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Old 12-27-2013, 09:32 AM   #1
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2011 BMW X5 35d

Im' considering buying a Airstream 23 International and was wondering if anyone was using a BMW X5 35d to tow a similar trailer. If so, are there any words of caution, or will the vehicle do a good job pulling a 6000 Lb trailer?
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Old 12-27-2013, 10:28 AM   #2
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Generally speaking the X5's are top rated TV's.

Suggest you check in with "withidl" .... Airstream Forums - View Profile: withidl

He has lots of towing experience with a gasser X5.
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Old 12-27-2013, 12:47 PM   #3
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If I am not mistaken, X5 is rated to tow 6000# with a hitch limit of 600#. If this is correct, you may be restricted to Front Bedroom models, which have a lower tongue weight. Also, check the manual to see if weight distribution hitch is supported -- some German manufacturers advise against using them.
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Old 12-27-2013, 01:31 PM   #4
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I wouldn't restrict the trailer choice to front bedroom because of published (empty) tongue weight numbers. The bed is a large storage compartment. When in actual use, the front bed model will most probably have similar tongue weight to rear bed models when each are loaded for travel.

Weighing the tongue of a loaded trailer may be inconclusive if the scale is misplaced along the tongue or weight distribution is not considered. And sometimes you just may need to travel lighter if the weight is too heavy.

The German manufacturers certainly don't market their SUV's to the travel trailer set, stressing luxury and off-road capability instead. This is unfortunate because their diesel engine SUV's are an excellent match to the stability characteristics and power needs of most Airstreams.

Many on this forum have reinforced the factory hitches and are very pleased with their towing ability.
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Old 12-27-2013, 01:56 PM   #5
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Additionally, in the absence of any standards, the published tow capability of a vehicle means very little. Hitch weight too refers to an off-the-rack hitch, but hitches are routinely strengthened to deal with additional load.

The European makers aren't especially familiar with WD hitches because these are illegal in most of Europe, as a result the official line is often "don't use them because we don't support them".

Those who have chosen ignore that advice have, to the best of my knowledge, no issues to report. As Doug said, the European diesels especially tend to be very capable tow vehicles, with the VW Touareg and the Mercedes GL 350 Bluetec getting excellent reviews.

I too would suggest talking to people with real world experience rather than relying on what can often be meaningless numbers.
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Old 12-27-2013, 02:27 PM   #6
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I wouldn't restrict the trailer choice to front bedroom because of published (empty) tongue weight numbers. The bed is a large storage compartment. When in actual use, the front bed model will most probably have similar tongue weight to rear bed models when each are loaded for travel.

Weighing the tongue of a loaded trailer may be inconclusive if the scale is misplaced along the tongue or weight distribution is not considered. And sometimes you just may need to travel lighter if the weight is too heavy.

The German manufacturers certainly don't market their SUV's to the travel trailer set, stressing luxury and off-road capability instead. This is unfortunate because their diesel engine SUV's are an excellent match to the stability characteristics and power needs of most Airstreams.

Many on this forum have reinforced the factory hitches and are very pleased with their towing ability.
The point is, if the tongue weight limit of X5 is indeed 600#, the 23 FB's 476# dry tongue weight is manageable with careful loading of the trailer, whereas the 23D's 720# dry tongue weight is already too much.

Reinforcing the hitch may not work for everyone (for example, if you are leasing the X5). Also if you own it, and its under warranty, it may void your warranty.

In my experience, German diesel cars/SUVs are the best. They are no slouch when it comes to towing either -- MB GL has a 7500# tow rating. Touareg/Cayanne are rated to 7716#.
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Old 12-27-2013, 02:36 PM   #7
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I too would suggest talking to people with real world experience rather than relying on what can often be meaningless numbers.
Manufacturer ratings may be over-stated sometimes, but they are definitely not meaningless.
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Old 01-03-2014, 06:03 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Nortontex View Post
Im' considering buying a Airstream 23 International and was wondering if anyone was using a BMW X5 35d to tow a similar trailer. If so, are there any words of caution, or will the vehicle do a good job pulling a 6000 Lb trailer?
Nortontex, you'll be just fine. Reference my avatar and do a search on
"withidl" for many posts. My assembly is a 2001 X5 with Sport Pkg, Dinan engine and transmission upgrades, a NON-reinforced BMW OEM receiver, a Hensley hitch interface and an 8,300 GVWR ASCL with a tongue weight which has been over 1,000 pounds. I didn't need no stinking mfg. ratings of 6,000# and 600# weight distributed or not to follow because CanAm RV looked over the X5 and stated it was "built like a 1 ton truck".
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Old 01-03-2014, 06:23 PM   #9
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Sounds like Withidl has actual experience towing with the X5 at ratings different from the manufacturers rating then. Is that the 31' you have been towing?
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Old 01-03-2014, 10:07 PM   #10
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Sounds like Withidl has actual experience towing with the X5 at ratings different from the manufacturers rating then. Is that the 31' you have been towing?
Yes, that's the 31' that I've towed for more than 35,000; the X5 has ~109,000 miles on it and I only use it to tow the AS as I have several other vehicles as daily drivers.
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Old 06-08-2014, 11:56 AM   #11
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We presently are towing a 27fb safari special with a 2012 x35 d sports model x-5. The engine is smooth and powerful and averages 17 to 18 miles per gallon at 60 to 70 mph. The wider 20 inch tires on the sports model gives you extra stability along with the stiffer sports suspension. Bmw has a brake controller and wiring system that will even lets you know if you have a trailer light out.
I live in the blue ridge mountains and the diesel transmission allows manual downshifts that helps to slow vehicle going down steep grades.
The engine has 420 ft pounds of torque and 235 horsepower.
The towing capacity is 6000 pounds in the USA, however the exact same vehicle in Europe is rated at 7500 pounds.
With a stabilizer system the vehicle ride height is the within 1/2 inch of unladen ride height.
I use a equalizer sway bar system rated at 8000 pounds.
My ride height is 17 and 1/2 inches.
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