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Old 09-06-2015, 10:55 AM   #1
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Interstate as Tow Vehicle

Fairly new to the forums and utterly addicted. Briefly, camped and sailed a lot when growing up, recently rv'ed through NoCal on our honeymoon with our five Brady Bunch kids in a rental class b and decided we love love love it. Ready to jump in. Wish I'd never seen an Airstream because now I have to have one. Started with travel trailers but (surprise, surprise) I kept looking at larger and larger models until I exceeded the puny tow specs of our Pilot. And so rather than investing in a big ol pickup that I won't otherwise use or a very expensive SUV, would a (used) Interstate serve? We could scratch the rv itch in the short run and when we're ready to add a trailer we'd have our TV. (See how I'm already using the lingo?) Secondarily, I'd think it would make an awesome people mover for our big soccer/lacrosse/baseball/swimming family. I've seen used Interstates that rival SUV's on cost and offer so much more.

Thanks in advance. This might be the last place on the internet where people are actually nice to each other.
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Old 09-06-2015, 11:14 AM   #2
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Fairly new to the forums and utterly addicted.
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And so rather than investing in a big ol pickup that I won't otherwise use or a very expensive SUV, would a (used) Interstate serve?
As long as you keep to about a 25' Airstream trailer or less, sure! At the Canopener 2015 rally back in January, there was one Airstream trailer pulled by an Airstream Interstate, and another Airstream trailer pulled by a Roadtrek class B.

You'll find that the Airstream Interstates with the best towing capacity are the non-Extended models with dual rear wheels built on the Sprinter 3500 chassis. They are rated for 7500 pounds towing capacity, but in actual practice based on gross weight rating and axle weight ratings versus actual weight, your real towing capacity will probably be limited to about 6400 pounds.

All other Interstates— all of the extended models and the oldest models that are built on the Sprinter 2500 chassis without dual rear wheels— only have a rated towing capacity of 5000 pounds.
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Old 09-06-2015, 11:21 AM   #3
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Welcome!

Interstates can, will, and do tow.....and do so in style.

As I recall, when we bought ours in 2007, the dealer told us they were originally marketed to tow with, and ours (an 06), had been used to tow trailers to RV shows.

I thought the tow weight ability was higher than that, Protag, but I could be wrong.

It would be something to check on, tho I think the older ones, at any rate, are much harder to come by. That's because we buy them, and hold onto them.

Good luck.


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Old 09-06-2015, 01:18 PM   #4
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Thanks for the quick and thoughtful responses. I'll look closely at tow ratings before settling on a model. Tell me, are those fold-out couches on the front bedroom models comfortable to sleep on? The photos I've seen are giving me a bad sleeper couch vibe. At fifty I've become a bit of a princess when it comes to needing at least a moderately comfortable mattress. Otherwise I'd stick to a tent!
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Old 09-06-2015, 02:36 PM   #5
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I have a front sleeper "Old" 2500 model, purchased used after any defects or problems were already taken care of. We removed the back of the jack-bed on passenger side, put build up support where back was , leveling it with the bottom cushion and put a foam over the whole thing. It's not as wide a bed as would be if jack-bed was deployed as intended but now gives enough room with drivers side jack-bed deployed to not disturb anyone in the passenger side bed when making those night time rituals to the head.
I sleep on and with a sleeping bag so it cushions the drivers side jack-bed, which is wider when deployed than our more permanent passenger side bed. You could always put foam on drivers side also.
We also fabricated a hammock above the front seats to store sleeping bags and other light weight items because there is never enough room.
Although we have only the 5 cylinder model , there is plenty of power to tow, but staying within weight limitations is very important. You might consider a fiberglass light weight trailer, remembering the diesel powered Interstate will be like a bunny and keep going and going and going.
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Old 09-07-2015, 03:52 PM   #6
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Protagonist has hit the nail on the head. Only TWO current Sprinter models (both 3500 series) are rated by Mercedes Benz as being able to tow 7500 pounds. ALL other Sprinters are rated at 5000 pound tow capacity. It would be insanely easy to overload your combination Sprinter + Airstream, thus exceeding some parameter (unless you're towing a Bambi). Two years ago, I saw and fell in love with a 25' Flying Cloud. The 3500 Sprinter I had then was rated at 7500 pounds for towing capacity but, the GVWR on the Flying Cloud alone was almost that weight. The dealer I was at told that he would NOT sell me a 25' Flying Cloud but, I could probably get safely away towing a 23" model (which didn't interest me at all).

I understand that Mercedes forbids the cutting of, or welding onto, the frame of a Sprinter. ANY / ALL additions MUST be bolted on. I'm not aware of any way to increase the tow rating of a Sprinter that would be safe and legal.
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Old 09-07-2015, 08:13 PM   #7
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I understand that Mercedes forbids the cutting of, or welding onto, the frame of a Sprinter. ANY / ALL additions MUST be bolted on. I'm not aware of any way to increase the tow rating of a Sprinter that would be safe and legal.
Probably because the Sprinter is unibody and technically has no frame, something I wasn't aware of 'til recently.
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Old 09-07-2015, 08:43 PM   #8
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Probably because the Sprinter is unibody and technically has no frame, something I wasn't aware of 'til recently.

I towed my then new 2006 19 CCD for 6 years with a T1-N Sprinter 2500 with 140" wheel base. The van was at full GVW as it was also my service van and the 19 scaled at 4150 lbs.

It was a great combination until I lost the alternator, turbo AND transmission over a 5 day period headed to FL from OR at 115k miles. One could say that it was a rather expensive trip!!! The 19 had about 45K towing miles on it.

My inclination now (with a 2011 Sprinter 2500) is to not even approach the max. towing numbers. I have towed a 2500 lb. cargo trailer for the past 2 years with no issues except the fuel mileage hit.

Of course, the new 6 cyl. diesel has a lot more HP and torque over and above what the older 5 cyl. unit had. Hope this one stays together a bit longer, as it has 121K now and I'm headed back to FL month. We'll see!!!!


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Old 09-08-2015, 12:56 AM   #9
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AI or SUV: Scratching the Itch

I bought a 2012 Airstream Interstate to replace an old SUV, and I got to tell you I love the multifunction of my AI. It's small enough to run around town and do errands; the width is the same size as a minivan (6'6") with the difference being the length (22'9") and height (9'7"). This means that you can park in normal spaces with the AI sticking out slightly or just park in two spaces to fit the length. I have 3 kids as well and have used my AI to transport them to sports' activities, short trips to Southern CA (including college campus visits which super useful). On the RV side, it is perfect for two people in terms of sleeping, but very comfortable for driving 8 people around. Having a bathroom is super helpful with kids and the living arrangement allows for resting or doing work. Because it's a Class B, you don't have to stay at at RV park and can even stay for free at Good Sam's, Costco, Sam's Club, etc. I just came back from Burning Man with my husband, and our AI was just perfect. It's tank capacity and generator allowed us to use our air condition, shower, etc. The one limitation is that the aisle is narrow and space can be limited. But, like anything else in life, there are tradeoffs. I would highly recommend getting an AI and in the future possibly consider a trailer. Good luck.
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