Tow Vehicle Purchase Recommendations

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Jul 12, 2006
After listening to your advice, we are now planning to update our tow vehicle.  We need the vehicle to seat 8 people so that narrows down the options.  Also, we aren't looking for a "luxury" model SUV and we do not want a van.

The trailer has a GVWR of 6500 pounds.  It's a Jayco Jay Feather 29A.  This will be our first trailer.

We've done some online looking and the vehicle options appear to be as follows.  Let us know if we missed any others:

Chevrolet Tahoe/Yukon/Suburban

Dodge Durango

Ford Expedition or maybe Excursion

Nissan Armada

We have not test driven anything yet.  We would like shoulder restraints and headrests for all seats so that may narrow down the list even further. 

Do any of the vehicles lead the pack as far as towing ease (looking for tow limit of around 8000-9000), safety, comfort, and gas mileage?

Thanks for any recommendations and reviews!
Ye katz!  Eight people!

You are not only going to face tow weight problems, you are going to face gross combined vehicle weight problems.  Eight passengers translates into a nominal 1200 lb pay load just sitting there in the clothes that they wear.  Forget their baggage. 

That 6500 lb GVWR of the trailer needs a tow rating of 8,125 lbs for the west.  You are pushing things with anything except the biggest SUVs and frankly their passenger capacity for 8 is marginal in the ones I have seen.

Reconsider your predjudice against vans, and take a look at the E-350 passenger vans of Ford.  The extended E-350s with the big 6.8L gasser or turbo diesel will haul 10,000 lbs with a 4.10.  With faster rear ends the gasser will pull 9,000, the TD 9,500.    And yes, I can personally testify that one of those bad boys will haul 8 warm bodies. 

Van are a better buy in terms of passenger hauling than SUVs.  They are not as tarted up and they sacrifice styling for cubic footage. 

Mileage?  More like yardage.  But you knew that when you proposed to haul 8 people, no?
[edit]Fixed typo[/edit]

Carl Lundquist said:
Reconsider your predjudice against vans, and take a look at the E-350 passenger vans of Ford.? The extended E-350s with the big 6.8L gasser or turbo diesel will haul 10,000 lbs with a 4.10.? ?With faster rear ends the gasser will pull 9,000, the TD 9,500.? ? [edit]Fixed typo[/edit]

Best advice you're going to get.  The E350 would be the ideal vehicle.  Even if the 8 passengers are thin, that's 1200 lbs.  If one or two of them do I put this.....more substantial, it can easily run up to 1600-1800 pounds.  Add the trailer, luggage, camping equipment, water, and you're looking at some serious weight.  Too serious for a half ton vehicle.  The E350 is a one ton chassis, and is sprung accordingly. 

If you're dead set against a large van, why not buy an F250 or F350 crew cab, and have the other four follow you in an economy car?  Of all the SUV's listed, only the Excursion comes anywhere near what you need.  The Nissan Armada is way out of it's league.
The Ford Excursion does not have 3 point restraints on the middle seats in the second and third row, which is what we would prefer for safety.  I spoke with a dealer who said the Ford Expedition is replacing the Excursion and does have the restraints we want  He said the Expedition comes with a 5.4 liter, 3 valve, 300hp engine with a towing capacity of 8600 lbs, a GVWR of 7300 and a curb weight of 5562, therefore a payload of 1769 lbs.  Our family's combined weight is 682 lbs. right now and our trailer at max load will have a tongue weight of ~780lbs  According to all my calculations we should be fine on towing and vehicle payload.  Based on these calculations, what am I missing?  Why won't the Expedition work? 

I hear you on the yardage!  I wish I could find a good towing vehicle (for a large family) with decent gas mileage...and preferably not a van.  Asking a bit much, I know.

It's really not an issue of whether the Expedition will do what you want it to do or's that you are pushing it quite close to it's limits.  Not a big problem on flat roads with no wind.....can be a BIG problem in hilly areas or in crosswinds.  In the mountain west, it could get hairy.

It's always nice to have a little (or a lot) of "spare capacity" for towing. 

I'm not slamming the's a great vehicle....but keep it's limitations in mind.

Best luck on whatever you choose  :)
Good idea to listen to Carl  He probably along with several others in this forum know these factors inside and out and have most info at their finger tips to back it up.  If he is  telling you don't do it, tjen don't do it.  He has nothing to gain from his knowledge except knowing he advised you correctly.  Salesman are oly looking out for their well being and could care less about you.
Why won't the Expedition work?

Because the unit has a small engine -- a 5.4L V8 gasser.? ?Because the tow rating of the biggest and baddest is only 8600 lbs..? ?If you ever plan to tow in the mountain or Pacific west, you need to discount that rating 20% leaving you with 6880 lbs..? ? That would be ok except that you tell us that you plan to load 8 passengers and baggage.? ?That is an unusual load to say the least.? ?The industry standard is 150 lbs / passenger including personal gear and baggage.

Finally a small block V8 is not an efficient tow engine.? ?I will get about the same mileage as a big block engine because it is being run flat out, and be a lot less comfortable in towing.?

If you were getting a pick up tow vehicle we would be talking about F-250/350 with big engines.? ? But we are talking about passenger haulage.? The biggest Expedition can haul your trailer except for all those passengers.? ?Do not dismiss the vans.? They are designed to handle in city situations and they are intended for hauling lots of passengers.? Hell, they are your passengers, fit them in as you would see them.?

I hear you on the yardage! I wish I could find a good towing vehicle (for a large family) with decent gas mileage...and preferably not a van. Asking a bit much, I know.

Actually there is such a vehicle and it is not a van.? ?It is called a covered wagon.? ?I recommend a? 2-ox tow harness.? ?Not fast, but great mileage and cheap fuel.? ?And when the critters get old you can stew them.? ? ;D

Please for your own safety, the safety of your passengers, and for the safety of anyone else that might be traveling near you, take Carl's advice for he knows of what he speaks.  Carl is giving you the facts, not biased any any way just the facts.  Now you might be able to find somebody that will tell you what you want to hear but what they tell you then will not be in your best interest.  Dealer will tell you what they believe you need to hear to close a deal.  The folks here are just stating facts base on the manufacturers data they are required to provide.
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