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Old 09-11-2010, 07:59 PM   #1
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2002 16' Bambi
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Need recommendations for tow vehicle

We own a 2002 Bambi 16 ft. trailer and plan to purchase a tow vehicle in the next year or so. We'd appreciate advice on what type of vehicle we should be looking for (and what to avoid). Some of our criteria:
1. We have never towed any type of trailer, so we'll definitely have a learning curve. Are there some vehicles that are better for newbies at towing?
2. Whatever we buy would be our only vehicle, and mostly be used in-town, so something not too huge or gas-guzzling would be great. But we want something powerful enough to tow the trailer too.
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Old 09-11-2010, 08:08 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums.

Would you prefer a Pickup Truck or an SUV?
I have friends in Tucson and they tow a similar trailer. They are very happy with their Toyota Tacoma.
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Old 09-11-2010, 08:17 PM   #3
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Thanks for the welcome! We'd probably prefer a pickup truck, unless an SUV is for some reason a better tow vehicle. Do your know whether your friends have a 4 cylinder or a V6 Tacoma? Manual or automatic?
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Old 09-11-2010, 08:22 PM   #4
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Howdy and welcome to airforums.com, Wildkittens!

The GVW of your trailer is only 3,500 lbs. (dry weight is 2,855 lbs).

You do not need a truck. Just about any of the popular Minivans would tow it just fine, as would many SUVs.

What would you LIKE to use to tow it?
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Old 09-11-2010, 08:52 PM   #5
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Interesting. We bought a very small trailer so we'd be more comfortable learning to tow it. Would any particular type of vehicle be easier to hitch up, tow in various conditions (including mountains, wind, rain, etc.)? Right now we drive a small 5-speed sedan, which won't tow much of anything. We don't really need interior space (like a minivan or SUV). Would a V6 engine be best? Also, if we're used to a manual transmission, is there any reason to consider an automatic? Thanks for your help!
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Old 09-11-2010, 08:58 PM   #6
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In general, automatic transmissions are better for towing. A 4 cylinder engine is out of the question for any towing need; a v-6 will be required and should be more than sufficient to tow a 16' Bambi. You may wish to consider whether or not you will want 4 wheel or all wheel drive as well. Will you require two seats or 4 seats?
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Old 09-11-2010, 09:04 PM   #7
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I'm not positive what they have, but I believe it's the 6 and automatic. It has a small back seat for their dogs and the bed of the truck for the rest of the stuff. They are on the road ad put a lot of miles on their Bambi.
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Old 09-11-2010, 09:29 PM   #8
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I agree with Richard, the Tacoma is an excellent tow vehicle with a V6 & automatic... There are many, many vehicles capable of towing your trailer, so most of it will be a choice based on personal preference. Honda's Ridgeline might be a good mix of SUV & pickup, if you prefer not to go full size. A Ford F150 is the most highly rated full size pickup.
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Old 09-11-2010, 09:43 PM   #9
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Wildkittens,

Hibby's got it right. Oddly, you are more likely to wear out the clutch in a manual transmission than do damage to an automatic transmission.

I mentioned minivans since they have some desirable features: the rear wheels are almost always positioned as close as possible to the very rear of the vehicle, they tend to have a low CoG (centre of gravity), and they are long enough to "stand their ground" with the trailer better than SUVs will. These are very general comments though, not meant to rule out SUVs.

Those items help with towing stability for those windy, rainy days you want to tow.

Seriously, it's rarely as much fun towing in that kind of weather, no matter what the tow vehicle is; I suggest you try avoid that kind of weather for draggin your trailer around.

Oh, and another thing in favour of minivans is that they are incredibly well-priced these days. Seems the "soccer moms" image has pushed more people into buying SUVs just so they look more cool. You don't have to load them with just people either, they are really handy for just carrying big loads, like dogs, bedding, food, lumber, and so on.

And as a class, they tend to be way more comfy than trucks.
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Old 09-11-2010, 09:49 PM   #10
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The V6 Taco is a good truck if you're not exceeding its limitations. I think you might also consider a lightly-used 4.6L F150 while you're considering... the F150 doesn't suffer from the "Toyota Myth" so you can get a lightly-used one cheaper than a Taco with similar miles and equipment, and the current generation of the Taco is no better than the F150 with respect to reliability. The small-engine F150 would easily pull a trailer a few sizes larger than your 16' Bambi, so if you get the bug and decide you need a 22' sport or something.

I think I want a 5.4L F150... but then again, my idea of a starter TT is a 23' FB Flying Cloud. We're collectively too fat for an Airstream "double" and I don't think I'd be able to sell twins for more-than-weekend trips.
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Old 09-11-2010, 09:51 PM   #11
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Wow, this is great. I'm learning a lot already! Thanks azflycaster, Aage, and Hibby. Please keep the advice coming if you think of other things!!
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Old 09-12-2010, 12:07 AM   #12
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Hey Wildkittens! Welcome to the Forums! And welcome to another Tucson Airstreamer! Yea! This is Terry (& Greg), the friends in Tucson that Richard mentioned above...

We tow our 2006 19' Bambi Safari SE with a 2007 Tacoma Double Cab V6 2WD Automatic with a factory tow package (necessary)... We are totally pleased with to Tacoma's performance and like you, it's our only vehicle, so we too didn't want a big truck. The tow capacity of the Tacoma is 6500 lbs and the 19' bambi filled is 4500 lbs. so we are well within the 80% rule of thumb for towing. So you would be fine with a 16'... We have a tonneau cover on the truck bed...it helps us (a) limit what we drag along unnecessarily, and (b) secure our gear in the truck... it works our great for us. And the Girls (2 cockers) get the back seat all to themselves. Spoilt, they are! We have towed nearly 20,000 miles in the past 3.5 years, in AZ, CA and NM and have climbed the mountains everywhere...over half the miles on the truck is towing miles and we have never had any trouble.

We'll have to get you to a Four Corners Unit rally, too, so you can meet some of the other good Airstream folks in our neck of the woods... It's a great group with a very active bunch of campers...friendly , diverse and welcoming... Let me know and I can fill you in on upcoming rallies...some of our best gatherings are coming up soon!

Again welcome to the Forums...this is the place to be for all things Airstream!

Happy trails! Hope to see you down the road very soon!
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Old 09-12-2010, 06:09 AM   #13
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Great suggestions from all and if I may ask - What's your 5 /10 yr plan for your Bambi, streaming family size, full time / part time streaming. Most streamers upgrade with time so it's crucial to get a TV that can tow your future (10yrs) upgrade/s.
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Old 09-12-2010, 08:05 AM   #14
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Wildkittens, You have not mentioned snow. If during your travels you anticipate encountering it, you need a 4 wheel drive, otherwise only if you plan to go off roading.
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