Advice - buying both TT and TV

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Well Hello! I've enjoyed reading these threads, but wanted to raise this question, hopefully get some advice. I plan to purchase a travel trailer in the spring of '20 (unless my local RV dealer wants to deal).

My vehicle is also due for replacement, so I need to buy something that can handle the job. I do not want to purchase a dedicated TV, and would prefer to avoid a full sized truck.

Details: Trailer --> We are going to buy a Jayco 174BH dry wt 2900# fully loaded 3750# (+/- a few pounds), length is ~21.5'

From my reading, I believe this is light enough that I can go with an SUV, understanding that it would need to be properly equipped.

I'm looking at:
+ Chevy Traverse
+ Jeep Grand Cherokee
+ Dodge Durango
+ Toyota 4Runner

Am I on the right track here? Has anyone had good/bad experiences with any of the above as a tow vehicle?

We're also only going to be camping within 2 - 4 hours of our house in Buffalo, NY (being realistic here... for us, camping is for long weekends)










 

Gary RV_Wizard

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You are talking abut a trailer that weighs in around 4000 lbs, so you need a vehicle that can tow that much as well as carry your family.  Most of the vehicles you cited have a max tow rating in the 4000-5000 lb range. I would want a minimum tow rating of 4500 lbs to be sure  it had the capacity to handle both the trailer and a load of passengers and gear in the SUV.

The Max Tow rating often depends on engine, transmission, etc. For example, the Traverse maxes out anywhere from 1500-5000 lbs, based on engine, transmission, FWD vs AWD, etc.  Don't rely on brochure claims - always check the details for the specific one you are interested in.
 
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Thanks Gary, those are helpful thoughts.

I was hoping to find one of those SUV's in a configuration where I could tow a small camper and still have plenty of buffer. I do see people towing with SUV's, was hoping to hear about their experiences - good and the bad.


 

SpencerPJ

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I can not offer much advise, I pull a 21' Trailer, with a YukonXL, and it does decent.  Keep in mind, your still pulling a 10 foot high, 8 foot wide wall (front of Trailer) at 65mph, plus mother nature.  Mid size SUVs struggle with that.  You might consider a pop-up style camper.  In addition to this Forum, I recommend that you scour other SUV specific Forums, and pick the brains of those whom actually own the vehicles (unless of course someone on hear does).  Good luck, and last advise, don't listen to ANY RV salesperson about towing or technical details, they just love to sell RV's and we have seen many burned.  Keep doing your homework  :))
 

cerd

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I would probably avoid the Traverse. The other 3 should do okay, but make sure you look at the gear ratio. My 2005 Durango came with a 3.92 gear ratio which gives me a tow capacity of +8000lbs. But the standard gear ratio was 3.55 which was only about 5000lbs, which might be cutting it close for your TT.

Research is free. Upgrades because your tow vehicle is struggling can be expensive.
 

grashley

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Welcome to the Forum!

Every vehicle sold new in the US and Canada for the past 10 years has a yellow border placard on the driver door latch post.  This states... the maximum  weight of passengers and cargo shall not exceed xxxx lbs.  This is exactly what it sounds like.  It is the vehicle Payload.  It may be the one spec that is hard to make work.

With a 4000 GVWR camper, your hitch weight will be between 400# and 600#.  This weight is carried by the SUV.  Add 80# for a WD hitch.  Add the weight of all passengers, pets, car seats, snacks, games and anything else carried in the SUV.  This weight must be less than the yellow placard payload.
 
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Thank you everyone for the advice... I'm definitely still in research mode... and getting MUCH better at reading those yellow stickers!

 

scottydl

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Great job doing research on this BEFORE buying... :) We see & hear from way too many folks that end up on the opposite side of that coin, with an oversized trailer or underpowered TV (more common). Although you see a lot of SUV's towing trailers, what you don't know is whether folks are towing within their legal/safe vehicle limitations. ALL trailer/RV owners should weight their loaded rig and know exactly what they are handling, but very few of them do.

The other factor of towing is the enjoyment... I'd much rather have a TV that I know (by tow capacity and by feel) can handle my trailer, rather than "white knuckling" the experience and having the trailer blow me all over the road. Tail wagging the dog, as we say around here sometimes. Travel trailers are giant sails and can pick up / react to a lot of wind forces. You want to make sure your TV can manage those issues too, beyond being able to pull in a straight line.

Last but not least... this is a different conversation but will toss it out there while you're in research mode. There is no reason to buy brand new, either trailer or vehicle. Both of them will depreciate horribly, and many of them are perfectly fine in gently-used condition. If you are convinced on that Jayco, I bet you could find that model or a VERY similar one that's a few years old with the same/similar floorplan and features. You can save a bundle up front, reduce or eliminate payment, and have more cash saved to enjoy your trips and plan for the inevitable repairs! ;)
 
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That's a great point. When I think about it, I'm open to everything the SIZE of that Jayco (need enough room for 2 adults and 2 kids - ages 6 & 7 next camping season)

We also looked at the Wolf Pup, which we thought was also very nice
KZ makes a nice little (and light) travel trailer with tent pop outs - I also plan to look at that one too... it's the "KZ 160RBT"

I'm a dedicated used car buyer, always have been. I'll buy 3 years old, on the theory that I let someone else pay the depreciation for me... I've never been burned doing that.

I figured I would spend all the 3Q researching, then pull the trigger on the vehicle when the deal presents itself...

 

scottydl

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Buffalo_newbie said:
I'm a dedicated used car buyer, always have been. I'll buy 3 years old, on the theory that I let someone else pay the depreciation for me... I've never been burned doing that.

That's exactly what I do too... our 2013 Chevy Traverse purchase in 2016 (the latest body style at the time) was purchased with 60k miles, now has almost 120k, and still drives like it's brand new. (Note: That Traverse is our daily driver, not the trailer TV.) The same purchase principle works with used RV's. Just gotta find that one you want, that was meticulously cared for by it's prior owner, who understand it's true value and isn't trying to sell for an unreasonable amount just to pay off their loan. That combination of factors might sound like a unicorn, but they're out there! I've done it with two RV's now (a motorhome and our current trailer) and plan on following the same pattern for our 3rd one someday. :)

Buffalo_newbie said:
I figured I would spend all the 3Q researching, then pull the trigger on the vehicle when the deal presents itself...

Great plan! Gotta say though... a 17' trailer is going to get real small real fast with 2 kids. Imagine having all four of you in there together for a long period of time... being stuck inside on a rainy camping day, wanting some "private" time with the missus, etc.  Be sure to look at these trailers IN PERSON -- don't rely just on online photos, until you become very familiar with the floorplan options. You just might want to consider going bigger, but that would put you firmly in the TV world of pickup trucks, or a full size SUV like my Suburban. Mine in particular is a 2500 series (3/4 ton) with the biggest engine/gearing combo for its year, rated for 10,000# towing. The much more common 1500 series (1/2 ton) older Suburbans are cheap, parts are plentiful, and still rated to tow 7000# or so. The Trailer Life Towing Guide can help you out there, if you want to look up a truck/SUV ballpark towing capacity or are looking at an older vehicle without the yellow placard (like mine).
 

grashley

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You are on the right road to wise decisions!  I bought used TV - 3 yo F350 with 3660 miles (not a typo) and a 9 yo FW which was meticulously maintained.

As far as floor plan ...  Before you buy, the whole family needs to look at a bunch of campers.  By your last comment, It does not sound like you really know WHAT floor plan will work best for you.  Do the kids want a bunkhouse, or will the dinette and jackknife sofa work?  Make up the bed and see if it is comfortable.  Remember to make room for growth.  Is there room for the family around the table for dinner or games when it rains?  Is there enough comfortable seating to watch TV?  Will the kitchen work for the cook?  List MUST HAVE and NO WAY items for the ideal camper, then stick to the list.  With this method, the camper will pick itself!
 

SpencerPJ

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A 17' camper, not a bunch of floor plan options or styles to choose from.  Everything pretty basic and tight.  If that is what you need to work, it beats a tent by a loooong shot.  Mine is not much longer, 20', and the bed is at the rear, we didn't want the bed right when we opened the door.  PITA to use and be comfortable, but it was a trade off for a better entry, dining, kitchen.  Also, some TT have the kitchen on the curbside or campsite side, we did not like that, we wanted to be able to sit at table and look at our campsite. 
 
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Grashey - definitely agree... we?ve been making that list. We originally thought bunkhouse was the way to go, but then we saw a hybrid with 3 foldout beds... seems like a ton more room for the weight/money.

We?ve got more to see, for sure.
 

SpencerPJ

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Those hybrids can definitely add sleeping room, and are a good option.  The have many pros.  A couple cons though, you need to make sure they are dry when you put them away, or you need to open up and dry out after you get home, and like pop-up campers and tents, they don't block the morning sun very well. 
 

scottydl

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Buffalo_newbie said:
but then we saw a hybrid with 3 foldout beds... seems like a ton more room for the weight/money.

Keep in mind that will be more like sleeping in a popup or tent, than sleeping in an actual house bedroom. Nothing wrong with that, just depends on what kind of camping experience you're looking for.
 

cerd

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Buffalo_newbie said:
Grashey - definitely agree... we?ve been making that list. We originally thought bunkhouse was the way to go, but then we saw a hybrid with 3 foldout beds... seems like a ton more room for the weight/money.

We?ve got more to see, for sure.
Another thing to remember is that the cloth walls don't block sound like a rigid wall. You will have to listen to the drunkards stay up and party late while you try to sleep. Between that, stupid people messing with you (either poking through the cloth or whispering things nearby to try to creep you out) and myself having smaller kids that put up a fuss come bedtime; I don't care to have a hybrid or popup ever again. I feel spoiled in my Class C.

mweber (KC9NPT) said:
A Jeep Grand Cherokee V8 has a tow rating of 7,000# with tow package.
Depending on other options...you can get a tow package with a v6, but those are only rated for about 3500lbs. Gear ratio is another factor. The 3.55 gears are good for about 5500lbs, but the 3.73 gears are going to get you closer to 7000lbs. Of course, there are other aftermarket gears for that axle, but most people would rather buy a car that's turn key ready instead of having to modify anything.

My Durango has a 5.7L V8 and 3.92 gears. It's tow capacity is just shy of 9000lbs according to the manufacturer, but the body, frame, suspension and wheel base are all slightly different than a Grand Cherokee as well.
 

BigLarry

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We had a pop up camper with a roof AC back in the 1980's and really enjoyed it.  We traveled all over the US on two and three week vacations with two kids for a period of about 5 years pulled by a chevrolet station wagon.  It was a good starter unit and we had a great time.
 

SpencerPJ

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BigLarry said:
We had a pop up camper with a roof AC back in the 1980's and really enjoyed it.  We traveled all over the US on two and three week vacations with two kids for a period of about 5 years pulled by a chevrolet station wagon.  It was a good starter unit and we had a great time.

That's how I grew up in the late 60s and 70s.  Except we had a Scamper without AC.  Always found a stream in the mountains to get wet and cool off in.
 

jagnweiner

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I know I'm a couple months late on this and don't know if you are still checking in.  (I haven't been on the forum in a LOOONG time) :) 

Anyway, I saw that you were considering a Durango as a tow vehicle.  Cerd pointed out something you need to watch out for.  The current V-6 Durango specs will show a tow capacity of 6200 lbs (if I recall correctly), but that is ONLY if you have the tow package.  Otherwise its 3500 lbs, I think.  It is very hard to find a used Durango with the tow package, because most of them are "program" cars (off lease or rental).  We really wanted the tow package, so ended up buying a new one.  BTW, we really loved our Durango.  Haven't towed anything other than a cargo trailer yet, but thinking about downsizing to a TT.
 

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