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Old 01-29-2020, 12:23 AM   #1
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Lessons learned - Mercedes GL450 to RAM 2500

Over the period of the last 1.5 years, this forum has helped me learn a lot.
When my wife and I bought our 25FB in 2018, I was convinced that our beloved GL450 was more than adequate to tow our AirStream. I have even posted on some threads advocating why a 3/4 ton truck isn't needed to pull a 25FB. Now I think that an SUV like GLS450 is not suitable for AirStreams longer than 20ft, maybe a 23FB(467lbs tongue weight). It can do the job of towing from point A to point B, but once you start pulling regularly and start to feel the rig on highway speeds, on grades, going through passes, towing in unexpected snow, etc.; you realize that a much stronger vehicle is needed to pull confidently and safely. The keywords here are "feel the rig," so I won't try to argue with anyone who disagrees, because I was one of those guys until our last trip to Death Valley National Park. We went there during the Christmas week; we towed with a well equipped F-150 rental from our AS dealer. During this trip, we went over a pass, went through some snow, some heavy crosswinds, and concluded that 1/2 ton was barely adequate, and decided that we needed to change our TV from GL450 to a 3/4 ton truck.
Considering all this, we got ourselves a new 2019 RAM 2500 yesterday. We went with the RAM because that was the only truck that matched the bells and whistles we have in our SUV. We went with the Hemi engine, thanks to great feedback from jeffmc, aluminaut, and many others.
The extra payload, quieter engine, and having enough payload to have a RamBox were some of the reasons we chose the gas engine. With it's 14,300lbs towing capacity and 2830lbs payload, it seems like something we can tow with for a while.
With my previous posts advocating towing with SUV, I thought I owed it to this forum to share how my thinking has evolved.
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Old 01-29-2020, 02:38 AM   #2
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I agree. I have towed my 28 with a half ton puckup, an ML 350 and a RAM 2500. The half ton is inadequate. The ML 350 is a great tow vehicle but it just doesn't have the payload capacity. The RAM is the right size at 8000 lb curb weight to pull a 7600 lb trailer. The axle capacity is twice that of the other two allowing for plenty of payload, with the added benefit of not requiring a weight distribution hitch. On the road it feels more secure and towing is effortless.
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Old 01-29-2020, 04:04 AM   #3
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While my ¾ ton is getting sorted out* I was loaned a 1500 ½ ton. The experience of towing our 27ft Airstream with it was less than ideal. It worked, but it wasn't ideal. So even if it can tow that amount, I wouldn't want to do it on a regular basis. It is so effortless towing with the ¾ ton.

Congrats on the new tow vehicle!

* Word is, that my truck will finally be finished in the next week ... and I'm hopeful the parts they put in it this time will fix it for good based on somebody else who had the identical issue and his dealer replaced the same part and he has been trouble free for a few thousand miles now.
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Old 01-29-2020, 06:12 AM   #4
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Good for you. Great call! I think you made a great decision! I know there are some here that will reinforce a minivan and claim it can safely tow a 34 footer, but we all know that is simply not safe/true. Vehicles are purpose built. Sure you can modify them to try to make it better, but in the end the laws of physics cannot be cheated and the LAST place you want to find that out is on the road.
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Old 01-29-2020, 06:31 AM   #5
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Congratulations on your new tow vehicle and I hope you have many miles of trouble free traveling.
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Old 01-29-2020, 06:37 AM   #6
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I have a similar experience. I started towing my 2018 Serenity 28 with a 2016 Expedition ecoboost. It was “OK”, but lacked sufficient payload (1319 lbs). Upgraded to a 2018 F250 diesel. Never going back! Towing is now effortless.
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Old 01-29-2020, 07:38 AM   #7
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I recently rented a new (under 100 miles on the odometer) '20 Dodge 1/2 ton with the 5.7L and was completely amazed at how well it controlled speed in the mountain pass (~6% grade with lots of curves) that I went through each day *without* the tow-haul engaged.

The Ford 1 ton and Suburbans (all gas motors) I rented on other trips during the past 5 years (through the same pass) took the cruise control speed as a rather lose guideline even *with* tow-haul engaged. They would not think about speed control until they had blown 5 mph past the set-point and were well on their way to 10 mph over. The '18 Ford was actually a hot mess while the coolant was still cold as it had zero intent of slowing down without firm brake application.

The Dodge did not play around, started to act at just 1 mph over and only once it let speed increase to 4 mph over on the downhill grades. Granted this was empty, but it really was a nice difference compared to the previous vehicles from other manufacturers. Was also nice to have the ability to pay more attention to the road than continually mitigate speed build-up.


The real tragedy here is that nobody makes a 3/4 ton SUV anymore despite the ongoing market for one. Granted the numbers are not huge, but they are there.
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Old 01-29-2020, 07:56 AM   #8
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Your GL wasn't setup correctly. I tow my 31 Classic with my ML. Been coast to coast with it and usually go out east every year. Never had a problem. Sure sometimes you want more power, but who doesn't?
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Old 01-29-2020, 09:15 AM   #9
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Yes 3/4 ton!

Quote:
Originally Posted by AShar View Post
Over the period of the last 1.5 years, this forum has helped me learn a lot.
When my wife and I bought our 25FB in 2018, I was convinced that our beloved GL450 was more than adequate to tow our AirStream. I have even posted on some threads advocating why a 3/4 ton truck isn't needed to pull a 25FB. Now I think that an SUV like GLS450 is not suitable for AirStreams longer than 20ft, maybe a 23FB(467lbs tongue weight). It can do the job of towing from point A to point B, but once you start pulling regularly and start to feel the rig on highway speeds, on grades, going through passes, towing in unexpected snow, etc.; you realize that a much stronger vehicle is needed to pull confidently and safely. The keywords here are "feel the rig," so I won't try to argue with anyone who disagrees, because I was one of those guys until our last trip to Death Valley National Park. We went there during the Christmas week; we towed with a well equipped F-150 rental from our AS dealer. During this trip, we went over a pass, went through some snow, some heavy crosswinds, and concluded that 1/2 ton was barely adequate, and decided that we needed to change our TV from GL450 to a 3/4 ton truck.
Considering all this, we got ourselves a new 2019 RAM 2500 yesterday. We went with the RAM because that was the only truck that matched the bells and whistles we have in our SUV. We went with the Hemi engine, thanks to great feedback from jeffmc, aluminaut, and many others.
The extra payload, quieter engine, and having enough payload to have a RamBox were some of the reasons we chose the gas engine. With it's 14,300lbs towing capacity and 2830lbs payload, it seems like something we can tow with for a while.
With my previous posts advocating towing with SUV, I thought I owed it to this forum to share how my thinking has evolved.
I totally agree with you on the 3/4 ton. We had a 2018 Suburban as our TV towing our 2018 27 AS Flying Cloud and it did as you said, an okay job going from point A to point B. But the moment you were faced with any real challenges it just did not handle safely (in my opinion). I recognize each person looks at safety differently. We traded the Suburban and bought a 2018 RAM 2500 Cumins diesel. Wow-what a difference. I especially like the exhaust brakes.
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Old 01-29-2020, 09:33 AM   #10
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Totally agree. Went from towing a 1993 29’ Excella with a 4.7L Explorer to a 6.0L 3/4 ton. Absolutely the best decision ever. Yes, the smaller SUV pulled the AS but then so does my John Deere lawn tractor in a pinch.������. All a matter of perspective.
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Old 01-29-2020, 10:04 AM   #11
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Brought our new 2013 25FB International Serenity home from Los Angles to Phoenix using my 2007 Mercedes ML320 CDI turbo diesel. That engine had more torque than the V8 gas in 2007. It dropped back to 4th coming out of Palm Springs while maintaining the posted 55 mph speed (when towing in California). Handled the descents well too with engine braking. Had full propane and fresh water and my brief case in the trailer. Used a Hensley Arrow hitch and Tekonsha Prodigy RF brake control system.

Got home and loaded up the 25FB. The ML made new straining noises on a slight grade.

Waved the magic wand (wallet) and presto, a new 2012 Ram 2500HD Cummins appeared. Solved the towing problem.

The 25FB was traded in on a 2014 31" Classic and the Hensley and Tekonsha went into my garage. The second generation Jim Hensley design called the ProPride became the hitch. After converting to disc brakes, we had to switch to a different brake controller by Tuson. Our max tow speed is posted or 65 mph, whichever is lower.

We acquired a 2015 23D International Serenity and after upgrading to 15" SenDel wheels and 15" Michelins on the dealership lot, we added the Hensley Arrow and the Tekonsha brake control system. The 23D at 6,062 pounds fully loaded is a good fit for my 2007 Mercedes ML and we tow at 55 mph.

If necessary, I still have the Hensley Arrow stinger from the 25FB so the Ram could also tow the 23D by adjusting just the safety chains.
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Old 01-29-2020, 10:07 AM   #12
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I am very new to all of this and actually I am shopping for a tow vehicle. I have a 1972 Sovereign 31'. I had it delivered to a campground by the seller. I have been looking at 2007 +/- Ford Expedition EL SUV's with the 5.4 liter engine. For some reason the Expedition EL seems to be more affordable when searching for a tow vehicle. I dont have a make or model criiteria, just price, towing capacity and engine being V8. Any helpful advice would be very appreciated.
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Old 01-29-2020, 10:09 AM   #13
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My Tundra is also my daily driver. It's easy to drive, park, and get in and out of.
People talk about getting a 3/4 ton because of that mountain pass it does so well on. Great. But How many times have I gone to the grocery in comparison to how many mountain passes I've crossed?
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Old 01-29-2020, 10:12 AM   #14
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Congratulations on the new RAM

AShar, congratulations on your new RAM 2500; looks great!

I'm sure you'll find it less stressful towing your Airstream. While you can't go wrong with any of new 3/4 ton trucks, the RAM's interior and features stand out. I'm glad you found aluminaut's, mine and all the others posts helpful. We have a great community here!
-Jeff
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Old 01-29-2020, 10:14 AM   #15
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I’ve never heard anyone who bought a 3/4 ton truck say I wish I had bought less. The same cannot be said the other way around.
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Old 01-29-2020, 10:24 AM   #16
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More power is always better.
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Old 01-29-2020, 10:29 AM   #17
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I also agree with the consensus. We are somewhat experienced Airstreamers with 2,100 nights of Airstream camping and 200,000 miles of Airstream towing under our belts.

We have had two 25FB's over the past fourteen years.We started our Airstream experience with w 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe. It pulled the trailer in the flatlands of Florida and that was about it. We moved on to two 3/4 ton Suburbans with the 6.0 liter gasoline engine and the leaf spring rear suspensions. We towed with these for number of years. Then in 2011, we moved up to a Silverado 3500 pick-up because we were also carrying a truck camper. At this point we also went with Diesel. Even with the ruck camper on board, the Duramax pulled the Airstream beautifully. We could accelerate on 8% upgrades and keep up with the cars. We were really amazed. Several years later we sold the truck camper, but continued to tow with the Duramax. In 2017 we traded the 2011 for a 2018 Silverado 2500 Duramax. We had become spoiled, and wanted to continue with Diesel. We are now considering trading the 2018 for a 2020 to get all of the new features that have come about in the last year or two.

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Old 01-29-2020, 10:32 AM   #18
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Tow. Vehicle

I’ve taken some heat on the forums but I have no remorse other than the hit on the trade price for my decision to move from a 1/2 ton to 3/4 ton Tow Vehicle

My neighbor at the storage unit has a 25 Airstream and your previous MB 450. He is now looking at a new TV I’ll share your post
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Old 01-29-2020, 11:07 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gator.bigfoot View Post
Your GL wasn't setup correctly. I tow my 31 Classic with my ML. Been coast to coast with it and usually go out east every year. Never had a problem. Sure sometimes you want more power, but who doesn't?
Agree. We tow our 30' Classic with Infiniti QX80. Our QX80 replaced our GMC 2500HD, and we tow confidently.

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Old 01-29-2020, 11:32 AM   #20
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"How my thinking evolved" was that after towing 35K miles with a Ram/Cummins 2500 and talking with loads of trailer pullers pulling with a 1-ton, I traded in the 2500 for a 3500 --- virtually the same price and ride as the 2500 but seemingly a lot more truck. I just "don't get it" why the 2500 seems the be "the standard" when the 3500 is available. I know once I towed with a 3500, I wouldn't go back to the 2500.
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