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Old 09-07-2014, 09:50 AM   #141
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I posted above that Chrysler 300s are not "lightweights",,,

The base model weighs in at 3,961 lbs,,, the weight just gets higher from there.

The curb weight of a 1975 Chevy 1/2 ton Cheyenne trim,,,, 4100 lbs.
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Old 09-07-2014, 10:16 AM   #142
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What was the original question of this thread? What car to use to tow a 25' or smaller Airstream? Man, y'all sure can get off track!
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Old 09-07-2014, 10:45 AM   #143
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The thread has revolved around that original question as they all tend to do it. The problem is trying to discuss it without being shouted down by anyone who refuses to consider anything but the parameters manufacturers impose.

Those parameters are very close-minded whether for marketing, an abundance of caution to protect THEM from litigation, or to simply put us idiots, engineers, or motorheads all in the same box.

Many of us want to learn the elements that make for better towing of our Airstreams. A small tow vehicle discussion always offers an opportunity to learn, as well as an opportunity to defend a big tow vehicle choice with a persistent warning that anything less is nothing but less.
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Old 09-07-2014, 11:01 AM   #144
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In my field (software) if you have an idea that is truely great, you can make it common place by 1) prototyping it and selling it to a big company (they will take care of the rest), or 2) presenting the idea to a venture capitalist, where they will give you the cash to make your prototype common place. Either way, the big company or the venture capitalist will bring in their own experts and will criticize your idea to death, to see whether its legit for investment.

My concern is that the idea of "small tow vehicle" has been discussed for years (may be decades) and yet it has not been picked up by anyone outside a small/vocal/faithful group. As I see it, there is a lack of external feedback in the loop, and when presented it causes extreme reaction.

If no other RV shop endorses such practices, no existing car company is revising its rating for its sedans, and no venture capitalist is willing to put down money to make this idea big, then I would question the value of the idea. If everyone says it not worth it, then it probably is not worth it.
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Old 09-07-2014, 11:07 AM   #145
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Yes Doug. I know how these threads go. I have learned a lot from them. Most of it is human interactions. We want everyone else to do what we do. You know, I think everyone should tow with a Toyota Sequoia or a RAM 1500 EcoDiesel because that is what I do.
The OP asked for the "smallest" tow car to tow a 25' or smaller Airstream. It seems pretty clear that the OP isn't much interested in a 3/4T truck or even a 1/2T truck. I would suggest a BMW X5 diesel or the Jeep GC EcoDIESEL even though those aren't "cars". The Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger isn't really a small car in my opinion, but a 25' Airstream isn't really a small trailer.
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Old 09-07-2014, 11:19 AM   #146
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I just find it interesting that you are all going on about towing with a Chrysler 300 which from what I can gather online, has a tow rating of 1000 lbs (not even the 3500 of an Odyssey). Am I missing something here, is there a model that is significantly better rated?

And it has been mentioned numerous times that with trailer brakes doing most of the work, the tow vehicle brakes aren't critical to the equation. But what happens when the trailer brakes fail or is that never a consideration? The connector comes loose or you have a bad connection somewhere? Happened to me a month or so back, I was going fairly slow and the connection into the trailer had pulled out a bit, so I pulled over and pushed it back in.

I realize I'm not going to change anybodies mind here, but what ever happened to erring on the side of caution, especially when you are traveling down the road with an 8-10,000 lb combined weight rig? I guess it's assumed that the engineers who design and build these vehicles don't know their trade or that some aftermarket hitch installer knows better?
Read the article that Andy wrote (and that was linked to in this thread) and will give you a better idea as to what that 1000lbs rating means and perhaps why it isn't greater. It might also give you a hint (if you read between the lines) as to why your Tundra is rated at ~8-9Klbs and some capable vehicles are not.

Braking performance has been discussed in this thread and Andy just touched on it.

"The Brakes on the 300 have more reserve capacity than the brakes on a 3/4 ton pick up, I have been over most of the major mountain passes in North America and I would not hesitate to take the 300 over any of them."

What happens when YOUR trailer brakes fail? Why do you feel the car/SUV will automatically explode while your Tundra will not? Vehicles that Andy recommends tend to (easily) have more braking performance than your Tundra and the vehicles weigh substantially less. Tire grip also plays a huge part in brake performance and these vehicles also tend to have sportier compounds and often wider section width. So, you have a vehicle that weighs less, outputs more braking force and grips better....which would you prefer when your trailer brakes fail?

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That "article" isn't really an article. That is an advertisement.

Wasn't someone just saying something about the car overheating? I wonder why that wasn't included in the advertisement. So the 300 really is a good car for towing UNLESS the trailer makes the engine overheat? .....
The overheating was a completely separate user case and it was as a result of a pre-existing vehicle issue....towing wasn't the cause of the issue. Read the thread to gain insight.

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I was trying to bore a hole deep into the doubting minds of the terminally overloaded. I thought it might get their attention, and give them pause to really listen.
Perhaps you could take some of your own advice and "really listen" instead of just blatantly dismissing everything that's being said here. Nobody is trying to change your mind, but stop spewing your senseless rhetoric.
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Old 09-07-2014, 11:37 AM   #147
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No, it hasn't been "picked up" in NA but small vehicles have always been used in other countries that caravan. The vehicles that NA tend to say are small are actually marketed as tow vehicles in other countries....and are magically given higher tow ratings. Same tires/engines/drive-train/suspensions etc. There's your fairy dust

Billions of dollars are on the line in vehicle sales and manufacturers LOVE selling oversized pickup trucks...they are a huge money maker and are marketed as what you "need" for towing. Look at this thread and all like it.....half the people are convinced that a huge "tow" vehicle is what you "need".

These other countries have significantly higher fuel costs and therefore larger and heavier V8/V10 pickups trucks just won't sell....it's not worth the effort and investment to market and federalize vehicles that won't sell in significant numbers. It's the complete opposite to NA. In the RoW manufacturers won't sell many pickup trucks (due to fuel costs) so they market their smaller vehicles as tow vehicles. In NA they would rather sell large money makers so they don't feel the need to embed a risk assessment into their smaller vehicles.

As for other RV shops etc. My other experiences have been with those other RV shops and they use the numbers like manufacturers. Risk/reward. The small RV dealers don't want to deal with the risk of someone doing something stupid and therefore stick with the manufacture ratings with no thought into the setup. It's easy and it's safe....although I feel the way my Audi is setup now vs the 'no thought' approach is actually much safer, even though my AS is much heavier.

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Originally Posted by rostam View Post
In my field (software) if you have an idea that is truely great, you can make it common place by 1) prototyping it and selling it to a big company (they will take care of the rest), or 2) presenting the idea to a venture capitalist, where they will give you the cash to make your prototype common place. Either way, the big company or the venture capitalist will bring in their own experts and will criticize your idea to death, to see whether its legit for investment.

My concern is that the idea of "small tow vehicle" has been discussed for years (may be decades) and yet it has not been picked up by anyone outside a small/vocal/faithful group. As I see it, there is a lack of external feedback in the loop, and when presented it causes extreme reaction.

If no other RV shop endorses such practices, no existing car company is revising its rating for its sedans, and no venture capitalist is willing to put down money to make this idea big, then I would question the value of the idea. If everyone says it not worth it, then it probably is not worth it.
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Old 09-07-2014, 11:43 AM   #148
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If no other RV shop endorses such practices, no existing car company is revising its rating for its sedans, and no venture capitalist is willing to put down money to make this idea big, then I would question the value of the idea. If everyone says it not worth it, then it probably is not worth it.
A good point, Rostam, and well made.

As I see it, all towing is a niche market, and for those groups of cars and SUVs that are not marketed as good for towing then it's a niche of a niche. Simply put, it doesn't make sense for the auto manufacturers to put any effort, or money, into researching, testing or marketing the 'non-towers' because there simply isn't enough return in it. The actual capabilities of the vehicle are immaterial; it's just risk and reward to them.

Why other shops don't push the smaller TV hitch set ups, even when they work well, may be answered by reading this and other RV forums. The general view is that you follow what the TV manufacturer says and that bigger is better. It's a really tough job convincing people of the merits of, say, the C300 as a tow vehicle when most will simply refuse to believe the evidence that's right there in front of them. Imagine trying to build a business within such a hostile market!

I came across CanAm RV only because they are on my doorstep; I had no burning desire to lead a crusade for smaller tow vehicles, that's for sure. But when you see, and test, what they do then it's quite hard to deny that the Thompson Brothers have point.

As I've said before, I don't really care what other people tow with but I do care when people tell me, from a position of relative ignorance, that my set up won't work; I'm towing the darned thing aren't I? I don't like to leave the unsubstantiated claims unanswered, which is why I continue to call out people who I believe are close-minded or misinformed.
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Old 09-07-2014, 11:47 AM   #149
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Tires
Steering
Brakes

These, and their subsets are the fundamentals that must be dealt with to make a safe towing rig.

These CAN BE dealt with in Airstream land without resorting to a dedicated 3/4 ton tow vehicle.

I state this as FACT. Anyone disagree?
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Old 09-07-2014, 12:04 PM   #150
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I guess it's assumed that the engineers who design and build these vehicles don't know their trade or that some aftermarket hitch installer knows better?
Personally, I think those engineers are doing fine. But the marketing and product managers (who pay the engineers to do the development and testing work) won't do so unless they see a financial return. If they don't foresee a return due to increased new vehicle sales they will not invest in that product development work. They actually have a disincentive in this case, since they make more profit on heavier trucks.

So in the case of the 300, the engineers respond with something along the lines of "fine, if you don't want us to develop and test a capable hitch, then we can just put a 1000 pound capacity hitch in the catalog, it will be fine without further testing." And, it will work for bike racks, which is probably what they were going for.

The lack of the offering of a heavier duty hitch from the vehicle manufacturer is not necessarily a judgement on the capability of the vehicle. Especially when a cursory review of the vehicle specifications as compared to a similar vehicle with the same powertrain shows a big discrepancy. You can not take the lack of an offering of a heavier hitch and use it to support a claim that it can't be done. But I am pretty sure you can't tow 6000 lbs with the hitch Chrysler sells for the 300 with a 1000 lb limit label on it.

Towing recommendations are there for lots of reasons, there are a multitude of contributing factors. I purchased a vehicle with a 6000 lb towing limit recommendation, and know that the same vehicle in other markets was rated 7700 lbs. The hitch sold in North America was the limiting factor, not the vehicle. The two vehicles had the same consists (engine, transmission, final drive ratio, cooling system, suspension, etc). But different hitches. I even ran the two parts books through a comparator to prove it to myself.

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Old 09-07-2014, 12:10 PM   #151
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Reading through the posts there are some major issues with fact on towing.

Unibody platforms are NOT stronger than full frames. Most passenger vehicles are unibody, yes, but they are so because of cost not necessarily improvement. Trucks are the only option left with a full frame build. Perhaps that is why so many are sold in spite of MPG or size.

It is true that perimeter full frame vehicles (body on frame) have upper flex movement BUT consider that unibody cars typically have simple C-channel 'structurals' welded to the floor pans. Larger unibody vehicles (mid-sized+, have subframes to help control excessive lower flex. While they're fine for transportation, they are inherently weaker, they can only tow a meager amount and have programmed crumple zones on frame and body.

It is easier to engineer a single member for load bearing (frame). There are very few heavy tow unibodies and, those that are have extreme flex (*See Jeepspeed Cherokee)


Full frame vehicles offer a solid attachment point for towing. As long as a full frame vehicle sits as high or higher than other vehicles, its frame scores well in crash tests; unibody vehicles have to have cages from pillars. They offer more rigidity on side impacts, etc.

By the eighties, most of the American cars switched to FWD and unibody. This was all cheaper to build BUT costs more to fix for the consumer and is less capable for towing. My friends bought a new trailer and Honda Odyssey van. They ruined the van on their first trip to the west EVEN AFTER having it specially customized for towing. They sold their trailer and got a motorhome and never looked back. They were lied to and paid for it.


All of this is confirmed by weight and axle ratings. THAT is why using OEM info is wise.

**As a point, in a discussion there will be different opinions but it is through that discourse that everyone can benefit. I chose this one because..., the truck is a better tow vehicle since...,. It does not always mean that someone has to come to the same conclusion or buy the same thing. BUT what DOES make an issue is when people want to justify something not factual like, " I can pull an Airstream with any vehicle, " or "You don't like trucks? Just get one of those special frames welded on your Fiat and you can pull that Panamerica!" There is much more to it- cooling, tranny, etc. From that standpoint I do understand why some get aggravated with the subject. Most of the time the motivation is that someone is thinking of buying an Airstream and already has a Suzuki Samarai or Chevy Cobalt or some such and thinks that they can possibly use it. It is up to us, as forum members to offer our advice as factual as we can. I would not force my choice as Top mentioned, but posters believe their work-thru is good advice. I take it as a this is where I started and this is where I am now- through my experiences.
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Old 09-07-2014, 12:33 PM   #152
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Much of the reason for the continuation of "full frames vehicles" has been attributed to the lower CAFE standards afforded "trucks" with full frames. That is a different subject, but if the hitch can be connected to the vehicle in a sound manner, much as the suspension is hooked to the unibody vehicle, the difference in the two is made moot.

I don't think anyone here is advising that an Airstream should be hooked to a Cobalt or Samurai,,,, although I would think it might be possible with an older Bambi...

I wonder what our world would be like if Henry Ford and Thomas Edison had waited for consensus among the "experts" before continuing with their endeavors? Think about that for a minute.

I have read actual customer comments with what Can-Am does, it seems as if the people who are saying that their adaptations and modifications don't work AIN'T THEIR CUSTOMERS, and in fact have never tried their product, or even a like product or outfitting AT ALL.

This is defamation, and worse than that, it is defamation based upon lots of opinion and very scant or nonexistent evidence.

Disagree with me?

Then tell me in so many words, what most makes a Chrysler 300 incapable of being made a safe tow vehicle?
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Old 09-07-2014, 12:53 PM   #153
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Reading through the posts there are some major issues with fact on towing.

Unibody platforms are NOT stronger than full frames. Most passenger vehicles are unibody, yes, but they are so because of cost not necessarily improvement. Trucks are the only option left with a full frame build. Perhaps that is why so many are sold in spite of MPG or size......

Full frame vehicles offer a solid attachment point for towing. As long as a full frame vehicle sits as high or higher than other vehicles, its frame scores well in crash tests; unibody vehicles have to have cages from pillars. They offer more rigidity on side impacts, etc.
I disagree with some of your claimed facts.

Unibody platforms can certainly be stronger than ladder frames. They can also be more rigid in terms of suspension mounting points, which improves handling. Unibody platforms are cheaper to manufacture because they are lighter. If you used the same amount of material (unibody vs ladder frame) then the unibody would likely be stiffer in every direction. Compare the 1971 Impala to the modern Chrysler 300. One was a respected tow vehicle in its day. The other is derided as being just like a Fiat 500. That is absurd. The 300 outperforms the Impala in practically every way, manufacturer recommended tow ratings aside.

Trucks are moving to unibody as well. Look at the full size vans. These are into the same GVW range as the much loved HD pickups, not that I expect pickups to move to unibody other than for minor exceptions.

Full frame vehicles offer an easy attachment point for hitches, fully agree. That is the biggest advantage for using one for towing. But unibody vehicles are readily available with towing ratings from the manufacturer up to around 8000 lbs, with factory-engineered hitches. That covers a lot of Airstream models.

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Old 09-07-2014, 12:55 PM   #154
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Unibody platforms are NOT stronger than full frames. Most passenger vehicles are unibody, yes, but they are so because of cost not necessarily improvement. Trucks are the only option left with a full frame build. Perhaps that is why so many are sold in spite of MPG or size.
I don't have the technical knowledge to agree or disagree with that statement. I do know that modern unibody shells are pretty rigid (unlike my 1978 Mini which visibly twisted) and offer the facility of a wider suspension stance and lower CoG, all desirable things when towing.

The modified hitch on my Sienna is about creating rigidity in the hitch itself rather than coaxing the unibody shell into supporting it. The additional steel does add a third, central anchoring point but that's principally to aid weight distribution. The weight distribution system ensures that the hitch is actually being lifted rather than pulled down when under load; both equally destructive forces I know, but something that the Sienna's body is coping with perfectly well.

So, from my experience, the unibody is working well. If it's better than a full framed vehicle is for others to argue.
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