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Old 05-10-2017, 07:33 AM   #1
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2015 16' Sport
San Clemente , California
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 3
Tow Vehicle for Bambi 16'

Hi all,
I've been lurking for a few months. My wife and I just got a 2015 bambi sport. It's GVWR is 3500. We don't have a vehicle to tow it with yet (borrowed a truck to pick it up). We are planning to replace my wife's small SUV with a bigger SUV that can tow. We have it narrowed down to either a toyota highlander (2016) or a 2014 Volvo XC 90. Both are rated to tow about 5000 lb. Philip from CanAm thinks they both are adequate, but I'm nervous about being so close to the maximum tow rating. I've read all the related threads but wanted to know if anyone here had any negative experiences towing or braking with late model XC90's or Highlanders. I'd love to get a pickup, but it's just not practical for us right now.

Thank you in advance.


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Old 05-10-2017, 08:22 AM   #2
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2012 25' Flying Cloud
Battle Lake , Minnesota
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Roger, there is no reason whatsoever to worry about being close to maximum tow rating; the more important point is you are within the maximum tow rating. Far more important is what you carry in the tow vehicle and in the Airstream and you have control over that. The towing number to look for is the vehicle's combined weight rating (GCWR), that will tell you what you tow vehicle is designed to tow and stop, and takes into account the loads carried in the tow vehicle and Airstream. When all set up and loading for towing, take it to a CAT scale to ensure neither of your tow vehicles axles are overloaded (the GAWR axle weight rating is on the door) and the combination is within GCWR.

Also far more important is the hitch setup. A high quality hitch capable of distributing your hitch weight, and weight carried behind the tow vehicle rear axles, is essential. The hitch must also include built-in or a separate sway control system to resist inputs from side wind or other conditions that try to put your trailer into a dangerous increasing sway condition (which happens very, very quickly). Enough emphasis cannot be put on the importance of the weight distribution and sway control systems.

Also far more important is the overall stability of the tow vehicle. Relatively low center of gravity, and independent suspension (which moves the suspension /frame attachment points outboard giving the vehicle a wider, more stable stance) are great advantages. The SUV's you suggest have this, almost all pickup trucks do not with the exception of the Honda Ridgeline, another great tow vehicle for your Airstream.

Philip at Can-Am knows what he is talking about, based on a huge body of experience with these vehicles. Ask them for hitch recommendations as well. Take the overkill suggestions from the internet with a grain of salt, it is almost always ignorant of the many elements that really matter.

Doug and Cheryl
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Old 05-10-2017, 09:10 AM   #3
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2014 16' Sport
St. Paul , Minnesota
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We have a '14 Bambi 16 sport, just got it, so take my advice with a large grain of salt as I've only towed it twice so far.

Our TV is a Acura MDX, the tow capacity is also 5000 Lbs. seems to pull the bambi just fine, though i haven't been fully loaded going through the mountains yet...

the first time I towed it, it was without weight distribution/anti sway, it pulled OK, but i could feel it yanking my TV around a bit. Last weekend we took it out with the WD/AS hooked up and it made a dramatic difference on how it pulled. the system was only about $270ish on amazon and it was well worth it IMO.
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Old 05-10-2017, 03:00 PM   #4
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2015 16' Sport
San Clemente , California
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Xc90 reliable?

I read about some transmission problems with the old model xc90s. Anyone here have good or bad experiences with them? Ditto on the highlander.
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Old 05-10-2017, 03:29 PM   #5
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The failures I read about were in the early 2000s, not on 2014 models. Those were a different platform than later models, and used different transmissions.
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Old 05-10-2017, 05:14 PM   #6
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2017 16' Sport
Vernon , Arizona
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I tow by 2017 16' Bambi with an SUV that is rated for 4500 lbs and a hitch weight of 441 lbs. It tows like a dream, however I have also spent a lot of time working on the set up.

I highly recommend the Blue Ox Sway Pro system as it changed my towing feel 150% for the better from the Equilizer.

Make sure you understand about loading your Bambi with proper weight distribution techniques.

Proper inflation of tires cannot be overstated

Towing should be seamless for you, if you are feeling something "not quite right" then you need to reconsider your setup.
I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. "
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Old 05-10-2017, 05:40 PM   #7
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2010 16' International
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1. Weight distributing hitch
2. Brake controller
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Old 05-11-2017, 10:58 AM   #8
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I would say get a Highlander, but I am a die-hard, true-blue, Toyota-till-I-die kinda guy...
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Old 05-11-2017, 11:13 AM   #9
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2010 16' International
Edwards , Colorado
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I have a 2010 16ft International which is a bit heavier than your Sport. My tow vehicle is a 2008 Volvo XC-90 with a V-8 engine that's no longer available. This is my one and only vehicle and it works very well. Have towed my 16 ft. throughout the Colorado Rockies and the Southwest without problems. On longer trips I use an Equalizer WD hitch, but shorter trips it tows well without it. If you can find a low mileage XC-90 with a V-8, it would make a great all around vehicle.
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Old 05-11-2017, 11:46 AM   #10
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Forest Knolls , California
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I have a 2008 International and tow it with a 2017 VW touareg, which is a great every day car and rated to 7200 pounds for towing. I got mine with the tow package. It has weight distribution built in, but I added a sway bar. Tows beautifully and I have a only one vehicle to worry about and keep up. The Touareg is a very good every day driving car, but rugged enough to get you off road when you need to!
Arion, The Tiny Tin Horse
2008 Airstream 16' Bambi International
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Old 05-11-2017, 01:52 PM   #11
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Dusty has the same solution I found

One year ago, we were in the same boat. Purchasing a Bambi '16 with a car that was too small to tow it.

What I found when doing the research is that most of the better bigger SUVs handle 5000lbs. That would be great for the Bambi but I worried that we might get the AS bug for real and want to trade up.

The VW Touareg had all I wanted. Lots of comfort and practical for day to day and it can handle 7700lbs and 700lbs which means I can tow the 23fb.

After about 1 year, 12,000 trailer miles, 20,000 overall, 4 national parks, and 1 desert bloom, we bloody love it.

I have the big V6 gas. To get onto I80 freeway from the storage yard the entrance is up a very steep hill. From 0 to 55mph uphill into freeway traffic is not a problem.

New to land cruising! New to retirement! YUM!!!
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Old 05-11-2017, 03:18 PM   #12
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Phil at Can Am set up our Infiniti G35 for towing and he did a great job. After seeing his work and talking with him I would feel very confident using his advice. As with any combination the correct hardware and set up is what you should be aiming for.
Airstreams..... The best towing trailers on the planet!
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Old 05-11-2017, 03:51 PM   #13
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No matter which vehicle you decide to buy, make sure you order the factory tow package. In addition to the receiver it will include a transmission oil cooler, an essential item. Older models of both vehicles offered it; don't know about 2017 models so be sure to ask.

If you decide to add a weight distribution hitch, be sure to get it set up absolutely correct. It can only be done with multiple scale measurements. You will need to have measurements on each axle independently (both front and rear of the tow vehicle and the trailer) both with and without the trailer attached. That's a minimum of SIX independent measurements. Some auto shops have scales or there may be a public scale near you.

Find out the front Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) and DO NOT EXCEED it with the trailer attached by the WDH. Don't guess just because the TV and trailer look level. Exceeding the front axle GAWR is a prescription for trouble, possibly catastrophic. You are probably better off with no WDH than one that is set up badly.
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Old 05-12-2017, 06:41 PM   #14
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1996 25' Excella
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We have a member who tows a 16 with a Ford Edge. Took it to Alaska last year. Can AM fitt it out with smaller dia Tires to increase engine RPMs as I understand it.There does not seem to be any issue with this SUV

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