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Old 09-06-2021, 09:27 PM   #1
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Can I pull a 5,000lb 24' with M/B GLS550?

The last thing I want to do is spend $85,000 on a new GMC Denali 3/4 ton to pull an RV. I have a Mercedes 2017 GLS 550 and want opinions and advice on how capable it will be for pulling a 20-24' travel trailer with an empty weight of 4,900lbs?

It is rated for 7,200lbs but I realize from using my Escalade pulling my flatbed race trailer and 2,000 lb car but total weight about 7,000lbs plus what a white knuckle deal that was even without a trailer to catch the wind.

I know it will pull a 4,000lb total loaded up weight fine but how about a Flagstaff Micro Lite 22FBS with an empty weight of 4,900lbs. We can try to keep the heavy stuff in the SUV if needed also.

Thanks this is my first post.
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Old 09-06-2021, 10:48 PM   #2
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Empty weight is kind of a worthless measure since the RV or trailer is never empty. Typically people throw in about 1000# or more of gear depending on capacity. A better measure to use is the GVWR of the trailer since you can fill it up to that level. If you can't tow that much, don't fill it up that much, but it's hard to resist. The GVWR is on a label on the frame or door or look in the manufacturer's specs for that model and year (both have to be correct to get the right number).

Yes you can add weight to the tow vehicle and that can help, but you have to be mindful of the GVWR of the tow vehicle as well, and also the GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating, which may not show on your vehicle as it does on RVs, but it's the total of your GVWR plus towing capacity). Let's say your tow vehicle GVWR is 5500 and your towing capacity is 4500, that's 10000 weight total limit overall. You have to meet the specs for every component in the chain. So even within 10000 you have to meet the 5500 GVWR for your tow vehicle and the GVWR for your trailer too. You also have to be within the hitch capacity and the hitch ball rating.

Sorry I can't comment on the MB GLS. I hope it works out.
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Old 09-07-2021, 10:19 AM   #3
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Here's some estimate #'s.

GVWR - Vehicle curb weight - People - Gear inside the SUV - Hitch = Remaining payload.
7,000(estimate) - 5,578 - 500 - 200 - 100 = 622

Remaining payload / .13 = How much your vehicle can tow.
622 / .13 = 4784 Max trailer weight

Personally, I think the proposed trailer is too much for the MB.

Also, who's holding the gun to your head to go pay $85k on a Denali?

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Old 09-07-2021, 10:44 AM   #4
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I'd not tow this trailer with a Country Club pseudo SUV.

Use what I like to call the Predictive Weight of the trailer or the GVWR -- the maximum permissible weight. Empty weight plus cargo capacity is grade school math even I can sometimes to without a calculator.

Micro Lite 22FBS empty weight: 5132 pounds + Cargo Capacity 1662 pounds equals 6794 pounds.

My Happy Towing rule of thumb is the One Ton Rule which states the trailer must weight 2000 pounds less than the towing capacity. In this case I'd want a tow vehicle with 8794 pounds towing capacity. This accounts for weight in the tow vehicle itself, summer temperatures, altitude, and grades.

This SUV fails even before we start looking at tongue weights, etc. The weight in the tow vehicle isn't free, any weight other than the driver deceases the maximum towing capacity. 1000 pounds of people, dogs, and firewood is easy -- and drops the max towing capacity from 7200 to 6200 pounds which is unquestionably less than the nearly 7000 pound trailer weight.

The Escalade, another country club SUV, is a bit more competent. If you want to tow this trailer with a SUV you need the Expedition 9200 pounds towing capacity. And you you only need the XLT trim not the $80K trim.

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Old 09-07-2021, 10:58 AM   #5
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Well, this is a first for me. I found the curb weight for a 2017 GLS550 @ 5,672 lbs. But nowhere on the internet is the GVWR listed.

OP, can you post a picture of the sticker on your driver's door pillar that shows your cargo carrying capacity? Should look something like this:

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Old 09-07-2021, 11:17 AM   #6
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I dont much about a Mercedes Benz GLS 550 but if it has a short wheelbase, you will be white knuckles in the wind, especially around bow waves from big rigs.
Doesnt matter what the weights are.
Incidentally the last MBZ I drove was a 1972 240D.
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Old 09-07-2021, 12:26 PM   #7
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I'll give you my experience, which was I used to have a Grand Cherokee with 4.7L V8 and towed an 18' fishing boat on a double axle trailer. Loaded, the boat and trailer came to about 4000 lbs and overall length in the mid-20's with the tongue in front and outboard motor in the back, and the boat had a full windshield that brought the overall height to about 8'. The Grand Cherokee was rated to tow 6500 lbs. The hitch setup was a 2" straight ball hitch (no equalizer) and hydraulic brakes built into the coupler.

I towed that boat a lot of places with the Grand Cherokee including to Canada and back (from Wisconsin). I wouldn't say it was "white knuckle" but it was not exactly easy either. Mid-size SUVs generally are not targeted to the heavy towing crowd. While rated by the manufacturer, two areas where I thought the Grand Cherokee fell short were suspension and cooling. I had to put air bags in the rear coil springs to get the ride height and handling for the tongue weight. Towing on hot days (anything about 80F or higher) meant engine temps running high especially on any kind of uphill grade. Turning off the A/C to go uphill was standard operating. Max highway speed was about 65mph. I don't know how hot the transmission was running because there was no gauge for it. I changed fluids regularly, had zero issues with the engine, and sold it with 180,000 miles. Now much happier with my full size Chevy Silverado half ton (LT). Went the pickup truck route for the towing and other reasons hauling stuff around. It is just a more pleasant towing experience having a vehicle that is designed for it from the ground up. In addition to the boat I now have an A-frame to tow that is very easy.

So your M will probably do it -- with limitations -- and maybe if you are not going too far might be ok for a year or two until truck prices return to sanity.
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Old 09-07-2021, 01:01 PM   #8
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What you have to determine is whether your GLS 550 is rated for a WDH with a TW of 500+ lbs. Shifting "excess" weight from your TT to your TV is robbing peter to pay paul.
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Old 09-07-2021, 01:31 PM   #9
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No. Not a good idea.
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Old 09-07-2021, 01:35 PM   #10
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For the reasons stated, I am part of the overkill mindset when making towing decisions. No need to tow at the limits of your TV when comfort, safety, peace of mind, sway, braking, passing performance and durability are all within reach by choosing a TV exceeding the limits of what you plan to tow.
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Old 09-07-2021, 03:13 PM   #11
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Don't forget, in addition to be able to pull/tow, you must also be able to stop and steer when going downhill, and while being passed by semis.

I tow a 6,000 lb trailer with a 1-ton Chevy van rated to tow 9,600 lbs. Aside from some steep hills in the mountainous West, I haven't run across anything too challenging. But, I credit a WDH with anti-sway, a long wheelbase, an effective tow/haul mode, a 6.0L V-8, and thoughtful weight management for my success.

Despite my van's tow rating and other attributes, I doubt I'd be comfortable towing more than about 7,200 lbs unless I were someplace flat, like Florida.

Good luck!
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Old 09-07-2021, 03:39 PM   #12
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Your TV wheelbase is 121Ē and the formula says your OK to pull a trailer up to 23í. Canít help with the weight issue.
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Old 09-07-2021, 03:42 PM   #13
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In June I camped next to this vehicle towing a 25 or 26 footer that was at least 5k dry. It looked bottomed out and unsafe to me.

In August, this same type of vehicle parked a 19 footer in the storage space across from me. The vehicle was bottomed out in the rear despite a WDH.

My thought both times was that these are not really made for towing. The lady with the 19 footer told me sheís traveled 10k miles in that rig in the last 8 months and was just coming from Seattle to San Diego on this last trip. I thought at the time that she will be in for some expensive transmission, suspension and brake repairs at the very least.
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Old 09-11-2021, 06:27 AM   #14
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Suggest checking to see if aftermarket air bags or air shocks are available for your vehicle. I found air bags very helpful when I was towing with my Grand Cherokee.
Any factory stock vehicle towing near its max will ride low, even full size trucks, but SUVs especially because most buyers aren't towing with them. Otherwise the unloaded ride would be very harsh. Of course, you have to be mindful of staying within the other limits such as max combined weight etc.
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Old 09-11-2021, 10:07 AM   #15
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Can I pull a 5,000lb 24' with M/B GLS550?

If youíre dead set on trying to tow with your Mercedes. I would suggest picking up an extra set of rims and have 8ply 80psi tires installed. That will for sure help your Mercedes feel more sure footed than towing with stock junk tires designed for comfort. It wonít solve everything that the Mercedes may lack but it will help. Also look for helper springs, Sumo springs etc etc.

You did not mention what weight distribution hitch you are using or perhaps you donít have one.

I have a 2017 Ford Expedition XLT EL rated for 9200lbs with a WDH. My trailer has a max weight of 7600lbs. When I first towed my trailer. I had stock junk tires and the dealer installed an 800lb WDH even though I had asked for the 1000lb WDH since that is just above itís max hitch weight. It towed like chit. I went back to the dealer and told them to install the 1000lb WDH and that made a huge improvement.

I towed a few small trips like that and realized the stock junk comfortable tires were absolute garbage for towing. I ordered up an extra set of rims with 8ply 80psi tires. Since my Expedition has independent rear suspension and no upgrades available. I was able to find Sumo Spring inserts that go between the coils on the struts. I also made some hitch adjustments to really fine tune it. My Expedition tows like a champion. An absolute champion! Plus my new truck rims match the aluminum rims on my trailer. So it even looks better. LOLzzz

FYI if I recall the Expedition is the most capable towing SUV available.

And all threads need pictures.

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Tow vehicle: 2017 Ford Expedition XLT EL factory tow package. Added towing mirrors, 10 ply tires on separate rims, sumo springs, larger rear sway bar.

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Old 09-16-2021, 06:21 PM   #16
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Probably depending on where you are going. East or midwestern flat lands and short distance are good bets especially if you stay away from Interstate highways. Mountains and high speed roads might be a problem.
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Old 09-17-2021, 01:52 PM   #17
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GL 550 Towing

For what its worth; We're towing a Vibe 25RK with a dry weight of about 5,900# with a 2015 GL 450 Anderson 10,000# WDH hitch. We tend to travel fairly light but we do have 2 - 6V batteries and twin 20# LP tanks on the hitch, usually some firewood or golf clubs in the car. We generally get 8.5-9.5 mpg.

The GL450 has plenty of power, your GL 550 would be even better. The air suspension linked with the WDH makes it ride and pull well. That said we're considering a pickup or a full size SUV - probably diesel.

The GL is narrower than a full size truck and as such its difficult to see, especially backing up. It also can move around a bit with a heavy cross wind. So far our travel has been mostly in MN. If we go to the mountains I'd like something with engine breaking.
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Old 09-17-2021, 05:55 PM   #18
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If you have to ask then I think you already know the answer.
Why is it that so many want to pull a camper with their comfy suv or half ton? Some will say you're fine. Why put off the inevitable? If all you want to do is just get by..... good luck. Sell the Mercedes and get a real truck.
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Old 09-18-2021, 08:09 AM   #19
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Yes it will be completely fine. The Mercedes is a safer TV than a truck because of better brakes, engine, suspension, traction control well basically everything and I know what cabin Iíd prefer sitting in for 5h or more. Get a decent WDH and youíre all set. The 7,200lbs rating is just the 3,500kg limit for towing without a truck license in Europe so itís even a conservative number for its capability.
On there are many people towing with German SUVs.
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Old 09-19-2021, 04:06 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Beachbourbon View Post
In June I camped next to this vehicle towing a 25 or 26 footer that was at least 5k dry. It looked bottomed out and unsafe to me.

In August, this same type of vehicle parked a 19 footer in the storage space across from me. The vehicle was bottomed out in the rear despite a WDH.
This is surprising, as the GLS comes standard with air suspension. The air suspension in my Audi does a great job of levelling things out and it has never looked bottomed out.
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