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Old 07-29-2012, 12:39 PM   #1
rce
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minivan, SUV or 1/2 ton for TV

I have searched and read a lot of posts but hoping for some personalized recommendations if you have the time. We are first time trailer owners after 40 years of dreaming! Advice so far helpful but hard to decide between very different options.

Purchased our 2009 Surveyor SP-186 last week. 19.5 ft long, double axle, 2743 lbs dry and GVWR is 5235 lbs. Hitch weight is 235 lbs.

I don't own a tow vehicle. TV may also double as 2nd vehicle as we have a nice Nissan Versa for running around.

Minivan I've almost ruled out even though would be within specs (just) loaded. Minivan would be best for day to day, economical.

SUV would pull more but is more costly and friends have advised me to stay away from front wheel drive models. I like SUV's

Finally a Ford F 150 or similar may be a little more affordable and can tow more but not as good for day to day running around town. Never owned a truck so a little unsure.

Really don't expect to upgrade to any larger TT. Used TV is a definite option.

Words of wisdom for this weight & model TT would be greatly appreciated, or anything I may have not considered.
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Old 07-29-2012, 01:09 PM   #2
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Go as big as you can so that the TV issue is a non starter when you decide to upgrade your TT down the road. Look at Fifth Wheel ST (Safe Towing) Truck and Trailer Weight Safety Report for informative articles that should help in your TV decision process.

Travel safe and enjoy your journeys!
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Old 07-29-2012, 03:03 PM   #3
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only one minivan was capable of towing a trailer like yours, the Astro/Safari minivan. had a tow capacity of around 5500lbs.
every other minivan has only a 3500lbs. tow capacity. i think one or two could tow 3800lbs.

a SUV with a tow capacity of around 5000lbs. would be fine. but a truck would be more useful and versatile.

and don't think that a v-6 truck or SUV will get better gas mileage than a v-8.
newer v-8 trucks and SUVs get almost the same mpg as a smaller v-6 truck or SUV.
for example, my Avalanche, with a 5.3 v-8 that can tow 7200lbs., gets almost the same gas mileage as a Tacoma, Frontier or Ridgeline, which can only tow between 5000lbs. and 6000lbs.
and i have room for 6 adults.
i found this out when i was shopping for a new tow vehicle also thought that a v-6 would get much better gas mileage. NOT!
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Old 07-29-2012, 03:58 PM   #4
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[QUOTE=bikendan;229288]

and don't think that a v-6 truck or SUV will get better gas mileage than a v-8.
newer v-8 trucks and SUVs get almost the same mpg as a smaller v-6 truck or SUV."



Interesting. Would that also be the case in day to day driving when not towing?
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Old 07-29-2012, 03:58 PM   #5
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I recommend an SUV or pickup and definitely not a minivan.

Since I don't pay too much attention to all the other tow vehicles out there (until I need to buy), I'll stay away from specific recommendations and give you thoughts to help narrow down your choices yourself.

This towing calculator will help you to reverse engineer the ratings you will want in a truck to pull this trailer.

GVWR of 5200lbs means you will want a TV with a towing cap of 6,500 lbs or more to play it safe. That would truly be safest, but you could drop that down if you are light packers, travel short distances and tow only in the flats. Best to keep it above the camper's GVWR, though.

The bane of all SUVs and half-ton pickups (with the exception of the new Ford Ecoboost trucks with max payload), will be the TV's payload. It's important to understand how this number relates to your trailer's tongue weight.

The dry hitch of the SP-186 can be ignored. Since this is a used camper, can you call the previous owner and ask what the hitch weight was for them when loaded? If not, use this calculation: Take the actual or assumed weight of your trailer (fully loaded) and multiply by 10-15% to get the tongue weight (e.g., 5000lbs x 13% = 650lbs). Subtract that TW from the vehicle's payload and what's left is for your family and cargo inside the truck.

Hitch rating, as with payload, can be a limiter in smaller SUVs and pickups. As you can see, a hitch rated for less than 600lbs could be a problem for you if your camper's TW is 650.

There's more, and you are lucky that your camper is so light as this gives you plenty of truck options to choose from. Also, you're to be congratulated for doing your homework first before you buy.
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Old 07-29-2012, 05:02 PM   #6
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I mid-size SUV sounds like what you would prefer and it would do the job. Think about it. What % of the time will you be towing; probably quite low. IF the SUV does the job, it will probably be easier to live with for the 90% of the time it is your daily driver.
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Old 07-29-2012, 05:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triguy View Post
I recommend an SUV or pickup and definitely not a minivan.

Since I don't pay too much attention to all the other tow vehicles out there (until I need to buy), I'll stay away from specific recommendations and give you thoughts to help narrow down your choices yourself.

This towing calculator will help you to reverse engineer the ratings you will want in a truck to pull this trailer.

GVWR of 5200lbs means you will want a TV with a towing cap of 6,500 lbs or more to play it safe. That would truly be safest, but you could drop that down if you are light packers, travel short distances and tow only in the flats. Best to keep it above the camper's GVWR, though.

The bane of all SUVs and half-ton pickups (with the exception of the new Ford Ecoboost trucks with max payload), will be the TV's payload. It's important to understand how this number relates to your trailer's tongue weight.

The dry hitch of the SP-186 can be ignored. Since this is a used camper, can you call the previous owner and ask what the hitch weight was for them when loaded? If not, use this calculation: Take the actual or assumed weight of your trailer (fully loaded) and multiply by 10-15% to get the tongue weight (e.g., 5000lbs x 13% = 650lbs). Subtract that TW from the vehicle's payload and what's left is for your family and cargo inside the truck.

Hitch rating, as with payload, can be a limiter in smaller SUVs and pickups. As you can see, a hitch rated for less than 600lbs could be a problem for you if your camper's TW is 650.

There's more, and you are lucky that your camper is so light as this gives you plenty of truck options to choose from. Also, you're to be congratulated for doing your homework first before you buy.
This is very helpful and has given me more to consider. I expect or should I say we intend to be light campers mostly towing on the prairies except for maybe a couple of trips through the Rockies.

Also just found a sticker this afternoon buried in a cupboard which suggests the from dealer dry weight had been just under 3000 lb, not 2700 as I thought from online specs.

Previous owner by the way had no clue what the trailer actually weighed ever! Very nice fellow though.
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Old 07-29-2012, 05:58 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by acadianbob View Post
I mid-size SUV sounds like what you would prefer and it would do the job. Think about it. What % of the time will you be towing; probably quite low. IF the SUV does the job, it will probably be easier to live with for the 90% of the time it is your daily driver.
Quite right I would prefer a mid size SUV. We might even then be able to get down to a one car family.

However DW is quite clear as she should be that we must have a capable TV even if it is only used occasionally as a TV.

(Quite convinced a minivan, even the Grand Caravan rated at 3800 lbs would be perhaps foolish. Originally had been considering an R-Pod 151 which came in just under 2000 lbs but that really was small!) Love the Surveyor even though it hasn't left the driveway.
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Old 07-29-2012, 05:58 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by rce View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by bikendan View Post

and don't think that a v-6 truck or SUV will get better gas mileage than a v-8.
newer v-8 trucks and SUVs get almost the same mpg as a smaller v-6 truck or SUV."


Interesting. Would that also be the case in day to day driving when not towing?
A V-6 will typically give better fuel mileage unloaded. But using a V-6 to pull the weight of a camper, plus the wind resistance, it is working too hard, causing it to really go through the fuel. A V-8 vehicle pulling a camper is not being maxed out.....it is just sitting there using only a part of the available power. So typically, a V-8 will give you better fuel mileage under load, and a V-6 will typically give you better fuel mileage with no trailer attached.
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Old 07-29-2012, 06:37 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by rce

This is very helpful and has given me more to consider. I expect or should I say we intend to be light campers mostly towing on the prairies except for maybe a couple of trips through the Rockies.

Also just found a sticker this afternoon buried in a cupboard which suggests the from dealer dry weight had been just under 3000 lb, not 2700 as I thought from online specs.

Previous owner by the way had no clue what the trailer actually weighed ever! Very nice fellow though.
That yellow sticker is required by law now-a-days. This should show you the weight of the trailer as it was at the time it left the factory. That extra 300lbs would include the manufacturer options. This is not the weight today, I'd venture. Any dealer options and the former owners modifications will increase that number, which is why the trailer should eventually be weighed by you at a local scale.

So, let's say the trailer "dry" weighs ~3000lbs. Add battery, propane, a little water, cargo, food, and a bit to be safe. That will give you an even better estimate of your trailer's weight.
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