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Author Topic: Towing with GMC Yukon XL Denali  (Read 18311 times)

Jankees

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Towing with GMC Yukon XL Denali
« on: January 04, 2010, 07:24:32 AM »
I am looking at buying a 2003 GMC Yukon XL Denali AWD with a 6.0 engine with a 3.73 rear end. I would like to pull a travel trailer with it. The car has a tow rating of 8.000 lbs. I would like to stay well within that rating. I am thinking about a travel trailer with a dry weight of about 5.500 lbs. I don't think I will even load more the 1.000 lbs of fluids and gear, so that should keep me well within the capability of the Yukon.

What do you reckon? Is the Yukon up for the task? Is this combination going to be safe? Will the Yukon have sufficient power to get me up hills and the such? Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

J.K.

Gary RV Roamer

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Re: Towing with GMC Yukon XL Denali
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2010, 11:21:56 AM »
The 2003 Trailer Life Tow Guide rates the Yukon Denali AWD 6.0L at 7800 lbs. That the max, with nothing in the SUV except driver and fuel. Typically the car is heavier than that (passengers, etc), especially with the trailer hitch installed, so it is best to assume the tow rating is decreased by 10% due to other weights in the load.  That leaves you about 7000 lbs max for the loaded trailer.  Basing your tow on the dry weight is risky,  since the loaded weight is always more than you expect and it tends to grow over time. Water, in particular, adds a LOT of weight and once in awhile you are going to need to travel with plenty of water onboard.  I'd be looking for a trailer with a dry weight of 5000 lbs. 5500 is pushing it, in my opinion.

Power is mostly a convenience factor. Stopping the trailer and keeping it under control in an emergency maneuver is the real concern.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2010, 11:23:44 AM by RV Roamer »
Gary
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Gary Brinck
2004 American Tradition
2007 GMC Acadia
Homebase: Ocala National Forest, FL

Dieselnuts6

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Re: Towing with GMC Yukon XL Denali
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2010, 10:09:47 AM »
From personal experience I would not recommend that kind of weight on the 6L.  It will pull it fine, so long as you are on flat roads.  The first hill you get to will make you wish you either picked a smaller trailer or a larger tow vehicle.  Like roamer said, you'll be surprised at how quickly you can weigh your rig down once you start packing.
2002 Trailbay 27DS by RVision
2004 CCSB Chevy Duramax

Jankees

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Re: Towing with GMC Yukon XL Denali
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2010, 03:17:14 PM »
So what you are saying that the Yukon and the Suburban suck big time as tow vehicles? I am getting very confused. Every time I am in the States I get passed left and right by huge rigs. Now I find out that in fact you need a semi tractor to tow a pop up trailer.

How can it be that a truck like the Yukon or Suburban, with a tow rating of 7500 lbs or more, can not pull a trailer with a dry weight of 5000 lbs?

I understand how gear can pile up over the years but here in Europe no trailer has a legal load capacity that exceeds 800 lbs. Therefor I cannot imagine hauling along double or triple that much. I will just have to make sure not to bring so much stuff.

Please help me to make sense of it all. If I stick to a travel trailer with a dry weight of 5000 lbs, will I be able to get around or will I be stuck at the bottom of the on ramp? If the latter, what kind of tow vehicle do I need to tow a trailer with a dry weight of 5000 lbs?

Jan-Kees

bigskymt

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Re: Towing with GMC Yukon XL Denali
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2010, 04:58:13 PM »
   
So what you are saying that the Yukon and the Suburban suck big time as tow vehicles?

  No one used those words. Here you will get honest opinions from people who have been there/done that.
  I've personally pulled 6K-8K gross loads in a 20' trailer with an '02 Silverado 5.3 L 1500, 4WD w/373s. MN to MT to CA. many times. Climbing some passes was a chore. I was satisfied with the performance. The WD Hitch made the handling acceptable.
  You're generally better off with some extra power, your choice.

 
« Last Edit: January 07, 2010, 05:15:35 PM by Carl L »

bigskymt

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Re: Towing with GMC Yukon XL Denali
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2010, 05:09:43 PM »
  Perhaps a Mod. can straighten out my previous attempt to quote and then delete this post............thank you

Carl L

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Re: Towing with GMC Yukon XL Denali
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2010, 05:13:32 PM »
So what you are saying that the Yukon and the Suburban suck big time as tow vehicles? I am getting very confused. Every time I am in the States I get passed left and right by huge rigs. Now I find out that in fact you need a semi tractor to tow a pop up trailer.

Oh?!  Where did you hear that?

Quote
How can it be that a truck like the Yukon or Suburban, with a tow rating of 7500 lbs or more, can not pull a trailer with a dry weight of 5000 lbs?

I understand how gear can pile up over the years but here in Europe no trailer has a legal load capacity that exceeds 800 lbs. Therefor I cannot imagine hauling along double or triple that much. I will just have to make sure not to bring so much stuff.

Actually Gary said you could tow 5000 -- he said 5500 was pushing it tho.   We are estimating towing capacity on the North American continent not Europe.   Towing east of the Rocky Mountains
would present no problems not encountered in Europe.  Tow in the 11 western states of the US however introduces high altitudes and long steep grades.   There only one western Interstate, I-10, that stays below 5000 feet  (1500 m).   I-70 tops out at 11,200 feet (3214m) at the Eisenhower Tunnels.   As it enters California, I-80 hits 7200 feet at Donner Pass.   Not just the passes are affected.  A considerable number of the scenic wonders of the West are on the great Colorado Plateau at altitudes of 6-7000 feet -- the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley, Capitol Reef, etc.   Many of the High Sierra resorts of California are at 8000 feet.

Gasoline engines lose 3% of rated HP with every 1000 feet they are operated above sea level.  Thus one operated at the Grand Canyon, say, is cripping along on 80% of its rated HP.  All of those passes present 6-8% grades over tens of miles ascending and descending.  Thus you are grinding up to the summit at the tunnels on I-70 with only 70% of your HP rating.

And then there is the descent from the summits.   I-80 descending into California has some 40 miles of downgrades as high as 5%.   And these are the primary highways.  Secondary roads can get nightmarishly worse.   Brake capacity is one of the factors in tow ratings.   

To compensate for this, we recommend reducing the tow rating of a gasoline engined tow vehicle in the West to 80%.   The 7800 lbs tow rating of your Yukon lowers to  6240 lbs.  You are still in the ballpark with your unit.

You use the term dry weight as if it were a scaled weight.  It actually the average weight of a production run less any dealer installed options like awnings, extra batteries, optional A/C units, etc..  Those can really pack on the weight.   It also does not include water and a typical fresh water tank runs about 40 gallons or 320 pounds of water.  For this reason we typically use the trailers Gross Vehicle Weight Rating for the indicator of trailer towing weight.


Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco

Carl L

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Re: Towing with GMC Yukon XL Denali
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2010, 05:15:53 PM »
  Perhaps a Mod. can straighten out my previous attempt to quote and then delete this post............thank you

Done.
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco

Jankees

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Re: Towing with GMC Yukon XL Denali
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2010, 12:59:31 PM »
It was not my intention to cause offense. If I did, I apologize. I greatly appreciate your help. I am not able to walk over to the corner RV of GM dealer to share my thoughts. I am solely dependent on you.

I started out my quest looking for a truck and fifth wheel with a wide slide. After a while I discovered that fifth wheels are very heavy and require a very heavy and powerful tow vehicle. That's why, on the advise of a fellow member of the forum, I changed my sights to a truck and travel trailer. I then found out that travel trailers with slides are very heavy to. After that I started looking for a travel trailer without slide of around 5000 lbs. Then, when I found out that may to much for my intended tow vehicle, I felt like I would end up with a t@b travel trailer. That is why I was so frustrated.

Needles to say it's very important to be able to climb inclines. I drove an RV from Denver to Zion National Park last summer. I met some steep inclines. I felt they compared to the climes we have here crossing the alps. If I won't be able to comfortably climb them, I will have a problem. On the other hand, I am careful and patient. It won't bother me to take my time and ease on up. My main concern is to keep the drive train in one piece.

If I understand you right, if I stick to a trailer with a empty weight of 5000 lbs and limit gear and fluids to a maximum of, say 800 lbs and if I am prepared to take my time going up the most steep interstate inclines, I will be able to get around? Would that be safe to say?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Jan-Kees

Carl L

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Re: Towing with GMC Yukon XL Denali
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2010, 03:59:50 PM »
With your Yukon as described, you should limit your trailer to one with an actually scaled weight, as loaded for travel of no more than 6240 lbs.   If you have no way to weigh the trailer, which is the usual situation in buying one, then use the GVWR number which often stated in specs as unladen or shipping weight (UVW) plus carrying capacity (CCC).

Since UVW is a number which may not be accurate for any particular unit, I can not make a recommendation based on it.   If you choose to, that is your affair.   I would caution that most folks tend to underestimate the loads they are piling in to a trailer.  Just the weight of the hitch system you buy will be close to 100 lbs.  A full 40 gal. water tank would weigh 380 lbs.

I would also remind you again that grades go down as well as up and downgrades can be dangerous if you burn out brakes inadequate for the load.   Ask any over the road trucker about that.

« Last Edit: January 09, 2010, 01:44:18 PM by Carl L »
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco

mrw8i

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Re: Towing with GMC Yukon XL Denali
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2010, 09:16:10 PM »
I have '99 Denali, 5.7L 3.73.   It's not an '03, but close enough to me for this comparison.   Towed my tent trailer just fine for years.  Towed many other trailers just fine.  Bought a 21' Mallard a few months ago, unloaded 5000 lbs, loaded about 6000 lbs.    Towed two times with the Denali.   I had enough power even pulling up mountains. 

Issues.  Short wheel base, 1/2 ton SUV with soft suspension.  1/2 ton so brakes are not really large.  1/2 ton so the transmission is not very large.  Tongue weight was almost about the same as the carrying capacity of the Denali so the suspension on the Denali was under extreme load.    Always felt like the trailer was in control and not me.

After two trips I got a 3/4 ton Suburban with an 8.1L and 4.10 rear end.   Yes it has a lot more power than the Denali, but more important I'm now in control.  The ride is a lot rougher in the 3/4 ton, but I'll deal with that.

In my opinion a 1/2 ton SUV (Denali) will be undersized for your needs.   Not because of the drive train; but because of the suspension, brakes and short wheel base.

Jankees

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Re: Towing with GMC Yukon XL Denali
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2010, 09:53:57 AM »
Issues.  Short wheel base, 1/2 ton SUV with soft suspension.  1/2 ton so brakes are not really large.  1/2 ton so the transmission is not very large.  Tongue weight was almost about the same as the carrying capacity of the Denali so the suspension on the Denali was under extreme load.

Thank you for your reply. I actually thought that the suburban and the Yukon XL were, technically, the same car with a different label. The Yukon XL seems to have about the same wheelbase as the Suburban. Am I right or is the Suburban a different truck then the Yukon? Neither truck seems to have a short wheelbase.

What was the tongue weight of your trailer?
From your reply I understand that power to get up an incline is not the main concern with a  (1500) Suburban or Yukon XL with a trailer with an actual weight of 6.000 lbs. The real concern is being in control. Is your advice therefor to start looking for a 2500 Suburban of Yukon?

Jan-Kees

Gary RV Roamer

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Re: Towing with GMC Yukon XL Denali
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2010, 12:15:11 PM »
It's hard to pin down the differences between the Yukon and the Suburban. Both are the same base vehicle but are built up and configured differently. Spec-wise, the Yukon is very close to the Suburban, while the Yukon XL is offered in both half ton & 3/4 ton configurations and with greater capacities than the Suburban.  If there is still a 3/4 ton Suburban in the current line-up, I can't find it.  They all, however, seem to have the same wheelbase (130" in the current version) and overall length.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
2004 American Tradition
2007 GMC Acadia
Homebase: Ocala National Forest, FL

mrw8i

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Re: Towing with GMC Yukon XL Denali
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2010, 03:24:02 PM »
Thank you for your reply. I actually thought that the suburban and the Yukon XL were, technically, the same car with a different label. The Yukon XL seems to have about the same wheelbase as the Suburban. Am I right or is the Suburban a different truck then the Yukon? Neither truck seems to have a short wheelbase.

What was the tongue weight of your trailer?
From your reply I understand that power to get up an incline is not the main concern with a  (1500) Suburban or Yukon XL with a trailer with an actual weight of 6.000 lbs. The real concern is being in control. Is your advice therefor to start looking for a 2500 Suburban of Yukon?

Jan-Kees
I missed the XL.  Yes the Suburban and the XL are basically the same.   So wheelbase should be okay.

Both the Suburban and Yukon XL 2008 and later can be found 3/4 ton, 6.0L, 6-Speed Auto; most have 3.73 some have 4.10.     The 2007 3/4 ton Suburban came with a 6.0 and 4-speed Auto.  The rated towing capacity is higher with the 6-speed auto.  Last year of the 8.1L was 2006.

I think the Denali is only 1/2 ton but I could be wrong, but I think the Denali comes with the 6.2L.

Another thing you have to consider is the weight of the vehicle itself.   A 1/2 ton Suburban is heavier than 1/2 ton Tahoe and much heavier than 1/2 ton extended cab pick up.   So the 1/2 ton pick up can typically handle a trailer of your size better than a 1/2 ton Suburban or Tahoe, it has more power to spare and less weight on the suspension.

My tongue weight varies depending on how full the tanks are.  50Gal water tank is in front of the axles, 40Gal gray and black tanks are behind the axles.   Beginning of the trip my tongue is heavier, typically around 900lbs.  End of the trip typically around 600 (I have to shift some of my load forward on the return trip).   Use the typical recommendations with the tongue weight somewhere between 10 and 15% of the total weight of the trailer.

I have an Eaz Lift hitch and had to use 1400lb spring bars to try and level the Yukon after hooking up.   I ended up with a lot of weight on both front and rear suspension of the Denali and the whole truck front and back being lower by 1.5 to 2 inches after getting everything level.   I could have gone to air bags or something else, but in the end I knew I was fighting a losing battle.   When I hooked up the trailer to the Denali the tongue weight maxed out the carrying capacity of the Denali and put any more gear in the Denali and could not any passengers other than my wife.   I have a friction sway control as well, and even then those side wind gusts pushed me around quite a bit, as well as the Semi-Truck trailers passing me.   When I hooked up the trailer to my 3/4 ton Suburban there was hardly any deflection in the rear, about 1.5 inches without spring bars.   I found that the 1400lb bars are way too strong with the 3/4 ton (driving the 210 freeway near Pasadena, beat the living cr@p out of me).   I have picked up some 1000lb spring bars and will try them on my next trip.  If they are too strong I'll try 750lb bars.

So lots of choices.   In the end I wanted something with strong suspension and better braking ability than a 1/2 ton.    I also needed passenger capacity so that left out pick ups which meant leaving out diesel as a choice.

Regarding pulling up a grade with a Suburban, you will probably have more towing capability in a later model 3/4 ton with a 6-speed auto than a 1/2 ton with a 4-speed auto.    I only use my Suburban for towing and Saturdays to car pool a bunch of athletes around, it is not my daily driver; so going with a used low mileage 8.1L 4-speed auto works for me.

My recommendation is to look at a 3/4 ton.   I think trailer weight wise, with a 1/2 ton you are at the hairy edge of having enough control when you need it most.  The 1/2 ton has a much nicer ride than a 3/4 ton, but I can live with that issue.

Jankees

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Re: Towing with GMC Yukon XL Denali
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2010, 09:01:33 AM »
Thank you for your help. For a travel trailer, I am now looking at a 2006 Forest River Surveyor SV-291. This trailer has a UVW of 4490 lbs and a dry hitch weight of 440 lbs. That is considerably lighter then what I set out with. Considering these figures, would I still be well advised to go for a 2500 Suburban of Yukon XL? If I can, I would like to stick to a 1500 because of fuel expenses and ride quality.

Jan-Kees

Gary RV Roamer

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Re: Towing with GMC Yukon XL Denali
« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2010, 10:02:13 AM »
At that weight you have a lot more options. A 4490 UVW should still leave you within the towing capacity of the Yukon 1500 after it is loaded up.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
2004 American Tradition
2007 GMC Acadia
Homebase: Ocala National Forest, FL

wthibeaux

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Re: Towing with GMC Yukon XL Denali
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2010, 09:04:36 PM »
We have towed our 5500lb loaded trailer with our 99 Suburban 1500, 5.7L, 3.73 gears and not had any problem with hills. We have not been in the mountains, so can't comment on that aspect. We have EZ Lift WD hitch with 1000lb bars. Haven't checked the tongue weight, but the hitch is more than adequate. Tows straight and level.

lucyakers

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Re: Towing with GMC Yukon XL Denali
« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2010, 08:28:30 AM »
The SUV's before 2010 and the government required upped mpg ratings were able to tow more weight than the new ones. I guess they dumbed down the engines to get better gas mileage!

I am happy pulling a Pioneer 210CKS with a GVWR of 6400 with a 2006 Tahoe with a 5.3L V-8, 4WD, 4.10:1 gear ratio and a towing package for an 8500-pound towing capacity.

I can hold 50 gal of fresh water which I only use filled to the top for the annual trip to Quartzsite!

The bigger vehicles like the Suburban won't tow more. It depends on the engine size and towing package.
George & Lucy
Holiday Rambler Ambassador 40'
Maricopa, AZ