You have touched on a capacity crossover question of some contention. Van
makes comments about the Nissan Titan that more aptly apply to the Toyota Tundra -- now that is a vehicle with specifications only about 7/8ths of your standard half-ton truck. Yet there are forum members that want to pull 25-footers with Tundras (they mostly live in the flatter southeast U.S.). There have been very critical comments on Tundra mileage and lacking power for 22 foot CCDs! Titans would certainly perform better with those than Tundras. Some forum members have mentioned the small rear differentials on half-ton trucks, Titan included -- less mass and heat dissipation equals more wear/tear. I don't have the exact comparisons at hand.
I am probably the earliest forum member with a Titan. Mine was purchased in Dec 2003 and was used to pull an empty 3900# 24' Argosy from the east coast back to Minnesota. I've already mentioned my alarm at being unable to keep the tranny temp gauge from climbing "to the top" in 30 degree temps on an old fashioned switchbacked 2-lane highway up and down the ridges of northeast West Virginia (US-50, from Winchester VA to Grafton WV -- I'd like to hear how many 3/4-tonners have negotiated this highway!). At least the tranny cooler was efficient at lowering the temp promptly when I managed to find spots to pull off -- keep engine running to maintain circulation to the cooler! This experience was not comparable to any conditions you'll see on interstate highways -- but it is a consideration for serious adventurers who wish to get away from it all. I'm a boondocker at heart and know of many comparable ascents and descents.
I can't say I've had Pappy's
experience of 10 plus gas mileage. It's too easy for me to get just under 10mpg while towing and I certainly keep the speed down. Pappy is correct in not using the Overdrive for Airstream-type loads. I barely got 10mpg with
overdrive pulling an empty 12' cargo trailer back from Madison WI at 65mph this last weekend on rolling freeway. Yes, I'd have gotten better at 60mph...
I firmly believe the Nissan Titan is a comfortable, indeed admirable, tow vehicle for older 24-25 foot range trailers that have an empty 'Unit Base Weight' not much above 4000 pounds. The engine is a powerful delight and very capable of pulling the 'Tow Capacity' and 'GCWR' advertised. Weights of newer trailers have climbed! My 2006 25' Safari SE is 5380 pounds empty. The 2006 25' Classic is 6050 pounds empty!! One can put 1900 pounds in each of these trailers but figuring even half that and a tongue weight at the higher end of 10-15% (necessary for a stable tow) says you could conservatively count on 1000 pounds of tongue weight under many realistic circumstances. Remember that almost every pound of any weight distribution gear will end up at the ball!
I can agree with much of Eric Silvertwinkie's
post this afternoon. I haven't cooked my transmission but he has probably read about my inability to control temperature rise with a moderate load in cool conditions. His rear-end ratio argument is less critical, considering Titan is the only 1/2-ton truck with a 5-speed automatic; the slightly higher top gear at the tranny does not need quite as high a ratio at the differential to be equivalent to a 4.10 in overall effect. The Big Tow package provides one with a fully equipped starting point for serious towing. Big Tow's 'tow mode' lowers the shift points so you accelerate through the gears at a lower ratio; I'm sure I've seen this feature on the highest capacity Ford & GM truck literature. I'm not sure the 25' Classic and a Titan is where you want to start. My study raises doubts about it pulling the 25' Safari. Tow capacity and GCWR are meaningless if you blur the rest of the details.
Titan comes in various trim levels. Be aware that the factory applied 'High Utility Bed' adds 200 pounds, subtracting from on-truck capacity (or tow vehicle's GVWR) in the final analysis. The federal required weights sticker on my driver side door post states my GVWR is 6499. My front axle GAWR is 3500 and rear axle is 3800; now adding these two numbers does not
add up to a 7300 pounds GVWR!!!!!
Section 9-20 of my manual states that my 4WD King Cab high-trim LE model has 1202 pounds Federal "Vehicle Load Weight Capacity" (King Cab = bench rear seat only, not the four-door; most Titans I've seen have the lower-capacity-yet Crew Cab!). The LE by definition has the 'Big Tow' package, thus the hitch receiver and bed liner are already figured into my Weight Capacity (the 'Load Weight Capacity' for a less adorned 2WD truck is 1641 pounds). This is the starting point for my argument.
Only one of many sources, you might wish to start at the Airstream FAQ's
discussion on weight ratings. Dismissing whether we must count gasoline weight against my truck's individual GVWR capacity, 1202 pounds does not go far when adding 2 passengers, 2 dogs and the hitch weight (the latter being in the neighborhood of 1000# with any
newer 25-footer. I have purposely avoided buying a topper for this very reason. Canoe`stream?? My 42 pound kevlar canoe is already in excess of my capacity. Bikes? Huh? I truly want to carry much more than this in my box and on my truck! Do you see why GCWR becomes meaningless if the tow vehicle is overloaded already? Sacrifice of stability, emergency maneuverability and braking are the consequence. But it will run beautifully until I have an Oh-S*** moment.
The preceeding absolute argument has faults. Weight distribution aims to unload some tongue weight from the rear axle and transfer it to the front axle to assist compliance with the GAWR. It does unpredictable things to shifts of truck and trailer load across the hitch. The ultimate understanding of your tow vehicle - trailer combination is to get to a CAT Scale
and measure each axle with the weight distribution fully engaged. This is too expensive an experiment to start from scratch and pay out big bucks for a new truck with what is already known.
I may be a couple weeks from picking up my 2006 Safari FB SE, but fully intend to do so with our Nissan Titan in this prairie environment (Eric! You STAY AWAY from Fogdall RV!!
). Once the immediate finances settle I am still going to be looking critically at my need for a gutsier tow vehicle -- 2006 at the latest! The 3/4-ton Chev truck is going to figure strongly for me, as I am thinking Duramax/Allison. As a public service to these forums I plan on getting to a CAT Scale and will post the numbers for this very Titan/25-footer combination questioned by Monsieur Daniel. The time scale for my promise unfortunately is 1-2 months. Until then I renew my respectful welcome to this new member and encourage him to share his experiences as he grows in the Airstream world!