Help with weights RV to tow behind 2016 Volvo XC90

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NYNJ8

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Hello - I'm looking for help moving up from my pop-up camper. Looking for a light weight bunkhouse model with a sink in the bathroom.  Options with this requirement are limited at my TV capabilities.

TV: 2016 Volvo XC90 w/ factory tow package. 
GVWR: 6060
CCC: 1210
Rated for 5000/500 Towing/Tongue
Passengers: 450lbs
Cargo: 100lbs (approx)
Hitch Receiver: 100lbs (assumed)
WDH: 100lbs (assumed)

I figure this leaves me with 460lbs tongue weight, and a theoretical max GVWR trailer 4600lbs.  Based on my search criteria I have found only 3 models which work on paper but the limiting factor is my remaining tongue weight.  The only models that seems like it will work in the real world is the Spree Escape 196s, which they stopped making in 2017, and Apex Nano 193BHS. 

Am I missing something?  The Salem FSX 179DBK is very attractive but has a dry hitch weight of 465lbs.  Battery and cargo will certainly bring tongue weight to 560lbs.  Could I go over my available tongue weight if using a WDH?  If so, that would make a few other models available to me. 

Appreciate your help or corrections to my assumptions. 

 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Forget the dry hitch weight in the brochure and assume an actual loaded tongue weight of 10-12% of the loaded trailer weight.  Adding cargo to a trailer may actually reduce tongue weight (if the cargo is loaded behind the axles).

Your hitch receiver should have two ratings, with and without WD.  Usually WD is needed to get the full rated capacity, i.e. the 500/5000 lbs.

I doubt if you will be happy with the way the XC90 handles and performs when loaded to its max limits. The engineers only promise that it can it, not that you will be happy about it.

 

NYNJ8

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Thanks Gary.  I've been researching on this forum and have become familiar with your posts so I know that you know what you're talking about.  My owners manual does not specify separate ratings with/without WDH.  The vehicle does have auto leveling air shocks, don't know if that has anything to do with it. 

Interesting point regarding reducing dry tongue weight when loaded.  I assumed that dry weight could only increase, and the factory gear factoring into dry hitch weight could not be relocated practically.  But I suppose if I were to load 500lbs of gear all behind the axle, that would reduce the tongue weight.  Is that how it works?  In that example would it be reasonable to expect to lower tongue weight by 50lbs or more?

I should add that typically I would be towing this rig 5-6 times a year, not more than 200 miles each way.  Mostly mild grade, no elevation, and mostly highway.  I am really trying to get the lightest possible model that will work with my family's needs.  For that reason, the Spree 196s does appeal to me.  A nearby model has a placard weight of 3115lbs and GWVR of 3500.  Very little capacity but we could make that work.
 

NYNJ8

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Gary RV_Wizard said:
Forget the dry hitch weight in the brochure and assume an actual loaded tongue weight of 10-12% of the loaded trailer weight.  Adding cargo to a trailer may actually reduce tongue weight (if the cargo is loaded behind the axles).

I am trying to keep my fully loaded camper to 3800lbs or less.  If I knew for certain that I would not exceed that weight, then would the same logic apply, accept that I would assume 10-12% of 3800?  Even in a trailer with dry weight of 3200 and dry hitch of 465?  Seems hard to imagine hitch weight dropping from 465 to 380, but I'd love it if true.
 

Gizmo100

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Welcome to the Forum NYNJ8

On my truck under the 2" reciever it has a sticker that states....Tongue WT. Max 500 pounds- with WD 1000. That's not to say you should exceed your hitch weight but it may make a difference. Your numbers may be different.

Gary RV_Wizard said:
I doubt if you will be happy with the way the XC90 handles and performs when loaded to its max limits. The engineers only promise that it can it, not that you will be happy about it.

Thats very sound advise...200 miles of white knuckles is no fun.
 

NYNJ8

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Gizmo100 said:
Welcome to the Forum NYNJ8

On my truck under the 2" reciever it has a sticker that states....Tongue WT. Max 500 pounds- with WD 1000. That's not to say you should exceed your hitch weight but it may make a difference. Your numbers may be different.

Thats very sound advise...200 miles of white knuckles is no fun.

Thanks Gizmo.  I went looking and could find no such designation on mine.  The volvo manual does not mention this either.  However, the European models are rated at 6000/600 due to differences in the hitch receiver.  I have to believe that I could increase the tongue rating above 500 but unless I find it expressly stated, I will not do it.  But in any case I'm limited to 460lbs based on my tow vehicle payload.

I have done a lot of towing - boats, motorcycles, utility trailers, pop-ups, etc. I have just never done it right - Often overloading my Acura MDX towing capacity and never really paying attention to tongue weight. I agree I want to make this as easy to tow as I can.  I do think this iteration of the XC will make a very stout tow vehicle.  It pulls my 2200lb pop-up and I don't even notice its there.  With the added frontal area of a travel trailer I'm trying to keep loaded weight under 3800.
 

Gizmo100

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With the added frontal area of a travel trailer

And don't forget the added side height..It's acts as a big sail when going down the road...and then a big truck goes flying past. :eek:

I've also puled a fair number of different trailers including a dry van cargo trailer. The RV's are taller and ride higher so they can offer their own challenges. But your doing your homework so hopefully things will work.
 

NYNJ8

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Reading this forum over the last month is what finally prompted me to educate myself about towing.  I've been doing it irresponsibly for the last 10+ years and have been fortunate to have never injured myself or anyone else. I'm trying to learn as much as I can from members like you, so I appreciate your responses.

:))
 

IBTripping

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Have you checked out the Forester R-Pod travel trailer (TT). There are several bunkhouse floor plans. They are single axle units, but are designed for a lighter tow vehicle (TV).

Here's a link to one: http://www.forestriverinc.com/product-details.aspx?LineID=173&Image=5054&ShowParent=1&ModelID=969#Main
 

NYNJ8

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I have looked into the R-Pods, and while I love the look, practicality and functionality, they're just too small for my family of 5.  Kids are ages 10, 7, and 2 so while we could make an R-Pod work in theory, we wouldn't have any room to grow as kids tend to do.  Plus my wife hates the wetbath.
 

Gizmo100

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we wouldn't have any room to grow as kids tend to do.

Those darn kids just mess up everything.

Plus my wife hates the wetbath.

Yeah that pretty much settles that ;D
 

NYNJ8

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Another question, with the factory air lift suspension the manual says that the rear will adjust to level out the ride height of the vehicle provided the load is within the max specifications.  If I load within spec is there still a need for a WDH?

Just thinking about how I would adjust a WDH when the vehicle automatically adjusts the ride height based on speed or drive modes.  If I can leave of the WDH and just add sway control that will save me some weight and get me back to full (500lb) tongue capacity.

I think...correct me if I'm wrong...
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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I am trying to keep my fully loaded camper to 3800lbs or less.  If I knew for certain that I would not exceed that weight, then would the same logic apply, accept that I would assume 10-12% of 3800?  Even in a trailer with dry weight of 3200 and dry hitch of 465?  Seems hard to imagine hitch weight dropping from 465 to 380, but I'd love it if true.
Generally yes.  The trailer must have at least 10% of its weight on the hitch ball to avoid nasty sway problems, but most manufacturers try to keep the loaded tongue weight close to that.  The Apex Nano 193BHS floor plan indicates the waste water tanks are in the back and chances are the fresh tank is behind or between the axles as well. That could very easily lift 50-100 lbs off the hitch ball. However, the pass-thru storage area is up front, as well as the LP tank and a battery. Hard to estimate how it all works out.
The purpose of a WD hitch is to shift some of the tongue weight off the hitch and rear axle and onto the front axle. The auto-leveling rear suspension in the XC90 can reduce rear end sag that makes the weight problem even worse, but can't shift weight forward. When initially adjusting the WD hitch, do it with the auto-level turned off, adjusting so that the WD levels out the car suspension by shifting weight. Then activate the auto-level to keep it that way as you drive or people move around inside the car.
 

NYNJ8

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Gary RV_Wizard said:
Generally yes.  The trailer must have at least 10% of its weight on the hitch ball to avoid nasty sway problems, but most manufacturers try to keep the loaded tongue weight close to that.  The Apex Nano 193BHS floor plan indicates the waste water tanks are in the back and chances are the fresh tank is behind or between the axles as well. That could very easily lift 50-100 lbs off the hitch ball. However, the pass-thru storage area is up front, as well as the LP tank and a battery. Hard to estimate how it all works out.
The purpose of a WD hitch is to shift some of the tongue weight off the hitch and rear axle and onto the front axle. The auto-leveling rear suspension in the XC90 can reduce rear end sag that makes the weight problem even worse, but can't shift weight forward. When initially adjusting the WD hitch, do it with the auto-level turned off, adjusting so that the WD levels out the car suspension by shifting weight. Then activate the auto-level to keep it that way as you drive or people move around inside the car.

This is immensely helpful thank you Gary.  The math tells me that I could safely tow this camper, but I need to be very measured in what I bring along and how I distribute the weight.  I would not plan on carrying water unless absolutely necessary but I suppose stowing the battery and LP in the camper for travel if done correctly might have the same impact.  Someone earlier suggested securing the front queen mattress behind the axle during travel which would shift another 60lbs off the tongue.  With all this in mind I will prioritize finding a camper with ample storage located behind the real axle.

Thanks Again
 

grashley

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NYNJ8 said:
Reading this forum over the last month is what finally prompted me to educate myself about towing.  I've been doing it irresponsibly for the last 10+ years and have been fortunate to have never injured myself or anyone else. I'm trying to learn as much as I can from members like you, so I appreciate your responses.

:))

Me, too!

Welcome to the Forum!  Your questions clearly indicate you have done your homework well.

Your initial post, weights and calculations were spot on.

You MUST have at least 10% of actual TT weight on the tongue.  Failure to do this leads to really nasty sway problems.  If you move too much weight to reduce tongue wt, you can create a very dangerous situation.  With that said, I know you will make sure that does NOT happen.  Here are several ways to measure tongue wt.

https://www.etrailer.com/faq-how-to-determine-trailer-tongue-weight.aspx

Can you find a GCWR for the Volvo?  That is gross combined wt of TT and car when loaded.

As others have said, you may not like how the rig tows.  While the Volvo is a very good car, it was not designed to be a great tow vehicle.  You may want to consider a medium SUV for future towing.

 

NYNJ8

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grashley said:
Can you find a GCWR for the Volvo?  That is gross combined wt of TT and car when loaded.

As others have said, you may not like how the rig tows.  While the Volvo is a very good car, it was not designed to be a great tow vehicle.  You may want to consider a medium SUV for future towing.

I couldn't verify the GCWR for the Volvo but I saw it referenced in another post as 10,650lbs.  With a curb weight of 4850lbs + 700lbs cargo I can still tow the theoretical maximum of 5000/500. 

I thought long and hard between the Volvo and a Tahoe, but in the end for the 4 times a year I tow the camper I figured the Volvo would be adequate and provide other benefits the other 99% of the time when I'm not towing.  Actually I read really positive reviews from others who were towing ~3500lb TT's with this vehicle.  The 2.0 engine turbo/supercharged to 320ft/lb and 330hp should do really well pulling and hopefully it will be decently stable.  I don't even notice my pop up behind it versus my MDX which has the same theoretical tow capacity but did have to work when fully loaded with gear and passengers. 

Nonetheless I'm sure you and others are correct, I will not enjoy the tow.  I'm hoping to make it comfortable enough that it will not discourage me from getting out and enjoying the camper.  If it gets to that point I'll give in and buy a used 1/2 ton dedicated TV.
 

HappyWanderer

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Honestly, with three kids I'd stick with a pop up. There isn't a travel trailer out there that you can safely tow that will give you as much room.
 

NYNJ8

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HappyWanderer said:
Honestly, with three kids I'd stick with a pop up. There isn't a travel trailer out there that you can safely tow that will give you as much room.

By my math, I plan on towing at about 86% of my calculated capacity (80% of my MFR stated capacity) at the hitch and total weight.  And doing so utilizing a quality WD system, sway control, and brake controller.  In what way do you feel I'm compromised from a safety standpoint?

The campers in this range that I have toured all offer us more space and usability than our pop-up so to me there's no debate to be had there.  Granted my 3 kids will only grow, but for now they are small - 60, 40, and 25lbs among them.  Eventually we'll outgrow the space but I can cross that bridge when I get to it. 

Not arguing the point, I'm just looking to gather as much feedback as I can and understand it better.  Thanks

 

NYNJ8

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HappyWanderer - I should also add that the vehicle is rated for 6000/600 with the proper hitch, but I have the 5000/500 hitch.  I say that only because I assume it means that the vehicle itself can handle much more weight than the ~3800lbs I have planned for it.

Also, I'm in your area and travel the I84 and I87 corridors to camp so you will be familiar with the type of roads I will be traveling.
 
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