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Old 02-16-2006, 02:39 AM   #15
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Arrow It is really "half ton vs. one ton".......

I towed over 25,000 miles last year.......

A 1500 or half ton has lighter brakes, coils, shocks, leaf springs, smaller tires, etc....

A 2500 is actually a one ton chassis with heavier brakes, coils, shocks, leaf springs, larger tires, etc....

The Chevy Suburban is the oldest continuously produced motor vehicle model IN THE WORLD!

Parts are plentiful, readily available, and reasonably priced. And they will be for a long time.

For towing, go no lighter than a 3/4 ton........

Take it from someone who knows from experience...

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Old 02-16-2006, 05:15 AM   #16
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I tow a 94 25' Classic with a 2001 2500 Suburban with the 8.1l engine and 3.73 rear end and it is an excellent combination. In my opinion it's the best combinatin they make.Your never short on power and as for the gas milage, there's probably very little difference between it and the 6.0L. The quality of the ride when not towing is excellent, not truck like at all. i use it as my every day driver and love it.Buy what you want but try before you buy.
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Old 02-16-2006, 07:36 AM   #17
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2001 19' Bambi
Mesa , Arizona
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We tow a 19' Bambi (around the same weight as yours) with our 02 Chevy Avalanche Z71, 4:10 gearing. Although there have been times when I could use a little more power going up steep grades, I would have to say I think it is one of the best overall combinations for our purposes. We tow about 12,000 miles per year, across mountains, through deserts, and over the plains. We get right at 12 mpg towing (checked over about 20,000 miles) and between 17 & 18 when not towing. I suppose you can always make a case for getting something bigger than what you need, but you do pay a price for that when not towing. Just my 2 cents worth.
2001 19' Bambi
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Old 02-16-2006, 08:01 AM   #18
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Never having pulled with a Suburban, I will defer to the people who know the vehicle. That being said, the question is about pulling a 25’ in the Colorado Rockies. I do have a lot of experience that can apply to this.

My opinion is, if it is only a very occasional pull and you don’t get embarrassed or intimidated when you are pokey going up a pass, I wouldn’t worry about it. I pulled a 31ft. ’69 International for fifteen years, three years with a 350 GMC ½ ton with a very weak gear ratio (can’t remember what it was but it was far less than a 3.76), and thirteen years with a Heavy ½ 6.2L Chevy diesel with a 4.10. I pulled Monarch several times, Rabbit Ears a couple, and many of our Idaho passes (not so high but some of them a very hard pull) as well as in Washington, Montana and Wyoming. Both trucks were less than optimum and either would have been totally unbearable if I’d been pulling more often than I did. In all those years I never got into trouble. I just hugged the slow lane, pulled over to let faster traffic pass, and enjoyed the journey. No matter what you end up with, install an extra, high capacity, transmission cooler!! I think if the majority of my use was solo I’d put up with the downside for the sake of the greater usage.

I now have what I’ve wanted for years, a twelve valve Cummins Dodge with a 5 speed standard shift. Not for everybody, but I sure am happy with it!

'92 Limited 34ft (now sold); '96 Dodge Cummins 4X2, 5speed
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Old 02-16-2006, 08:03 AM   #19
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1500 GMC Yukon XL

I have to graciously disagree with Jim... my 1500 GMC Yukon XL has towed my 25'er with no problems. After discussing trading up to a 2500 3/4 ton with several "old-schoolers" at the River and in the desert, the only reason I would do it is if I trade up in trailer size.

My gas mileage has been decent (roughly 12 MPG when towing), the power has been great on incline (there's a hardcore incline on the westbound 10 just outside of Indio) EVEN with the A/C on and no overheating and all this, with the wife, 2 kids, a dog and the back of the Yukon full of beer and food for the trip (OK, water too).

As for the Rockies, I can imagine most tow vehicles will be burdened as your average speed going around those curves will be <25 (right?) As I've mentioned before, I'm sure you'll get the same performance out of most full-size trucks (sans DuraMax diesel, et al). It's just a better way to remind you to slow down when navigating those windy roads...
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Old 02-16-2006, 08:37 AM   #20
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Towing Vehicle

Having listened to the discussion about tow vehicles for some time I am reminded that i and a lot of others are into Airstream travel because you do not need a Huge tow vehicle to pull them. I have been towing Airstreams since 1972 when i purchased a 25 ft. Argosy and pulled with a 1972 Dodge Charger with a 318 cu inch engine. Then went to a 1983 Dodge Van with the same engine. I pulled all over the US and Canada with no problem. That does not mean that at times i would have liked to have more power but they served the purpose as an all around vehicle for both towing and every day use. I also had a 25 ft. Soverign which i pulled with the van and a 2000 Tahoe with 5.3 liter engine. It was fine just needed a longer wheel base. I presently have a 2002 27 Ft. Safari and a 2004 Chevy 1/2 ton truck with 5.3 Liter engine. I get 12.5 to 14 MPG when traveling 60 to 65MPG. It also serves as my only other vehicle. I have been very happy with these tow vehicles. I think that if you tow a lot out West in mts. and cannot stand to go up slopes at 45 mph or you only use the vehicle to tow you should consider a heavier tow vehicle. Thats my 2cs worth. Ray
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Old 02-16-2006, 08:57 AM   #21
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BTW, I've gotten as high as 13.9mpg towing our '04 25' Safari and on average towing 11.9. It seems to get better MPG as the car ages. I've only got 6500 miles on it now.

I agree with what was said here, try both and see what you like, and what the cost differences are. I think you'll find that operating costs are darn near the same and the marginal cost of going 3/4 ton as I've said is somewhat moot. Those of us that have been on both sides of the discussion (towed with 1/2 ton and 3/4 ton) know what the outcome would be 8 times out of 10.
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Old 02-16-2006, 11:16 AM   #22
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Greetings Terry,
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.
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Old 02-16-2006, 11:16 AM   #23
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While I'm not a Surburban person, I can attest to the difference in a 1/2 ton and 3/4 ton GM van. I pulled a 27' 6000 lb Safari with both vehicles and discounting the differences caused by engine and rear axle sizes, the 3/4 ton vehicle had a much better presence in towing, both from being a heavier vehicle and the fact that it's built to carry much heavier loads. Towing brings about forces not usually noticed when you are carrying dead weight. The larger shocks, springs and frame handle those pitches in the roads, and other road irregularities that just send 1/2 ton vehicles bouncing.

As Eric pointed out the price difference is very minimal, and you get so much more, a bigger transmission, normally more engine options, larger wheels (16" vs 15" on my vans).

If you tow with both, the difference is noticable.

Jack Canavera
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'04 Classic 30' S.O.,'03 GMC Savana 2500,'14 Honda CTX 700
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Old 02-16-2006, 01:18 PM   #24
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Klevan, I agree with what your statement. You were able to express it better. Semper Fi
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Old 02-16-2006, 02:41 PM   #25
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Thanks, Ray.
If I hadn't come home to New Mexico after the USMC, I'd be very happy pulling any Airstream up to 27' with a 1500 Suburban. I loved my 2003 Z71, but I hated lugging these mountain passes at 45 mph with engine screaming. The 5.3 liter in front of a 3.73 rearend is marginal at best, especially when you add 4-WD, which I need to get in and out of the back country.

I miss my Z71 Burban until it comes time to tow something heavy somewhere fast; then, I love that Duramax. Call me fickle.
Semper Fi,
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Old 02-16-2006, 03:48 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by terry & pat
I have a 1969 25 ft Trade Wind with and empty weight of 4340 lb. I am considering buying a new Suburban with a 5.3 liter gas V8 to pull it. I would like comments on how well the Suburban will do while towing across the rockies. Will I be slowed to a 20 mph crawl or just down to 45 mph or so? Also, do you recommend that I get the 4.10 rear end or can I get by with the 3.42?
A lot of good info has been posted in reply to your question.

My thoughts are that I would rather have a little too much power than not enough, especially where my family's safety is a concern.

1978 Excella 31' (5800 lbs. Dry)
2006 F250 CC 4X4 Powerstroke Diesel
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Old 02-16-2006, 05:29 PM   #27
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Maybe when Terry & Pat asked about the Suburban it was because they liked the functionality of the Burb over a pickup. Maybe a pickup is not what they want. I think the Avalanche is a better buy than a pickup and I love it's functionality. Well this fall the 2007 Av will have a 6.0 . GM is dropping the 3/4 Avalanche from what I have read. If GM came out with a 3/4 ton Av with 6 speed and Duramax that would be something but GM can't figure that one out. You have to make a compromize with GM. "I like this truck but I can't get the option combinations I want". Frustrating...
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Old 02-16-2006, 06:53 PM   #28
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5.3 liter & 3.42 ratio vs something more question

Originally Posted by terry & pat
I have a 1969 25 ft Trade Wind with and empty weight of 4340 lb. I am considering buying a new Suburban with a 5.3 liter gas V8 to pull it. I would like comments on how well the Suburban will do while towing across the rockies. Will I be slowed to a 20 mph crawl or just down to 45 mph or so? Also, do you recommend that I get the 4.10 rear end or can I get by with the 3.42?
Funny how your personal bias affects what you think you read.
The first time I read through this thread, I thought the comments were running 90-10 for something bigger.
Upon re-reading & counting (trying to eliminate the repeat posters) I got only 13 posts for something more vs. 8 posts for the lesser TV.

I have towed a later model 25' Excella first with a 5.3 liter 3.73 Yukon and currently with an 8.1 liter 3.73 Yukon XL. My opinion is having a little extra TV is better than not quite having enough.

The first TV did OK on flat and smooth roads. However, even very small grades commonly encountered on New Mexico's Interstate highways had the first TV spending a lot of time in a lower gear. On secondary roads that are not as smooth as Interstates the Airstream would bounce and push the first TV around in a way that could easily get disturbing.

The current TV feels much more stable on undulating secondary roads and has the power to maintain legel speeds almost all the time with little downshifting on the Interstates.

KE5CKG on 2 meters
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