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Old 11-21-2012, 02:39 PM   #1
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2005 31' Classic
Garner, , North Carolina
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Which is better to have 4x2 or 4x4 as Tow Vehicle?

Hello to forums. New guy here. have been reading for the past month or so gaining a wealth of knowledge. thanks to all..

Not ready to get on the road fulltime just yet. Looking some 5-7 yrs down the road for that. Did do tent camping years ago when kids were young but did not like all the stuff you had to bring along.

having sold Timeshare in the 80's i was up on that concept and bought a "used" timeshare unit in South Africa in '99. In 2003 I got another one in SA and we traveled the east coast from NH to Florida (mainly FL, disney, universal etc) staying in real nice luxury condo units. If you have taken a timeshare tour you know what i am talking about. ( i learned a lot about time share at

Now the kids are older, one started college this year (NCSU) and other in HS first year. My wife mother bought a camper set up in area near beach of NC called Goose Creek campground last year and we liked the idea of RVing.. I thought more about going to different area to stay not the same area each time and seeing airstreams years ago also thought they were "way cool". I found this site and have gotten to read a lot of stuff along the way.

So now i am trying to get up a set up or get more info on proper TV and other stuff along those lines,, ie. WD hitches, tires and looking at 25-28 ft unit for the most part due to weight issues.

I think about TV's i have been looking more at pickups but have seen units like the tahoe/yukon as being a good TV it appears. you an get them in 2 or 4 wheel drive and wondered which was the preferred version, or is there something better that is not real expensive.. and gas over diesel.

sorry for the long post

Carl, Raleigh NC
2-24-16 got a 2005 Classic 31D check it out for good rental deals
2003 F-250 SD, CC, 7.3L PowerStroke
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:02 PM   #2
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Hi Carl and welcome

Your time frame is too far out to be buying now. Lost will change in 5 to 7 years

When the time comes you will be the only one that can make the decision depending on what you want to do with the TV, off road, beach,Disney Land or high end resorts campgrounds.

Keep reading and ask question till you get closer.

My advice I often offer new campers is NEVER buy NEW as you will find things you want in your rig within the first year that just are not there. You may want more storage and less eye catching trim from a french whore house.

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Old 11-21-2012, 03:05 PM   #3
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My vote is the 4x4 one. There has been several times when it was needed to back the trailer up and also when on wet grass! You do not need it very often, but when it happens, it sure is nice to have JMHO
Julia & Bob
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:51 PM   #4
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I love my 4x4, we have snow here in Canada and I can't get stuck even if I try. I've stayed in some muddy places, and rocky sandy places where the 4x4 has come in handy.

However, for travelling down the Interstate 4x4 has some disadvantages.
Geater ground clearance means a higher center of gravity and poor handling, rougher ride, a higher tailgate to load in to and higher cab to climb in too.

4x4 has lots of expensive moving parts that wear out and the added weight means lost fuel mileage.

My Flex is all wheel drive so it's good in the snow, a good vehicle around town and solo on the highway and a great tow vehicle for a smaller trailer. It is not however anygood off road, and the tow rating would not be sufficient to tow the larger Airstreams.

If I were buying a pickup or truck based SUV specifically for towing a large trailer on Highways, and i didn't live where snow was a concern I'd probably buy a 2 wheel drive Diesel.
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Old 11-21-2012, 04:42 PM   #5
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Buy A 4x4 if ya want to carry around the extra weight that cost fuel mileage and in the life of the truck you may not use more than 2 or 3 times. Dont listen to those who think they absolutly have to have a 4x4. They may need em cause they are where it snows alot.
If I were buying again it would be the brand of your choice, 2x4 long bed,single wheel,(rear end ratios are different from 4x4 and 2 wheelers and duallys and single wheel,unless you special order) crewcab,desiel.When properly serviced and driven correctly(they are differnent than gas) They will last the rest of your life and beyond. I didnt need a 1ton,I bought it with another purpose in mind,but now its our daily driver and TV.Ours now is 11 years old with 90k miles,the maintiance has been quite low as I do all my own work. GOOD LUCK WITH WHAT EVER YOU DECIEDE.
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Old 11-21-2012, 04:51 PM   #6
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I like the 4x4. And the stiffer the springs on the truck and the heavier the front end the more likely you are to need it some time. Plus it gets you a nice low range for emergency pulling out.
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Old 11-21-2012, 04:54 PM   #7
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I have been surprised at the number of times that 4 wheel drive made the difference in us getting into or out of a site we want. A typical event is we try to back into a spot that is a little up hill and the pad is gravel. As soon as the rear wheels of the truck leave the pavement and hit the gravel they spin. Push a button and egage the 4-wheel drive and we back right up and get the site we want, no spinning no throwing gravel everywhere. Another example is when boondocking in a field and the grass is wet from dew. It is amazing how you can spin on damp grass but you can and without 4 wheel drive you will be stuck.
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Old 11-21-2012, 05:28 PM   #8
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Just last week, we were driving up a short gradual grade on sand to get out of a friend's driveway and the wheels started slipping. The tires are getting older, but still have some miles in them. New ones may not have slipped, but it is really expensive to always have new tires.

If I didn't have 4WD, I'd have slid a bit to one side, possibly had to back up through a narrow driveway with nasty bushes on each side waiting to scratch the trailer. The gate in front of me was about 1 foot wider than the trailer, but I had to get really close on one side to make the turn onto the road. Positioning both vehicles perfectly was essential.

This was not a place I wanted a 2WD truck. Put it in 4WD and drove out.

With tons being towed, drive tires on the tow vehicle are more likely to slip on sand, grass, gravel, rain and snow. 4WD can prevent crazy problems. Yes, it weighs more and has more parts and costs more. But if you are slipping on a grade and backing would be difficult, impossible or dangerous, 4WD is the cheapest thing you ever bought.

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Old 11-21-2012, 06:37 PM   #9
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We have 2x4 ... we don't really "off-road" either ... and we don't live in snow country, and we don't plan to tow in snow, either.

BUT we do have a locking rear differential, which has come in handy a few times on steep inclines in campgrounds while hitched up. I think we'll probably stick with the 2x4 in future least that's how I feel today.
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Old 11-21-2012, 06:45 PM   #10
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Ditto what Roger and Gene said. Unless you offroad a lot, you very seldom need 4wd, but when you do, you need it bad.

Only two reasons I now prefer a pickup to my former 'burb... I sometimes need to haul big or smelly stuff, and when I haul generator and/or gas grill, I don't want the gasoline or propane in the cab with me.

Gas vs. Diesel? Dozens of threads on this topic. Read the raging debate, go to rallies and talk to folks who have towed tens of thousands of miles with each, and ask a lot of questions. It's still gonna be a leap of faith. Good luck.
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Old 11-21-2012, 07:00 PM   #11
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Smart and Smarter Tow Vehicles

CrawfordGene could not have given you a better answer to your question.

I was at the age of 20, led to believe that a 2x4 Pickup was a smart decision in July 1970 in Wyoming. Driving around Cheyenne was no problem while on asphalt and concrete. It was a pickup, it would go anywhere. Well... not true. On an inclined gravel road going slowly and stopping, your right rear tire will dig a hole you can go swimming after the tire quits spinning. Try getting through a snow drift, WITHOUT a trailer in tow... and bring along a shovel, and a bumper jack. As long as you stay on the unpaved, asphalt and concrete roads, during dry conditions... buying a 2x4 as a tow vehicle is a smart decision. Better than a car, because of the suspension, but that is all. You will have a minor improvement on gasoline economy and, I guess, you could tow a heavier trailer in favorable weather and not require any additional traction a 4x4 would provide.

A smarter decision would be to buy an all time 4x4 SUV capable of towing or a full size 4x4 pickup, that is flexible with 2x4 and 4x4 options, low and high gears. Either vehicle will cost you more than a 2x4, and maybe a small percentage in fuel difference can be saved... but I prefer the 4x4 options when more traction may be needed. Safety. Once I leave the paved road, my Toyota Tundra is in 4x4. Good conditions, fairly level terrain I go back to 2x4, conditions change I am back into 4x4 when towing. I know of several beautiful places to camp in New Mexico, off the black top, that a 2x4 would spin a hole towing a trailer within the first two miles making the grade up the mesa. Going down a steep grade, having the high and low 4x4 is cheap insurance of NOT sliding off the road into the trees and NOT having to ride your brakes to keep the weight from pushing you out of control.

The decision you must make is how YOU plan to travel with your potential trailer purchase. If you live in a 12 month warm climate and avoid the mud back roads you are probably making a smart decision on a 2x4. I do not have a topographic map of your area of North Carolina, but suspect you have more asphalt roads and fewer off road options than States with large National Forests and the roads that go with the terrain.

I have never felt that the extra cost for a 4x4 was wasted money out West. And resale value for a 4x4 is also higher and easier to sell at any mileage. If you stay in areas of moderate grades and favorable climate, a 2x4 will fill your needs. Leave that in your rear view mirror and you could be regretting the bill to you being extracted out of deep ruts you and your trailer made in a dirt road. I am spoiled of having the option to go to 4x4 at two gear ratios at any time, any place and in any conditions. Call me a spendthrift... but for MY kind of travel, I require the 4x4. Good luck and hopefully someone in your part of the country can give you a better feel for your needs. Out in the Rockies... I would not get too far without having to back out, slowly, in an area that looked interesting but not worth the risk of being stuck and stranded!
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Old 11-21-2012, 07:48 PM   #12
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We got 4wd in case of snow, not thinking we'd use it with the trailer as much. Boy were we wrong. I use it 90% of the time we park the trailer at home. We have a high water table (leading to very soft ground) and a slight slope to back up across the grass. And this is in suburbia near DC. I'm so glad we got it...honestly we would have had to get a different truck if we hadn't gotten one with 4wd. Never did I suspect we'd need it this often.
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:08 PM   #13
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Very happy with our 4x4, it is our second. Probably the main reason for us was that we live in an area with a fair bit of snow and 2 wheel drives are pretty light at the back end so at times 4x4 helps a lot.

As others have mentioned, at times it really helps when handling the airstream of wet grassy or muddy sites there have been times where I know we would have had real problems without it.

As well, sometimes I find that negotiating steep gravel roads pulling the trailer in parks can cause the back wheels to start kicking up stones on the trailer - switching to 4wd stops it.

I initially considered getting a vehicle like a suburban, but we never need the extra passenger carrying capacity so we opted for a crew cab pickup with a Leer cap on the bed. That way I can throw all manner of stuff in the back, lawn chairs. ladder, generator, gas can, bbq without worrying about messing up a nice interior.

We also use the truck as our daily driver. It can be a pig to park at times but I just don't bother trying to park near the mall doors I park at the end of a row and certainly the exercise does no harm!

Good to help the neighbours out now and then with things they need to haul!

Would certainly go the same route again in our case.

Brian & Connie Mitchell

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Hensley Arrow / Centramatics
2008 GMC Sierra SLT 2500HD,4x4,Crew Cab, Diesel, Leer cap.
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:34 PM   #14
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I agree with Howie about waiting, unless there is some other reason for buying sooner. You may see technology, performance and economy improve - as long as increased regulations don't take mileage in the wrong direction.

I'd also agree with several others about how often having 4WD has been either handy or essential.
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:54 PM   #15
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Sadly you only need 4 wheel drive when you need it, the rest of the time it it goes to waste. I've needed a few times towing and few times driving. It's nice to have when you get stuck.
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Old 11-22-2012, 06:34 AM   #16
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The first answer was the best one. Any tow vehicle you get now will almost certainly require replacement by the time you are ready to use it in 7 years. Wait, many things can change in that length of time. Patience, Grasshopper.
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Old 11-22-2012, 07:31 AM   #17
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WOW,, didn't mean to stir up a hornet nest. Sound like the preference for 2 wheel or 4 wheel runs the gamete like the debate of gas vs diesel.

I appreciated the info and see as well thing will look different in 4 yrs or so with regard to TV's.. just look at the VW tourage diesels.. 7100 Towing cap and good MPG. man...

Not to worry i NEVER buy new figured out long ago when you drive a new vehicle off the lot you lose 10% of it value more or less and that continues for the next 2-3 yrs in some cases..

latest car purchase was nov '08. Actually thanksgiving weekend nov 30th. We bought a 2008 Chev impala LTZ (loaded with sunroof) with only 13K miles. This car MSRP $29,999 I drove it off the lot for 16K, now this was a tough time for car dealers so i scored a deal for sure. I am not afraid to walk off the lot if they are not wanting to deal..

I spent a good deal of time reading forums like this before i got my timeshare week and now 13 yrs later have bought and sold 2-3 units. Always moving up and getting better at finding them. That is my goal here as well.. to learn and explore with out making to many costly mistakes.

I am leaning more toward the 25-28 ft units and wife is more for the 30-31 ft units.. I guess the almost 1700 lb jump in weight is that that bad for the room you get.

guess i need to be looking at TV w/TC of 10K. I was looking at the dodge w/ cummins deals as well.. seem like the older ones, pre 2007, provide the best power and price of newer models.

all good stuff here.. keep it coming.

happy birdday.. aka, happy thankgiving to all...
Carl, Raleigh NC
2-24-16 got a 2005 Classic 31D check it out for good rental deals
2003 F-250 SD, CC, 7.3L PowerStroke
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Old 11-22-2012, 07:39 AM   #18
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Carl, most full size half ton pickups have an available tow rating of at least 10k, so that isn't going to narrow your search much. Also, in another 5 years or so, Ford's Ecoboost will have been out in the real world long enough to know if it's going to be a good thing in the long term.
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Old 11-22-2012, 10:49 AM   #19
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Hi OP,

Couple thoughts for you to add into the mix.

Airstreams last longer than the truck that tows them. Get a truck to fit your trailer.

4X4 is mandatory for us. Our camping is almost exclusively boon docking. So clearly I am 4X4 biased.

4X4 is a couple of bucks more but a lot cheaper than getting stuck and calling the tow truck.

Gas V. Diesel
(This is a hotter debate than politics)

Bring it down to money. Will you be towing enough that your fuel savings will offset the price difference?

Stay with us here on Airforums and by the time you are ready you'll know what you want. And go to Airstream Rally's and talk to the streamers. You'll learn so much about trailers and tow vehicles you'll be a pro.
I'd rather be boon docking in the desert.

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CA 4
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Old 11-22-2012, 11:22 AM   #20
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Ill put my vote in for 4x4!

Two major reasons:
If you plan on towing at anytime other than summer or wintertime in the south, then youll need 4 wheel drive. Iv gotten stuck in the wally parking lot with less than an inch of snow on the ground. Thank goodness I had 4 wheel drive or it would have been an embarrasing moment.

Also, resale! My current tow vehicle would have probably cost $1000-1500 in 2wd form. Mine cost $3500 since it was 4wd.

If your considering diesel vs gas, then resale is also a good argument. I paid $3500 for my 460 powered truck. A diesel version of the exact same truck would have probably set me back a good $8,000 or more.

In the long run, a 4wd truck will SAVE you money. Yes, you may see 1 mpg increase in fuel economy but when you go to trade it in, youll be dismayed in the money theyll give ya cmpared to a 4wd model.

No Airstream Yet...
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