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Old 09-18-2021, 01:05 PM   #1
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4WD or 2WD, pulling an Airstream?

Hello again, my friends.

Newbie here..I have an order placed for a 2022 F-150 Powerboost XLT, 2WD. Reasons I chose the 2WD? Save about us$6000, slightly better gas mileage, and according to Ford spec sheet, the 2WD has 2120 max payload versus the 4WD, which has 1810. Also, the towing capacity, 2WD has 12,700 lbs, the 4WD 12,400. Plus the anticipated extra cost of maintenance, etc.

I do plan on doing some occasional boon docking, but don't see myself taking the Airstream over any rough roads..as I keep hearing that the Airstreams are "pavement princesses".

Having second thoughts now...would like to hear from the veterans out there...is the 4WD really worth it, towing an Airstream? I also keep hearing "better to have it, and not need it, then to need it, and not have it". True?

I mean, how often to you find yourself pulling such a very expensive trailer "off road"? It would seem to me to avoid such situations...

Thank you for your thoughts.
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Old 09-18-2021, 01:16 PM   #2
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Only you can decide if having 4WD is worth it. Like you mentioned, 2WD is cheaper, increases payload and towing capacity, and less complicated.

I went thru the exact same thought process when I ordered my RAM 2500. I ultimately chose 4WD because: I'll get most of the initial investment when I see/trade it; I don't need more payload or towing capacity; I can afford the extra cost of driving a 4WD; And, finally, there have been more than a few situation where I needed it. Mostly because of wet grass and/or frost on the grass and muddy conditions due to heavy rains. These were not off road situations.

But in all those situations I'm sure I could have found someone to help, or called AAA had I not had 4WD.

Best regards!
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Old 09-18-2021, 01:25 PM   #3
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Hi

I would guess that over the last 5 years or so we would have been stuck maybe once or twice a year on average without the 4WD. Most of that was at campsites. You are parked on grass / dirt. The rain comes down and getting up and out of the site becomes a challenge. Drop it into 4WD and it's a lot less of an issue. A couple times the GPS / Google Maps / whatever routed us into a corn field or down a sandy road that had not been "repaired" after the hurricane.

Pretty much the only time this seems to happen is in cell phone dead zones. Getting assistance would have meant leaving the trailer and driving out to somewhere. If you watch the YouTube videos on this stuff, unhitching when stuck is the last thing anybody recommends you should do .....

If you only camp at KOA's and don't do state or local parks, it's probably not an issue. If you start looking at Forest Service or BLM stuff .... yikes ....

With any truck, the only way to be *sure* of the payload is to see the door sticker. The internet data on payload is optimistic just about all the time.

Best guess is that your 27' GT is up around 1,000 pounds tongue weight. Shank and hitch could add anything from 50 to 300 pounds to that. Toss in a few passengers and or some stuff .... things get a bit tight for a F150.

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Old 09-18-2021, 01:34 PM   #4
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I have always had 4 wheel drives but that is because I live in Spokane where we do get snow, lots some of the time. I think you have summarized your choice pretty well. The extra towing advantages simply are because the 2WD weighs less so that goes back to payload. Both options are good ones.


I used to go backwoods but that was before the Airstream. I do remember once having to use 4wd to get out of a campsite. It was a beautiful camp with nice grass what got wet and slippery. Once, in over 57,000 miles of towing. The 4wd will cost more going in and will require a little more gas but you will also get more out of it when it comes to sell or trade.
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Old 09-18-2021, 01:37 PM   #5
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Old 09-18-2021, 02:26 PM   #6
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Go with 4X4! Resale on 2WD's is terrible, and just wait till you try and drive on dew covered grass with a trailer behind. You only might use it a few times, but if you don't have it you will curse yourself when you need it. It works well in mud, as well as snow, and I use it when climbing out of a valley on a loose gravel road when visiting friends. No rear tires spinning and throwing rocks!
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Old 09-18-2021, 02:36 PM   #7
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When you have a 4wd you will most likely never need it. A 4x4 in common lingo.

When you DO NOT have a 4wd, and you need it... calling a tow truck to pull you and your trailer out will cost $$$$$.

The money you save could pay with Berkshire Hathaway class B stock, but it does not pay dividends the tow driver may not want it, or carry the cash as a Tow Truck charging you for time on the road and mileage for a ten minute tug... will want a Debit Card or Cash.

I had a 1957 Ford pickup 2wd in the early 1970's when I was young and handsome and still rather ignorant. Closer to being stupid with potential... when it came to trucks and automobiles.

Went snow drift busting that winter. Stuck the first time in a snow drift. Shoveled my way out. Positraction WAS NOT on this truck, for sure. Dug a good hole and the other wheel was not interested in moving, at all.

Look up Positraction and Limited Slip on the Internet. It is better than one wheel spinning in a small mud puddle... Or find my 1957 Ford in Cheyenne.

Sold my 1957 'Classic Ford with a rebuilt V8 2x4' to the Cheyenne Newspaper Editor in Wyoming as he loved my 1957 Ford 2wd. He kept asking... about selling it to him. Worked out just fine for both of us.

Bought a 1967 Bronco 4x4, learned my lesson and had many other 4x4's over the decades and now drive a F350 4x4 and needed to engage the 4wd on this last trip as on a steep road, broke traction... twisted the knob... got up and over... twisted the 4wd knob back to 2wd and did not get stuck and have to back down a mountain.

Even automatic transmissions, today! Ohhhhh Weeee.

The 1957 was a four speed, but the low gear would spin tires like at a Drag Strip going 5mph.

Other than that... you probably will enjoy your 2x4. It will sell for less as the majority of buyers will want a USED 4x4... as they were like me. Learned their lesson, the hard way. You may as well learn your lesson, like myself and others posting. People will point and laugh... seeing you stuck... but they will wave knowing that they learned the hard way, as well.

Good luck. Avoid getting stuck towing. When you do... you are stuck but might sell it to the newspaper editor in your town and get that 4x4 you really, really want to get. Take the wife out for dinner and buy her some jewelry she had always wanted. You got yours, she now gets hers.

You have a 27 foot like I do. Great trailer. Heavy as a small granite mountain with wheels. Get the Michelin tires that fit your wheels from the Dealer. Mine had Michelins from the factory. You will not look regret looking at a F250, either. Gas or Diesel. The F150 is for luxury traveling to a Rodeo. Pulling livestock or and Airstream... F250 and wave at the guy with the hood up and stuck... Yaaa Hooo.

Of course the Ford Dealers have many F150's on the lot. Why...? because people want F250's and cannot find any. Why? Yep... better for towing an Airstream and hauling cattle, too.
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Old 09-18-2021, 02:53 PM   #8
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Tow hooks and a tow strap

If you go 2wd, get tow hooks on the front and a 20,000 pound rated tow strap and some shackles. Then if you get stuck in a campground, one of the 4wd owners there or even a 2 wd can pull you out.
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Old 09-18-2021, 02:57 PM   #9
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You don’t have to be running the Baja to have a need for 4WD. An ordinary campsite that has wet grass or just got real muddy could be slick enough to require 4WD. Mine has come in handy on more than one occasion in normal campgrounds. I’ve had numerous 4WD vehicles and have never had a problem with that drive system, so the idea of increased maintenance may not be as big a factor as you think.
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Old 09-18-2021, 03:11 PM   #10
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2WD vs 4WD

I will put in a good word for the 2WD camp. I am 64 years old. Have almost 2 million miles commercial driving. Another 3 million or so regular driving. Raised in southern Ohio. Bunch of snow in the mid 1970's. Spent 14 years in West Germany mostly in Bavaria. Bunch of snow, black ice, etc. Lived in Naples, Florida for many years. Now 7 years in Western North Carolina. Some pretty heavy snows here in the last 7 years and we live in the mountains at 2k feet elevation. Have to go down and up hill every time we leave the house.

I have never owned a 4WD vehicle. I do get positraction, limited slip, sure grip, twin grip (AMC used to call it that) when buying a tow vehicle. So far with 50k miles with the AS behind us we have not gotten stuck yet. Some close calls but using ones common sense keeps one out of trouble. We do have AAA Premier with RV Rider just in case. Cost is all of $169.00 per year.

Current TV is a 2013 Ford E150 XLT van with Factory Tow Pkg. 3.73 Limited Slip Diff. Tows like a champ. Less cost, easier to maintain, less to repair when it breaks, better Payload (2538 LBS). Just works for us. Your results may be different.
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Old 09-18-2021, 03:51 PM   #11
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I can’t add much to what has already been said. Each configuration has advantages and disadvantages. My truck has the option to run in RWD, AWD, or 4WD with low and high range options. I’ve had a few instances where I needed to shift into AWD to put some power to the front wheels, but I’ve never needed 4WD. I camp mostly in state and national parks or boondocking (nothing extreme). For me, 2WD wasn’t a good option. For you, it may be worth considering. Your choice.
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Old 09-18-2021, 04:07 PM   #12
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You wouldn’t think that wet grass would be a problem with a 2 wheel drive truck but I can tell you that I had to switch to 4wd on a couple of occasions to get the truck and AS moving and I’ve only had the AS for 6 months. I wondered about 2 or 4 WD but glad I went with the 4 WD option. I also have a boat and 4 WD comes in handy for those wet boat ramps.
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Old 09-18-2021, 04:12 PM   #13
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Pavement? What pavement?

I must have missed the pavement princess memo.
Each of the places I have camped required me to leave asphalt. This past 4th of July we spent most of the week near Green River Lakes in Wyoming. We found a great place to camp after driving 16 miles down a dirt road.

As for the 4WD debate. My thought, if you are even considering it then get it. The first time you have to use it will make it worthwhile.
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Old 09-18-2021, 04:55 PM   #14
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All the above are valid viewpoints for evaluating "connected" scenarios. My last two TVs have had 4x4. For us, the feature gets way more use of the added traction ability when "disconnected" from the trailer as we like to explore the backcountry after unhitching.

We seem to jump at the chance to wander further from the masses whether it is on fire or old logging roads in the eastern mountains where boondocking sites are rare to taking a much broader selection of alternate trails on public lands out west. it is all about what you will be doing as you travel with your aluminum.
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Old 09-18-2021, 05:13 PM   #15
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Truck came 1st, 2WD 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 5.9L Airstream 5 yrs later a 2007 30’ Slide Out UBW is 7940 lbs. GVWR is 10,300 lbs.

Yeah I’m a bit careful where I point it.

Maintenance on my 2WD front end at 221K has been shocks and sway bar links.
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Old 09-18-2021, 05:14 PM   #16
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Hi

The one "connected" decision here:

Going to 4x4 likely pushes you up to an F250. That's the decision something like > 80% of the folks ultimately make. Some start off with this or that and move up. Others start out at that point. There are a few ( no actually quite a few) of us who move from F250's to F350 with trailers that aren't much bigger .....

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Old 09-18-2021, 05:23 PM   #17
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I started with a 2004 Nissan Titan towing a 31’ Sovereign. That combo went for 12 years and 80000 some odd miles. Then got a Titan XD (yeah, I’m a Nissan fanboy) and a 27’ Safari, got about 10000 on the new(er) rig. Both 2wd.

In those 17 years and 90000 miles, I had to get towed only once when I got into some deep, loose gravel. It didn’t cost anything but time as I have Good Sam Roadside.

I have been down lots of dirt and gravel roads. Parked on every surface known to man (well, maybe not fresh lava).

4WD would have saved me in that one instance. In exchange, I would have given up payload, added complexity and added some minor routine maintenance costs.

Nice to have? You bet. Need to have? Not so much.
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Old 09-18-2021, 05:49 PM   #18
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Agree with most others in that it really comes down to your personal preference. I have 4x4 for several reasons :
1) I live in the Midwest, winter can be harsh, so it’s good to have in general, and I tow OUT of my hometown in mid winter to seek warmer so again … good “insurance” that I can go when I want
2) I like to do BLM camping and those roads/paths can be difficult. I have lifted my trailer 3” for the same reason. If a big rain turns my path into a mudfest, I may need some extra traction/pulling power.
3) I don’t worry about extra maintenance, I have had 4x4 for 20+ yrs and yes there is some on occasion but I have never regretted 4x4 due to excessive cost to maintain. It’s very reliable nowadays (at least for me it is). I don’t use it very often, so I’m sure that helps somewhat.

If you stay with 2wd, I highly recommend the e-locking differential option (I also have that).
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Old 09-18-2021, 05:49 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BogeyPro View Post
Hello again, my friends.

Newbie here..I have an order placed for a 2022 F-150 Powerboost XLT, 2WD. Reasons I chose the 2WD? Save about us$6000, slightly better gas mileage, and according to Ford spec sheet, the 2WD has 2120 max payload versus the 4WD, which has 1810. Also, the towing capacity, 2WD has 12,700 lbs, the 4WD 12,400. Plus the anticipated extra cost of maintenance, etc.

I do plan on doing some occasional boon docking, but don't see myself taking the Airstream over any rough roads..as I keep hearing that the Airstreams are "pavement princesses".

Having second thoughts now...would like to hear from the veterans out there...is the 4WD really worth it, towing an Airstream? I also keep hearing "better to have it, and not need it, then to need it, and not have it". True?

I mean, how often to you find yourself pulling such a very expensive trailer "off road"? It would seem to me to avoid such situations...

Thank you for your thoughts.
I have never done any “off roading” pulling a camper trailer but have used the 4WD to get in and out of deer camp and places like that pulling a utility trailer.

Just last week I went to pick up a cord of wood with my utility trailer. I could not get up the steep gravel embankment out of the wood lot to the highway without the rear wheels spinning. Flick of a switch into 4WD and she pulls right out.

I have had the same issue with some steep camping lots on the lakes in parks in Arkansas. Just needed the 4WD to get out.

During the big freeze in TX last winter, I also made a 50 mile round trip with 9” of snow and ice on the road to rescue my Mother in Law who was stranded with no power.

They come in handy.

My 4WD 2018 F-150 Super Cab has a 14,400# GCVWR.
Truck fully loaded with 1800# of cargo comes in at 7000#
That leaves me 7,400 for the camper or, carry less weight in the truck which is almost always the case.
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Old 09-18-2021, 05:50 PM   #20
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On slippery ground, 2WD means one wheel drive. With 4WD it means two wheels get power.

My F150 has the e-locker which prevents the rear differential from any slip. So irrespective of slippery terrain, both rear tires get the exact same amount of torque and power. Its better than a limited slip differential. If you can get the e-locker with a 2WD then that may suffice. With 4WD and a e-locker at least three tires are pulling.

I got the 4WD because I will drive out dry riverbeds for miles and sometimes the sand is deep, or down 50 miles of dirt paths to explore. I've never needed 4WD for towing a trailer.
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