Need Tow Vehicle Suggestions

Discussion in 'Tow Vehicles, Hitch & Towing' started by teh603, Jan 8, 2021.

  1. teh603

    teh603 Member

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    Edit: Thread needs to go in another direction, please see this post here.

    My previous tow vehicle got rear- ended on Christmas day, and totaled. Mostly because it was old, and not because of any structural problems, but I digress.

    So, I need some help choosing a tow vehicle. I'm looking for your input, not just for what to drive, but why you'd suggest it. I'm on a bit of a budget, so please don't just suggest the biggest 3500HD available.

    I also don't have a pup right now and I'm not buying one at the moment, so "tow what you have" also isn't an issue right now.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2021
  2. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    We at least need to know what you looking at towing. And gow much weight /people/stuff your bringing. You need to get something that is capable of towing what you want. So, if you want to tow 3500 lbs or 1500 lbs is a big diffrence. Its easier to have a camper then choose the TV.
     
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  3. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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  4. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    You suggested in another thread that you would be adding hydraulic brakes to a PU [?:~{]

    If that is the case you should limit your search to vehicles that are compatible to that [SUN]
     
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  5. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

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    If it was me, I would settle for nothing less than a vehicle that could tow double my trailer weight.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2021
  6. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Un-Supported Member

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    This will go no where quick, because you give us nothing to work with.
     
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  7. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    I agree with the above. Better to have a general idea what camper you are looking at when you look for a tow vehicle. Nothing worse than finding a tow vehicle and then find it can’t tow what you and yours want for a camper. You would be out looking for another vehicle before you know it or stuck with a camper you don’t want. You will be surprised how heavy popups can be now. You also can’t look strictly at tow weight on a vehicle either, but rather max payload weight. Everything inside the car including passengers have to be included in your calculations. Also don’t fall for dry weight being actual weight on a camper because the camper weighs more than you think. Dry weight in many cases does not include the weight of options and in some situations that may include the AC, furnace and even the awning. For an example, My popup had a dry weight of 2500 per its sticker but when I had it weighed before anything was even added to it, it actually weighed a bit over 3000 pounds. My popup has a gross weight of 3500. My mid size suv can tow 5000 pounds, but I’m actually close to max on my max payload for it with just my popup. So even though you don’t plan to look or buy a popup right away, at least get a round about idea of what the popup you may be interested in will weigh. Especially if you are on a tight budget.
     
  8. J Starsky

    J Starsky Well-Known Member

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    I love our 2001 Chev Suburban 2500 3/4 ton 6.0 4x4. This came about because I destroyed our transmission in the 2001 Tahoe. If I could find one cheap enough, I'd bring home a 8.1L bigblock Suburban. I could find a parking spot from the right unit [B)]
     
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  9. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

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    Knowing what his old TV was might also help. Without knowing anything besides a bit of a budget, I would recommend a minivan.
     
  10. gladecreekwy

    gladecreekwy Well-Known Member

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    Also where do you camp? Developed campgrounds? Remote boon docking? Need 4WD? How many passengers?
     
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  11. teh603

    teh603 Member

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    That brings us sort of around to another problem: what's a good "baseline" popup weight? Two beds, no slideouts, no shower/toilet? But with the usual stove, mini- fridge, and propane tank.

    I've run into some math issues with this? The page from my old truck's owner's manual suggested that the truck's dry weight had to be subtracted from the total gross on the doorsill sticker, while various websites tell me that it should've already been deducted. So getting a better handle on that would help.

    I mean, it's not supposed to be hard math, but the lack of consistency is a bear.

    Not likely to be too remote? Stuff with paved roads at least, although we tend to prefer small campgrounds/parks over large ones. 4WD is probably out of my price range. 4x4s are super popular here, and the dealers know it.
     
  12. Anthony Hitchings

    Anthony Hitchings Well-Known Member Silver Supporting Member

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    re: Quote: That brings us sort of around to another problem: what's a good "baseline" popup weight? Two beds, no slideouts, no shower/toilet? But with the usual stove, mini- fridge, and propane tank. -EndQuote

    My ALiner Scout, "empty" is 1200 Lbs (does include 2 spare wheels, excludes propane tank). Excludes frig and stove.
     
  13. Anthony Hitchings

    Anthony Hitchings Well-Known Member Silver Supporting Member

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    The range of variables is far too wide (or non-existent) for us to give advice. Mid sized vehicles with over 100k miles can work well for Pups that are not too heavy. Big trucks always work. In the old days (down under) folks made do with small TVS (4 cylinder sedans) because its what they had. And of course - there is the issue of price.
     
  14. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

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    Ok well you will gewt lots of info.. Some good, lots that is bad and tons that is just down right dangerous and ugly.. That said.. here we go..

    Determine the purpose of the vehicle first.. are you looking for a grocery getting, kids taxi daily driver or do want something which the main purpose is for towing or future towing... Start with that.. If it is for driving the kids around etc and you want the best fuel economy, well then almost anything out there your family can fit into will work.. If you are looking at using the vehicle to tow, then things change a bit.. 1) toss out the idea of spectacular fuel economy, its not going to happen, you can get good, decent but not something you can attach a trailer too and get a 1000 miles out of the tank without getting a 2500 and up diesel..

    If you are getting the vehicle as a future tow vehicle, make sure it has a factory tow package.. no sense buying something without one and later trying to turn it into a towing vehicle.. yes it can be done, but you won't be at the same level as a factory one.. And know the difference of tow packages as all manufactures are different.. take Dodge for example.. they run 3 different packages on their vehicles (the ones that are designed to tow) they have 1) no package at all, 2) a factory tow package, that will give things like different gearing, different programming, larger rad, coolers, brakes, stiffer suspension, stronger suspension (in some cases) all the proper wiring (some will include an optional brake controller) an intigrated hitch, towing mirrors and a few things I have forgotten.. 3) is a dealer prep package, this will give you mid way gearing, mid way programming, regular suspension, larger rad and coolers, depending on vehicle regular brake size, and the wiring minus any brake controller.. you would still have to add a brake controller, hitch and some form of tow mirrors.

    In the past I have towed with a GMC no tow package at all and added what I could, it was ok, specially with a popup. But it still had stock sized rad, stock suspension, stock coolers (as in no aux. tranny cooler) and stock highway gearing (great for daily use, sucked even more gas when towing). Currently I have a Ram 1500 with a dealer prep package on it.. it is a decent compromise, but I would like to have the full blown tow package as it provides a better ride (my bacxkup tow vehicle is another Ram 1500, just 4 years older with a complete factory setup, hands down it is fabulous towing and likes towing.. daily driving.. well it wont set any fuel economy records..)

    Ultimately only you can determine what you need.. I'm the camp of go big, because one day you may want to upgrade the trailer to a HTT or TT, if hyou get the right vehicle, you won't have to replace it when you upgrade..
     
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  15. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    vehicle rated to tow 3500lbs generally was a tongue weight limit of 350 lbs.
    @13% tongue weight 350/.13 yields a max PU max weight of 2700 lbs and leaves 800 lbs for vehicle occupants, fuel and their stuff. there are more than one PU with a 2500 or less max weight. My 8'box PU dry had a max of ~2000 lbs. which was just below its axle rating due to the tire's rating.

    Many a 6 cyl vehicle rated @3500 that would work for a 'typical' PU occasionally towed on the byways, mileage varies!
     
  16. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    Hard to say without knowing what your current pup is, and if you want to have leeway to up-size a bit in the future.
    We did well with both of our popups with an '05 4 Runner rated to tow 5000#. First pup was under 800#, second around 2500#. Our current TT is around 3500#, the 4Runner towed it, but was stressed under some conditions.
    We now have a'17 Silverado 1500, after an interim '15 Chevy Colorado - that towed fine, but turned out to be a lemon. We found out through all of that that we are much happier at 50% or less of tow capacity.
    Among the advantages of the truck are the cargo space outside the cab. We never liked putting fueled items - camp stove, extra fuel, 1# LP canisters, etc. inside the vehicle, so all those had to go in the roof top carrier. I actually do miss having that attic space to use, since we can't fit one on our Silverado, at least easily. It was handy to be able to stash sacks of laundry or things not needed on a portion of a trip out of the way in the carrier. The 4Runner is a bit handier for some of the unpaved roads we travel around camp. it's a trade off.
    Note: I far prefer a firm suspension, so we've never looked for a tow vehicle with one that "feels like you're sitting at home on your couch" as one of my cousins put it. (He turned me queasy in less than 5 miles, on a straight, city, road in the "couch" vehicle.)
     
  17. bluespruce

    bluespruce Member

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    Don’t forget to consider payload capacity. How many people in the vehicle typically? Family of 6 with 4 teenage boys use up a lot more payload than a solo traveler. Sure, family of 6 can fit in a small three row SUV but I’ll wager you’ll run out of payload to be legal even with the smallest PUPs and running light on cargo.

    I could say buy a full size pickup. But, even some full size pickups lack payload. Our previous full size had payload capacity of 1310 pounds. Family of 4 including two teenagers, cooler, gear, and tongue weight of a bigger high wall pup and we were at capacity. Who would have thought a full size pickup couldn’t handle the average family and a pop up?
     
  18. teh603

    teh603 Member

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    I'm told there's some that can hit payload with a passenger and a sack of potatoes.
     
  19. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

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    Most pickups will actually state the payload in their specs. Other vehicles may or may not. If not, then you need to take the GVWR and subtract the dry weight to get a ballpark payload. Usually dry weight will include a full tank of fuel and 150lbs towards the driver, but some manufacturers vary on this.

    Yes, some vehicles, including pickups, have very little payload. And that limits how much it can tow regardless of how big the tow capacity is. So check both carefully.

    Without knowing what you will be towing, but knowing you will be towing, I would get something with at least a 5000lb tow capacity. That gives you some leeway in regards to the type of terrain, camper weight, etc. For payload, consider your family 5 years from now and use that weight, plus a minimum of 500lbs tongue weight, plus at least another 200lbs of cargo (more if you are planning on carrying bikes, etc.). To calculate, use this formula: (D-150) + P# + 500 + 200. D= driver weight (subtract the 150 lbs that is included in dry weight); P# = passenger weights (including pets). Using estimated weights of your family five years from now will ensure you don't grow out of the payload in 6 months because a kid had a sudden growth spurt.

    If you will be doing long distance travel and/or mountainous travel, I would keep the camper GVWR at 80% or less of the tow capacity. So, if you have a tow capacity of 5000lbs, I would keep the camper GVWR at 4000lbs or less. On flat short trips, you can max out your vehicle's limits without much issue, but the first time you decide to go into the mountains, etc., you could destroy your vehicle.

    Also, as mentioned above, do NOT use the camper's dry weight for determining tow capacity or tongue weight. Use the GVWR of the camper - this is the maximum the camper should weigh stocked and ready to go. You may end up under this weight, but you should not go higher.
     
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  20. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    2006 and up vehicles have the yellow tire and loading placard with payload on it.
     

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