Our mate the Magna makes light of fuel costs

September 10, 2005

We know front-wheel drive family vehicles dont fit 'traditional' towing wisdom, but up to a 1500kg maximum (with good electric trailer brakes) and four bar load leveling system our comfortable Mitsubishi Magna Advance V6 wagon more than does the job and economically too!

'ROG' as the company workhorse is known makes great affordable camping holidays an easy experience at any caravan park which is on a half decent road. That is the majority of the more than 2700 caravan parks throughout Australia. ('ROG' is Pictured right with a Coromal Silhouette S392 in tow).

GoSeeAustralia tests show that the reliable four-year-old Mitsubishi Magna V6 Advance can average 11.3 litres a 100km towing 1050kg in flat, calm going. That is around 30 litres of unleaded to cover 250km at about $40 (current prices) to do the job one way. A round-trip of about 500km for under $100, with the family, and the camper behind is highly affordable holiday travel.

We use a Camec Load Equalizer system with four torsion bars. This makes a big difference in the load transfer to the Mitsubishis front end drive and provides more weight on the drive wheels to get us out of wet, slippery, situations and helps our quality Michelin Certis radial tyres grab grip.

Overall handling is significantly improved and the smooth ride the Equalizer provides can lead to 'forgetting' that over a 1100kg is rolling happily along behind.

For those who suffer motion sickness this steady progress is a real benefit, even on winding undulating roads and it certainly reduces driver stress.

It is essential that strict attention be paid to the weight on the tow ball. The weight of the van and the luggage in the back need four Equalizer rods from 70kg to 125kg. If heavier than that a suitably rated load distribution hitch should be used.

The Mitsubishi Magna is 'soft' in the back end and we would not go beyond the Equalizer four torsion bar maximum. Nor would we tow anything heavier than the manufacturers 1500kg maximum with electric trailer brakes.

Vehicle and tow bar makers rate their product by weight on the ball. Their ratings are the maximum ball weight allowed. So check before you tow.

Coromal SilhouetteMitsubishi says the maximum trailer mass for Magnas must not exceed 1500kg. From 500kg to 1500kg the company says trailer brakes are essential. If you plan to travel at speeds greater than 80kmh Mitsubishi says a weight distribution hitch is also essential.

Towbar load limitations also apply Mitsubishi says. If you want stability, safe braking and steering 10 per cent of the total towed mass must be towbar ball load. Be unAustralian; read your owners manual, particularly the bits about correct vehicle adjustment for towing. It could save your life. At very least it will make your touring happier.

Editors note: Please see the Towing feature in the Information files on GoSeeAustralia.com.au

Tyre pressures, profiles and rolling resistance characteristics make a significant difference to towing safety, handling, and comfort and of course fuel economy.

For example a Coromal Silhouette camper GoSeeAustralia tested had 14 inch wheels and came shod with 8-ply light truck radials. They matched well with the Michelin Certis radials we run on the Mitsubishi Magna Advance V6. No, Michelins are not standard Magna, but we have learned to trust them in all conditions so we always change our 'boots'.

We know that in windy going safety, and fuel economy benefit from aerodynamic wind cheating camper designs like the 1050kg Coromal Silhouettes with its independent suspension.

four Bar HitchTowing campers with the Mitsubishi V6 is usually an economical experience thanks to the beautifully engineered 3.5 litre power plant which develops a respectable 300Nm at 4000rpm. But fuel economy depends on how and where you are towing and what the conditions are. For example in flat, windless highway running the Mitsubishi Magna Advance easily averages 11.3 litres a 100km, moving at posted speeds of up to 100km/h when we think its safe. In the same going, but punching into storm winds, the vehicle computer reports 12.6 litres a 100km travelling cautiously through raging gusts at between 80 and 90km/h.

In another GoSeeAustralia test session we got some interesting results when we used the Mitsubishi Magna Advance to try the good looking Jayco Dove camper trailer. The Dove more than did the job with its wind cheating drop top and good suspension over more than 535km of touring from Melbourne, through Victorias Otway Ranges and return along the spectacular Great Ocean Road.

From our Melbourne suburb of Ringwood East start point the GoSeeAustralia.com.au trip planner says 273.32 km and 3 hrs. 33 min run time on the C155 outbound option to the Cape Otway Lighthouse Road turnoff.

Jayco Dove Compact size,light weight and streamlined profileWe took 4 hrs 21 min, with a stop for fuel outside Geelong. This includes the narrow, winding 7km of good bitumen road through the National Park and the short dirt section of Manna Gum Drive to Bimbi Park Caravan Park which is 27 km west of Apollo Bay.

The return trip on B100, the Great Ocean Road, via Apollo Bay, Lorne, and the Anglesea Rd. through the Waurn Ponds roundabout is 262 km. Run time is trip planned at 3 hrs 32 min.

We took 5 hrs 18 min with stops to see the sights on this spectacular drive which now has an 80km/h maximum posted for the Apollo Bay to Aireys Inlet section.

We headed for Cape Otway via the Eastern Freeway to Melbourne then chose the M1 via Westgate Bridge to Geelong. Just out of Geelong where the A1 and the Anglesea Road meet at Waurn Ponds roundabout we took the A1 to Colac.

This route was easy towing with the 3.5 Magna V6 station wagon comfortably in the pulling power curve at just under 2000 rpm on the flat going.

In mixed highway and hilly going, with a crosswind, fuel averaged 12.7 litres a 100km on the M1 from Melbourne and A1 (Princes Highway) from Waurn Ponds roundabout to the left turnoff onto C155 (the Lavers Hill Colac Road) in Colac.

The run over the Otway Range via Ferguson is on good, wide bitumen through mostly magnificent hill country.

Fuel consumption hit 15.3 litres a 100km high as we tackled the Otway climbs holding third in the auto box on the way up and down on some of the steeper descents to ease the stress on motor, transmission and brakes.

By contrast a recent tour to Swan Hill Riverside Top Tourist Caravan Park, with nothing on the tow bar, gave GSA a chance to test the Mitsubishis economy when going alone.

On the way up through Bendigo we used 32.6 litres at an average 8.5 litres per 100km.

We averaged 77.3km, so, yes we drove carefully over the 360km.

We came back via Kerang, Serpentine, Bridgewater and the Marong turn onto the A790 to Ravenswood and through the Harcourt Hills to Ringwood East.

We used 38litres at 8.7 litres a 100km to cover 356km. It was a shorter run, but we used more fuel. The reason is we used cruise control on the return trip and met heavier, stop and go traffic conditions. Cruise control makes a difference to economy, particularly in hilly country as it holds the set speed regardless of hill and dale.

Total fuel cost for 808km was $78.97. At todays price of about $1.30 a litre the trip would cost $91.78. For a family holiday to the Murray that is economical travelling. All it takes is thoughtful lifting of the drivers right foot.