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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm moving closer to getting a new travel trailer. Something to camp and vacation with the whole family, 2 adults + 4 young kids. A hybrid expandable camper seems about perfect. Sleeping space for everyone without being too large or fancy. The model I like in particular for cost and weight is the KZ Sportsmen Classic 180RBT. UVW: 3290 lbs. HW: 390 lbs.

I've learned a lot about towing while hanging out here. Probably due to a lack of thoroughly reading the manual, I just learned that HW of the trailer is subtracted from the payload of the vehicle. I just assumed previously that staying under the 5000 lb towing limit and 500 lb tongue weight limit by the recommended 20% and then not severly loading it otherwise would be sufficient. I'd better do some math before making a purchase though.

Referring to the door jamb sticker, max payload for my model is 1158 lbs.

Payload1158Payload1158
- Adults360- Adults360
- Kids(now)280- Kids(later)560
- Hitch50- Hitch50
- Roof box100- Roof box100
- Cargo50- Cargo50
- Tongue Weight390- Tongue Weight390
= Payload remaining-72= Payload remaining-352

At the current time and setup we'll be over weight by 72 lbs. We could probably mitigate that by losing the roof box and loading that stuff into the camper. We'd be right at the bleeding edge of the payload limit.
The kids are young and small though, 70 lbs each on avg. They continue to grow and will probably add 300 lbs in time. That puts us 350 lbs over or 250 lbs over sans roof box.

Crap...

It seems like our Ascent's days are numbered and we'll be going larger soon. Full size SUVs like Expeditions and Suburbans give us major sticker shock. They would work for us but are only incrementally better than the Ascent and easily $20k more. I'm leaning towards a full size 12 passenger van. All the power we'd ever need from a big V8 and payload / towing capacity to spare. They're big, inefficient, and not fun to drive though. It's a weird balance between what is good for daily trips around town and what's needed for traveling / hauling. Ideally we could have two vehicles but we'd have to get very used for that to work out and then reliability is a big unknown.

I'm just lamenting I suppose. If you have a magic solution I'd love to hear it. Otherwise this is a PSA to check ALL the capacities before committing to a trailer.
 

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Yeah with 4 kids, they will grow along with their necessities you'd be better off with something with more payload. You seem to be ahead of the curve with your knowledge already. Good luck with your search for a suitable TV.

Also, I will add, in my search I found the highest payload to be on full size vans. Most fullsize SUVs have about as much payload as the Ascent.
 

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Seriously, a nice camper for 2 well within the Ascent limits. A quality 8 person tent for the kids. A big inverter power pack for kids in the tent to run all the electronics if off grid. We enjoy the camping experience more when not at the max loads. Kids may enjoy camping more with some space.:cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yeah with 4 kids, they will grow along with their necessities you'd be better off with something with more payload. You seem to be ahead of the curve with your knowledge already. Good luck with your search for a suitable TV.

Also, I will add, in my search I found the highest payload to be on full size vans. Most fullsize SUVs have about as much payload as the Ascent.
Thanks very much. Yes, the large SUVs are basically 1/2 ton trucks. Full size vans are built on 3/4 or 1 ton platforms though. For Chevy Express at least I really appreciate the power and capacity while the interior is a bit spartan to save on cost.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Seriously, a nice camper for 2 well within the Ascent limits. A quality 8 person tent for the kids. A big inverter power pack for kids in the tent to run all the electronics if off grid. We enjoy the camping experience more when not at the max loads. Kids may enjoy camping more with some space.:cool:
I'm not sure that would fly. We camp in a wide range of weather. Down into FL and up into the mountains. I'd feel bad sending them outside while we're comfy inside. And even in the future we'll only have maybe 50 - 150 lbs of spare capacity for tongue weight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The good news is the instant offers on our car are in the low 30k's so it probably won't be a huge financial outlay to upsize.
 

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This is the challenge for pretty much any midsize SUV when it comes to towing...they pretty much all have similar low cargo capacities (comes from axle and suspension loading I believe) and that does indeed force some families into the larger, pricier full-size, BoF SUVs which these days are pretty costly. You've done the math for the Ascent...it's worse for the V8 powered Grand Cherokee which has a similar cargo capacity but can handle up to 720 on the ball, not including the weight of a WDH which is required on that vehicle for loads above a certain threshold. So yea....Tahoe/Suburban (and GM equivalents), Expedition (and Lincoln equivalent), the new Waggoneer and Grand Waggoneer are where you'll need to go if you want an SUV. Another option is a crew cab posh pick-em-up-truck and a larger GN travel trailer that can handle the family as well as the stuff. They are not too bad as daily drivers, albeit longer and harder to park.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Agree 100%, @Jim_in_PA . The Ascent is a great mid-size SUV. Understanding the limitations of the class of vehicle is key though.
I thought about a crew cab also but long rides would get really cramped. I'm not ruling it out though. Maybe I could put a couple Brat seats in the back. Lol.
 

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The new style Ford's (not the old Econolines) and the new Ram based on the Sprinter Vans are pretty nice and ride well. You can go with the 2500 range or future proof with the duelly 3500s. They maneuver better and park easier than pickups.

Definitely don't get the 12 passenger old Econolines or Dodge because the bodies were stretched but it was just sheet metal. No structure back there. That style has been involved in many "church bus" accidents with significant passenger injuries.
 

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Even the Tahoe/suburban has a dismal payload rating. The model years I looked at were in the 12-1500lb range even though you could have an 800 lb hitch weight. You would likely need a 2500 chassis suburban, and those aren't much better in a crash than a cargo van. I haven't looked at the newer models , mainly because those are in another tax bracket compared to the ascent, lol. We would have had to go used for a full size suv.

If I am honest with a recommendation, I would look at a drivable rv and then drive behind it with the ascent. Most camping sites allow an extra vehicle without extra cost.
 

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So yea....Tahoe/Suburban (and GM equivalents), Expedition (and Lincoln equivalent), the new Waggoneer and Grand Waggoneer are where you'll need to go if you want an SUV. Another option is a crew cab posh pick-em-up-truck and a larger GN travel trailer that can handle the family as well as the stuff. They are not too bad as daily drivers, albeit longer and harder to park.
I just test drove the new 3 role seat Grand Cherokee and that is a nice vehicle. That one isn't so far from the Ascent price, and it seems like they told me that towing weight could be increased. I would also suggest a pickup, but those are hard to find these days.

B
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Not that I want to pay for new, but new Suburbans at least have 1750 payload. They don't make a 2500 Suburban any longer.

Ford Connect has enough payload but max trailer weight is only 3700-4600 lbs depending on model.

Good to know about the old Econolines / Dodges. Scary stuff.

I don't really want a class C. I don't like camping THAT much. Lol.
 

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I thought about a crew cab also but long rides would get really cramped. I'm not ruling it out though. Maybe I could put a couple Brat seats in the back. Lol.
I just realized I missed that you have four littles...yea, you'd need a bench front and rear to safely (and legally) seat everyone in a crew cab arrangement and that may still not fly for a juvenile in the front middle. Not sure you can get a bench up front in many of the plusher versions. So yea...full-size SUV may be your best choice or something like a Sprinter or other people hauler from Ford, etc, that can also tow.
 

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As a former Yukon owner (with HD tow package), the Ascent is far more comfortable than what GM offers for a 3rd row in the Yukon/Tahoe/Suburban line.
 

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Definitely a tough predicament, and I haven't taken the towing plunge yet, so my advice is worth pretty much nada. If it were me, though, I'd look more at a different (lighter) travel trailer than a different car, and then do what you suggest and put some of the weight in there instead of the roof box. The Ascent is such a great, safe, comfortable car for long trips with lots of kids, so if there's any way under the sun you can make the numbers work, I would try hard not to give up that combination the of safety and comfort if I didn't absolutely have to. There are a ton of people on this site who have towed a wide range of trailers, so maybe someone will have the perfect suggestion for you that makes the numbers work. (and you are definitely wise to be thinking long term and factoring in the kids getting bigger, always best to plan ahead)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Payload is what it is on the placard, 1158 lbs. I'm okay with that.

To calculate payload though it should be GVWR minus curb weight, right? That's 6000 - 4449 = 1551. Why is the payload rating 400 lbs less?

Also interesting, the 2022 Limited is REALLY heavy. 🤣
@Robert.Mauro : in case you want to pass on the typo.
13561
 

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The difference between the calculation and the sticker has been mentioned previously quite a bit...I suspect it's some kind of safety margin to account for things like fuel and other factors. It's not unique to Subaru, either...
 
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Also interesting, the 2022 Limited is REALLY heavy. 🤣
@Robert.Mauro : in case you want to pass on the typo.
Great! Now I have to find one and check the sticker!!! Thanks a lot!!! 😡😡🤣😂😉

On a serious note (well, yeah, I guess I gotta get someone to check one of those out... but on another serious note, lol), your contributions here are gonna be missed (if you decide to move on when your truck gets here). Very glad you spent the time sharing your calculations and concerns. It's a perfect and well explained example of how to properly fit a trailer to a car to the needs and quantity of the occupants and cargo.
 

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They don't make a 2500 Suburban any longer.
It's actually been quite a few years now since GM stopped making the 3/4 ton versions of the large SUVs.
 
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