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Old 06-26-2019, 11:27 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Red face Gahh, this is what happens when I have the temerity to go to sleep for a night!

Y'all are all being really helpful, I want to stress that up front, ahead of the following wall-o-text reply.

Trouble is, y'all took the wrong chunk of my post to run ahead with. Sorry I wasn't more clear!

I *AM* ditching the current 2nd Gen M5OD-equipped Ford Explorer. I already know it *cannot* do the job. The only way it could possibly do the job would be if I found a hypothetical (Thanks Fat Charlie) sub-1800lb GVWR pop-up that filled all the needs I threw at the laundry list. Even then it would be marginal.

Now for a few specific replies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fat Charlie View Post
You can pick your tow car based on your camper or pick your camper based on your tow car... and you're already committed to the tow car. So you're asking too much from your hypothetical camper: tiny (lightweight) but with an enclosed bathroom that isn't stacked inside its shower?
I'm not committed to a tow car - I am looking for a better one. Yes, I am asking a lot of a popup. That ask was more in the "Did I miss anything in the extremely-light popup market that *might* let me use a lower-payload/tow rating vehicle?" Thanks for the layout of your current camper, too - that could work easily for our sleeping arrangements, and it is one of the fallbacks for a lower-investment plan where we pretty much rely on campground bathhouses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IsaacCarlson View Post
An Explorer is not the best tow vehicle. They are quite sloppy on the road and are top heavy. I would suggest new shocks/sway bar links/bushings if they are older. Good brakes are a must. The transmission is not a strong point, being an R1 series.
I agree, my current 2nd Gen Explorer is not the best tow rig, see comment above about ditching it. If I do tow anything with it, it'll be a tiny popup. As for upgrading tow ratings, I disagree. No matter what I do I cannot change the GVWR and GAWR ratings printed on the sticker on the vehicle at the factory. I can increase the *physical* capacities of the vehicle, but not the *rated* capacities. Note the "I" there - I'm a bit of a stickler for the rules-as-written, though I don't intend to run right up at the limits without upgrades in any event. My comment about an up-fitter is that I'm pretty certain that they are the only places other than the OEM manufacturer that have the "authority" to change the nameplate GVWR/GAWR, etc. on a given vehicle. Typically they don't - they start with a chassis/axles that have the needed ratings - but there are those "floater" trucks that have double frames, etc. In effect, they actually become the manufacturer of record for the modified vehicle. At least, that is how I understand it. They certainly charge enough.

Quote:
Originally Posted by slowmover View Post
The latest Explorer is light years away from its predecessors. And would make an excellent tow vehicle if set up for street performance. The police-spec models are quite capable.

Trailer weight isn’t ever the burden. It’s trailer shape which matters. A fully aero travel trailer can handle the REAL problem of highway travel and that is adverse winds. Tow rigs are involved in loss-of-control accidents due to natural or man-made sudden gusts, AND the driver incorrectly dialing in too much steering. It all happens and is over in 2-3 seconds.

1). Step One

With driver only and gear kept permanently aboard (till the day it’s sold) Scale the vehiccke after topping off the fuel tank at a travel center. (CAT SCALE phone app). Go inside to the fuel desk for the paper copy.

Against the door sticker showing AXLE/WHEEL/TIRE limits, note the range remaining. (Post it)

From this info is how one sets a weight distribution hitch.

Example: a 800-lb trailer tongue weight will — after correct distribution — be relected on a scale reading as approximately under 300-lbs to the front axle; a little over 300-lbs to the rear axle and 200+/lbs to the trailer axles.

But, no, despite acres of ignorance this IS NOT about “Payload”. Load the vehicle as you will with 800-lbs and the scale will show the bulk of it o the rear axle. The only legal limits are the tire/wheel/axle Load limits. .

The “best” tow vehicles have a VERY short rear axle to hitch ball distance. As well, fully independent suspension and low center of gravity. All of which describes the current Explorer.

Agreed that the older ones were terrible in every role above 35-mph. Dump it for something worth using.

The current ones have more than enough power to pull a truly aero trailer up to 23’ or so without issues.

A pickup is nothing but a high risk vehicle.
I definitely agree that the 4th Gen (through 2010 - 2011+ went CUV and lost low range) is a way better tow vehicle than the 2nd Gen I have right now. See above, I am dumping the 2nd Gen. It'll just take a while. No towing a fancy trailer until that rig is replaced with something far better suited.

The rest of your notes are very helpful. This is the sort of thing that I have run across after digging past the really wrong stuff I found before, and is generally how I intend to proceed. The RV dealer I went to was the one that said "a weight distributing hitch makes the tongue weight disappear" and "the tow rating is the tow rating, that's all you need to know". I disagreed, so I left with some brochures to do more research.

The GAWR limits are the mechanical limits of those two parts of the rig, never to be exceeded, yes. I agree completely that I need to make sure the vehicle and trailer are loaded correctly and the weight-distributing hitch is adjusted properly so as to not exceed any individual GAWR, as you described. I also can't put weeny tires on it with lower load ratings than the axles they are on and expect to load past the tire rating. Your description of how to get the actual as-it-sits curb weight/distribution are spot on.

The GVWR, however, is also something I wish to not exceed. That's where "payload" comes in. I'm not using the nameplate payload, I'm using the "weigh the truck, subtract that from the GVWR" payload. Every pound of armor, heavier tires, larger swaybars, upgraded tow hitch, etc. counts against that "payload" number. Your example of an 800lb tongue weight being re-distributed to about 600 vehicle/200 trailer still leaves me with 600lbs that counts against the GVWR/payload. If I have only 1200lb between the curb weight of the vehicle as-it-sits and the GVWR on it, ie a 1200lb "payload", and I hook up that theoretical trailer distributed as noted, and then my 700lb family sits in the vehicle, I go above GVWR. Someone has to stay home, or I need to cut weight, or I need a different tow vehicle or I need a lighter trailer. The axles may well be within GAWR limits, and the tires will be rated as high or higher than the axles, but virtually every door jamb sticker/factory rating chart I have looked at has shown a gap between the sum of the posted GAWR's and the posted GVWR, with the GVWR being the lower number.

Again, note the use of "I" here - I want to make sure *all* the numbers are correct. I don't want anything an insurance adjuster or cop can hang anything on to shove at me after an accident that will already have been bad. (Not that I plan to be in one, just that whole "plan for the worst" part of how I think.) I don't know what the legal force is behind the GVWR sticker on the vehicle beyond how the vehicle is classified for registration, etc., but it is a convenient number for someone to look at and say "you went above that, denied/you are at fault." so I plan to stay under it. If it's conservative, oh well, I bought a more capable tow rig/a lighter trailer so I end up using even less of the vehicle's capabilities.

I'm also not going to do some sort of weird weight distributing setup that gets me within all three axle limits, but has the thing so trailer-heavy it's a deathtrap. (Hey, the trailer has a 5000lb axle, and if I load everything towards the back, it'll actually pull 500lbs of load off the rear axle, and the weight-distributing hitch makes it look all flat and nice! )

I want a safe, easy to drive setup. I don't want a pickup that I have to intentionally load with dead-weight to keep it from spinning out on my daily commute in the winter.

Your notes on trailer aero are also very good. I'll look at some of the Airstreams or similar - I already knew "sail area" was something I should pay attention to, as well as frontal area. What's your opinion on the hard-side TravelManor type popup rigs? Not tall, still relatively wide, not very long, but quite square.

Quote:
Originally Posted by slowmover View Post
You’re seriously mistaken about insurance, hitch capability, etc. Or Payload, tow capacity, etc.

That you even THINK a 4WD offroad Exploder makes a suitable highway vehicle is depressing as hell.

With the right trailer a Honda Odyssey is a good choice.

Solo family duty precedes ALL OTHER SPEC
I get it, you don't want me to get myself and my family in trouble out on the freeway. That's my goal, too, and why I am asking here for more input. I learned enough in my own research to know that my current 2nd Gen Explorer is not suitable for the task - and that even a min/maxed put-together one would be marginal at best, ratings-wise. Since min/maxing one requires a different truck to start with, the hassle involved is not worth it, so I am looking for more suitable vehicles to start with that I can also go have fun off-road with.

I do not plan to lift this thing to the moon, and per me and my metro's point about wiggly tread, I'm planning on sticking with relatively mild tread patterns. I already know mud tires suck in rain and in the usual winter conditions that apply here in MN. No auto-locking or clutch-based LSD's for similar poor winter handling characteristics. Stick with 70-75 aspect ratio tires for a reasonable ride/handling/load carrying/off-road sidewall flex compromise. Avoiding wide tires because they do bad things when hitting the slush between lanes in the winter. Mostly I want to add armor and traction. My "gold standard" for off-road capability was a nearly bone stock 1979 FJ-40. Absolutely crap handling, safety, etc. but that was back when I was a teenager/20-something who hadn't done as much research as I have now and didn't have a family to protect/provide for. I know it'll take me a while to get good at driving off-road again, so my first add-ons will be skidplates and the like, so mistakes are less costly. Bigger tires cost a ton, too, and for a part-time toy it isn't worth the added wear and expense when I'm not off-road to run them. I am trying to be reasonable about this, but I'm fighting my younger self, so I need to throw data at him to get him to understand. A lift would only happen if I had to take the suspension apart to replace wear items, and I'm only interested in 1 to 2", and then only if it doesn't run the thing against the bumpstops/ruin the ride/make the alignment all wonky. No huge bracket-drop lifts, springovers, rear blocks, etc. So long as the lower point of the solid rear axle (if equipped) is equal to or higher than a stock FJ40 on 31" tires, that's all I "need". IRS vehicles already beat that, so it's more a matter of tougher tires (puncture resistance) with better than straight highway tread.

My comments on insurance, etc. are me trying to boil down the cacophony of info I've run across into something relatively simple. This is primarily to explain to those who want to tell me "Ah, you have a Class IV hitch, you can tow 7500lbs, 10,000 with a weight-distributing setup, you're good to go!" that I'm up against a recognizable "bad guy" in the form of a potential ticket or denied insurance claim, so please to be showing me the lighter trailers kthnks. Cuts the arguments in the store shorter, because they want to sell me the biggest thing on the lot - and that usually means they look at the "dry weight" and compare it to my "tow rating" and say I'm good to go, all other numbers be damned.

If you wouldn't mind explaining in more detail, I'm willing to read it. You tend to lay stuff out in an understandable, straightforward fashion - even when you're exasperated at the noob who looks like he's gonna get himself and his family killed.

I actually have looked at minivans. We'll be replacing my wife's 2007 Mazda 5 in a few years, and if we want to go camping somewhere that isn't an off-road adventure area, her replacement vehicle might be a better tow rig for that kind of trip. So I'll be doing this same sort of exercise with fewer limitations on the vehicle list since I won't need 4x4, low range, ground clearance, etc.

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Old 06-27-2019, 09:17 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I vote 2001-2005 5.3 Yukon or Tahoe. I bet you'd be surprised at how close it is on economy to an earlier Explorer and how big a tire fits with just rasing the torsion bars a bit. Aftermarket galore, inexpensive repairs, low dollar entry point, very comfortable drive day to day.
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Old 06-28-2019, 12:41 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I can’t help but think about the diesel light duty pickups out there. Ram Ecodiesel? Not sure they had that in a crew cab. F150 or maybe a Canyon/Colorado diesel would perhaps fit the bill.

If it absolutely must be an SUV, I don’t disagree with the Tahoe mentioned previously, but both the newer Explorer and Expedition might be worth checking out, and I don’t think a Chevy Traverse or GMC Acadia would really shirk that duty. Keep in mind that the Ford Ecoboost engines drink fuel like a sailor taking shots, but they ball that jack uphill, and stay quiet and refined inside. I think the Canyon/Colorado are out just due to the GVWR payload needs.

TFL Truck on Youtube might be helpful here. They do a test routine called “The Ike Gauntlet”, basically loading up trucks and SUVs to near max, and dragging them up the highest pass in the United States, on a route with the maximum allowable grade for a U.S. Interstate (7%) and also testing how they perform on the downhill. They grade for time, stability, and how many brake applications are needed on the descent.

I am a truck driver by trade, so your concerns about loading resonate with me. Keep in mind that tow ratings vary...the SAE fairly recently introduced J2807, aiming to provide a uniform standard for tow ratings, but to my knowledge, it’s not yet universal. IMHO your capability to slow down on a descent is the single most vital safety feature you can have in your towing setup.

I wouldn’t tow much with front wheel drive. When you take the weight off the front (drive) wheels, it will act funky. There’s a reason 18-wheelers are rear-drive, it will maintain better traction in bad conditions, and won’t mess with dynamics as much when loaded. That’s why I won’t tow with my wife’s minivan.
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Last edited by jcp123; 06-28-2019 at 12:51 AM..
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Old 06-28-2019, 09:56 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Thumbs up Good stuff, thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hersbird View Post
I vote 2001-2005 5.3 Yukon or Tahoe. I bet you'd be surprised at how close it is on economy to an earlier Explorer and how big a tire fits with just rasing the torsion bars a bit. Aftermarket galore, inexpensive repairs, low dollar entry point, very comfortable drive day to day.
Hello Hersbird,

I've looked at those, they are on my list of contenders - actually extending up to ~2013 or so as ex-Police fleet vehicles are starting to show up, and those usually have all the heavy-duty cooling/brakes options on them. I agree the 5.3 has reasonable economy numbers. So you consider the GMT800 to be a better bet than the GMT900? Any particular reason why? The AMT system, while it has its detractors, could prove a significant help in commuting fuel economy providing I can find one that was maintained properly.

In either case, though, they're among the widest of the options I looked at - not exactly desirable for the off-road toy part of the equation, nor for the daily driver commuter option. If that's what I need to do the towing safely, though, they are certainly otherwise quite good - and there's a whole subculture within the off-road world dedicated to cramming full-size rigs into places they never really should go. As you can imagine, it generally involves lots of body damage and/or armor. If I end up "needing" tires taller than about 32-33", I will need to re-evaluate things, as above that tire size towing becomes a real dicey proposition on a shortish wheelbase half-ton.

I'm also looking at similar vintage 2500 series Suburbans and Avalanches. Longer, but no wider, and with the 3/4 ton underpinnings they enjoy an extra bump in GVWR beyond the additional curb weight increase. The nice thing about the GMT800 is that the front frame section up to the driver's seat position, approximately, is the same cross section/shape as the 1500, according to virtually everything I can find. The newer ones into the GMT900 years apparently stuck with the torsion bar frontend, at least according to sites like Rockauto, so it would seem the front frame stayed consistent. Why is this nice? It's the same crumple zone design that got crash tested in the 1500 series GMT800 model. I'll of course need to take measurements to verify, but this info makes it worth tracking one down to do those measurements.

There's very little crash test data available for 3/4 ton and up vehicles, so this was a welcome find. The lack of extra off-road beef from a larger frame is irrelevant when I'm not looking to swap in a solid front axle and run 44" tires. I also found good crash test data for the 2006 design of the F250 Super Duty crew cab, so the years/models that shared that front frame configuration can be expected to perform similarly. That would put an Excursion into the "possible" category if it shares enough front frame dimensions, though they are unfortunately getting quite old and are piggish on fuel. The 6.0 diesel is better on fuel, but has its own problems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcp123 View Post
I can’t help but think about the diesel light duty pickups out there. Ram Ecodiesel? Not sure they had that in a crew cab. F150 or maybe a Canyon/Colorado diesel would perhaps fit the bill.

If it absolutely must be an SUV, I don’t disagree with the Tahoe mentioned previously, but both the newer Explorer and Expedition might be worth checking out, and I don’t think a Chevy Traverse or GMC Acadia would really shirk that duty. Keep in mind that the Ford Ecoboost engines drink fuel like a sailor taking shots, but they ball that jack uphill, and stay quiet and refined inside. I think the Canyon/Colorado are out just due to the GVWR payload needs.

TFL Truck on Youtube might be helpful here. They do a test routine called “The Ike Gauntlet”, basically loading up trucks and SUVs to near max, and dragging them up the highest pass in the United States, on a route with the maximum allowable grade for a U.S. Interstate (7%) and also testing how they perform on the downhill. They grade for time, stability, and how many brake applications are needed on the descent.

I am a truck driver by trade, so your concerns about loading resonate with me. Keep in mind that tow ratings vary...the SAE fairly recently introduced J2807, aiming to provide a uniform standard for tow ratings, but to my knowledge, it’s not yet universal. IMHO your capability to slow down on a descent is the single most vital safety feature you can have in your towing setup.

I wouldn’t tow much with front wheel drive. When you take the weight off the front (drive) wheels, it will act funky. There’s a reason 18-wheelers are rear-drive, it will maintain better traction in bad conditions, and won’t mess with dynamics as much when loaded. That’s why I won’t tow with my wife’s minivan.
Hello jcp123,

I prefer an SUV over a truck because I'm not looking to do 5th wheel towing, and pickups pretty much always end up longer overall than SUV's for a given passenger count. Less fishtailing in winter, too. I drove a 3/4-ton 1998.5 Dodge Ram 2500 SRW Quad Cab Longbed Cummins with the manual trans for a few years. The bed was occasionally convenient to have when moving stuff, but otherwise the sheer size of the thing was extremely inconvenient a lot more often. Any of the fullsize options will be more inconvenient than the midsize ones, but less so than a fullsize pickup. Not sure about the tradeoff between a midsize pickup and a fullsize SUV. Narrower vs. longer.

A lot of your vehicle suggestions up there are rather new - and thus rather expensive. I'm still trying to do this relatively inexpensively - though anything involving a camper and off-road fun can't be called "cheap" as a hobby. The Explorer up through about 2010 and the Expedition up until what I can afford do look interesting. The Explorer is preferable for size considerations, but the later Expeditions (I think starting in 2010?) start to reach parity with the 2010 and older Explorer for fuel economy, so that's a wash for commuting expense at least. There's a funky tradeoff between the V6 and V8 4th gen Explorers: the V8 generally ends up with lower net "payload" capacity, due to the extra weight of the larger engine and cooling system. For the same passenger, gear and off-road-armor loading, the V8 ends up with less tongue weight capability, so a lower "real" towing capacity. Not sure how I'll figure out which works better without bringing the family and a bunch of sandbags to a car dealership next to an RV dealership and doing a test drive past a scale...

Per your comments about tow ratings: yes, they do vary a lot. That's why I dig up GVWR, GCWR and "as tested" curb weights for the vehicles I am considering. Typically journalists get "loaded" test vehicles, so they are a bit heavy with options. That gives me a conservative "curb weight" starting point for figuring out whether I have sufficient passenger and tongue weight capacity along with the tow capacity. J2807 tested rigs would be *very nice*, but again, newer/more expensive.

I'll have to check that TFL Truck channel, looks interesting.

The minivans I would possibly be towing with will be 7 or 8 passenger, 6 passenger minimum. Not super small, but not a full-size passenger van either. Gotta have room for all the kiddos' friends (basically the Girl Scout Troop. No, I'll not be towing a camper with the whole Troop in the van - the camper won't be big enough, and that's a really wierd insurance situation.) and their stuff, but again, usually it's just my wife and one or two kids for most in-town trips. Modern ones with AWD often meet or exceed our FWD Mazda 5's fuel economy numbers, too. In either case, FWD or AWD, I'd likely hit a manufacturer requirement for a weight-distributing hitch somewhere around the 2-3000lb point. That seems to be where it hits on the car/minivan tow rating lits. That'd help re-load the front wheels. Realistically, though, if the rig I buy for my needs has enough room inside, we'll take it rather than the minivan. Especially if it is a more comfortable tow experience.

Given the steadily improving tech for various electronic vehicle dynamics aids - roll stability control, trailer sway control, traction control, general vehicle stability control, etc. - as well as improvements in efficiency, a newer rig may make enough sense that the cards tip in that direction. I've got some time before I get ahold of anything, so I have time to figure out whether bigger payments/longer time making them make sense in this application. Bolt-on armor stays the main thing to get for the vehicle if I want to do some mild off-roading while I'm still making payments/under warranty.

I'm seriously eyeing up the 2004+ Jeep Grand Cherokee. The older 5.7's suck fuel, but if I can find a 4.7 with the full Active Drive 2/Active Drive Lock package + tow package or a newer 5.7 with VVT they are quite attractive. One of the best OEM 4x4 drive system designs available, needing only a more aggressive tread design and (depending on model) some additional skidplating to go some surprisingly tough places. The Cherokee Trailhawk is also interesting in a smaller package, though at a higher complexity level due to the transverse front driveline and need to package the 2-speed "transfer case" functions coaxial to the front axleshafts. It already has skidplates, so it needs less armor to handle stuff I might want to do.

I may yet end up with something more like a Subaru, scaling back my off-road adventure plans to things that don't need low-range. It's a heck of a lot cheaper, and there's a lot more potential candidates out there - so long as they meet the tongue weight and tow weight needs. I'll just have to make sure I keep a thick skin if I decide to follow the "built rigs" some place I shouldn't go, and they end up having to drag my cute-ute/jumped-up station wagon/minivan with delusions of grandeur out of there over every little obstacle...
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Old 06-28-2019, 11:16 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Maybe you should buy this?

https://www.ebth.com/items/10637514-...gVtNsqjx_i__Ik

I mean, a4650 lb car, 6130 gvwr so about 1500 lbs capacity and a 6L torque monster.

Just lift it and be the only guy camping/offroading in a Rolls

Sam
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Old 06-28-2019, 02:17 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Hello samwichse,

Quote:
Originally Posted by samwichse View Post
Maybe you should buy this?

https://www.ebth.com/items/10637514-...gVtNsqjx_i__Ik

I mean, a4650 lb car, 6130 gvwr so about 1500 lbs capacity and a 6L torque monster.

Just lift it and be the only guy camping/offroading in a Rolls

Sam
Hah! Without a driven front axle, sadly it doesn't meet my requirements. To fit one, I'd need to lift it in excess of MN's legal limits, too. I already asked: if I put the body on a 4x4 chassis, it's still registered as a car and the car height limits apply - I'd probably end up having to lower the suspension from stock on the 4x4 chassis to get within 6" of the car's stock height/under the maximum car bumper height limits. MN is a "VIN/title follows the body" state. So, no fun car on truck frame shenanigans for me, sadly.

Also there's a turn signal bulb out, so that one's no good. <turns up nose snootily>

I can't find it, but there was a movie involving mining where the lead guy cut the back off a Rolls or Bentley or similarly fancy car, put a back on it behind the front seats to enclose the "cab", and added a 5th wheel hitch to the exposed frame. Used it to haul an ore trailer. "You cut up the car!" "We needed a truck." "But you cut up the car!" "I can put it back later."
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Old 06-28-2019, 06:28 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I run a 2001 2500 Yukon XL 4x4 with the 6.0 now. I bought it last winter for $3800 with 235k on it. I looked even up to 2011 models (they made the 2500 up to 2013 I think) but I didn't really see any huge differences considering those were more like $25,000. For under $4500 on my old 2001 GM will ship a brand new 365hp 6.0 off the assembly line complete from the throttle body on down to the oil pan to my door. The newer ones have a 6 spped as well, but the older HD 4 speed used in the 2500s is known to be pretty tough. Basically spending only $3800 leaves me all kinds of room for upgrades but it hasn't needed anything for where I've gone. It has a working factory G80 locker in the rear, and selectable 2wd, 4hi, 4 lo, something the 6.0s in the Denalis don't get.

As far as the diesel Excursions go you would be amazed how low the payload is on those things. Basically they have the same 9000 GVWR as a 2500 Suburban but the whole thing weighs over 1000 pounds more, all coming out of payload. That weight will also be terrible off road, get stuck and you will be STUCK! Why payload? Well throw a 8000 pound trailer with 1000 pounds of tounge and the Suburban can still handle 8 passengers and gear, the Excursion becomes a 4 passenger rig at that point or you exceed the payload rating. I have 2800 pounds of payload. I'm coming from a 3/4 ton Cummins and a 1st gen Subaru Forester, the Yukon replaced both. It rides way better than either the others, hauls the people now (we run 6 soon to be 7 and up to 3 full size dogs, it has nowhere near the beast torque of the Cummins, but will fly down a washboard dirt road at 65 mph better than the Subaru. The truck would have been uncontrolled at that speed with anything but a smooth road. Day to day the 6 speed manual was a huge pain, and my short commute was killing it as it never even heated it up. Paying insurance and tags on the Subaru was eating up and gas savings I had with it and sooner or later it was going to need a $2000 headgasket and timing belt... again.
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Old 07-01-2019, 05:37 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Hello hersbird,

So you like the GMT800 platform, then. Honestly, the only thing (other than don't have the cash to buy it now, too many other things going on, etc.) keeping me from just tracking down and finding a decent 2500 series Suburban/Tahoe XL/Yukon XL is the sheer size of the thing. I haven't driven fullsize since that Dodge Ram, and kind of like fitting everywhere. Plus they're not exactly great on fuel - and I drive 10 miles one way in the dead of winter for my commute. A big cast-iron block will have issues with that. Block heater, sure, but still.

Good to hear it rides well on rough roads - that's one of the "should do this" things that I forgot to put in my wants/needs list.

There is a compelling argument for these GMT800/900 rigs, though: they are inexpensive to buy and repair as you note - if they have been serviced. A clean GMT400 is a possibility, as the '93-'94 Suburban actually did well in crash tests without airbags. Soft front end just folded up, protecting the passengers and driver like it should.

The 1500 version isn't too bad on "net payload" either - somewhere around 1700lb. All the 2500 stuff is bolt-on, and that torsion-bar chassis kept on through the 2013 2500's, even under the GMT900 body. So if the 1500 suspension wears out, bolt on 2500 stuff. Set of used knuckles, pair of axles, conversion U-joints, CV half-shafts, and then all the new bushings and upper control arms and tie rod ends and unit bearings, brakes, etc. that need to be replaced anyway due to wear. The 1500 4L60 transmissions apparently don't like towing, though, and the cooler lines like to rot out, starve the trans of fluid, and burn them up. (happened to my MIL, rebuilt trans has always shifted "funny" since...). Good for a "slow buildup as funds allow" kinda thing. Though the 2500 starts out with all that.

I read really good things about the LS engines in general - lots of 250-300k plus mile stories. Some caveats about the Active Fuel Management system having issues, though looking at TSB 10-06-01-008F it seems that these engines tend to keep their cylinder wall cross-hatching - and GM specifically recommends against honing when replacing pistons/rings if they got gunked up by an AFM issue. Dodge has their MDS system that does the same thing - turn off half the cylinders via regulating oil pressure to those lifters. They apparently don't have the same issues, so the GM bulletin about oil spray in excess quantities at high RPM (long empty highway drives at speed...) seems legit for a potential cause.

Another issue I found info on, though I can't recall the TSB, was early LS1 engine oil consumption. Proximal cause was similar - high-rpm light-load operation. In those engines, though, it was the low-tension rings going into a "flutter" situation. The fix there - for drivers that would refuse to modify driving habits - was a set of slightly higher tension oil and lower compression rings to minimize the flutter.

I'd heard that about the Excursion - they went rather soft on the rear springs to get a better ride, so the rear GAWR was limited by that, and hence the GVWR was limited. Being based on the Super Duty, they started out heavier, too. Not exactly an attractive combo, but the crash test info still holds at least.

I can get better commuting MPG from something like a recent Explorer or Jeep Grand Cherokee, but at a higher buy-in. Going from 13MPG to almost 20MPG would take somewhere over 7 years to pay off (at 10k miles/year) in fuel savings if the 20MPG vehicle is $5k more.

If I'm not careful, with that logic I'll end up with a big-block monster, and it'll sit most of the time costing insurance/registration while I drive a cheap beater for fuel economy because it just feels wrong to burn so much fuel. Even if it does take 7 years to break even on cost. Driving a cheap beater while the thirsty truck sits now, and I hate it. (Green truck is sitting, admittedly due to bad front axle, not MPG, but still.)

Too bad auto-stop wasn't available in either generation except on the hybrids. One of those would be really nice, but they are a *lot* less common than the standard variants, and they have a lot of aluminum parts and low-hanging plastic bits to counter the hybrid weight gain and to make the cD lower. All of that pretty plastic would get ripped off off-road, and I'm not sure how well aluminum bits would do under such a heavy beast.

Jeep Grand Cherokee actually makes the lower front fascia removeable, and there are a few OEM and aftermarket rock-rail setups that basically replace the plastic rocker panel trim. The 2014+ V6 has a reasonable tow/payload rating, and can be had with the high-end Active Drive 2 4WD system that is apparently super-effective - comparable to at least Eaton ECTED MAX lockers at both ends, but seamlessly integrated. For a "just drive it" option, with only a bit of armor, some tow points, and better tires, it might be a really good bet for the few times I'll get to go play.

Of course, I can get a 4th gen Ford Explorer a lot cheaper, and the brake-based traction control is apparently no slouch so long as you can keep a rock-steady accelerator position.

I'll probably have to just quick looking into this stuff (yeah right) for a while and get a bunch of honey-do stuff done, get backlogged projects done or sold off, etc. so I'm in a better spot to do something and my wallet recovers from the sunk costs of the Fords.
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Old 07-01-2019, 10:45 PM   #19 (permalink)
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The 2008-2009 3.0 CRD Grand Cherokee would actually be my choice if we didn't have the need for more seats. I almost just bought one anyway, that or a 5.7 Commander. I couldn't find a 2009 or 2010 5.7 Commander close enough with the Quadradrive 2 system before settling on the 2500 Yukon XL (which really was a better deal for me anyway.) Then my sister in law ends up finding and buying the exact Commander I looked forever for, literally a mile from my house with low miles for $11,000. Anyway, if 5 seats were enough, I did find a few good 3.0 CRD Grand Cherokees with the Quadradrive 2 right around $10,000. That 4wd system is really the key. It gives electronic lockers front and rear along with a locking transfer case. Basically a Rubicon Wrangler without the ability to select the locking, it does it by computer inputs.

If money were no object, I'd certainly get a 2020 Gladiator Rubicon once they are available with the new 3.0 Ecodiesel that makes 480 fl-lbs. New ecodiesel is more efficient that the last which means it will probably score a 28-30mpg highway epa rating in the 4wd Ram
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Old 07-03-2019, 12:35 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Beater Echo - '00 Toyota Echo
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I think there’s a bit bit of over-analyzing goin on now. I still stand behind TFLTruck, but you can’t have it all. Pick a midrange tow vehicle, and go roll. If you gotta tow, I’d rather you go overkill than get killed. Towing is a kinda serious business.

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