Hi-Lo trailer makes for smooth towing

May 21, 2004|by JEFF JOHNSTON/Motor Matters

Most RV companies with towable products have designed trailers that can be towed by today's downsized trucks, SUVs, minivans and other vehicles.

The line of raising-roof trailers from Hi-Lo is perfectly suited for many smaller vehicles, both from weight and towability standpoints.

The Hi-Lo model 27T shown here weighs 5,300 pounds wet but empty, meaning with freshwater and LP-gas tanks full with no supplies aboard. That figure is easy for many midsize tow rigs to handle. Other Hi-Lo models are rated in the 3,000- to 4,000-pound range, and that makes them towable by a wide variety of family-size tow rigs.

No other RV is quite like the Hi-Lo trailer. It features fairly conventional hard wall construction, but the roof section is slightly larger overall and is designed to telescope down over the lower half. The result is that, while towing, the trailer is just 6 feet 5 inches tall including the a/c hump. Lower profile means less wind resistance, which is easier on the tow rig's engine and fuel economy, as opposed to towing a full-profile trailer. It also means the trailer is less susceptible to side winds and other effects, such as passing trucks.


The lower profile also means the trailer has a lower center of gravity and that's important when cornering and performing other driving maneuvers. There's less of a tail-wagging-the-dog effect when the trailer handles well.

We towed the Hi-Lo with the new-style Dodge Dakota, a powerful and highly capable tow rig. Our trip covered a variety of freeway and back road conditions. It's comforting to be passed by a tractor/trailer truck on the freeway and feel very little of the usual push-pull trailer reaction to such traffic. When tumbleweeds start blowing across the freeway, the Hi-Lo plows through the blustering wind with ease and causes the driver to take minimal steering corrections to maintain a suitable forward heading. Such towing ease is worth a lot when you face a long trip, of if you just happen to be unsure about towing in general.

Thanks to the trailer's electric lift mechanism, setting up in camp is also easy. The lift switch and safety switch are located just inside the split Dutch-door-style entry. Once activated, the top lifts into place and locks tight in less than 15 seconds. There's a full 6 feet 5 inches of headroom inside when set up.

On standard Hi-Lo models there's no further setup to mess with, but the model 27T also has a 6-foot-long tip-out room. A concealed electric winch mechanism helps raise the room from its lowered stored position inside, then gravity pulls it outward to its deployed mode. Even a relatively small tip-out (most RVs use slide outs) adds a lot of living area and elbow room inside.

Hi-Lo builds its trailers using state-of-the-art lamination assembly. Aluminum framing, fiberglass exterior skin and polystyrene insulation are standard, as is the electric pump and hydraulic cylinder lift mechanism. The 27T includes all the usual fully self-contained components used in a conventional hard wall trailer.

The 27T has a fairly conventional floor plan. A forward wall galley is adjacent to the lounge and freestanding dining table, and the walk-through bath is midships, with an island-style queen bed out back.

Due to the raising-roof design, there are some interesting interior features. There are half-height hard walls flanking the bath, and a combination of flexible permanently-attached curtains and telescoping hard wall sections raise with the roof and create full-height visual privacy walls when the rig is set up. If anything particularly noisy is going on therein, it still echoes throughout the rig.

The roof and lower section fit means there's a ledge around the trailer's perimeter inside, which is a handy spot for stashing a beverage can or other small necessities.

Enthusiastic cooks should enjoy the 27T's roomy wall-to-wall front kitchen. It has scads of open counter space and plentiful storage for hardware and food items.

Exterior storage is a bit short with this rig, but a large flat rear compartment can handle lawn chairs, leveling blocks, hoses and the like. We found it useful to keep some of our gear in small duffle bags, and restow them as needed for daytime or nighttime trailer use.

Buyers generally accept the Hi-Lo's somewhat higher price - approximately $20,799 base manufacturer's suggested retail price - because they want the trailer for its superb towing manners and quality construction, both of which are significant draws. For more information, contact Hi-Lo, 500 S. Main St., Bellville, OH 44813; 419-886-0066,

Copyright Motor Matters, 2004

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