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Old 09-30-2007, 03:02 PM   #1
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Am I asking for trouble?? Advice needed!

I'm getting ready to buy my first Airstream and am very excited. I have settled on buying a new 19' International CCD. It is a good size for now and should tow easily behind my '07 BMW X5. I plan on using my trailer for short weekend trips in local campgrounds. Right now, it's just me and my 4 year old son, but I will be getting married early next year and eventually adding 2 or 3 more kids to the family. Long term I would love to have the 23' or 25' CCD, but I don't want to buy a dedicated TV.

After reading about this guy, I'm debating getting the 23' instead of the 19'. My X5 is rated for 6,000# and my dealer says I should have no problem towing the larger trailer (of course he would say that).

I really value your opinions and would love to hear your advice. Am I asking for trouble by going with the 23'? Should I play it safe and stick with the 19'?

Thanks in advance!!
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Old 09-30-2007, 03:30 PM   #2
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There are so many different experiences and situations, it really is hard to tell.. Many of us don't really think of the X5 as a real heavy duty tow vehicle, and with a short wheelbase it might get over-matched by a fully loaded 23... I'd opt for the 19, and to gain some experience, trying different trips, talking to other Airstream owners, etc, and then decide " in a few years" if you want to do something different.. You may decide to try vintage, or go even larger, or your family may not really enjoy it... You'll also have experience with the BMW on how it pulls, stops and handles cross winds and sway...
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Old 09-30-2007, 03:58 PM   #3
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Aaaron,

I'm sure the BMW X5 is a fine vehicle, but the fact is, you really don't see that many of them. Additionally, you see even less of them towing trailers. That's not to say they won't do it, its just that you probably won't get very much response from X5 owners that tow Airstreams.

I'm currently towing a vintage 23' Airstream with a standard cab, short wheelbase, Dodge pickup...I know, not even in the same league, but it is simular size, and probably with simular horsepower (235 V8). Anyway, to the point, the Dodge is marginal in my opinion to tow the 23 footer, but I think it would be fine for a 19 footer.

Yes, I am currently studying the market trying to decide what I want to buy to replace the Dodge.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

Steve
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Old 09-30-2007, 04:59 PM   #4
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Aaaron, you'll find a HUGE range of opinions on this site about tow vehicles. I've been trying to sort through and understand some of it on this and other TV/RV sites recently. I've read posts ranging from folks who feel safe towing a 25' Safari with a Toureg, to another who ended up with an F350 before feeling comfotable towing a Bambi. My conclusion so far is to learn what all the manufacturer specs mean and use the numbers to first see if things are in the ballpark.

- Starting with trailer's UBW (dry, empty weight), add the weight of the stuff you will put in it and, any fresh, black and gray fluid weight. (Fluid weight varies based on how you camp - e.g. I always travel with empty tanks, others boondock and carry fluids to and from the campsite). Be sure to include 100 lbs or so for a weight distributing/sway hitch set up.

- If this total trailer weight is below your tow vehicle's specifed towing capacity, go ahead and estimate the weight of the stuff you will put in the TV plus, 2/3 of the trailer's tongue weight. Make sure this total vehicle weight does not exceed its specified GVWR.

- If everything still looks OK, see if you can find a combined vehicle weight rating for the TV (may be called GCVWR or GCWR). Make sure your estimated total trailer weight and total vehicle weight is under the specified combined weight rating.

- If things still look good you are in the ballpark and can do more detailed calculations to decide. Check the capacity of hitches availble for your TV. Search around this site and internet for experiences from folks using vehicles like yours to tow trailers. For vehicles like the X5, Toureg, M-Class that may not have a full length box frame, there is usually debate about using a weight distributing hitch, which moves some of the tongue weight to the TV front wheels.

No matter what you decide, a good weight distribution and sway bar set up will be key to stable towing.

Good luck! An X5 and an Airstream seems like a very cool rig
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Old 09-30-2007, 05:15 PM   #5
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Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead...

get the trailer that is going to meet your needs in the five year time frame. You're X5 will be fine. The Germans are very conservative with their capacities. If you were contemplating massive mountain towing and 3 to 4 thousand miles a trip, I'd tell you to get a real TV. Three hours out.. three hours back - no problem. If you're careful and don't challenge the capabilities of the BMW, you could get the 25FB now and not have to do that in five years ;-) A weight distribution hitch and some intillegent towing practices and you'll be fine.
i have a 76 Argosy and your BMW X5 would be very happy with 4k pounds and dual axels... sleeps four and has all of the conveniences. The best part - buy a good one for $5-8k and no depreciation.
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Old 09-30-2007, 05:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aaaron
I plan on using my trailer for short weekend trips in local campgrounds....but I will be getting married early next year...I really value your opinions and would love to hear your advice. Am I asking for trouble by going with the 23'?
Easiest question I've seen on this forum.

Yes, you're getting in deep trouble by going with the 23'er - if you actually want to get to go camping with your family in the years ahead, you need to bring your prospective wife to a dealer, let her sit with you in a bunch of different sized Airstreams, and pick the one she likes!

She might decide she likes the 16' CCD - cute, compact and easy to clean - or that she can't imagine staying in anything smaller than the 34' triple axle. But going with any Airstream without input from your intended is definately asking for trouble.

enjoy,
leo

P.S. Keep in mind that your BMW's 6000lb rating is for a single driver and no cargo. Since the 23' Airstream's GVWR is 6000lbs you would not enjoy towing it. Not that you couldn't (particularly at sea level with no hills) - but it would not be fun.

P.P.S. My advice for anyone asking your basic question is the same - decide what you want to do, pick the airstream size/floorplan that will allow you do it, pick the age of the trailer you can afford, pick a tow vehicle that will allow you to drive comfortably and safely, then pick the age of the tow vehicle you can afford.
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Old 09-30-2007, 05:45 PM   #7
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First of all, welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

Please don't run away after after the responses to your very first post. Your questions are like rolling a hand grenade into the room. There are some very strong feelings around here when the topic of sufficiency of tow vehicles comes up.

As to whether your BMW X5 will handle a 19' Bambi, my opinion is kinda sorta. It would probably not be within my comfort zone, but each person must decide for him or her self what they can deal with. If you decide to go with the 19', try it with the X5 and see how it feel.

If you decide on the 23', the X5 will probably be overmatched. This combination will probably cause you substantial towing unhappines.
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Old 09-30-2007, 05:45 PM   #8
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aaron this is a good example of taking the time to understand what the specs mean as you make your decsion:

An Airstream's GVWR is the combined weight of the base model trailer plus all the stuff you choose to put in it, which, Airstream recommends you not exceed.

UBW is the actual weight of the trailer without any options, gear or fluids.

A 23' Safari SE has a 6000 lb GVWR but its UBW is 4460 lbs. A big difference.
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Old 09-30-2007, 06:23 PM   #9
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wow!

I am overwhelmed! Thanks for all the quick responses. I have heard that the AS community was large and friendly, now I have experienced it first hand!

Leo, please rest easy knowing that the future wife has been with me to check them out and loves the 19' CCD. We both agreed that it would be nice to get the 23' now, so that our family can grow into the trailer.

That said, I'm still not convinced that the X5 is the right match for the heavier load. I've read on some BMW forums where the general consensus is that the X5 is a great TV for what it is, and that it has been underrated by BMW. I certainly don't consider it a heavy duty hauler, but I am confident that it will easily handle the 19' trailer for short weekend trips. If I can gain the same confidence that it will handle the 23'er, I may go for it.

Wayward, thanks for taking the time to explain so much to me. I am still learning, and what you have described answers many of my questions. Can you also explain what 'CSA' means? I have seen this on the Airstream specifications sheet.

Again, thanks for all the advice!
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Old 09-30-2007, 06:31 PM   #10
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CSA is proabably referring to Canada Standards Assoc if you saw it in the towing/weight specs.
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Old 09-30-2007, 07:01 PM   #11
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For what it's worth, we tow our 20' Safari with a Mercedes ML500 without and problem or concern. My wife Sam will be home tomorrow after a month in Montana with it.
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Old 09-30-2007, 07:19 PM   #12
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Our family is also looking at the Bambi 19' and are looking for an appropriate TV. We're interested in the Toyota Four Runner V-6, but the more I read online, the more I think we may need a V-8. That means crummy gas mileage for in-town driving.

Any opinions?
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Old 09-30-2007, 07:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aaaron
After reading about this guy, I'm debating getting the 23' instead of the 19'. My X5 is rated for 6,000# and my dealer says I should have no problem towing the larger trailer (of course he would say that).
i wouldn't tow anything bigger than 19' would the X5. i'd recommend searching the towing forum here rather then what some knucklehead may be doing on the bmw forum to learn about proper tow setups. also, i'd be worried about getting towing advice from a bmw dealer.

bottom line, spend a few hours here, use the search button and you'll learn a great deal about towing and tow vehicles.

check out this thread link for a mismatched TV, http://www.airforums.com/forums/f238...ost-36080.html
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Old 09-30-2007, 07:56 PM   #14
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Muddy, there is a good chance that you wouldn't see too much difference in gas mileage difference in real world everyday driving between the v6 and v8. and....you might actually see a bit better mileage when towing with the v8.
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