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Old 04-05-2013, 02:54 PM   #1
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Dyess AFB , Texas
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Need advice on a tow vehicle for a 30-31'

Currently we are still in the process of finding our perfect Airstream, but we are mostly looking at '60's to late '70's 29'-31' models... we are a military family with four young kids, but we want something that can grow with us.
Right now, we drive a 2005 Dodge Ram 1500... I am sure it is a 1/2 ton.

My question is if we were to upgrade to a different vehicle that could still tow our future Airstream, and give us more leg room for traveling, what would some of you more experienced towers go with??

We were potentially looking at a Suburban, but we don't know much about them, except that they are big! (Our other car that we drive around usually is a Dodge Caravan)

What other options are there... or is the Suburban even really an option for us? I really don't like the look of Expeditions, but we need something that will work for us. We are an outdoorsy camping family that moves every couple years, so all climates are a must too... (4x4?)

Any advice is appreciated!

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Old 04-05-2013, 03:04 PM   #2
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2005 25' International CCD
Mission Hills , Kansas
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We have a 2011 Toyota Tundra with an extended cab. It's extremely spacious and could easily tow your future Airstream. I recommend that you have the Tekonsha breaking system and a good sway bar installed on your tow vehicle.

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Old 04-05-2013, 03:38 PM   #3
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2005 19' Safari
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The Sequoia is the Toyota equivalent of a Suburban or Expedition. Underneath, it is a Tundra; and with the 5.7L V8, I believe it has a towing capacity of a little more than 10,000 pounds. However, I am unsure of the maximum tongue weight of the larger Airstreams and how this might compare to the specs on the Sequoia.

If it meets these requirements, the Sequoia is a great TV; and it's very comfortable for a family with several children. (We have a Tundra CrewMax Limited with leather seats, navigation system, upgraded stereo, etc; and it's like a limo, compared to our old 1978 Chevy crewcab pickup.) Properly equipped with the factory towing package, tow mirrors and other heavy duty options, it may fit your needs.

Opinions differ on the need for 4WD. Personally, we don't drive in extreme weather or off-road (especially with our 19-foot Bambi); so we got the 2WD Tundra. Our old 2WD pickup never had any trouble towing our Airstream; so I figured 4WD was just an extra expense for hardware that added weight, and was just more to maintain and repair when it broke. After five years, this has proven true, for us.

Please note that 4WD on current Sequoia and Tundra models is NOT "full-time", and these vehicles cannot be driven on dry pavement without damaging the drivetrain. 4WD is strictly for use off-road and in extreme weather conditions. See Toyota marketing brochures and owners manuals for details.
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Old 04-05-2013, 03:53 PM   #4
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I have towed my 1986 31' Sovereign about 50000 miles over the last 7 years with a 1/2 ton pickup (Nissan Titan). But, having said that, I don't have 4 kids and their stuff to haul around.

With my bridal unit, cat, dog and about 400 pounds in the bed, I am pretty close to max gross. I think you will find that with kids, camping gear, fun stuff and bride, you will overload a half ton.

So look for a 3/4 ton something or another. I prefer big gas vs diesel but that's me.

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Old 04-05-2013, 04:13 PM   #5
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I have towed 16,000 miles with a 1500 Explorer conversion van and it is great with my 3 kids! I believe it is built on a Suburban chassis. The 1500 with a 5.3L motor has a tow capacity of 6600 pounds. Not enough for me if I would to change over to the 30 foot Argosy I am looking for now. If I can make that happen, I would change to a 2500 version. As I recall, the tow capacity is around 9500 pounds with the 6.0L motor. IMHO, conversion vans are the best kept secret on the road. They can be cheaper than Suburbans, are easier to move around in, and are amazingly comfortable for my kids on long driving days.
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Old 04-05-2013, 05:07 PM   #6
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You're looking at hauling a big heavy trailer and a large family, and probably a lot of stuff. I would go no smaller than a Ford Excursion. Ford stopped making them in 2005, but there's plenty of them out there. An Excursion is essentially a SUV built on top of a F-250 Super Duty chassis. It is larger than the Suburban. Find one with the V10 or powerstroke diesel (better) and you'll have a good tow vehicle. Avoid one's with the 5.4 V8, its too small.
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Old 04-05-2013, 07:12 PM   #7
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Dyess AFB , Texas
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Thanks everyone for the replies! We will be doing our research in the coming days for sure. I was looking at Excursions, and I guess they could grow on me. There are a bunch here in Texas for sale, so I think we could get a good deal on one...
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Old 04-05-2013, 08:50 PM   #8
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I second the excursion recommendation.
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Old 04-07-2013, 05:53 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by beaamot View Post
Thanks everyone for the replies! We will be doing our research in the coming days for sure. I was looking at Excursions, and I guess they could grow on me. There are a bunch here in Texas for sale, so I think we could get a good deal on one...
An EXCURSION is an exceedingly poor choice. Brakes, steering and general handling are sub-par. There is actually a dedicated aftermarket to address these shortcomings.

A newer EXPEDITION is a better choice, by far, if one wants an SUV. And above a Suburban.

An ECONOLINE 1T if you just have to have a big tow vehicle.

The era of trailer you are looking at were designed to be towed by cars. The advantage of Airstream is cut short by overly-heavy, poor-handling tow vehicles. Not to mention higher purchase and operating costs. And solo miles that are a less than optimal use.

My folks had a 1975 28' Silver Streak probably heavier than your intended trailer. And pulled it the first twelve years with a luxury sedan. All five of us onboard the first years, and none of us small. Or burdened by electronics or other babysitters.

I'd start with a HONDA Odyssey as the default choice (even though it doesn't meet the 4WD qualifier). Have a long look at CAN AM RV, their website, and the threads/posts around here by Andrew Thomson. Ask them about a TV. Use your TT intelligently. Big does not equal Better when it comes to towing performance, safety or economy.

4WD has to be understood in what it really adds. Take your time, and understand (read) what matters in towing: steering and braking.

(Years ago I used to regularly stop for lunch near Dyess and watch the B-1's come and go. Quite a sight, even if not the Cold War parade of B-52's outbound from Carswell years before that).

1990 35' Silver Streak Sterling; 9k GVWR.
2004 DODGE Cummins 305/555; 6-manual; 9k GVWR.
Hensley Arrow. 10-cpm solo, 18-cpm towing
Sold: Silver Streak Model 3411
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Old 04-07-2013, 06:12 AM   #10
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West Linn , Oregon
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Take a peek at the new Ram 2500's ( newly engineered to pull more than ever with increased stability,etc) ....4x4, with a Propride hitch....great combo...lots of storage in the bed, room for five, etc.

(I didn't want to haul a Honda generator in a closed space)

PM me or call....I'll leave my # after a PM....Zigi
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Old 04-07-2013, 07:10 AM   #11
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1956 22' Flying Cloud
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Originally Posted by slowmover View Post

I'd start with a HONDA Odyssey as the default choice (even though it doesn't meet the 4WD qualifier).
Wait, WHAT?! An Odessy? I seriously had to google that b/c i thought it was a mini van. it is. and its a V6 with a max tow capacity of 3500lb (and thats w/ weight dist bars). I wouldn't tow my vintage GT with that.

Granted, im a 30 yr old girl and know nothing of cars but I know enough to see that there are no 30 or 31 ft'ers under 3800lbs (dry weight).

This advise seems dangerous, to say the least. There are many threads on here discussing driver liability if you tow something over manufacturer stated capacity.

If you are involved in an accident while towing an oversized load where people were injured, you have exposed yourself to liability for negligence for towing beyond your vehicle’s maximum capacity.
'57 Overlander | '56 Flying Cloud | '51 Spartanette
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Old 04-07-2013, 08:02 AM   #12
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Adirondack Mountains , New York
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One should never take advice from this or any other forum as gospel. My 1990 32 foot Excella is 6300# empty and max 8300# loaded. I wanted to be 80% or less of TV towing spec. Purchased a Ford F350 crew cab that many on this forum would say is too much truck, however with a W/D hitch this truck with tow package can safely (rated by Ford) tow 10,500 lbs. The loaded trailer spec @8300 is 79% of the trucks towing capacity. Bottom line is to research the TTs that interest you and purchase your TV accordingly.

Good Luck
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Old 04-07-2013, 08:03 AM   #13
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Trotwood , Ohio
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A 3/4 to 1 ton FORD F250/F350 7.3 liter desiel USED LOW Mileage. Chevy or GMC 2500 with DURO Desiel.
I have never been sorry I bought my F350,it rides really good for a 1 ton. In fact it is our daily driver for the time being. Chevy or Ford will do the job and will be around when that other junk is just that JUNK
Roger & MaryLou
7.3 liter Power Stroke Diesel
1977 27ft OVERLANDER
AIR # 22336 TAC- OH-7
May your roads be straight and smooth and may you always have a tailwind!
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Old 04-07-2013, 08:09 AM   #14
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1990 32' Excella
Adirondack Mountains , New York
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I second that. Stay away from the 6.0L powerstroke diesel, unless you modify the motors. I believe they were 2003-2006 or 07. The truck hauls our trailer like it wasn't there.

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