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Old 09-11-2003, 03:10 PM   #1
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Top Ten tow vehicles ??

Does anyone know if there exists here or somewhere else a survey of new and used tow vehicles?

It would be great if there was a 'consumer report' type of survey. For instance best SUVs with 8000 lb. tow capacities for under $15k.

We don't have a tow vehicle, we're going to try to match it to our (as yet undiscovered ), Airstream. We prefer an SUV to a pickup, maybe a van is in the middle, but it sure would be fantastic if there was one handy-dandy chart!

You know, 'how does a 350 van compare to an Excursion?'

The other key thing would be reliability - consumer reports does 'Best whatever under $14k or $10k or $20k' whatever.

just starting to search!
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Old 09-11-2003, 04:21 PM   #2
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That sure would be handy...

In the meantime, you may want to check out these Polls:

Style of your Tow Vehicle
Make of your Tow Vehicle
What's your Tow Vehicle's rating?

Also, this is a good opportunity to remind everybody to check out (and vote if you haven't already) all the Member Demographic Polls. They let everybody know "who we are".


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Old 09-11-2003, 06:11 PM   #3
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Thanks -

Great to look at those polls...

It seems like if I paid $5000 for a 25', 1974 trailer and pulled it with a Suburban I'd fit into the demographics just right.
just starting to search!
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Old 09-11-2003, 10:38 PM   #4
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We tow our 25' with a diesel Excursion and love it. Most of the time we have to look at the mirrors to check if our AS is still there since we barely feel it. We live at the bottom of a 2mile really steep hill and it climbs it like a goat.

The Reese Dual Cam is unbelievable, fully reccomend every inch of it.

We tried the Suburban - have to go with a 2500 because of the rear axle ratio - but we couldn't find a diesel.

Good luck with your search!
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Old 09-11-2003, 10:49 PM   #5
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I did SOOOOO much research for our tow vehicle, I would have loved an easier way to do it, but mostly I just had lists of vehicles, how much they could tow, what their wheelbase was, and what size engine was required. Then I spent weeks going through consumer reports, NHTSA recalls and trouble reports, service bulletens, and any other reviews I could find. Since I also wanted a vehicle that could carry a lot of goods to use with our business, we kept coming back to vans, and finally setled on the Ford E150. I was amazed at all the good reviews I found of Ford vans, and happy owners reports.

I definitly advise you to wait to get the tow vehicle until you have found the trailer, if possible. Although we ended up with a light, vintage trailer and a tow vehicle big enough for anything we would want, you just never know, and you'd hate to find the perfect trailer and have to pass on it because you had already picked a tow vehicle. We had a friend bring our trailer home for us and then went and found a tow vehicle within the next couple weeks. Luckily we had already figured out what we wanted, it was just a matter of finding one in good shape with a tow package (harder to find on a van).

Good luck!

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Old 09-12-2003, 05:47 AM   #6
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For instance best SUVs with 8000 lb. tow capacities for under $15k.
Your kidding right? I don't think you can get much of anything for under $20K, at least around here, that is NEW.

If your looking used, you can find all kinds of decent vehicles, as lease residuals are in the dumpers now, with all the incentives they are offering. Market is flooded with used vehicles. Our local GM/CD dealer has around 20 pickups of every flavor.

Back in "The Good Ole Days", you could get a nice stripped down vehicle for a decent price. Most vehicles on a dealers lot now days are "Loaded". I got nothin' against rolling down a window with a crank, or reaching over to unlock a door.
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Old 09-12-2003, 06:49 AM   #7
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Well if your looking used those prices are in line.

I wanted plenty of engine. I found that at regular intervals late 80's Burbs hit the market with low miles. There is one on the VAC site I believe right now with under 80k.

A lot of these are owners that bought them to pull a TT only. So the miles are low. Most are very well maintained. My Burb is a 88 that had 72k on it. It's nearly perfect. It belonged to a forum member.

I did have some age related problems but now that I'm through those I'm extreamly happy. I purchaced it for $5k and I have about about $700 in it in minor repairs and a few modifications that were elective. Aux coolers, aux temp gage for Trans and oil temps, defective radio antenna, new radiator and hoses, clogged EGR, new speakers and CD player.

I would expect to have many of the same problems with even a 5 year old vehicle so your not gaining much with a newer vehicle. Bonus was the only thing that I needed to do to pull our Airstream was change the plug to match the newer style on our coach ($35). It even had a good brake controler. That alone saved me $200 or more if I had to pay somebody to install.

What I ended up with was a very clean 88 Suburban with a 454 and a 8k towing capacity with the 3.73 gear. With a 4.10 it has 10k rating but would need the factory hitch changed out.
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Old 09-12-2003, 11:34 AM   #8
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Thanks for the good feedback!

Yes, I should have clarified, I was definitely thinking 'used'.

When consumer's reports does their used car guide they'll say:

top ten used cars under $4000


top ten used cars under $7000


top ten used cars under $10000

And so on - very useful.

In terms of vans, it seems like the pros and cons are:


cheaper than an SUV
more storage than an SUV


not very 'cute'

Don't know how they do on dirt roads when you're boondocking? (I.E. is there anyplace you'd want to pull your Airstream that a van couldn't take you?)
just starting to search!
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Old 09-12-2003, 12:22 PM   #9
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Tow Vehicle: E-150?

Recommendation: E-Series vans are nice, but Ford has poured nearly all their developmental money into SUV's over the last 7 years... and it shows in their legacy vehicles such as the Econoline.

Don't expect anything close to the fit and finish of a Navigator/Explorer/Expedition... (let along a Lexus). The E-Series interior looks like it's 15 years behind the industry in terms of fit/finish/quality feel and NVH (noise, vibration, harshness).

Driver's seat doesn't go back far enough. Seat belts are still anchored onto B/C pillars... makes it hard to get to third row.

No driver's side rear door (like the Chevy fullsize).

I didn't expect much from my van -- other than sturdy reliability and the torque to pull the largest AS -- so I wasn't disappointed in the least (even after a paint defect in my '03 E-350 with the PowerStroke 7.3L diesel caused me to go to Ford's dispute settlement board and win my money back). I turned around and bought an '04 E-350 6.8L V10.

Here are some errant ramblings about the E-Series you may find helpful:

Super duty chassis is a very rough ride. I heard someone say that that was not good for an AS.

PowerStroke diesel pulled like a locomotive -- loved it! Just couldn't afford the $1,000 price increase from when I was ready to buy my '04 ($5,200 option, now). Geesh!

Ford's installing their new 6.0L turbo diesel in the E-Series this January. It'll be mated to a 5-speed automatic. I recommend waiting for this combo. The new turbo diesel has more hp, more torque, better gas mileage than the old PowerStroke. Plus the 5-speed auto helps, too. (and i hear it'll be quieter, too).

I had a 3.55 limited slip rear on my '03 diesel. Tow rating of 10,000 lbs.?

My '04 has a 3.73 limited rear slip (couldn't get 3.55 with the Triton V10 gas engine... peak torque is much higher than the diesel)... this combo's tow rating is 8,800 (i think).

Fuel economy with my diesel was approximately 18 mpg highway (I did not pull a trailer) but I was averaging 70 mph.

Fuel economy with my gas E-350 is approximately 14 mpg highway (again, no trailer) averaging 70 mph. (I too, am still looking for my first AS).

Gas engine is much quieter, less exhaust stink.

Do not buy a E-150: brakes are its achilles heel. My brothers both go through pads every 10k or so... pulling a trailer makes it worse. E-350 brakes could stop a locomotive... 4 wheel disc, dual piston front calipers clamping down on massive rotors. It's worth the peace of mind, and less frequent maintenance.

Options you must have on your van:

Trailer package; Trailer Tow Mirrors; Auxillary Battery (mounted behind side passenger door in front of rear wheel).

E-mail me with more questions if you got 'em... but I would go with an E-350 tow vehicle if you aren't looking for Lexus luxury.
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Old 09-12-2003, 01:29 PM   #10
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Top 10 tow vehicles

Do not go by the charts. We purchased a 25' Safari instead of a Classis as the Classic was border line for pulling with a 2002 Youkon. The charts indicated that I had a margin of error with the lighter trailer. The Safari was 1000lbs lighter. Was very unhappy towing with this. Even on flat roads the rpm's were way up there and the milage only 10 to12 mpg. Traded to a 2002 Excursion 7.3 L diesel and was a world of difference. Power, suspension and braking was was superior with Excursion (250 chassis). The Excursion gets 22 to 24 on hgy at 65 to 75plus mph and 14 to 17 pulling trailer. While the sticker price is pushing 50K loaded they do not have a good resale (maybe due to the fact that Ford will not be making in the future). Have not shopped by understand the wholesale mine is approx 28K. I would look for one a year or two old. Being a diesel, you don't have to worry about 25 to 50K miles is taken care of. While the pick ups are cheaper new, my guess is that the resale on used p/u's is higher.
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Old 09-12-2003, 02:03 PM   #11
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I like the 3/4 ton ford chassie with the powerstroke. F-250, E-250, and Excursion. Yes the drawback is the sticker price. The advantages well for towing its clear, fuel economy is also good expecially for such a large vehicle. According to "the ford book" these have a convential towing capacity of 12,500 with load equalization and 6500 without. From first hand knowledge I know this to be true and very under-rated for the actual load but not necessary in the convential towing. I have seen a F-350 using a gooseneck trailer pull onto a set of scales and weigh out gross truck, trailer and load at 42,000 lbs, this make me confident that I can tow any travel trailer on the market.
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Old 09-12-2003, 02:05 PM   #12
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We are pulling our 25' Classic with a 2002 Yukon 6.0L engine and so far so good. We just got the A/S in July, but have been on a few trips one at 9000 feet. If we were to trade the 6.0L Yukon we would get the 8.5 Yukon - just love it!
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Old 09-12-2003, 06:10 PM   #13
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Another vote for Powerstroke Diesel tow rigs, F-250, Excursion, F-350 or E-350, the choice is yours!! Stay away from the E-350 15 passenger vans, too much rear overhang and handling issues.

(BTW, the diesel is not available in an E-250)

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Old 09-12-2003, 06:18 PM   #14
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The Ford Power strokes 7.3 is a great motor. They are having some problems with the newest version. I'm sure that will be worked out soon.

Unless your paying cash for a 2-3 year old vehicle the real bargain may be new if you can land low or no interest rate. You will make up for the cost of new with the savings on financing.

On the GM end: I am not a fan of the GM 6.2 and 6.5 Deisels and for what I was prepared to spend that was all that was in my range. That's why I opted for the gas pig 454. My is just before they got the 4L80 over drive transmission. I have the TH400. I suffer in MPG. It get's 10 empty no matter how I drive it. funny thing is with 7500lb behind it It got 9.25 in the hills. It just really doesn't care about's going to get abut 10. The 4L80 equipped 94 Burb my buddy has get's 14. It's all in the transmission. I'm looking at a Gear Vendors OD WIth gas prices as they are I figure I can pay for it in 2 years with the driving I do. That is if I have to pay for it but that's another story.

The New Duramax is a wonderful motor and the Allison is a heck of a transmission. Not much bad has been surfacing on them lately. They had some new product blues when they first came out but it looks resolved.

My ideal vehicl of the future will be a F250 7.3 PS crew cab short bed 4x4 probably with stick. A couple friend have them. One buddy just ran from Atlanta to Ancorage and was poping 15mpg with his 39ft 5th wheel weighing around 7K. That's pretty impressive.

Dodge cumings is a good motor as well.

The Big three have a heck of a deisel line up right now. I really don't think you can go wrong on that from any of them.

4x4 does have an advantage I have already found out. I had to pull off on the side of the road because I thought I had a problem. The gras was like grease and I almost didn't get it out with out a pull. That was with 7500lb behind it. Many of the Ralleys are set up in a feild and you may on occasion traverse wet grass if your palling on being active other owners have warned when this subject has come up in the past. Something to concider.

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