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Old 05-25-2009, 09:47 PM   #1
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Help: XC90 V8 w/ Special Tow Package & 25' AS??

Okay, I could really use some help. We are looking for an Airstream for a growing family and figured that a 25' is about as small as we want to go.

We have a 2006 Volvo XC90 V8 AWD with a special tow package (Ocean Race Edition). It has 315 HP and 330ft/lb torque.

We tow a 23' 3600lb ski boat with absolutely no problems. In fact it pulls the boat up our 300' driveway that is conservatively at a 30 degree angle with absolutely no issues at all (yes...trash day sucks at our house dragging those cans up the hill). We don't plan on putting the trailer down the driveway as the trailer is too big.

The best I can tell, the standard XC90 is good for at most 5000lbs which is 500lbs less than the 25' 2008 SS Safari.

I know everyone is saying stay at 80% of capacity; but my question is how bad of an idea is it to go this route? Doesn't the XC90 rating seem a little low for the power?

Are there other XC90 owners out here that can tell me their experience with an AS?

I really do not want to buy a new car to tow a trailer. Help is greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-25-2009, 10:13 PM   #2
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Hi and welcome to the forums,

The Ocean race edition is that brilliant blue color right? Nice.
Your XC90 has a tow rating of 4960lbs and an overall vehicle weight of 4826lbs. The engine is plenty powerful enough. Its a nice blend between Volvo and Yamaha. Its proven to be very reliable and virtually trouble free from what i can see. The weakness will still be the transmission (aisin warner). This is a major step up from the GM transmission used on the T6 models. Anyone with one of those cars knows what Im talking about. The factory trailer hitch would be required as its pretty unique to the vehicle. You would have to watch your overall weight as I think you would be maxed out pretty quickly. I dont think the roll stability control will help much with an airstream pushing it around. I kinda like the 80% or better rule too but it all depends on what you plan on towing.

Best of luck.

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Old 05-25-2009, 10:39 PM   #3
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I remember someone saying that you need about 2000 lbs added to the weight of the trailer to be safe not sure where I had seen this . But I think if you think of it this way the trailer is 4500 lbs with a full TV of say five people at even 100 lbs that would put it at the TV tow capacity and that is with out supplys (food,water onboard,LP full tanks,bikes,so_on) you are cutting it pretty close.
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Old 05-26-2009, 12:03 AM   #4
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25 SS Safari

[The best I can tell, the standard XC90 is good for at most 5000lbs which is 500lbs less than the 25' 2008 SS Safari.]

I believe the GVWR for the 25' SS Safari is approximately 7000 pounds. Also consider cargo, fuel, passengers, etc. I would consider a different tow vehicle or a smaller, lighter Airstream.
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Old 05-26-2009, 01:11 AM   #5
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I've dealt with using a Volvo as a tow vehicle at some length in previous posts, so I won't go into a lot of detail.

Yes, you have more than adequate power, even if you load the trailer beyond 7,000 lbs GVW. Heat kills transmissions, not load (assuming the transmission is specified to handle the torque output of the engine), so an auxiliary ATF cooler should be considered. (BTW, Volvo has been using AW transmissions for over 20 years, GM started buying them a few years ago, and you will find all kinds of AW automatics in Toyotas - Toyota is a majority shareholder in the company - so they can't be all that bad.)

Stability is always an important factor, and SUVs are not as good as cars . . . but an XC90 is not an old Explorer or Chevy Blazer, so I wouldn't expect problems as long as you have a good hitch setup.

A shortcoming is the hitch receiver. The Volvo unit is EU spec, meaning that it's probably not specifically designed to handle the torsional load of a weight distributing hitch. It will probably need reinforcing, or my preference would be a custom unit, e.g. one from Can Am RV (search for Andrew T on this forum). The biggest challenge is getting good advice on a proper setup, because your application will be well beyond the realm of experience of most shops.

Yes, I would happily tow an Airstream with the XC90. I would probably go bigger than 25' too.
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Old 05-26-2009, 07:58 AM   #6
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Growing family, eh? Just understand that the 25' SS only sleeps six if the kids are small and share beds well.

Here's the recent Volvo thread to which AlbertF referred - http://www.airforums.com/forums/f463...cle-49135.html

The XC90 doesn't have the specs when I look at the simple math. Newer 25' Airstream curb weights are in the range of 5500#. And TV max tow capacities are measured with virtually no weight inside the tow vehicle -- well, maybe the weight of a thoroughbred jockey to drive it.

In addition to the 5K tow capacity Edmunds shows a payload capacity of 1470#. Tongue weights: [25' SS Intl - 740#] [25' FB Intl - 820#] [25' FB Flying Cloud - 760#] With modest personal gear aboard, 60 pounds of propane in the tanks and weight distribution gear, I feel that you would be lucky to have a tongue weight from 900-950#. Just the hitch bar for my Reese WD gear weighs 40+ pounds.

If you must modify the Volvo hitch, any added weight must be subtracted from the 1470# payload. Likewise any roof cargo must be subtracted. Add together the weights of both parents, growing kids, pets and Wii machines that will ride inside; subtract those from your 1470# payload too. Do you have enough payload left over for tongue weight?

Another stat hidden in your Volvo's manual will be the individual axle ratings -- front & rear GAWR. You would have to do some mighty weight distribution to unweight the rear axle. For more discussion see Airstream, Inc :: FAQ.

I don't know if or how towing with your Volvo could be made to work. Andrew T can fit a square peg into a round hole if anybody can. Always put your family's safety as your first priority.
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Old 05-26-2009, 12:12 PM   #7
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All,

Thanks for the detailed feedback. We have three small boys; 2,4 and 8. Payload weight (passengers and stuff) should be around 600lbs max until they get older. We are used to traveling light because of all the air travel. We can usually get away with 70lbs of luggage for two weeks of international travel.

It sounds like without some major rework, we may be out of luck. It's hard to know if the numbers from Volvo are really conservative on purpose or really the max...do not exceed type of numbers.

I wish there was someone here with a V8 XC90 who could give me some real-life experiences.

It's a shame because it hauls our boat like it isn't even back there. I can't find too many other SUVs that I like that can handle the towing load we want.
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Old 05-26-2009, 12:50 PM   #8
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Sorry bud, not a chance with the Volvo unless you drop down to a 19' Bambi or maybe a 20 footer, unless you have some rabbit's foot on your keychain or know of a guardian angel looking over you and the family.

I tow a 25er and I can tell you the loads are significantly more than that of a 19 or 20 footer. The trailer empty is going to weigh more than the stated tow capacity (about 5300lbs), and even if you modify the vehicle, I can tell you first hand that once you place loads onto a vehicle that was never designed for such loads, components will start to fail. I did this very thing and sure as hell, odds and ends started to break. Why? The car was rated to tow 5k max. I put gears in, additional trans cooler, etc. Car had 325hp and an gobs of torque on tap at any RPM band. Frames did flex more to to exceeded weight, bushings wore more quickly. Folks seem to think that engines are the only thing to worry about....wheelbase, frames, hubs, the whole picture must be taken into consideration as towing requires a lot more than just pure horsepower and torque. My 25er wore out by body on frame car in a short period if time.

Keep in mind that passengers, cargo and fuel get deducted from the tow rating, even further putting you in the hole in terms of a further diminished tow capacity, putting you around 4500lbs of tow capacity left, which is well south of where you will need to be with a late model 25er....maybe a vintage, but even that will be close I suspect. Your boat is nowhere near the weight of a 25' new(er) Airstream. The Airstream can outweigh by at least 2x.

25' starts the beginning of the wide body trailers. As such, I recommend you look at Ford Excursion or Chevy Suburban both in 3/4 ton formats. Then you could in fact get a larger trailer that could more easily meet your needs now and 3-5 years from now. As Bob pointed out, the kids are not going to be the same size in a few years. It's less costly to buy the right trailer you'll need 5 years down the road, than it would be to buy the 25er now, then wind up having to trade it later for something bigger.....been there and done that too (went from a 19' to the 25'). Either way though, the Volvo is just not the right tool for this job unless you go smaller, vintage or both.
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Old 05-26-2009, 01:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbritton View Post
It's a shame because it hauls our boat like it isn't even back there. I can't find too many other SUVs that I like that can handle the towing load we want.
Mercedes ML has a 7200 lb rating, at least for the gasoline engine versions. The diesel seems to be rated at 5000 lbs, even though that is counter-intuitive - the torque is far more than adequate.

BMW X5 is another option with a higher tow rating. Pricing should be roughly comparable to an XC90 V8.

PM Andrew T; he is always generous with advice to people looking for solutions.
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Old 05-26-2009, 01:44 PM   #10
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Be careful. With a 25er you should have about 130" of wheelbase. There are hundreds of posts here on on the web that a simple Google search will reveal what is suggested as wheelbase. Here is one:

Hitch Your Trailer: How Trailer Length Affects Towing Stability

Again, be careful who's advice you buy. There are some here who think that a hitch or other fancy mods will solve most of a vehicle's shortcomings in terms of stability, towing, safety and performance. To trust in what a small minority of folks suggest is completely is a fool's paradise. Do the Google searches and assess for yourself which side of the aisle are proving less smoke and mirrors.

You can see some of Andy T's solutions here:

http://www.canamrv.ca/Home/Hidden/Te...0/Default.aspx

Some are not too bad, while others I would not want to be around anywhere on the highway..... but do the Google search and see what folks tell you about wheelbase.
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Old 05-26-2009, 03:10 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by AlbertF View Post
Mercedes ML has a 7200 lb rating, at least for the gasoline engine versions. The diesel seems to be rated at 5000 lbs, even though that is counter-intuitive - the torque is far more than adequate.

BMW X5 is another option with a higher tow rating. Pricing should be roughly comparable to an XC90 V8.

PM Andrew T; he is always generous with advice to people looking for solutions.
Agree... It appears the Volvo would be in the same ballpark as the vehicles mentioned above. You really need the advice of a towing professional if you are looking at a newish 25' Airstream. Forum member Andrew T would be the one who may be able to supply some quality info towards the project.
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Old 05-26-2009, 03:19 PM   #12
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Sent you a PM sbritton. Best of luck to ya with your quest.
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Old 05-26-2009, 03:28 PM   #13
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I think given the number of "be careful" responses I have gotten on this, perhaps I need to hold off for awhile until this car needs to be replaced and I can look at something bigger.

I'm pretty sure there is a way to make this work with the Volvo XC90 but it sounds like it is less than ideal or safe. Its one thing if I do something stupid that hurts me...but quite anotehr if I hurt someone else.

Sounds like this is a great forum and given the number of responses I got in a few hours, I'm impressed with the very helpful and active group.
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Old 05-26-2009, 04:44 PM   #14
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I just looked up the specs on the factory hitch.. I manage a Volvo service dept..
Facts and Advantages
  • Thoroughly tested both in the laboratory and on the test track to fulfill Volvo's strict requirements for quality and durability
  • Surface treated in several stages for the best corrosion resistance
  • The safety cable anchorage is clearly located and easily accessible
  • Delivered with all necessary bolts, nuts, electrical bracket, storage bag, decals and installation instructions
  • The bumper has a clear cut-out marking.
  • The ball section is easy to remove with the towbar is not in use
  • Approved to VESC V-5
Technical data

Max. towing capacity:
2250 kg (4960 lbs)
Towball diameter:
2" Class III
Recommended ball load:
225 kg (496 lbs)
Accessory weight:
Member kit:
18.0 kg (40 lbs)
Ball holder:
2.7 kg (6.0 lbs)
Ball:
1.1 kg (2.4 lbs)


You need a smaller trailer or a different tow vehicle.
I think we are all in agreement.

Regards

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