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Old 03-24-2011, 09:57 AM   #1
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Towing Questions

I can't seem to find a towing forum. Seems like the concern of having a place dedicated to this area has been around for awhile. If this query belongs some place else please redirect it.

Here's my question: we are considering a 2008 Toyota 4runner v8 (4.7 liter) as a tow vehicle for a yet to be purchased airstream. The car has a rated capacity of 7000 lbs. The largest trailer we are considering is 6000. That leaves us supposedly a 1000 lbs overage. Question for you experienced and seasoned towers; is that practical? Should we settle for a lesser weight trailer (say 5500lbs)?

My wife likes the size of a 4runner and does not want to consider a larger vehicle like a land cruiser or Sequoia or a truck. Could use your advice on our balancing act. I'm sure others have faced it too.

Thanks!
Stan from Boulder
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:02 AM   #2
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:08 AM   #3
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When it is raining (snowing), steep, twisting and strong winds...I am happy to have a littlr more truck than I need on a flat road on a sunny, dry day. Go big or plan to stay home when conditions are less than ideal.
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:17 AM   #4
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Tow Vehicles - Airstream Forums link for the tow vehicle forum.

I've read that the 4runner and some other SUVs aren't very stable as tow vehicles. The footprint of these type of vehicles and their basic design is for off road trail use. Makes them great to go over ruts, boulders, etc. but for a good tow vehicle you need a longer wheel base and wider stance. A truck, with crew cab, would do a much better job.

As for tow weight. Keep in mind that you need to consider the Gross Vehicle weight of the trailer, not just what the trailer weighs dry. You will be adding fluids (water, gas, etc.), food, clothing, etc. etc, You also have to account for the weight of what is in the tow vehicle, including people.

If you have neither trailer nor tow vehicle, I would first determine what type and size of trailer you need. Consider what type of traveling you will be doing. How long will your trips are will determine how much closet space you'll require, etc. How many people will be living in the trailer needs to be considered. Once you have selected the type of trailer you plan to buy then find a tow vehicle that will do the job with margin. Consider what type of travel you plan. Will you be going in to the mountains? If so, you might want to consider a diesel engine. Generally, if you are going with a larger trailer, say a 30' or more a diesel will become very useful. Will you be boondocking in areas where the roads are unpaved? If so, consider a 4wd.
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grotegut View Post
I can't seem to find a towing forum. Seems like the concern of having a place dedicated to this area has been around for awhile. If this query belongs some place else please redirect it.

Here's my question: we are considering a 2008 Toyota 4runner v8 (4.7 liter) as a tow vehicle for a yet to be purchased airstream. The car has a rated capacity of 7000 lbs. The largest trailer we are considering is 6000. That leaves us supposedly a 1000 lbs overage. Question for you experienced and seasoned towers; is that practical? Should we settle for a lesser weight trailer (say 5500lbs)?

My wife likes the size of a 4runner and does not want to consider a larger vehicle like a land cruiser or Sequoia or a truck. Could use your advice on our balancing act. I'm sure others have faced it too.

Thanks!
Stan from Boulder
In general terms most towing advice dispensed on the internet comes from people towing other brands of trailers (which are higher and less aerodynamic) using cheap or out of date hitches and braking equipment. Or from people who like big trucks just because.

If you tow and Airstream with a ProPride (or Hensley) hitch and a Maxbrake brake controller you will do just fine with that setup.
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:30 AM   #6
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Stan,

There is a tow forum but someone has already mentioned that.

I had a 2003 4Runner with the V8 and I LOVED that tv. We moved up from a tent trailer to a 21ft. hybrid with a GVW of 5K lbs. It towed really well. The 4.7 is a great engine and I did shed a tear when we traded it in on our Tundra. The issue here was not so much the ability of the 4Runner to tow our 25 FB but our plans we were formulating. The 4Runner leaves you with little space to bring anything along.

Perhaps my only peeve about Airstreams is their lack of exterior storage. While on the road we like to bring along our bikes, a generator, some additional water and at times, some firewood. Not having a truck would make most of this a huge challenge.

So, to mirror a few observations already made, spend some time thinking about the trailer you are considering. Think of how you are going to use it and where you are going to go. It didn't take us long to realize that the 4Runner wouldn't fit well with our plans. We are both retired now so parking the truck in the garage is not a big issue with us. We do our daily driving in the Prius and pull the Tundra out for trips. Works for us.

By the way, my 25 ft Airstream pulls much nicer than the 21 ft box trailer we used to have even though it is about 2K lbs heavier. It was the storage that pushed us to change.
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Old 03-24-2011, 11:24 AM   #7
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Grotegut, For towing in the mountains around Boulder don't even consider a 4-runner for a 6,000 lb trailer. I have lived in Colorado all my life and owned 5 travel trailers and two motor homes and been uncomfortable driving when my rig is not quite up to the task.
It is not the up the hill power but down the hill braking and handling. White knuckle moments occur when you are going down twisty 8% grades and smell brakes--yours.
Toyota and other manufacturers play games with tow ratings. Check the gross combined vehicle rating of your 4-runner. You will find with a 6,000 pound trailer behind, you will have room for yourself, the Misses, the pooch and a full tank of gas. Left behind are the bikes, the grill and all the other toys you take camping.
Any of the single axle Airstreams would work well with your vehicle.
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Old 03-24-2011, 11:41 AM   #8
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Our local towing expert, Andy Thomson of Can-Am RV Can-Am RV > Home often gives towing lectures and he uses the 4Runner as an example of a poor TV. Although at first glance is has enough power, its problem relates to poor stability due to the short wheelbase and high centre of gravity. But you might be surprised to find that he doesn't particularly recommend trucks either.

Andy is a great guy to talk to...give him a call.
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Old 03-24-2011, 11:49 AM   #9
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I don't know if I'd want to pull my 25' 6300 pound trailer in the Colorado rockies with a 4runner. To me it feels like a big load, but I pack the bed of the pickup and probably suffer from weight creep in the trailer.

But he did say the biggest he was looking at was 6K pounds. How about something around a 19 footer?
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Old 03-24-2011, 03:10 PM   #10
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Many, many thanks to all for your kind advise. You have already given me much to think about and work with. I'll work on my wife regarding a Tundra/Prius combination. We will also return to looking at 19' airstreams. This is a fun challenge to try to get it right for us the first time. Although there may not be such a thing as "right". Life is a process not an arrival.

Thanks to all responders!

Stan
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Old 03-24-2011, 03:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garfield
Our local towing expert, Andy Thomson of Can-Am RV Can-Am RV > Home often gives towing lectures and he uses the 4Runner as an example of a poor TV. Although at first glance is has enough power, its problem relates to poor stability due to the short wheelbase and high centre of gravity. But you might be surprised to find that he doesn't particularly recommend trucks either.

Andy is a great guy to talk to...give him a call.
Garfield! I owe you at least an evening out. I did call Andy at Can-Am. What a great guy. He told me flat out that my existing Sienna would be a much better tv than a 4 runner. Wheel base and other factors make it a good tv for many airstreams. I will still due my due-diligence, but my explorations have certainly taken a new direction. Thanks much Garfield and three cheers to Andy Thomson and our Canadian friends.

Stan
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Old 03-24-2011, 04:47 PM   #12
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Volvo XCxx and a 25fter

I agree, a short wheel base and trailers don't match. The sway will take over much quicker and then comes the FLIP.

Just today I saw a 25ft AS being towed by a Volvo XCxx, couldn't catch the number , a small one, on I-10 in West Louisiana, The AS was pointed down in the front and the Volvo was just slightly down in the back. Didn't notice a WD hitch. But did notice it was from Mass. Wow, what a haul that must be with that set-up. I don't think that is a proper TT/TV set up at all.
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Old 03-24-2011, 05:04 PM   #13
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Just a quick question.. are you planning on towing to the 9000-12000+ elevations? This is really unique circumstances and it would be good idea to check with someone who had lots of experience with higher mountains.

Normally aspirated engines lose 3% power per thousand ft. elevation at best (those with feedback fuel injection). Thats at the crankshaft, when all the driveline losses are taken into account the wheel horsepower percentage loss is even greater.

I'm not trying to throw a wrench in your plans, but I'd be worried a Sienna would have a hard time starting to move a load at 10,000 ft. on some hills with a 25' trailer. The engine would have trouble generating enough torque at the converter stall speed to start the load moving. It is entirely possible in the high mountains to have only about 50% of the sea level horsepower at wheels available..moving more than 10,000 pounds in steep terrain. Research density altitude if you have a bit of time.
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garfield View Post
Our local towing expert, Andy Thomson of Can-Am RV Can-Am RV > Home often gives towing lectures and he uses the 4Runner as an example of a poor TV. Although at first glance is has enough power, its problem relates to poor stability due to the short wheelbase and high centre of gravity. But you might be surprised to find that he doesn't particularly recommend trucks either.

Andy is a great guy to talk to...give him a call.

I listened to Andy's talk a couple of weeks ago and thought it ironic that this thread was discussing the 4Runner. I don't think he dismissed that particular TV, but he did offer many better alternatives for towing an Airstream. I'm pleased that he recommended the Sienna as that is the TV we've chosen, although I know that many people will blanche at the thought of a Minivan in front of a 6000lb trailer. To those people I'd say try to get to hear one of his talks because you'll see that the physics and the math of using something other than a truck to tow really do add up (given properly set up and appropriate hitch system, of course). I know that most people on this forum will not want to get out of their trucks, and that's fine, but there are also plenty of us who see a safe and sensible alternative.
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