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Old 12-07-2012, 09:14 PM   #43
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We've spent some time pulling our 66 Safari this year with our '12 awd Flex ...w/natural aspiration. Close to 2000 miles no isues. MPG 12.5.
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:50 PM   #44
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Oops, timed out on me. The space between the tow vehicle and trailer counts too which is the other part of the equation - turbulence. Also, Ford says that the WR rating is both the front of the tow vehicle and the portion of the trailer exposed. While the portion sticking out is creating direct resistance, the other part is creating turbulence. What size Airstream are you talking? I should've asked that first since if it is vintage - narrower and lighter, it could make a big difference. The only thing that really matters there is engine strain and overheating to meet the velocity to the power of three! Of course you could get a towing cone too.
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Old 12-08-2012, 12:30 AM   #45
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Originally Posted by rodsterinfl View Post
What size Airstream are you talking? I should've asked that first since if it is vintage - narrower and lighter, it could make a big difference.
rodster, re-read post #40, you'll see he is dealing with a light older trailer.
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Old 12-08-2012, 06:09 AM   #46
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The Ford Flex & Edge are both very stable tow vehicles that we have a great track record with. The 6 speed automatic is a GM/Ford joint venture we have been using it extensively in the Buick Enclave for 5 years now and none of our customers has had a hint of trouble with it. Our current Taurus SHO has the same transmission with the Echoboost engine. So far we only have 24000 miles on it but even the massive power of this engine has not hurt the transmisison so I am not concerned about it at all with the naturally aspirated motor.

Of the 200 plus Enlcaves Flex's and Edges we have set up most of our customers are towing 34's and most of the rest are towing 25-30's. We also have several customers that tow some of the lower profile Lite trailers that though labeled as lites they have substantially more air drag than an Airstream.

What I really like about all these vehicles is the very nice suspension tuning, so far none of them has fallen into the new pick up and full size SUV trap of seeing how cushy we can make the ride. They are all tuned to be firm and well controlled but not harsh. They all have 4 wheel independent suspension, precise steering and a low centre of gravity. Overhang to wheelbase ratios vary amoung them but they are all pretty good. The worst one is the Ford Explorer which has the highest tow rating.

Like most vehicles we do substantially strengthen the hitch receivers.

We do have an Edge at the store that we can set up for test drives if you would like to try one before you purchase.

I hope this helps you out.

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Old 12-08-2012, 07:29 AM   #47
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I want to back up what Andy posted above. I've towed with about a dozen tow vehicles, and the Flex and MKT were the best tow vehicles I've used. If my wife didn't hate the looks of the Flex, we'd likely own one. Much more room inside than our Durango.

The Ecoboost is fabulous and the chassis handled our old Argosy very well. And I wasn't babying it either - 75 mph on the NYS thruway in July 90+ degree temps...

Tom
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Old 12-08-2012, 07:55 AM   #48
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We looked very carefully at the Edge before we bought our Traverse. I can't see any reason why it wouldn't work very well as a TV if properly setup. Probably the biggest downside was the small 18 gal fuel tank limits towing range. The thought of having to start carrying a gas can when towing in the boonies eliminated it from consideration in our case.
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Old 12-08-2012, 09:41 AM   #49
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Thanks Aage on the clarification. Ok, looked up

1964 26' Overlander:

Hitch Weight 405 lbs;
Base Weight: 3930 lbs;
Gross Weight: of 6095 lbs.

2013 Flex ecoboost with WD hitch capacities:

max tongue 450 lbs;
max tow 4500 lbs;
max cargo 1160 lbs (Ecoboost model as per Ford)

The payload (cargo) is around 750 lbs after trailer tongue weight. My tongue weight with LP tanks loaded is 120 lbs heavier than Airstream specs as per the local CAT scale. My thought is that they weigh them empty. If the 1964 way of doing things is the same, then the tongue weight could also be as much as 650 and cargo/payload be as low as 510 lbs. It took me FOREVER to get the cargo capacity figure from Ford. The local dealer had to make a request. They called this morning.

I guess why it matters is that I tried everything as well to find a vehicle other than a pickup to pull my AS and came away with a pickup truck as the only option per se. I would really like having something with better MPG than a pickup since it is my only vehicle and will continue to do research on the subject. I am waiting to hear more on the 2015 F150, while still a pickup, is reported to be getting 30 mpg in hwy tests. All I can say is bring it on! One salesman told me that he always told his towing customers about the 1000 pound rule - tow vehicle max ratings should be about 1000 lbs higher than what you are towing to have a good tow. I ended up with a pickup and, I like it a lot now but getting to that point was a realization and challenge. So, if I seem negative, it is not to be a stinker but realistic. Look at these figures and think about it.
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:35 AM   #50
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The Flex is a great vehicle. It is a people hauler and light duty tow vehicle and a great price. It is also FWD and on a car frame. As camper owners for trailers that are 4000+ pounds, there are a few with smaller lighter rigs than may be able to use one but the drive train is not designed for heavy towing. It may have an ecoboost but there is more to it than just the engine. This is a hot topic. As I was hunting for information I found several links with people wanting to get one to tow massive boats, campers, horse trailers, etc. The problem is that while someone may exceed the specs, to do so regularly is unsafe and unwise plus if discovered would void your warranty under the loophole of misuse.
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:43 AM   #51
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Back in 2003 we owned a 1996 Ford Windstar with all available towing packages from Ford. We bought a new 2003 16' aerolite cub, weight 2900 lbs. loaded. The Windstar had a tow rateing of 3800 lbs.. The only way the Windstar could handle it was out of overdrive, down hill , and with a tailwind. This is why we sold the Windstar and bought a F150 Supercrew with a 5.4 engin and a 3.55 rear end gear. I agree with rodsterinfl, it is not just about engin and tow ratings. Our 1987 25' Airstream in the factory specs has a toung weight of 700 lbs the factory told me to multiply that by 1.15 to get a more acurate weight. The factory specs also says that our trailer weights 5200 lbs when it really weights 6020 lbs now loaded and if we add 50 gallons of water to take along that is another 400 lbs plus maybe some firewood and other things in the truck bed. Please realy think this through.
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:25 AM   #52
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Like most vehicles we do substantially strengthen the hitch receivers.

I hope this helps you out.

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I would be interested to know what hitch modifications are done. I would wonder if these mods affect the crush/crumple zones in the unibody? What would be the result of a rear end collision when not towing? What about fuel tank impacts from a modified hitch?
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Old 12-08-2012, 12:21 PM   #53
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Just ask a car salesman.
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Old 12-08-2012, 01:33 PM   #54
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Back in 2003 we owned a 1996 Ford Windstar with all available towing packages from Ford. We bought a new 2003 16' aerolite cub, weight 2900 lbs. loaded. The Windstar had a tow rateing of 3800 lbs.. The only way the Windstar could handle it was out of overdrive, down hill , and with a tailwind. This is why we sold the Windstar and bought a F150 Supercrew with a 5.4 engin and a 3.55 rear end gear. I agree with rodsterinfl, it is not just about engin and tow ratings. Our 1987 25' Airstream in the factory specs has a toung weight of 700 lbs the factory told me to multiply that by 1.15 to get a more acurate weight. The factory specs also says that our trailer weights 5200 lbs when it really weights 6020 lbs now loaded and if we add 50 gallons of water to take along that is another 400 lbs plus maybe some firewood and other things in the truck bed. Please realy think this through.
This is an absolutely ridiculous example to use if you want to estimate the capabilities of an AWD Ecoboost Flex. Best-case, a '96 Windstar made 200 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque, both at elevated RPM. The normally aspirated Flex comfortably exceeds each of those figures, and an Ecoboost Flex puts out 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, and a huge fraction of that max torque is available below 2000 RPM. Those numbers are comparable to the output of my '07 F150 5.4l (the Flex produces more hp and almost as much torque.) On top of that the Flex has a 6-speed auto vs. the Windstar's 4-speed.
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Old 12-08-2012, 02:07 PM   #55
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I can't blame anyone for being skeptical of what many consider to be our smaller tow vehicles. If I had not towed hundreds of thousands of miles with a wide variety of them I would be just as much so. So it is easy for me and our customers that drive them all the time. Anytime you are near our store you are welcome to come in for a test drive and try some out. I think you will be amazed.

Payload numbers are a funny thing. Not long ago you could buy a F250 with 1400 pounds of payload.

The Ford Payload capacity on a Naturally aspirated Flex is 1337 pounds the Ford Payload on our 2012 F150 is 1560 pounds.

So should I really recommend to a customer a tow vehicle that uses more gas, is less stable, has a less rigid structure, is less safe and may not suite their lifestyle in any way for 227 pounds of payload capacity? If it is designed with that little leeway then you don't want the car anyway. Most people add a topper and running boards to the F150 then it actually has less payload than the Flex.

In the real world, I am not actually concerned about the payload of either vehicle. When the automaker determines payload they have to assume that all of that weight is going be added to the rear axle of the vehicle and some will be removed from the front. When we are towing however we are transferring substantial weight to the front axle. The car builder cannot count on that being possible. So we are careful to never overload tires and to make certain we are not overloading bearings suspension components etc.

The reality is most people loading up the F150 or the Flex for a vacation without a trailer are going to have less dynamic stability and be far heavier on the rear axle than most people towing with one are, you see them all the time. In actual use the Flex handles 800 pounds of hitch weight better than the F150, the suspension is firmer and it is easier to transfer weight forward due to the shorter overhang and wheel base.

(Back in 2003 we owned a 1996 Ford Windstar with all available towing packages from Ford.) I would not mind using your comment to illustrate a point. The 1996 Windstar was not a good tow vehicle: 140 actual horsepower (listed at 160 but detuned to save the weak transmission). The Cub you were towing had more aerodynamic drag than an Airstream. You probably noticed you could accelerate easily to 40 MPH it was maintaining speed especially in a headwind that was the problem.

You missed by 2 model years. In 1998 the Windstar received a new overbuilt transmission and the engine was retuned to an honest 200 hp. It was a pretty capable tow vehicle, we put hitches on 400 of them and I have personally towed 10's of thousands of miles with one. We had one in our fleet continuously from 1998-2004. Here is the thing, even though it became a dramatically more capable tow vehicle the tow rating never changed, it was still Lee Iacocca's 3500 pounds.

A Chrysler 300C is a well proven vehicle for us. I don't care how you want to measure actual safety, performance and handling name your test on pavement. With an Airstream it will spank most any other tow vehicle owned by anyone on this forum. It will leave them behind in a drag race, out stop and massively out handle anything that comes close to it in performance and still get pretty good fuel economy. The tow rating is 1000 pounds.

On the other hand, there are some vehicles with 5-7000 pound tow ratings that are absolutely dangerous as a tow vehicle. I guess what I am trying to get across here is that looking at the properties of a vehicle will give you a much better assessment of its capability than a number pulled out of the air by marketing.

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Old 12-08-2012, 02:58 PM   #56
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One salesman told me that he always told his towing customers about the 1000 pound rule - tow vehicle max ratings should be about 1000 lbs higher than what you are towing to have a good tow.
And that salesman got to sell a more expensive vehicle to someone who didn't need it. There's this idea that the tow rating is like Cinderella's carriage - the moment you get to midnight (or go over the weight), it turns back into a pumpkin.

I get to talk a lot with fellow engineers who work at car companies. I told one very high-ranking truck engineer about the RV forum "80% rule" to devalue manufacturer tow rating. He laughed - a lot. The test involved to determine that truck tow rating is quite severe, and most consumers will never match those conditions.

Another company's truck engineer said that "our customers know they can count on our trucks, even beyond the tow rating" - they EXPECTED the customer to exceed it. Their trucks (at the time) were also being tested at a highway speed 10 mph higher than the others.

On the other hand, there is zero incentive to rate something like the Flex higher than 4500 pounds. None. Only 5-10% of buyers will ever tow anything over 2000 pounds anyway. As long as it's "competitive for the class," they've done their duty. To the same end, there is no sales reason to rate a sedan over 1000 pounds.

I was told that the reason one popular SUV is limited to 5000 pounds is simply because the hitch isn't strong enough to go further - tests found it plenty stable to tow more. While a shop like CanAm can weld in 30 pounds of reinforcement, the vehicle line executive engineer needed to save that weight to meet mileage goals.

The idea of a unibody vehicle not being able to tow doesn't hold water. You're not pulling apart the frame of a car by towing. Unibodies are often stiffer and stronger - my Durango and the Jeep Grand Cherokee are built that way, as are the German SUVs rated to 7700 lbs. Again, what you DO need is a strong enough hitch attachment, something that CanAm or other knowledgable shops can do. Plenty of mid-2000s GM truck owners have a full frame...and a hitch that breaks off.

Crush zone wise, the vast majority of severe and fatal injuries come from front crashes. Comparatively little attention is paid to rear end structure, other than insuring fuel system integrity in case of the crash. From the CanAm reinforcements that were done on my previous Honda minivan, I'd surmise that if the crash was bad enough for them to cause a problem that threatened injury, damage is so severe that you'd have a problem even without them.

There is something satisfying about numbers. They're understandable. They seem to simplify a big and sometimes confusing subject. But the often dogged focus on the numbers - hunting for a trailer that weighs 500 pounds less than another, concern over a tow vehicle that's just short of a trailer's GVWR - misses a lot of other issues and bigger pictures.

In the end, tow with a truck if you want to. I've towed with trucks too. But there are other ways to do this.

Tom
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