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Old 11-21-2013, 10:50 AM   #1
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Buying tow vehicle before Airstream..

It is a dream of mine (and my wife) to own an airstream in the near future. We haven't decided on which year or model, it would just be an affordable one that is functional for our growing family.

That being said, our family is growing and growing right out of our current vehicles. We need a new one and want to plan as effectively for the future as possible. Knowing we want something that can trailer the AS and our family, we have started the search at the suburban/Tahoe.

The brochure I picked up at the dealer says that the 1/2 ton suburban can tow up to 8100 lbs. I am no expert on towing. I asked the dealer about the 3/4 ton model and he acted like I was crazy and said they didn't sell many of that model. Now I have read up a bit on these forums and a lot of advice is to go with a 3/4 ton. Especially since we would need an airstream that sleeps 4 (maybe 5) comfortably, I assume this puts us at least a 27+ model.

What suburban model 2013 or 2014 that would be best. How is the trailer package on them? Any other model SUVs that fit 7 or 8 people that I am missing? I am really just starting my search for both tow vehicle and airstream, so I am in need of help/advice.
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Old 11-21-2013, 10:57 AM   #2
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Threads like this are often fightin' words.

A 3/4 ton Suburban will should any Airstream you want to buy. Given the number of people you're talking (and their stuff), I think the 3/4 ton would be what you'd want.
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:02 AM   #3
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well, for me, the key difference (not the only difference) was how much weight the vehicle's axels could handle...

if you are talking about an 8,000 lb airstream...most of such models are going to have 850 lb + tongue weights, then add on hitch...

Do the math...the tongue weight + passenger weights, plus any weight of stuff put into truck in addition (fuel, propane, chairs, coolers, bikes??)...if you feel you do not exceed or are comfortably below the rating for the vehicle, they 1/2 ton may be doable...if too close or above...well then act acordingly I guess...

from all the people towing online, it is clear that many 1/2 ton vehicles have the ability to tow a 27+ footer...the sticking point that is more of an issue for me was the weights...I like to carry alot of crap...and passengers...I almost bought a 3/4 ton used suburban - the deal blew out (see my thread on that subject, suburban is in the title) - and decided after that I wanted a pickup - got a 3/4 ton ram instead...

I think that if you are careful with your weights and do your math carefully, a 1/2 ton suburban may do the job...but at the minimum carefully consider weights...if you are hauling around alot of passengers and alot of stuff, and pulling a 27+ footer...you may find it gets close...too close for comfort? or even over the limit...
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:03 AM   #4
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I tow a 27FB with a Ford Expedition. It's no barn burner, but adequate enough. Tows up to 9,000 lbs. Unhitched it then serves as a decent daily driver and get around car. The downside is payload capacity (1,600 lbs). You have to assume your bigger trailer will take 900 to 1,000 lbs of payload capacity from your vehicle. Your family members will probably eat up the most of the rest leaving almost no extra for random stuff in the tow vehicle. You'll have to put all your luggage and stuff in the trailer first. A 3/4 ton will fix the payload problem but then becomes a beast for a daily driver. Kind of a personal preference thing.
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:11 AM   #5
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Skater is right - but even with all the varying opinions on this forum...it boils down to a few groups...but none of these groups as far as I could tell ever come close to recommending exceeding weights for axels...so that is a common denomenator to start with I think?

Towing capacity and other issues are more contentious it seems to me in passing.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f463...-a-106337.html

above is my thread about suburban for trailers that fall within the realm of what you are considering.

I just picked up my new bunkhouse last week...
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:13 AM   #6
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Buying tow vehicle before airstream..

Greetings cptkel!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Airstreams!

I am a fan of the Suburban as a tow vehicle for my Airstream and Argosy. While I could have "gotten by" with a 1500 series Suburban, I went with a special ordered 2500 series as I wanted to be able to tow any Airstream travel trailer. My 1999 Suburban (purchased new as a special order in April 1998), now has almost 200,000 miles with minimal trouble other than one weak spot . . . the automatic four wheel drive transfer case. It is that weak spot that causes me to advise against a four wheel drive (along with the added maintenance and slight decrease in fuel economy). Other than problems with the four wheel drive transfer case, my only significant problems with the Suburban was a new timing gear and chain at 150,000 miles and new rear main seals at 180,000 miles (I have the 7400 VORTEC -- 454 CI).

While many will indicate the frequent need for four wheel drive, I have only been in two situations where I needed the four wheel drive while towing the Airstream, and since both were at International Rallys, I could have gotten the needed assistance to park from tractors kept at the rally for that purpose. This Suburban will be my last tow vehicle with four wheel drive. My first tow vehicle was a Jeep Grand Wagoneer with absolutely trouble-free four wheel drive, but I never had the need to use four wheel drive while towing with that vehicle.

Good luck with your research -- I would recommend a 2500 series Suburban, and if purchasing new, special order with just the options that you want!

Kevin
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:16 AM   #7
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The factory tongue weight on the 28' model is the highest one at 976 pounds on the Flying Cloud series and 950 pounds on the International series with a GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) of 7,600 pounds. Both the Flying Cloud and International series 31' models have a GVW of 8,800 pounds. The 31' Bunk House Flying Cloud has a factory tongue weight of 885 pounds while the regular 31' Flying Cloud and International series have 880 pound tongue weights.

The Classic series has a 27FB model with a tongue weight of 792 pounds and GVW of 9,000 pounds. The two 31' models have a GVW of 10,000 pounds and the model 30 has a tongue weight of 773 pounds and the model 31 has a tongue weight of 805 pounds.

The factory tongue weights are lower than the actual number but up to 2/3 of that weight can be transferred to the tow vehicle with a weight distribution hitch and the rest transferred back to the trailer axles.

Our 2013 25FB International Serenity had a factory tongue weight of 833 pounds but the actual weight camping ready was 1,200 pounds. With our Hensley hitch installed and adjusted, about 750 to 800 pounds were on the truck.

If your trailer put around 700 pounds on the tow vehicle, then your remaining payload from the payload number on the door post has to carry the driver, passengers, gear and full fuel.

I believe the 3/4 ton would have more payload and be the better choice. However, if you consider having a generator or two, the gasoline has to be put somewhere. Some folks have made a generator carburetor conversion to propane to get around the gasoline issue.

Welcome to the forum and enjoy the various threads on all topics.
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:28 AM   #8
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"I asked the dealer about the 3/4 ton model and he acted like I was crazy and said they didn't sell many of that model."

It is true they are not at all common on many lots...it is also true that it is not terribly difficult to exceed axel limits within this context....making the calculus indeed not "crazy" I would think...surely the dealer if given figures/weights that exceed the ratings of axels he would not recommend
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:29 AM   #9
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Personally I would have had a much harder time entertaining the TV as a daily driver thought process given my driving needs...I commute 50 miles each way daily...need my 45mph I get in my TDI

How many miles will you be putting on this TV/daily driver?
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:31 AM   #10
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CPTKEL, at this point in time, a 3/4 ton 2013 Suburban is probably a pipe dream.

And the 2014 'burb is not an ordering option.

I'm not sure anybody can predict what 2015 will bring in the way of either a Tahoe or Suburban 2500.

Hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but that's just the way it is right now. :-(

Don't know what the used market out there is like, but in light of the above, I suspect decent 2500's are scarce.
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:32 AM   #11
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You are giving too much credit to the dealer. They only want to sell what is on the lot eating their floor plan and most are truly ignorant about towing. Goto a dealer with the full line of trucks of larger size on their lot and they may be more towing aware.
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:37 AM   #12
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check carmax for 2500 suburbans...they had 5-6 of them back when I was looking...which is few when you consider how many vehicles they get into...
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:39 AM   #13
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Another Burb fan here.

If you need payload, room and comfort it's a pretty darn good choice....but.
2013 is the last year for the 2500 Suburban.

Check carefully what the dealers have on the lot as there are no build orders.

We got our 2006 2500 used in 2008, GM program Exec Demo.
Bought it from the first registered owner with 11k on the clock.
On ebay, didn't sell, made offer, went to N.C. to pick-up, no regrets.
Good ones are out there, just takes careful effort.


A rural dealership may have more "white" on the lot and be more familiar with your needs.


You might consider the quality used option if you have the time to shop around.

Bob
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:44 AM   #14
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Welcome ! Welcome !! Welcome !!!
The more the data available the better the advice you get from this forum. # and ages of camping family will determine your future TV & TT need. For example, despite your great intentions, teenagers often branch out with friends rather than camping with the parents. The fact that you have six or seven head count total now does not mean that they will all be camping with you in 3-5yrs, so try and calculate and come up with approximate passenger wt., total camping gear and camping preference ( dry (boondocking) / Full hookup). Also how long you intend to be gone for camping ( weekender, couple of days, weeks or Alaska marathon ), so also your sporting preference ( biking, kayaking ... load adds up.)

I usually advice newbies to settle for the TT / AS first before buying the Tow Vehicle due to the cost associated with trading in a new TV . This happens when a newly found AS requires an entirely different TV ( taste, capacity & economics). best wishes in your search.
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