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Old 08-06-2008, 04:51 PM   #1
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Best tow vehicle?

Hi there! I am looking at a 2005 25' safari with empty weight of 5325 lb. My ford explorer can tow 5600 , so I thought I was set, then after researching the forum, looks like a bad idea if I don't want a white knuckle experience. So, I am considering trading up to something that can handle towing better, and my question is: Any recommendations on a vehicle/truck that can easily handle the towing of the trailer, but somewhat reasonable on gas, as it will also be used as my vehicle for everyday driving. Thanks in advance for your time! I am just starting to research this lifestyle (lots to learn).
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Old 08-06-2008, 05:05 PM   #2
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depends...

matter of opinion...
the 4FCU has a member that pulls a 25 FB with a Dodge Durango (5900 lbs tow capacity) and he is a bit of a newbie. He has been all over the place and has not mentioned any problem. He is very conservative in his driving practicse. I'm not. Consequently, I'm more comfortable with a TV that has at least 30% more capacity than the trailer i'm pulling.
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Old 08-06-2008, 05:18 PM   #3
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Hoo boy, are you in for it now!

Welcome!

I'm finding that I don't know as much as I thought I did.
F'rinstance, I didn't like the way an Expedition pulled a 21' SOB, but saw a Navigator hooked up to a 32' Airstream this last weekend. Much better hitch on the Nav, go figure.

This summer I've seen a 26' Overlander tucked in behind a Chevy Caprice, 23' 1970's models hitched to a Beemer, a Buick Roadmaster, and a 3/4 ton van, and more.

Our 31' has an empty weight just above that 2005 25' model, and the previous owner once towed it with an early 80's Cutlass and a couple of 1/2 ton Suburbans.

So... I'm starting to think that maybe there's more to this than meets the eye... The Touareg guys on their forum seem happy with 7000 lb trailers and since I've never driven a Touareg I can't say whether they're totally nuts or not.

There are two basic schools of thought.
One says that with careful tire & hitch selection, careful driving, and some common sense, a smaller vehicle with a gob of power and an independent rear suspension with short overhangs can work really well. (Touareg, M series Merc, etc).
The other school says you tread dangerously if the gross vehicle weight of the trailer exceeds 75% of the tow vehicle's rated capacity (this quickly adds up to a 3/4 ton truck for any but the lightest applications).

Both schools can provide a lot of examples to back up their claims.


I think the recent Suburban/Tahoe/Expy's ought to be capable of a little over 20mpg hwy, empty. This is comparable or a little better than the Touareg, which will be easier to park and likely more fun to drive.

For that matter, a brief glance at Ford's site shows some versions of the Explorer rated up to 7300 lbs. with an independent rear suspension... interesting. I haven't driven an Explorer since 1994, so I'm not one to ask if this is doable or not. I won't recommend it, but that doesn't mean it can't be done (how's that for weaseling?)

Towing, everybody with a gas engine seems to be getting between 9.5 & 12.5 mpg, with most of the difference coming from the right foot, so that's a wash.

McKesh is a good answer to one of your next dilemmas.
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Old 08-06-2008, 05:42 PM   #4
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My vote is for a new generation Toyota Tundra (2007-2008) 2wd 5.7litre. Great tow vehicle for the 25' and with reasonable gas mileage towing or not towing.
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Old 08-06-2008, 06:37 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by RedSHED View Post
<snip>Towing, everybody with a gas engine seems to be getting between 9.5 & 12.5 mpg, with most of the difference coming from the right foot, so that's a wash.
The right foot is a BIG part of the equation. If I mind my manners and keep the speed at 55, I get 15mpg or better (best so far has been 16.3 over long distances) with the '99 Burb towing the 72 Argosy 20. If I speed up to 65 or 70, the gas mileage goes right down the crapper - 10 to 12mpg. Push it past 70? Not gonna happen.

I've adopted the "reasonable speed + less braking = better fuel economy" mindset. Everytime you have to apply the brakes, you're converting speed which you paid for with fuel to heat energy that you can't recover. It's just like flying, it's a matter of energy management.
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Old 08-06-2008, 07:32 PM   #6
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I like the F150 it is a bit overkill but it gives you added safety. Not a big fan of toyota and there rusty frame issues. My Breakfast bagle was bigger then the ring gear of most foriegn vehicles rear ends. (disaster) The other thing is a cap or a hard tonuea adds alot of secure storage
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Old 08-06-2008, 07:44 PM   #7
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How about a 69-73 Chrysler Town & County Wagon with a 440 V8
or 69-73 Imperial with the same engine,

or 74-76 Cadillac Fleetwood 472 or 500 V8, 500, that's Big!

74-79 Lincoln Town Car with 460 V8

I have not mentioned a newer car yet,

Those cars are what I remember seeing growing up in the 70's
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Old 08-06-2008, 08:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef Jeff View Post
Hi there! I am looking at a 2005 25' safari with empty weight of 5325 lb. My ford explorer can tow 5600 , so I thought I was set, then after researching the forum, looks like a bad idea.
Hi Chef,

Welcome to the Forums.

A medium-sized truck-based SUV can be a good tow vehicle, but you have to really examine the weight numbers, and using a good anti-sway hitch system is a must. The difficulty here is you're essentially near capacity before loading anything in the trailer, so you're on the right track in looking for more tow vehicle. We looked at the Dodge Durango as being similar medium size & reasonable towing capability. As others have noted, the Durango is often considered the "little engine that could" when it comes to medium truck towing.

The Explorer has not been small pickup Ranger-based since 2002 - it is now essentially an "F-150 Lite." Is your Explorer a V-6 or V-8? Is the axle's final drive ratio 3.55 or 3.73? These differences bring the Explorer's rated towing capacity up to 7000 lbs, and ours has served us well towing lightweight (3500-4500lb) 22-26 foot trailers. But if yours is a V-6 and with a 25 foot A/S already near 6000 lbs, you'll be happier with more truck.
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Old 08-06-2008, 08:35 PM   #9
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Depending on installed axle (the upgraded the axles across the board on 25' and larger mid 2005 model year) this unit could reach a weight of 7000lbs before fuel, cargo, passengers etc. Regardless, the Explorer is NOT a good choice IMHO to tow a 25 footer....
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Old 08-06-2008, 08:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef Jeff View Post
Any recommendations on a vehicle/truck that can easily handle the towing of the trailer, but somewhat reasonable on gas, as it will also be used as my vehicle for everyday driving. Thanks in advance for your time! I am just starting to research this lifestyle (lots to learn).
You will find as many different answers as there are responces.
I personally like the Ford Trucks. Others like GM (they need all the financial help they can get right now) and some Dodge.
There is the 80% rule. your trailer loaded should not exceed 80% of your Tow vehicles RATED capacity. The rated capacities are not necessarly actual. This gives you a margin of safety. If you even have the remotest idea of upgrading your trailer go for the bigger truck or SUV. That way you will not have to support the economy more than is necessary.
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Old 08-06-2008, 08:52 PM   #11
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Tow vehicle

I'm in the process of upgrading to a 25SS safari, and I've been towing my 22 foot safari with my 2004 toyota Tundra Double Cab. I have had absolutely no problems with the smaller trailer, and I'll get an idea how it pulls the new trailer on Monday. I'm going to be a little over the 80% when the trailer is loaded up, so we'll see how it goes.
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Old 08-06-2008, 09:47 PM   #12
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Well!I like the Tundra 04 Stepside, However the F150 & F250 work great also, Now the Chevy & GMC well they can tow just about anything. So you see we have many options. Pick one and have a blast!!
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:27 PM   #13
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the chevy will only tow if the hitch doesnt fall off......Did you see that other thread on 2500 hd issues? I couldnt beleve it a v4 hitch on a 3/4 ton truck what where they thinking. I am not a big fan of foriegn vehicles either. I want a big both feet on the ground platform
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:41 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef Jeff View Post
Hi there! I am looking at a 2005 25' safari with empty weight of 5325 lb. My ford explorer can tow 5600 , so I thought I was set, then after researching the forum, looks like a bad idea if I don't want a white knuckle experience. So, I am considering trading up to something that can handle towing better, and my question is: Any recommendations on a vehicle/truck that can easily handle the towing of the trailer, but somewhat reasonable on gas, as it will also be used as my vehicle for everyday driving. Thanks in advance for your time! I am just starting to research this lifestyle (lots to learn).
Hello Chef Jeff, I think you should look into purchasing a 2006 AM General Hummer H1 Alpha wagon or open top. There were 500 made during the 2006 model year and I hear there are about 50 new ones still in dealer lots. This was the last year of the H1 and the only year that this vehicle was equipped with the 6.6 turbo diesel Duramax and Allison transmission. This vehicle has an aluminum exterior that is mounted on a rigid steel frame and combined with the referenced drive train, will last well beyond the life of your Airstream. The tow capacity should allow you to pull approximately 9,500 lbs which is plenty for your application. The price for an H1 wagon is $147,000 and I feel is worth every penny. Fuel mileage is approximately 15 to 19 mpg depending on towing or not, highway or city street. Fuel capacity is 52 gallons which for me seems to be plenty. Good luck with your selection.
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:41 PM   #15
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Lightbulb I find my 2007 Tahoe Adequte

5.3 L motor, 3.42 axle, 2WD

We averge 12. 4 MPG at 62 MPH towing
Not towing:
13.5 MPG city
20 MPG Hiway

The ride is comfortable

We slow down to 50-55 on long grades depending on road surface. If I was doing it again I would get the Tahoe with the 3.73 axle ratio. This is worth about 20 more HP at my towing speed.

I find this vehicle to be an adequate compromise between towing and everyday driving.

We pull a 2005 FB similar in weight to yours. We do not keep the water tank full when towing and make sure the waste tanks are drained. We get in the slow lane and go a constant speed under the speed limit so we do not have to use the brakes or gas too much. I do not let the transmission go down to 2nd gear when going up a hill , I take it off cruise and use the pedal to hold a constant RPM to keep us at 50-55 mph in 3rd gear.

If looking at a truck the Toyota Tundra with the 5.7 L motor has up to a 10,500 lb tow rating and can be equipped very nicely for towing. EPA Rated gas mileage is very close to the Tahoe.
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Old 08-06-2008, 11:42 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flitzwhopper View Post
matter of opinion...
the 4FCU has a member that pulls a 25 FB with a Dodge Durango (5900 lbs tow capacity) and he is a bit of a newbie. He has been all over the place and has not mentioned any problem. He is very conservative in his driving practicse. I'm not. Consequently, I'm more comfortable with a TV that has at least 30% more capacity than the trailer i'm pulling.
Actually, Mike, our 2005 Dodge Durango Hemi has a towing capacity of nearly 8,700 pounds. We lose a little because of the 4-wheel drive option and the high/standard rear axle ratio.

On our most recent 8,000 mile cross-country trip we averaged 14.7 mpg of regular gasoline. Without the trailer, we get a solid 23 mpg at 65 mph. Not too shabby, I'd say.
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Old 08-07-2008, 12:01 AM   #17
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My wife and I have been pulling our 19ft Bambi CCD with a 2008 Highlander (5000 lbs towing capacity) with a Equil-izer hitch set up. It has been fine for short tows in good weather but we decided to "upgrade" to a 2003 Chevy Express 2500 conversion van for longer tows without the limits/fear of the "small" Highlander. The 6.0L V8 seems to have the power and torque to make us feel more secure.

A full report coming as soon as the brake controller is installed. BTW, since it's a 2003 GM vehicle, we're having our hitch guy take a look at the welds, etc to make sure it's ok.

-Josh
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Old 08-07-2008, 03:45 AM   #18
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Hi Chet

We have dozens of customers that tow with Ford Explorers and most are towing larger than 25'. I find a properly set up Explorer to be as stable if not more so than several of the full size SUV's. The big advantage it has is independent rear suspension. They need the tires changed to a more optimal size and type for towing but this applies to most 1/2 tons and SUV's.

What year is your Explorer? Is it a V/8 or a V/6 and which axle ratio do you have? If you don't know the ratio there is an axle code on the drivers door post. Also what size tires are on it?

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Old 08-07-2008, 07:55 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by myoung View Post
Actually, Mike, our 2005 Dodge Durango Hemi has a towing capacity of nearly 8,700 pounds. We lose a little because of the 4-wheel drive option and the high/standard rear axle ratio.

On our most recent 8,000 mile cross-country trip we averaged 14.7 mpg of regular gasoline. Without the trailer, we get a solid 23 mpg at 65 mph. Not too shabby, I'd say.
Now Mike, what makes you think I was referring to you? Just kidding. Dang - just shows you how much the specs on cars direct can be wrong... they list the max trailer weight as 5900lbs for a Durango with a Hemi, the Dodge site lists 8950. We get 10mpg... but it is hard to keep it under 70.
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Old 08-07-2008, 08:32 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobfowler View Post
The right foot is a BIG part of the equation. If I mind my manners and keep the speed at 55, I get 15mpg or better (best so far has been 16.3 over long distances) with the '99 Burb towing the 72 Argosy 20. If I speed up to 65 or 70, the gas mileage goes right down the crapper - 10 to 12mpg. Push it past 70? Not gonna happen.

I've adopted the "reasonable speed + less braking = better fuel economy" mindset. Everytime you have to apply the brakes, you're converting speed which you paid for with fuel to heat energy that you can't recover. It's just like flying, it's a matter of energy management.
Like Bob, I've also adopted the "reasonable speed + less braking = better fuel economy" mindset. Family and friends of this former leadfoot are shocked

My '08 Chevy HD crew cab w/Duramax engine and Allison tranny and tow pkge is a terrific truck, I am very pleased with it. I also liked the F250, a LOT, though to me it had a stiffer ride. Boiled down to better $ deal for the Chevy, for me, as well as the comfier, quieter ride (and being leary of buying a 1st year in a new engine truck).

The truck has just under 5k miles on it, much of it spent towing. I have not run the numbers myself, but using the truck's MPG gauge (dummy gauge?), I am currently averaging 14.6 mpg towing and 20.2 mpg not towing. My mpg has been steadily increasing as the truck is breaking in. After slowing from 70 - 75 mph to a steady 55, I was only getting 10 - 11 mpg towing and around 15 not towing. Diesel price shot up right after our purchase so we were very concerned, but tried to trust that our mpg would improve over time. Not sure how much better I can expect, but we are pleased so far.

On my trip to NJ and PA this past week, I towed for 2 hours at 70 mph with a reset MPG meter. Mileage dropped to 11.2 mpg! Significant, and enough to keep me in the slow lane

I was told by many that if I stuck to mostly eastern US driving and had a good WD hitch, that a 1/2 ton truck would be adequate for my '08 25' AS, but that if I ever wanted to go longer AS (I do!), tow in western mountains (plan on it!), or am new to towing (I am), that I might find I am more comfortable towing with a 3/4 ton. Haven't towed with anything but this truck, but like it a LOT I notice a little more engine noise when in tow mode, but other than that I truly can forget I am towing - it is effortless!
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