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Old 05-26-2009, 09:21 AM   #1
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2007 25' International CCD
Sugar Grove , Ohio
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'07 DuraMax, 4-Dr. 4x4 - opinions plz..

I have spent Memorial Day weekend studying the FORUMS trying to make a decision and am asking for assistance in doing so. We've spent our first full year pulling our 25' International through six states with our Armada and enjoying it for the most part. DW loves the Armada. I've had a couple questions about it - first of all, the wheelbase is about 10" short of the suggested length for real safety - even though we've had absolutely no problems with it. The second concern is the tranny temp. When pulling through the Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia "mountains" , the temp. gauge increases dramatically. When it reaches the top, evidently the cooler kicks in and it drops back to normal. I still get concerned watching ANY temp. gauge go so high - is this normal??? Thirdly, I've had to practically stand on the brakes when I've had to stop in a shorter distance than expected. I understand Nissan increased the brake size a couple years later.

My question, for you knowledgeable FORUM readers, has to do with which vehicle is recommended? We like a comfortable ride and whichever TV we go with, it's main job will be pulling the AS. It used to be a go to work vehicle but since retirement, TV is it's main job. Thank you for your thoughts. I'm asking for some comparisons on braking, ride comfort, and ease of mountain towing.
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Old 05-26-2009, 09:30 AM   #2
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Chances are you'll get a lot of varied responses, but I think it really comes down to what you're comfortable with. You seem to be happy with your Armada, and while some would say you could use a bit more tow capacity "cushion," if it works for you (and it works overall), no worries.

Now, if you're strictly looking for a tow vehicle that's going to be just that, and you like an SUV and a good ride, I'd look at a used Ford Excursion (diesel) or Chevy Suburban. I picked up a 2002 Excursion last year and couldn't be happier. I tow my 28' AS Int'l CCD while burning bio-diesel, and have had nothing but good times.

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Old 05-26-2009, 09:40 AM   #3
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I left my Tahoe's tranny up on the Blue Ridge Parkway while pulling my 25' Safari. After that, I bought an '04 Duramax with the 4-door short bed and have since been to Alaska and back, plus a couple of trips out West with my 31' Limited. I wouldn't go back to a lesser vehicle for anything.

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Old 05-26-2009, 09:45 AM   #4
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We have an '06 Duramax with 4 doors and long bed. The comfort and ammenities are there and the power to stop and go are definitely there. It may be a little overkill for a 25 footer, but it does just great with our 30' '06 and the 34' '87.
Carl, Elaine & Finn The Beagle
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Old 05-26-2009, 10:19 AM   #5
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My '06 Duramax is the best truck I have ever owned. You could not get me to tow with anything else. IMHO, I will take over vs. under powered every time.
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Old 05-26-2009, 10:23 AM   #6
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I have a 4x4 07 Chevy with duramax diesel and like it for a TV, especially in the mountains. Great on the long hyw trips too. Always have plenty of power to spare.
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Old 05-26-2009, 11:13 AM   #7
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You won't be in any lack of power, wheelbase or robustness with a Duramax/Allison pickup. It's a bit overkill IMHO for what you have, but you won't find a stronger gasser getting the same mpg.

That said, tranny temps by many sources say that between 175 and 200F is ok. I subscribe to the thought that as close to 175 towing as possible is better and I have not hit 200F yet, but came within 5F sometimes. I wasn't please so I just added a bigger trans cooler. In your case the trans cooler is only a small part of the overall problem. I have to say and I know that the Nissan and Toyota fans will get their hairs up about this, but your trailer is really in need of a 3/4 ton anything. I know Nissan has a big tow package, and Toyota throws up some big towing numbers, but you are just seeing the tip of the iceberg here. Be it Ford or GM, going with a real 3/4 ton it is going to be light years ahead in power, performance and safety when towing a rig your size or larger. If you don't go diesel make sure you have the tow package which includes a trans cooler...very important.

I tow my 25er with a 3/4 ton Burb and it's a very comfy combo with 4.10s. No truck is not going to heat up in the mountains while towing, but with longer wheelbases, better brakes and a more robust tow vehicle, you are clearly asking the right questions toward a direction IMHO.
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Old 05-26-2009, 12:40 PM   #8
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I am so impressed with folks that answer the questions asked. So often, one starts reading a thread and it gets so far off base with folks that seem to think they have little to offer other than something, to them, is humerous it gets boring. That's what I like about the AirForums - for the most part, question asked and answered! To each of you above, I appreciate your comments. This is what I need. We will eventually get away from the areas around Ohio and move farther afield. This summer we hope to do southwestern Wisconsin and surrounding environs - and I worry about the tranny temp of the Armada, the brakes, etc...We are very safe travelers but there are those times that another pulls in front or something and brakes are needed NOW. I want to be sure we've done all we can to be as safe as possible. Again, I appreciate all comments to date.........keep 'em coming as I still have to make a strong argument, one way or the other, to my wife.
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Old 05-26-2009, 01:18 PM   #9
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Allison Transmission

We've been towing for just over one year and have logged close to 18,000 miles. Our rig is a 27 foot Safari behind a 2008 Chevy 2500 with the Duramax diesel and the 6-speed Allison transmission. We've done the Montana/Wyoming Rockies, the south end of the Rockies in northern New Mexico, Great Smokies and Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Gaspe Peninsula which had a 17% downhill grade. The Allison transmission downshifts with just a touch of the brakes and you descend a 6-10% grade with the foot off the brake pedal. The transmission does not overheat and the brake pads stay cool. The Duramax provides incredible torque (645 ft-lbs at 1500 rpm if I remember correctly). So the climb up the hills is a piece of cake. We have averaged about 12-13 mpg towing and 17-18 mpg not towing. It may be overkill for a 25 foot trailer but if you trade up, this TV will handle anything Airstream makes.
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Old 05-26-2009, 02:01 PM   #10
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If you are standing on the brakes to stop, it sounds like your brake controller may be improperly adjusted; or for some reason, the trailer brakes are not providing full stopping power. If the trailer brakes are working properly, you shouldn't have to stand on the brakes (unless this is also normal for the TV only, without Airstream attached).

Also, is the tranny actually overheating (not just running a little hotter)? If you don't have a separate transmission cooler, adding one may be a cheaper alternative to buying a new TV.
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Old 05-26-2009, 02:16 PM   #11
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I have a Dodge 2500 4X4 with the Cummins and an automatic. My brother-in-law has the Chevy 4X4 Duramax/Allison and my other brother-in-law has the Ford F250 4X4 Diesel with a standard trans. They all have plenty of power and make nice tow vehicles. My Dodge has done the most work and has the most miles by far and gets the best milage. I get about 23 on the hwy and about 19-20 towing. about 16-17 pulling the hills. My dodge and the Ford are quad cabs and the Chevy is a true crew cab and long bed. It tows pretty nice because it is so long. I have driven all three and prefer the lang Chevy for towing but my Dodge for the all around work. The dodge pulled a Case 580E 4X4 backhoe on a goosneck 275 miles and up a steep grade with little trouble. Both my brothers-in-law refuse to work their trucks like that.
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Old 05-26-2009, 02:34 PM   #12
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I would suggest that the trailer brakes are not adjusted properly also. You might be able to have a bigger transmission cooler added for a few hundred, but first make sure your towing with the Armada in Tow Mode and the shifter in 4, not D.


P.S. When I say trailer brakes, I'm talking about the boost level of the trailer brake controller in the Armada. You can usually set it up high enough that it will actually tug on the vehicle which is too much and is also bad.
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Old 05-26-2009, 05:27 PM   #13
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I didn't mean to be taken so literal - my fault. I've driven cars and trucks that touching the brakes results in stopping action. The Nissan brakes are not that good. When I've had to stop QUICKLY, it was a challenge - a challenge I'm not happy with. The brake controls are set accurately and I can feel them stopping as soon as I touch the brake pedal. When I switch to our other auto, a Honda Accord, the brakes nearly put me on the dash every time I think about touching them - big difference (YES, I know there is a difference between an passenger auto and an SUV). I'm still thinking of the two and will continue to study all the info. I'm still waiting for the Silverado for a test drive. I'm doing a lot of pre-study at this time. Driving it may make my mind up for me. Right now, I'm simply accumulating info.

I appreciate the comments and thoughts. Thank you.
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Old 05-26-2009, 05:54 PM   #14
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Another thing to consider is that "grabby" feel in the Honda isn't necessarily what you want towing. You want something that won't fade out on you in a long down grade situation.

I see from your profile you have a 2004 Armada. Around 2007 Nissan started putting a much better brake pad on the Titan/Armada's. You could do the same. In 2008 they went to a larger rotor (13.9") which is about the same size as the 3/4 tons.

I'm not trying to keep you in the Armada (especially if you don't feel safe). I'm really looking forward to the vehicles I see coming out in the next 18 months. If they turn out to be reliable after a year or two, I'll probably be in the market also. Not because I'm not happy with the Titan, but because I want a 4x4.
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Old 05-26-2009, 06:55 PM   #15
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Winter Park , Florida
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I previously towed our 28'er with a Chevy Avalanche - essentially a 1/2 ton Chev Suburban with a pickup bed instead of a third row seat. While that vehicle was perfectly adequate for towing on our flat Florida terrain, I wouldn't have been comfortable with it in the mountains. I traded up to an 08 Chev 2500 Duramax and it is night and day difference, for the better. Probably more truck than you actually need for your trailer, but your braking issues seem to me to be an alarming problem. Stopping when you need to is a lot more important than going when you want to. Even with a brake controller, the mass of your tow vehicle greatly affects stopping power. In addition, with the Duramax you'd gain much larger brakes than on your Armada or even than what you'd get on a larger suv like a Suburban. I LOVE my truck and am so happy I traded up. The ride, unloaded, is a little rough in that I use my truck as a daily driver, too. Given your mountain driving, and that you won't be using it as a daily driver, I think the 07 Duramax sounds like the perfect thing for you.
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