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Old 10-29-2017, 04:25 PM   #1
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Help us decide on a tow vehicle

So here it is; we have not bought anything yet but we have a plan. 2019, full time rvers, most likely 27’ range Airstream. Straight up question, we are thinking suv but open. Please give your advice and expert opinions: how big? Engine tow capacity, etc. plain talk. Thank you so much in advance.

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Old 10-29-2017, 04:50 PM   #2
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Help us decide on a tow vehicle

You are about to get a ton of opinions. Here is the first one, in simple terms.

A large 1/2 ton SUV such as the new 2018 Ford Expedition or Infiniti QX80 could make for a great tow vehicle, but typically SUVs in general have less “payload”(total weight that you can safely load onto or into the vehicle including ~1000lb of trailer tongue weight). So although they make for great vehicles when driving around when not towing, you will be limited to how much “stuff” you can bring with you in the tow vehicle as compared to other tow vehicle options.

If you are going to be full timing you will likely want to have “stuff” with you in the TV - like a generator, outdoor gear, maybe some bikes and a bike rack, etc.. To safely carry a larger amount of “stuff” in or on the tow vehicle, you would need to consider the move up to a 1/2 ton pickup with heavy tow package, or a 3/4 or 1 ton Ton pickup truck. Chevy/GMC, Ford and Dodge Ram are really the choices here in the 3/4-1 ton field.

The bonus here with a 3/4 or 1 ton pickup truck, especially if you choose a diesel, is better brakes / stopping, more power, more weight in front of the trailer, a longer wheelbase, better gas mileage (with Diesel engine) and longer range between fill-ups due to larger fuel tanks. These attributes tend to lend themselves to more of a “stress-free” towing experience.

Having towed both a 25’ and a 30’ airstream for about 30,000 miles with both a 1/2 ton SUV and now a 3/4 Ton truck, if I were full timing, I would prefer to have the truck platform. But that’s just me.

Good luck with your decision - fun times and exciting times!

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Old 10-29-2017, 05:00 PM   #3
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A word for the "5/8th" ton pickup. The Nissan Titan XD will tow 12000 lbs and carry 1800 (diesel) or 2200 (gas) and has a 5 year/100000 mile nose to tail warranty.

I have the diesel version and I love it BUT if I had it to do over again, I might buy the gas version to avoid the joys of fuel filter changes and DEF refills.

Just rolling up on 20k miles and it has never been back to the dealer.

My first generation Titan (2004) had 213000 miles on it when I traded it in last year and everything worked but the CD player. It never failed us on the road. It was a big old gas hog (10.5 mpg towing on average) but had no other faults.

With a "camper top", you get to have your stuff out of the weather but not in your living/space as you would with an SUV.

Just a thought...
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Old 10-29-2017, 05:51 PM   #4
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I really think you need to narrow down your trailer chose before asking about a TV.

If you really want the best advice I would get a hold of Can-am RV in Ontario Canada as they are the renowned experts for modifying hitches and setting up trailer packages. Andrew would be only too happy to send you a list of vehicles that could tow what lengths of trailers he would recommend. Get him to also note those vehicles that don't require modifications to the hitch and those that do. You can ask him how much the modifications are to a vehicle you are considering closer to the buying point.

The list will surprise you as last winter he towed a 30' AS with a Chrysler 300C.

Even has a 300C towing a 34' AS in his avatar picture.

Note. the Canadian dollar is worth $.75 US; so for every Canuck dollar, you only need .75 US. A $1,000 dollar Canadian transaction will cost you $750.00 US.

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Old 10-29-2017, 06:52 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Elkhounds View Post
So here it is; we have not bought anything yet but we have a plan. 2019, full time rvers, most likely 27’ range Airstream. Straight up question, we are thinking suv but open. Please give your advice and expert opinions: how big? Engine tow capacity, etc. plain talk. Thank you so much in advance.
You would be amazed how big the 27' feels when towing. Get a good WD hitch and a nice big truck, you'll be glad you did.
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Old 10-30-2017, 12:03 PM   #6
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Old 10-30-2017, 12:28 PM   #7
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I'm with Country Boy on this. You will get every vehicle imaginable suggested to you, from a Smart Car to a Rolls Royce. Stick with 3/4 ton, diesel is better than gas. Ford, GM and Dodge have good options. A short bed with a cap will give you fantastic carry capacity even with a big trailer.
Good luck!
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Old 10-30-2017, 12:45 PM   #8
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A word for the "5/8th" ton pickup. The Nissan Titan XD will tow 12000 lbs and carry 1800 (diesel)

I wish my Titan XD Diesel had a 1800 LBS payload. The OP asked for straight talk. Here's the straight talk on payload as I see it. Do not believe the payload and towing capabilities as "advertised" on vehicles. Advertised payloads do not include the weight reductions for optional equipment. Look for a "payload" sticker on the actual vehicle you are going to buy.

My Titan XD Diesel 4x4's actual payload's sticker states only 1377 LBS including a "skinny" driver, not me! My actual empty truck with no driver or passengers weighed on a CAT scale can handle a total 1500# of payload. That 1500 LBS can just squeak by in my case and severely limits what I carry in my truck. The truck only carries me, wife, dog, generator, propane stove, propane grill, weight distribution hitch, a few sodas and crackers and my Flying Cloud 25's tongue weight. Anything more in the truck than listed above and I exceed the truck's payload rating.

Payload doesn't matter to some posters on this sight, but I choose to buy a vehicle that can stay under payload while towing my 25'. This is a heated topic on Air Forums that gets discussed weekly. Here we go again!
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Old 10-30-2017, 01:00 PM   #9
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If you are full timing, the Bigger, the Better and the Safer! Do not be caught short on truck payload. Any of the 3/4 ton trucks with gas or diesel would be the best choice. Maybe even a 4X4 if you are going into the mountains or off road.
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Old 10-30-2017, 01:08 PM   #10
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Ford F-150, 3.5L ecoboost with 10 speed transmission, Max Tow package.
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Old 10-30-2017, 01:17 PM   #11

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THE Question....

We purchased a 27FC a year ago. In anticipation of that purchase, and on the recommendation of several friends--one of which who had a very similar AS and the same tow vehicle--I purchased a Toyota Tundra 4WD iForce 5.7l Platinum as a tow vehicle. We LOVED the truck, and so did our three Standard Poodles (the rear seat back folded down giving them plenty of room). The truck had a hard tonneau cover for stowing our generators and chairs and barbecue safely. It was a GREAT truck, but we live in Colorado, and towing the trailer in the Rockies on US and State Highways was a white-knuckle affair for me. No matter what I tried I couldn't keep the engine and transmission from continually up-shifting/down-shifting on mountain passes, and I just didn't feel like the truck had the brakes I needed, either.

If I was driving in the East, I feel the truck would have been more than enough. But, we live in and travel the West, predominantly, and I just needed more truck. I traded the Tundra in for a Ram 3500 with Cummins diesel, and it's a night and day difference towing. The fuel mileage is a little better, and the acceleration when I need to pass or get out onto a freeway in traffic is just great. The exhaust brake and the truck brakes are more than adequate. I sometimes forget I'm towing a trailer (which ISN'T good--I know!), but it's really barely noticeable.

The wife drive it through the Bighorn National Forest for the first time a couple of months ago--and raved about how easy it was to drive, and she was very worried about braking on downhill stretches when she got behind the wheel. No problems--and she feels very comfortable driving the vehicle.

I was worried about diesel exhaust fumes and getting fuel on my clothes/hands when fueling. The new low sulfur fuel with DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) is great--no smoke, limited fumes. And I carry some wipes if I get any fuel on my hands (which happens rarely).

It takes some getting used to--driving a Diesel vehicle. The RPMs are very different, but the biggest thing (which I like) is the braking. I can also just set the cruise control and forget it--something which I could only do on flat stretches of highway with the Tundra. The Tundra was GREAT going North out of Phoenix on the Interstate towards Flagstaff--as long as I was able to keep the speed/RPMs up. Get stuck in traffic or behind a truck, and it was up-down-up-down-up-down trying to maintain a speed, something I can't tolerate in a vehicle as I feel it is not good for the engine/transmission for long stretches.

The 3500 (1-ton) is a little overkill for the application, but it was a GOOD deal and the Megacab has a lot of room for the dogs. It came with Ramboxes (look them up!) and they are VERY convenient. I have been finishing our basement, buying lumber and plywood and drywall, and it all fits nicely in the truck (the bed is about 51 inches wide, and a little more than 8-ft long with the tailgate down).

I liked the Ford, but the rear seat area just wasn't large enough for our brood. And, the Chevy--well, just read too many bad things about fuel quality and warranty problems.

The DEF thing isn't really bad at all. Takes all of five minutes to open the container and use the included nozzle to empty into the "blue" tank. And, at $12 for 2-1/2 gallons, it's not all that expensive, either. (I frequently find it on sale for $9.99, sometimes a little less, and snatch one when I see it.)

The 3500 rides a little rough--on rough roads/streets--when not towing, but then I don't drive it daily, so it's not really an issue. When towing, it rides like a luxury pick-up.

I miss the Toyota; it was a great truck. But, for our needs, in our area of the country, and with out trailer, it just wasn't for us. I am a diesel convert, and at this point I'm not looking back. Power, torque, braking (mechanical and engine)--I probably wouldn't have a gas engine tow vehicle unless I'm towing an ultra light-weight trailer or a pop-up/hybrid. For these Airstreams, diesel is the way to go.

Hope this helps! The Tundra is a FINE vehicle, and if they had a diesel model I'd be first in line (probably!). But the Ram 3500 (or 2500) Megacab is just the right vehicle for us and our usage.

I tow with an Equalizer weight distribution hitch (it came with the trailer) and I have never had an issue with sway or winds, even with the Toyota. A good weight distribution hitch is really necessary (though many people say it's not wit a 1-ton truck).

Welcome to the Forums! And Airstreaming is a great way of life! You're gonna love it--just be prepared for all the opinions, on any topic you pick. But the two most highly argued topics (with the most widely varied opinions) are tow vehicles and weight distribution hitches. You have been warned....!
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Old 10-30-2017, 01:30 PM   #12
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I would *strongly* recommend heading over to a dealer. Spend a bunch of time sitting in this or that model trailer. You may find that a larger or smaller trailer suits your needs. It took us more than a bit of time to work this all out. We'd been "casually shopping" (= no will to sign on the bottom line) for a long time. Despite that, it took a while sitting in this one or that one we really did not narrow into the AS we finally bought.

This is by no means to say you need to *buy* the trailer right now. As long as you are quite sure of the trailer, picking a TV works. There are a lot of models in the 26 to 29 foot range. Even with a rough idea, there are some decisions to make.

In a lot of ways, you will *never* have enough room for "everything". That's true full timing or doing weekend trips.There is always going to be a "when in doubt throw it out" process. Things will get fine tuned as well. Somehow I doubt the fine tuning process ever ends. You can come up with a list of toys that will not fit into two TV's and two trailers ... I have data on this Equally, there are people who full time in some *very* small rigs.

I'll toss another category into the mix: Full sized vans. Effectively what you have are truck drive trains / axles matched with something that is usually lower to the ground and shorter from the bumper to the rear axle. Both are good things for stability when towing. They also give you room to stow this and that. Is it room to stow the things on *your* list? That depends on your list The downside is that finding one that makes sense is not super easy. Having a bit of time is a good thing in this case.

If your list includes "we have to bring both of the dirt bikes", that changes things. If you have to bring a Boston Whaler 270 at 28' long and 7,000 LB tricked out, welcome to two TV's. Each of us has our own unique list of what does or does not get included. This can be as much about the list of extras as the trailer.

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Old 10-30-2017, 01:53 PM   #13
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Tow vehicle

Originally Posted by Elkhounds View Post
So here it is; we have not bought anything yet but we have a plan. 2019, full time rvers, most likely 27’ range Airstream. Straight up question, we are thinking suv but open. Please give your advice and expert opinions: how big? Engine tow capacity, etc. plain talk. Thank you so much in advance.
We are new RVers and have just towed our 2016 Eddie Bauer from LA to Nashville.
We have a 2017 F250 with 6.2l gas. The trailers towed like a dream even through I70 the whole of Colorado. No problems with power at 11,000ft elevation. We also experienced 40-50 mph crosswinds in Kansas. The truck/trailer combo never swayed (e qualizer hitch) or felt loose. Very stable combination. Diesel does get better mileage, but at mostly 2.30/gal it would be over 100k miles to break even cost wise. Gas had no problem starting on 20* mornings and is a much simpler engine. If cost is no issue, go diesel, but for my money I’m quite pleased with gas to pull a trailer of this size.
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Old 10-30-2017, 01:57 PM   #14
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Also being that the Airstream has limited cargo space, the short bed F250 offers a lot of additional cargo space.

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