A few months ago we traded our 2001 Yukon for a 2011 Traverse and had Can-AM RV set up for towing our 2001 25SS Safari and thought I'd post my experience to date.
To save some money (like $10k) we bought the Traverse as an 8-month old rental return w/32000 kms (20k miles). Its just a base LS model w/AWD and did not have towing package so everything of importance had to be added after market. If buying new, I would strongly recommend anyone planning to tow buy a model with the tow package because it's much cheaper and easier than adding after market.
I'm fortunate to live in the same City as Can-Am RV, and had them do all the work.
Since my Traverse does not have the tow package everything of importance needed to be added:
- installed Class III Hidden Hitch reinforced w/two steel angle irons that run forward underneath the spare tire and are welded onto the vehicles under body -- the spare tire had to be remounted slightly to accommodate and now hangs a little lower. The additional reinforcements stiffen the hitch and spreads the weight/towing forces over a wider area of the Traverse which is important for unibody vehicles. Note ideally a Class IV would have been used but apparently there are problems finding a Class IV that fits the Traverse well and can be reinforced properly -- something that Can-Am RV routinely does to most of its installs.
- installed Hayden #405 Ultra transmission cooler (Manufacturer says it doesn't fit the Traverse but it does if you don't mind scraped knuckles)
- installed 7-PIN Bargman wiring harness w/breaker and converter for battery charging.
- installed DirecLink brake controller. This is an inertial based controller plugs into the computer diagnostic port and has access to real-time vehicle data including transmission temperature. Has separate gain adjustments for both normal "highway" speeds and low speeds which is nice to have with the Hensley. The handset it modular and can be removed when not towing.
As per Can-AM's advice, since I don't tow in the southern US in the summer I didn't replace the rad. (The factory tow package apparently comes with a heavy duty rad, but I suspect all it has is an integrated transmission cooler).
I've been towing with a Hensley Arrow since our first 30 foot TT and would not consider towing with anything else. When setting up the Traverse I had to change the 2" drop stinger for a 4" drop. The 1000 lb spring bars were still OK but the barrel jacks need to be tightened up just short of the maximum (same as it was for my Yukon).
The Traverse has 17" of ground clearance to the bottom of the 2" receiver which drops to 14" after hooking up and adjusting the WD bars. The trailer sits level and there's maybe a 1" difference in wheel clearance on the Traverse (rear sits lower). When loaded up this will likely increase by a good inch, but I still have a little room left on the jacks to compensate if necessary. The Traverse's 1500+ lb cargo carrying capacity will certainly come in handy when throw the canoe on and stuff in the back.
2011 AWD Traverse Specs for reference:
Curb Weight = 4790 lbs
GVWR = 6411 lbs
Payload = 1524 lbs
GAWR(F) = 3196 lbs
GAWR(R) = 3527 lbs
Tow Capacity = 5200
GCVWR = 9990 lbs
Actual CAT scale weights (loaded Traverse and trailer, ready to camp):
Front Axle = 2800 lbs (88% max)
Rear Axle = 3260 lbs (92% max)
GVWR = 6060 lbs (95% max)
GCVWR = 11660 lbs (117% max)
So I'm over GM's recommended max tow rating by 17%, but am under the most important ones. IMO "tow rating" is more of a manufacturers recommended guideline than anything else, but certainly due diligence and regular maintenance will be required.
Initial Road Test:
We took the trailer down the local highway and after some experimenting set the DirecLink to +16 for towing normal speed and -3 for low speed. With the Hensley the trailer handled very well, as expected.
When driving to Can-AM for the final tweak of the setup I didn't have the spring bars tightened enough and noticed some porpoising but all sign of that was gone after they were tightened up. I did notice a hint of little side-to-side wobble when making sudden direction changes which was likely due to the mushy OEM 'P' tires that were only inflated to 32 PSI at the time. I'll inflate to 40 PSI for towing in the future. I have no plans to replace the tires with low-profile high performance tires at this time as the Hensley is very effective on the highway.
The power was very good. Off the line it was peppier than my old 4-spd 5.3L Yukon which was always slow to get going from 0-25kph but picked up when it entered it's power band. The Traverse revs high off the mark but gets up to speed faster -- which I credit the VVT and 6-speed tranny.
Afterwards my DW and I took short cruise down HWY 402. Acceleration to highway speed was very good, overall not dissimilar to the old Yukon. We quickly got it up to 110 kph (69MPH) in light traffic (a little faster than I normally tow) were the Traverse was happily pulling along in 5th at 2500 RPM). There was a very slight cross wind but that was all. When we came to a hill the transmission would quickly drop down to 4th and RPMs jumped up to 3500. Although I generally tow a little slower around 105 kph, I think this behaviour is what I can expect much of the time -- that is the Traverse will drop down a gear pretty quickly when it want's to. At the same speed the Yukon would tend to stick in 3rd gear at 2700 RPM for a longer period before dropping down to 2nd, which is understandable since it did have more torque and was running at higher RPM's.
If you're interested, here's another persons experience towing a 30 foot Airstream with an Enclave...
RV Lifestyle - Hitch Hints
First (short) Trip Experience:
Early indications from a test drive our first 3-hour round trip on HWY 401 (express way) is positive.
As indicated earlier I'm very pleased with the power available in town -- the Traverse's VVT and 6-speed transmission really puts out the torque "off the line" (pulling away from a stoplight) as compared to my old 2001 Yukon. Nice.
On the highway I'm able to cruise at 100 kph (62 MPH) doing 2200 RPM in 5th gear in "normal" conditions, keeping up with transports. The only time it want's to drop down to 4th gear (3200 RPM) is on an incline and/or into a stiff headwind. I just set the transmission to "L"ow and which locks out 6th and forget it.
Even with the excellent Hensley hitch, I'm totally amazed how well this rig tracks down the highway. Of course the Hensley eliminated trailer-induced sway completely, but the bow-wave of passing big rigs would still affect my old Yukon and require some steering input -- and this even though I upgraded my Yukon's OEM P tires to LT's. In comparison, and even with my Traverse's OEM P tires, most times NO steering input is required when being passed by big rigs...it's just as if they aren't there. Amazing. The only thing I can but this down to is the superior aerodynamics of the Traverse compared the the box-shaped Yukon, the aerodynamic shape of the Airstream and of course the Hensley. Very impressive.
As for mileage, so far I'm averaging 12 MPG (US) at 100KPH (62 MPH). I have to say that I was kind of hoping for something better, but it is what it is. The good news that my Traverse is capable of delivering 23 MPG on highway solo, which is much better than my old Yukon.
According to the DirecLink controller the transmission temp maxed out at 150 degrees F -- ambient temp was around 55 F at the time.