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Appropriate vehicle to pull 29 foot travel trailer?

My friend and I have purchased a 29 foot travel trailer in preparation for retirement travel in about a year. So far we have hired others to move it. We are ready to purchase a vehicle to pull the travel trailer around the US. We don’t plan to go over mountains, very often. We’d like something reliable, heavy enough to pull the 5800 pounds unloaded weight. I haven’t looked at the GVWR yet, as discussed in the horse trailer question. Our budget is under $10,000, if possible. Which vehicles would you recommend that could fit our requirements? I’ve made notes about the towing and anti-sway packages needed.

Thank you,


Travel trailer means no 5th wheel possible,thats the first thing I don’t like. With me and towing I want the “power unit” with the largest amount of reserve possible (in all aspects not just engine). When you think everything is just right,upgrade another step.

Post your minimum vehicle,you must have some idea on your own.

How many miles per trip and total per year? Around the US could mean a lot of different miles to different people.

An empty weight of 5800 lbs in my mind means at the very minimum a V8 1/2 ton pick-up or SUV with optional towing equipment. Your added gear and water will add weight in heaps! A good 3/4 to 1 ton pick-up would be better. Say an Ford F250/350 or a Chevy 2500/3500.

some reading:



Nat Hiway safety:

The larger and longer the tow vehicle, the more stable the whole rig will be. No 1/2 ton reg cab short beds!

Good post Steve. I was prepared to post another rv towing site but yours covered the same points.

Kathie, Safety first is a major priority here.

You don’t say if your trailer is a ball mount or a fifth wheel.

Obviously if it is a fifth wheel trailer, a heavy duty pickup is necessary for mounting a fifth wheel rack in the back.

I too, believe in going for a bit (or a lot, depending if upgrading in trailer size later) of over-kill in tow vehicle selection.

There is an unwritten rule to follow concerning tow vehicles and trailers.

For every foot of trailer you need another four inches of tow vehicle wheelbase length.

Eg. 112 inch wheelbase (wb) for a 20ft trailer, 116 inch wb for 21ft, 120inch wb for a 22 foot, etc.

Using that rule (for safe towing) your 29 ft trailer should have a tow vehicle with a 148 inch wb.

Depending on your individual needs, a pickup (such as a 2007 Chev Silverado Ext cab, 8ft box with a 157.5 inch wheelbase) or a large suv (like the Suburban) will more than suffice, also dependent on trailer style.

Check out the ‘vehicle research’ link at the left of the page for your vehicle of choice. You MUST research thoroughly for your tow vehicle and be aware the trailer sales people will feed you anything so be CAREFUL.

To give you an idea of towing capacity the pickup mentioned (according to the manufacturer) is 10,100 lbs gross weight.

Check out various RV-ing websites for first hand info. See what the full timers use.

Go to state parks and ask the people on their site how they like what they tow with, don’t be afraid to pick their brains as most are more than happy to help.

Naturally, you look for a trailer comparable to yours.

One of the things you WILL need is a brake controller which dash mounts in the tow vehicle and is wired to the trailer.

Personally I use a Teshonka(sp?) Prodigy brake controller in my Tahoe. Of all of them out there it is by far the best and smoothest (and most popular).

I have a 2002 Chev Tahoe (suv) with a 5.3L V8 (285hp) 116 inch wb to pull my 21ft travel trailer.

Now, the ‘rule’ can be bent a little (what else are rules for?) and tow a longer trailer by mounting (for ball hitch trailers) the best weight distribution hitch(wdh) out there. It’s called a Hensley wdh and is expensive (about $4k)

I better stop or some of the posters will get upset.

There is a mountain of towing and RVing info available, I highly recommend you look it up BEFORE buying so as not to waste money and be discouraged.

Above all, do not expect to get decent mpg when towing the trailer. Reducing the mpg by 30% is not unheard of.

You need a one ton truck, diesel, extended cab, tow package…There are thousands of them available for well under $10,000. Check your local craigslist. I know of a FINE one in Tempe, AZ…

There is not a Honda capable of towing your trailer. The Toyota Sequoia SUV or Tundra PU would be at their limit but could do the job. An '01 or '02 Sequoia would be at your $10,000 budget limit. You’d have to install electric brake controllers on these vehicles which will cost about $300.00 more.

Ther are American SUV’s and full sized PU’s that can do the job. You need to get a Ford F-150 with a tow package or F-250 or F-350. This is a big trailer and you need a good sized rig to pull it, with a powerful motor, big brakes, and strong drivettrain to do the job safely.

.75 ton Ford.

Wow! I’m so glad to have so many posts so quickly. I didn’t know where to start but now have a good direction to start my search for the best vehicle that we can afford. Thanks!
We live in northern Michigan (Traverse City) and plan to start by going to Arizona, about 2100 miles each way. We’ll be able to avoid mountains on our first trip. We plan to stay in that area, but move within a few hundred miles during the winter. When we become more comfortable driving the truck/trailer combination, we’ll venture farther.

The travel trailer has a ball attachment, not a fifth wheel. We plan to store the trailer for the winter then purchase the truck in the spring, or earlier if we find just the perfect truck. We’ll take short trips to get used to driving and setting up prior to the big trip in the fall of '10.

Thank you for all of your help. I’ve followed many links which lead to other links. I have lots more to learn, but at least know that I’m heading in the right direction.
Many thanks!

Just a short note about loading safely.

Use the 60-40 foolproof method. It’s designed to prevent trailer sway (fish-tailing).

You load 60% of the load weight from the center of the dual axles to the front of the trailer and the 40% from the center of the dual axles to the rear.

Be careful NOT to overload the tongue hitch and tow vehicle hitch ball capacities. Usually no more than 10 to 12% of the total trailer weight on the ball.

Can you ID your trailer for us?

Let us know what choices you make, etc, ok?

The travel trailer is a 2007 29’ Wildwood with one slider for the dinette. I won’t be at the camping site for a few days to be able to give more specific data. It has the bedroom in the rear, couch across the front, furnace, air conditioning, full kitchen & bath, & room for 1 small person to sleep on each of the couch and on the table bed. It’s very comfortable for two.
We bought it from a dealer. The previous owners had used it for a weekend with their grandchildren, then decided that camping was not their thing. It’s in excellent shape!
Before we put it in storage for the winter, we plan to have it weighed at a local weight station, so that we are working with real numbers. We’ll make sure that everything is emptied so that we can use the formulas to figure out the total possible full tank weights (water, gray water, black water, propane) + a few hundred pounds just to be sure that our treasures don’t exceed the limits.
I’m still reading and digesting all of the information, but it sounds more like a Ford or Chev 3/4 or 1 Ton, probably with a crew cab, and maybe diesel, would best meet our needs. It sounds really big, though!
Many thanks!

I would not rule out a Dodge Cummins Diesel Pickup. Some Ford Diesel pickups have been problematic from what I have heard.

How good are you at driving a manual transmission truck with a very low 1st gear for getting moving from a stop with a big load.

Definitely the Dodge Ram 2500 Quad-cab with the Cummins diesel. If you’re in the $10k range that’ll put you back in the years where the Fords ate injectors. A very expensive fix.

A 3/4 or one ton pickup will give you the total package: engine, transmission, brakes, hitch, suspension, chassis and so on. Dual rear wheels offer a little more stability with side winds, but are more expensive to buy and maintain(2 extra tires to buy).

If you buy the right pickup it’ll last a very long time.

Suggest a Nissan Armada, which has a towing capacity of 10,000. lbs and a really sturdy 348 cubic inch engine that won’t quit. I know. I own one.Put the $10,000. down on a new one and pay the rest off monthly…new is always best. If you insist on used, I have a 2004 with 87,000 miles or so on it. But I would need $15,000 for it, if you really want to buy it.
Tonowanda Guy p.s. I am on Long Island, New York