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Old 03-02-2021, 08:00 AM   #1
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Help Wanted selecting a Tow Vehicle

Good morning. My name is Matt, and I am fairly new to the RV/Camper world. We purchased a 2004 Jayco JayFlight 31BHS TT last year and have really enjoyed it. I’m married and have 4 girls age 10 to 2. I am wanting to get a better towing vehicle. I’ve done a lot of reading online, and as I’m sure you know, much of the info is overwhelming or confusing for noobs. I’m learning though.

I’m trying to determine the highest towing capacity used SUV. From what I can tell, that would be the 2003-2004 Chevrolet Suburban 2500, rated for towing 12,000 pounds with the factory towing package. They are hard to find. I’ve found one a few states away that I’m interested in, but want to be sure this is what I should be getting before I pull the trigger.

Specs for the TT show:
Hitch Weight: 705 lbs
Gross Weight: 8500 lbs
Dry Weight: 5815 lbs
Cargo Weight: 2685 lbs

I want to be sure that I can have the TT fully loaded, and know that when my kids are grown and weigh more, that I can also carry them, the 70 lb dog and any extra stuff in the TV & still have a good margin of capacity for a safe ride.

The 03-04 2500 burbs seem to be the only SUV out there to accomplish this. Is that right, or am I missing one? I don’t want a van and don’t want to try squeezing us in a 6 seater truck. Thanks, and I’m looking forward to learning.
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Old 03-02-2021, 08:38 AM   #2
laj
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You might want to list:
will this also be a daily driver
what the gcw of the trailer is
most importantly budget if you have one.

i also like fords excursion in either gas or diesel.
good luck and have fun.
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Old 03-02-2021, 09:30 AM   #3
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Keep in mind that hitch weight for the TT is "dry" and basically a useless number for your purposes of pairing a TV. Once it's all loaded up with batteries, propane and belongings it will likely be at least a couple hundred pounds more. You might want to use 900-1000# as a good guide while estimating impact on your TV.

You're running up against the problem those of us with lots of kids have - they don't make good TV with lots of seats. Some of the newer vans (Ford Transit, Nissan, etc.) could work. They put them on a 3500 chassis and they definitely have lots of room. I'm sure MPGs aren't great but just thinking it could be an option if you want something newer. Those 2500 Suburbans are great but, as you say, hard to find. And they are getting pretty old. MPGs are also TERRIBLE.
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Old 03-02-2021, 09:34 AM   #4
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For that trailer, you’ll need to save at least 1000-1200 lbs for the fully loaded trailer tongue. Suburban 2500 has payload around 2800-3100 lbs. I’d say you’ll be OK with the left over 1500ish lbs payload for everything else.
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Old 03-02-2021, 09:43 AM   #5
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You would good with any SUV built on a 250/2500 chassis I think. 350/3500 chassis would be better but I only know of full sized vans that meet the 350/3500 that heavy bulid.
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Old 03-02-2021, 11:14 AM   #6
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You would good with any SUV built on a 250/2500 chassis I think. 350/3500 chassis would be better but I only know of full sized vans that meet the 350/3500 that heavy bulid.
X2. The Ford Excursion comes to mind as mentioned above as an alternative

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Old 03-02-2021, 01:53 PM   #7
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It will be my daily driver. I have a 16 mile (8 miles each way) total daily commute, and I already get abysmal gas mileage with my Ford Expedition.

I did some Google searching to determine GCW of just the TT, but I am not exactly sure how to figure that out. I think I’m confused. From what I read it looks like GCW is gross is the TV and TT combined?

Budget is less than $10,000.

I’ve looked at the Excursions, but I’d have to go diesel to get to a Max towing capacity of 11,000 from what I can tell. I’d prefer to have a gas engine, and figured the 2003-2004 2500 Suburban with a towing capacity of 12,000 would be better. Unless there’s an SUV that can tow more.

Thanks!
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Old 03-02-2021, 01:56 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by mtofell View Post
Keep in mind that hitch weight for the TT is "dry" and basically a useless number for your purposes of pairing a TV. Once it's all loaded up with batteries, propane and belongings it will likely be at least a couple hundred pounds more. You might want to use 900-1000# as a good guide while estimating impact on your TV.

You're running up against the problem those of us with lots of kids have - they don't make good TV with lots of seats. Some of the newer vans (Ford Transit, Nissan, etc.) could work. They put them on a 3500 chassis and they definitely have lots of room. I'm sure MPGs aren't great but just thinking it could be an option if you want something newer. Those 2500 Suburbans are great but, as you say, hard to find. And they are getting pretty old. MPGs are also TERRIBLE.
Good info on tongue weight. Thanks.

Yeah, I am specifically looking for an SUV.

These things really are unicorns.

My gas mileage is already pretty bad, so I’m not too worried about that. Though of course, every bit helps.

Thanks
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Old 03-02-2021, 02:00 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by nicky8668 View Post
For that trailer, you’ll need to save at least 1000-1200 lbs for the fully loaded trailer tongue. Suburban 2500 has payload around 2800-3100 lbs. I’d say you’ll be OK with the left over 1500ish lbs payload for everything else.
Sounds good and thanks!
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Old 03-02-2021, 02:01 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by tuffr2 View Post
You would good with any SUV built on a 250/2500 chassis I think. 350/3500 chassis would be better but I only know of full sized vans that meet the 350/3500 that heavy bulid.
Yeah, I’m really wanting to stay with an SUV. Just wanting to make sure there isn’t another one that could tow more outside of the 2003-2004 Suburbans 2500. Thanks!
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Old 03-02-2021, 02:03 PM   #11
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X2. The Ford Excursion comes to mind as mentioned above as an alternative

Dave
Right on. From what I’ve read the Excursion diesels can tow 11,000. I’d prefer to stay with gas and want the highest towing capacity SUV. Which if my info is right seems to be the 2003-2004 Suburban. Unless one of the Excursion years can tow 12,000 too, or some other SUV that I’m missing. Thanks!
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Old 03-02-2021, 02:54 PM   #12
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I can't see anything else than a 2500 Suburban if you want to avoid diesel. That said, your big issue will be finding one, and one that is in half decent shape still and not rotted out. Brake and fuel lines and a bunch more are likely rusted and that can get expensive to have fixed.

I believe the 2500 Suburban was still available as a govt. fleet vehicle well later than 2004. THAT would be the unicorn you could look for, they are rare.
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Old 03-02-2021, 05:56 PM   #13
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Apparently you've researched this quite thoroughly. As far as I know any 2500 Suburban with the 8.1L big block was rated up to 12,000 pounds towing. The 8.1L was available from 2001 thru 2006 or maybe 2007 and the body style stayed the same in those years. Is there some reason that the tow rating is specifically higher in the 2003 - 2004 years?
It should be a great vehicle for you. I had a 2001 dually with an 8.1L and it was a great engine, smooth, quiet, and powerful. I currently have a 2009 2500 Suburban. It's only rated for a bit over 9,000 pounds towing, I think largely due to the hitch being part of the rear crumple zone. I can put up to 9 people in my Suburban with gear and still tow my 6,500 pound boat over mountains quite easily.
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Old 03-02-2021, 06:11 PM   #14
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Apparently you've researched this quite thoroughly. As far as I know any 2500 Suburban with the 8.1L big block was rated up to 12,000 pounds towing. The 8.1L was available from 2001 thru 2006 or maybe 2007 and the body style stayed the same in those years. Is there some reason that the tow rating is specifically higher in the 2003 - 2004 years?
It should be a great vehicle for you. I had a 2001 dually with an 8.1L and it was a great engine, smooth, quiet, and powerful. I currently have a 2009 2500 Suburban. It's only rated for a bit over 9,000 pounds towing, I think largely due to the hitch being part of the rear crumple zone. I can put up to 9 people in my Suburban with gear and still tow my 6,500 pound boat over mountains quite easily.
I’m not exactly sure why it’s just the 2003-2004 that is rated for 12,000, but that’s what I’ve read. And both the 8.1 and the 6.0 are rated for the 12,000 in those two years. The 8.1 apparently just needs less RPMs to pull, so it’s faster from a dead stop doesn’t have to work as hard while pulling overall (more displacement). The 8.1 is even harder to find than the 6.0 though and especially with the 4.10 geared rear axle. So as far as I can tell the 2003-2004 6.0 and 8.1 both can tow 12,000. The 8.1 just does it easier. But they also had some issues that the 6.0s didn’t seem to have as often. That along with a tad bit better gas mileage and yet the same towing capacity is why I’m leaning the 6.0. Plus there just aren’t any 8.1s in those years in my price range. I’ve actually only found a couple in searching, period. The years before and after that vary from the 8000-10,000 range depending on engine and axle set up. Maybe it has something to do with where they were able to put the hitch on the 03-04 like you mentioned.

I just want to make sure there isn’t another gasser that can pull more. I may be putting an offer on a 2003 6.0 2500 tomorrow, but wanted to get some info from others first. Thanks!
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