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Old 10-26-2018, 07:38 PM   #1
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Question New Airstream Sport 16 ft: Ford F150 2.7 liter Ecobst or Chevy Colorado 3.6 liter V6

Just bought a new Airstream Sport 16 ft.. The Airstream Specs say that the max trailer capacity is 3500 lbs.. We will be taking the Airstream over the Continental Divide yearly from the East Coast. My present truck is an older Chevy Colorado which on paper has a towing capacity of 4000 lbs but I don't think it will be adequate for the task, so I want to upgrade.

I have had the Chevy Colorado for a decade and haven't had any problems, so of course I am considering one of the newer Chevy Colorado V6's with a 3.6 liter engine, 308 hp @ 6800 rpm and 275 lb-ft of torque @ 4000 rpm. It has a towing capacity of 7000 lbs..

I am also intrigued by the Ford F150 with the 2.7 liter V6 Ecoboost engine. 325 hp and 400 lbs torque. It has a listed towing capacity of 7500 lbs.

Would either of these vehicles take me safely across the Continental Divide every year? I don't want any white knuckle experiences.

Or should I look at the bigger engine F150: the 3.5 liter Ecoboost with 10000 lbs towing capacity or is that just overkill for towing the 16 ft Sport?

Thanks for any replies.
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Old 10-26-2018, 08:44 PM   #2
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If your use-case is towing over high passes, I'd choose either the turbodiesel Colorado or either of the F150s. For the 16 Sport the 2.7 Ecoboost would do fine, and the V6 Colorado would generally be fine as well, but a turbocharged vehicle has a significant advantage at altitude.

For any of these vehicles, getting a unit that's genuinely configured to tow is important. I don't know the configuration options on the Colorado, but for a 2.7EB I'd ideally want the "2.7 Payload Package (622)" or at a MINIMUM the 53A Towing Package plus an E-locker diff in 3.55 or 3.73 to 1 plus the brake controller (both of those are already included in the 2.7 Payload Package).

You'd want the equivalent setup in a Colorado... I think the diesel comes with all of that by default, and with the more commonly available V6 you might need to specify.

It definitely pays to do a bit of research, because unless you're talking to the fleet sales guy at the dealership, salesmen often don't know anything about the equipment you need to tow with the truck, etc.

I'm a big nerd, I custom-ordered my truck from the factory, but I'm towing a bigger trailer and wanted a combination of things you just don't find on the lots, but it's available to build.
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Old 10-26-2018, 08:55 PM   #3
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Just crossed the continental divide again yesterday, for the second time in a month. Towing a 7,000 lb +/- of 27FB with a 2017 Ecoboost F150. Yawn. Having crossed numerous 7,000, 8,000 or higher passes it becomes no big deal. Harder to drive in LA.
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Old 10-26-2018, 08:55 PM   #4
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One other thing... a bit of generally-good advice that's pretty commonly offered on here. Since you're starting off with one of the smallest trailers and people often find they want to go bigger after traveling in a little one for a while, consider a well-equipped 3.5EB that has capacity to tow a bigger trailer. I tow a 26U with a max-tow 3.5 Ecoboost (over mountain passes), but lots of people will tell you anything bigger than a 23' trailer "needs" an HD pickup.
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Old 10-26-2018, 10:09 PM   #5
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I think any new truck with a beefier towing capacity will probably do just fine. If you're starting out from New England for a long trip, think also about your interior comfort for those long miles. A really nice crew cab might be worth it.

We pulled our 16' Bambi with a Tacoma. It did just fine, but we did sometimes feel it going over the big passes. No problems, just noticeable. When we got the 19' rated 4500 lbs we got a Tundra, and scarcely feel it during mountain driving.

Would also recommend a cap (canopy, topper) for the back end of your new truck. The 16' Sport has very little interior storage space, but you can load all kinds of gear into an enclosed truck bed.

Happy Trails.
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Old 10-27-2018, 09:08 AM   #6
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Out of curiosity what is the cost differential between a 2.7 eco boost and a 3.5 eco boost for a pickup similarly equipped? One thing you really want is a 36 gallon tank if you can get it in the 2.7. I think both trucks you mentioned would do the job. In fact why tow with a pickup at all? You might go for a good size SUV. You might find it more comfortable. Happy camping.
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Old 10-27-2018, 09:20 AM   #7
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Chevy Silverado

We have a Nest trailer, same weight as your Sport, was towing with a 2015 Honda Pilot, which did fine, but upgraded to the 2018 Chevy Silverado LT with tow package, and it is wonderful! Better mileage, very comfortable, quiet ride, tows like a dream. We want to move up to a 25 - 27 ft Airstream in a few years when my husband retires, so we will be set.

Specs:
5.3 L V-8 ECOTECH 3
7600 lbs GVWR rating w trailer pkg
Rear axle 3.42 ratio
10,700 max trailering w/ trailer pkg
GCWR 16,700 w/ trailer pkg
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Old 10-27-2018, 09:45 AM   #8
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The properly equipped F150 2.7EB would be fine, should be no problems. For comparison we pull our 2016 27' AS with a 2016 F150 3.5EB, max tow package and Blue OX WD for 3 years now with most of our 20K miles all over the west's mountain passes. We spent this Sept in western CO (and northern NM) going over a couple 11,000' passes without any struggles. The F150 is a fine truck when not towing as a bonus.

The only white knuckle experience you might encounter is doing the scary "Million Dollar Highway" right out of Ouray, CO, doing the narrow and twisty turns without guardrails and immediate sheer drops, when heading south.

Good luck/have fun.
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Old 10-27-2018, 10:34 AM   #9
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Canyon Diesel

Both trucks you mention will do the tow job. However, if you get the diesel in either the Colorado, F150 or a GMC Canyon you will be happier. The MPG for the Chevy and GMC is near 30 when not towing. I believe the same would be true for the Ford. I have 23000 miles on my Canyon 4X4 diesel crew cab. It is my everyday drive and toad for our motorhome. lifetime mileage is 23.1 overall.
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Old 10-27-2018, 10:48 AM   #10
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Canyon diesel

I pull a Basecamp with Canyon Denali 4X4 - excellent TV in mountains or on the level - 18/20 mpg towing ave - exhaust brake a plus in mountains - previous TV was a 2017 Tacoma 4X4 - was disappointed in the Tacoma performance especially with transmission.

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Old 10-27-2018, 11:05 AM   #11
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I tow a 20' Flying Cloud with a 2016 Colorado 4WD CC turbo-diesel. Given your scenario, my experience towing multiple ~7,000 pounds load of oak firewood from the Willamette Valley (just about sea level) over two passes to my home near Bend might be relevant. It's not the Rockies (Tombstone Pass is 4,200', Santiam Pass is 4,800'), but it may give you an idea of puling & braking, particularly since there are some steep climb sections on highway 20. My Colorado is rated at 7,600# towing capacity, so I was near capacity. I could still accelerate uphill pulling that load, with the only concern being a 210F gearbox temp, the monitoring for which is part of the tow package. No warning lights came on, and the dealer assured me the fluid is rated for over 250F. They checked the chemistry of the fluid after I was done ans said it was fine.

Perhaps more important than getting up the hill is getting down. For such a small engine, I was very impressed with the exhaust brake's ability to keep that load at speed and stable. If you haven't experienced a modern diesel truck's exhaust brake, it is basically a braking cruise control. On the descent to Santiam Junction from Tombstone Pass, or to Suttle Lake from Santiam Pass with full load, I just push the button on the exhaust brake and computer shifts the gearbox as necessary to maintain the speed when I pushed the button. With 7,200 pounds of trailer and oak, I didn't have to touch the brake on either descent. I did on occasion, wondering if using the truck's and trailer's brakes was a better solution than just engine braking, but it was nice to know that in a high traction, dry pavement situation with a well balanced load, I didn't have to use the brakes. Max RPM was 4,200 for a few seconds, then 2,400 to 3,500 to maintain ~55mph. (I wasn't interested in a trailer stability test on the descents, as this was a bare bumper hitch with no load leveling or sway control. I arranged the wood to manage tongue weight, and performed some stability tests off-highway after each loadup.) When the incline lessens, just touch the gas to release the jake brake. I did five trips with that load, ranging from 6,700# to 7,200#. I didn't use the exhaust brake going the other way (with the empty 2,700 pound box trailer), it was overkill. I have a convenient truck scale near my home, so I could weigh each load.

I was pleasantly surprised to get 16.5 to 17.5 mpg on each ~90 mile uphill run, depending on ambient temperature. This truck is my daily driver, and I wanted a truck I didn't feel bad about driving. (My wife and daughters all drive hybrids or electrics.) I am at 26.7 mpg LTD (16,000 miles), and that includes my towing. The average trip to town is 28-30 mpg (I live 13 miles from Bend), depending on how much stop-and-go I do.

I would buy another Colorado turbo-diesel for towing, and recommend anyone towing 6,000# or less to consider it. I know there will always be the "bigger is always better" crowd, but I am more of a right-size sort. Overall size was also important. My wife likes to drive our truck, but never liked our 1 ton Dodge Dually or our F-250 PowerStroke. She called it "docking an aircraft carrier" in a parking lot or our garage. I looked at both the Eco-Boost F-150 and the RAM 1500 turbo-diesel. The latter fell out quickly, no more capacity (at the time) than the Colorado, but bigger with poorer mileage. I have no complaint about the F-150's, they're beautiful trucks with all kinds of options, but we wanted the smallest, most efficient truck with the power (braking and pulling) to tow our Airstream. I hadn't planned the firewood stress test, but it was nice to know it could handle the job.

Enjoy your truck shopping.
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Old 10-27-2018, 11:27 AM   #12
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It depends what you want as a daily driver when the trailer is parked. I would suggest you start by reading the Hitch Hints by Airstream Dealer Andy Thompson at Can-Am RV. It may be better to learn from a recognized hitch professional rather than information from a forum.
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Old 10-27-2018, 02:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Searching View Post
Just bought a new Airstream Sport 16 ft.. The Airstream Specs say that the max trailer capacity is 3500 lbs.. We will be taking the Airstream over the Continental Divide yearly from the East Coast. My present truck is an older Chevy Colorado which on paper has a towing capacity of 4000 lbs but I don't think it will be adequate for the task, so I want to upgrade.

I have had the Chevy Colorado for a decade and haven't had any problems, so of course I am considering one of the newer Chevy Colorado V6's with a 3.6 liter engine, 308 hp @ 6800 rpm and 275 lb-ft of torque @ 4000 rpm. It has a towing capacity of 7000 lbs..

I am also intrigued by the Ford F150 with the 2.7 liter V6 Ecoboost engine. 325 hp and 400 lbs torque. It has a listed towing capacity of 7500 lbs.

Would either of these vehicles take me safely across the Continental Divide every year? I don't want any white knuckle experiences.

Or should I look at the bigger engine F150: the 3.5 liter Ecoboost with 10000 lbs towing capacity or is that just overkill for towing the 16 ft Sport?

Thanks for any replies.
I have driven a 16 ft. Bambi Sport 20,000 miles over the past 12 months with a V6 Toyota Tacoma with a tow capacity of 6500. It have performed beautifully and I have towed it over some serious mountain passes and narrow roads. So If you want to stay with a v6 Chevy Colorado, my bet is that it will do just fine.
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Old 10-28-2018, 12:18 AM   #14
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New Airstream Sport 16 ft: Ford F150 2.7 liter Ecobst or Chevy Colorado 3.6 liter V6

Since I haul a 2007 22 International with a Tacoma, Ive learned patience on long uphill grades, but it stops and maneuvers fine otherwise. The V6 should be just fine with a 16 footer. Just be sure you have s properly set up anti-sway and Weight Distribution (WD) hitch to make it easier. .
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Old 10-28-2018, 05:58 PM   #15
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Daquenzer. On a new vehicle, the cost differential between the 2.7 Ecoboost and the 3.5 Ecoboost is about $4000. That is enough extra money, plus the reduced gas mileage, that I wouldn't necessarily want to go larger unless it gave me a much greater dividend in the towing ease department.
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Old 10-28-2018, 06:02 PM   #16
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Smile

Thanks everyone for the quality responses. Lots of good info to chew over. I think at this point, I am leaning towards the F150 2.7 liter Ecoboost and will get the Trailer Backup Assist option to make life even easier.
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Old 10-29-2018, 08:04 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Searching View Post
Thanks everyone for the quality responses. Lots of good info to chew over. I think at this point, I am leaning towards the F150 2.7 liter Ecoboost and will get the Trailer Backup Assist option to make life even easier.


Can you get 36 gallon tank?
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Old 10-30-2018, 09:12 AM   #18
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Looks like you have gotten some really good advice so far.
I love my Tundra. My only complaint is that it is HUGE- as are all the other full size pick ups. I would look hard at the smaller trucks and SUVs but also consider that you might also go to a larger Airstream in the future.

You are doing your due diligence, so I am sure you will be happy with your choice.

Dan
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Old 10-31-2018, 06:44 AM   #19
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I saw a video of that F150 2.7 EcoBoost doing a tow test up a major mountain grade.

It killed it!

Impressive performance out of that 2.7, and it should do a fine job for you (and get better mileage as a daily driver).

Good choice.
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Old 10-31-2018, 07:51 PM   #20
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Duramax Colorado!

We are totally pleased with our 2016 Chevy Duramax diesel towing our 25' FC. You should consider giving it a second look.
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