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Old 07-27-2021, 10:49 PM   #1
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Volvo XC90 + (r-pod/minnie drop/similar)

Howdy!

We're a family of three (20 month toddler) and have been thinking about towing a travel trailer since our daughter was born pre-covid. Mainly because we've been avid tent campers for years, but with a kid in the picture, figured a trailer would provide the comfort necessary.

And it did, we rented a few travel trailers this summer and enjoyed the experience. We're now researching purchasing one for ourselves and I wanted to lay out the plan so we can get some comments and feedback.

Our tow vehicle is a 2017 Volvo XC90, self leveling air suspension, tow rating of 5000lbs (tongue weight at 500lbs). I didn't find too many mentions of the XC90 here so I thought I'd start a thread. The car isn't compatible with WDH, and does come with built in Trailer Stability Assist. As such, we've been towing our rentals as-is, keeping at 55mph using a Tekonsha Prodigy RF brake controller (mounted on our rentals using a temporary platform) and have been comfortable with the setup.

My goal has been to keep the trailer under 3500lbs pounds fully loaded (dry weight under 3000lbs). Our rentals included the r-pod 180, r-pod 178, and Winnebago Minnie Drop that all fell in that ballpark. With a 13% weight on the hitch, it remains below our 500lbs limit.

Since we're traditionally tent campers, we travel very light. Most of our stuff fits in the boot of the tow vehicle (and outdoor camping gear is in a Thule roof box) so we have a low chance of blasting too far past the dry weight. We've also practiced using CAT scales, to confirm we're below all the required ratings for each vehicle and combined.

I realize that most towing, at least in the US, is done with trucks but we really enjoy the ride and comfort of the XC90, and the trips into cities/national parks we do with the trailer parked in the campground. We would be happier downsizing the travel trailer before switching to a different tow vehicle.

After this lengthy background, my questions really are:
- Is my ballpark trailer size/weight for the models I mentioned earlier a good one to target for my tow vehicle? If not, what are other recommendations?
- Does anyone else have experience with towing with unibodies that aren't compatible with most hitch hardware in traditional use, and do you have any tips?

Thanks!
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Old 07-27-2021, 10:56 PM   #2
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And here's a photo of our last trip with a Winnebago Minnie Drop.
The vehicles sitting a bit higher than when it was in motion. The mode we were towing at drops the suspension a few inches (though the car is always level).
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Old 07-27-2021, 11:16 PM   #3
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I always enjoy the comfort of my truck...lol.
Seriously if I had to drive from NY to San Francisco I would pick a Ford Limited or Ram Limited or any Chevy or GMC 1500 series truck. They all ride nice and quiet and smooth. Yes, it is true they ride like big cars.

I think you will be ok staying in that 3,500lb loaded weight. There are several trailers that I can think of. Three of them are A-Liner hard shell pop-up A frame type. Then you have the tear drop T@B 400, and Little Guy Maxx and even a true pop-up.
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Old 08-03-2021, 10:59 AM   #4
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The car looks nice and level so I think you're good to go. It sounds like you've put enough miles in to feel comfortable driving it. As a pilot you learn to trust your seat-of-the-pants feelings, not that everyone's tush is as sensitive as another's. As a lifelong Volvo owner I also know when mine is telling me she's not happy. :-)

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Old 08-04-2021, 10:28 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies, folks!
I forgot to mention we're a one car household and are trying to keep it that way. Which is another reason I'm trying to avoid purchasing a truck as a second vehicle if possible.
Sounds like the 3500 or below gvwr would be a good target, we'll continue to look!

Speaking of seat-of-the-pants feelings, I found our last rental to be a bit bouncy on rougher roads. I realized after the fact that I was driving with the suspension in 'comfort' mode where it is more cushion-y. Next time, I'm going to give 'dynamic' suspension settings a try where it should have less of a give. I also learned the newer Volvos have a recommendation in the manual to tow in dynamic mode, presumably for similar reasons.
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