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Old 08-12-2012, 08:14 AM   #1
CrazyCampers
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Smile TV Purchase

Hello! My husband and I just returned from a wonderful road trip out in the western US. We have both done camping in the past and would like to make this a part of our life again. We plan on doing occasional camping (<3 weeks a year) in the next few years and then doing more extensive camping when we retire in seven years (>8 weeks/yr). In the short term we would take two or three of our children with us occasionally, but would go alone after we retire. We would also loan out the trailer to extended family, so it could be used more often.

We are considering getting a TM 2619. It should fit in our garage while being big enough for all of us. My husband's Dodge Grand Caravan has almost no towing capacity so we would need to trade it in and get a new TV. We would like to go with a SUV vs a truck because we need the additional seating. Our other vehicle is a New Beetle.

I have read a number of threads on this site which have been very useful. We have narrowed the choice down to the following SUVs:
Chevy Traverse
Dodge Durango
Ford Explorer

I do not want to go with a bigger vehicle than on of this size because of garage space, cost, and personal preference. Personally I think the best choice for us is the Dodge Durango because of its superior towing capacity and because it has a lot of options like a comprehensive Class IV receiver towing package and standard trailer sway damping . But we are still exploring options.

If we go with the Durango, how important is AWD vs RWD? How is important is it to get a V6 vs a V8? The towing capacity of the V6 is 6200lbs vs 7400lb with the RWD V8. My husband is concerned about the upfront cost of paying an extra $2000 for the V8 as well as an estimated annual yearly additional fuel cost of $800/year with the lower mileage.

For the 2619, what is really required in a TV and what is excessive? We do plan on doing some towing in mountainous areas but my husband believes going slower and taking precautions is sufficient as long as the basic towing capacity is over 5000 lbs. From reading on this site, I an assuming an estimated weight of 4000 lbs loaded to be safe as we do not plan on taking a lot of cargo other than the trailer with its gas, appliances, water, clothes, kitchen items, etc.

Thank you so much for supporting all of us newbies!
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Old 08-12-2012, 09:07 AM   #2
Bill
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Wow! You guys are asking a lot of very good questions. It is clear that you are doing your homework, and thinking about all the issues. You are going to get lots of responses, so let me just throw in a few thoughts to get it started.

Tow vehicle tow ratings are a favorite topic on this forum. There is no one true answer, but over the years, the concensus on this board seems to have settled on 5000 pounds as an adequate but not generous rating, particularly if you plan to tow in uplands or with a lot of weight. Although some members don't feel comfortable unless they have a higher rating, and some members feel that they are happy with a lower rating, it seems that 5000 pounds is a good compromise.

Tow ratings have always been an interesting discussion, since there has never been a definition of that term. Car manufacturers could (and did) claim pretty much whatever they wanted to claim. But now, starting with the 2013 model year, there is finally a standard definition of tow rating that all manufacturers live by, and the tests that a vehicle must pass to claim a given rating. (SAE standard J-2807) If you are thinking about a 2013 model, this will be very helpful to you, as ratings will have a lot less mystery. In addition, it will help you to answer the V-6 vs V-8 question.

Although you say you won't take much stuff along, and you expect your trailer weight to be 4000 pounds, you should be aware that it may be more and probably won't be less. This is a common experience among our members. This will be even more true when you think about taking 2 or 3 kids (and their stuff!) in addition to 2 adults. Beyond that, any weight you carry in the tow vehicle counts against the tow rating in most cases. Look for the asterisk or footnote in the tow ratings spec!

Loaning your rig to family members? You are brave. For one thing, do you know what it will weigh when they pack it, rather than you? Will they drive as carefully and conservatively as you do? Remember that you will accumulate experience with the rig - they won't.

Your husband says that when you get into the mountains, going slower and taking it easy will be a good thing. Although it is counter-intuitive, this is not always true. I have a transmission temp gauge in my Explorer, and I find that when climbing a grade, the transmission gets much hotter when we climb slowly. The tranny actually runs substantially cooler when we can maintain 60 mph or so. And it has become clear that it is road speed, not engine speed, that counts. I can only think that this is due to the reduced airflow through the transmission cooler at low road speed. Take that for what it is worth - but I strongly suggest to everyone that a ScanGauge, AeroForce Gauge, or something similar, is an excellent investment. For $100, you get more value from that gauge than from any other option or accessory that I can think of. Transmissions are EXPENSIVE!

If any of your prospective vehicles has a TOW/HAUL mode, I think that fact should be weighted quite highly in your decision. My Explorer does not have it, and I would pay real money to get it. As I understand it, a tow/haul mode locks up the transmission's torque converter, which is where most of the heat comes from. For various reasons, most vehicles allow the torque converter to slip a bit under normal conditions. That's fine when the vehicle is driven solo, but it is bad when towing a load. PopBeavers, among others, has some experience with Tow/Haul mode - look for his posts.

I'm not sure about $2000 up front for a V-8, or $800 a year for extra gas for a V-8. Those both seem high. But I don't know what you are researching.

Finally, no matter what you buy, you MUST get a factory-installed tow package. You are not going to have as much margin as you think, and the tow package is what will get you whatever margin there is.

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Old 08-12-2012, 09:17 AM   #3
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We love our TrailManors for many different reasons in addition to using them in many different ways. You're onto some of the very good ones. Similarly, we also tow them with lots of different vehicles for different reasons as well. People camping many miles off road in the western boondocks need more tow vehicle than us flatlanders (though we should get some points for camping at 3600' in Shenandoah National Park last week).

One of the very best things about the TM is that I can have a pretty good sized RV that I can tow with the vehicle I'm happy to drive every day. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes, but I might also add the Toyota Highlander or 4-Runner to your list, if I was looking for suggestions.

Sway control is a huge problem with full height travel trailers, but it's no big deal for TrailManors, and a sway control hitch is probably something you don't need. A Weight Distributing Hitch is a necessity for the vast majority of us because of the heavy tongue weights.

TM has some great new models as well as old favorites. They hold up really well, and it turns out that most of us bought ours used.

Welcome, and join the forum!
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Old 08-12-2012, 09:56 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrazyCampers View Post
...
If we go with the Durango, how important is AWD vs RWD? How is important is it to get a V6 vs a V8? The towing capacity of the V6 is 6200lbs vs 7400lb with the RWD V8. My husband is concerned about the upfront cost of paying an extra $2000 for the V8 as well as an estimated annual yearly additional fuel cost of $800/year with the lower mileage.
...
As long as you do not exceed the tow rating, the rest is personal preference. I personally agree with your husband, the V6 with a 6200# tow rating will be fine for a 2619.

As for AWD versus RWD, again it's personal preference. I had a 4x4 truck before but never really used it except to play around. Now I have a 4x2 and am happy with that, but know that I'll never take it off-road. Maybe winter driving is an issue?

One thing about SUV's versus pickups is that it may be a little difficult to figure out the SUV's payload. IOW how much stuff/people can you put into the SUV in addition to the trailer's tongue weight. You might try looking at that, and estimate your tongue weight as roughly 500#? In general, vehicles can tow a lot more than they can carry.

Have fun. The window shopping is half the fun.
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Old 08-12-2012, 12:51 PM   #5
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Thank you for all of the advice! I think at this point my husband needs to do some test drives and see how the different vehicles handle. I feel better knowing that you consider the V6 adequate on the Durango.
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Old 08-12-2012, 05:31 PM   #6
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Are you sure you will never want to move to a bigger TM or TT ? Seems like a lot of us do after we find out how much we enjoy it. If there's the slightest chance, get the V8 and the additional towing capacity.
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Old 08-12-2012, 07:23 PM   #7
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With the unusual features of the TM, I do not believe we would loan our TM out, even to our children. Heck, we have to use a checklist to remember everything and even then, we have closed down completely before realizing we didn't pull the T-handle on the Thetford (1 time) and another time we forgot to shut the roof vent (also 1 time). I have also read of other owners forgetting something and this is from those of who know about TMs. This could prove to be very costly should you loan it out. I would carefully consider loaning it out even it it meant getting more use out of your TM!
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Old 08-12-2012, 07:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knoxjere View Post
With the unusual features of the TM, I do not believe we would loan our TM out, even to our children. Heck, we have to use a checklist to remember everything and even then, we have closed down completely before realizing we didn't pull the T-handle on the Thetford (1 time) and another time we forgot to shut the roof vent (also 1 time). I have also read of other owners forgetting something and this is from those of who know about TMs. This could prove to be very costly should you loan it out. I would carefully consider loaning it out even it it meant getting more use out of your TM!
I would not have any problems loaning my TM to family members as long as they had the proper tow vehicle, hitch, etc. I would recommend that these close relatives have camping experience and been with me for at least one trip. Accidents will happen anytime, anywhere. That's what insurance is for. I have a printed detailed set of instructions for set up and tear down, step for step. Anyone borrowing my TM knows to be careful and be responsible or else....
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Old 08-12-2012, 09:38 PM   #9
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Before you commit to the 2619, see if you have room for the 2720. By adding the swing hitch we were able to get the larger 2720. The difference is a queen bed instead of double bed in the back and an additional storage are, the width of the TM, the height of the bed and one foot deep. One third outside and two thirds inside.

Within the last year or so I wrote a very length thread about things to consider when shopping for a tow vehicle. I mentioned as many features as I could think of and wrote a bit about pros and cons. It might be helpful.

I would provide a link, but I am too lazy to look it up.
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Old 08-13-2012, 05:03 AM   #10
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Thank you PopBeavers. I think I found the link to your thread about TV characteristics:
http://www.trailmanorowners.com/foru...ad.php?t=12371

I think the Durango would fit the bill but since it is my husband's vehicle he will have to make that decision.

I would love to have a 2720 instead of a 2619, but my husband doesn't want to give up the garage space. Our garage is so short that it would be hard for him to squeeze around it to get to his workbench in the adjoining stall if he lost the extra foot. I suspect it might be easier to find a used 2720, so that might be a factor if we decide not to go new.

Does the swing hitch really give a full two feet? Would the 2720 really be 18'3"? I am also hoping the outside height is really accurate. With the low profile A/C it claims it is only 81.5". I also worry that the moderate slope of our driveway could affect the clearance, although I have read threads on here that indicate it should be ok. Has anyone had any experience using a flatter A/C on a newer trailmanor to get extra clearance?
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