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Old 09-19-2020, 09:13 PM   #1
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Smallest SUV with towing capacity

I’m a total newbie and so I apologize in advance for my “stupid questions” as I feel like I wasted my team studying coach RVs to figure out that lots likely don’t accommodate a car seat and we have a toddler! Im a bit bummed as I feel like I’m starting my research over after doing extensive RV coach research and I’m feeling a bit burnt out.

We now are likely looking at 22’ or 23’. My daughter has a medical device that needs to run 8-9 hours (each night) so we need a trailer that does this... I also need a different medical device but I won’t use it for the few days we are traveling if the AS wont accommodate it as my daughter’s medical device is priority.

Towing

Our current 2014 Audi Q5 TDI has a towing capacity of 4,400 so I was told we could tow 3,000?

A bit confused on why we should assume 80% of the 4,400?

Tow Vehicle

We are looking for the smallest SUV that could tow the right AS likely again 22’ or 23’ as long as it meets our health needs.

Based on size we are considering CPO BMW X5 (6,603lb for 2019 or 5,952 2018 model) or Mercedes Benz GLE 7,200 for 4matic)

The 2019 BMW X5 (194.3 length) and 2018 Mercedes Benz GLE (189.1 length)

We know that Q7 can tow (7,700lbs) but is longer compared to the other SUVs (199.6 length)

Advice

I would be interested in knowing what other SUVs we should consider and does the 6,603 - 7,200 lbs towing sound good enough for the 22’ or 23 ft AS?

Thanks for your advice and opinions!
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Old 09-19-2020, 09:59 PM   #2
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Ignore usa audi

In Canada our q5 sport with 3L supercharger supports 5000 lb pull and 500 lb tongue. We pull a 22fb sport

Another person on this site has the same SUV but pull a as FC 28 fb
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Old 09-19-2020, 11:09 PM   #3
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Smallest SUV would be like Ford Escape, etc. these cannot tow smallest Airstream. Ford explorers can tow up to 5,000 lbs but do we want to tow at max tow weight? People with safety in mind wouldn’t do that. Get Ford Expedition or such to tow up to 7300 lbs. the expedition can tow 23’ Airstream

Then again it’s up to you tow like you actually know what you are doing. .
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Old 09-20-2020, 02:56 AM   #4
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Thanks! I’ll have to explore the site more to see what I can learn about the capabilities of the 2014 Audi Q5! It would be great if it could tow a 22’
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Old 09-20-2020, 03:33 AM   #5
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A Jeep Grand Cherokee with a v6 tows 6200 and a v8 7200. Great tow vehicle and it’s comfortable and safe.
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Old 09-20-2020, 06:47 AM   #6
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Airstream tongue weight is generally 15%+ of trailer weight. The low tongue weight rating of many small SUVs is the limiting factor. I remember one in particular that boasted a 5000 pound tow capacity and buried in the fine print was a 100 pound tongue weight limitation.
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Old 09-20-2020, 06:57 AM   #7
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Also, you will need a separate, perhaps lithium, battery power supply to run your medical equipment for 8 hours, particularly in cold months. Airstream stock batteries are barely capable of running the propane heater fan for 8 hours.
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Old 09-20-2020, 08:57 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Imdakine1 View Post
I’m a total newbie and so I apologize in advance for my “stupid questions” as I feel like I wasted my team studying coach RVs to figure out that lots likely don’t accommodate a car seat and we have a toddler! Im a bit bummed as I feel like I’m starting my research over after doing extensive RV coach research and I’m feeling a bit burnt out.

We now are likely looking at 22’ or 23’. My daughter has a medical device that needs to run 8-9 hours (each night) so we need a trailer that does this... I also need a different medical device but I won’t use it for the few days we are traveling if the AS wont accommodate it as my daughter’s medical device is priority.
Given the priority for a medical device, consider always camping with shore power and carry a small inverter generator or goal zero type battery pack for backup.

Quote:
Towing

Our current 2014 Audi Q5 TDI has a towing capacity of 4,400 so I was told we could tow 3,000?

A bit confused on why we should assume 80% of the 4,400?
An excellent rule of thumb is to stay around 75% of manufacturers rated capacity. This provides a nice margin of safety in emergency situations where vehicle towing instability is the issue. Instability is not something one can perceive in normal towing where these vehicles feel very nice and sure. Instability occurs in emergencies where trailer and vehicle geometry becomes extreme and the combination no longer responds to driver input.

The Q5 and similar vehicles have serious issues with sway and oversteer stability when towing near their rated limits, but most drivers have no clue of the risks. The Audi engineers partially address this by encouraging low tongue weights of 10% and further provide guidance on ball and hitch geometry. This helps greatly with the more common oversteer issue but exaserbates sway instability. Thus those who wish to avoid the risk of going out of control in an emergency choose to follow the near 75% guidance, where more discretion also allows slightly higher and much more stable tongue weights.

Be very careful following advice from other drivers who advise, based on their experience that you vehicle is more capable than the Audi engineers advise. They are essentially saying they know better than the vehicle designers. If they tell you they have tested their vehicle for sway and oversteer stability at .4 g and 70mph and can confirm to you it is stable then fine. But if they just say it tows like a dream, that is nearly meaningless as the Q5 will retain most of its unladen characteristics.

Quote:
Tow Vehicle

We are looking for the smallest SUV that could tow the right AS likely again 22’ or 23’ as long as it meets our health needs.

Based on size we are considering CPO BMW X5 (6,603lb for 2019 or 5,952 2018 model) or Mercedes Benz GLE 7,200 for 4matic)

The 2019 BMW X5 (194.3 length) and 2018 Mercedes Benz GLE (189.1 length)

We know that Q7 can tow (7,700lbs) but is longer compared to the other SUVs (199.6 length)
These are all very good and excellent choices if you stick with a 23' and under trailer

Quote:
Advice

I would be interested in knowing what other SUVs we should consider and does the 6,603 - 7,200 lbs towing sound good enough for the 22’ or 23 ft AS?

Thanks for your advice and opinions!
If you don't mind risking a crash in an emergency, then follow the advise of others who tow over the OEM guidance. If you want a modest risk set up, choose something at the limit, follow the hitch geometry guidance and load the trailer with heavy stuff in the rear to bring tongue weight down to near 10%. Then add a hitch with excellent sway control like a Propride.

If you want a low risk set up, Choose a vehicle with 20-25% more towing capacity than you need. Any of the nice SUVs with 6500 or so capacity will give you a very nice set up.
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Old 09-20-2020, 09:01 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
Airstream tongue weight is generally 15%+ of trailer weight. The low tongue weight rating of many small SUVs is the limiting factor. I remember one in particular that boasted a 5000 pound tow capacity and buried in the fine print was a 100 pound tongue weight limitation.
^
X2
DW's GLS 550, 516ft/lb of torque, 449hp, with a 720lb TW Limit, with a matching 10%, 7200lb trailer weight.

Disclaimer...I would not tow any AS with a 10% TW, especially a single axle.

Bob
🇺🇸
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Old 09-20-2020, 09:18 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERT CROSS View Post

Disclaimer...I would not tow any AS with a 10% TW, especially a single axle.

Bob
����
^X3

Very solid advice. Airstream and really most American made travel trailers are built for function and comfort so their internal mass is evenly distributed the length of the trailer. This makes for a trailer with significant inertial moments. The inertia, when not centered around the trailer axle (0% tongue weight), pushes the tow vehicle rear axle out of a corner and if it is greater than the vehicle can handle, in an unusual circumstance if the ball angle becomes extreme, the setup will jackknife and roll. However if one moves the COG to the axle then the same inertia greatly exaserbates sway, a less common but equally severe instability. Airstream is aware of this trade off and takes measure to discourage reducing tongue weight by making it difficult to load a trailer for 10% or less tongue weight.

The low risk strategy is to choose a vehicle with significant spare towing capacity so you don't have to create a setup that is unstable in sway and then mask it with a sway control hitch. The problem with relying on a sway control hitch is that it can't and won't cover unusual situations like for example severe variable cross winds on winding steep downgrades. For these situations, you need a setup that is inherently stable. Airstream tries to help here by encouraging 15% tongue weights.
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Old 09-20-2020, 09:27 AM   #11
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Towing

I’ve always found it interesting when someone asks if their vehicle will tow something. Actually they can all be towed with a bicycle. However stopping it is another issue. So my ? Has always been. CAN I STOP IT !!!! With my wounderful little SUV or Tacoma pick up
I don’t want 6,000 of something behind me coming down a mountain road pushing my 3,000 lb vehicle. Even if everything has brakes
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Old 09-20-2020, 09:36 AM   #12
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Towing 23'

Try a Lexus 570. Safe, heavy, fulltime 4 wheel drive, and luxurious. Get one with 100,000 miles and it will easily last another 150,000.
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Old 09-20-2020, 09:50 AM   #13
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My $0.02 - Take look at the Porsche Cayenne. We have the Diesel which Porsche imported into the US from 2012-2016. Ours is a 2013 with CPO (certified pre owned) coverage. It has an Audi sourced 3.0lt Turbo V-6 and is rated at 7716 lb tow rating with a 625 lb tongue capacity. We tow a Nest at 3600 lbs and it is so easy to tow with it. Going going the highway you barely notice it is back there. Plus there is plenty of torque to pass.

Just make sure whatever Audi or Porsche you buy (if you go in that direction) get one that came with the tow package. Everything is nicely integrated and all you have to do is install the 7-pin connector (which is less than $25).

Also for a brake controller we went with the Curt Echo bluetooth version. It has worked great and does not require wiring.
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Old 09-20-2020, 09:50 AM   #14
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Our heavily modified 2015 Airstream 23D International Serenity scales 6,062 pounds with a tongue weight of 928 pounds. We towed it in the mountains with our 2007 Mercedes ML320 CDI (3.0L turbo diesel) with self imposed max speed of 55 mph to fit torque curve of engine. We added five 100 watt solar panels on the roof and have a 300 amp hour lithium battery. Lithium batteries allow use of 85% of rated power vs less than 50% for lead acid or AGM batteries.

The ML320 factory receiver was reinforced at CanAm in London, Ontario, Canada to be able to handle our weight distribution Hensley Arrow hitch.

You need to see power draw in watts of both medical devices to determine power needed for overnight use. The smaller trailers have little space for the power mods. We have a 600 amp hour lithium battery in our 2014 31’ Classic and there is no way it would fit into our 23D.

Suggest visiting an Airstream dealer to see the models in person. The trailers under 25’ are 8’ wide and the 25 and longer are 8’ 6” wide. That makes a significant livability difference with more than two people. Our 23D has the rear corner bed. A child could sleep on the sofa with minimal disruption. Dropping the dinette table every night to make a bed gets old fast.

Select desired trailer first, then find an appropriate tow vehicle second. Then check bank balance.
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Old 09-20-2020, 09:55 AM   #15
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I am surprised o one has mentioned the VW Touareg. It is rated for 7700 1bs and I’ve seen many posts of others like me that are very happy with that tow vehicle and it is a fantastic automobile- same chassis and engine as Porsche Cayenne. . I know a new model isn’t available in US but maybe a model a couple years old with low mileage. Also, VW has a new model that might work but I’m not familiar with tow capacity.
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Old 09-20-2020, 09:58 AM   #16
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Welcome Imadakine1! We are newbies as well and having reached out to the community, Re:towing just a Bambi 16 RB, we traded in our Q5 for a used 2019 Q8. The Q7 was too big for us and the Q8 has the same towing capacity and loads of comfort for us as we get a little rustier in our joints. It also gives us the ability to move up in TT size in the years to come. We’ve been researching tons on the two sway control systems recommended here:: the Propride Hitch sway controller and the Hayes. Glad to have you in the “newbie” community! Lisa & Peter
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Old 09-20-2020, 10:02 AM   #17
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The Touareg, Audi Q7, and Cayenne are the same platform and all will do a nice job pulling a 23 American trailer. Keep in mind the 7700 lb limit is guidance that applies to European designed trailers with low inertial moments and low tongue weights. It can also be arbitrary as it is set to coincide with European licensing regulations. The limit does not translate to the US market with any qualitative meaning.
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Old 09-20-2020, 10:03 AM   #18
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Regarding the power for the medical device, always assume the trailer park's electricity can be inconsistent or be turned off (especially if you're traveling in the Republic of California). So just in case (mandatory if you boondock), have with you a portable generator (Honda 2200 type) as a backup and/or think through adequate battery storage. Test them before you hit the road.

If you have shore-power for your daughter's device you should be able to run your device too. Just plug it into a different wall plug in the trailer. Only be careful on generator, etc. And remember that AC and refrigerator use a lot of current. So in an urgent situation prioritize wisely. You can also buy two Honda 2200 types of generators and connect them with a parallel wiring kit - run them at the same time.

Regarding tow vehicles, do not use the bare trailer weight as a guide. You will have people and stuff which will add several hundred pounds. Food and ice too. If the Audi is rated for the weight (with safety margin of 15%+), go for it. Their all-wheel drive is a stabilizing factor. But otherwise don't replace it with something marginally larger (Mercedes/BMW)...go with a substantial increase like the Lexus 570, a Tahoe, etc. You won't regret it.

Most importantly, enjoy your time with your daughter! Every dollar invested will produce a wonderful ROI.
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Old 09-20-2020, 10:19 AM   #19
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05 or later Jeep Grand Cherokee Hemi w tow pkg approx 7k lbs e class III hitch
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Old 09-20-2020, 10:25 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fbgairstream View Post
A Jeep Grand Cherokee with a v6 tows 6200 and a v8 7200. Great tow vehicle and it’s comfortable and safe.

Even better: you can get the Grand Cherokee with a diesel. You will have more torque, better gas mileage, and a motor that lasts longer. The VW Touareg others have mentioned can also be had with a diesel, and probably at a deal post VW diesel-gate. For the *very* smallest, I have a diesel Jeep Liberty (only available in the US from 2005-2006), but people get really angry when I mention it. I have it set up properly (hitch, brakes, etc.) and have towed the 25' thousands and thousands of miles with it (though my AS is custom and lighter than most other 25's).
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