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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
You guys have been incredibly helpful so far in my quest to find my next ride - so I hoped I could get some intelligent input!

I'm trying to match a future purchase of an Ascent Touring, with a Sonic Lite SL 169VUD Travel Trailer.

They list it as having an unloaded weight of 3430lbs, but a "Dry hitch weight" of 470lbs, which seems a bit high for the trailer (I always thought it should be ~10% of the current weight of the TT).

Does this sound towable by an Ascent (local towing around New England, nothing cross country - weekenders)?
 

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peeceejay,

The numbers found in the manufacturer’s literature, or on their Web page for a particular trailer, are usually noted with a footnote something like, “*This weight reflects the rolling average unit weight for each model. Your trailer weight will vary according to optional equipment.”

I have found that some of the numbers given by manufacturers to be less than useful.

The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is missing from the SL 169VUD. It is 3430 lb. (UVW) + 805 lb. (NCC, which is listed by other manufacturer’s a CCC, cargo carrying capacity) = 4235 lb. for the GWVR. The 4235 lb. is an absolute but the 3430 UVW is a variable in that absolute with the NCC/CCC being reduced by the actual UVW.

The Dry Hitch Weight of 470 lb., also known as the tongue weight, is supposedly what the average 169VUD left the factory as. This number is a variable and depends on how the trailer is loaded. It has to be measured to determine the actual number.

What is missing from many of the manufacturer’s Web pages is the very important gross axle weight rating (GAWR) for the trailer.

The axle weight rating on my Coachmen Apex Nano 187RB is 3500 lb., as noted on one of the informational sticker placards on the trailer. Also noted both on a sticker on the trailer and on Coachmen’s Web page for this trailer is the GVWR of 3,800 lb. with a CCC of 746 lb. on the current Web page. The Hitch Weight is noted as 316 lb. Remember that Hitch Weight is a variable number and that the actual weight will be determined by how the trailer is loaded.

Apex Nano 187RB Travel Trailers by Coachmen RV

Yes, the GVWR is higher the GAWR. The tongue, hooked to the vehicle, can carry the difference between the GAWR and GVWR for the trailer.

From my data, on my three trips last year, my measured average loaded weight was about 3700 lb. and measured tongue weight was about 420 lb. That means that I average about 3,280 lb. on the 3,500 lb. axles. 420 lb. / 3700 lb. equals about 11%, which has worked out fine.

The Coachmen Apex Nano 187RB Web page notes a UVW of 3054 lb., but, from my records, it noted 3034 lb. when I purchased mine. When I received my trailer, the sticker placard on the tongue read 3100 lb. I had to order my trailer and NO options were added to the trailer. From viewing a lot of videos on YouTube, where dealers noted the weight on the trailer placard, the weight was always heavier than on the Website for that trailer, and a few were a lot heavier!!! I’m talking hundreds of pounds. You really need to have the dealer send you photos of all of the weight placards on the specific trailer you wish to purchase.

3,800 lb. (GVWR) - 3,100 lb. (UVW) leaves 700 lb. to reach the GVWR (that’s the absolute maximum), but 700 lb. is NOT what I can load into the trailer and be at the maximum weight.

The propane tank(s) is/are usually shipped in the trailer, so the weight of the empty tank/tanks is included in the UVW.

Water in the 6 gallon water heater weighs about 50 lb., the battery and battery box about 40 lb., full propane about 20 lb. and then I allow for about 2 gallons of water in the water lines weighing about 16 lb. That’s a total of 126 lb. before loading other items into the trailer.

700 lb. - 125 lb. (rounded) = 575 lb. of items that can be added before the maximum is reached.

All of the items that I’ve loaded into the trailer, tools, dishes, trailer maintenance items, camping items, etc., weigh about 325 lb.

RV Essentials, Actual Weights

575 lb. - 325 lb. = 250 lb. for food, clothing and other items like the toaster, coffee grinder, etc. that are not kept in the trailer.

On my three trips last year I added 161.7 lb., 211.8 lb. and 143.2 lb. to the items that stay in the trailer. The second trip was the heaviest that I pulled, with the total trailer weigh being about 3744.5 lb. with a tongue weight of 411 lb. or 10.9% of the total weight. The weight on the axle, for that trip, was 3333.5 lb., so I was still under the GAWR.

The takeaway here is that the GVWR and GAWR of the trailer are absolute maximums as stated by the manufacturer. The hitch weight/tongue weight is a variable and determined by how the trailer is loaded.

You can check out other trailers that folks are pulling with their Ascents here:

Subaru Ascent Actual Towing Examples

Could the 169VUD work for you and the way you want to use it? You need to determine that from viewing the link above as well as getting the actual weights involved from the dealership you are purchasing from.

Ken
 

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You guys have been incredibly helpful so far in my quest to find my next ride - so I hoped I could get some intelligent input!

I'm trying to match a future purchase of an Ascent Touring, with a Sonic Lite SL 169VUD Travel Trailer.

They list it as having an unloaded weight of 3430lbs, but a "Dry hitch weight" of 470lbs, which seems a bit high for the trailer (I always thought it should be ~10% of the current weight of the TT).

Does this sound towable by an Ascent (local towing around New England, nothing cross country - weekenders)?
Ken Myers has addressed the math thoroughly, as usual. Can you find one maybe used that you can have weighed to get a real world measurement?

Just looking at the specs and layout, it might be hard to get a lot of weight off the hitch unless all the tanks are in the rear. The storage passthrough is up front so the temptation to add a lot of weight in front of the axle is going to be a challenge.
 

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My Apex Nano 187RB has a front pass through storage, and I cannot carry much in it, as I have to add a lot of the heavy items in the bathroom to achieve the approximately 420 lb. of tongue weight. I only have a few water hoses, and light trailer accessories in the pass through. Heavy stuff like my Anderson wheel lifter, breaker bar, jack for the trailer, air pump, shore cord, extra 30 amp cord and the like are on a shelf in the bathroom.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ken Myers has addressed the math thoroughly, as usual. Can you find one maybe used that you can have weighed to get a real world measurement?

Just looking at the specs and layout, it might be hard to get a lot of weight off the hitch unless all the tanks are in the rear. The storage passthrough is up front so the temptation to add a lot of weight in front of the axle is going to be a challenge.
Ken's resources have been gold. We're torn - we're new to both big vehicles and travel trailers, so we're drinking from the fire hose and trying to understand all the numbers, measurements and weight ratings.

I was totally sold on the Ascent, but as we look at TT's - the ones we think meet our needs are RIGHT on the edge of the Ascent's ratings, and that doesn't include any potential future upgrading - so we're still thinking of a 1/2 ton truck instead, even though that may not be the best vehicle for us daily (we have little use for a truck for anything else!)
 

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Ken's resources have been gold. We're torn - we're new to both big vehicles and travel trailers, so we're drinking from the fire hose and trying to understand all the numbers, measurements and weight ratings.

I was totally sold on the Ascent, but as we look at TT's - the ones we think meet our needs are RIGHT on the edge of the Ascent's ratings, and that doesn't include any potential future upgrading - so we're still thinking of a 1/2 ton truck instead, even though that may not be the best vehicle for us daily (we have little use for a truck for anything else!)
Take a look at the Winnebago Micro Minnie series of travel trailers. The weights of most models are ideal for the Ascent. These are superb, dual axle, well-built trailers from an excellent manufacturer.
 

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Ken's resources have been gold. We're torn - we're new to both big vehicles and travel trailers, so we're drinking from the fire hose and trying to understand all the numbers, measurements and weight ratings.

I was totally sold on the Ascent, but as we look at TT's - the ones we think meet our needs are RIGHT on the edge of the Ascent's ratings, and that doesn't include any potential future upgrading - so we're still thinking of a 1/2 ton truck instead, even though that may not be the best vehicle for us daily (we have little use for a truck for anything else!)
Take a good hard look at how much you will use your TT vs your everyday driving habits. If you want to tour the country, then yes I'd go with a truck and a larger TT and "put up with" the harsher ride of the truck.

I loved my GMC 2500 and it towed my 31' Fifth wheel great, even up and down the mountains. But daily the ride was much rougher, I got 15mpg max and it barely fit in my extended garage.

When I sold the fifth wheel I downsized to a GMC Canyon to tow and I still had my Subaru Outback for daily driving. When the Ascent came out I combined both into one.

I do tow near the limit with my Mustang on a flatbed trailer at 4,500lbs. Nice thing with that is it's incredibly easy to adjust the tongue weight by just moving the car back and forth.

I still had my pop up camper which is 3,500lbs so I tow that when we want to go camping. If I did a lot more camping, I'd get a nicer TT at about 4,400 GVWR.

Basically, the closer you get to the 5,000lb limit and the 500lb tongue weight limit, the more vigilant you have to be about how everything is loaded, balanced, etc. My pop up at 3,500lbs has a lot more wiggle room so I don't have to be as careful. But with my Mustang I have learned exactly where to put the car to balance it correctly.

So it's a trade-off, but for me the everyday drivability, comfort, handling, gas mileage, tech, off road capability, etc all outweigh the extra care needed when I tow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Take a look at the Winnebago Micro Minnie series of travel trailers. The weights of most models are ideal for the Ascent. These are superb, dual axle, well-built trailers from an excellent manufacturer.
We looked really hard at them - but ruled them out. The bunkhouse layout we want doesn't have a full sized queen bed, and as a bigger couple, with a big dog who likes to join us ... it would be too cramped.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Take a good hard look at how much you will use your TT vs your everyday driving habits. If you want to tour the country, then yes I'd go with a truck and a larger TT and "put up with" the harsher ride of the truck.

I loved my GMC 2500 and it towed my 31' Fifth wheel great, even up and down the mountains. But daily the ride was much rougher, I got 15mpg max and it barely fit in my extended garage.

When I sold the fifth wheel I downsized to a GMC Canyon to tow and I still had my Subaru Outback for daily driving. When the Ascent came out I combined both into one.

I do tow near the limit with my Mustang on a flatbed trailer at 4,500lbs. Nice thing with that is it's incredibly easy to adjust the tongue weight by just moving the car back and forth.

I still had my pop up camper which is 3,500lbs so I tow that when we want to go camping. If I did a lot more camping, I'd get a nicer TT at about 4,400 GVWR.

Basically, the closer you get to the 5,000lb limit and the 500lb tongue weight limit, the more vigilant you have to be about how everything is loaded, balanced, etc. My pop up at 3,500lbs has a lot more wiggle room so I don't have to be as careful. But with my Mustang I have learned exactly where to put the car to balance it correctly.

So it's a trade-off, but for me the everyday drivability, comfort, handling, gas mileage, tech, off road capability, etc all outweigh the extra care needed when I tow.
This is something I'm finding it hard to gauge and hard to get to grips with, as it's been 30+ years since I towed, and even then it was a 28' caravan on the back of a cheap Korean sedan in the UK, where thinks like tongue weight didn't seem to exist :)

How "bad" is it to be towing a 4,400lb trailer, with 470lb tongue weight? Does it feel unsafe? How much care, attention and focus do you have to pay to the loading?

I asked a similar question over in an RV specific group, and when talking to RV enthusiasts, well, nothing but a truck will do over there. I found it tough to get a "feel" for just what I should expect.

I don't want a truck, but I guess I could live with it - I work at home, travel infrequently, but don't expect to tow often, either. Finding that balance is tough.
 

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Here's some advice I wish I had received or learned earlier in life.

I haven't yet owned a travel trailer (will soon), but I've owned many other "recreational vehicles" over the last 30 years. The key word here is recreational. This is something special you buy primarily for enjoyment. Enjoyment is vital in life, it's our escape from everyday work and worries. Without it, life's a lot tougher.

From my experience, the most important factor to consider when you purchase anything used for recreational purposes is what I called the "hassle factor". This is the amount of work you have to put in before the enjoyment begins. For example, with a boat, the hassle factor is maintenance, trailering, loading, launching, and retrieving. This is all real, often hard work that needs to be done before and after any enjoyment. The greater the hassle factor the less the enjoyment. I've actually owned recreational vehicles with a hassle factor greater than the enjoyment. These were a waste of time and money. Many of you will know what I'm talking about.

So, whenever I now look for anything I may purchase for recreation, I always very carefully consider and gauge the hassle factor because it's so vital to the worth of the purchase for its intended purpose.

When it comes to travel trailers, the hassle factor will greatly increase the more it's mismatched to the towing vehicle. Sure, you can move propane tanks, batteries, and other weights around, empty/fill your tanks, and do whatever else you need to do to get a safe tongue weight every time you need to move it, but you're creating a lot of extra work and seriously taking away from the travel trailer's primary purpose, recreation and enjoyment. You'll soon tire of this and dump the trailer or the tow vehicle having received very little pleasure from it. Or, you could have chosen an RV that's so well matched to your towing vehicle that you need to do little or nothing to make it work. Which would anyone prefer?

So, if you need to struggle to make a travel trailer work with a tow vehicle, move on to a different tow vehicle or trailer. It's as simple as that. Never create for yourself a hassle factor so large that it will ruin your enjoyment.
 

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I bought a Winnebago Micro Minnie 1708 FB earlier this year (3,360 dry, 3,800 fully loaded) and towed it three times with our Ascent. Although it towed just ok, I wasn’t happy or confident with it for our upcoming and anticipated trips (Gatlinburg,TN this fall, Grand Teton and Yellowstone next year). I have therefore traded it in for an F-150 with a V8 with tow package and extended fuel tank and am glad that I did, the difference in towing is night and day. Do I miss the Ascent around town, yes and no, no mostly for pulling into tight parking spots. Plus I have the ability to tow a bigger trailer in the event we want more room down the road. Assess your needs and buy accordingly, but I believe in having the sturdiest vehicle for security when towing.
 

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We have a 4400 lb trailer, equipped for camping including freshwater. I keep the tongue weight at the max for the ascent. Or there abouts. It's not an issue. Get a trailer that tows well and the weight doesn't matter nearly as much as a squirrely trailer that needs a perfect balance. Tandem axles are very forgiving. And make sure of where your tanks are for use as ballast weight, much easier to fill or empty a tank rather than having to move stuff around all the time.

For reference we have a 2016 jayco jayfeather 7 22bhm.
 

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We looked really hard at them - but ruled them out. The bunkhouse layout we want doesn't have a full sized queen bed, and as a bigger couple, with a big dog who likes to join us ... it would be too cramped.
We got the 2100BH and it's got an RV queen which fits us perfectly. The two bunks are great for our grandson and the lower one for one of the 2 dogs (bike & storage when on the road). We love the tandem axle. The Touring pulls it without problems. The Micro Winnie is just 7ft wide and our Ascent requires no mirror additions. We did add the Tekonsha P3 and a Furrion Vision S rear camera. Mileage depends on terrain and seems to run between 8-15. We always use the AC and we have not weighed our combo yet but plan to. Take another look.
 
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I am always “looking” for a tandem axle trailer that fits MY criteria for Ascent towing capability and has the layout I want; rear bath, no slide, and walk around bed.

Don’t get me wrong, the wife and I really like our Coachmen Apex Nano 187RB, but I’m just always looking for all of us here on the forum.

I have no firsthand knowledge of build quality of the units that I’ve been looking at today, etc., just that they seem worth possible consideration.

I ran across the Heartland Trail Runner 181RB this morning.

Trail Runner 181 RB Travel Trailer | Heartland RVs

From the Website:
UVW: 4060 lb.
Tongue weight: 378 lb.
Width: 8.5” (bummer)
Length: 22’ 11”

I also revisited the Venture Sonic 190VRB to refresh my memory.

Sonic SN190VRB Travel Trailer | Venture RV

From the Website:
UVW: 3770 lb.
Tongue weight: 350 lb.
Width: 90” (Yes! Works for me at 7.5’)
Length: 23’ 2” (A bit long for me, but…)

When we were looking last year, there was one of these units within 100 miles of us, and I wish I’d checked it out.

I noticed that user mtilka has one of these units.

Towing trip with our 2019 Ascent Premium

If you are still active on the forum, I’d love to hear more about the quality and durability of your unit and any further experiences when pulling this trailer.
 

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I am always “looking” for a tandem axle trailer that fits MY criteria for Ascent towing capability and has the layout I want; rear bath, no slide, and walk around bed.

Don’t get me wrong, the wife and I really like our Coachmen Apex Nano 187RB, but I’m just always looking for all of us here on the forum.

I have no firsthand knowledge of build quality of the units that I’ve been looking at today, etc., just that they seem worth possible consideration.

I ran across the Heartland Trail Runner 181RB this morning.

Trail Runner 181 RB Travel Trailer | Heartland RVs

From the Website:
UVW: 4060 lb.
Tongue weight: 378 lb.
Width: 8.5” (bummer)
Length: 22’ 11”

I also revisited the Venture Sonic 190VRB to refresh my memory.

Sonic SN190VRB Travel Trailer | Venture RV

From the Website:
UVW: 3770 lb.
Tongue weight: 350 lb.
Width: 90” (Yes! Works for me at 7.5’)
Length: 23’ 2” (A bit long for me, but…)

When we were looking last year, there was one of these units within 100 miles of us, and I wish I’d checked it out.

I noticed that user mtilka has one of these units.

Towing trip with our 2019 Ascent Premium

If you are still active on the forum, I’d love to hear more about the quality and durability of your unit and any further experiences when pulling this trailer.
I've not seen much difference in build quality between any of the trailers we've seen. From Wolf Pups to Coachmens trailers, only when you step up to the way more expensive models.
 

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I've not seen much difference in build quality between any of the trailers we've seen. From Wolf Pups to Coachmens trailers, only when you step up to the way more expensive models.
I've noticed that. And, the prices can get to astronomical levels. The Bowlus Road Chief is amazing... and the quality looks superb. Alas, it's also the price of a small house yet small enough for the Ascent to easily tow. 😕

 

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I've noticed that. And, the prices can get to astronomical levels. The Bowlus Road Chief is amazing... and the quality looks superb. Alas, it's also the price of a small house yet small enough for the Ascent to easily tow. 😕

Those are gorgeous. But starting at $190,000!!!
 
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