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Old 09-15-2006, 10:20 AM   #1
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Reasonable Compromise for TV?

I've read quite a few of the comments on various threads relative to gas vs. diesel and 1/2 vs 3/4 ton pickups as TVs. I currently have a 1/2 ton Nissan Titan and was thinking that a 3/4 ton gasser would be a reasonable compromise instead of going all the way to a more expensive 3/4 ton diesel which would I suspect would be the top performer as far as towing ease is concerned. The cost of repairs and maintenance scares me for the 3/4 ton diesel. I would be pulling a 1996 25' Excella. My reason for possibly moving to the 3/4 ton is a more stable ride and easier mountain towing. Am I deluding myself in the difference between 1/2 ton gas and 3/4 ton gas as far as pulling power through mountains? Does not the 3/4 ton have heavier duty components and hence would provide for a more secure feeling while driving? I will be taking weekend trips with the A/S probably once a month throughout the year. Likely no more than 8hrs one-way for any given trip. I am of the mindset that I would rather have too much truck than have the trailer push me all over the highway. Finally, due to earlier stated reasons, I am inclined to go 3/4 ton gas new to 2 years old. Any thoughts?

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Old 09-15-2006, 10:45 AM   #2
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I just traded my 1500 HD CC with a 6.0L gas engine for a 2500HD CC Duramax. I felt the 1500 HD was enough truck, just didn't think I had enough engine. Had to go to the 2500 HD because I wanted the diesel and it is not offered in the 1500 HD. The diesel is a huge improvement.


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Old 09-15-2006, 10:52 AM   #3
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A V8 Titan has lots of horsepower and torque, more than most people need. Of course, everyone has different expectations.

A domestic 3/4 ton pickup probably wouldn't have any more pulling power (in reality, what I call "torque to the pavement") unless you went with something like an 8.1 GM, or of course a diesel.

A '96 Excella 25' is listed as having a dry weight of 6000, tonque weight of 730, and a GVWR of 7300. A heavy trailer, much heavier than the older ones, but your truck will move it just fine. You will slow down on steeper hills, unlike the Ford PSD I paced pulling a big fifth wheel up a 4% grade at 80 to 85 mph (in the rain!) a couple of weeks ago.

The easy answer for most people is the 3/4 ton. You need to give thought to what you like in a tow vehicle (e.g. do you like your Titan?) and how much it would cost you to trade. If stability is a concern, a careful hitch setup and carefully selected LT tires (i.e. not too wide, with stiff sidewalls) on the truck may be enough to convince you that all will be well. Otherwise, a Hensley may be more cost-effective and provide greater safety overall than trading vehicles.

Another thought: There are those with far more experience than me that caution against using stiffly-sprung heavy duty pickups for towing Airstreams. The rough ride can damage the trailers over time. A 3/4 ton Suburban has softer springing to keep passengers comfortable, and is arguably more suitable.
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Old 09-15-2006, 12:12 PM   #4
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I traded up to the 3/4 ton-Duramax from a Ford 1/2 ton gas prior to getting my 23' A/S. Love the milage and torque of the diesel, not to mention the peace of mind knowing that I have more than enough power no matter what the situation, while pulling my A/S. Also, look at the Equil-I-Zer hitch. Mine works great, is cost effective, and easy to hitch and un-hitch.
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Old 09-15-2006, 01:15 PM   #5
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We were towing with a 1/2 ton Suburban and just bought a 3/4 ton D/A CC. My experience is moving to a 3/4 ton chassis (whether it is gas or diesel) is what makes the difference. The stability offered by the 3/4 ton could not be matched by our 1/2 ton (and the 1/2 ton Suburban is no slouch!). We are enjoying the diesel for it's economy and torque. Has never shifted down, even once, in the mountains (hills?) of New England. We are averaging 14-15mpg towing. About what I did not towing with the Suburban.

Certainly the gas motors out there can tow your 25 with ease. I am pleased with the diesel, and thrilled with the Allison-it is amazing. It is the 3/4 ton chassis that you so desire!
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Old 09-15-2006, 01:20 PM   #6
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Which Airstream are we talking here? I traded my Titan away due to load capacity problems once I got my newer (heavier) 25'. The real world tongue weight of newer 25-footers easily hit the 900-1000# range. The Titan drivetrain was awesome but 1200-1350# load capacities (for the 4x4) were going to restrict what else I wanted to carry in my truck -- canoe, bikes, generator, support gear.

The GM/Chev 8L and Ford V-10s are terrible gas hogs -- I'd go diesel before considering them. But the gas engines just below those will tow about anything you want. My 3/4-ton GMC with D/A doesn't need as much attention to towing out of overdrive (lowering economy) when in hilly terrain.

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Old 09-15-2006, 02:08 PM   #7
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hi streamer1...

it is too bad the gas vs diesel thread has decayed into an upholstery thread...

anyway i read several issues in your post....

-1/2 vs 3/4 ton chassis characteristics

-on going costs of gas vs diesel powerplants...

-power loss in the mountains...this issue could be incline or altitude

-how new a vehicle to consider

you also suggest your motivation is a
"more stable ride and easier mountain towing"
and that you favor the 'more capacity is good' concept...

>a longer wheel base and a '3/4 ton' chassis will provide more stability regardless of trailer length or weight...
> the 3/4 ton rigs usually weigh more, so unless the drivetrain is upsized to match, acceleration may not improve...and could be worse.
> engines with turbos lose less of their power at altitude...not many gassers for towing have turbos...mostly diesels...
>a v10 gasser has plenty of juice for inclines....but above 8-10k feet the power loss is still noticeable...
>diesels are durable, most repair costs are turbo or tranny or other mechanical issues...just like a gasser.
fluids and filters and other upkeep are generally more for diesels......
but a 2 year old gasser with 50kmiles is a lot 'older' than a diesel with the same mileage...
> real prices for the diesel upgrade are much much less than the factory option price suggest...1000$ vs list of 5000$

so on the gas side only the dodge hemi guys can boast the mountain pulling power of a diesel...

it is hard to beat the 3/4 ton diesel combo for a balance of all issues...
1-3 year old models are barely broken in...
used dodges seem to have lost more price than the ge'ems....
but the cummins has the best mpg and reputation for durability...
avoid the first few years of the 6.0psd...but the last year 7.3 is a great used truck. 05 and up psds are good.

no mention of this being a daily driver....that is another 3/4 tons are more civilized for daily use than the older models...

for lots of mountain towing (up and down) i'd want a 3/4 ton diesel, v10 or hemi...i don't think the springs are an issue.

all of the true things that i am about to tell you are shameless lies. l.b.j.

we are here on earth to fart around. don't let anybody tell you any different. k.v.
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Old 09-15-2006, 02:26 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by 2airishuman
so on the gas side only the dodge hemi guys can boast the mountain pulling power of a diesel...

Is the Hemi turbo'd?
If so, then yes, the Hemi would be a good choice for towing in the mountains, if you want to stay with gas.

At altitude, naturally aspirated engines suffer power loss...
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Old 09-15-2006, 02:39 PM   #9
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Since You Asked

Here's my input to a similar question last February. The stability of a 3/4 ton chassis cannot be matched by any 1/2 ton I have driven. The Duramax/Allison is great towing combo!
You are asking the right person if you don't do what I did.
From 1996 until May 2005, I kept looking for marginal improvements in towing while balancing
fuel consumption not towing.

1996: 1995 2-WD Surburban with pre-Vortec 5.7 liter (350 cu in), 3.73 rear end, pulling 1976 Airstream Safari 23'.
This wasn't a bad combination in coastal Carolina and the east coast where we lived at the time, but it didn't do well in the mountains of NM. (11 mpg towing and 17-18 mpg combined).
2001: 1999 4-WD Surburban with Vortec 5.7 liter, 3.73 rear end pulling 2000 Airstream Safari 27'.
The added power of the Vortec engine was offset by increased weight of 4-WD and larger trailer. Performance in mountains was marginal. Non-towing average MPG was lower than 1995 Suburban. (11 mpg towing and 15-17 combined)
2004: 2003 4-WD Z71 Suburban with Vortec 5.3 liter, 3.73 rear end pulling 2000 Airstream Safari 27'.
The advertised increase in horsepower of the 5.3 over the 5.7 is great for non-towing, interstate highway cruising; but a big disappointment for towing. The extra horsepower comes at higher RPMs and results in less torque and marginal towing performance on mountain grades.(12-14 mpg towing and 17 combined)
2005: 2005 4-WD Silverado 2500 HD with Durmax Diesel pulling a 1976 Sovereign 31. A towing machine, but not a very good vehicle for driving around town, so I bought a 2005 Pacifica for city driving.
What you need. I need 4-WD, but if you don't otherwise need 4-WD, stick with 2-WD. That gives you 500 pounds of additional towing capacity and improves your non-towing gas consumption by about 2MPG.
If you want a tow vehicle that must double as your non-towing, take the kids to soccer practice, family car; the 1500 Suburban 5.3 liter is a nice compromise vehicle if you can find one with a 4.10 rear end. If you want to optimize mountain towing, look for a 6.0 liter with 4.10 rear end. If you want a towing machine, and you care naught about MPG, get the 8.1 liter and the 3.73 rear end.
Bottom line... you will never be satisfied with 5.3 liter and the 3.73 in the mountains, but it's the most fuel efficient combo Chevy offers (12-14 mpg towing and 17-18 mpg combined maybe better with 2-WD and keeping your speed below 62 mph.
The 4.10 rear end behind the 5.3 will make you less unhappy, in the mountains and may be all you need. The 6.0 liter with a 4.10 will make your heart sing in the mountains, but make your heart will ache at the gas pump (11 mpg towing and 13-14 mpg combined).
Another option is to buy a beater car to drive around town, and buy a dedicated towing machine for your road trips.
Hope this helps.
Ken L
2007 Classic Limited 30 (Sold)
2007Chevy Silverado 2500 HD Duramax/Allison
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Old 09-15-2006, 04:40 PM   #10
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Hi Streamer1--Our 1973 27' Overlander weighs 6200# (on the axles) wet and loaded for travel. We have towed it with numerous Chevy full size window vans and 1/2 ton Suburbans. All have had 5.7ltr or 5.3ltr V-8's, with 3.73 or 4.10 rears. Our usage is 10% towing, 90% daily driver. Currently we have a 2001 1/2 ton Suburban 5.3ltr and 4.10 rear. All did the job, but our current one is the best. The Suburban is comfortable as an all round daily driver, and with the 4.10 rear does a good towing job. Would more truck/engine tow better--sure, but this is the best compromise we've found. The 4.10 makes a big difference in towing over the 3.73, with almost almost no difference in fuel economy. We always tow in Drive (3rd gear) which is a 1:1 ratio, rather than .7:1 ratio of 4th gear. Works well for us.--Frank S
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Old 09-15-2006, 05:16 PM   #11
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Thanks all. Unless I get some kind of deal on a 3/4 ton "I just can't refuse," I will "rough it" with the Titan.
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Old 09-15-2006, 05:40 PM   #12
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One more observation about gas and tonnage...

We have the same 25' Excella, though ours is narrow body and a few hundred pounds lighter..

We towed happily for 2 years with '94 Chev Suburban K1500, with weak 200hp Chev 5.7L V-8.. Problems going uphill at freeway speeds, but otherwise a decent match...

We upgraded last November to 2002 Ford Excursion with 5.4L V8 rated at 250hp, and 4.10 rear end. Excursion also based around F250 3/4 ton long chassis. Makes modest but noticeable improvement in power up hills and stability on highway and stopping. Cost of used Excursions well under $20K...

I'd say any V-8 rated at 250hp or more in heavy frame vehicle with 4.10 (or equivalent) axle ratio would work for your trailer, unless you are planning on crossing significant mountains frequently. Hills or rolling countryside should not be a problem.. The 5.4L Ford V8 seems up to the task of pulling a trailer that is usually loaded to ~6,500#, and seems a good compromise to us.. I've had feedback that the V-10 is better, as is the Diesel, though each has plusses and minuses.

Different combinations of engines and transmissions and chassis have different rated towing weights, and those should be the defining standard, but if you're within the range, a medium V8 should be up to the task...

John McG

In Theory, there's no difference between Theory and Practice, but in Practice, there is usually a difference...
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Old 09-15-2006, 06:01 PM   #13
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We tow with both. We tow Lucy (25' Safari) with our '04 Chevrolet Tahoe (Matilda) wich is half ton chasis with the 5.3 liter. Matilda does the job in Florida which is pretty much flat. We also tow Lucy with our 3/4 ton Suburban (Olivia). Olivia has the 6.0 liter gas engine. Olivia does much better, especially in the mountains. We are currently in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Olivia handles the severe grades much better than Matilda could. Bottom line is that a half ton cab do the job, but a 3/4 ton is much more within the comfort zone.
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2005 Suburban 2500 Quadrasteer (Olivia) & 2011 Silverado 3500 (Fred) with Outfitter Truck Camper (Ethel)
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Old 09-15-2006, 06:23 PM   #14
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Moosetags, give my regards to Lucy, Matilda, Olivia, Hensley, etc...!

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