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Old 07-11-2009, 05:37 PM   #1
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Nancy G.
Looking for a new tow vehicle for T1950-any suggestions?

Currently have a Chevy Trailblazer '03 with 6 Cyl. 275 hp, 94K that on paper should pull ours easily, but with plans to do some long distance pulling soon, we are considering a newer vehicle. Thoughts on a pickup vs 8 cyl. SUV? Oh, yeah...we have a pooch (75 lb. chocolate lab) that needs to go with us... xtra cab/crew cab? Curious about gas mileage and pulling capacity?

Nancy and Pat
2006 T-1950
2007 Dodge Ram 1500 with a "Hemi!"
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Old 07-11-2009, 07:55 PM   #2
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Hi Nancy

Are you looking in the GM line?

The Suburban, Tahoe in the SUV are good options and the 1500 Silverado is very good for your TT.

Since you are now sizing up a TV, need to think of the entire needs and then that will refine the choices.

Are you thinking used or new? Right now there is a good supply of good used TV’s out there in the 3 above I mentioned and well as other brands. There are many of the year 2000 to 2007’s out there. If you are thinking new, then they have more features and also cost significantly more as well. In the used area, I would not be afraid of a good used one of any of them. The lower the mileage the better naturally however 50K miles is nothing to any of them.

Here are some things to think thru then tell us what “needs” more fit your case.

In the SUV category, do you need more inside room? This tends toward the Suburban over the Tahoe. There are towing trade offs between the 2. The same drive train and engine exist in both, however the Suburban is slightly heavier and pending what you are putting in it, may or may not be a problem. The Suburban is longer and more stable for towing to the Tahoe, but with your TT, both need a good WD hitch and integral sway control.

Do you need more weight carrying ability or more so called dirty outside space? The Silverado can carry more weight then either the Tahoe or the Suburban. They are built to carry weight (heavier rear springs) and the do not have the heavy glass and back end of the SUV. The PU is just generally lighter then the SUV so you are ahead of the weights to start with. However need to watch the crew cabs as they do add weight but still they are in most cases lighter then the SUV. A bed cap can be added for cover gear room or a tono cover. They come in crew cab with as much room if not more then the back seat of a Suburban. And if you add a cap/tono cover, then you have more inside rear /dirty cargo space then the Suburban. However the PU is not the cream puff of a SUV. It is more of a truck, but not by much now a days.

Cost: Having been in the SUV's from 1989 to 2007 I really became used to the inside creature comforts and they ride like a cream puff. However they do cost more then a PU new or used by a significant amount. I never realized that until this last TV I have now. The interior ammenities sort of clouded my mind.....

If you put the same 5.3V8 Vortec engine and 3.73 rear axle ratio in a 1500 Suburban, Tahoe and Silverado this is what it comes out as.

The PU:
For pulling, the PU will be able to pull more total camping gear and TT weight.
For carrying, the PU can carry more camping gear weight in the truck.
For holding up a heavier TT tongue, the PU can hold up more tongue weight.

The SUV:
The Tahoe since it is lighter can pull more total camping gear and TT then the Suburban.
The Tahoe can most times hold up more camping gear weight then the Suburban, if you can fit it in there.
The Tahoe can carry more TT tongue weight then the Suburban before maxing out the TV rear axle.

The Suburban is a more stable TV due to it’s longer wheel base then the Tahoe.
The Suburban has more interior room then the Tahoe.

So with those thoughts in mind, what things do you want/need to go camping with? After a weight review, all 3 may fit or 1 or 2 may not.

This sort of comes down to wishes for the TV and then does it fit within all the specs of the TV.

Make a list the things you want to take inside the TV, including people and pets and assign a weigth to each. Then also think future, will that weight change by much? It is amazing how much weigth camping stuff all adds up to. 20# here, 10# there and before you know it there is 300# of stuff and never realized it.

When I towed with my K2500 Suburban, I had 250# of camping gear, 109# of bikes plus 2 adults. The weight of the cargo in the Burb was more then one thinks until you add it all up. I have a 2003 Trailblazer as well I go back and forth to work with. If I camped with the Trailblazer I could not take what I normally take. It all choices.

Here is what 250# looks like that was in the back of the Burb. ( I missed adding the notes on the weight of the bike seats.)

So add up your weigths for now and the future and come back to us with a number for the truck to hold. Then we can add the fully loaded T1950 to it and see how it shakes out. Also let us know if the SUV fits your life better then the PU.

Hope this helps


PS Gas milage, all 3 I gave refrence to with the saem drive train will get close to the same mileage. The PU might be in a slight lead over the SUV.
For a 2000 to 2006 1500, 5.3 with 3.73 rear axle expect about 10 maybe 12 mpg max towing and approx 15 to 18 non towing. Maybe a little higher but not much.

Current Sunlines: 2004 T310SR, 2004 T1950, 2004 T2475, 2007 T2499, 2004 T317SR
Prior Sunlines: 2004 T2499 - Fern Blue
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Old 07-12-2009, 07:57 AM   #3
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We've had two Dodges in the older body style pictured in my sig. They were both extended cab, and worked very well for our dog (60# yellow lab) and the smaller grandchildren in car seats or booster seats. The older truck was a '98 with the 5.2 L engine and HD package. It had 3.53 gears which made it less than ideal for towing but did an adequate job for us for 9 years. Our '99 2453 is in the same weight category as your 1950; 5,500# GVWR so it is a fair comparison.

Any of the so-called "half ton" pickups properly equipped would be good TV's for you. That also applies to the matching SUV's: Ford's Expedition, Chevy/GM's Suburban/Tahoe/Yukon series, and Toyota's Land Cruiser. Curiously enough, Dodge's Dakota/Durango series will work well, too if properly equipped. They are the only down-sized vehicle out there that is really adequate for towing in the 5,500# category.

Our '02 is overkill for the 2453, but we bought that truck planning to step up to a fiver.

Some things I think are essential considerations regardless of manufacturer or type of vehicle:

1. If at all possible, factory tow option package. If not, then factory HD option package is usually everything but the receiver and wiring which is easily covered by aftermarket receivers and wiring adapters. (IMHO, aftermarket receivers like Reese are generally better than factory anyway.) Our '98 Ram had the HD option, and adding the receiver and wiring adapter was an easy DIY.

2. At least 3.73 rear end gears. If possible, 3.93 or 4.10 are better for towing, but will dig into non-towing fuel mileage a bit. 3.53 gears are to be avoided as they really hurt in the torque department. You lose much of your hill climbing ability under load with 3.53's.

3. Don't overlook creature comforts. The interior options are important for a vehicle that you will likely spend many hours in as you travel about. And it may well be your only driver when on a trip so it may as well be comfortable for a run to the store or to visit friends and family. I like cloth seats, power windows, air conditioning, adjustable seat backs and other similar features.

4. If you chose a pickup, short bed or long bed is personal preference. It is tougher to manuever the long beds due to overall length of the vehicle, towing or not. If you don't need the cargo space, a short bed will likely serve you better as it is easier to park, etc.

5. Given your dog, an extended cab is pretty much a must if you select a pickup. All the extended cab trucks now have the rear doors in some form which is good (our '98 didn't, the '02 does.) If you go with Dodge's Ram newer than '02, their extended is really a short crew cab and no other choice. That adds length with the same issues as a long bed. The Dakota is much better in that department if you like Mopar's.

6. 4x4 vs. 2x4 is personal choice although the 4x4's usually have slightly lower tow ratings. If you have another vehicle that is 4x4, your tow vehicle may not need to be unless it is also a daily driver in an area where 4x4 matters. We have a Grand Cherokee so we've opted to skip the 4x4 in our tow vehicle.

If you read back through some of the threads here in Towing and Tow vehicles, there are more than a few folks that are pulling TT's with TV's that are not really adequate. A number of us have offered advice about this, and given a great number of good reasons why one should have an adequate tow vehicle.

I've noticed a distinct trend towards better fuel mileage in the newer and newest TV's on the market. There's currently a discussion on fuel mileage here, and the trend is noticeable. If you are planning to buy a used TV, that may influence your choice.

One final thought. It has been my experience, backed up by many stories told here in SOC, that car dealers and RV dealers are not to be trusted when it comes to advice about towing. Again, reading back through a few threads here will quickly show this to be valid. I would offer that the knowledgeable and experienced folks here in SOC will give you much more honest and factual information without trying to sell you anything.

'12 F250 4x4 Super Duty PowerStroke 6.7 diesel
2011 to present: '11 Cougar 326MKS
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Old 07-12-2009, 02:16 PM   #4
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Tow Vehicle

Nancy and Pat

Just a short note to let you know that we have a 2005 T 1950 and we towed it with a Ford Expedition. The Expedition is a 4.6 engine, 3:31 rear end and 2 wheel drive. We found it to be inadequate as it never had the horse power and never got the best gas mileage. It has air shocks and seemed to be a little soft in the rear. On some hills it was all I could do to get it up to 45 mph. The engine often ran 3000-4000 RPM.

We recently moved up to a Ford F150, Super crew cab, 2 wheel drive, 5.4 engine and 3:73 rear end. I could not beleive the difference. It tow's like a dream. The RPM's run around 2000 and now I have to watch my speed as I can be running 65-70 before I know it.

Just wanted to let you know what works for us. I do beleive the engine and rear end is very important when pulling.

We are going camping this weekend. I will have to update my photo with the Crew Cab.
Jim, Mary Jane and Lord Bentley (Beagle)
2005 Sunline T-1950 (Sold)
2006 Sunline T-2499 (Sold)
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Old 07-12-2009, 04:20 PM   #5
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Hi Nancy,

The good news is that it's actually easier buying a tv that matches a tt than the other way around. When you already own the trailer you bypass all the twisted logic of the RV dealers and it is much easier to get the info on a truck than on a trailer. We bought the 2499 thinking, and being assured, that our 4.8 Silverado would be adequate. Once we knew our standards were much higher than the RV dealer's, it was easy to bump up a category to the 1500HD.

A couple of thoughts based on that experience...

Our ready to roll camping weight, for two people, is 1000 lb. over the official factory dry weight of a 2499. The factory dry weight does not include any options, propane tanks, battery or water. We don't pack heavily, and even though you have a smaller tt, you'll likely have just as much stuff which will put you close to or, more likely, just over 5000 lb. This will also give a tongue weight of at least 500 lb.--600 lb. would be even better. In other words, I think you'll need a vehicle that can haul a 5500 lb. tt with a tw of at least 600 lb. plus whatever weight of passengers, dog and cargo you carry in the tv--at least another 400 lb. It may surprise you then, that GM does not consider your Trailblazer adequate for the load you are hauling right now.

My last two tvs have been GM so I'm going to stick with examples I know and since you have a Trailblazer, GM will probably have more than a passing interest for you. I can't find this page on GM's US website, but the Canadian should be just as good as the vehicles are the same and built on both sides of the border anyway. Click all the links in the top left corner and spend some time reading through these pages and playing with the numbers.

GM also used to print trailering guides. Most dealers don't seem to carry them and the latest one I have is 2006. One of the most important numbers in this guide is the GCWR--gross combination weight rating--and it is not found in the regular sales brochure. Sales people should know this number--if they don't, or pooh pooh it, walk away. GCWR is the total weight limit of the tv + contents + tt + contents. This is the engineer's number--it can't be fudged. Tow rating, on the other hand is constantly fudged by advertisers and RV dealers because most people believe it truly is the weight of trailer that can be towed. But it's not. Strictly speaking, tow rating is the fully loaded weight of the trailer plus you and all your stuff in the truck. So the dry weight of your 1950 may only be 3800 lb., but you need a tow rating of 6000 lb. to have even a small margin built in.

An example...
A 2006 Trailblazer with 6 cyl. and 3:42 axle has a GCWR of 10,000 lb. With 3:73, 10,500 lb. and with 4:10, 11,000 lb. You have to allow over 5000 lb. for the loaded weight of the 1950 and almost certainly over 5000 lb. for the loaded weight of the Trailblazer. Unless you have a 4:10 axle, you're over the GCWR. At least in 06, all Trailblazers came with a tow package so I don't think you need to be concerned about breaking something on the next camping trip or cooking the transmission, but you live in a hilly state. When you replace the Trailblazer make sure you buy "more truck" than it is.

If you end up buying used, shop very carefully. There are lots of GMs out there with 3:23 axles and a towing package and a 4.8L. Don't go with less than the 3:73 and 5.3L. Gas engines produce their torque high up in the rpm range--even a big engine will not do well with a 3:23. Definitely get the towing package, and if possible the big factory mirrors. No add ons are up to the Ford and GM towing mirrors. They have a flat full size mirror on both sides plus the convex on both sides. Also their large convex gives a much bigger image than any little stick on. Unfortunately the convex are not electrically adjusted. I spent a lot of time playing with mine to get all 4 perfect so the image from the top flat one flows into the image on the bottom convex. Well worth it and a huge confidence builder while towing and backing.

Don't overlook the Avalanche. It would be a nice tv for your tt and shorter than any extended cab or crew cab.

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Old 07-12-2009, 05:55 PM   #6
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Henry's excellent post reminds me of one other bit that I consider very important.

I don't believe it is enough to get a tow vehicle that is just enough to deal with the loaded weights of the trailer and TV. Some margin beyond that is essential. Some folks recommend at least 10% extra capacity. I personally like the 25% to 30% range.

Taking the manufacturer's weight rating of what the TV is able to pull, and staying within the CGWR, if the properly equipped TV is rated to pull 6,000# and your TT is GVWR'd at 5,500#, you have 500# of reserve capacity which is an approximate safety margin of 8.3%.

Is that enough? My guess is not. If you do any towing in high altitudes, you lose a lot of capacity for every thousand feet of increased elevation. Also, constant towing in hilly or mountainous terrain (like our beloved Adirondacks) places an additional strain on the TV. And, when a TV is 5 years old, does it really have the same capacity as it did when new? How about 10 years?

If the same TT is pulled by a TV with a 7,800# tow rating (still within CGWR), you have 2,300# of reserve capacity which is a hair over a 50% safety margin. I'd find that reserve capacity to give me great piece of mind with my spouse and family on board.

A quick scan of ratings for properly equipped new half ton pickups shows them all to be greater than 7,800# these days. Corresponding SUV's will have slightly lower ratings.

Check the manufacturer's tow ratings very carefully. There are huge differences in capacity based on gearing, engine, option packages, 2x4 vs 4x4, cab size, bed length, and more.

As Henry pointed out, finding a TV to match an existing TT is a much easier task because you know the minimums that you need. But this is one place where you need to understand what is really required, and do your homework carefully on each vehicle that you look at.

We hear a lot of horror stories of RV dealers who compare the dry weight of a trailer to the tow rating of a customer's existing TV and pronounce it to be OK because the difference is just a few hundred pounds. Nobody tows an empty TT on a trip. Nobody carries nothing in the TV or TT. We all carry "stuff" and it adds up quickly.

Be careful of car dealers that want to sell whatever they have in stock rather than the right vehicle for your needs. That 3.21 or 3.53 rear axle is NOT good for towing. A vehicle without the HD or Towing package is not what is needed and the lack of them greatly lowers tow ratings.

I was at an RV show last winter. We walked into a nice fiver and looked around. There happened to be two salesmen and several couples in there. I asked one of the salesmen what the dry and gross weight ratings were. He replied 11,700 dry and 13,500 GVWR. I thanked him and told him that my truck would not handle that. He asked what I had. I told him a Dodge dually diesel with a max towing capacity of 12,400#. He tried to tell me that my truck was adequate for the trailer. I replied that he was not taking into account "stuff" and that the trailer was just too big for the truck. He loudly told me in front of several prospective customers that no one carried 1,500# of stuff. I quickly replied that he was very wrong about that and that the average load that folks put into trailers is easily in the 800 to 1,000 pound range. By his time, the other folks were listening carefully and I could see that they were not pleased with what the salesman was saying. He knew it, too. Several couples walked out at the same time that we did.

The point to all that is that RV salesman only want to make a sale, and don't really have the customer's overall best interests at heart. I don't think the majority of car/truck salesmen are much better at dealing with the trailering world. If you go to a dealership, ask to speak to the saleman who is in charge of light trucks and trailering sales. This applies regardless of whether you are looking for a new or used vehicle. The guy who greets you at the door is most likely a regular car salesman and won't really understand your needs.

When we went looking for a new TV in November of '07, we told the dealership what we wanted as a minimum in a used TV. The salesman's parents happened to own a fiver so he was more than a bit knowledgeable. He treated us well and didn't try to sell us whatever was on the line that day. He called us whenever something he thought might interest us came in to either of their dealerships. Since we live way out in the country and really prefer Dodges, we didn't travel all over the place looking at various dealers. That logic doesn't apply to many folks, but given that the nearest dealer is a 20 minute drive, we opted to just work with a trusted dealership with whom we have a long standing relationship.

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Old 07-13-2009, 06:38 AM   #7
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Tow with Expedition

We also travel with two standard poodles and tow with a 2006 Expedition 4X4 with the heavy duty tow package rated for 8600# tow capacity. Even if we fully loaded the T-1950, it would never be near the tow capacity. We have towed to ME, NH, and VT with no problems and have to watch our speed as we can easily be over 65 MPH with our setup. That said, the next tow vehicle will most likely be a pickup with a supercrew cab as I am pretty certain we will one day want a larger TT and the Expedition will not comfortably tow much more than the T-1950. Towing gas mileage is about 9-11 MPG depending on whether we are in the mountains or on the flat Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Yesterday we were looking at a 2006 Ford 250 Super Duty with the diesel engine and super crew cab. It's listed for just under $30,000 and has about 50,000 miles but for right now looking is all we are doing. LOL
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Old 07-14-2009, 10:55 AM   #8
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Re: Tow with Expedition

Originally Posted by Diane

Yesterday we were looking at a 2006 Ford 250 Super Duty with the diesel engine and super crew cab. It's listed for just under $30,000 and has about 50,000 miles but for right now looking is all we are doing. LOL
Diane - we bought a 2009 F250 Super Duty 4x4 Super Crew Diesel for just a little more than that.......we are in upstate NY - which may have something to do with the pricing of the vehicle......
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Old 07-14-2009, 01:00 PM   #9
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Perhaps we need to truck shop in NY!!!!! I often think that prices in MD are way out of line on many items (like food).
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Old 07-14-2009, 01:41 PM   #10
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Move to NH

Move to NH and you'll save. We have no sales tax and in must states that will save you a few thousand alone.

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Old 07-21-2009, 07:42 PM   #11
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With the F 150 I hardly know the T-1950 is back there. 12-13mpg towing.
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Old 07-22-2009, 02:55 PM   #12
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Great thread and great advice, whats that 50% rule again? My 195sr is I think 7500GVW so I should be looking at F250's or Dodge 2500's with Tow packages?

Not trying to hijack the thread its a good one just my version of the 1950 is a little fatter. lol

Thanks for th help gang. I'm looking to buy used as well. Took a used 08 Dodge Lariat for a test drive with only 10k miles on it for $39000. I guess long gone are the days of getting a pickup for 20k max. I think a new one was close to 50k.

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