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Old 05-02-2014, 05:52 PM   #1
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Who owns a dedicated tow vehicle? Advice?

Here's what I am thinking about:

We currently tow with our Honda Odyssey Touring. It's a 2008 model, it's got just over 30k miles on the clock and it's paid for - we got a great deal on an off-lease nanny-van when we bought it. Neither of us commutes by car, so it sees little use.

It's a great tow vehicle for our needs right now, for weekend trips and holidays. Good fuel economy, towing and not towing, stable, etc. We tend to travel light, and own a trailer that's on the lighter side.

However, I can see our needs changing in the near future, especially when it comes to carrying stuff like bikes and kayaks/canoes for the entire family. There is no way I can strap five bikes and a couple of boats to the Honda.

I don't want to lose the convenience and economy of the Honda as a daily driver, and I don't want to sell it at a loss and replace it with a new vehicle with higher payload (and a larger load carrying space) as that would most likely mean replacing it with a truck - I don't want a truck as a daily driver. I live in a very urban environment, even a 150 would not fit into my parking garage.

What I could do, and get my wife to agree to, is to allocate a budget of about $10k to a dedicated tow vehicle that would be stored with the trailer and used for only towing and carrying loads. Personally, I like diesel engines for economy and torque, but that also would mean a larger truck than I might feel comfortable with.

Does anybody else have this dilemma? What's your take and how have you solved it?
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Old 05-02-2014, 06:10 PM   #2
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I don't think there's anything on the market for 10k that I would be comfortable with on trips, that would haul kids and a 34' trailer. In that price range the trucks are too old and have too many miles on them.

For 15k or 20k (USD) you could do it, with many choices.
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Old 05-02-2014, 06:54 PM   #3
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The 2015 Dodge Ram now comes with a small Diesel Engine which should get great gas mileage like it's big brothers (my Ram 2500 6.7L Diesel). I get 14-16 mpg when towing and 18-21 mpg when not. Does it cost $10K...... Nope
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Old 05-02-2014, 07:00 PM   #4
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Look to the US southwest for a 1998 Suburban with a 6.5 diesel.
Good engine no salt. The week link is the Fuel Solenoid Driver. Get one from Heath Diesel mounted on a plate and mount it outside the engine compartment and it will run for ever. I mounted mine inside the bumper.
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Old 05-02-2014, 08:28 PM   #5
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I like my Ford Excursion. Mine is a V10 but there are some that have the 7.3L diesel. I prefer a gas engine for simplicity and lower total operating costs. You never know what you are going to get into with a used diesel. Problems can cost you thousands. It is a bullet proof truck/SUV. We used ours some of the weekends for short trips. Nothing likes to sit all the time, especially with ethanol in it. Are you pulling the 34 with the minivan?

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Old 05-03-2014, 08:25 AM   #6
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How about using an Airstream approved bike rack? Then the bikes go to back of Airstream and Honda needs just to accommodate the Kayaks
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Old 05-03-2014, 10:57 AM   #7
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I sold my 34' Limited in July, 2013 (because of my age) so I am without a trailer, but I still lurk here a bit.

Our TV since 2001 was a '96 Dodge Cummins 5 speed manual, club cab. I bought it from a widow when the truck had 84K on it. I have absolutely loved this truck! It is a fantastic combination of power and fuel economy. With the 4.11 gears it doesn't do quite as well on fuel mileage as some but the power is awesome. Fuel mileage towing has reached as high as 18mpg (very rare), but most of the time was 14.5 16. It is noisy, but for the diesel enthusiast it is a sweet noise! I've never regretted buying it.

Since I'm not replacing my trailer I have no need of my truck so I have it advertised for sale ($8,700) in the Forum Classifieds. A complete description and photos are in the ad. Just sayin' . . . 1996 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins 2wd
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Old 05-03-2014, 12:28 PM   #8
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How about using an Airstream approved bike rack? Then the bikes go to back of Airstream and Honda needs just to accommodate the Kayaks
Seems like a plan that would work and at a reasonable cost.

Also...

When we towed with the Nissan Mini van we removed the rear seat and the bikes went in there. The canoe went on the roof of the van.

Then when we got the car for a TV the expensive bikes went inside the trailer. A little inconvenient but the good thing about that was they were locked inside and they were never stolen. The canoe we could have put on the roof of the car but we didn't bother. The few times we wanted to go canoeing we just rented one at the camp sites.
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Old 05-03-2014, 12:31 PM   #9
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I sold my 34' Limited in July, 2013 (because of my age) so I am without a trailer, but I still lurk here a bit.

Our TV since 2001 was a '96 Dodge Cummins 5 speed manual, club cab. I bought it from a widow when the truck had 84K on it. I have absolutely loved this truck! It is a fantastic combination of power and fuel economy. With the 4.11 gears it doesn't do quite as well on fuel mileage as some but the power is awesome. Fuel mileage towing has reached as high as 18mpg (very rare), but most of the time was 14.5 16. It is noisy, but for the diesel enthusiast it is a sweet noise! I've never regretted buying it.

Since I'm not replacing my trailer I have no need of my truck so I have it advertised for sale ($8,700) in the Forum Classifieds. A complete description and photos are in the ad. Just sayin' . . . 1996 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins 2wd
Somebody is going to get a sweet deal there. Good looking truck....very hard to find them that age still that clean.
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Old 05-03-2014, 04:31 PM   #10
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Nothing wrong with putting bikes in the trailer. I have done that. It is a pain to put a bike in any vehicle other than a full sized van. The new minivans are not tall enough to put a bike inside standing up.


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Old 05-03-2014, 04:43 PM   #11
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We don't have as many bikes or as long a trailer, but we have a dedicated tow vehicle: 2002 Ford Excursion with 5.4L V8.. In addition to environmentalist glares, it gets ~15 mpg in normal driving and ~11 mpg towing a 7,000# trailer.. Also it feels like Queen Mary trying to ease into normal parking space in city or shopping centers, and too tall for parking garages with antenna on roof.. Cheaper to keep it on side of driveway under a cover and use it only when needed to carry 8 people or tow something... There are a lot of GMC/Chevy 2500 (3/4 ton) Suburban's or Yukon/Tahoe's or long-bed trucks that would work fine, with bike rack on roof or front hitch, and boat/kayaks on top in that price range (diesel or gas..).
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Old 05-03-2014, 06:40 PM   #12
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I went the route of dedicated tow vehicle then switched to a single vehicle. In my situation I saved money doing it. I sold my Jetta Sportwagen TDI that got 30mpg in city and now have a truck that gets 14 in town but I no longer have two insurance premiums either.
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Old 05-03-2014, 07:12 PM   #13
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I only drove compact 2x4 pickups for the longest time. I recently upgraded but before then I bought an 81 K5 Blazer to pull double duty towing the AS and surviving the winters here. I never got around to putting a trailer brake controller in it which would have helped but I never really felt the need.

Anything big that isn't rusted through can make a safe and economical dedicated tow rig and possibly be a lot of fun.

Good luck.
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Old 05-05-2014, 03:29 PM   #14
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We have, essentially, a dedicated tow vehicle - our F-250 pretty much exists only for towing. It's expensive, definitely, and I'm certain it would be cheaper to have only two vehicles.

However, a pickup is a pretty handy vehicle to have around, especially if you own a home.

We currently have three vehicles, and if something happened to my beloved Cougar, we probably wouldn't replace it immediately - I'd just drive the truck on days when we need to commute separately. (Usually we commute together in one car.)

So, I don't have any great answers for your question. Sorry!
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