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Old 01-20-2008, 07:52 PM   #1
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Best SUV Tow Vehicle

I want to replace my 2000 Expedition as a tow vehicle for my 23 ft. AS. For various reasons, I want to stay with a SUV. Given this constraint, I would like to get the best horsepower and torque I can get. It seems that the GMC Denali with the 6.2 engine is the top candidate. Any recommendations? Has anyone had experience with the GMC Denali?

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Old 01-20-2008, 09:27 PM   #2
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I am intreged by the Jeep Cherokee with the 3.0L diesel. It has massive torque beginning at 2000 rpms.

While it might not be right for larger Airstreams, it seems like a great choice for single axle medels.

Anyone out there have personal experience with this rig?

Mike Brumback

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Old 01-20-2008, 09:36 PM   #3
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Diesel might be great if the initial price difference is acceptable, but for towing what you have to compare is rear overhang and suspension stiffness.
While Expedition being very heavy might have some advantage with braking, the best TV for its size are Mercedes ML as well as van GMC Safari with its siblings.
I used Mercedes ML for several trailers. Starting with 3600 lb double axle travel trailer, when my friends following me with Honda sedan had hard time to keep up, thru car haulers with heavy equipment to over 5000 lb boat pictured in the Mercedes thread.
Never had a need for weight distribution, or anti-sway. Even towing the 5000 boat over famous, 7 mile long Grapevine Grade in CA I was able to go average 50 mph with 215 HP engine. The 20+ mpg dropped to 10-12, but I didn't complain.
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Old 01-22-2008, 11:23 PM   #4
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The GMC or the Chevy Tahoe is more than enough to tow a 23 ft. Airstream. I just bought a new 22 ft International and plan to tow it with a 2007 Tahoe. I never like the Ford Expedition as a tow vehicle and I know you will find a world of difference between the 2000 Expedition (I had one) and the Denali or Tahoe, especially if you get the 6.2 liter engine which has 380 hp and rated to tow 7,900 lbs. The standard 5.3 liter V-8 is actually plenty of engine for a 23 ft Airstream as it is rated 320 hp and 6,600 lbs towing capacity. Your Airstream is going to weigh about 5,600 lbs--check your book--so the decision is yours. A Denali, of course has a lot of creature comforts and trim above and beyond a top-line Tahoe, but it does cost about $10,000 more with the big engine.

For what it's worth, I towed a 32 ft AS for 8 years with a Chevy Suburban with the 6.2 liter engine and had power to spare.

Pete in Vermont
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Old 01-22-2008, 11:41 PM   #5
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Deneli is mostly about appearance and trim..

You can ge the 6.0L Chevy or GMC V-8 in Suburban or Tahoe or Yukon or Yukon XL's with heavy duty 4 spd automatic, and get almost the same power and torque as the Denali, for a lot less $$.. The extra wheelbase and overall length offes some added stability when towing, but an Airstream 23' trailer is light enough that the shorter version would work fine unless you were hauing in and over mountains constantly.. Ford Expedition and Expedition EL don't offer same engine yet, though Ford rumored to be working on diesel version someday.. Newer 6.0L V-8's with 250+ HP are more than adequate, compared to older Ford 5.4L Triton V-8 or similar versions rated at barely 200 HP..

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Old 01-23-2008, 06:10 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by ASchwager
Given this constraint, I would like to get the best horsepower and torque I can get.
I'm curious why you have specified a vehicle with the best HP and Torque?

Airstreams..... The best towing trailers on the planet!
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Old 01-23-2008, 06:41 AM   #7
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My vote would be for the 2500 Suburban or Yukon XL with the 6.0 and heavier duty suspension for less money. I use a 1500 Suburban with the 5.3 and I am pleased with it for no more towing than I do . We are still working full time and when we do get to travel it is usually no more than 4 or 5 hrs away but I have towed my trailer in the North GA mountains and I have no complaints and I get 10.5 mpg towing and 19 mpg solo. Good Luck.
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Old 01-23-2008, 06:43 AM   #8
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Been very happy with the GM offerings. I have a 25 footer and tow with a Suburban 3/4 ton. In your case, having a 23', a 1/2 ton would do the job. I know the 6.x liter engines get over 300hp and good torque ratings. I believe the 5.3L is up there too, though I don't know the exact figures off hand....either way on the GM engine front, you'll have plenty of power and I'd suggest 3.73 or 4.10s. No matter which way you go, and no matter what brand, towing, yer not gonna get much better than 12mpg with a gasser unless you really keep your foot out of it.

I am sure Ford makes good stuff too, but I wouldn't know for sure...have yet to step into a Ford dealer....lately, let alone driven one.

I particularly like the Suburban due to the extensive capacity it has for not only towing but hauling stuff within it, both when towing and not towing. Tahoe and the GMC counterparts are also very good. The engine lineups are solid, the transmissions are darn near bullet proof and having towed with GM vehicles for over 15 years, I can say that I have been very pleased.

I also like the OnStar features for hands free calling, emergency notification of airbag deployment to OnStar (who dispatches help automatically), turn by turn directions, remote vehicle diagnosis, email minders for service or noticed pending failures, etc. It appears to be a full 3 watt type system too, meaning I can typically get a singal where no cell phone can, plus sound quality is very, very good, with nearly zero dropped calls. Ford is just now starting to do this on some cars...I have not seen this offered on Chrysler/Dodge vehicles yet.
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Old 01-23-2008, 11:08 AM   #9
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ASchwager---I currently tow with a short wheel base Denali and find it to be good enough for my 5000# GVW 22 ft trailer. My reference point is a 5.3 Tahoe with Z71 suspension that I also have used with the same trailer.

The 6.0 Denali is clearly more powerful, useful power, than the 5.3 and gets the same gas mileage as the 5.3 with and without the trailer. I prefer the airbag shocks on the Denali to the Tahoe without the lift, but I have a strong preference for the Z71 suspension and the stiffer tires on the Tahoe than what comes on the Denali.

The 6.0/6.2 is only available in the Denali version of the short wheel base the last time I checked. If it were available in the Tahoe/Yukon, then that would be my first choice with a Z71 suspension.

In summary, I'd switch to the long wheel base version for 25 ft and up.

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Old 01-23-2008, 11:11 AM   #10
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The Diesel Excursion. Unfortunately no longer made. An F-250 with a SUV body.
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Old 01-23-2008, 12:49 PM   #11
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I think you won't need a 3/4 ton SUV for a 23'. That's my personal opinion.

While I'm a Ford man through and through, if you want an SUV, I would recommend that you go with the Denali or other GM product. My wife had a 1999 Expedition and now has a 2007 Expedition with factory towing package and I don't think Ford is quite where GM is on full-sized SUV's for towing. As a family hauler, I'll stick with the Expedition, but for towing, I'd go with the GM product.
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Old 01-23-2008, 02:22 PM   #12
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I'd recommend the Ford Excursion (or any SUV with a weight north of 3 tons).

My diesel Excursion saved me and my family's lives when the Airstream Classic I was pulling suddenly and unexpectedly began to fishtail.

I told this story before, so I won't replay it, but sitting inside a 7,000 brick pays dividends when your trailer (of any size) wants to do its own thing. Or if you're unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident.

More metal, more mass, driven safely, is the best bet.

I wouldn't be here today if I were driving a pickup, or a smaller TV or SUV.

My 2 cents.
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Old 01-23-2008, 02:53 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by LittleRadio
I'd recommend the Ford Excursion (or any SUV with a weight north of 3 tons).

My diesel Excursion saved me and my family's lives when the Airstream Classic I was pulling suddenly and unexpectedly began to fishtail..
Trailers don't just start fishtailing on their own. It is the trailer/TV combination that cost it.
IMHO it was the Excursion, or its soft suspension that cost the fishtailing.
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Old 01-23-2008, 02:55 PM   #14
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hi aschwager

many of the mid sized suvs would tow a 23 easily.

IF that were to be the largest a/s ever considered, these would be my choices, in random order...

bmw x5...
porsche cayenne...
vw t-rex (especially the diesel)...
audi q7...
mercedes/dodge sprinter van (not an suv, but fully enclosed)...
mercedes GL 500...
dodge dakota...
lincoln navigator...
chrysler aspen (the new one)...
nissan armada or infinity version...
toyota/lexus land cruiser or sequoia...

the porsche, t rex, bmw and merc' can be equipped with LOTS of hp/torque and massive brakes.

but the others all have adequate power/capacity for a 23.

i prefer a completely separate/isolated area for tv cargo (truck bed/cap)

and some of these mid sized suvs really have very little cargo space behind the 2nd row of seats...

trailer life has a very complete listing of towvehicles/specs published yearly and available on line at their website.

it's all good!


all of the true things that i am about to tell you are shameless lies. l.b.j.

we are here on earth to fart around. don't let anybody tell you any different. k.v.
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