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Old 02-17-2012, 09:35 PM   #1
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Tow vehicle

My wife and I are looking at 25' Airstreams and need some advice on a tow vehicle. We will be exploring North America. We have off roaded in Colorado and Utah for years in assorted Jeeps and currently have a Toyota FJ which we love, but don't think it is enough truck. We would like our tow vehicle to have the ability to handle easy trails to do some exploring. We are also looking for the best fuel mileage, or perhaps lowest cost per towed mile. Diesel use to be the clear winner but it's cost today may have eliminated most if not all of that advantage. We would certainly like to hear of your thoughts and experiences.
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Old 02-17-2012, 11:14 PM   #2
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You're right -- Jeeps and FJ aren't enough.

If you like trucks you can get a 3/4 ton 4wd truck from your favorite maker and that would be about right. Good off road but the wide wheel track can be a liability.

Otherwise take a look at what are now considered "full size" SUVs: Tahoe, Yukon, Explorer, Sequoia, Armada.

I like my Suburban but it may be more than you need.
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Old 02-17-2012, 11:18 PM   #3
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First of all welcome to the tin family.

Not all 25'ers weigh the same. A 1965 will weigh less than 2012. Weight may be a factor in your selection.

It all starts with knowing the weight of your trailer and the weight of the cargo that will go into the Tow Vehicle (TV). Firewood, generator, gas for the generator, tools, bbq, etc... you get the idea and it adds up fast. Once you know the numbers (weight) the TV choice will become more clear. Then consider how more more than the minimum you are comfortable with.

In the end it will probably boil down to this; The FJ wheel base is a bit short. A modern 1/2 ton will be well suited unless you like to travel heavy in which case a 3/4 ton would be the next logical step.

There is a thought that too much truck could be too stiff for the trailer.

Good luck!
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Old 02-17-2012, 11:34 PM   #4
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

As an example, we have a 2005 Safari 25FB, named Lucy. Lucy tips the scales at 7,400# ready to camp. We have used Lucy a whole bunch. Tonight will be our 997th night spent in her, and we have towed her almost 90,000 miles.

We have have towed Lucy with a succession of tow vehicles:

2004 Chevrolet Tahoe 2wd
2004 Chevrolet Suburban 2500 2wd
2005 GMC Yukon XL 2500 4wd
2011 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 Duramax

The Tahoe could tow Lucy, but the the overall performance was less than impressive.

Both the 3/4 ton Suburbans were fully up to the task in all roadway and terrain situations.

The one ton Duramax tows Lucy easily even while carrying a 3,000# truck camper while pulling the Airstream.

If you are talking about a late model twenty-five footer and you plan to use it often, you will probably be happier with a 3/4 ton something. Some folks are happy with a half ton; we were not.

Brian
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Old 02-17-2012, 11:59 PM   #5
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A 25 foot is going to push you over the limits with an FJ... though that would make a nice trail rig for once you arrive. If you like the platform, the Tacoma V6 would have the capacity for a 25 if it wasn't maxxed out... A Tundra or Sequoia are great matches for a 25-er... but I don't know if you'd consider either to be nimble trail buggies. I'm not sure anything that has real trail credibility is going to be able to pull a big(get) trailer in stock configuration. A Jeep Rubicon is way out of spec for something that big...

We towed our previous Airstream with a lifted Tacoma. 3 inch lift, extra leaf in the back, Timbren helper springs, 18 inch rims with 35 inch tires... worked great, but it was only 2500lbs. I don't know if anything is going to give you spectacular mileage... plan on around 12-15mpg for that size.

We've upgraded to a 22 foot, and to a Sequoia 5.7l... it doesn't work very hard, and we get in the high teens if we aren't in a hurry. It's more than capable off-road with some good tires... all kinds of traction control, locking centre diff, low range... but it's big. I don't plan on lifting it, as my priorities now are a good tow vehicle.

If some off-loading is in the plans, I can't see going diesel. Unless you put some big boots on it, the extra weight is going to kill you off-road. Diesels aren't made for putt-putt crawling either... all that torque is just going to wreck stuff off-roading.

Pretty much any 1/2 ton+ truck or SUV derivative is going to meet the specs to pull a 25. You might want to stick with traditional body-on-frame designs to maintain some off-road toughness... and the option to make improvements.

Prices for diesel in Canada are around 10 cents a litre more than gas (40 cents a gallon). If someone came out with the holy grail of towing... a light-duty 1/2 ton diesel - that would be sweet. Right now the only options in that league are the VW Toureg and a few other European offerings. The Toureg is sweet, but by the time you option it up to the diesel... I'm not sure you'd want to beat it up off-road. Mind you, any new rig is not cheap...
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Old 02-18-2012, 12:12 AM   #6
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I would go for a used 2008 plus land cruiser. That would be plush.
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Old 02-18-2012, 12:56 AM   #7
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We tow a 2012 25FB Flying Cloud with a Tahoe 4wd with the HD trailering package and integrated brake control. We have only been out three times but so far we love it. Plenty of power with the lower rear end gears that come with the HD towing package. We've towed in a variety of situations and have had no problems.
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Old 02-18-2012, 04:26 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Holmes
My wife and I are looking at 25' Airstreams and need some advice on a tow vehicle. We will be exploring North America. We have off roaded in Colorado and Utah for years in assorted Jeeps and currently have a Toyota FJ which we love, but don't think it is enough truck. We would like our tow vehicle to have the ability to handle easy trails to do some exploring. We are also looking for the best fuel mileage, or perhaps lowest cost per towed mile. Diesel use to be the clear winner but it's cost today may have eliminated most if not all of that advantage. We would certainly like to hear of your thoughts and experiences.
The two items I would not compromise if I were choosing a new vehicle are:

1. Long wheel base
2. Adequate tow weight rating
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Old 02-20-2012, 02:21 PM   #9
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Still gathering info

Thanks for the tips.
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Old 02-21-2012, 12:40 AM   #10
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Ford F150 4x4 with ecoboost option ! Great pulling power and good mileage so far. Love this truck.
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Old 02-21-2012, 06:21 AM   #11
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Lots of good choices mentioned. I'd consider a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Can tow 7200 lbs with the V8, brochure says that the tongue weight and frontal area are within specs. Capable off-road, will probably have a diesel option next year.

A VW Touareg is capable off-road too and has a diesel, and you can find used ones. Plenty of folks here are very happy towing with them.

Tom
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Old 02-21-2012, 06:33 AM   #12
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Thumbs up Welcome Aboard....

DH,


This is the one time the old adage may not apply.....

Decide on the cart first, then choose the horse, a Clydesdale may not be necessary, and Shetland may be dangerous.

Bob
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Old 02-21-2012, 07:06 AM   #13
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I also just bought a 28' and am looking to replace my Acura MDX with something that can tow 6,500 lbs (5,200 dry weight plus gear) and can also serve as a good family vehicle, so a big SUV.

I think I've settled on a gently used 5.7L Hemi 2011 Dodge Durango with the Class IV factory tow package, rated capacity 7,400 lbs. The 2011 added a unibody construction and fully independent suspension, a must-have for smooth towing plus every day family hauling. It's the same chassis as the Jeep Grand Cherokee mentioned above, also shared with the Mercedes GL (inherited from the DaimlerChrysler days). One down side might be the five speed automatic (I've been told six speed or more is better, which the Dodge may be getting next year), but with a V8 I think I'll be fine.

And it's a great value - I'm hoping to find an 2011 AWD Crew V8 gently used for under $28,000.

Best

Jim
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Old 02-21-2012, 07:22 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBSVirginia View Post
I also just bought a 28' and am looking to replace my Acura MDX with something that can tow 6,500 lbs (5,200 dry weight plus gear) and can also serve as a good family vehicle, so a big SUV.

I think I've settled on a gently used 5.7L Hemi 2011 Dodge Durango with the Class IV factory tow package, rated capacity 7,400 lbs. The 2011 added a unibody construction and fully independent suspension, a must-have for smooth towing plus every day family hauling. It's the same chassis as the Jeep Grand Cherokee mentioned above, also shared with the Mercedes GL (inherited from the DaimlerChrysler days). One down side might be the five speed automatic (I've been told six speed or more is better, which the Dodge may be getting next year), but with a V8 I think I'll be fine.

And it's a great value - I'm hoping to find an 2011 AWD Crew V8 gently used for under $28,000.

Best

Jim
Jim, You might want to consider double checking your weight figures. A late model 28' international is probably going to tip the scales well over 6,500#. In the real world, a similar rig will go closer to 8,000# ready to camp. It is likely that a loaded 28 footer will exceed the Durango's 7,400# towing capacity on a real scale. Our 2005 Safari 25FB weighs 7,400# ready to camp with an 860# tongue weight.

Brian
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