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Old 11-08-2015, 12:38 PM   #1
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help with tow vehicle

I just purchased a 2016 19ft. Bambi flying cloud. weight loaded is 4600lbs.
I need advice on picking a proper 4 WD tow vehicle.
A lot of SUV's are rated for 5000 lbs.I am concerned that this is just too close to the 4600? Any advice on picking a 2 or 3 year old vehicle is appre ciated.
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Old 11-08-2015, 01:07 PM   #2
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Without knowing how many people and how much gear you need to carry in the vehicle, whether it has to function as a dedicated tow vehicle or whether it must also be the family car, and how often and what type of mountains you must climb and descend with it; for the best value I would suggest any late model half-ton pickup truck rated to tow AND carry whatever you plan to bring along.

The third very important element along with truck and trailer is a high-quality and capable weight distribution hitch with sway control, properly set up and adjusted by someone who really knows what they are doing. And that someone may be you with good research.

Welcome aboard and enjoy your travels.
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Old 11-08-2015, 02:53 PM   #3
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2 people. extended trip, west, north, east.
my question at this time is if the trailer weights out at 4600 how close can I get with a tow vehicle in towing capacity. A lot of
SUVs tow 5000 lbs. Is that big enough?
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Old 11-08-2015, 03:18 PM   #4
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You will be cutting it very close. Two people usually average 300 lbs so that brings you up to 4900lbs plus your WD Hitch & anything carried in the TV pushing you well over that Bambi's limits.
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Old 11-08-2015, 03:26 PM   #5
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Here is my 2 cents: a marginal vehicle would only work for "weekend warriors" that are in favorable terrain (no too hilly, not too hot). For extended trips (specially out west), in my opinion, you need a bit more spare capacity. This makes the towing experience a relaxed one for you the driver, and also reduces the wear and tear on the tow vehicle.

You seem to be looking for an SUV. I am going to recommend what we own, a 2012 Mercedes Benz GL 350 Bluetec. And here is why:

1) It has a 7500# tow rating and gives you a good cushion.

2) Tongue weight limit is 600#, but should not be an issue with your trailer.

3) Mercedes is the only German SUV that I know that does not specifically ban the use of weight distribution hitches. The hitch has 2 large support arms that are bolted to the unibody. Again, the only unibody SUV I know with this feature.

4) Its turbo diesel engine produces more than 400 ft-lb of torque at 1600 RPM. Thats more than many pickups. In the East coast and Midwest, this means I maintain 60 MPH speed at less than 2000 RPM towing our 5500# (to 6000#) trailer. In the hills of Pennsylvania/Virginia/West Virginia the RPM goes to 2500 to maintain 60 MPH speed.

5) GL is heavy (ours weighs 5750# empty) and has a relatively long wheelbase. This helps with stability. Towing our 26 ft trailer it is incredibly stable. I don't have a fancy hitch, but the performance I get is similar to what ProPride users rave about. Complete stability. I could have 2 fingers on the wheel when semi's pass (I DON'T recommend this AT ALL, but wanted you to get an idea of the stability of the combo).

6) You can use cruise control (CC) while towing. Going down hill, the CC applies the brakes (this in turn applied the trailer brakes) and downshifts automatically to maintain speed. I never touch the brakes on GL or the manual trailer brakes (at least in the East coast hills towing a 6000# trailer). Feels like a psuedo exhaust brake (except that the brakes are engaged).

7) Its very efficient. Towing at 60 MPH I get 16.5 MPG. Not towing we get 20 MPG city and 24-30 MPG highway, depending on speed and terrain.

8) You can get a 2012 GL for a good price. If you decide to go this route, make sure you get extended warranty as repairs are very expensive.
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Old 11-08-2015, 03:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weber.roger View Post
I just purchased a 2016 19ft. Bambi flying cloud. weight loaded is 4600lbs.
I need advice on picking a proper 4 WD tow vehicle.
A lot of SUV's are rated for 5000 lbs.I am concerned that this is just too close to the 4600? Any advice on picking a 2 or 3 year old vehicle is appre ciated.
The tow rating has little to nothing to do with how well, how safe, or how reliable it will be over the long term. You need to dig deeper into the forums and do lots of reading and research. For example our Nissan Mini Van towed our 23 for many years and after 17 years the van had 465,000klm's on it and it had no major drive train issues.

On the other hand I know of a case where a guy was towing 4,500lbs with a highly tow rated Ram pickup and it went through ten's of thousand of dollars worth of parts and repairs in a few short years.

Research, research, research.

Top rated SUV suggestions.....
Mercedes (many models)
BMW X5
VW T-Reg
Ford Flex, Edge
Buick Enclave
etc
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Old 11-08-2015, 03:54 PM   #7
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Do you have an SUV now?

There are two ratings to consider, the amount of trailer weight rated to tow and the amount of weight carried in the SUV bus the weight of the loaded trailer tongue weight. You're probably safe estimating 500-700 lbs tongue weight added to the SUV (after weight distribution is applied), plus whatever you load into it.

Some SUV's handle much better than others on the road. A few things to look for are independent suspension front and rear (no solid axles), low center of gravity (compare the height of the bottom of the door sills for a good idea), low profile tires for stability (less sidewall wobble/greater sway resistance), and shorter rear overhand compared to wheelbase (compare wheelbase to distance from rear axle to hitch ball as a ratio, smaller ratio transmits less trailer sway force forward to the steering axle).

Don't underestimate the importance of the weight distribution hitch. An economical choice would be a Eaz-Lift with two adjustable friction sway control bars, on the other end of the price range is a ProPride or Hensley weight distribution hitch to completely eliminate any trailer sway concerns.
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Old 11-09-2015, 11:20 AM   #8
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I couldn't agree more. Our 2012 Mercedes 350 GL Bluetec is perfect for towing our 1904 25' Safari. It should handle the lighter trailer with ease.
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Old 11-09-2015, 01:14 PM   #9
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But for those very few of us who cannot afford a Mercedes SUV, nor spend $50k on a new one, I suggest a gently used Tahoe or Yukon...the standard 5.3L engine is fine, and they run forever. I traded in my last one with 265k miles, my 2005 has 197k miles, and my 2012 96k. Moreover, other than a weight distribution hitch and anti-sway bar, you'll won't need to worry about anything else other than the coming ice and snow. Safe travels. jon
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Old 11-09-2015, 01:14 PM   #10
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The $50 k was for a new SUV....as if.....
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Old 11-09-2015, 01:23 PM   #11
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A brand new Tahoe LTZ 4X4 starts at $65,805. A brand new GL 350 starts at $64,550. So, Chevy is actually the more expensive vehicle when purchased new. If they depreciate the same, Tahoe would be the more expensive vehicle used, as well.
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Old 11-09-2015, 02:11 PM   #12
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We have the V6 diesel engine in our 2007 Mercedes ML320 CDI which we purchased new in October of 2006. It has more torque than the V8 gas engine of the day - 398 foot pounds (1400 - 2800 rpm) and 221 horsepower @ 3800 rpm.

It has the power to pull our 2015 23D (6,000 pounds GVW) through the mountains with no issues. On steep down grades, I slow to 35 mph and the engine can control the descent speed without riding the brakes. The axle weights are within limits.

I towed our 2013 25FB International Serenity home through the mountains and the power was there to handle the new empty trailer. The CAT scales reported the axle and GVW numbers of the Mercedes were within limits. After loading the trailer for camping, we both drove to the CAT scales and the axle ratings were overloaded. The GVW was exceeded so a different tow vehicle was acquired. That replacement is now towing our Classic.
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Old 11-09-2015, 02:12 PM   #13
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Hi Roger--welcome to the Airstream experience!

You're going to find a lot of different opinions as to safety margins. On the one hand, how can you be too safe? But as mentioned throughout, there are a lot of different factors. For example, does your loaded weight include any water in your tanks? If not, do you plan to tow dry? Water weighs about 8 lbs/gallon, so that can easily add up if you're carrying any water in your tanks going down the road. Is 4600 the max GVW of the Bambi? Might you add more stuff in the future? What if you decide that you love your Airstream, but you need more room and want to upgrade to a larger (and heavier) one?

But assuming that 4600 lbs is your actual, going down the road weight, I personally see no problem with a tow vehicle rated at 5000 lbs, as long as your research shows you that the particular vehicle has a good record when towing.

After towing our 2010 28' International with real-world loaded weight of 6950 (max of 7300) with a 3/4 ton Suburban rated at 10,000 lbs (2000 model year) for several years, we decided to replace the Suburban. We were interested in a vehicle that would get better mpg, especially when NOT towing, and one that would give us much more interior volume for our extremely lightweight but space hogging windsurfing equipment. We agonized over whether the Sprinter 3500, rated at 7500 towing capacity, would do the job, but finally bought one (2013--shortest height and wheelbase that they make.) (Payload not an issue--the vehicle weighs just about 6000 lbs and has a rated max weight of 11,000--they use these to transport bottled water stacked to the roof!)

It does.

BUT, although we CAN still tow at Texas speeds (75-80 mph) with the Sprinter in Texas on interstate straightaways with no traffic and no wind, we now drive much slower. The Sprinter has plenty of torque to pavement (almost identical to the Suburban), but the greatly diminished hp of the little 3.0 litre diesel makes it work hard to hold high speeds, especially when climbing mountains. So we just slow down!

My wife feels strongly that our Sprinter/Airstream combo actually is even more stable than the already excellent Suburban/Airstream combo was.

We also know that we will NEVER exceed 7300 lbs--we're fanatics as to what we carry onboard, and never travel with more than 1/8-1/4 tank (5-8 gallons) of water on board for more than very short hauls. This spring, we'll replace our four AGM batteries with lithiums, for a weight savings of about 200 lbs more.

If you're at the absolute max at 4600 lbs that the Bambi will ever weigh and are positive that you'll never want a larger Airstream, you should be just fine with the right carefully researched tow vehicle with a capacity of 5000 lbs. But not if you
(1) like to cruise at 70-80 mph towing
(2) want to charge up steep mountain slopes
(3) plan to load the TV to its absolute max payload
(4) add much more weight to the Bambi down the line
(5) trade up from your 19' to a larger Airstream!

If you're not sure about any or several of the above list, get a 4wd TV with a greater towing capacity. We had good luck with our Chevy product, so that would be Tahoe or Suburban for you, or slightly pricier Yukon or Escalade! All of these had solid rear axles, so some owners prefer the Ford SUV's with independent rear suspension--it wasn't an issue for us. There are many Euro vehicles that are suitable, too, as mentioned by others in this forum. And then there's the whole gas vs diesel thing to consider, too!

Choosing a 3 year old vehicle is very smart--maybe getting something coming off a 36 month lease is a possibility, too. Let someone else (like us, for example!) take the depreciation hit of a new vehicle.

Good luck, and have fun!
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Old 11-09-2015, 03:46 PM   #14
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A Toyota Sequoia SUV would be a very capable tow vehicle for your needs. Comparable with Chevy Tahoe mentioned earlier in this thread except it has Independent Rear Suspension.

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