real
    Trip. Drove with the trailer empty from
    Vegas to SoCal. Got 35 MPG. YIKES.
    I have NEVER seen 35 MPG with ‘Stealth’ before. Let’s think about this. Whats different? Well the Big Slug of a Trailer that is NOT
    aerodynamic could be the difference. That certainly a BIG DROP in gas mileage. Oh well, 35 MPG is a whole lot better than
    the 5 MPG the Big-Rig got. Loaded the
    Trailer and made my way back to Vegas.
    With the Trailer loaded, go 29 MPG.
    This was the trip that I DID NOT check the tongue weight and wore the

    Make Note to Self:
    Get the Trailer and Car tires Balanced for a Much Better Ride.

    I have made more than 10 trips between Vegas and Socal and
    have NOT had any problems. I have used
    the trailer to pick-up Carpet, Building Supplies, Furniture and make trips to
    the dump.

    And, at 35 MPG, ‘Stealth’ still gets better mileage than
    that 15-16 MPG SUV that some people think is a better way to go. HAHAHAHAHAA!

  • winjury1 05/18/14 1:47 pm PST

    IF you have to ask...

    the little hybrid vehicle barely weighs 2,800 lbs.
    Toyota advices you to not tow anything.
    Toyota does not offer a hitch for the prius.

    you WILL kill that little car towing anything more then a bicycle.

  • smulvey 06/02/14 8:51 pm PST

    Yes- I agree with the other poster.
    I drove a Prius 2008 for 100,000 miles.
    When I putit on the truck scales with
    all my tools and me in it, we weighed
    3800 pounds.

    I drove almost exclusively over the Interstates
    and very high speeds. I was gettting 45 MPG
    consistently winter and summer.

    I very confident the PRius can tow a 16 foot
    runabout on a trailer, less than 1,000 pounds
    would be no problem. The Prius can go up a hill
    on the interstate at 90 MPH. You just need to press
    the pedal down.

    Most people that buy the Prius drive like sissys.
    This was my company car and I loved it. I changed the
    oil at 2,000 mile intervals. That is the only maint I ever did.

    The thing just flys.

    I was a big detractor before I had one.
    Now I am a believer.

    @ $ 4 a gallon gas in NY and only hainvg to fill up once a week
    how you beat it.

    Now they gave my a Ford Escape and I fill up every night on my way home. Can't get better than 27 MPG in it.

    Love your Prius !
    It loves you back!

    My new Ford is on recall for fire.


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