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Old 12-22-2005, 02:40 PM   #1
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Change tow vehicle

Hello all,

I'm curious if anyone thinks that switching my current tow vehicle (Nissan Titan) to a smaller Nissan Xterra, or Toyota 4Runner, or maybe even a Nissan Frontier would be a really bad idea, or not. My Coach is a 2003 22ft. CCD. The Titan is great but I'd really like to downsize a bit, and it's not the most practical daily driver. The Xterra is rated to tow 5000 lbs. and a V8 4Runner is 7000 lbs, the Frontier 6300.

Any ideas on another less Titanic vehicle?

Thanks in advance for any feedback and everyone have a safe, happy holiday.

James
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Old 12-25-2005, 04:51 PM   #2
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James, you may want to go talk to the dealerships and ask them who is towing what with what. Ask if they will pass on your contact detail to those people so you can ask them directly whether they are happy with the tow capability of their units. Another option my buddy did was go sit in a MacDonalds one morning and as people came in with vehicles he was interested he popped out quickly and asked them if they towed and what they thought of the units. In a couple of hours he got coffee logged, met some great folks, and learned pretty much everything one would want to know.

I use vintage stuff to haul my trailer although I do have a 2002 Trail Blazer. I can state for it that it's not the greatest tow vehicle (too short wheelbase) and the fuel consumption with and without a trailer in tow is ugly.

All the best of the season.
Barry
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Old 12-25-2005, 07:01 PM   #3
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James, I hear VW has a great tow vehicle. They claim it will tow any Airstream you own...
Seriously, the longer the wheelbase, and the larger the engine, the better off you will be. The 4Runner would have too short a wheelbase, you would wind up with the coach trying to push you around, because the wheelbase is too short. The Frintier would be better from that respect, but it may fall short in the engine department.
Also, how much does your CCD weigh? When you look for a tow vehicle, try to keep the loaded trailer weight no more than 80% of the tow vehicle's tow rating. That alone should eliminate several new tow vehicle contenders, then you can sift through what is left.
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Old 12-26-2005, 06:44 AM   #4
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Tow Vehicle

Thanks Safari57 and Overlander (funny joke re: VW!)

I think you are right though, I should stick to a larger tow vehicle. My coach is only about 4500 lbs dry, but the Titan does seem like overkill since it is rated to tow 9300 lbs. I think I'll also visit some dealerships.

I appreciate the advise.

Have a great New Year.

James
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Old 12-26-2005, 08:08 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluvalley
Thanks Safari57 and Overlander (funny joke re: VW!)

I think you are right though, I should stick to a larger tow vehicle. My coach is only about 4500 lbs dry, but the Titan does seem like overkill since it is rated to tow 9300 lbs. I think I'll also visit some dealerships.

I appreciate the advise.

Have a great New Year.

James
James, I don't have any specs lying around, but you may want to look into the Tundra with the V8, they are slightly smaller than the Titanic, and get a couple miles per gallon better fuel mileage.
Our son has an Xterra, and it rides rougher, is shorter, has less horsepower, and gets worse mpg than a 4Runner.
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Old 12-26-2005, 10:52 AM   #6
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Tow Capacity?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluvalley
Thanks Safari57 and Overlander (funny joke re: VW!)

I think you are right though, I should stick to a larger tow vehicle. My coach is only about 4500 lbs dry, but the Titan does seem like overkill since it is rated to tow 9300 lbs. I think I'll also visit some dealerships.

I appreciate the advise.

Have a great New Year.

James
James, is that capacity 9300 lbs the COMBINED weight of the tow vehicle plus the trailer? If it's combined, you aren't that much oversized.

Tin Lizzie
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Old 12-26-2005, 11:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulaFord
James, is that capacity 9300 lbs the COMBINED weight of the tow vehicle plus the trailer? If it's combined, you aren't that much oversized.

Tin Lizzie
He's correct, the tow rating for a Nissan Titan with the "Big Tow" pkg is in the 9,000 lb. range.

Don't be too quick to "downsize" your tow vehicle just because it seems like "overkill". My 2005 diesel powered F250 seems like "overkill" for my 8,000 lb Excella but in reality it does a fantastic job in all conditions. It's nice knowing that we never have to worry about weight, both cargo and towed with my rig.
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Old 12-26-2005, 01:15 PM   #8
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Welcome to the Forums Bluvalley --

For an unpopular trial period these forums would highlight certain words and hot-link them to an advertiser. I think that should be reinstated for the words "tow capacity" -- it would steer everybody to a warning page with previous threads about the dangers of Madison Avenue, the automakers' advertising departments, etc, etc. Ditto for the term "GCWR."

First off -- I have a Titan with the tow package (a wiring harness, tranny temp gauge, hitch receiver & extendable mirrors). The engine & transmission is nicely designed with a lot of pulliing power. However if I towed anything like 9000# my tongue weight would be 1200-1350# (the normal you hear is 10-15%, but lower numbers are hard to achieve after you add weight distribution gear and propane to the tanks). My 4WD Titan King Cab has a load capacity (or max payload) of about 1750#; this is the difference between the tow vehicle's (TV) GVWR and its empty curb weight. Note that the trailer doesn't begin to factor in to this. Pulling 9000# I would have to have a totally empty box, no topper, my wife in the right seat, and only the smaller dog along. Ulp!

Adding a tongue weight that exceeds the TV's load capacity is not only hard on the TV. It gives little margin between good control in sudden situations and utter disaster. Try convincing an insurance company to continue coverage after an accident in which the TV was over capacity ... assuming no critical injuries and one's family will enjoy Airstreaming again. If you stay within a TV's load capacity you will never exceed the advertised tow capacity (deep voiced announcer, a lot of hoo-hah).

Airstream lists the 22' CCD base weight at 4100# and the GVWR at 5600#; let's assume a weight halfway along that range at 4850#. Tongue weight would be about 725# (although one can measure this for higher accuracy).

Nissan Frontier -- the website actually uses the terms 'Max Payload' (good!) and puts it at 1400# for automatic and 1580 for manual transmissions. Did the trim level of the Frontier automatically add a hitch receiver? If not remember to add 150-200# for one, but subtract it from load capacity (the Titan 'Big Tow' load capacity includes this hit). So add up 725 tongue wt + hitch receiver on TV to come up with a number of about 975#. That means your passengers and other onboard load cannot exceed 400-550#. This is if you tow right at max capacity and don't give it a 10-15% under-capacity margin of safety as recommended by the sages of safety.

Nissan Xterra -- the website doesn't even give numbers that let one compute load capacity for the TV! (but does include Tow Capacity! Uh-oh..)

Toyota 4Runner -- the website http://www.toyota.com/4runner/specs.html gives GVWR and empty curb weight. Take the V8 of course! Looks like the load capacity (GVWR minus the curb wt) is about 1200# for 2WD and 1500# for 4WD. Figuring along the lines as I did for the Frontier, that gives a 225# capacity for passengers/gear-onboard with the 2WD and 525# for the 4WD. Again -- no 10-15% margin of safety.

Towing at 10-15% under max TV load capacity is a popular idea from the most experienced Airstreamers on these forums -- it just becomes a difficult proposition to find the threads using the Search function, given such commonly used keywords. Terry (overlander63) mentions the other often overlooked issue - wheelbase. Small trucks & mid-SUVs probably belong in the Bambi class at most.

My older, lighter Argosy put my Titan right at the load capacity -- and there was no margin left over for a truck cap and my 42# kevlar canoe (Aaaargh!). I have no business keeping the Titan now that I have a newer, heavier 25-footer. My pre-Christmas present was finding a good prospect to buy this current tow vehicle outright. A Titan sure is a pain for negotiating parking lots, etc, but I'd take its ride over my brother-in-law's 4Runner. I would concur and certainly recommend that you drive a Tundra if you plan on staying at your 22-footer size.
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Old 12-26-2005, 04:16 PM   #9
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The highest GCWR for a Titan is 14,800 lbs. The truck's GVWR is 6486. The empty weight varies, with the Crew Cab 4X4 at 5341. An Airstream 22 CCD GVWR is 5600 lbs. Let's do the math...

Truck fully loaded (GVWR) .. 6486
Trailer fully loaded..............5600
Total..............................12189

This is 2600 lbs under the truck GCWR. Even if you add 20% to the max trailer weight (often recommended here) you only add 1120 pounds... still 1500 pounds below the GCWR.

Truck GVWR......................6486
Truck Empty.....................5341
Truck payload....................1145

Hitch Weight.......................460 (from Airstream web site, yours may be higher)
Driver and passenger............350?
Extra gear..........................335

So you can still put 335 pounds in the truck bed... like a topper, generator, etc.

In summary - you have plenty of truck for your trailer, but may not be as "oversized" as you think. You will probably take a big financial hit on selling your current truck, and buying another. The sales tax alone will pay for the extra gas for a while. If you otherwise like the truck, just keep it!
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Old 12-26-2005, 05:04 PM   #10
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I don't find myself in substantial disagreement with Dan. Any expensive change of tow vehicle in this case will result in only small perceived advantages. The early writeoff of the Titan's depreciation will buy all the extra gas it would burn compared to bluvalley's proposed tow vehicles -- though the suggested TVs are not suited to the 22' CCD. That only leaves a small size difference between the Titan and Tundra IMHO.

That being said, I have really loved my Titan! Last spring I rounded a corner near local ballfields and two 'bout 11-year old boys stood with their bikes, jaws agape. One could not resist and called out, "I really like your truck!"

Airstream's website states that the 460# hitch weight is "w/o options or variable weight." Add weight distribution gear, the inevitable propane, and even modest stores aboard and the statement of "10-15%" but closer to 15% stands. I did suggest weighing the tongue is more accurate -- quite easy in fact -- see your manual.
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Old 12-26-2005, 05:14 PM   #11
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I solved the problem for my 31 ft. '69 Sovereign. I got the biggest thing I could find. 7.3 ltr. F250 Diesel. (I had a 4.2 ltr V6 Chev PU, and it would barely pull the 15' SOB that we disposed of)

We just got back from our first trip with it(Diesel and AS) and sometimes it would have been easy to forget the trailer was back there. 16mpg on a 1500 mile trip. Is there such a thing as overkill? with towing vehicles.
cheers
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Old 12-26-2005, 05:55 PM   #12
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James,

I also tow with a 4 WD Titan King Cab. I am really pleased with the way it rides and handles our 71 Safari. I would stick with the Titan. The longer I drive it the easier it is to handle the size, I even parallel park if I can find a space (of course not with the Safari attached). The gas mileage is not that great but it more than compensates with the handling ease and power it provides.

Larry
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Old 01-04-2006, 02:05 PM   #13
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Very helpful info.

Thanks everyone for this very useful and wise information.

I really appreciate it. I'm sticking with the Titanic, at least for a while.

After all it is a great truck.

James
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Old 01-04-2006, 03:38 PM   #14
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