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Old 01-03-2008, 09:42 AM   #57
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This is a very interesting thread, and although I don't intend to hijack the theme, its spurred me to type a few thoughts...

We towed a 30 foot SOB ultralight with the 5.3L shorty Yukon (less real towing capacity than a 1/2 ton) for three years no problems at all. Admittedly, we never towed through the Rockies or hills in Virginia, and we don't haul any powertoys, but we did enough hills to know that our rig did well enough for us. One of the reasons we recently downsized to a Safari 25SS was so we could eventually also downsize our Yukon to something less than a V8. The mileage while towing isn't the issue, its the gas mileage when NOT towing (which is like 80% of the time for us) that I'm interested in improving.

Anyway, I'm intrigued by the fact many on this forum seem to be wedded to the idea that the ideal tow vehicle for ~25' Airstreams is more-or-less a 3/4 tonner of some sort. Maybe being Canadian and used to much higher fuel prices and cost of living as compared you lucky Americans, I've developed a "less is more" philosophy. Or maybe its the influence of a local well known RV dealer that specalizes in small TV setups. I don't know, but I must say I'm intrigued by the thinking. Heck, and I though the ORF was conservative LOL!

One thing that has not gone unnoticed is that many of the smaller vehicles being discussed here are all high peformance, high HP vehicles and not necessarly less expensive to buy than a 3/4 ton PU truck, so maybe there's no magic solution. I expect many are anxiously waiting to see what new developments arrive in small displacement diesels or hybrid TV's but something tells me they won't be cheap.

Anyway it will be interesting to see what the future brings and if my thinking will change as I gain more towing experience.

Sorry for rambling..

Gary
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Old 01-03-2008, 12:19 PM   #58
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Great input

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew T
I thought I might clear up a little bit here. The Lexus is a very different tow vehicle than the ML or the X5. The Lexus is built on a Tundra Chassis does not have independent rear suspension and it has relatively long rear overhang. As well it has a tall centre of gravity and mushy balloon tires. The BMW and Mercedes ML both have longer wheel bases short rear overhangs, independent rear suspension, a much lower centre of gravity and precise tire and wheel combinations with very little sidewall roll. Though the tow ratings are similar there is no comparison in handling and stability while towing.

I think the ML Diesel is one of the best all round tow vehicles you can purchase today for most Airstreams if I was inclined to tow with an SUV it is hands down the one I would purchase at the moment anyway. The Mercedes diesel is a considerably more modern engine with amazing performance and fuel economy without all the noise. We do strengthen the hitch receivers on them when we set them up but we do that on most vehicles.

Having said all that we do have several customers with Toyota Sequoia's and Lexus 470's, however to make them stable we change the tires to a better size for towing and use a Hensley hitch.
Andrew.

I believe you are making the same point that is the reason for the thread. Each situation and each Airstreamer is different, and there are no set rules. I do have a few corrections to make on your post, first, the GX470 is not built on a Tundra chassis, it is built on the same chassis as the Toyota 4-Runner, and second, the sophisticated independent suspension I was referring to is the front suspension with the Kinetic Dynamic System. And actually, most folks would say that a solid rear axle is superior to an independent for towing and strength, so I would disagree that an independent rear suspension would improve towing values, but each vehicle should be judged on its combined attributes, not just one.

The diesel ML was not discussed in my post because I was responding to previous reference to the ML350, and unfortunetly, many of us can't get a diesel ML due to emission standards in our state. The ML350 is clearly the best choice of the three for towing. I agree completely that the diesel ML is a winner.

As for the BMW X5, based on the listed ratings by the manufacturer, it may tow better than a GX470, but if you towed a late model 25' AS, you would be over rating limit and not legal, not a good idea in my book.

Bottom line, you have shown how diligent research and past experiences of others are key ingredients to determining ones own optimal towing set up.
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Old 01-03-2008, 04:03 PM   #59
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Andrew and TM... thnxs for the info.
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Old 01-03-2008, 05:49 PM   #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garfield
This is a very interesting thread, and although I don't intend to hijack the theme, its spurred me to type a few thoughts...

Anyway, I'm intrigued by the fact many on this forum seem to be wedded to the idea that the ideal tow vehicle for ~25' Airstreams is more-or-less a 3/4 tonner of some sort.

One thing that has not gone unnoticed is that many of the smaller vehicles being discussed here are all high peformance, high HP vehicles and not necessarly less expensive to buy than a 3/4 ton PU truck, so maybe there's no magic solution.

I expect many are anxiously waiting to see what new developments arrive in small displacement diesels or hybrid TV's but something tells me they won't be cheap.

Anyway it will be interesting to see what the future brings and if my thinking will change as I gain more towing experience.

Gary
Gary,

Thanks for another set of interesting thoughts and observations. Although it may seem that some of the forum member (US members mostly) favor a 3/4 ton for towing a 25' Airstreams, it is important to remember that 25' Airstreams have been made a long time with many different configurations including width, length (yes a 2008 Safari 25FB is actually 25' 11") and most important WEIGHT. Instead of just using the trailer length as the mark, one should consider all of the details. I for one only use length as one factor, but if you review my posts and many more by others, the weight of the AS is the primary factor, but again, not the only factor in matching up with a safe and enjoyable tow vehicle. In that light, I do believe that 7000 lbs is the dividing line between 1/2 ton and 3/4 ton, but is only a guideline and it is just my opinion based on the way I drive/tow, where I drive/tow and when I drive/tow.

Most pros agree that stopping and controlling the trailer is far more important than pulling the trailer. I believe that is why you see the HP versions of the SUV for people who prefer that type of vehicle, they usually have more sophisticated control systems and bigger/better brakes. Very keen observation on your part.

And you are right about many waiting to see what the manufacturers bring out in the way of more efficient motors and drive systems, and I also agree that they won't be cheap.

I am really enjoying the dialogue on this thread, many great comments with XLNT input. We all learn by sharing.
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Old 01-03-2008, 07:53 PM   #61
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TIMEMACHINE
Yep, you are right, you sound like you may be in the truck/car business.
I am, and because of that, I have had the opportunity to tow my trailer with several different tow vehicles - long, short, gas, diesel, manual, automatic, half, three quarter and one ton. The experience makes it easy to see why there is no one "best" set up.

It doesnít take a one ton dually diesel to handle my 26-foot Argosy, but I have done that, and it was obvious that it was overkill. I have also towed it with a half ton 4WD regular cab short bed pick up with a small V-8 (4.7) and the only immediately obvious short coming was that the truck was underpowered. The ideal truck for my camper falls somewhere in between.

The most comfortable (to me) feeling truck that I have towed this trailer with was a Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab short bed 4wd HEMI automatic with 3:55 ratio. If I actually had to purchase a truck, this would be what I would pick. It fits my life style when not towing, which is most of the time and regardless of what is rumored they get respectable fuel mileage. If my trailer was heavier, if I towed more often, if it was important that I was first to the top of the mountain - I might be attracted to a different rig. If fuel mileage, maintenance costs, purchase price, and the size of my driveway were factored in, maybe Iíd settle for something less.

I help people pick the vehicle that best suits their needs all the time. It becomes easy to see how even if two people are towing identical trailers down the same road toward a common destination - they do not necessarily need or want the same tow vehicle. Different strokes for different folks.

My manufacturer provides us with a job-rating work sheet to help select the proper truck for a specific application. Oddly there is no line on the worksheet that addresses the customerís personality or attitude. I have learned that matching the truck to the task does not necessarily match the truck to the customer. Itís important to try to do both if they are going to be happy with their truck.
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Old 01-03-2008, 07:59 PM   #62
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Hi TM

I totally agree that there are no perfect tow vehicles and that everyone is going to have their own reasons for the vehicle they choose based on their own use and lifestyle.

The advantage of a solid axle suspension is that it is less expensive and simpler to service. For towing an independent rear suspension offers substantially more control while riding smoother at the same time. Most trucks with straight axles run on a conventional truck frame and the rear suspension stance is 38" wide. So even though the track may be 64" wide the rear suspension which does the most to control the trailer is pivoting on a 38" centre. Independent suspension projects the suspension stance out to the width of the track. When you widen the suspension stance from 38 to over 60" you create a tremendous amount of additonal stability.

As well a live axle suspension will have some side to side movement under the vehicle. Beyond that a Live axle suspension tends to be softer to compensate for the unsprung weight of the axle. With independent you can have a stiffer suspension with a smoother ride.

I have used vehicles with 4 wheel independent suspension for the last 20 years easily a couple of hundred thousand miles of towing. As well hundreds of our customers have towed many times that distance. The combination of ride and control really does spoil you.

You mentioned that the tow rating of the X5 makes it against the law to tow with it. However there is no legal reference to tow ratings in any juristiction that I am aware of. Some vehicles with very high tow ratings are quite poor as tow vehicles and others with low ratings are very capable. The other weakness of tow ratings espessially when related to towing Airstreams is that they are based solely on weight and do not take into account aerodynamic drag, balance and centre of gravity which are more important than weight alone.

Andy
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Old 01-03-2008, 09:00 PM   #63
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nice detail

Andy,

Great info and thanks for the corrections, somebody has to keep me in line. I especially like the detail of rigid axle vs IRS, good work. I guess I may have overstated that towing with the X5 would not be legal, what I should have said is that the GCWR or GCVWR would be exceeded if one towed a 7000 lb AS with an X5, since the combined weight was greater than 10,850 lbs, per the manufacturers data. Although that may not be a legal issue in terms of vehicle code law, it would be an issue with ones insurance company in the event of an accident, and if anyone was hurt, there is a significant liabilty issue. That is what I should have said, my bad.

time
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Old 01-04-2008, 05:50 PM   #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TIMEMACHINE
Andy,

I especially like the detail of rigid axle vs IRS, good work.

time
Yes, there are a number of accounts that talk about the positive attributes of vehicles with 4 wheel IS and towing.

Back to the diesel issue for a moment... It is interesting how the technology has brought the diesel engines along. It is hard to believe that an Audi with a twin turbo V12 has been dominating the famed, Le Mans 24hr race the last few years. Even race officials are contemplating ways to slow this car down to even the field.

Green Car Congress: Audi R10 TDI Diesel Wins Le Mans
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Old 01-04-2008, 08:08 PM   #65
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Attitude

Quote:
Originally Posted by RBolton
The most comfortable (to me) feeling truck that I have towed this trailer with was a Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab short bed 4wd HEMI automatic with 3:55 ratio. If I actually had to purchase a truck, this would be what I would pick.

I help people pick the vehicle that best suits their needs all the time. It becomes easy to see how even if two people are towing identical trailers down the same road toward a common destination - they do not necessarily need or want the same tow vehicle. Different strokes for different folks.

My manufacturer provides us with a job-rating work sheet to help select the proper truck for a specific application. Oddly there is no line on the worksheet that addresses the customerís personality or attitude. I have learned that matching the truck to the task does not necessarily match the truck to the customer. Itís important to try to do both if they are going to be happy with their truck.
Interesting selection for your favorite TV. And I really like your comment on the worksheet and no line for customer's personality or attitude. I couldn't imagine what you would put on that line for me!
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Old 01-04-2008, 08:51 PM   #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Road Ruler
Yes, there are a number of accounts that talk about the positive attributes of vehicles with 4 wheel IS and towing.

Back to the diesel issue for a moment... It is interesting how the technology has brought the diesel engines along. It is hard to believe that an Audi with a twin turbo V12 has been dominating the famed, Le Mans 24hr race the last few years. Even race officials are contemplating ways to slow this car down to even the field.

Green Car Congress: Audi R10 TDI Diesel Wins Le Mans
Hi, if they want to even the playing field, let them all have the same size engines. I don't remember the exact specs, but I think the gassers have a limit of 3.5 L and the Diesels get 5.0 L engines. Or something like that.
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Old 01-05-2008, 06:20 AM   #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Road Ruler

Back to the diesel issue for a moment... It is interesting how the technology has brought the diesel engines along. It is hard to believe that an Audi with a twin turbo V12 has been dominating the famed, Le Mans 24hr race the last few years. Even race officials are contemplating ways to slow this car down to even the field.
I don't think it was the speed of this Audi that separated it from the field at LeMans as much as it was fuel mileage. They would come closer to leveling the field by allowing the gassers to carry more fuel. Then, if weight becomes an issue they could make the Audi pull a camper - it is a diesel.
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Old 01-05-2008, 06:42 AM   #68
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We have had 3 Dodge dieseis starting with a 1994 that had a whopping 175 HP and about 420 torque. The last one was a Cummins 600 torquer. We now pull with a V-10/4.10 E-350 Ford Chateau Passenger van. The torque on the V-10 is about the same as the 94 Dodge.

Both the 1994 and V-10 engines pulled us up and down the Rocky mountains with no strain, We averaged about 12 mpg with the 94 and 9 mpg with the Ford gasser. The Cummins 600 was overkill with mileage in the 10 mpg range towing.

Since my 1994, the Auto industry has been in a race to build the biggest and baddest diesel on the planet along with a huge drop in fuel economy.

At this stage, diesels and their huge price tags make no economic or power sense; were we to buy another vehicle, it would be a Ford F250 with a V-10/4.10 combo; alas, this combo is no longer available in the E-350 unless you spring for a conversion van.

As far as current diesels go, the industry would be wise to offer a reduced HP model with good fuel economy. One will still enjoy plenty of power.

Just our 2 cents.
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Old 01-05-2008, 09:38 AM   #69
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As far as current diesels go, the industry would be wise to offer a reduced HP model with good fuel economy. One will still enjoy plenty of power.
I could not agree more. But, these manufacturers don't have their heads in the sand as so many seem to think. It's the Tim Allen syndrome, "More Power." The diesel buyers union demands it. The diesel power war is not raging because the manufacturers like 'em, but because that is what sells. I have seen guys that would cut back to one meal a day just to have a truck that could out pull the one next door. Fuel economy be damned.The Dodge Cummins combo in '89 had even less power than your '94 and could still pull a house off it's foundation. Mid 20's fuel economy was not uncommon.
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Old 01-05-2008, 11:03 AM   #70
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The environment question

Quote:
Originally Posted by alvinator
We have had 3 Dodge dieseis starting with a 1994 that had a whopping 175 HP and about 420 torque. The last one was a Cummins 600 torquer. We now pull with a V-10/4.10 E-350 Ford Chateau Passenger van. The torque on the V-10 is about the same as the 94 Dodge.

Both the 1994 and V-10 engines pulled us up and down the Rocky mountains with no strain, We averaged about 12 mpg with the 94 and 9 mpg with the Ford gasser. The Cummins 600 was overkill with mileage in the 10 mpg range towing.

Since my 1994, the Auto industry has been in a race to build the biggest and baddest diesel on the planet along with a huge drop in fuel economy.

At this stage, diesels and their huge price tags make no economic or power sense; were we to buy another vehicle, it would be a Ford F250 with a V-10/4.10 combo; alas, this combo is no longer available in the E-350 unless you spring for a conversion van.

As far as current diesels go, the industry would be wise to offer a reduced HP model with good fuel economy. One will still enjoy plenty of power.

Just our 2 cents.

Interesting experience and conclusion....

Another detail we have not touched on is emissions and the environment...on an average, which fuel motor is better on the environment, the current diesels or the current gassers?

And who has the cleanest diesel and who has the cleanest gasser. In my questions I am ruling out any motor that isn't put in a vehicle capable of towing at least 7500 lbs.

I am not a tree hugger but one of our other cars is a Prius.
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