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Old 05-15-2015, 04:04 PM   #15
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The specs are definitely important, but you can also make yourself crazy looking at them all day. Don't overlook the old "butt in the seat" test. Months before we ever actually sat in a 3/4-ton truck, we'd pretty much set our hearts on one brand in particular. On paper it looked like precisely the truck for us. When we finally got into one, I immediately hated it and my husband wasn't crazy about it either. We went with another brand.
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Old 05-15-2015, 05:24 PM   #16
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I haven't read all of the above post but i had the same dilemma that you seem to be having. I'm a "newbie" too so my advice may not be as valuable as some of the more seasoned AS owners but I owe so many Airstreamers so much for sharing their advice that when I saw your post I thought I would at least try to help someone the way that so many others have helped me.

We bought a 2015 28 ft. FC in August. I did not plan on buying a tow vehicle because I owned an Infiniti QX 56 which as luck would have it had the highest tow rating of any SUV that I have seen, 8,900 lbs. However after towing the AS home from Wentzville, MO and then towing it on a few shorter trips and finally a 3,000 mile trip out west i decided that I was not comfortable towing the AS with the Infiniti so the search for a new tow vehicle began. I did extensive research and my conclusion was that there is not a perfect answer. In my opinion the best tow vehicle is a 3/4/ ton diesel pickup however it isn't the best "daily driver". My wife wanted me to get a 1500 pickup but I decided to go with the GMC 2500 Denali and I am very happy with my decision. No it's not the easiest "daily driver" but quite honestly it hasn't been too difficult. It only has 4,000 miles on it and 2,500 of those miles were we towing the trailer home from Arizona so I have not had it very long. After a few months I may not think that my decision was as good as do right now. i think that I made the best decision for me. Safety while towing the trailer was a primary concern. You barely know that the trailer is behind you and the exhaust brake is fantastic. Stopping with the Infiniti was not comfortable, stopping with the exhaust brake is easy peasy. I think that the 3/4 ton diesel is "overkill" but for me it was the right decision. The way that I explained it (she says justified it) to my wife was that the 3/4 ton diesel was the right truck for towing and that a 1500 (1/2 ton) truck was the right decision for a daily driver. My goal was towing the AS safely and I'm convinced that for that goal I made the right decision.

I could have purchased a 3/4 ton gas engine but again it was the diesel torgue and exhaust brake that pushed me to spend the extra $8,500 +/- for the diesel. You'll hear lots of different opinions, you should read and listen to them all do lots of research and then make the decision that is right for you. There isn't a perfect answer I wasn't sure that I had made the right or even a good decision until I pulled the AS. Now I know that for what I wanted to accomplish I made the right decision for me.

I hope that this helps you. AS owners have been wonderful sharing their knowledge and advice. I hope that my experience and research will help you solve your problem! Safe travels!
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Old 05-15-2015, 06:22 PM   #17
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It's totally down to what works best for you and what makes you happy without overextending your budget. Just want to throw out my favorite TV (I tow a 38' Fountain Racing boat with it...I pull a Hummer H2 toad behind my XC diesel) is my new GMC 3500 Denali. It's hands down the most luxurious truck out there. Ford and Dodge are a little more powerful (I've had one from all 3). When it came to torque my dodge was almost ridiculous. The reason I prefer the Denali besides obviously winning in the luxury department is that I hated driving the Ford an Dodge workout a trailer behind them. Sooooo jerky (having a standard transmission didn't help either lol)
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Old 05-15-2015, 07:04 PM   #18
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Since our tow vehicle was not also to be a daily driver (my Mercedes 2007 ML320 CDI diesel was retired from towing when the numbers did not work out properly with the 2013 25FB so continues as a daily driver), I did my research at the time on the 2012 Ram 2500HD with Cummins power plant.

Having an engineering interest in the Cummins engine, I preferred that power plant design to the GM/Chevy Duramax or Ford's most recent attempt to build their own diesel engine.

We have customized both the truck and the trailer to the point of a perfect match and we are pleased with the towing capability here in the southwest mountains.

It is not all about starting and going, but most importantly in my opinion, also about stopping ability. One can talk all day about the car based vehicles, but many lack the necessary braking capability to stop the entire rig if the trailer's brakes quit going downhill. Coupling a trailer with a GVW of 7,600 pounds and a tow vehicle weighing 6,000+ pounds suggests that a tow vehicle needs to be rated for a combination weight (GCVW) of 15,000 pounds or more when the tow vehicle is loaded with occupants and stuff like a BBQ, generator(s), propane and gasoline, lawn chairs etc.

Wear out the pencils doing the number crunching as that is cheaper than making a mistake with just ink on a signature line....
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Old 05-15-2015, 07:41 PM   #19
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I just picked a 2015 GMC Sierra 1500 with the 6.2 Max Tow option package. Lot of towing goodies. So far I love the truck and it handles my '02 30' classic no problem at all. This arrangement has been hard to get but the production has increased as of the past two months. There are lots of options out there. Have a look at the set up as well.Best of luck.
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Old 05-15-2015, 08:08 PM   #20
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Hi, NoName, and welcome to the Forums. "Which TV (tow vehicle) to buy" is in the top five most discussed topics here. You'll note that no one is ready to give you a simple answer, nor am I. You started this thread with an assumption - trailers are towed with trucks. The replies have, I expect, given you some pause to this. The factors are: what kind of trips do you take, what are the weights you have to carry and tow, and what do you do with the vehicle when not towing?

Our favorite adventure with our Silvia is extended trips around the country. We like to go in two to three day leaps: travel up to 400 miles on day one, explore the area on days two and three, and then repeat the cycle. This is one of the reasons you have a trailer - you can leave it in the campsite while exploring. So the question of what you are touring in without the trailer is important.

We chose a full size van - you can see Silvester and Silvia in the photo to the left. The van provides an enormous amount of enclosed storage, plenty of room for the dogs, and comfortable, high visibility when touring. It has 9,800# max trailering! I mean: !

It also provides amazing flexibility. We take the back two seats out when towing, but when they're in they allow seating for 12 for family events, church events, etc.

And vans are so much less expensive than SUVs and most trucks. That's because you can buy them used from van pools, where they got excellent service and freeway miles.

Downside: we normally get about 11 mpg when towing. And everybody wants to borrow it for their boy scout outing, school choir trip, bowling team competition, etc.

You have lots of choices, and I though I'd add this.
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Old 05-15-2015, 09:20 PM   #21
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After having searched for a year (!) for a tow vehicle, I finally found a '15 GMC 1500 SLT with the 6.2 engine and the max trailer tow package. This truck, a crew cab which has everything but a sunroof, has a cargo capacity of 1930 lbs., per the door sticker. We never found another 1/2 ton with this much. You can get more in a new F-150 with the max payload package, but they're not producing that until fall. Everything else you see will be in the 1500-1700 lb. cargo capacity ( or less). For the same dollars, we could have bought a Chevy LT 2500 with the Duramax diesel.
We drop both the Ram and Chevy 2500s -gas and diesel. There are 2 of us and a 100 lb. dog. We disqualified the Ford because it has storage bins under the rear seat; no floor for the dog. Both diesels and the Ram 6.4 gas engine felt plenty powerful ( the Chevy gas engined seemed to work hard, even when empty). While all of the 3/4 tons were acceptably quiet and rode well enough, you definitely feel the extra 1000-1500 lb. weight of the truck;and they are noticeably taller than their 1/2 counterparts.
Ultimately, we went with the half ton because it is a much better daily driver and it seemed silly to use a 3/4 ton truck to pull a 7600 lb. trailer just to get another 6-700 lbs cargo capacity that we probably don't need.
This engine/rear axle combination pulled 10,000 lbs. up the "Ike Gauntlet" across the Continental Divide in Colorado on I-70 doing the speed limit, so I think it should do fine hauling at most 3/4 of that weight. The new for this year 8-speed transmission really improves towing performance.
Running empty, the 6.2 gets 20 mpg at highway speeds and it out-accelerates the average sedan, if that's important to you.
The biggest drawback is the relatively small fuel tank, and all these gasoline powered trucks all seem to get about 10 mpg towing. But I have enough spare capacity to strap a pair of NATO spec jerry cans in the bed.
Time will tell if I made the right decision.
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Old 05-15-2015, 09:42 PM   #22
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As switz mentions, pay attention to the numbers and think hard about braking and handling. It's easy to find a vehicle which has the power to pull a 27' to 30' Airstream, although pulling a loaded 27' to 30' Airstream up long significant grades is much more easily done with a diesel power plant.

Almost any 1/2 ton pickup will pull an Airstream with ease, but I was quite surprised when I added up the payload I required for a 30' Airstream:

1100 lb. trailer tongue weight,
315 lbs for wife & myself,
100 lbs for our Golden Lab,
45 lbs. for Honda 2000 generator,
35 lbs. for 5 gal. of gas for gen set,
90 lbs. for truck tonneau cover
= 1685 lbs.

And that doesn't even include a wide variety of other items like lawn chairs, BBQ, outdoor table, yada yada yada. The number could easily hit 1800 lbs. for us.

And here's the shocking part.... 1685 to 1800 lbs. is very close to (or may well exceed) the total carrying capacity of most 1/2 ton pickup trucks!


So remember, just because a vehicle is large and powerful enough to pull the Airstream, how does it pencil out for carrying capacity when you add tongue weight, yourselves, and the stuff you will want to carry in your TV? How does that compare to the Payload of the vehicle you're considering? How about the braking capability? Will you want to cross an major mountain ranges?

You may be surprised to find that many vehicles you would have thought would be just fine are actually just marginal (at best) for the purpose of safely and capably towing your Airstream and carrying your stuff.

We decided it was better to have a tow vehicle that had a little extra capacity than one which was pushing the limits of safety. The 3/4 ton diesel pickup is a bit on the beefy side, but more than capable of pulling, braking, and safely handling a 30' Airstream and all the stuff we might want to take with us. And with some available models, you may well find it makes a very comfortable, if beefy, daily driver.

How did I learn this lesson? After deciding that we wanted to tow a 30' Airstream and doing my homework, we decided that we needed to trade our 6 month old Yukon Denali with only 4500 miles on it for a 2500 Denali HD pickup with Duramax/Allison. And, we're really happy with the upgrade!
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Old 05-15-2015, 10:14 PM   #23
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Hey flash. Buy a Cadillac Escalade EXT. 130" wheelbase. Great Hp. I think the 2015s have 403 Hp and 417 torque. The 2016s may jump to 420 or 430 Hp with big torque and a 10 speed. A hybred 6.0 will get 23 mpg highway but only 332 Hp and 367 torque. Plan on $85,000. No more new Chevy Avalances ( but Airstreams should not be towed by a Chevy anyway.) I pumped my EXT to over 430 Hp so 0-60 is now under 6 seconds (6.5 with AS in tow). 3.73 axle. Weighs 6,000 pounds. Must burn premium gas all the time however. My new Brembo GT brakes set me back $9K and my gutted 1958 Caravanner , now 2180 pounds w/ 300 pound tongue stops faster than OEM brakes while using the trailer brakes. 5 stops in a row 80 to 0 and only slight fade on the last go. Only slight trailer nose dive due to air shocks on EXT. AWD, OEM trans cooler w/ temp gauge, OEM automatic vehicle air compressor leveling, Bose Premium sound ( 2 dash tweeters, 2 front door mid range, one console 10" subwoofer and 2 rear door mid range) w 6 CD, navigation, entertainment center, 2 driver memory for seats and mirrors and pedals etc, seats and mirrors and steering wheel are heated, of course all leather, sunroof , HID headlights and much much more. Must admit I needed a pickup for wood for military woodstove heater, kerosene for military tent heater and Coleman, 40 each 1 gallon water bottles, 18 each 1 pound propane bottles ( I refill mine), extra gas for 3500 watt generator on tongue, 8,500 Btu window A/C, 110v frig, plus other stuff. I don't want to sound too elitist but if you can afford an Airstream you can probably afford a Cadillac. Airstreams look better when pulled by an EXT.. My open floor plan 22 footer feels bigger than a 30 footer. And I guess I just do not understand dragging around anything over 3,000 pounds!!!
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Old 05-15-2015, 11:41 PM   #24
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So I don't have the exact #'s but I know the 2016 Escalade can tow quite a bit. I'm currently looking to sadly finally trade in my H2 as it's at the end of GM's standard shelf life, and I'm personally having trouble deciding between an 16' Escalade, Range Rover SVU, or Jeep Grand Cherokee. Hands down I want the Range Rover. I had an '03..I've driven the new ones, best SUV interior ever. Problem is I can't toad it on all fours!!! So for me it's looking like the Escalade over the Cherokee. Dhart is SOOOO right about how quickly that adds up (and with things you just wouldn't think about).
My main hobby besides motorhomes is boating. I have a Fountain (cigarette or racing) boat, a wakeboard boat, and a cabin cruiser. The H2 has no problems towing my wakeboard boat but one day I just looked at the dry weight of the cabin cruiser and trailer, completely ignoring the tongue weight...5 passengers, etc...let's just say it took till the end of the street for me to realize, whoops...
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Old 05-16-2015, 12:12 AM   #25
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I didn't ask the question...

Jspafford and DC Bruce: I didn't start the thread-- theflash44 is the one looking for feedback.

We figured out which brand we would be going with in December or January and finally ordered our 3/4-ton diesel last month. At the moment, we're just patiently waiting for it to arrive.

I still say you can't underestimate the value of the "butt in the seat" test. Admittedly, we always knew we were going with a 3/4-ton diesel truck, so we had fewer choices. Nevertheless, in our own case many months of research (and deciding what extras we wanted to include on what we believed was our dream truck) flew out the window in less than five minutes!

What someone else thinks is absolutely perfect in a tow vehicle may very well drive you crazy.
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Old 05-16-2015, 12:51 AM   #26
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Flash, my husband just pointed out one thing that no one has really mentioned here-- you've already purchased or at least ordered the Airstream, so time may be of the essence.

It can be challenging and frustrating trying to find a new or used 1/2-ton truck (if that's still what you're interested in) that's already been configured to tow (and especially with things like a max payload package-- like DHart said above, you really want to carefully consider your payload capacity needs). If you've got time to order a new one to your liking, then it's not a big worry, although some manufacturers may have a longer time to delivery than others.

Even though we custom ordered a 3/4-ton diesel, it was nice to know that they were pretty much already configured with everything we needed for towing and we could have chosen one off the lot if need be.
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Old 05-16-2015, 01:43 AM   #27
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As NoNameinNM mentioned, of course... you've got to get out and test drive the possible candidates! That is the only way you will find the tow vehicle you really want to live with.

After a few test drives of 1/2 ton trucks, I was all set to buy a Sierra 1/2 ton Denali. It was an easy transition from my Yukon Denali. It had the tow capacity for the Airstream trailer weight and I assumed (at the time) that was the main thing. (I hadn't given much thought to PAYLOAD at that time.)

But I'm usually very deliberate and slow in my decision process on things like this and suddenly, out of the blue, I asked the dealer what they had on the lot in the way of 3/4 ton diesel trucks (Denali preferably)... as I thought I should at least drive a couple of them just to see what they were like, to rule them out, before signing on the dotted line for a 1/2 ton Denali gasser.

I was amazed at how much I preferred the 3/4 ton Denali HD diesel over the 1/2 ton Denali gasser. The 1/2 ton Denali drove just like a luxury car, shockingly so! Surprisingly, the 1/2 ton wasn't quite "truck-like" enough for me.

When I drove the 3/4 ton diesel, I was amazed at how quiet it was for a diesel. I liked sitting up a little higher (better view of the road over the tops of other vehicles ahead). It drove more like a truck and I liked that. But it was a Denali and, thus, very comfortable with all the amenities that I was accustomed to with the Yukon Denali.

The Denali HD had excess trailering and payload capacites, should I decide later to go with a heavier trailer or a 5th wheel. It had greater pulling power, greater stopping power (engine brake), and better mileage while towing.

But the clincher was that I started looking at payload very closely and was stunned at how I would be pushing toward the max payload capacity with the 1/2 ton Denali. That was all it took to decide in favor of the 3/4 ton Denali HD Duramax/Allison.

You've got to get out there and test drive, test drive, test drive. Don't be shy about asking to do that, until you are sure of your choice! The dealerships are there to help you get to know all the candidates and drive them all as much as necessary to solidify your preferences. I test drove trucks for several hours a day over 3 days!

But if you choose by test drive alone, without first making sure that the weight capacities are all well-matched (or better than matched), you may find the need for an expensive "change of horses" a short ways down the road.

When choosing a tow vehicle, in addition to loving the vehicle, trailering capacity is vitally important and, just as important, is calculating your needs for PAYLOAD capacity. If you aren't sure of the distinctions between these two, then you need to get yourself fully up to speed on that to make sure your choice is right for your needs. Don't expect any dealer to work that out for you, in fact, do NOT rely on whatever a dealer says in this regard. Do your own homework on vehicle's capacities without relying on what a salesman says. And consult the printed PAYLOAD sticker on the inside door jamb of the vehicle to know the exact payload spec for the vehicle you are considering.

And, if there's much of a chance you might decide to go with a longer/heavier trailer model down the road a bit, consider choosing a tow vehicle for your current trailer which has some excess capacity to be ready for that.

Don't forget: towing mirrors are really important, and electric-powered towing mirrors are a pure joy to have! I think most 3/4 ton diesel trucks are going to be already set up with towing mirrors and a towing package. But you should make sure your bases are covered with these if the vehicle you choose doesn't have them already.
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Old 05-16-2015, 06:16 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by jspafford View Post
Hi, NoName, and welcome to the Forums. "Which TV (tow vehicle) to buy" is in the top five most discussed topics here. You'll note that no one is ready to give you a simple answer, nor am I. You started this thread with an assumption - trailers are towed with trucks. The replies have, I expect, given you some pause to this. The factors are: what kind of trips do you take, what are the weights you have to carry and tow, and what do you do with the vehicle when not towing?

Our favorite adventure with our Silvia is extended trips around the country. We like to go in two to three day leaps: travel up to 400 miles on day one, explore the area on days two and three, and then repeat the cycle. This is one of the reasons you have a trailer - you can leave it in the campsite while exploring. So the question of what you are touring in without the trailer is important.

We chose a full size van - you can see Silvester and Silvia in the photo to the left. The van provides an enormous amount of enclosed storage, plenty of room for the dogs, and comfortable, high visibility when touring. It has 9,800# max trailering! I mean: !

It also provides amazing flexibility. We take the back two seats out when towing, but when they're in they allow seating for 12 for family events, church events, etc.

And vans are so much less expensive than SUVs and most trucks. That's because you can buy them used from van pools, where they got excellent service and freeway miles.

Downside: we normally get about 11 mpg when towing. And everybody wants to borrow it for their boy scout outing, school choir trip, bowling team competition, etc.

You have lots of choices, and I though I'd add this.
Man, I hadn't considered a Van! That's actually REALLY smart. We don't have kids, but do require to carry some gear in the truck, and a van is a smart way to do it.

I already own a '12 2500HD gasser, but I'm sort of looking for a second tow vehicle so I can take both my boat and my trailer on short trips in Texas, and a Van is a smart choice in it's ability to tow and be a great all around business hauler. We move a lot of stuff around for business, both locally and during extended cross country trips - so a van is handy in all of those situations... and like you say, cheaper. Sexy? No, but who cares.

Is yours gas or diesel ?
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