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Old 05-02-2010, 09:31 PM   #1
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Newbie Question

The wife and I have never owned and RV of any sort. We're starting to do a bit of research to see what we might like to spend the winters in. I kind of like Airstream trailers because they appear to be well built compared to other brands.

That being said, what size vehicle is needed to tow a loaded Airstream trailer in the 30 - 35 foot range?

I'm talking real general here....I'm pretty sure a Mini Cooper won't do and I probably don't need a semi tractor either.

1/2 ton, 3/4 ton, 1 ton, duel?

I'm sure I probably have not given near enough information but there must be an average out there.

Thanks in advance,

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Old 05-02-2010, 10:05 PM   #2
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Hiya KingBiscuit -- welcome to the forums! You'll get any number of answers. Always pay attention to the tow vehicle's payload capacity. Within that number must fit all people, pets, camping accessories in the back of the truck/van -- and most of all, the tongue weight of a loaded-for-camping Airstream (definitions). Don't pay so much attention to tow capacity or GCWR. Think more of the power of the drivetrain -- certainly nothing lower than a 3.73 ratio rear axle.

Pickup trucks, large vans and large SUVs are your options. Nope, you don't need a dually or 1-ton. It's hard to find a half-ton with enough payload capacity. A buddy found an '09 F-150 with pretty good numbers. All depends on how you want to travel and what you need to carry. Mountains? ... it's hard to beat the tranny that goes with Ford or GM diesels for ruggedness and extra features -- but that can make for a tough daily commuter. I'm sure you've read about increasing suspension stiffness as you progress thru the 3/4- and 1-ton models.

A brief starting point... Some of us have been going on and on and on about this for 6-8 years, so we're sparing you a lot.


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Old 05-03-2010, 08:49 AM   #3
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Know what the max posibility of the load you want to tow. Then get a tow vehicle (TV) with enough capacity + 10% for that load.

Basically do some reasearch.

Also ..... since some recent 1/2 ton units will handle a very large load (up to 10,000 #'S when equipped for that) know what you are buying in a TV. Also there are many seller's that do not know what they are seller as to towing capacity. So know what you want and go for it.

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Old 05-03-2010, 09:16 AM   #4
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle.

First off, welcome to thhe Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

For the larger Airstream travel trailers, you are pretty much in 3/4 truck/SUV area to have a confident and pleasurable towing experience.

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Old 05-03-2010, 09:52 AM   #5
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IIRC, the only Airstreams longer than 30' are Classics, and maybe International CCD's, within the last 10 or so years. Both are the heavier weight model lines. The longest Safari within the last 10 or so years is the 30' Bunk (We have one of the last made) and it has a dry weight of about 6,400 #'s. A 34' Classic will come in at close to 150% of that number.

I tow ours with an F-250 diesel and am well pleased. You might not like that heavy of a vehicle for daily use, but I don't mind. The newer trucks really are quiet comfortable.

If you go with a 30' or less Classic, you will most likely be pushing the limits of 1/2 ton truck/SUV. However, it is not unreasonable to tow with one. It will be up to you, your comfort level with towing, and the type of towing you do and a myriad of other factors: length of planned ownership of the tow vehicle; terrain you plan to do most of your towing with; etc. That much weight on a half-ton transmission is a real punisher.

There is, however, a new 30' Safari available that has a very similar floor plan to the same length Classic. The difference in weight are things like additional storage, pull out drawers under the dinette, pull out drawers under the bed(s), corian counters, solid hickory cabinetry, power stabilizers, and a few other differences in model lines. All of these extras really add up.

Hope my ramblings have helped and good luck with your decision.
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Old 05-04-2010, 06:54 AM   #6
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Newbie Question

Thanks for the responses. It sounds like it would be a safe assumption that a good 3/4 ton truck will pull the majority of Airstreams. I know there are some small models (Bambi) that might tow well with a 1/2 ton, but we're not really interested in something that small.

Thanks again,

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