I know questions like mine below have been asked and answered many times, and I've reviewed and learned a lot from reading some earlier threads, but I just want to make sure I understand the proper considerations in choosing a tow vehicle.
I hope to purchase, probably next year, a used Flying Cloud 20FB or perhaps the new Bambi 20FB, so essentially the same model. My current vehicle will need to be replaced sooner. My replacement vehicle also will be the tow vehicle for my future 20FB, and so I want to make sure whatever vehicle I buy can tow the trailer safely.
My ideal vehicle is a full-size pickup such as a RAM 1500
, Chevy Silverado, etc., but I have an undersized garage and those won't fit. I need a vehicle that is not longer than 218" and I'd prefer something at least a few inches shorter so I don't have to park perfectly each time. Anyway, I'm basically looking at a smaller pickup or a larger SUV.
The Bambi 20FB has a GVWR of 5,000 lbs (3750 dry) and a tongue weight of 540 lbs. I've read that for safety/performance reasons it's advisable to have the tow capacity of the TV exceed the trailer's GVWR by at least 20% and I've also read that Airstream may understate the actual tongue weights by up to 15%. So I think I want a vehicle with a tow capacity of at least 6,000 lbs and capable of handling a tongue weight of 625 lbs. Sound about right?
I've also read that with SUVs in particular payload is a concern. While mindful of that, I expect it would rarely be an issue in my case. Most often I will use the trailer alone (for fishing trips), but even family outings shouldn't add too much weight as it would just be me, my wife and our two dogs and we wouldn't be taking many toys along. So I figure with a trailer tongue weight of 625 lbs, another 350 lbs for passengers and dogs, and another 225 (likely less) for cargo/stuff, that anything with a payload of 1,200 lbs or more should be fine. Does that sound right?
I haven't test driven or even really looked at any vehicles in person (Covid concerns), but based on internet research I've identified the following as possibilities (the specs below assume I purchase a max tow package, which I intend to do; some of the specs may be off as not all manufacturers list everything and I found some conflicting info, but for now I'm assuming they're more or less accurate):
Trucks: Chevy Colorado (7700 towing capacity/1550 payload/770 tongue weight); Toyota Tacoma (6400/1095+/640); Ford Ranger (7500/1560+/750); Nissan Frontier (6380/1360/638??)
SUVs: Ford Expedition (9300/1750/930); Chevy Tahoe (8200/1698+/1000); Nissan Armada (8500/1542+/850); Dodge Durango (8700/1412+/870)
I've eliminated some other SUVs (Range Rovers, etc.) either because they're more than I want to spend and/or they're "too nice"--not necessarily with the trailer, but the vehicle will often be driven on forest service and other gravel roads. Of the vehicles I've mentioned above, I have concerns about the Tacoma's payload, the specs of the Frontier and not sure I'm really a Nissan guy anyway and I just don't like the looks of the Durango, and so my early top contenders are the Colorado (or comparable GMC truck), the Ranger, the Expedition and the Tahoe. I'm open to buying a used vehicle as long as it's under 3 years old and doesn't have more than 30,000 miles. A used Tahoe is especially appealing as the 2020 and older models are a bit shorter than the 2021s.
So to sum up:
1. Are my calculations above about what I need in terms of towing capacity, payload and tongue weight correct?
2. Assuming I get the tow package and other appropriate safety equipment (weight distribution hitch, brake controller), should the vehicles listed above be able to safely tow a 20FB?
3. Are there other factors/safety features I should consider in choosing a tow vehicle?
4. If anyone has experiences, good or bad, with any of the vehicles listed above towing a trailer that is 20' or longer, I'd love to hear them.
5. Any other vehicles I should consider? I'd like to stay under $50K, although I realize some of the SUVs I've listed, at least new, would be above that.
Any thoughts and suggestions are appreciated. Thank you.