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Old 01-20-2017, 09:15 PM   #1
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Towing a 19' Bambi

Hello! I'm new to the forums and I've been trying to use the search function without a whole lot of luck, so if this has been covered before I apologize.

My husband and I are getting close to purchasing a 2017 19" International and we're trying to figure out a tow vehicle. We want something that will tow the camper without difficulty, but that will also be a good daily driver for me.

A truck won't really work for us, so we're looking for the smallest SUV that can manage the trailer. We're hoping for something with decent gas mileage, new or close to it, and less than $40k.

A couple of possibilities I've seen so far would be a preowned VW Touareg, or maybe a new Honda Pilot with AWD, but while I've been trying to do research online I haven't found many other good options that would meet our needs. Any ideas? If not, any thoughts on which of the above vehicles would be better?

Really appreciate any help you guys can offer. This will be our first camper, as well as our first vehicle bigger than a sedan, so any advice would be very welcome! Thanks in advance!

-Tiffany
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Old 01-20-2017, 09:31 PM   #2
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Welcome Tiffany! I know there are a lot of SUVs out there that will tow a 19'. How small? A Toyota highlander should match up well with it, as well as the above mentioned Pilot and VW.

Are you just looking for options? What do you want in a daily driver? Maybe some parameters would help.
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Old 01-20-2017, 09:56 PM   #3
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Thanks so much for the quick reply! I'm looking for both options of good vehicles that I haven't thought of, but also opinions on what might be the best vehicle. Gas mileage and size are the most important parameters for us, as well as price of course. Safety and ease of towing are definitely up there as well. My only real concern with it being my daily driver is that it isn't huge - I prefer the ease of driving, parking, and maneuvering a smaller vehicle.

I know the Honda Pilot can tow 5000 lbs, and the camper has a max weight of 4500. Is that considered enough of a safety margin in weight to have good mileage while towing? I've read concerns that vehicles that aren't "designed" to tow are capable of towing, but do so with terrible gas mileage.

We're hoping to do cross country trips with this set up, hence the need for good towing gas mileage, as well as boondocking and hopefully even camping on the beach, so I would guess for that 4WD is a must.
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Old 01-21-2017, 12:11 AM   #4
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towed my 20 with my son's Grand Cherokee. (5.7 liter V8) Towed quite nicely. Plenty of power and control in the mountains of British Columbia. My wife drove a GC for a number of years. They are very easy to drive as a daily driver.
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Old 01-21-2017, 05:30 AM   #5
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It depends on why a truck "won't work". Most of the light trucks now have backup cameras so parking is easier, and will fit in any garage. You can carry more stuff too, even bicycles etc, just put them in the bed.

I bought the Grand Cherokee 6cyl, which towed great and was really nice for commuting. Thinking "it's a station wagon" so I could carry drywall, bicycles, whatever, in the back "just like a truck". I was wrong. Nothing fits in the back of today's "station wagons". A small lawn mover won't fit. A generator will stink it up, can't carry a propane tank inside a closed vehicle, etc. and with the Bambi's 850lb tongue weight I needed to crank those WD bars so tight the rear of the GC almost lifts off the ground when hitching. I can just imagine how it would be with a Pilot or smaller Toyota.

This wasn't the first time I went shopping wanting a truck and got an SUV. Back in 2000 I bought a Tahoe Denali because it looked cool. Couldn't carry anything in that either and the short wheelbase was a little iffy for towing especially on the freeway. Took a bath trading in the Denali a month later on a truck.

Whatever you pick, take it home overnight and drive it around. Sure wish I had...
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Old 01-21-2017, 07:33 AM   #6
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First, Welcome Tiffany. Second, we're new (2016) 19' Bambi owners and absolutely love the trailer. We tow our trailer with a 2003 Silverado which we bought specifically for towing our boat and providing us a vehicle for working around our property. We're now looking for a new-to-us Silverado because this one is very basic and we wanted a few upgrades, and it also allows us to tow without a weight distribution or sway control hitch. I know I've seen a lot of posts with people liking the Grand Cherokee and the Mercedes for tow vehicles. I owned a Grand Cherokee 6 cylinder and would never recommend using it to tow long distances (I was towing our boat approx 2700lbs), but people seem to like the V8 and diesel models.

My real reason for replying is that CountryBoy59 brings up a good point. Towing and traveling with the trailer can involve more than just the trailer. For example, we travel with very little added to the trailer other than food in the fridge, utensils, water tanks full and clothing, as well as electrical cable, 25' drinking water hose, Anderson chocks, sewer hose and 25' sewer water hose.
This would be easy with just an SUV.

But, we carry our bicycles (2) in the bed of the truck, along with my cast iron cooking (don't want to carry that in trailer) gear, small 24" weber charcoal grill, charcoal cannister, additional water hose, stabilizer blocks (wood) for sandy soil, and, as we dry camp for the most part, will probably add a generator and propane gas cannister to the list. Oh, and let's not forget the tool box, camp chairs and fishing gear (haven't got the kayak yet but thinking of bringing our inflatable dinghy). When filling up the bed of the truck (or SUV) you have to worry that you're not exceeding the capacity of the rear axle, along with the overall capacity for the truck. We can also add this equipment and be very comfortable in the vehicle.

So, you have to make sure that whatever you choose, it has the capacity of carrying your add-ons comfortably and safely as well. We do not like to travel with a lot of extras, but there are things that you will find you like to have and you'll get a feel for this when you get to use the AS. Read articles on towing guides; all that you can find. I use Chevrolet's guide for each year of the Silverado. It'll give you some general information that's useful for any vehicle. http://www.chevrolet.com/content/dam...ide_060816.pdf

Read, read, read. As CountryBoy alluded, changing your mind after the fact can be expensive. Each manufacturer's site will give specs and the trailer guides will let you understand how to apply those numbers. They're not always clear, but read enough of them and you'll learn. I've never bought anything that was borderline so when I read something will tow 5k and I'm starting out with a possible 4.5k (I think it's about 3800 basic) without adding anything to my vehicle, I'm pretty sure it won't work. My philosophy has been to exceed requirements and I've never been disappointed. But that's me. I also find that differences in gas mileage don't really add up to much in cost savings.

Sorry for the ramble, but wish you well in your new AS and the AS experience!
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Old 01-21-2017, 09:10 AM   #7
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The 2017 Honda Ridgeline has the full independent suspension stability and family practicalities of a modern SUV, excellent fuel economy and reliability, a decent wheelbase length for daly use, separate hauling space for those things you may not want inside your passenger compartment, and would tow a small Airstream comfortably.

Pay attention to loading and axle load capacities, as with all good tow vehicles, a capable, quality weight distribution hitch with either separate or integral sway control must be properly set up and adjusted for a safe, enjoyable towing experience.
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Old 01-21-2017, 09:28 AM   #8
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We used to own a Honda Pilot.

I would not recommend it except for the Bambi 16. It is a nice vehicle, but is not designed and engineered to be pulling and stopping a load as well as other choices.

I think you will only want a V-8 or diesel.

If you really don't want a Truck, then you will still most likely want a vehicle with Tow Package (larger transmission cooler, bigger battery, larger brakes), 4wd available, and body on frame (truck frame) construction. Not a small vehicle. Think about what you see towing boats around.

V8 Jeep Cherokee or Diesel Jeep Cherokee full size. Or 4 Runner, Sequoia, or Tahoe.

You may find as we did that we could get a fully tricked out V8 5.8L Tundra for less money.

Edited. And they make the Tundra in Texas, if that helps you to take a look at it!
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Old 01-21-2017, 09:44 AM   #9
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We had a Pilot and sold it when we bought our 19' Bambi and bought a used Touareg v6. The Touareg tows the Bambi like a charm.
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Old 01-21-2017, 10:08 AM   #10
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Learn something about the 2017 Honda Ridgeline and unibody design for similar vehicles in this segment.

http://truckyeah.jalopnik.com/mid-si...mes-1785674405
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Old 01-21-2017, 11:33 AM   #11
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you may also consider a Toyota 4Runner. Not unibody and tow capacity of 5000lbs. Also great reliability and resale!!
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Old 01-21-2017, 11:33 AM   #12
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I tow my 19' with a Chevy Traverse with the Tow Package. I have the Eazy Lift WD and a Brake Controller inside.
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Old 01-21-2017, 11:34 AM   #13
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Good article Doug.
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Old 01-21-2017, 11:38 AM   #14
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I towed my Bambi with a 2008 Lexus Gx 470. V8 power, full time 4 wheel drive, hi lo range. A very nice town car and off road vehicle combined. You could get used one, 80 to 100 thousand miles, $15,000. Comfy, luxurious, and safe. Traded up to a Toyota Sequoia when we bought the 25 footer. One of these with this kind of mileage s like new
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Old 01-21-2017, 11:51 AM   #15
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Towing a 19' Bambi

Hi,
I towed my 2005 19' Bambi CCD with a 2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer (truck-based) with tow package. It was a perfect marriage of trailer and TV. Perhaps they still make an Explorer with a tow package for under 40K? I sold the Bambi 1.5 years ago but am still driving the Explorer which has been trouble-free since day 1.
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Old 01-21-2017, 12:17 PM   #16
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Check Consumer Reports at your local library if you are not a subscriber. Best info you will get on what to buy. A new SUV under $40K for your Bambi: look at a Dodge Durango or Toyota Highlander. Both get good ratings. Whatever you choose, be sure to order the factory tow package, not dealer add-ons.
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Old 01-21-2017, 12:28 PM   #17
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Ford explorer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leanan View Post
Thanks so much for the quick reply! I'm looking for both options of good vehicles that I haven't thought of, but also opinions on what might be the best vehicle. Gas mileage and size are the most important parameters for us, as well as price of course. Safety and ease of towing are definitely up there as well. My only real concern with it being my daily driver is that it isn't huge - I prefer the ease of driving, parking, and maneuvering a smaller vehicle.

I know the Honda Pilot can tow 5000 lbs, and the camper has a max weight of 4500. Is that considered enough of a safety margin in weight to have good mileage while towing? I've read concerns that vehicles that aren't "designed" to tow are capable of towing, but do so with terrible gas mileage.

We're hoping to do cross country trips with this set up, hence the need for good towing gas mileage, as well as boondocking and hopefully even camping on the beach, so I would guess for that 4WD is a must.

Tiffany I towed my Bambi 19' with a ford explorer rated at 5,000 pound towing capacity. Without the mountains it was ok out west here. However, with mountains you will need something with more torque and capacity or the TV will prematurly wear out. Plus there was some white knuckle driving. I would steer towards a vehilcle that has greater towing capacity. IMO 5k is cutting it too close. I switched into an F150 which is overkill and I know you are not interested in a truck. BMW X5, toureg, Tahoe, might work
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Old 01-21-2017, 03:00 PM   #18
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Happy Campers

We've towed our 19' Bambi 4000 miles so far with our 2017 Honda Ridgeline and are very happy with the combination. We do use a weight distribution hitch if going more than about 30 miles. The Ridgeline is quiet and comfortable inside like the Pilot, easy to drive and maneuver when we're not towing and has a pickup style bed that we use for bikes, grill, wet hoses, etc. when trailering.
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Old 01-21-2017, 03:05 PM   #19
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Don't Tow a Bambi with a Highlander

Hi,

I purchased a new Highlander with the intention of towing and then got the 2007 Bambi 19 and when the Toyota factory hitch was bent off the frame of the car I was just glad I was not on the freeway going 50 mph. Traded it in for a 2016 Tacoma, it still needed a stabilizing hitch and a trailer brake. In the mountains it's a must.

The problem is the tongue weight!

Good luck,

ms
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Old 01-21-2017, 03:33 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CamanoIsland View Post
Hi,

I purchased a new Highlander with the intention of towing and then got the 2007 Bambi 19 and when the Toyota factory hitch was bent off the frame of the car I was just glad I was not on the freeway going 50 mph. Traded it in for a 2016 Tacoma, it still needed a stabilizing hitch and a trailer brake. In the mountains it's a must.

The problem is the tongue weight!

Good luck,

ms
The answer to tongue weight is a capable weight distribution hitch properly installed and adjusted as well as management of loads in the tow vehicle and travel trailer. Depending on the tow vehicle and trailer, in some cases the receiver hitch needs to be upgraded and/or reinforced to accommodate the lift of a weight distribution hitch. Highlander, Tacoma, and many others.

Your dealer did you a great disservice sending you out without a weight distribution hitch, not unusual that some dealers who sell travel trailers know so little about hitching them.

Properly hitched and loaded (you've got to weigh it after loading, hitched up and weight distribution applied to know what you have, then you won't have to depend on luck), Highlanders routinely tow small to medium size travel trailers.
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