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Old 05-20-2004, 09:30 AM   #1
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2000 27' Safari
Berkeley , California
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Tow Vehicle Recommendation?

I have narrowed down the field for my first Airstream to either a 22' or 25' CCD or Safari.

What I need is guidance on selecting an appropriate tow vehicle. The parameters would be:
-Dual Cab
-2 Adults, 2 teenage kids max
-Vehicle & trailer carrying items for 1-2 week trip max
-enough towing capacity so rig won't feel strained on grades or experience excessive wear.

Any recommendations or pertinent observations would be appreciated!

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Old 05-20-2004, 09:40 AM   #2
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If all you are using it is two weeks a year and you don't want to drive a truck full time, i suggest a crew cab half ton chevy or ford with a V8.

I drive a diesel truck full time and love it and will never go back to driving a gas truck or a car for that matter.

Any half ton should handle your load and weight okay, but will not get that good of mileage. Probably less than 12 to the gallon with 4 adults, a/c going, luggage, etc. and trailer.

I pull a 31' trailer with all of the stuff loaded down and average about 15.

1977 A/S Excella 500, 31 foot
2001 2500 HD D/A 4X4, Ext. cab, Victory Red.
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Old 05-20-2004, 09:50 AM   #3
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Depends on your budget.
If you go 3/4 ton diesel in any of the 3 will be very happy.
Or you can go large block in the GM or Ford, or Hemi in the Dodge. You are going to be LOADED with all that gear and if you are going to go to the hills, you will need minimum 3.73 gears and if you go gas engine you might want even to 4.10 gear ratio.
just my 2 cents
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Old 05-20-2004, 09:59 PM   #4
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F250 works great

I just purchased a new Ford F250 Supercab with the 5.4L to pull my Safari (5000 lbs) and it works great. A crew cab would work for you, in either an F250 or F150. Just get the lowest gears you can, ie. 3.73 or 4.10 and make sure it comes with an adequate trans cooler. And the extendable trailer mirrors are awesome. On a lot of the RV forums there is a big emphasis on diesels and big blocks to pull with, but I feel it just isn't necessary for a mid-sized trailer, espec if you gear the small block apropriately. Plus, the Airstreams pull well to begin with.

Mine came with 3.73 gears, and combined with the tall Ford OD and 235/85-16 tires, it means that it is geared too high to pull in OD, except on the flats, and we don't have any around here... So I pull the trailer in Drive. Turns 2500 rpm at 65 mph and has plenty of power for moderate grades and headwinds. That is right on the torque peak for this engine and it is so quiet I can't even hear it. When I hit really steep grades (the ones with truck lanes) it drops to 2nd, locks up the TC, and turns 3300 at 55mph. That is not excessive strain or load for a modern overhead cam V8 and it should last a long time IMHO. My F250 is a 4x2 and the truck weight (6000lbs) and HD suspension also negated the need for any special suspension tricks or hitch sway/equalizer. I just drop it on the ball, pull it, and it tows great.
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Old 05-20-2004, 11:30 PM   #5
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Before you buy a GM gasoline engine vehicle, I would go on and read up on the problems with GM late model gasoline engines; piston clatter & dexcool antifreeze.
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Old 05-21-2004, 08:06 AM   #6
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Your tow vehicle choice is dependent on money available, how often/how far you will tow, people you will carry, and what you are willing to put up with for the rest of the year. If you can only take 1 -2 weeks each year, plus a few weekends, then it may not make sense to have a large truck - unless you have other uses for the truck!

I pull my 6300 GVWR 2003 Safari 25 SS with a 2002 Ford Explorer V8 with tow package rated at 7000 lbs. It works very well, gets 11-14 mpg towing and 19-20 highway non-towing. It can take 7 people, or 4-5 people with luggage. They cost around $30K new, and $18-$25K used. The 2002+ Explorers were totally redesigned and have 4 wheel independent suspension. In 2 years and 34K miles mine has been flawless. It was weak towing up the steepest mountain grades in Wyoming, but did the job.

If I were retired, had tons of vacation time, or lived in the mountains I would have a bigger truck. But for now, the Explorer is a great compromise.
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Old 05-21-2004, 11:32 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by BeBop
I have narrowed down the field for my first Airstream to either a 22' or 25' CCD or Safari.

What I need is guidance on selecting an appropriate tow vehicle. The parameters would be:
-Dual Cab
-2 Adults, 2 teenage kids max
-Vehicle & trailer carrying items for 1-2 week trip max
-enough towing capacity so rig won't feel strained on grades or experience excessive wear.

Any recommendations or pertinent observations would be appreciated!
We tow a trailer that weighs roughly 6000lbs when fully loaded with a 1997 Suburban with factory tow package.
I sold my prrevious tow vehicle because of fuel economy problems both towing and not towing. ( Dodge 1ton van, 360ci engine, 8 average towing, 11 average not towing)
The Suburban tows well, handles hills well, and makes an acceptable daily driver. I average 14.5 mpg city/18mpg hiway.
My Suburban, as meantioned, has teh factory tow package, 3:73 gears, is a 2wd, and has the 5.7l Vortec engine.
I can recommend a Chevrolet Suburban or 1/2 ton truck with this setup for your purpose.
I will be towing with this setup to some pretty extreme altitudes this summer, going to the VAC Rally in Colorado Springs. I expect mountain passes in excess of 9000 feet. This will be about the only test for this combo ( Suburban/Tradewind) that is has not passed with flying colors yet. I experience no lack of power on local mountains and steep hills etc. I do, however, drive conservatively, and do not mind slowing to 55mph or 60mph on some of the grades in Southern California.
If you want brute performance, then you might opt for a 3/4 ton Diesel.
It seems that Dodge is holding the cards for the most industrial strenght Diesel, while GM and Ford's newest Diesels are well mannered and quiet.
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Old 05-21-2004, 11:51 AM   #8
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I opted for the Nissan Titan

I was a lifetime Chevy loyalist (7 Chevy trucks) and once worked in a Chevrolet Truck manufacturing plant. That was a pretty strong life imprint until I saw and test drove a full-size Nissan Titan truck that is a new model this year. I have the crew cab, off-road, Big Tow, top of the line LE package and love it. It makes me want to grunt like Tim the tool guy when I hear the purr of the engine exhaust.

Here is one of the latest reviews on it from Edmunds:

The Big Tow package comes with a Class IV hitch, 7-pin trailer wiring, pre-wiring for a brake controller, heavy-duty battery, lower final gear ratio, transmission temp guage, Vehicle Dynamic Control, and huge telescoping rear-view mirrors. It is rated to tow 9200 lbs which is about double the weight of my Airstream. The tongue weight is 920 lbs. The GCWR is 14,800 lbs.

DMac, I'm not retired yet either but I had an Explorer size SUV in my Chevy Trailblazer for 2-1/2 years and got very antsie about it. I had to go back to a big truck despite the rising cost of gasoline. Big trucks are harder to manuever in parking lots by a long shot as I am relearning.

2015 Sprinter Class B Camper Van
(Former 1971 vintage Airstream Owner)
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