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Old 01-27-2008, 10:39 AM   #1
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Toyota Highlander Hybrid and a 16' International CCD?

Hello all,

First post. Sorry if it gets long.

I've done lots of reading and searching but I'd love a little advice. My wife and I are thinking seriously of taking the plunge and buying a small 16' International CCD TT. We visited the RV show in Pleasanton, CA this past week and love the small, compact design. Perfect for our style and "way" of traveling. At this point we're not interested in anything bigger (though my wife likes the layout of the 20' Safari with the kitchen in the back) but we don't like the size of it.

We currently have a 2006 Highlander Hybrid with the towing package. It's rated at 3500# and the hitch can hold 350# tongue weight. We love this car and are not excited about buying a separate tow vehicle (bigger pickup, etc) just to pull this "little" TT for 1 month a year.

I've read in one online hybrid forum that some folks do tow with the Highlander Hybrid and actually like the torque from the electric assist motor.

So, here are our questions:

1) The dry weight of the 16' Int CCD is approx 2825 w/o options. Adding about 200# options, 150# of gear, plus a little water and fuel puts the total weight at about 3400#. Is this cutting it too close to the tow limit of our vehicle?
2) Since the tongue weight limit of the tow hitch (Toyota OEM) is 350# (and I can't find any other hitches for the vehicle with a higher limit) and the TT hitch weight is aprox 430#, is this where WD hitches come into play? Am I right is assuming that a WD hitch would take some of the "weight" off of the tongue to get the weight down to the appropriate 350# and transfers some of that weight to my vehicle's front axle? Is this the general theory of WD hitches? It seems I should get a WD/Anti-sway hitch anyway, given the "horror stories" on this forum and others but I want to make sure I understand the concept of all of this.
3) Since it's just my wife and I and our gear (and 12lb dog), I'm confident that we would stay under the vehicles GVWR of 6000 lbs (4700# vehicle, 350# people, 250# gear, 550# tongue and hitch weight=approx 5800#). Does this seem ok.

Thoughts? Advice? Opinions?

We've considered "trading down" and getting a new 2008 non-hybrid Highlander that has a tow rating of 5000#, but we really love our current HH and don't want to switch if we don't have to.

Thanks for reading and helping. This forum is fantastic!

-Josh
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Old 01-27-2008, 10:44 AM   #2
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Here is the short answer....

16 sure, though I wouldn't do it, it is done by one forum member that I know of using one of the Toyota hybrids out there.... 20 foot no, don't even think about it.
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Old 01-27-2008, 10:57 AM   #3
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Consider the 430# hitch weight. You must and you will have WD gear -- loaded up front this adds chiefly to the hitch weight. Put LP in the tanks -- this adds chiefly to the hitch weight. There is almost no way that the actual hitch weight will be under 500#.

WD gear puts leverage on the tow vehicle frame so that hitch weight is not all carried by the rear axle. This leverage transfers some of the hitch weight to the TV front axle. WD gear does not reduce load at the hitch.

Be sure and find the Airstream that works best for you if you would be reconsidering your tow vehicle. Then size the TV purchase accordingly. I've got a friend with a Highlander towing a large Coleman popup -- we're going an RV show to look at Airstreams together in two weeks and he is definitely up-sizing his tow vehicle. Find a nearby Forums rally, take your tent, and talk to real people and how their Airstreams work for them.
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Old 01-27-2008, 11:10 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CanoeStream
Consider the 430# hitch weight. You must and you will have WD gear -- loaded up front this adds chiefly to the hitch weight. Put LP in the tanks -- this adds chiefly to the hitch weight. There is almost no way that the actual hitch weight will be under 500#.

WD gear puts leverage on the tow vehicle frame so that hitch weight is not all carried by the rear axle. This leverage transfers some of the hitch weight to the TV front axle. WD gear does not reduce load at the hitch.
Thanks for this info. So, to be clear, given what you share here:

Let's say the hitch weight comes in at 500#. Since no hitch receiver I can find that goes on the Highlander has a tongue rating over 350# (same as OEM), and since you write "WD gear does not reduce load at the hitch," doesn't this mean that this is a really bad idea (being about 150# over the tongue weight limit)?

I've read the HiHy can handle the load weight, I'm just more worried about the other weight limits. I'm a pretty conservative person when it comes to safety, but the thought of buying another vehicle (especially for a "green" hybrid-driving hippie like me ) seems too extravagant and wasteful.

And we really like that 16' Int. CCD. Hmmmm.
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Old 01-27-2008, 11:36 AM   #5
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Correct, a 350# receiver can't handle this load. You generally shouldn't exceed any single spec for a vehicle - payload capacity, hitch capacity, GVWR, GCWR. See Airstream, Inc :: FAQ for some explanations.

Another point -- tow capacities are figured in very strange ways. Put a 90 pound steeplechase jockey in the drivers seat, the weight of a quart of gas aboard an empty vehicle, and figure away. There are some mighty strong asterisks attached to the published 3500 figure for your Toyota. Read about the 80% rule at this thread - http://www.airforums.com/forums/f238...-ccd-5062.html
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Old 01-27-2008, 11:38 AM   #6
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Consider a Vintage Airstream ....

Any of the shortest vintage Airstreams ( Bambi, Caravel Bubble Pacer, Bubble) from 1965 back will meet your vehicles rating. See http://www.airstream.com/docs/weights-1.pdf for Airstream weights. You could get a good restored Vintage Airstream for way less $$$ than a new one also.

The VAC ( Vintage Airstream Club has a website at:
The Vintage Airstream Club and RJ Dial has a web site with pictures of most vintage models at :
Vintage Airstream Photo Archives
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Old 01-27-2008, 11:41 AM   #7
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hi josh and welcome to the forums...

leo is our resident hihy guy...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f238...rid-28016.html

as i recall he's had the trailer axles upgraded and disc brakes replaced the oem drums...

advance search using 'highlander' or 'hihy' and his forum name...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/memb...iii-16771.html

for his experience at this...

here are some of his main posts on the issues and his satisfaction with the combo...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/sear...earchid=950053

cheers
2air'
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Old 01-27-2008, 12:08 PM   #8
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More and more "green towing" topics seem to be popping up here in the past year. Over the long haul (pun intended) I think that a specific tow vehicle makes more sense than trying to buy a compromise on mileage and towing capacity.

Over the past year, I have carefully monitered my utility usage at home and I have no problem driving a GMC 6.0 gas engine to pull a 25FB as my "carbon footprint" on the road is easily offset by the lower utility usage at home. Too, it's possible to drop insurance coverage from full to comprehensive only when the truck is not in use.

For 30 nights a year, I would consider a good used TV and get insurance coverage on an "as used basis". You might even consider dumping your SUV and replace it with a Prius and a dedicated TV.

Besides, once you own a PU, you'll wonder how you ever got buy without one!
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Old 01-27-2008, 01:05 PM   #9
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I tow with a Highlander Hybrid and have had no trouble with it. First trip was from LA to upper Oregon and didnt have one issue on that long trip. I do have an older trailer tho which means it's definitely lighter than the newer one you're looking at - even with the extra foot of trailer I have. If you are keen on being green (and I definitely applaud that) I would concur with the poster above that you look into a little vintage unit - and keep the hybrid. Much to the dismay of vintage purists I've gutted and made my trailer more modern - thus her name Maude (MaudPod) - it took some time but was fun to do.
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Old 01-27-2008, 03:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbond
Any of the shortest vintage Airstreams ( Bambi, Caravel Bubble Pacer, Bubble) from 1965 back will meet your vehicles rating. See http://www.airstream.com/docs/weights-1.pdf for Airstream weights. You could get a good restored Vintage Airstream for way less $$$ than a new one also.

The VAC ( Vintage Airstream Club has a website at:
The Vintage Airstream Club and RJ Dial has a web site with pictures of most vintage models at :
Vintage Airstream Photo Archives
WOW, THANK YOU for posting that weight link. I've always wondered what my '69 Safari came in at (3850 lb) new and now I know. I also feel a lot better about Tundra-towing (highly recommended, a great truck).

I'll second the 'buy vintage' advice, especially if you're handy with the tools. I paid $4K for mine and have never regretted it. Just got my new bath floor template cut out today and started in on POR'in the frame. You could find a lovely Globetrotter or Caravel and be in business for $10K or less...
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Old 01-27-2008, 03:12 PM   #11
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I didn't have a chance of towing my Airstream on long distance yet, but I've been towing several heavy trailers with my Mercedes ML as well as big pickups. While towing 2001 light 25' model of other manufacturer I was beating Bay Area trafic just fine. None of them ever required any WD or anti-sway gizmos.
So I wonder is the fishtailing that pops on this forum so often an Airstream only feature?
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Old 01-27-2008, 03:57 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kajtek1
While towing 2001 light 25' model of other manufacturer I was beating Bay Area trafic just fine. None of them ever required any WD or anti-sway gizmos.
So I wonder is the fishtailing that pops on this forum so often an Airstream only feature?
Fishtailing does not occur due to the lack of weight distribution (WD) or antisway gear.

This is a basic safety issue. The U.S. Govt. plaque on the driver's door post should have the rear axle GAWR. It will take some figuring or weighing to understand the curb weight load of the empty vehicle, passenger weights, weights of any aftermarket TV options, TV cargo, and tongue weight. You must use WD gear to move some of this load off the rear axle and transfer it to the front axle. This is never more true than in the modest capacity ranges of mid-size SUVs.

A second feature of most WD setups is an antisway feature. This is usually a totally separate mechanical design in the apparatus. Flying or anesthesiology (and I suggest serene vacation towing experiences) are said to be 99% boredom and 1% panic. Antisway puts more of the odds in your favor when the trailer decides it wants to drive instead of you; e.g., during emergency braking or avoidance maneuvers. It spells all the difference in saving the day.
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Old 01-27-2008, 05:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CanoeStream
Antisway puts more of the odds in your favor when the trailer decides it wants to drive instead of you; e.g., during emergency braking or avoidance maneuvers. It spells all the difference in saving the day.
Sure it does, but anti-sway is a patch, not a cure.
Again in those setups I drove sway was never an issue and I have a habit of towing at 65 or higher. What did I do wrong?
To answer my own question, as I already did in another topic, IMHO based on my mechanical education it is the use of pickups with soft suspension that is big participant in the danger. Short overhang vehicle with stiff suspension never have the issue. Than maybe there is something with Airstream suspension and weigh distribution as well. From what I see in my Safari -heavy items like tanks, propane tanks, batteries are located at the ends of the trailer, while the center has a coach, table and mostly empty floor.
That makes the trailer having big turning inertia. Recipe for a disaster?
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Old 01-27-2008, 05:49 PM   #14
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I will not hijack this thread into a comprehensive discussion of antisway. Let it be said that JDBfreeheel has an auto-based midsized SUV and he will need weight distribution gear. Antisway is a common feature of modern WD gear.
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