We have a small 1965 Airstream Caravel, 17 foot long tip to tip. We are towing it with a 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee. We are thinking the Jeep may need to be replaced, but with what? We are thinking of looking for used, low mileage, better gas mileage. It would be nice to have4x4, as some vacations have turned into adventures! Does anyone have any ideas?
Better gas mileage is going to be a bit of a tall order-- I don’t think you want to be towing with anything much less substantial than your Jeep. The mini-suv’s won’t do-- you need a real frame-on truck and, unfortunately, you’re not going to find one with enough power to tow comfortably that’s going to get much better mileage than what you’ve got. This is where I will insert my standard rant about how we can’t get a small truck with a diesel in this country, even though they are ubiquitous everywhere else and would be perfect for applicaitons like this.
Anyways, focusing on what we do have, I would say something like a Ford Ranger or a Dodge Dakota would be the best fit if you want a pickup. You could also look at Toyota and Nissan if you feel so inclined, but those will be more expensive used. You’ll definitely want to get the bigger V6 or V8 (in the case of the Dodge). Or, alternatively, you’d be suprised how good some of the full-size SUV’s like the Tahoe or Expedition are on gas and you might consider those as well. Full-size trucks are also suprisingly sometimes more efficient than their compact bretheren and should also be worth a look.
+1 What he said! Including the rant about no small diesels.
Oh, actually, isn’t there a diesel Jeep of some sort . . . ?
FWIW, I use a 2002 Chevy Tahoe to pull my 21’ Trail-lite.
While this trailer doesn’t have the streamlined design of your Airstream, it has a sloped front to help deflect the wind.
The Tahoe weighs about 5000lbs and the trailer (loaded) is 4500lbs for a total weight of about 9500lbs. (Give or take a few hundred lbs)
Taking into consideration the tow capacity is roughly 8000lbs, that leaves me with a 4000lb safety factor.
The Tahoe (4x4) has a 5.3L V8 (285hp) with a 3.73 rear end ratio and it pulls like there is nothing hooked behind it.
It gets about 20mpg by itself and (thanks to the trailers wind resistance) it gets 13.5mpg with the trailer.
I’m lucky enough to not have to use the Tahoe as a daily driver. I only use it for towing.
Like the longtime RVers say, “bigger is better”.
I would consider a Ford F-150 or a Toyota Tundra for this kind of towing.
Yeah, that’s right-- the Liberty could be had with a Mercedes-sourced CRD engine for two years (one of the oddities of the Daimler-Chrysler days). The diesel option doesn’t add any towing capacity, but it does add some low end torque that helps with towing and also gets very good fuel mileage compared to the gas version. The Liberty is kind of an odd duck-- it’s a sort of in between a car-based SUV and a full-on truck based one. I honestly don’t know what kind of a tow vehicle it makes.
Maihindru is coming out with a small 4cyl diesel engine for the 2011 model year, not sure on it’s debut though. Expect some teething issues of course, but who knows, the small diesel truck/suv might actually catch on over here in the US
Thanks for the input. Liking the Tundra, but hesitant about Toyota at this time.
The mini-suv’s won’t do-- you need a real frame-on truck and, unfortunately, you’re not going to find one with enough power to tow comfortably that’s going to get much better mileage than what you’ve got.
He’s been towing for a while now with the Jeep which is a UNI-BODY.
But I do agree with your assessment. A mid-size SUV is about the smallest vehicle you can tow that trailer with. A V6 can handle it…Don’t need a V8. None of the small SUV’s can handle it. And all the mid-size SUV’s get about the same gas mileage with the possible exception of the Grand Cherokee Diesel.
The F-150 is the hands down winner…They come in so many different flavors, you can find exactly what you want.