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MES1 11-16-2019 01:58 PM

New member shopping for FB to tow w 2015 x5 35d
Hi All,

Happy to be here. I am retired and just got a used BWM x5 35d.
It has the factory class III hitch on it with the 2 5/8 ball good for 6000# with 600# hitch weight.
I am thinking about a FB19, FB20 or FB23 as a full time RV for a few years to explore the western US and Canada in the summers.
I am new to RVs and will probably rent some airstreams to try them out before buying.
I am concerned about not having a sway control hitch or rear air suspension. Not sure that I should be or not. I hate to toss the $2000 factory hitch and spend the same for a sway control one.....
Any advice appreciated.

Thanks, Mark S

jcl 11-16-2019 02:22 PM

In terms of the vehicle capacity (not the hitch capacity) I would be comfortable up to the 27 foot models, so no worries with the models up you listed.

I think you are better off without the air suspension. You need a weight distributing hitch anyway, and the air suspension just complicates things.

There have been various factory (dealer installed) hitch receivers depending on year of vehicle production. You need one with a 2 square that can take WD equipment, not the one with the detachable ball.

If you go over 23 foot models you should consider getting the receiver strengthened.

You will also need a trailer brake controller.

The X5 is a great tow vehicle, but like other vehicles, it needs to be set up properly.

Good luck and happy camping

jeffmc306 11-18-2019 05:49 PM

Have some first-hand experience similar to your situation.
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Mark, welcome to the forums and Airstream community!

We also started with a similar vehicle, 2016 VW Touareg TDI then found a Flying Cloud 23FB. It was a perfect combo! That trailer has one of the lightest tongue weights- factory rated 467#. Actual was closer to 650 loaded.

We used a BlueOx SwayPro with 1000# bars. It’s a very affordable setup and capable. In fact, we transferred it to our 27’ Globetrotter and Ram 2500; just upgraded to 1500# bars.

We were getting 16 MPG with the Touareg towing. Not getting that with the Ram!

Good luck with your hunt for a trailer! Don’t hesitate to ask questions.


PKI 11-18-2019 09:16 PM

The 2015 did not come with an OEM receiver hitch or a 2-5/15" ball. It came with a solid 2" ball shank that is removable and there is a separate 2" box receiver that is only rated for bicycle rack use. A 2-5/16 ball shank was subsequently developed and released to resolve the AS ball size incompatibility.

So, step one is to find out exactly what you have. Do not panic. All is not lost. It's just that you need to fill in the info that BMW does not provide. JCL and others have offered much. Search for BMW X5 info on the tow vehicle and hitch sub-forums here on AirForums. Search hitch info on the Bimmerfest forum too. The back story is there if you look for the threads.

Not equipped with the air suspension is not a problem. With the air suspension, you have to weigh the rig at a CAT scale to verify proper weight distribution and balance. Air suspension levels the X5. It does not transfer weight. You need the WDH for that function. Do not tow an AS on the ball.

Congrats on the new to you X5. It is a great AS tow vehicle. We have the wimpy little 2015 x35i and are very happy towing our FC23FB.

Note, the FC20 is a great coach and has a dedicated thread to pitch it's value. The 22Sport is a little 23FB and has many advantages. The smaller size is great for a lot of applications. The 19 has a following too, but most folks buy a 25, as it is the most popular. Final choice is a matter of finding the floor plan that works best for you. Understand all before you sign.

Hope to see you down the road with a smile. :) Pat

Andrew T 11-19-2019 05:04 AM

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Hi Mark

Over the last 18 years we have configured hundreds of X5's for towing. They are one of the best handling tow vehicles you can own. As Pat said the correct weight distribution system is very important (it is important on all vehicles). If you like send me a picture of your hitch and I will be able to tell you what you need to do. I can also send you some information on how to configure your weight distribution system properly.

For newer 25' and over models we strengthen the factory receiver. There is a great shop in LA that can do that for you if you decide you would like a larger size. With the hitch reinforced the BMW easily handles any size Airstream.


panamerican 11-19-2019 07:58 AM

The ball size required is 2 5/16, the weight of a 23', which IMHO is a really nice trailer and it has dual axles, which is always a plus in my book is about 6000lbs wet. From what I've read the X5 has about a 6600lb tow rating.

You will in all likelihood have to replace that hitch. As has been pointed out the hitch weight is rarely as low as mentioned in the documentation and even with weight distribution (which is really required for over 5k lbs (my opinion), you are gonna be pretty close to maxing out that hitches ability and the last place you want to find that out is on the highway. My trailers have always exceeded those hitch weight numbers as many here can also attest.

Keep in mind that on the flat lands you will be fine (provided you really investigate that hitch), but IMHO, moving a 6000lb RV with a 6600lb tow rating, understanding that cargo and passengers in the vehicle are deducted from tow capacity, you are near or at the max for that setup (X5 and 23'). Might not be a setup I'd want to take to the Rockies.....unless you went with a smaller trailer....but I really like the 23 footers. Best of both worlds (small vs big trailer).

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