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Old 07-03-2018, 06:50 PM   #1
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2012 27' FB Classic
Chelmsford , Massachusetts
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2012 27 foot AirStream Classic - 1/2 ton vs 3/4 ton Truck Question

Hey Everyone,

My husband and I just purchased a 2012 27 Foot AirStream Classic w/ has a GVWR of 9,000 lbs. We have been looking at 2017-2019 trucks to purchase as a towing vehicle. The preference has been a half ton as an everyday driver as well but even with the brand new models with all the bells and whistles for towing we question if they are enough truck if we are traveling cross country.

We have been actively camping for two years with 25 foot with a GVWR of 4500 so a 9000 lb Airstream is a big difference. We just want make sure we are choosing appropriately for our safety and all others on the road.

Trucks we have looked at in the 1/2 ton market include

Chevy 1500 EcoTrec 3 6.2 V8 w/ towing package - max towing 12500
Dodge Ram 1500 5.7 V8 hemi w etorque - max towing 12750
Ford F 150 that they say can have max towing 13,250

We also have read up on the Nissan Titan XD

Any help would be appreciated

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Old 07-03-2018, 07:18 PM   #2
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2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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I can at least talk about the Ford.

They more or less made the distinctions between the F-150 / F-250 / F-350 much more "blurry". They now share the same cab and a lot of the same options. As you move up, things like springs and axles do change. The "13,500 tow" F-150 is actually an F-250 in all but name. If you have an issue with the 250 as a daily driver, that 150 will be equally troublesome. On the flip side, since there isn't as much difference as there once was, the F-250 may not be a big deal to you.

Yes, it's confusing.


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Old 07-03-2018, 07:20 PM   #3
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2011 19' Flying Cloud
Santa Ynez , California
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For me the only choice would be a 3/4 ton truck. Even if a 1/2 ton penciled out payload wise the brakes will not .
We camp in the Sierra Nevada and steep grades are the norm. Heck even a trip to Death valley will put you on an 11% grade over Towne pass.
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
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Old 07-04-2018, 07:46 AM   #4
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If safety is the concern, then a pickup is the worst choice. You both need to do the research which highlights this. Articles by Andrew Thomson are the easiest as he formalized the process any of us went thru fifty and more years ago. He is also consultant to SAE and to Airstream on Towing. His dealership has set up over 10,000 tow rigs. See the Can Am RV website to start. He also posts here as Andrew T. Read all of his posts.

A car is the easiest to tow with.

1990 35' Silver Streak Sterling; 9k GVWR.
2004 DODGE Cummins 305/555; 6-manual; 9k GVWR.
Hensley Arrow. 12-cpm solo, 19-cpm towing (fuel)
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Old 07-04-2018, 07:52 AM   #5
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2018 28' International
Fayetteville , Georgia
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The 1/2 tons will work, but you will be much happier towing with a 3/4 ton diesel. Payload is your biggest issue. Look at the sticker on the door jamb.
I do not know of any current production “car” that is capable of towing 9000 lbs.
Get the diesel 3/4 ton.
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Old 07-04-2018, 08:39 AM   #6
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2018 30' Flying Cloud
South Hero , Vermont
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I have a Chevy 1500 with the 6.2 and Maximum towing package. My gvw is over 2000 lbs. Great truck as daily driver and it tows my FC30rbt with no issues.
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Old 07-04-2018, 09:00 AM   #7
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Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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One interesting factoid: Based on people actually looking at the part numbers on the systems, the actual brakes on the F-150 / 250 / 350 are not as different as you might think.

If you decide to go with the F-150, the 3.5 gas seems to be the most common choice. On the bigger trucks gas / diesel is a big deal. The difference between the two is not as great as it once was. The diesel costs more and weighs more. If a specific "payload" number ( regardless of the relevance of that number) is the target, going diesel will push you to a much larger truck.

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Old 07-04-2018, 10:19 AM   #8
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2018 27' International
Jacksonville , Arkansas
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I've got a 2017 GMC 1/2 ton with the 6.2 and trailering packages, and a 2018 Signature 27fb. Have pulled from Arkansas to LA and back; no problems. Averaged 13.8 mpg.
That said, the recommendations for a 3/4 ton truck are quite valid. My payload is close to maximum with this trailer, and I don't have much surplus capacity on the drive axle. This means I've got to watch the "extra" cargo we may want to carry.. So far, just the wife, dog and I; not many "extras" in the truck bed.
Also, we have the built-in brake controller and once it got calibrated, the rig stops easily, and yes, that capability has been challenged a couple of times. I STRONGLY recommend a built-in brake controller as it merges with the other computer monitoring devices in the truck.
IF you plan to have boats, ATVs, Motorcycles and other "weighty" cargo, the payload of a 1/2 ton will be maxed out, and the ride comfort will suffer (along with the stress on the chassis). Pulling and stopping the weight, and the hills and valleys, will work fine.
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Old 07-04-2018, 10:21 AM   #9
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Renton , Washington
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We are currently towing a 2009 27FB Int Signature with a 2013 F150 with the 3.5 EB engine. Our trailer weight is maybe 1500# lighter than yours. We’ve towed over 7,000 miles around the west and SW, including Yosemite, Bryce and 9%grades in Death Valley. Our payload is only 1100# so we have to watch what goes into the truck bed and tongue weight from the trailer. The F150 handles the weight of the trailer okay but we do get porpoising from time to time. Without Diesel engine braking you have properly watch your speeds on long descents and I upgraded my brakes after the Death Valley grade.

We are considering trips longer and farther than last last winter’s 2-1/2 months so we are thinking about a 3/4 ton truck or selective upgrades to the F150 to make it handle the weight a little better. We will want to carry more stuff with us in the truck. We’ve had a couple of emergency situations where the F150 and trailer performed well but I look well down the road and have reacted before the cars in front of us so that helps. All that being said, the F150 works well but I think the F250 may give us a slight edge.
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Old 07-04-2018, 10:24 AM   #10
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I have an F150 3.5 ecoboost with max tow haul. There is definitely a difference between an F150 3.5 ecoboost and an F250 as far as comfort. I have driven both. You don't need a diesel by the way. And if you think about getting a diesel I would go with the Dodge Ram Cummins. A much better engine for the long term.

1. F150 Ecoboost gets far better mpg for daily driving. I am an appraiser and mpg is a big thing for me. Right now I am averaging 22.8 mpg on a daily basis with my Ford F150 crew cab. The ride is very comfortable.
2. The stability of an F250 is going to be better for towing. And I didn't like it as a daily driver since it is too stiff. However I found that with my Propride Hitch stability is greatly improved. Towing my 28' AS with the Propride makes all the difference.
3. F250 will give you more towing capacity and better stability. The F150 will be better as a daily driver. The question: How much will you be towing it? And where are you planning to tow it? If you are going to tow a lot I would go with the F250. The gas F250 is very very good in towing up hills. Look at the gauntlet test on Youtube. It gets very high marks. Also the gas will give you more payload.
4. I'm contemplating a diesel only because of the engine break if I go to the mountains much. The Nissan XD diesel has no engine break. Go figure. But it stinks for towing. The F250 gas did far better on the gauntlet test than the Nissan XD diesel. In my opinion the Ram 2500 with the cummins diesel is a better engine than the F250 diesel. The cummins has been around a long time and is tried and true. There's a reason cummins is the standard for diesels of all types. Also if you look around you can probably get a Ram Diesel for not much more than a F250 gas.

So based upon your post I say it sounds like your pretty active as a camper. I would go with the F250 gas or the 2500 Ram diesel. Even though I have an F150. But I don't camp that much yet. When I do it will be either an F250 gas or a Ram 2500 diesel. Leaning toward the Ram2500.

And by the way. The Ram 2500 diesel rides pretty decent. And my son (a diesel mechanic) says you can do an after market add on to increase the mpg of the cummins diesel for about $675.

Good luck. Tough decision.
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Old 07-04-2018, 11:01 AM   #11
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Our F-150

We purchased a 2017 f150, 2wd, extended- not twin cab. Twin turbo with advertised 13k towing capacity. Shortly thereafter we came upon a 28 Safari SE that we could not pass up. We are just back from our first trip through Northern Az and Utah, pulling on steep grades in 100+ temps. We are about 7800 lbs with the Safari loaded. Pulled great and handled steep downgrades just fine. We also had some 30 knot crosswind gusts coming home. This truck got about 13.5 mpg and Never broke a sweat. A very important variable- our 2008 Safari came with a Hensley hitch. It makes a phenomenal difference when it comes to sway control, braking and all around handling. Our 3rd Airstream, but first Hensley. Will never tow with anything else.
Another 1500 lbs? Can't say, but perhaps this info helps you a little.
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Old 07-04-2018, 11:08 AM   #12
2014 27' FB Classic
Livingston , Texas
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We Pull Our 27FB with a ToyotaTundra

We bought our 27FB instead of a longer unit knowing that it was about as heavy as we cared to pull with our 2007 Tundra with Tow Haul package. We've used our Tundra to pull our 27FB 100K+ miles over the last five years with no problems and have never regretted our decision. We love its overall reliability (240K miles with no major problems), tight turning radius (especially when we are not pulling) and being able to switch to manual downshifting mode when going down steep and curvy roads.

Having said all that, it's important to know that we all have different driving requirements. While we are comfortable with our self-imposed 60 mph maximum speed and letting the Tundra 'find' its own speed up steep grades, you might not be. If you want to drive 70 mph up steep grades and have the money, buy a 3/4 ton.

If cost is a factor and you identify with our thinking, a 1/2 ton with sufficient weight specs and tow package, e.g. Toyota Tundra, should be sufficient.
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Old 07-04-2018, 11:36 AM   #13
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2016 30' Classic
Hot Springs , Arkansas
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1/2 or 3/4 Ton

No interest in perpetuating this debate but I’m available to tell you about our experience pulling a 30’ Classic with a 15 Sierra 1500, 6.2, Max Trailering Package. DM, call or text 870-866-2052.

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Old 07-04-2018, 11:53 AM   #14
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Woodinville , Washington
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I met a couple at the recent Vintage Airstream Rally in Bend, OR, who were pulling their Airstream 34 (yes, 34) with a newer Ford F150 3.5 Eco, and, despite my amazement, they said their F150 pulled their 34 just fine, no problems. While I'm of the "bigger is better" persuasion (and pull my 27 FB with a Ram/Cummins 3500), I guess it can be done with something less.

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"Aurum": 2018 Ram/Cummins 3500
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