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Old 01-03-2021, 10:31 PM   #1
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2016 X5 - will it tow a Flying Cloud 23FB??

I have a 2016 X5 35I. I have the third row seats which includes air suspension in the rear.

I was considering adding a hitch and purchasing a airstream trailer. I have looked at the Caravel models as well as the 23FB Flying Cloud. Well the smaller Caravel models are attractive for their lower price and lower weight I think the 23 foot flying cloud is more desirable. I also noticed that the tongue weight of the 23 foot flying cloud is actually less than a 22 foot Caravel!

According to the information I have found on a stealth hitch / invisihitch - it should allow my ex 5 to 4 7700 pounds with a max tongue weight of 600 pounds. I have also read however that Iím not supposed to use any kind of weight distribution hitch with this set up.

Iím curious what your thoughts are as to whether my BMW would be sufficient to safely pull this?

I looked at the sticker inside my door and my maximum payload capacity in my X5 is 1350 pounds. If you deduct out the just under 500 pounds for the tongue weight that still leaves me at this amount of weight to put in the car.

According to airstream the 23 foot flying cloud fully loaded is still only 6000 pounds.

Iím not planning any long cross country trips mostly short local trips to national parks and the beach in Southern California with myself my wife and a few small kids and camping gear. If I eventually do any big cross country trips itíll be in the future when I have upgraded my tow vehicle.

Iíve been on the BMW forums but there simply isnít a ton of information over there specific to the airstream so I thought I would hit you people up here and see if you had information specific to the X5 like mine and this particular airstream.

Thx!!
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Old 01-03-2021, 11:51 PM   #2
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Glad to hear that you’re narrowing down your choices for an Airstream purchase. That’s part of the fun. I remember going through the same process and I really enjoyed it. I currently own an International 23 FB, and I’ve been very happy with it. I tow it with a GMC 1500 crew cab truck, and it works well.

You’ll find many opinions here, both for and against your BMW as a tow vehicle. It’s important for you to take it all in, do your research, and make the decision that’s right for you. It’s entirely up to you to ensure that your rig is safe, and that it will do what you need it to do. You know what they say about opinions: they’re like a-holes. Everyone has one, and they all stink! Each opinion is a single data point in your overall research.

I’m happy to offer a few of my opinions based on the information that you’ve presented. First of all, the tongue weight of your Airstream will be greater than the published numbers once it is loaded for camping. The tongue weight of a 23 FB will likely exceed 600 lbs. Second, I personally wouldn’t tow a 23 FB without a weight distribution hitch with sway control. I believe that it’s an important piece of safety equipment. Finally, you need to think carefully about your cargo capacity (passengers and gear). It adds up faster than you think, and you could easily exceed the limits of your BMW. I’m not saying that your BMW can’t tow a 23 FB, but you need to be aware of the trade offs and the limitations so that you can make an informed decision.

Good luck!
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Old 01-04-2021, 12:35 AM   #3
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Thanks for the opinion!! what do you think would be realistically the largest AS trailer I could pull with my vehicle?

I know what you mean that there are different opinions I’ve been on the forums here and on BMW forums and I seen pictures of guys with cars similar to mine pulling what looks like 30 foot airstreams! And other people saying that that’s insanity!

My BMW door sticker says maximum cargo capacity is about 1350 pounds. If I loaded up the car with myself my wife and all three of my kids I would have a ton of that eaten up especially when you factor in the tongue weight.

The problem is that even if you look at the tongue weight for a 16 inch Caravel it’s similar to a 23 foot flying cloud! The only model that seems to have a lower tongue weight is the 16 foot Caravel and the 16 foot Bambi a 16 foot Caravel has a tongue weight of 490 the flying cloud actually has a lower tongue weight rating... even though it is physically heavier.

I’m going to have to keep doing research it’s very difficult to figure out what I could actually toe and I’m probably not in a position to run out and sell my ex five and replace it with something else

I would enjoy getting into the RV world but not if it means I have to run out and spend a ton of money on a new truck!!
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Old 01-04-2021, 05:39 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Crandell5 View Post
Thanks for the opinion!! what do you think would be realistically the largest AS trailer I could pull with my vehicle?

I know what you mean that there are different opinions I’ve been on the forums here and on BMW forums and I seen pictures of guys with cars similar to mine pulling what looks like 30 foot airstreams! And other people saying that that’s insanity!

My BMW door sticker says maximum cargo capacity is about 1350 pounds. If I loaded up the car with myself my wife and all three of my kids I would have a ton of that eaten up especially when you factor in the tongue weight.

The problem is that even if you look at the tongue weight for a 16 inch Caravel it’s similar to a 23 foot flying cloud! The only model that seems to have a lower tongue weight is the 16 foot Caravel and the 16 foot Bambi a 16 foot Caravel has a tongue weight of 490 the flying cloud actually has a lower tongue weight rating... even though it is physically heavier.

I’m going to have to keep doing research it’s very difficult to figure out what I could actually toe and I’m probably not in a position to run out and sell my ex five and replace it with something else

I would enjoy getting into the RV world but not if it means I have to run out and spend a ton of money on a new truck!!
You will get a lot of good advice here, from guys who know a lot more about your rig than I do.
.Old ex semi driver.My big thing, having seen a lot of carnage for millions of miles, is towing safety.
I'll get some flak here,and nothing wrong w/WD hitches, but they give a lot of new to towing people a false sense of security.
The big thing is what is YOUR experience level towing trailers the size you want? Now, could I yank the above described rig safely?Yes.Can someone new to towing, on the edge as described above with weights + possibly / probably underpowered tow vehicle do it?? That's the big question.To me, if you're worried about tongue weights, you've got the wrong tow vehicle right out of the gate.Go bigger.
The biggest thing a new to towing big trailers driver needs to do, is keep their max speed at 55, in the far right lane( as much as possible).Now, I'll get some flak for that, but it's the truth.That far right lane will help keep new drivers out of trouble, and give a emergency escape route/ non vehicle occupied space to right if needed, and keep heavy traffic off their sides.
Excessive speed is the #1 problem, for every driver but much greater for new ones.Most of the problems are speed related.Much magnified by a combination vehicle rig.
When braking, it must be done early, while keeping the rig straight and not swerving, to avoid problems ahead that were the result of excessive speed.
Also, load weight in trailer ahead of the axle/ axles as much as possible.Weight behind axles in RVs especially causes dangerous sway conditions.
Now, if it were me, I wouldn't tow with that BMW.If I had a wife and kids, I would get a used Ford E-350 cargo van
( or borrow on from friend or rent one) for that.Thats a 1 Ton tow vehicle.
Now, I'm not a Ford fan ( that's the bait,here they come lol) but it's a great tow rig for RVs.
While the flashy quotient is Zero compared to the Beamer, you can load the van up, with multiple cargo doors,and not be overpowered by the loaded trailer.The large wheelbase / weight provides much more towing safety.
Plus, it keeps a lot of stuff out of a already crowded Airstream lol This thread will be entertaining, I'm just helping a bit....
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Old 01-04-2021, 06:31 AM   #5
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Can a 2016 X5 tow a 23FB Flying Cloud? Sure 100% it can all you need to do is press on the gas pedal enough to overcome drag and achieve forward motion. What you really should be asking is can a 2016 X5 stop with a fully loaded 23FB Flying Cloud behind it.

Two completely different questions with different answers.
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Old 01-04-2021, 07:21 AM   #6
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Your BMW has a cargo capacity that’s pretty good, and is higher than some 1/2 ton trucks. The question is: will you bring lots of gear camping? With two adults and three kids, you’ve already got quite a bit of weight. If you add a generator, a bunch of camping equipment, toys like bicycles, a BBQ grill, etc., then you could find yourself quickly exceeding your vehicle’s limits.

The other thing to consider is the convenience offered by a truck. Things get dirty, wet, muddy, etc. when camping. It’s nice to be able to throw this stuff in the back of a truck without worrying about getting the carpet dirty. Additionally, trucks often have things like towing mirrors and trailer brake controllers, which you’d have to add to your BMW.
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Old 01-04-2021, 09:01 AM   #7
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Your X5 is very capable of towing an Airstream trailer. It is a very capable vehicle, and properly set up, will do well.

You will need a proper (traditional) hitch receiver, not a hidden or detachable socket receiver hitch of some type. The traditional receivers will work with WD equipment, which you should be using. Depending on how heavy you go on the trailer, you may need to additionally reinforce the hitch receiver (not the vehicle, the receiver). This isn't a complicated process. I suggest using the BMW wiring module, as it includes additional features beyond the trailer lights. You will also need an electric brake controller, and there are multiple choices there. You will need trailer mirrors, and there are a few good choices there.

The 23 is a good match for an X5. It is reported to tow better than the smaller ones due to the tandem axle. My upper limit would be a 27, others have different figures. I have towed with multiple BMWs, including an X5 (earlier model than yours).

Ask away, and good luck.

Jeff
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Old 01-04-2021, 09:39 AM   #8
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Can a 2016 X5 tow a 23FB Flying Cloud? Sure 100% it can all you need to do is press on the gas pedal enough to overcome drag and achieve forward motion. What you really should be asking is can a 2016 X5 stop with a fully loaded 23FB Flying Cloud behind it.

Two completely different questions with different answers.
Do you think that a 1/4 ton pickup has better brakes than an X5? If you want to question control in upsetting situations, fine. Braking? Makes no sense to me.
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Old 01-04-2021, 09:45 AM   #9
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We are going through the same process with our 2020 Land Rover Discovery SE. The vehicle is capable of towing 8,200 lbs and max tongue weight of 770 lbs. As someone posted in another forum, it is a beast with an incredible ride.

We have a Airstream Flying Cloud 23FB on order and it should be here in the Spring. We are comfortable with the trailer's 6,000 lb gross weight and figuring a loaded trailer close to 600-650 lbs tongue weight. Still in a safe and comfortable weight range.

On our last trailer (4,800 lbs), which we just sold, we did not have any weight distributing or sway devices. Land Rover and hitch dealers do not recommend weight distributing devices for the Discovery because of the air suspension system. So that is settled.

Without a sway control device, we had some pretty exciting times with our last trailer so it is a must have for our FC23FB. We are sort of narrowed down to the Hensley Cub or maybe a friction type of rig. I am waiting for more technical information before we make a decision.
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Old 01-04-2021, 10:02 AM   #10
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Do you think that a 1/4 ton pickup has better brakes than an X5? If you want to question control in upsetting situations, fine. Braking? Makes no sense to me.
Why would that question not make sense, it was a straight forward question. Does the X5 have the braking capacity to stop a 23FB, below numbers say maybe.

2016 BMW X5
GVWR - 6,400 lbs.
Base Curb Weight (pounds) 4,930

Airstream 23FB 4,761 lbs. Dry


X5 says Maximum Towing Capacity (pounds) 5,952
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Old 01-04-2021, 10:12 AM   #11
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We have towed our 2012 Flying Could 23FB about 7k miles with our 3rd gen Tacoma, which have less capacity than your x5. We always took the routes with the least elevation change. The up hills are OK, but I never liked my ability to ability to descend and have another driver do something stupid in front of me. We now tow almost exclusively with our Ram 2500, Cummins diesel. The engine braking, and vastly greater capacity gives me better confidence. That said, we will still occasionally use the Tacoma for local trips. I have a WD hitch, air bags and upgraded shocks and will be adding a Electronic Sway Control to the brakes before I tow with the Tacoma again. There's a great Youtube video at canamrv.ca.
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Old 01-04-2021, 10:18 AM   #12
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Why would that question not make sense, it was a straight forward question. Does the X5 have the braking capacity to stop a 23FB, below numbers say no.

2016 BMW X5
GVWR - 6,063 lbs.

Airstream 23FB 4,761 lbs. Dry

Guessing that X5 weighs in at more than 1,302 lbs.
What has that got to do with braking capability? Caliper swept area, tires, and mass determine straight line braking distance. For what you are saying to be true, a 1/4 ton pickup has to have better braking performance than the BMW. They both will be burdened with their own weight plus that of the trailer. Pickups do many wonderful things. Straight line braking isn't one of them.
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Old 01-04-2021, 10:33 AM   #13
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Talking The devil is in the details.

Yes, it will, but I refuse to be responsible for your choices. How's that for a disclaimer!

I have an X5, and a Bambi, and I installed a non-BMW hitch, that allows for weight distribution.

In my travels, I've seen two X5 towing "wow" huge trailers. Fully to the maximum trailers. I wouldn't do that, but in talking to those people, they certainly seemed confident and comfortable about their choice.

My family always overloads my rig when we go camping. Your family might be different. I've personally seen it done before. Don't forget to buy the OEM chip that tells the X5 that you are towing something, because that chip will tell your stability control to behave as though there is something being towed.

You can find an aftermarket hitch for weight distribution.
You can get the towing chipset.
I used the word "allow" and not "warrant" above for a reason. The two pilots and I have all had the same experience: You will not find a single document warranting weight distribution on an X5. Weight distribution is a North American thing, and the X5 is a European thing, and the standards are simply different. You purchased a European car, and you drive it in North America. You have to sort out the politics, responsibility, and physics for yourself. Hint: ignore the politics, take responsibility for the physics.
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Old 01-04-2021, 10:37 AM   #14
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Crandle5, you've gotten some great advice thus far, and don't have too much technically to add, though I would emphasize jcl's point the Stealth hitch is not stiff enough in pitch or roll to support a quality set up and it will dramatically degrade towing performance.

I do want to elaborate on the complexity of determining the true towing capacity of any vehicle and the reality that it depends most strongly on the driver's and passenger's risk tolerance. Those who tow 25 and larger travel trailers with an X5 have accepted more risk than the manufacturer thinks is wise, and in some cases much much more risk. The manufacturer sets limits that ensure the vehicle will perform and will control and dominate the trailer combination in any extenuating circumstance where the combination gets in a precarious situation for any range of expected road conditions.

People who choose to exceed manufacturer limits are comfortable with a combination that will go out of control if they happen to get in a bad situation. These people generally take great care to set the combination up ideally so that it tows fantastic as long and the driver keeps the trailer within the very narrow stability profile they have created for themselves. They end up with a combination where the trailer and tow vehicle competes for control. They put their faith and trust in themselves as skilled drivers, and it all works well unless they get into a pickle.

So your question really revolves around what kind of risk you and your loved ones are willing to take and what kind of driver you are. It depends on whether you as the driver are willing to actively manage the combination so the vehicle is never subordinated to the trailer and you truly believe you can do that successfully 100% of the time.
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Old 01-04-2021, 01:05 PM   #15
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Why would that question not make sense, it was a straight forward question. Does the X5 have the braking capacity to stop a 23FB, below numbers say maybe.

2016 BMW X5
GVWR - 6,400 lbs.
Base Curb Weight (pounds) 4,930

Airstream 23FB 4,761 lbs. Dry


X5 says Maximum Towing Capacity (pounds) 5,952
The braking ability of larger tow vehicles is commonly misperceived. You really need to look at the total swept area of the brakes (rotor and pad sizes) and compare to tow vehicle GVWR. A heavier vehicle takes bigger brakes to stop. Tires are a factor too - LTs don't provide as much traction as performance-oriented tires. I expect that if you compared the X5 to something like a 2500 pickup, the X5 would have considerably more reserve braking capacity in the event of a trailer brake failure. The thinner rotors might be warped, especially if you couldn't start moving again as they cooled, but I wouldn't be concerned about the stopping ability of the X5.

I did a quick search for swept area specs, but couldn't find any. Years ago there was a really good website for new vehicle that included such things, but it seems to be defunct.
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Old 01-04-2021, 02:23 PM   #16
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Sounds like the BMW X5 can stop a 747-400 so just hook up and go, the worst that can happen is the car to get out in front of you on a steep down grade.
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Old 01-04-2021, 03:00 PM   #17
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X5 brakes are quite capable of stopping a 23' airstream combination should the trailer brakes fail.

As far as comparing stopping capability compared to a 3/4 ton truck, like anything there is much more to it than just a single parameter like sweep area. When you put it all together a typical 3/4 ton has about 1.4 times the overall braking capability as does the typically equipped X5. However as noted the 3/4 ton weighs more. When paired with a 23' airstream considering TCW loaded for camping the 3/4 has 1.23 times the effective braking capacity. As the trailers get larger the 3/4 just keeps looking better. This notion that European SUVs have "better braking capacity" than a HD truck is nonsense. However, again the X5's brakes are more than up to the job.
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Old 01-05-2021, 11:34 AM   #18
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Crandle5, you've gotten some great advice thus far, and don't have too much technically to add, though I would emphasize jcl's point the Stealth hitch is not stiff enough in pitch or roll to support a quality set up and it will dramatically degrade towing performance.

I do want to elaborate on the complexity of determining the true towing capacity of any vehicle and the reality that it depends most strongly on the driver's and passenger's risk tolerance. Those who tow 25 and larger travel trailers with an X5 have accepted more risk than the manufacturer thinks is wise, and in some cases much much more risk. The manufacturer sets limits that ensure the vehicle will perform and will control and dominate the trailer combination in any extenuating circumstance where the combination gets in a precarious situation for any range of expected road conditions.

People who choose to exceed manufacturer limits are comfortable with a combination that will go out of control if they happen to get in a bad situation. These people generally take great care to set the combination up ideally so that it tows fantastic as long and the driver keeps the trailer within the very narrow stability profile they have created for themselves. They end up with a combination where the trailer and tow vehicle competes for control. They put their faith and trust in themselves as skilled drivers, and it all works well unless they get into a pickle.

So your question really revolves around what kind of risk you and your loved ones are willing to take and what kind of driver you are. It depends on whether you as the driver are willing to actively manage the combination so the vehicle is never subordinated to the trailer and you truly believe you can do that successfully 100% of the time.
Brian- Exactly.As soon as the tow vehicle starts being driven by the trailer, all the careful calculations go out the window, and the crashes/ rollovers/carnage/ etc start.
Murphys law, as most mechanics know, is always looming....
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Old 01-05-2021, 12:07 PM   #19
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Sounds like the BMW X5 can stop a 747-400 so just hook up and go, the worst that can happen is the car to get out in front of you on a steep down grade.
It definitely can. BMW marketing in coordination with the engineering department decided against testing because the 747 is an American thing. Also the 747 is not available with a 7 way pin. It might be certified for Airbus but I don’t know why anyone would care about that.
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Old 01-05-2021, 12:26 PM   #20
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Sounds like the BMW X5 can stop a 747-400 so just hook up and go, the worst that can happen is the car to get out in front of you on a steep down grade.
I always prefer the tow vehicle being out in front of the trailer on a descent. It is when the trailer gets in front of the tow vehicle that problems ensue....
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