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Old 10-21-2015, 08:12 AM   #1
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2015 27' FB International
Denver , Colorado
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Which truck is best to pull an airstream?

My husband and I just purchased a 27' 2015 International Serenity. We are very excited to begin traveling! We are planning to trade in or sell our Ford F 150 for another heavier duty truck. Please give suggestions on what we may want to consider and what is most important as we shop for another new or used truck. Thank you!

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Old 10-21-2015, 08:20 AM   #2
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With your trailer I would have a 3/4 ton with a fancy trim package. Pick your favorite brand. A 3/4 ton is built to handle the intended load you are towing.
Steve, Christy, Anna and Phoebe (Border Collie)
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Old 10-21-2015, 08:22 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by crispyboy View Post
With your trailer I would have a 3/4 ton with a fancy trim package. Pick your favorite brand. A 3/4 ton is built to handle the intended load you are towing.
You cannot imagine how many variations of there are of this basic comment.

I'll just say........ "Ditto!"

Congratulations on your new purchase, and have fun on your new adventure!
I this great country!!!!
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Old 10-21-2015, 08:27 AM   #4
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Welcome to the Forums!

Your question touches on one of the hottest of the hot topics argued about on these Forums. If you look at the "Forums" tab at the top of the page, and then scroll down, there is a category called "Towing, Tow vehicles and Hitches." If you browse through some of those threads, you will see that this topic comes up over and over again--lots of discussion/advice in there.

End of the day, you should start by doing the math. Figure out how much your trailer weighs loaded, and what the tongue weight will be. Figure out how much cargo you will typically be hauling in your tow vehicle (people plus stuff), and then you will have the numbers you need to start shopping for a vehicle.

good luck!
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Old 10-21-2015, 08:33 AM   #5
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Hi from AZ. . . there is NO definitive answer to this question ! And there are a LOT of threads already discussing/discussed. Hit the 'SEARCH' button. . . . But taste is so personal, & everybody's are different. You've already heard from the 3/4 ton or else group, I towed a FC 28 to Alaska & back without problem with a 1/2 ton Ecoboost Ford. Ram, GMC, Chevy, Toyota, & now Nissan have TV's you might consider. And that's part of the fun, eh ?. . . .Good Luck, Craig
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Old 10-21-2015, 08:34 AM   #6
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

First off, welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

The questions that you are asking are somewhat dependent on how you are intending to use your Airstream.

For instance, if you are planning to take your Aiestream fifty miles to the lake and set it up for the summer, the half ton that you already have will probably fit the bill.

On the other hand, if you plan to hit the road on a 10,000 mile, 60 night adventure in all types of terrain, carrying most of your worldly possessions, you are probably going to want something more heavy duty.

Let us know about your plans, and we can make some suggestions.

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Old 10-21-2015, 08:48 AM   #7
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Since you start off by saying you're selling your F150 it sounds like you've pretty well decided in favor of a large heavy truck. The advantage of which is you can carry heavy loads of motorcycles and lumber and generators in the truck bed while pulling uphill at 75 mph.

By the numbers a F150 is more than adequate for your trailer, but only if you aren't hauling lots of heavy items in the truck too.
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Old 10-21-2015, 09:18 AM   #8
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A 3/4 ton truck is advisable, from the standpoint of stronger suspension, larger brakes etc. Four wheel drive is optional, unless you like to go on minor roads and primitive camping, in which case it is mandatory. A diesel will pay for itself if you are going to be towing a lot, as in more than 5000 miles a year, and also plan on keeping the truck 10 years, but try out any diesel truck on the open highway for a good few miles to check out noise, and also comfort levels of ride and seating..... not wishing to draw the ire of some, I won't advise you which truck you might find much less comfortable all around. If you are only going to be driving less than 5000 miles a year or only plan on keeping the truck for a few years, then get a quiet gas V8 engine, and if you are only planning on a few short trips a year, then get a big gas engine rather than the manufacturer's base V8. It is nice to have the extra power, but they also suck more gas. Above all, when you are getting closer to a decision, see if you can take your likely choice for a good long run, ideally a few hours.

Oh. Avoid taking advice from people who seem to have a religious attachment to one particular make.
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Old 10-21-2015, 09:22 AM   #9
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If all you need the truck for is pulling an Airstream up and down really steep hills, heavily loaded, and/or have a business that requires heavy hauling, you need a heavy duty truck.

Otherwise there are a lot of choices. Large SUV's such as Ford Expedition Ecoboost or Chevy Suburban, medium SUV's such as European diesels, medium duty trucks such as Ford F-150, Chev 1500, Ram 1500, Tundra can be ordered with heavier load and towing packages.

"Best for towing" is a loaded question that will be answered by everyone's personal favorite as best, until they get something else, then that will be best. No one wants to admit their heavy duty truck rides like a lumber wagon, steers like a river barge, and needs a step ladder to get into; nor that their medium duty truck runs out of breath climbing steep hills, can't carry their pet parakeet if the dog is along, and lost the rear bumper at the last pothole.

Among the many good choices there is a truck or SUV for you and your new Airstream that you will love, while other people tell you it's a miserable tow vehicle because they have the best (for them).
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Old 10-21-2015, 10:52 AM   #10
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I will say just take your pick of the many 1/2 ton and 3/4 ton trucks out there.
I prefer a 1/2 ton, but obviously many on 'Forums prefer a 3/4 ton.
Having towed trailers behind 3/4 ton diesel and gas for 500,000 miles at work and towing my travel trailer behind a 1/2 ton gas for 5 years/40,000 miles I can honestly say I can't tell a nickel's worth of difference.
Happy 1/2 ton tower here.
The question is:
Do you currently own a full-size pickup truck?
Yes. Then use it.
No. Go get whatever you like. They're all good.
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Old 10-21-2015, 11:01 AM   #11
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Don't forget to check out an SUV. The wheelbase is better for towing then a truck according to many. We travel with a VW Tourage, pulling 28' and I have put more than 10,000 miles through all conditions including the Rocky Mountains.
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Old 10-21-2015, 11:12 AM   #12
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We use a 2015 Ram, 3500, 4 door diesel. It has no idea our 34' Airstream tri axle is even behind it. It will easily brake and pass anything uphill or down.
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Old 10-21-2015, 11:19 AM   #13
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Similar to asking for favorite pizza topping(s), favorite bedtime snack, etc.
When we got our new to us 75 Overlander 27' we already had a 1999 F250 SuperDuty diesel 4x4 xtra cab 4 wheel antilock disc brakes short bed with a camper shell.
Even with both loaded and no equalizer hitch, the truck doesn't know the trailer is back there - gusty cross winds, mountain passes, etc. Acceleration is slightly decreased.
We're not likely to get another tow vehicle, ever.
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Old 10-21-2015, 11:19 AM   #14
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Three posts in a row, a European diesel SUV is best for them, then a 1/2 ton best for them, then a 1 ton best for them.

Do you see a pattern? So the question really is, which one is best for you.
Doug and Cheryl
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Old 10-21-2015, 11:20 AM   #15
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What has been written thus far cannot be more true. The topic is always hotly debated. My only additional thought would be, listen to car/ truck salespeople with a bit of skepticism. Challenge and verify their advice. Crunch the weight numbers yourself as someone else here has already suggested.
Best of luck and enjoy.
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Old 10-21-2015, 11:32 AM   #16
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You are on the best path thinking a 3/4 ton truck is better. Now the choice of brand and comfort level. Chevy Dodge and Ford all make good products. Big block gas engines are a little cheaper. Diesels have (lots) more torque. Out west on a hot asphalt highway at speed the gas engine will surprise you when it revs up and downshifts to stay in the power and to go up a hill, the diesel will just torque its way up happily. I think the Duramax is quieter. Happy camping!��
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Old 10-21-2015, 11:42 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by dodger1 View Post
My husband and I just purchased a 27' 2015 International Serenity. We are very excited to begin traveling! We are planning to trade in or sell our Ford F 150 for another heavier duty truck. Please give suggestions on what we may want to consider and what is most important as we shop for another new or used truck. Thank you!

Tracey, Welcome, I have a 31' International AS that I pulled for many thousand miles with my 1999 GMC 2 wheel drive pickup and never had a bit of trouble, last summer I went to Whitehorse YK my truck never ran hot in the 7000 mile trip. I replaced my 99 with a 2014 and have towed a few miles with no problem, I plan on leaving for Louisiana Nov 2 . You don't need a big expensive "Boy toy" to pull that A.S, Happy trails !
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Old 10-21-2015, 11:58 AM   #18
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Since you live in Denver and may want to head into, or through, the rocks, here are just a few issues that are exaggerated in this environment.

1) As you probably know from driving Mt. Vernon Canyon or Floyd Hill, you may want some additional power. You can pull those hills with just about any vehicle and many of the folks on the forum will attest to having "no problems" in the Rockies with the combination they own. I don't drive the combinations I do in order to scream up the passes. But sometimes the alternative is dangerous and exasperating, especially doing it often. It's nice to take your time and use the right lane, at or below, the speed limits up and down the mountains. But unfortunately, you may find yourself stuck behind vehicles traveling at very slow speeds (e.g. 20 or 30 mph) and having the power to accelerate to pass is nice because the left lane(s) may be moving at much greater speeds. If you are content to travel the right lanes at super slow speeds, consider adding more hazard lights to the rear of your trailer.

2) If you add a weigh distribution hitch to your combination, consider the importance of being able to maintain the proper angles in your drive line. On a half ton truck, the compensation required of the hitch system might be much greater than that of a more heavy duty truck. These drive line angles are often overlooked and can cause extreme stresses on the universal joints of your power train. This is only exaggerated by pulling hills and mountains.

3) The downhills are a huge issue. I highly recommend that you choose your tow vehicle so that you NEVER touch your brakes on the descents, except to brake for obstacles or to stop. In other words, don't use your brakes to control your downhill speeds. I can tow my trailer with my 1/2 ton Toyota or my one ton Ford. However the difference in downhill-speed-control dramatically changes between the two. So the issue comes down to how do you want to handle the descents. Either is possible but just depends on your preference.

4) I've noticed on this forum that winter driving with an Airstream is usually advised against. While I understand the sentiment, I have driven tens of thousands of miles in winter, mountain conditions towing my Airstream and other trailers. In these scenarios, I want a long wheel based, heavy tow vehicle with engine braking that won't cut the drive axles loose. Although very rare to use them, I carry tire chains and part of the vehicle consideration is the installation of the winter driving equipment. It's no fun to "hang the irons" on an SUV. If you intend to avoid winter driving, then obviously this isn't a concern to you.

5) While it is unlikely that you would end up with a normally aspirated engine in your new vehicle, it is important to make sure that you can produce sea-level air pressure for the engine intake. (aka turbocharging.) You might also consider the engine cooling capacity. Towing really changes that scenario at hot and high-density altitudes. (Don't confuse "high-density" with the fact that the air is actually thinner.)

6) Because the mountains can be wild and wonderful, you may want to expect to carry higher payloads. It is rare to not run the heater at night, even in the summers up here. So that means extra, or at least full, propane. Carrying extra water and clothing is usually a good idea as well. All of that translates to more payload if you want to be prepared.

Of course you will want to carefully examine the capacities of the vehicle you choose with regards to GVW and tow ratings. Leave yourself plenty of margin on the specs.

Good luck and I must say, Colorado is an awesome place to own an Airstream!
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Old 10-21-2015, 12:00 PM   #19
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Even though car salesmen are not high on my list of favorite people, I'll give you the same pitch one gave me when I came to test drive the gas Ford F-250's: "As long as you're here, you should at least try the diesel 250." I could hardly argue with him about that, even though in retrospect it was like getting me to try a little snort of cocaine. Enough said.

--Proud F-250 diesel owner
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Old 10-21-2015, 12:05 PM   #20
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My preference

We pull our 2013 International CCD with a 2012 RAM 2500 Laramie Longhorn, 4WD, Crew Cab. Last year we covered 25K miles over 9 months, this year we plan to do the same. This is the second Dodge 2500 diesel we have owned, we previously owned a 27 ft trailer of similar weight that we towed with a 1/2 ton for a couple of years until we bought the 2500. I like a 3/4 ton for several reasons, the first being the feeling of safety, particularly going down steep roads. Because we are on the road almost full time we carry a lot of "stuff" including tools, etc. I never worry about the load in the box. Lastly, I like diesel engines, not only for going uphill but for control going downhill. I like inline 6 cylinder engines and so I like Cummins.
You will note a lot of "I likes" in this response and I am sure that other makes would do the job. This truck has worked well for us and I would buy it again.
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