Tow Vehicle for Bambi 16

We ordered a Airstream Bambi 16 RB for family road trip adventures. We don’t have a TV yet and trying to decide on one that will work for us to tow the Bambi.
We are looking for a SUV that will be the regular family car in & around town and also double up to tow the Bambi when needed.
The usual trips we would take are 2-5 days within a 1000 miles round trip. There are hopes to do cross county trip as well from CA to MA.

We are considering a 2021 Highlander XSE (3.5L V6). The GVWR for the Bambi is about 70% of the tow capacity of the Highlander. With some water in the tank and some luggage we should be within the 5000 lbs capacity.

The Bambi has a GVWR of 3500 lbs with a Hitch Weight (with LP & Batteries) of 430 lbs.
The 2021 Highlander has a tow capacity is 5000 lbs and tongue weight capacity of 500 lbs.

Anyone have experience with using the Highlander as a TV for their trailer, short or long term?
Or are we just better off going for something like a Tahoe? We re trying to balance the towing requirements with overall use in & around town.

The Bambi has a GVWR of 3500 lbs with a Hitch Weight (with LP & Batteries) of 430 lbs.
The 2021 Highlander has a tow capacity is 5000 lbs and tongue weight capacity of 500 lbs.

Any info, tips, comments greatly appreciated.

Whatever tow vehicle you choose, if it has greater tow capacity than the GVW of the trailer, you are good. It is always nice to have a little margin since trailers have a tendency to be overloaded. Few people get the rig scaled fully loaded… they guess and usually guess low.

Don’t assume that any vehicle you choose has the tow package. Understand what is included in the tow package and make sure the vehicle you buy has that before you buy.

Make sure you get a good brake controller if you are using electric trailer brakes. Also, practice backing the trailer up in a big vacant parking lot before you camp for the first time. Backing a trailer is tricky and you need some practice before you get yourself in a position that requires backing.

I think the Highlander will be well suited for Bambi.

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If you plan to use the 3rd row for seating, that will drastically reduce cargo carrying capacity. IMO, you should keep as much cargo inside or on top of the tow vehicle as you can.

If you want folks who own a Highlander to respond, you might try posting your question on a Highlander forum.

@jtsanders We dont plan to use the 3rd row for seating.
@texases Thanks for the pointer. Will do!


Agree with everything Mustangman said, I like at least 25 to 35% more tow and tongue capacity on the tow vehicle with the tow package, As far as the Highlander goes I will leave that to others to recomend or not as I know nothing about them, One other thing to keep in mind is the mountains between Ca. and Mass. good luck with whatever tow vehicle you get. Also if you have never done this before I recomend a few short breakin trips around your home to work the bugs out and still be close enough to the dealers for waranty work.

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There have been a lot of questions on here from people trying to find that elusive combination of good tow vehicle, good people hauler/non-towing life activities, and the true unicorn: good gas mileage. It’s hard to find such a vehicle; you generally have to give up at least one of those qualities.

Personally, if I were regularly towing a trailer, the only vehicle I’d settle for is a body on frame based truck or SUV. I’m talking about a Silverado/F-150, or a Tahoe/Expedition. Admittedly I don’t know all the stats on the newer unibody SUVs out there… but I do know that a body on frame vehicle will be a much better “solution” for towing pretty much anything.


The Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand cherokee with the V6 and factory tow package is 6200 lbs . If you go the V8 5.7 with tow it is 7200 lbs . I have the v6 and when not towing out on the highway it will get 27-28 mpg at 72 mph or so . So far I have been very happy with the Durango .

Whatever you do do not put heavy things in the rear of the trailer to reduce toung weight, that will make it very squirrley handling

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Been there, towing a boat at highway speeds got into the waggle, moved gas tanks and all stuff to the front of the boat and was fine.

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Yeah I had that hauling a long load of lumber. Stopped and bought a couple bags of salt for ballast and that did it. Still, 450# is a lot of weight on the rear end. How would the hitch be attached to withstnd that weight? Bolts in sheet metal? Gotta agree for that weight a frame seems pretty important.

Might want to look at the discussion on the truck hanging by it’s safety chains then ask how did the truck go out of control?

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One thing to keep an eye on is the payload capacity of the vehicle. For the 2021 Highlander it’s around 1500-1600 pounds. The hitch weight of the trailer is 430 pound so that leaves you 1100-1200 pounds. You didn’t say how many people are going on these trips, but it’s small trailer so I’m assuming 2-4 people. Let’s say two adults and two kids. or about 400 pounds, now you’re down to 700-800 pounds before you start adding luggage, bikes, food, and whatever. You would definitely want to leave some margin in there, so realistically, once you get everyone in the car, you’re going to want keep all luggage, gear, and supplies to around 400 pounds max. Which is probably doable, but you’re not leaving yourself a ton of flexibility.

You see this happen more often with half ton trucks, and the towing ratings that the manufacturers give them; for example, my F-150 is rated to tow a whopping 10,700 pounds. But realistically because of payload limitations you’d never actually tow anything that heavy. The payload of my truck is 1860 pounds. To tow a 10,700 trailer, that means that the tongue weight would be close to 1400 pounds. The truck’s payload is under 1900 pounds, which would leave me 460 pounds of available payload. Add me (200 pounds), and it drops to 260 pounds. There’s simply not enough payload capacity for food, luggage, equipment or other people. And that’s not even figuring in the weight of the required weight distribution hitch which would be around 100-150 pounds itself or any safety margin at all. Obviously, in the real world, my truck isn’t towing anything close to 10,700 pounds. 7500-8000 pounds would probably be the real-world limit.

Anyway, just something to keep in mind when selecting a tow vehicle.


Might want to look at the discussion on the truck hanging by it’s safety chains then ask how did the truck go out of control?

I wonder if we will ever find out what realy happened l the people in the truck went to the ER so we don’t know if the police interviewed them yet.

The Higlander should work just fine for this load, going heavier you’d want a Tahoe or my brothers Sequoia which he bought to handle his growing family with the bonus of being able to tow an eventual travel trailer.