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Old 08-16-2009, 12:19 PM   #1
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Petaluma , 94952
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Green Tow Vehicle For Safari 17' ?

Hi -

Complete numbie here. The wife has been in love with Airstreams forever and I am now captivated. We find the new Safari 17' and the next size (19'?) up nice and am thinking about taking the plunge before long when I retire, or maybe before so we can start enjoying it. We live in Northern California and hang out in Mexico whenever we can.

Question: We would need to get a tow vehicle. Our regular car in a Prius hybrid and we kind of like the Toyota Hylander Hybrid SUV, rated at 3,500# tow capacity. Would that vehicle be capable of towing a Safari, or should we consider something else? If something else, what green vehicle should be considered?

Thanks for the input ... we appreciate the site very much!

Nolan
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Old 08-16-2009, 12:46 PM   #2
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If I could import from overseas, I would get the Jeep Commander with the 3.0l CRD diesel. 30mpg and run biodiesel

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Old 08-16-2009, 12:54 PM   #3
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Unless you plan to use the Green SUV for city driving I would suggest it is the wrong vehicle for towing. First, the 3,500 tow limit would be stressed by a 17 or 19' AS. My 16' CCD comes in right at 3500lb with a light load in the trailer, i.e., very little food and light load of water. Second, most "green" vehicles get poorer gas mileage on the road than a gas burner, thus, I would guess even poorer mpg towing an AS. All that said GET the AS you'll love it.
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Old 08-16-2009, 12:57 PM   #4
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You are going to have to face the fact that a heavy trailer requires a powerful tow vehicle. Physics rules. To me "green" is subjective. A brand new factory diesel is much, much cleaner than a 15 year old truck, but yes is does produce more emissions than a Prius.
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Old 08-16-2009, 01:14 PM   #5
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You might want to research what the Canadians are doing towing with smaller and lighter vehicles. Instead of big trucks they favor cars/minivans and v6 motors. Can-Am RV is known for having several small tow vehicles on site, including a PT Cruiser. You'll find a lot of info about towing with a smaller vehicle on the forums, but the American sentiment is mostly that you need a 1 ton diesel for any trailer, so you have to do your own research and see what people are towing with that works and decide for yourself. Here's a thread to get you started

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f463...nal-50511.html

We tow with a full size van because it is also our work van, but I would like to go to something smaller and more comfortable someday, especially if we get to where we can spend more time on teh road.
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Old 08-16-2009, 01:53 PM   #6
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For the safari sport you're thinking of the Highlander would be fine. Other choices? Unconventional would be some kind of midsize car (call canamrv.ca). Anther member here has this trailer and a Ford Escape. The Rav 4 should handle it too. Don't need a huge truck.

Or Jetta diesel. Again, call Andy at canam
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Old 08-17-2009, 02:50 AM   #7
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This is my Tow Vehicle for my SS 17', It's a 2007 sprinter re-badged as a VW crafter. Motor is a 3L V6 turbo diesel, drive train a 5 speed auto that locks up after every shift so it drives much like a standard you can drive from the throttle in traffic and not use the brakes much.

15.5 to 16 MPG if I keep it under 65, which I don't.
With out the trailer It I get about 19.5 mpg again driving in the low 70's.


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Old 08-17-2009, 06:08 AM   #8
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My hat comes off to you for thinking green!

Some real good reading here on fuel efficiency, 4 and 6 cylinder towing, towing with cars, etc. RV Lifestyle - Hitch Hints & Wagon Masters

4cyl Diesel Jetta. 30MPG towing an Airstream.

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Old 08-17-2009, 06:30 AM   #9
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I also applaud your desire to tow green. As was said in an earlier post, physics rules. 12mpg is 12mpg whether you accomplish it in a PT cruiser or an F350, though. You'll find that a properly sized tow vehicle will give you very good gas mileage while towing, and do it comfortably and safely. High-mileage small vehicles (hitch and safety issues aside) will struggle with towing, and you'll be appalled that the gas mileage will drop down into the same figures as a full-size truck while towing. You're much better off keeping the Prius for commuting and buying something that is a competent tow vehicle that you like and keeping it just to tow.

As an example, I had a V-10 Ford Excursion that would give me about 12-14 mpg either towing a 17' fiberglass trailer... or not (and as high as 17mpg highway at 55mph on a relatively flat stretch). My Toyota compact truck with a V6 that I normally got about 22 mpg unladen also gave me 12-14mpg towing the same trailer. The Excursion was a MUCH more competent tow vehicle, and MUCH more comfortable. Of course I used it to tow our 34' tri-axle as well.

Roger
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Old 08-17-2009, 07:16 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 85MH325 View Post
I also applaud your desire to tow green. As was said in an earlier post, physics rules. 12mpg is 12mpg whether you accomplish it in a PT cruiser or an F350, though.
Roger is correct but most of us tow only 20% of the time. Therefore there is a huge advantage of having a vehicle that gets 25 to 50 MPG running solo 80% of the time.

Quote:
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You'll find that a properly sized tow vehicle will give you very good gas mileage while towing, and do it comfortably and safely.
A vehicles stability factor and connection quality has more to do with safety than the size of the vehicle.


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High-mileage small vehicles (hitch and safety issues aside) will struggle with towing,
Some are much better than others. Research will bring to light the top performers. In many cases a custom, high tech hitch/receiver will perform better and be safer than a traditional bolt on hitch.

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You're much better off keeping the Prius for commuting and buying something that is a competent tow vehicle that you like and keeping it just to tow.
These are personal feelings and the idea has merit but for others the "one vehicle does all" practice works great.

Quote:
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As an example, I had a V-10 Ford Excursion that would give me about 12-14 mpg either towing a 17' fiberglass trailer... or not (and as high as 17mpg highway at 55mph on a relatively flat stretch).
That is not very impressive for someone who is thinking green. By comparision the VW Jetta gets 30MPG towing the small Airstream and 50MPG solo.
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Old 08-17-2009, 09:04 AM   #11
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My daughter tows a 2800# pop-up with her Highlander hybrid and it's performance is marginal at best. We do Mexico too and a 4WD comes in handy for the sand and occasional mud. She gets 14-16 when towing and thats what we get with our Ridgeline, but with a lot more oomph.
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Old 08-17-2009, 09:19 AM   #12
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What about wear and tear on a smaller(green) tv. How's it feel in that Jetta? Drive train, suspension , brakes are all good? Trailer must be close to equal in weight as the tv?
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Old 08-17-2009, 03:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ct.mcdaniel View Post
This is my Tow Vehicle for my SS 17', It's a 2007 sprinter re-badged as a VW crafter...

Just curious, did you convert the whole front end (grille, lights, fenders, bumpers, etc)?

I think that's cool!
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Old 08-17-2009, 04:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ahab View Post
My daughter tows a 2800# pop-up with her Highlander hybrid and it's performance is marginal at best. We do Mexico too and a 4WD comes in handy for the sand and occasional mud. She gets 14-16 when towing and thats what we get with our Ridgeline, but with a lot more oomph.
What part of the towing experience is marginal? Acceleration, hills, control, braking? All of the above?

I agree that most of the time we tow someplace, then need the tow vehicle to use as an 'around-town' car for the rest of the week. It would be nice to have something with decent mileage once the trailer is unhooked. As it is we have our work van which gets about 12mpg if we're lucky, trailer or not!
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Old 08-17-2009, 04:34 PM   #15
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Nolan, this is a tough one. As you can see there are very divergent answers. I agree that too small a vehicle will have significant stress on the engine, transmission, suspension, and I wouldn't want to be the person who buys it used. An underpowered vehicle will often burn more gas than a properly powered one. Too big a vehicle is overkill and can be rough on the trailer. In between those two extremes are a lot of vehicles.

I don't have the answer for a 17' or a 19'. We bought a bigger and heavier trailer and saw no alternative to buying a large 1/2 ton gas engine powered truck.

There are some things you can do:

1. Look for a reasonably efficient and reliable smaller 1/2 ton truck—Toyota Tacoma is one possibility. A second hand one will still last a long time. Then wait for the more fuel efficient trucks to start appearing in several years.

2. Take short trips, therefore, use less fuel.

3. Boondock and get a solar panel—you won't be using electricity off the grid, you'll use less water because you have to.

4. Replace the bulbs in the trailer with LED's—they use a lot less electricity and that's good for boondocking (less battery drain) or with electric hookups.

When you compare vehicles, you have to check what the tow capacity of the tow vehicle is, the gross combined vehicle weight rating, and the payload of the vehicle. Payload is sometimes ignored but is important. Generally pick ups with the same engine have a higher payload than comparable SUV's because their bodies are lighter. Manufacturers' websites will have information on specifications for current models and you can check websites like Edmunds and Kelley's Blue Book—they may have them for older models. Compare with weights (including tongue weight) for Airstreams you are interested in. Read up on tow vehicles on the Forum so you can understand all this stuff, especially payload.

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Old 08-17-2009, 09:34 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astroboy View Post
Just curious, did you convert the whole front end (grille, lights, fenders, bumpers, etc)?

I think that's cool!

Yep everything from the A pillar forward is from the VW parts bin. It was relatively painless too.

To stay on topic as a tow vehicle the sprinter is limited to 5000 pounds. Its all so a really easy driver but it is a really big step up into the truck.

It weighs about 500 pounds less then the current F150.

Tom
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Old 08-22-2009, 01:42 PM   #17
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Green Tow For Safari 17

Thanks everyone for the replies .... very helpful. We're going to get out there and look at as many as we can!

Nolan
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Old 08-22-2009, 03:13 PM   #18
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Nolan: Here is our experience, as limited, as it is.

Last September, we purchased a new ’08 GMC Yukon hybrid (2wd). We have two daughters that live in Northern California, (San Mateo & Modesto). Every couple months we take a trip to visit them and the grandkids. We use I-5 from, our home in San Diego to Los Banos and then either the 152 to San Mateo or the 165 to Modesto. For those of you who are unfamiliar with that route, it includes two trips over the “grapevine”.

With an average speed of 70-75 mph, we get 22+ mpg. At an average speed of 55 mph we have gotten 25+ mpg. Around town I average 21 mpg and the wife gets 20. Being a Prius owner, I’m sure you are aware, that how you drive a hybrid will have an affect your mileage.

In May, we purchased a used ’08, 28ft, CCD International. Since then we’ve taken our only hooked up trip, to Los Banos (900+ miles round trip), to have some Warranty Service on the AS completed.

Setting the cruise at 55 mph, we averaged 14+ mpg round trip. At one point, over 200 mile stretch, we averaged 15+ mpg.

Lyle & Margie
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Old 08-23-2009, 10:49 AM   #19
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Green Towing Does Seem Possible

Thanks for your reply regarding your green tow package.

I live in Northern California and grew up as a kid going over the "Grapevine." with my folks to see the relatives in L.A. I remember those vehicles on the grade with the radiators steaming on a hot day. Your Yukon International package sounds ideal if it masters the Grapevine.

After reading all the replies here (which we really appreciate), I have almost come to the conclusion that a larger efficient vehicle and a trailer in the 23-25' range may be a good starting combination for my wife and I. Clearly we need to look at as many as possible and are hoping to attend a local upcoming rally.

I almost ran out to buy a vehicle with the cash for clunker program this weekend, but it is premature until we decide what we want. Clearly, bigger is better ... but not too big

Anyway ... thanks for your thoughts, it is good to know the larger SUV hybrids perform as well as you explained.

Safe travels ...

Nolan
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Old 08-23-2009, 10:59 AM   #20
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Horses

8 horses...8 horse power? Doubt they will pass the emissions test though.
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