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Old 04-17-2016, 07:29 PM   #1
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Bambi 16', 2016 4Runner, Colorado Towing

Hey everyone,

Title kind of gets the thread going.

My wife and I are looking at getting our first Airstream and I will obviously be needing to update my 1996 Subaru Outback.

We have likely settled on a new 16' Bambi (3500#), maybe a 19' although a little less likely, and I would love to get a dependable TV that can also fit in our garage. We both really like the 4Runner, but towing SAFELY is absolutely my #1 priority. We live in Colorado and therefore almost every single one of our trips involves towing into and out of the mountains. We will also be taking this rig all along the Rockies and Western US. This will als be my daily driver.

I've spent all weekend reading posts and threads about similar setups, but would love to get your honest feedback and opinions, especially from anyone who routinely tows a smaller Bambi in the mountains. I have no issues going bigger with the TV if needed, but would prefer not to if possible. It'll be myself, my wife, and two golden retrievers.

Thank you all so much for any advice you can offer. I grew up with a family that travelled in a 34' Airstream towed by a Suburban and feel so incredibly fortunate that my wife and I can experience the joy now that I felt traveling as a kid. I just want to make sure we're doing this safely.

Thanks again.
Chris
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Old 04-17-2016, 08:27 PM   #2
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Bambi 16', 2016 4Runner, Colorado Towing

I would highly recommend you look at the towing capacity of the 4Runner.
Does it have a tow package? Meaning; transmission cooler; larger radiator and alternator among other things.
I believe it comes with a 4.7ltr V8. Which is more than adequate for the Bambi in the flat lands. But would be under powered in the mountains.
There are some who will say you could tow it with your Subaru. If you take it to CanAm.
I am old school and think the TV should be a long wheelbase and have a real frame. But that's me.
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Old 04-17-2016, 09:18 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. The 4Runner comes in a 4.0L V6, 5000# SAE J2807 towing capacity, integrated 4 and 7-pin connector. Guess I just assumed it would come with a transmission and oil cooler, but can't seem to find any information on that, so maybe it does not. Seems strange.
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Old 04-17-2016, 09:20 PM   #4
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Oh, and I know you were just joking about the Subaru, but I can't even hit 50mph in that thing anymore when going up the mountain passes. Sure has been a great car though. A few years ago I got passed by a semi hauling a double wide.
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Old 04-18-2016, 11:39 AM   #5
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Land Rover

We have a 19' Bambi (4500#) and I pull it with a 2004 Land Rover Discovery easily. You might look that direction whether you stay with the 16' or go 19'. And a great ride for CO to boot.
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Old 04-18-2016, 11:39 AM   #6
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I used to tow my 16' bambi with a Nissan Frontier, large v6, 6000 lb towing capacity and frankly it was marginal. I wasn't too worried with braking issues, and it was stable enough but it was just plain short of power in almost any hilly situation and I never got near the the mountains out west. I tow it now with a Ram ecodiesel and it's truly amazing. This engine does come is some jeeps and I'll bet it would fit in your garage. Plus the ecodiesel's mileage is amazing.
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Old 04-18-2016, 11:46 AM   #7
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I have a 2003 22' International (5000# GW) that I tow with a 2013 Tacoma Double Cab (V-6 with Tow Package) and it works fine. I live in Crested Butte in the summer and Az in the winter. Tow all through the mountains. You will find that most times you are in 4th (not OD) and have to drop down to lower gears going up the hills, but it is not a problem.

Be certain to get the tow package as it has the trans cooler and heavy duty alternator.
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Old 04-18-2016, 11:57 AM   #8
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Since you need a daily driver that fits into your garage...how about a Tahoe or Yukon. They have more than sufficient towing capacity, get good mileage, lots of additional inside storage, and will (should) last for several hundred thousand miles (my old one has 265k, my newer one 200k). Safe travels. jon
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Old 04-18-2016, 12:38 PM   #9
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I have a 2000 4runner, 3.4 V6, Auto, 4wd, Generation 3 have Frames. With Supercharger which adds 70 hp. I pull a 1995, 21' Sovereign rated at 3900#. 4runner rated at 5500 towing. I towed it home without a Sway Bar, 8 miles of White knuckle. Put on a Sway bar and load leveler and it tows nice. I still go 40 mph up the long passes. 13 mpg in the mountains 17 on the flats, and 20mpg without the trailer.
Best of luck.
Tom J
Castle Rock, Co.
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Old 04-18-2016, 12:41 PM   #10
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4 Runner TV

Muskypicker, I have stayed out of these TV discussions on purpose! But, I happen to live in Fort Collins and have used my 2007 6 cyl 4 Runner as my tow vehicle for my 2012 Sport 16 with no issues. Cameron Pass ( 10,249 ft) was a bit of a challenge, but i could still easily keep up with the truck traffic. We have traveled up into the Snowy Range on Forest Service roads up to 12,000 feet with no issues whatsoever. On a round trip you can expect gas mileage of about 14.5 mpg. Even with significant cross winds at freeway speeds, the Bambi sits snug behind the 4 Runner. Just our experience.....
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Old 04-18-2016, 01:08 PM   #11
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4Runner considerations

I have an '05 V8 4Runner with full-time 4WD, a towing capacity of 7000 lbs, and a weight distributing hitch. These were offered through 2009. It's ponderous on-road but awesome off-road and a capable tow vehicle.

The only comparable new model is the Lexus GX 460, which includes the same hitch, a V8, a 6500 lb towing capacity, and the same full-time 4WD system. I would buy a used one with 40,000 miles on it before I would get a new 4Runner for similar money. Lexus badge & looks aside, it's still a seriously capable truck on-road and off. It has a locking center diff, low-range gearing, and crawl control.

The new 4Runners are only offered with a V6, a weight-bearing hitch, and most offer only part-time 4WD (great off-road, but 2WD only on pavement).

If I wanted a new 4Runner and lived in Colorado, I would opt for the Limited, which is the only model currently available with full-time 4WD. I've found full-time 4WD to be very useful on paved roads in rain or snow, and you've said this will be your daily driver. I believe the Limited's towing capacity is 4700 lbs.

I would upgrade the hitch and employ an anti-sway weight-distributing set-up even with a 16' or 19' Bambi for towing in the mountains due to the relatively short wheel base and high center of gravity of a 4Runner.

With an upgraded hitch and proper tires, I would feel confident towing to the maximum 4700 lb weight rating. The V6 should provide barely adequate towing power at high altitudes, but decent power elsewhere.

The only reason I would choose either of these over a properly set-up Highlander (roomier inside, better handling, better mpg, 5,000 lb towing) or larger SUV or pickup is because of how much fun they can be once disconnected from the trailer at your campsite in the mountains. They also offer bullet-proof reliability.
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Old 04-18-2016, 05:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muskypicker View Post
Hey everyone,

Title kind of gets the thread going.

My wife and I are looking at getting our first Airstream and I will obviously be needing to update my 1996 Subaru Outback.

We have likely settled on a new 16' Bambi (3500#), maybe a 19' although a little less likely, and I would love to get a dependable TV that can also fit in our garage. We both really like the 4Runner, but towing SAFELY is absolutely my #1 priority. We live in Colorado and therefore almost every single one of our trips involves towing into and out of the mountains. We will also be taking this rig all along the Rockies and Western US. This will als be my daily driver.

I've spent all weekend reading posts and threads about similar setups, but would love to get your honest feedback and opinions, especially from anyone who routinely tows a smaller Bambi in the mountains. I have no issues going bigger with the TV if needed, but would prefer not to if possible. It'll be myself, my wife, and two golden retrievers.

Thank you all so much for any advice you can offer. I grew up with a family that travelled in a 34' Airstream towed by a Suburban and feel so incredibly fortunate that my wife and I can experience the joy now that I felt traveling as a kid. I just want to make sure we're doing this safely.

Thanks again.
Chris
For six years, I towed a 5500 lb. Hi-Lo all over Ontario and over to the East Coast, with a 2007 4-Runner, 6 cyl.
The only changes that I made to it was to remove the OEM weight carrying hitch and install a Husky 6000 lb. WD. hitch.
I also had an small aftermarket trans fluid cooler; but I install that on all my vehicles anyway.
When the tires wore out, I replaced them with 255 instead of the OEM 265.
I wanted the slightly smaller diameter to ease any possible load on the running gear. The Odo was out 2%, but my GPS was accurate.

Fuel milage (Klickage?) increased by avg. 3L/100 Km.
Toyota did just fine.

Look after your equipment, it will look after you.
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Old 04-18-2016, 08:04 PM   #13
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We tow our 2015 Bambi '16 with a 2015 Honda Pilot AWD which came standard with a factory tow package and 4,500 lb. rating. We haven't tackled the Rockies but it pulls the Appalacians just fine. That said I would suggest oversizing your tow vehicle in the event that like many of us you start lusting over a larger AS. Love the Bambi's maneuverability, but the wet bath and small bed get a little old over time. I would second the suggestion to go with a Yukon or Tahoe with Tow Package -- then you can tow the 25' upgrade which might be in your future.
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Old 04-18-2016, 08:45 PM   #14
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Thank you all very much for taking the time to reply. I really, really appreciate hearing about your experiences and look forward to reading about anyone else's experiences.

Thanks again,
Chris
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Old 04-18-2016, 09:21 PM   #15
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I live in the western rockies of Montana. Lived out here for 2 years now after a move from Raleigh/Durham NC. We moved in the middle of winter (crazy!) in a Chrysler Town and Country Van. When we arrived the van had to sit at the bottom of our 1/2 mile driveway as the front wheel drive could not handle the gravel/snow/ice covered driveway.
Everywhere you looked the predominant vehicle on the road was the Subaru Outback. Before long we traded the van for a Outback. I loved that car! Handled any weather or road condition nature could throw at it. It had the smoothest transmission of any car I have owned and I loved the "paddle shifting option". Plenty of power....plenty of everything. Without a doubt one of the best vehicles I have ever owned. And I might add folks out here here keep them and drive them until the "wheels fall off"! The only problem we had with the car is our "family simply outgrew it"....and we couldn't pull any appreciable travel trailer with it save a "popup".
When you live in "grizzly country" only hard sided trailers are admitted to most of the National Park campgrounds. So we decided to trade it.
I have shared this background with you only because you were looking to trade off your Subaru for another vehicle. I am "guessing" your experience with the Subaru is pretty much like mine and the rest of western Montana.
I ended up with a new Ford Explorer Limited because it shared many of the characteristics of the Subaru....ie paddle shifting, great gas mileage for an everyday "driver" and the capacity to tow 5000# with the optional "tow package option".
We have a Bambi 22' Sport and it is a perfect match for the Explorer. Our motor is not the Ecoboost V6 but the 3.5L V6 290 hp. We are averaging 14.5 mpg pulling the AS.
A month before we bought the Explorer my son bought the Toyota 4Runner Pro with a similar sized motor but comparing the two vehicles the Toyota is "underpowered" although it has a slight edge in "torque". Yet the ride and other amenities of the two vehicles heavily favors the Explorer. I honestly don't believe the 4Runner would handle the 22' Sport very well.(considering where we live) The trailer you are considering is lighter and it would probably be ok.

Again....the only reason I have gone into such detail is because you mentioned trading your Subaru for another brand. I like to tell people that I now own the "largest Subaru" that they make....it's called a Ford Explorer.

Good luck with your finally choice.
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Old 04-18-2016, 10:31 PM   #16
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We enjoyed our 16' Bambi for as long as had it, and towed it with a Tacoma with a topper over the truck bed.

One thing you might consider with a 16-footer is that it has very limited storage space.

With a 6 foot truck bed with a topper and a crew cab with the Tacoma, we had all kinds of room for camping gear, extra luggage for long trips, the dog, auxiliary cooler, and so on. We could even sleep in the back end of the truck for back-of-beyond trips where we wouldn't tow a trailer. The Tacoma also got *relatively* good gas mileage.

We enjoy canoeing and our gear then includes canoe paddles, life jackets, and a water-tight blue barrel. We also like the desert, where we carry extra jerry cans of water and gas. A generator and (emergency) portable waste disposal tank often comes on longer trips.

So if you think about what you want to do on your camping trips, with how many people needing how much gear, and how long you're likely to be out there, you can guesstimate your cubic foot needs for storage.
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