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Old 08-13-2020, 08:46 PM   #1
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2016 20' Flying Cloud
Lee , Massachusetts
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Weight distribution in 2017 BMW X5?

We have a Flying cloud, 20 footer. I am considering purchasing a BMW X5, 2017 or 2018. Does anyone know if I can use a weight distribution hitch? I am willing to put aftermarket hitch on. Some threads stated the original equipment is not sufficient.
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Old 08-13-2020, 10:11 PM   #2
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I'll take the bait...BMW doesn't recommend it (and for the F15 says no). Will you find people using one one, yes. Have I used one on my X5 (G05), yes.

Did I buy a truck to tow so I didn't have to worry, yes.
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Old 08-14-2020, 07:13 AM   #3
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Thank you. I have been researching the use of a premium SUV as a tow vehicle and daily driver for a while. It looks like a lot of people do it, but Audi, porsche, BMW either recommend against it or don't recommend it, or are at the best vague and unknowing about it.
Buying a car and then welding, reinforcing part of the undercarriage to accommodate, that goes against my grain.
That leaves Mercedes GLE/GLS, Land Rover products.
I was really hoping on the BMW option, I haven't seen any examples of mishaps, but the evidence of nothing is just that, nothing. Doesn't prove it is safe. It's too bad that there is no anecdotal collection of positive experiences, it would make me feel better. I am driving a BMW sedan now, and I would love another BMW product.
Thanks again for your input.
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Old 08-14-2020, 07:16 AM   #4
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Slidell , Louisiana
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the forum contains a lot of conversation about the X5 towing capability, hitch receiver mounting stiffness and strength and addition of Weight Distribution and sway control. The X5 will do a really really nice job of towing your trailer when properly set up.

If you want a top notch setup, you will want to shore up the mount a bit or replace it. Then you'll want a hitch with excellent sway control properties and modest, light, flexible and forgiving WD bars. You will want the hitch shank as short as possible so the ball is close to the bumper. All the threads converge on this as ideal.

You will find that you can use the factory mount with WD and have no issues and it will do okay for the anticipated range of tongue weights. You will find that people successfully tow that size trailer with no sway control and WD and I will tell you that as long as you stay below 60-65 you are unlikely to experience severe sway, but you are taking risks if you drive at 70 with no sway support. Lots more nuance about towing with an X5 or similar SUV's but this will get things started.
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Old 08-14-2020, 07:24 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobwes View Post
Thank you. I have been researching the use of a premium SUV as a tow vehicle and daily driver for a while. It looks like a lot of people do it, but Audi, porsche, BMW either recommend against it or don't recommend it, or are at the best vague and unknowing about it.
Buying a car and then welding, reinforcing part of the undercarriage to accommodate, that goes against my grain.
That leaves Mercedes GLE/GLS, Land Rover products.
I was really hoping on the BMW option, I haven't seen any examples of mishaps, but the evidence of nothing is just that, nothing. Doesn't prove it is safe. It's too bad that there is no anecdotal collection of positive experiences, it would make me feel better. I am driving a BMW sedan now, and I would love another BMW product.
Thanks again for your input.
You will find the Mercedes and Land Rovers are a different choice but not a better choice. The Porsche and VW and BMWs are the way to go using your list.
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Old 08-14-2020, 07:47 AM   #6
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2009 27' FB International
Indianapolis , Indiana
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In the same boat

I'm in exactly the same situation. 2018 BMW X5 but I need to add a hitch receiver and want a WD system, possibly set up by Can Am when the border opens. I'm concerned about anybody but BMW doing the wiring harness and will bite the bullet and have them install. But as you say, they don't recommend a WD on their design. I ordered a 20FT Caravel expected in February. My current plan is to have BMW install everything but the receiver, and then have the draw tite installed. Then I can do a light weight WD like the Camco Eas Lift Elite or Equalizer. Will take it up to can am to have it reinforced. Or I could just go BMW all the way including the receiver, see how it tows and swap out the receiver for the Draw tite. Ive got time so still investigating.
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Old 08-14-2020, 08:00 AM   #7
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Give Can-Am a call, they have partners in the US and they also may send parts and instructions for a local shop to do the mods. A good strong stiff receiver is very important to get the best setup. If you are able to use Can-Am get the shank and the hitch from them too. They have them dialed in for each vehicle so it's worth the extra for their expertise and customization and they will get you a hitch that is better suited for your situation than if you try to choose. Talk to them about your driving style and tolerance for noise, and stiffness so they will recommend one that fits you better.

Adding a quality brake controller is not too difficult on the BMW but I see your point.

A hitch swap will work too.
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Old 08-14-2020, 08:49 AM   #8
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I have a lot of experience towing. Everything from snowmobiles/atvís/UTVís/Boats and now an Airstream. My towing experience has been with fun nimble tow vehicles, Porsche Cayenne S, Ranger Rover supercharged and less nimble f150. At the time, I owned a Chaparral 256 SSI (26í boat/runabout) The dry weight was 5,600 with a 200lb tongue weight. Towing on the ball, no weight distribution or anti sway.

Porsche Cayenne: More than enough power to tow 5,600 lbs. stiff suspension adds to stability. Did a surprisingly good job pulling the boat, though the longest trip pulling was probably 150 miles.

Range Rover Supercharged (not the sport): Pulling power similar to the Cayenne, though the stability was nerve racking! This was probably due to having a softer suspension and shorter wheelbase. The longest trip with the Range Rover was from Minneapolis, MN to Tampa, FL. When I returned home, I traded the Range Rover in on an F150. I wouldnít buy a Range Rover if you plan on doing any long term towing.

F150: The Porsche, Range Rover and F150 accelerated the 5,600 lbs. similar. The difference was the confidence in the handling and stability.

Now letís talk about the Airstream... Travel Trailers Tow differently than anything else. My guess is a boatís hull design cuts through the wind and inevitably wants to go straight. A travel trailer moves with the wind. Either a gust or a fast moving vehicle, you feel it. The tongue weight is a whole other animal. Itís amazing what 860lbs. Feels like on the hitch. I picked up my 25FB using my 2019 F150 Limited. Being I have never used WD hitches in the past. I elected to tow the AS home on the ball. It was a windy 40 mile drive home averaging 60-65mph through the city. The F150 pulled it off, though felt like I was on the edge. I researched all the WD hitches out there, ended up going with a Blue Ox. I wanted a Hensley Arrow, though I couldnít get my hands on one prior to our first road trip. The Blue Ox Does a very nice job. It isnít noisy and works as it should. You still know the trailer is back there, where I have heard the Hensley eliminates any trailer feed back.
My opinion: If your going to do any amount of towing with a Travel Trailer, I would buy a pickup or big SUV. My F150 has 450hp, 10 speed trans., heated/cooled massaging seats. More than enough luxury!!! Plus you can throw your generator, kids bikes, solo stove...etc. into the back without worrying about the mess. I get it!!! I recently went round and round with the same dilemma. I love the new Jeep Gladiator. On paper it will pull the AS, then I can pull the windows and top when I reach my destination...woohoo!!! It isnít only the risk of destroying the drivetrain pulling my AS around the country. Itís surviving the unforeseen emergency maneuver when the unexpected happens. Your not only keeping your family safe...your making it safer for everyone on the road! Happy camping!!!!!
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Old 08-14-2020, 10:33 AM   #9
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2019 23' International
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Two weeks ago I purchased a Range Rover Sport HSE with the V8 engine, after going through the process of selecting a TV that would be fun to drive beyond just towing. We just got back from the initial week trip with our 23í International Serenity, using a Blue Ox WD hitch. So far so goodóactually great. Plenty of power and apparent stability. Between dealers, sales people, towers, owners, manualsóitís hard to figure out who to listen to.
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Old 08-14-2020, 11:22 AM   #10
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When you understand the advising persons motivations and expertise you can better judge the quality pf the advice. The Blue Ox is decent, it's what I currently use. for your setup a hitch with more sway damping would give you a better safety margin for sway. If you keep your speeds at or below 70 you should not experience any significant issue.
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Old 08-14-2020, 11:45 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s1000pre View Post
I have a lot of experience towing. Everything from snowmobiles/atvís/UTVís/Boats and now an Airstream. My towing experience has been with fun nimble tow vehicles, Porsche Cayenne S, Ranger Rover supercharged and less nimble f150. At the time, I owned a Chaparral 256 SSI (26í boat/runabout) The dry weight was 5,600 with a 200lb tongue weight. Towing on the ball, no weight distribution or anti sway.

Porsche Cayenne: More than enough power to tow 5,600 lbs. stiff suspension adds to stability. Did a surprisingly good job pulling the boat, though the longest trip pulling was probably 150 miles.

Range Rover Supercharged (not the sport): Pulling power similar to the Cayenne, though the stability was nerve racking! This was probably due to having a softer suspension and shorter wheelbase. The longest trip with the Range Rover was from Minneapolis, MN to Tampa, FL. When I returned home, I traded the Range Rover in on an F150. I wouldnít buy a Range Rover if you plan on doing any long term towing.

F150: The Porsche, Range Rover and F150 accelerated the 5,600 lbs. similar. The difference was the confidence in the handling and stability.

Now letís talk about the Airstream... Travel Trailers Tow differently than anything else. My guess is a boatís hull design cuts through the wind and inevitably wants to go straight. A travel trailer moves with the wind. Either a gust or a fast moving vehicle, you feel it. The tongue weight is a whole other animal. Itís amazing what 860lbs. Feels like on the hitch. I picked up my 25FB using my 2019 F150 Limited. Being I have never used WD hitches in the past. I elected to tow the AS home on the ball. It was a windy 40 mile drive home averaging 60-65mph through the city. The F150 pulled it off, though felt like I was on the edge. I researched all the WD hitches out there, ended up going with a Blue Ox. I wanted a Hensley Arrow, though I couldnít get my hands on one prior to our first road trip. The Blue Ox Does a very nice job. It isnít noisy and works as it should. You still know the trailer is back there, where I have heard the Hensley eliminates any trailer feed back.
My opinion: If your going to do any amount of towing with a Travel Trailer, I would buy a pickup or big SUV. My F150 has 450hp, 10 speed trans., heated/cooled massaging seats. More than enough luxury!!! Plus you can throw your generator, kids bikes, solo stove...etc. into the back without worrying about the mess. I get it!!! I recently went round and round with the same dilemma. I love the new Jeep Gladiator. On paper it will pull the AS, then I can pull the windows and top when I reach my destination...woohoo!!! It isnít only the risk of destroying the drivetrain pulling my AS around the country. Itís surviving the unforeseen emergency maneuver when the unexpected happens. Your not only keeping your family safe...your making it safer for everyone on the road! Happy camping!!!!!
That is why the Ford F-150 requires a WD hitch on weights over 5000 pounds and 500 pound tongue weight. Doesnít do well on the ball as you (and I) found out.
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Old 08-14-2020, 11:48 AM   #12
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I towed by 19 foot International with a 2016 BMX X5 (F15). I had it setup with an aftermarket hitch, the BMW OEM wiring harness, programmed by computer by a BMW Tech in NJ and used the Curt ECHO Blue Tooth Break Controller. It is an awesome tow vehicle, pulls and breaks well, all through Eastern US Mountains. The limitation for me was the weight load capacity. My hitch weight, loaded for camping is approximately 620 pounds, leaving me with only an additional 550 pounds for the occupants and stuff in the TV.

Thus I purchased this a Chevy Silverado 1500 with a 5.3 engine and advanced tow package that gives me an additional 800 pounds weight to carry.

I have neither WD or Sway Control on either and honestly it has not been an issue. The BMW was setup fine for distribution and is the Silverado, with my size trailer, sway is not an issue either even at 60-70 MPH.

What I will say however is that the BMW is by far the better towing vehicle. The engine is by far better and accelerated through the Asheville area interstate climbs or interstate 77 in Virginia effortlessly. The breaking is also excellent, assuming the break controller is set correctly and the handling and comfort is just better.

The Silverado struggles to accelerate and the transmission (8 speed) just not the same.

If it wasn't for the weight load I would stay with the BMW, so if that is not an issue and you can get the proper hitch setup, go for it. You will not be disappointed.
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Old 08-14-2020, 04:04 PM   #13
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2015 25' Flying Cloud
Stillwater , Minnesota
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Greetings, and welcome to the world of high performance tow vehicles.

My tow vehicle is a 2015 BMW X5d, mated to our 25’ rear twin. I am not an automotive engineer, nor a lawyer. I am merely a very satisified owner with lots of experience gained over eight seasons towing Airstreams. The first one was a 2012 19’ Flying Cloud, factory hitch reinforced at Can-Am, factory wiring harness, and an Eaz-Lift hitch that Andy T put me into after showing me the stresses being caused going in and out of gas station dips when using the Equalizer hitch. After a non-towing mishap by another driver that resulted in my 2012 X5d being declared a total loss, I experimented with a 2015 Silverado 1500 for about 18 months, including a trip from Minnesota to and from Newfoundland. I hated the truck, and dumped it to buy a used 2015 X5d.

I had a Curt receiver installed and strengthened per the Can-Am routine at a local automotive frame shop. The owner was excited to do the work; he considered it a natural off shoot to his motorcycle frame building work, and he did a fabulous job. I installed the BMW wiring module myself, and had my independent mechanic do the computer programming (about an hour’s labor) to enable all of the rear camera and other towing functions. I’m using Tekonsha’s RF brake controller, with the main module mounted on the Airstream A-frame. It has been flawless. However, like others have experienced, I needed to borrow another non-European vehicle to pair the plug-in cabin controller with the A-frame module. I used my brother’s truck, and it took less than 10 minutes.

Last summer we made a 10,988 miles round trip to Alaska with the BWM towing the Airstream. Totally problem free.

I’m not here to convince you one way or another. All I can recount is our own wonderful experiences with two BMWs towing Airstreams. The only thing thing I’ve done that’s different than probably 99% of the folks on this forum is live and drive German cars in Germany for 12 years. We came home eight years ago with that 2012 X5d and bought our Airstream six-months later. We’ve not looked back since. What the BMW brings to the party, as does the Porsche, Audi, M-B, etc., is a superb platform that’s made to drive and handle very well. And stop like nothing else around. I understand why the BMW engineers don’t talk about weight distribution, because they don’t use it in Europe. Not allowed. We have it. It works. My trailer weighs 7k on the road, and I carry about 800# on the tongue. The BMW likes it.

Good luck with your decision. See you down the road.

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Old 08-14-2020, 06:34 PM   #14
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Indeed, it is not the vehicle that is getting you down the road safely, its the combination of receiver mods, the hitch, the advice and the speed you choose.
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Old 08-16-2020, 09:28 AM   #15
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My son is getting a BMW hitch setup (and relevant towing stability control update) installed on his 2018 X6M and will be trying it out on our 20'. His rating is 6000/600 and the X5/X6 is higher than the M. We will be removing the propane tanks to get the tongue weight down to 600#. At any rate we can give you some idea after we try it out (like rear suspension squat, front rise, general towing manners) without WD. Not sure of timeline yet, but might be in time to help you.

FWIW the GVWR on the X6M is about 500 lbs greater than my GMC Canyon with rear axle rating about the same ~3500 lbs.
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