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Old 10-23-2014, 12:13 AM   #1
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Completely New - Want the right vehicle!

So my fiancÚ and I went to look for a small pop-up camper today, and instead fell in love with the Dutchmen Four Winds. It's a little bigger and a little pricier than what we thought we wanted, but once we got inside we knew it was the one. Now our issue is finding the right vehicle to tow this 26', 5,000 lb trailer, since we both currently drive cars that would have no chance. We have looked at a couple of Jeep Grand Cherokees that are V8s with 4x4, but I'm a bit worried that people on other forums have said they would prefer to keep a trailer around 5,000 lbs, and this one would obviously go over once we put anything in it.

Since we are completely new to the camper/trailer world, we aren't 100% how much we will use it, and we have no specific places in mind, but we both have very flexible jobs and we enjoy traveling, so we felt like this was a great direction to go...we just need a little help getting there. Obviously safety is a concern, and we don't want to save a couple dollars on a vehicle only to find out that it doesn't have the strength to do what we would like to do, which could be anything!

So please, any and all help would be greatly appreciated. I just found this site, so I will be searching a bit more to see what other similar topics already exist, but I figured this would be a great way to introduce ourselves, and hopefully get some great tips for brand new campers!

Thanks in advance!
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Old 10-23-2014, 12:54 AM   #2
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First off, welcome to the forum. You've come to the right place for any and all the information you want. From what you've said, you will probably want to have something with more than you'll actually need. You don't seem to know exactly what you want to do so a little overkill won't hurt. That being said, I'm not an expert on all the different vehicles out there. Personally, I like a pickup. It gives you the towing power you need in several different brands and it's usable for other needs. If you both drive cars now, one of you will have to step up to the truck... or the Cherokee, Suburban (it doesn't have to be new, right?). Best thing is to figure out what you want to do and go shopping. If you want to tow in the mountains it will take more than the flatlands, etc, etc. If you're not going to use it in winter than you may not need 4x4, but that's a personal choice. Think about what you need, your budget and have fun. Others will chime in with what they like. Enjoy.
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Old 10-23-2014, 01:20 AM   #3
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Welcome to the world of Dutchman. Most of the advise you get here will be very good. Imho it only costs a little more to go first class. The dealer will tell you that you can pull that with a suv. Please don't. A v8 suv will tow it but can you safely stop? Any cross wind will male your hands hurt from hanging so tight on the steering wheel.
I would suggest a pickup 1/2 ton pickup. Most can safely tow 7-8K. Plus the 4 door ones handle and ride like a car.


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Old 10-23-2014, 01:27 AM   #4
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I too prefer the pickup option. A 4X4 generally will have a higher tow rating as well. Whatever you get, get the tow package as it will have a brake controller built in as well as trailer mirrors, hitch, possibly heavier suspension, transmission cooler, larger fuel tank and more. Don't size your tow vehicle to what the weight of your unit is with a full load. Size bigger because you don't want to wear your tow vehicle out prematurely either.

Welcome to the forum, you're about to enter a really fun lifestyle!
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Old 10-23-2014, 01:55 AM   #5
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Welcome to the funnyfar... I mean forums.

Lots of options out there for towing. Just make sure you have some extra capacity. My general rule of thumb is to take the GVW of the fully loaded trailer, then use 75% of the max tow rating of the tow vehicle. Example... My 2015 Coleman CM16FBS has GVW of 3800#, my 2003 F150 has a Maximum tow capacity of 6800#x.75=5,100#.

That means I am at least 1300# to the good. However IF you read the fine print on many vehicles the towing capacity will be reduced by the load on or in the vehicle. This is not as much of an issue as it used to be.

Suburbans that are set up properly do well as a tow vehicle, but it is hard to beat a 4 door pickup for versatility.

What we did was purchased Ford Fusion Hybrid for a daily driver and use our 2003 pickup only for camping and light hauling. The F150 has around 235,000 miles on it but is still going strong. For heavy duty hauling we also have a 1996 F350. We have plenty of space and the cost of keeping an extra vehicle around isn't too bad for the convenience it brings. We have gone camping, come home left the camper hooked up and headed back out 2 weeks later.

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Old 10-23-2014, 02:31 AM   #6
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We bought a little Coleman travel trailer last year, not a pop up. It weights about 3000 unloaded, and has about a 300+ tongue weight. We figured our little Dodge Dakota V6 could handle it, and it did - sort of. We traveled across the country, and back, and recently traded it in for a 2012 Nissan Titan V8 King Cab. OMG how great it is! Some thoughts:
1. Agree wholeheartedly about getting a truck with the heavy towing options. Not just a hitch, but proper (relay driven) electricals, trans cooler and gauge, and tow mode.
2. If you're just going to stay in a 200 mile radius, then a regular cab is OK. But if you plan to travel any distance to see the country, then the back seat of a Crew or King cab is important for storage and for the passenger to be able to go back and nap on those long trips. You want her rested for when it's her turn to drive!
3. A pickup is better suited for some of those "dirty" things you take camping. An area outdoor carpet, a grill, Tiki Lights, gas can, extra propane, etc. I put stuff back there, and loop a steel cable and lock through them.
I won't go into truck Brand names. In my opinion, in the right size, they're all good! Just like cars, if you can find one two years old, you'll save on depreciation. Good luck!
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Old 10-23-2014, 02:39 AM   #7
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Welcome!!! Like every one has said, find a vehicle you like and make sure you get a the tow package. Most of the 1/2 ton pickup have capacities up to the 9K's when equipped with the tow package. You will most likely find a consensus on a Pick Up truck, but a sport utility type when properly packaged can also handle the job on that size trailer. One thing to add is a longer wheel base makes the towing more stable. Have fun making your selection and let us know what you decide. Another thing to mention, is a lot of people start with small trailers and end up with much larger ones. So if you think that this is something you are going to enjoy, you might want to put future upgrades in consideration.
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Old 10-23-2014, 02:41 AM   #8
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Thanks so much everybody! Definitely trying to take in all the info. Originally we really didn't like the idea of having an actual truck, and were hoping to find an SUV option. We started with the Grand Cherokee and then started considering older model Broncos, Blazers, or maybe a Ramcharger, but everywhere I'm looking I'm seeing that truck wins for most everybody, especially in the range we are looking at. Now to narrow down THAT selection!
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Old 10-23-2014, 02:53 AM   #9
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Originally we really didn't like the idea of having an actual truck, and were hoping to find an SUV option.
I understand. Trying to stay "suburban" without going "country" LOL. I think the camper you just bought took you across that line anyway! Enjoy, and see you on the road!
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Old 10-23-2014, 03:01 AM   #10
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I understand. Trying to stay "suburban" without going "country" LOL. I think the camper you just bought took you across that line anyway! Enjoy, and see you on the road!
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Old 10-23-2014, 04:05 AM   #11
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As stated above it never hurts to preplan for your future camper upgrade. Just a couple more feet she says. They do get bigger and heavier. Haha, enjoy your search.
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Old 10-23-2014, 04:22 AM   #12
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I understand. Trying to stay "suburban" without going "country" LOL. I think the camper you just bought took you across that line anyway! Enjoy, and see you on the road!
Busted!

While that was definitely part of the idea at first, the bigger thing for us is that we do hope to expand the family fairly soon, and an SUV would give us a little bit better situation once THOSE upgrades come to pass. So we're thinking a Suburban or something like that may be a bit better for us, and if we need to downsize the trailer a bit, that's ok. To clarify, we didn't buy the trailer yet, we just really loved the layout of the Four Winds, and we were planning to get it! We're not "country" yet!
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Old 10-23-2014, 04:39 AM   #13
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Smile

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Busted!

While that was definitely part of the idea at first, the bigger thing for us is that we do hope to expand the family fairly soon, and an SUV would give us a little bit better situation once THOSE upgrades come to pass. So we're thinking a Suburban or something like that may be a bit better for us, and if we need to downsize the trailer a bit, that's ok. To clarify, we didn't buy the trailer yet, we just really loved the layout of the Four Winds, and we were planning to get it! We're not "country" yet!
I really do understand! Maybe you got swept away a little. My wife and I often went to RV shows when we were raising a family. A dream we balanced with little campers, tents, pop ups, and the like, while raising kids. Seriously, on the suburbs vs country issue, you do have to take into consideration where you're going to store the thing. Suburbs don't take kindly to a TT in the back yard. The best you'll do there is give up 1/2 garage for a pop up, or pay for storage. You know your situation, and your world the best. The proper solution is usually in between the two extremes. Whatever you do, you have friends here, and we'll see you on the road!
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Old 10-23-2014, 07:10 AM   #14
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I think the VW Touareg can tow over 7,700lbs. I was quite shocked
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Old 10-23-2014, 02:51 PM   #15
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I understand. Trying to stay "suburban" without going "country" LOL. I think the camper you just bought took you across that line anyway! Enjoy, and see you on the road!
They say they are in TEXAS. Fer' cryin' out loud.... doesn't everyone is Texas have a pickup? I know I am being facetious but my daughter lives in a suburb of Austin and on the little cul-de-sac that they live on, out of 8 houses, 6 of them have one or more pickups. Just sayin'
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Old 10-23-2014, 04:31 PM   #16
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They say they are in TEXAS. Fer' cryin' out loud.... doesn't everyone is Texas have a pickup? I know I am being facetious but my daughter lives in a suburb of Austin and on the little cul-de-sac that they live on, out of 8 houses, 6 of them have one or more pickups. Just sayin'
Yeah, we are right in the heart of truck country. But we have both lived very suburban lives, and we are just now starting to see our desire to give up a bit of our suburban comforts for the chance to see the world a bit more. Maybe we will make the switch to looking for a truck. We're still going back and forth.

Like Marty said, there's no doubt we got a bit swept away. We went to one dealer, found an awesome trailer and hasn't yet considered much else. Today we may be going to another dealer to look a little more.

If we were to look at something like the Touareg, which does have a 7700 lb capacity, what weight of trailer would you all think we could comfortably/safely tow with that? I know many people caution against an SUV more for the lack of stopping power, so how would one find out what type of weight a vehicle can stop?
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Old 10-23-2014, 05:42 PM   #17
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Careful focusing on a vehicle's rated max tow capacity to determine its adequacy for your towing needs. Max tow capacity is sort of a marketing term and is based on an unrealistic driving situation of a tow vehicle with just a driver (no passengers or cargo) in it and, more importantly, does not consider a vehicle's max rated cargo carrying capacity. Travel trailers have a heavy tongue weight which is the weight the trailer hitch places on the vehicle's receiver ball which then must be supported by the vehicle. A rule of thumb is that a TT's tongue weight is 12-15% of its total weight. Due to a travel trailer's relatively high tongue weight to overall weight ratio, a vehicle's cargo carrying capacity is usually the first rating to be challenged when it is mated to a TT. Ever see a vehicle towing a camper and the vehicle's rear end is sagging down so far that it looks like it's popping a wheelie? They're probably way over the vehicle's cargo carrying capacity but the trailer could still be less than the rated max trailer weight. It's not safe to be driving the vehicle in this manner.

Think of it this way. I am guessing that the 5000 lb TT weight you mentioned is probably it's dry weight because you said it will be more when you loaded it and you are right. Let's estimate you add 1000 lb to the TT when you're ready to camp because that's a number typically thrown around for this based on filling your fresh water tank and water heater, clothes, gadgets, food, and lots of beer. So now your TT weighs 6000 lbs. 15%*6000 = 900 lbs of tongue weight that your tow vehicle will have to support. You'll likely be needing a weight distribution hitch with your setup which change things around a little bit, but lots not obfuscate things too much just yet. ;-)

So now your tow vehicle must support 900 lbs plus whatever else you will have in the vehicle. Sounds like just the two of you so far for passengers. I'm not inferring anything here, but let's just say that the two of you will be 300 lbs combined. So now your vehicle cargo is 300+900= 1200 lbs. Now lets say you take some things with you in the two vehicle like pets, road trip food, some luggage, firewood, generator, whatever, and that adds to the cargo weight. Let's call it another 150 lbs so now your vehicle cargo weight is 1350 lbs. Many half ton trucks will have a max cargo capacity that is pretty much maxed out at this level, while their max trailer weight "rating" is for a trailer several thousand pounds heavier than the 6000 lbs we are discussing. I'm not saying that a typical newer half ton would be inadequate for your needs, but I'm just throwing out some numbers that are often not taken into account by new RVers. An SUV's cargo carrying capacity would follow this same logic.

Long story short, maybe focus your tow vehicle search on a cargo carrying capacity at least as much as whatever you come with based on the input above rather than a max trailer weight rating. If you are within the cargo capacity, you are more than likely well within the max trailer weight or max combined weight ratings.
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Old 10-23-2014, 10:47 PM   #18
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^^^ That is a good post and very sagely reasoned.
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Old 10-23-2014, 11:41 PM   #19
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I personally tow a Kodiak Express 255BHSL which weighs in at a little bit under 5,000lbs with a 2005 Cadillac Escallade ESV. Other than horrible gas millage (5 miles per gallon from Phoenix to Tucson, 110 degree heat, family of 5, and ac on full blast) seem to handle quite well. We use a weight distribution hitch,sway bar and electronic brake controller.
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Old 10-24-2014, 12:30 AM   #20
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May also want to look at Land Rovers. We have an LR3 and it has a tow rating of 7700LBS. Dry weight on our 240BHSL was 4800, so loaded we are well over that (I've never weighed it)! With the self leveling air suspension (standard) and a sway bar it tows steady as can be. Also we live in the mountains in Colorado so we do some big pulls uphill! We've also driven to California a few times and Idaho so plenty of hwy time with wind. Again, it does great! Good luck and welcome.
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