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Old 11-22-2015, 12:48 PM   #1
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Towing with a 2011 Yukon Denali

Has anyone had any experience towing a 2016 27 FB International Signature with a 2011 Yukon Denali? My husband just surprised me with a new AS for his retirement. Hopefully, we will get to use it a lot! He is modifying our garage so we can store it at home which makes us both more comfortable with the investment.
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Old 11-22-2015, 01:22 PM   #2
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That Denali with its 403hp is very ample power. The short wheel base (unless it's an XL) could be an issue regarding sway control. I would double down on the WD hitch set up, something like a Hensley or Pro Pride should resolve sway issues. Also watch your weight limits as overloading could cause an issue. Welcome to the forum BTW & enjoy the new toy.
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Old 11-22-2015, 01:50 PM   #3
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Agree with Mrjkg. We tow with a short wheelbase (120") Ram Pickup with similar dimensions, weight and power. We were not totally happy with it until after trying two different hitch systems, we got a Hensley/ProPride hitch. Now tows beautifully in all traffic, weather and road conditions, absolutely rock solid stability.

Manage your loads in the truck keeping it heavy equipment forward of the rear axle. Manage your loads in the Airstream keeping well balanced and the heavy stuff over the axles. Learn to select the best transmission gear going down the road (probably 4th or 5th) to keep from constant shifting down for every hill, and leave it there. Downshift to climb and more importantly descend steep grades. It's good use of the transmission that makes these gas engines perform very well.

I think you will like the convenience and maneuverability of your Yukon Denali tow vehicle with and without the Airstream attached when operated within its capabilities.
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Old 11-22-2015, 01:51 PM   #4
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Hello, and welcome! The issue of what is an adequate tow vehicle is endlessly discussed on Airforums, and you will be alternately advised that your Yukon is half what you need or twice what you need. A lot of this ultimately personal decision will come down to your standards for "performance" and "margin of safety".

I will offer two things to consider:
1) given the weight carrying limits of your Denali (we tow with one), and all other half-ton TV's, depending on how much "stuff" you want to travel with that may become an issue, and
2) towing on flat land at sea level is very different than towing at elevation in the western mountains
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Old 11-23-2015, 10:37 AM   #5
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We have a slightly older version (1996 Tahoe 2-door). My Dad bought it new and equipped it with the tow package which means it has a factory installed hitch and beefed up engine cooling. Also it was pre-wired for towing. We have had zero issues with it pulling our 23' including the mountains of Colorado and even in snow in 4WD (a whole other story and not our decision and I recommend you avoid snow)
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Old 11-23-2015, 10:46 AM   #6
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I pull an 05 19" Bambi, 4500# with a 05 Yukon Denali XL. Best tow vehicle ever. No stabilizer needed, just a small antisway bar.
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Old 11-23-2015, 10:58 AM   #7
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Hi, We tow a 25' with the 2015 Yukon, 4wd, with tow package. Smaller engine than yours and it handles our trailer just fine. I took it to Can Am in London, Ontario to beef up the hitch and it handles beautifully. Enjoy!
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Old 11-23-2015, 11:23 AM   #8
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I tow with an '07 Yukon Denali XL, same 6.2 liter with the six speed. I find it to be an excellent tow vehicle. Airstream uses your truck for their Airstream 2 go rental program.
I have the same size and weight as you have, 2015, 27' Flying Cloud twin.
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Old 11-23-2015, 11:43 AM   #9
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I tow my 2000 Excella 25 with a 2011 Tahoe LTZ with no problem!! Read up on engine braking in the manual!! You can set a down hill speed with the brake pedal and engine brake very smoothly!! Tap the accel and you are back on throttle control. Test it out! My 2011 also has built in brake controller and hook up indicator. Hve been many places in Ca and AZ including Lake Tahoe with no problems. Bruce
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Old 11-23-2015, 05:11 PM   #10
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Looking at Yukon Denali XL 1500 6.2L V-8 403HP 417lb torque & tow 8,100 lbs. for our 23' Flying Cloud FB. Thought we wanted a 2500, but they're kind of rare. (Haven't found one yet.) Reactions? Comments?
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Old 11-23-2015, 05:51 PM   #11
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lindaebrewer -- we towed our 2008 23' Safari SE (today's flying Cloud) with the earlier stock 325 hp (6 liter) version Denali XL and it was certainly adequate. The newer 6.2 liter motor has quite a bit more hp and torque so in my opinion it will be a great combination for your 23' trailer.

I do question the adequacy of the half-ton chassis and power for the much heavier 27/28 foot Airstreams, but I am definitely biased towards higher performance.
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Old 11-23-2015, 07:37 PM   #12
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Hello, I have not read all of the above responses to your question but I know that anytime there is a question about tow vehicles asked on the forum you get bombarded with opinions. So take my response for what it is.......my opinion. A year ago we bought a 2015 28ft. Flying Cloud. I was told that towing it with my Infiniti QX 56 (tow capacity 8,900 lbs) would not be a problem. I towed the AS from Virginia to AZ and was never comfortable towing it, stopping was especially nerve racking. You should pay attention to "payload" how much you can carry above the GVWR of the trailer. I studied tow vehicle ad nauseum and finally purchased a GMC 2500 Denali Diesel with heavy duty tow package, this was probably "overkill" but I have never regretted the decision. Having the diesel is nice when stopping. The exhaust brake makes it almost unnecessary to touch the brakes when going downhill. The worst part of the decision was the costs of the truck but if I had it to do it again I would make the same decision. Safety is number one with me so I also purchased a Hensley Hitch, I may not do that again. There is a steep learning curve with the Hensley Hitch and the owners of Hensley Manufacturing have not been as customer service oriented as I would have hoped. The former owner of Hensley manufacturing sold the company a few years ago and I think that he now owns and operates ProPride. I would talk to both companies. My final suggestion is try towing with what you have for a while and talk to a lot of people before you make a decision to purchase something else. Another consideration is the transmission in your tow vehicle, with the 3/4 ton truck that is not a problem with an SUV or a 1/2 ton vehicle it maybe. I hope that this helps, people were very helpful to me when I was gathering information on tow vehicles so it's time for me pay it forward. Safe travels!
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Old 11-23-2015, 09:20 PM   #13
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2010 Yukon Denali experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by MHammy View Post
Has anyone had any experience towing a 2016 27 FB International Signature with a 2011 Yukon Denali? My husband just surprised me with a new AS for his retirement. Hopefully, we will get to use it a lot! He is modifying our garage so we can store it at home which makes us both more comfortable with the investment.
Welcome to the world of Airstreaming!!

We tow a 2013 Flying Cloud 25FB with a 2010 Yukon Denali (short wheelbase).

We removed the third row seats to gain extra cargo room and payload capacity (new models don't have removable seats, unfortunately, but I think your 2011 does have them).

The Yukon's built-in receiver flexes up a lot when using a weight distributing hitch (and you must use a weight distributing hitch). We took our Yukon to Can-Am RV in London, Ontario, where they specialize in setting up towing rigs. They welded in two pieces of angle iron to reduce the flex. I think you would benefit from a modification like this.

Overall, our Yukon is an OK but not great tow vehicle. We bought it and the trailer in 2013 and have towed about 14,000 miles. We keep the Yukon because it is more maneuverable and rides better compared to a bigger truck. Towing our combination, we do feel some wiggle from the trailer when we get passed by big/fast vehicle.

We started with a Blue Ox Sway Pro hitch. Most people who have this hitch like it. We felt too much sway/wiggle with it, so we replaced it with an EAZ-Lift Elite round bar hitch with dual friction bars. The EAZ-Lift is more work to hook up, but it provides a better sway resistance. I think the amount of flex in the receiver may be the reason the Blue Ox did not work well for us.

What to expect towing your trailer with your Yukon:

Use tow/haul mode when towing. Use "Drive" for normal (flatlands) towing; we keep our highway speed around 60-62 and the tranny stays in fifth gear.

I see you are in Colorado (so are we). You may want to manually select the gear when climbing in the mountains.

When descending from major passes (such as Eisenhower tunnel to Silverthorne), you MUST manually downshift to make the engine do most of the braking. For the first couple times you do a big descent like that, I suggest you put the tranny in "2" and coast in the right lane. You'll probably be doing about 40 and will probably not need to touch your brakes (unless you catch up with a semi going even slower). If you use "3", you'll have to use your brakes a fair amount.

Going up the big climbs: The gearing on the Yukon is more tuned to the flats. Acceleration is pretty good for freeway merges, etc. But you won't be able to
keep up with the speed limit on the real steep sections.

Good luck and enjoy your Airstream!
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Old 11-23-2015, 10:51 PM   #14
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Thanks all for the comments! We are having the Equalizer Anti-Sway/Weight Distribution Hitch installed at the dealer per their recommendation. I think we will try it out and see how the short Yukon tows the 27ft. Any thoughts on the Equalizer? It came highly recommended by the salesman.
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Old 11-24-2015, 06:27 AM   #15
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The 2013 Yukon Denali XL we are looking at has a "heavy-duty trailer package w integrated trailer brake controller." Does that mean we won't have to add an after-market brake controller? (That would be nice.)
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Old 11-24-2015, 10:09 PM   #16
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That's what it means. The trailer brake controller is built in and adjustable on the dash.
It works great.
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Old 01-02-2016, 12:05 PM   #17
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Hubby got nervous about our towing vehicle since we live in the mountains and he went out and bought a 2016 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD Duramax diesel with the Allison transmission. May be overkill, but now we know we are okay to tow the AS when it arrives. Now to modify the garage........we are making one of the doors larger and adding 8 feet on the back. Have to keep the new toy warm and cozy!
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Old 01-02-2016, 12:47 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Hubby got nervous about our towing vehicle since we live in the mountains and he went out and bought a 2016 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD Duramax diesel with the Allison transmission. May be overkill, but now we know we are okay to tow the AS when it arrives. Now to modify the garage........we are making one of the doors larger and adding 8 feet on the back. Have to keep the new toy warm and cozy!
Congratulations! Fabulous truck with all the capability and payload capacity you will need for a large Airstream and carrying plenty of items in the bed of the truck, as well.

In addition to the great pulling and hill descent control, the truck's payload capacity gives you lots of capability in bringing along the extras you may well want to have with you. We absolutely love ours and I'm sure you'll be thrilled with yours as well.

Here's our's during a trip to Colorado last fall.


One of the biggest potential drawbacks to towing with SUVs and 1/2 ton pickups (depending on what you're towing and what cargo you want to have along for the trip) is payload capacity. While these vehicles usually have enough power to pull with, they are usually surprisingly low in payload capacity (aka cargo capacity) if you're going to be pulling a large trailer.

You (your husband) needs to be well-educated on what cargo capacity is comprised of, add up all the weight that your personal requirements include (tongue weight, people, dogs, tools, camp equipment, grill, kayak, whatever... and stuff) then compare that sum with the cargo capacity of the tow vehicle. Important stuff to take into consideration. When we did this analysis with our 2015 Yukon Denali, we found that it did not have enough cargo capacity (payload) for our requirements, thus we traded for the Sierra Denali HD pickup. Glad we did.

Your unique needs will certainly differ from other peoples', thus only you can determine what cargo capacity requirements YOU have.
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