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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywMwLW0PFXI


So yes, it can tow this model of Airstream (4300 lbs) on a flat road. But I'd be interested in a demonstration going up/down a grade. Like driving over the Rockies.
From what I've been reading about towing a travel trailer, it's not safe to get near your max on your vehicle towing capacity (5,000 lbs for the Ascent upper trim levels). We've ordered a Limited Ascent with a trailer hitch and look forward to towing a travel trailer, but I feel this Airstream tow demonstration is pushing the safety limit of the Ascent. Add some cargo, fill your water tanks and your Airstream weight is maxed out without much room for a safety buffer.
 

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The Airsteam was simply just a weight test for a Auto Journalist show and tell event.

Yes your right your family loaded into the Ascent plus gear and things like water and propane etc are to be factored into your total weight. Realistically speaking all vehicles with tow ratings when your looking at RV trailers its best to start out with a dry weight of half or less of your max tow rating. That way you have capacity for passengers, gear etc. And your vehicle can tow safely in conditions that are not ideal, hot temps, high winds, long climbs etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
From what I've been reading about towing a travel trailer, it's not safe to get near your max on your vehicle towing capacity (5,000 lbs for the Ascent upper trim levels). We've ordered a Limited Ascent with a trailer hitch and look forward to towing a travel trailer, but I feel this Airstream tow demonstration is pushing the safety limit of the Ascent. Add some cargo, fill your water tanks and your Airstream weight is maxed out without much room for a safety buffer.
Agreed. This marketing video is definitely lacking with the real world usage. It would seem that the added stresses of towing an Airstream would warrant some kind of more robust towing add-on upgrades to the powertrain and transmission. But none of those are available.


The competition (Pilot, Highlander, etc.) also boast 5000 lb towing, but I haven't seen any marketing videos of them towing an Airstream or equivalent. Probably a good/smart thing?
 

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So basically if your shopping RV trailers for a 5000lb max rated vehicle your looking at dry weights in the 2500lb range if you have more than 2 passengers. If you only have two passengers / campers then you can move your dry weight up some.

Its very easy for active family types to have 30lbs each in clothing, and extras. That doesn’t count bicycles, and or other toys in addition to clothing, shoes toiletries etc.

My family of 4 will go 2-3 days on 10gallons of water. 8.3lbs per gallon. Water is heavy. So are 5gallon propane tanks.

Camp chairs weigh something, as do added options like awnings etc.
Its very easy to add several 100lbs without realizing it.

For many yrs I raced a 20ft sailboat part of the one design racing rules you weigh the boats. My boat use to gain over 100lbs in accumulated junk left on board through the yr. I would literally toss everything out in a big pile and only put the required gear back onboard. You can imagine what a RV accumulates over time.
 

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If you insist on an Airstream, a smaller one would keep you out of trouble. There is a wide variety of lightweight travel trailers available and some that are ‘ruggedized’ to match destinations beyond where the pavement ends. Although I just sold my boat, I am looking forward to using utility trailers with useful load capacity. This is viable alternative to having a pickup truck.
 

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For many yrs I raced a 20ft sailboat part of the one design racing rules you weigh the boats. My boat use to gain over 100lbs in accumulated junk left on board through the yr. I would literally toss everything out in a big pile and only put the required gear back onboard. You can imagine what a RV accumulates over time.
As a motor home owner....load vehicle with all gear to travel including fuel, water, propane, food, clothing, all occupants including pets, and tow bar/hitch and any tongue weight if towing, then after carefully weighing vehicle on all wheels and axles on appropriate certified scales...compare against GVWR and front and rear axle ratings...adjust as required..if overweight remove something...if not remember how much you were under and where it’s located...front, rear, left, right, etc, ...then always “remember where you are at on weight” using your personal “memory scale”....if you are close to wet weight load max.....the rule becomes if you bring anything new on board, something else needs to be removed of equivalent weight......bottom line...it’s not an easy task to keep track of weight. If you forget, start over and go back to the scales. Remember that some items in this equation keep changing as you drive...like fuel consumption..and more....having fun and being safe in your travels takes some effort! And that effort is much easier if you don’t even attempt to get close to your GVWR.
 

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We've got just a little 3,000 lbs camp trailer that we plan on towing with the Ascent a couple times. As soon as we hit the 1000 mile mark I'll let you know how it tows up the mountains :)
Will you test this within the next month or so :)
 
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As a motor home owner....load vehicle with all gear to travel including fuel, water, propane, food, clothing, all occupants including pets, and tow bar/hitch and any tongue weight if towing, then after carefully weighing vehicle on all wheels and axles on appropriate certified scales...compare against GVWR and front and rear axle ratings...adjust as required..if overweight remove something...if not remember how much you were under and where it’s located...front, rear, left, right, etc, ...then always “remember where you are at on weight” using your personal “memory scale”....if you are close to wet weight load max.....the rule becomes if you bring anything new on board, something else needs to be removed of equivalent weight......bottom line...it’s not an easy task to keep track of weight. If you forget, start over and go back to the scales. Remember that some items in this equation keep changing as you drive...like fuel consumption..and more....having fun and being safe in your travels takes some effort! And that effort is much easier if you don’t even attempt to get close to your GVWR.
So, do I have this correct? The GVWR of the Ascent Limited (5,000 lbs) will include the weight of the trailer being towed, plus its tongue weight (not to exceed 500 lbs), weight distribution hitch, water, propane, bicycles etc. plus vehicle contents (passengers, clothes, food, etc.)? Would 4,500 lbs total for all this be a safe weight?
 

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So, do I have this correct? The GVWR of the Ascent Limited (5,000 lbs) will include the weight of the trailer being towed, plus its tongue weight (not to exceed 500 lbs), weight distribution hitch, water, propane, bicycles etc. plus vehicle contents (passengers, clothes, food, etc.)? Would 4,500 lbs total for all this be a safe weight?
I was talking about motorhome....and specifically staying below GVWR.....

To answer your question...the Ascent is limited to towing 5000lbs....the 4500 lbs could be safe, but...and that’s a big if...yes you must include calculation of tongue weight and the impact on rear axle weight and overall weight of Ascent. Provided all that’s is within restrictions and the trailer weight below limits... maybe you might be ok....BUT then you get into the strain put on the vehicle by flat versus rolling versus mountainous driving conditions as well as ambient temperature and altitude..also driving speed....then comes driving distance and transmission stress created under the variety of possible conditions noted above....so there appears no perfect one fits all answer to your question....you know where you are going and the terrain to be travelled, then make a conservative decision. I wished Subaru and others would provided more details on the impact of elevation, road grade, ambient temperature on their towing guidance.....I don’t take the 5000 lbs as something that can be prescribed under all conditions....maybe someone else can confirm that. Towing up to 5000 limit to me has a lot of qualifiers.
 

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I was talking about motorhome....and specifically staying below GVWR.....

To answer your question...the Ascent is limited to towing 5000lbs....the 4500 lbs could be safe, but...and that’s a big if...yes you must include calculation of tongue weight and the impact on rear axle weight and overall weight of Ascent. Provided all that’s is within restrictions and the trailer weight below limits... maybe you might be ok....BUT then you get into the strain put on the vehicle by flat versus rolling versus mountainous driving conditions as well as ambient temperature and altitude..also driving speed....then comes driving distance and transmission stress created under the variety of possible conditions noted above....so there appears no perfect one fits all answer to your question....you know where you are going and the terrain to be travelled, then make a conservative decision. I wished Subaru and others would provided more details on the impact of elevation, road grade, ambient temperature on their towing guidance.....I don’t take the 5000 lbs as something that can be prescribed under all conditions....maybe someone else can confirm that. Towing up to 5000 limit to me has a lot of qualifiers.
Subaru did place a temp and grade based towing limit on the Outback. They may list similar limits for the Ascent.

The OB limits were related to heat vs cooling ability. It was something like 102 temps and 2+ mile climb 1500lb trailer weight vs the full 2700lbs. So that starts to set your expectations regarding towing in conditions you might encounter. For me this is a all summer long reality CA central valley temps vs Climbing the sierras.You can leave your SF home in 55degree temps hit 103degree valley temps and see climbs as steep as 23% depending on where your going all within 3hours of driving.

After towing racing boats for 10yrs with my prior Subaru my camping rig by design I targeted 1200lbs of less empty mine is 900lbs. Loaded to the max, bikes and stuff for 6 days 4 people the trailer will be around 1300lbs. Its our go any place any time combo.

The Ascent if we get one I might look into a more substantial camp rig. For storage reasons I want to stay in the 14-16ft max bumper to hitch and for towing reasons 6ft or less hub to hub width. Height 6ft max or less for reduced headwind issues on long hauls pop top for interior upper / lower bunk options. I may need make it my self or custom order from a builder. Slide out kitchen, rear opening doors to facilitate storage of bikes or other gear for secure outa sight outa mind storage while on the road.
 

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believe my after towing camper trailers for many years one a single axe is one of the most hard to pull and as a over the road tractor-trailer seen many what we used to call shaney chackers really if you are going to do this for your safety buy a 'Truck our last camper was 30ft our truck was a 1977 Chevy stored winters and only pulled camper BB454cui and tubro 400 u might get away with a popup camper but that's about it.
 

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believe my after towing camper trailers for many years one a single axe is one of the most hard to pull and as a over the road tractor-trailer seen many what we used to call shaney chackers really if you are going to do this for your safety buy a 'Truck our last camper was 30ft our truck was a 1977 Chevy stored winters and only pulled camper BB454cui and tubro 400 u might get away with a popup camper but that's about it.
And you are basing this opinion on what facts?

The Ascent can "get away" with a heck of a lot more than a pop-up camper.
 

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I believe the Ascent can safely pull 5000 lbs as Subaru claims. I think there is even some buffer built-in to that figure to ensure safety and reliability. Subaru is not going to want to see Ascent's in horrific accidents or lined up outside of dealer's repair shops while still under factory warranty.

Does that mean pulling 5000 lbs is as safe, reliable, or as easy as pulling 3500 lbs? No, of course not. The more weight you add, the more challenging it becomes. It's up to the owner to decide if the extra weight is worth it and then very carefully manage it to keep it below the upper limit.

From my experience, it's very difficult to find a suitable super ultra-lightweight class travel trailer (2500-3500 lbs). You have to give up a lot over ultra-lightweight class travel trailers (3500-4500 lbs) often including a single axle rather than a safer, more reliable dual axle. I'm still looking for something that has the ideal weight for the Ascent, but with a dual axle and all the amenities. The Winnebago Micro Mini is an excellent example that it can be done, but unfortunately, I don't like any of their floor plans.

If only Subaru had built and rated the Ascent for 5500-6000 lbs. That would have opened up a much better range of travel trailers.
 

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I tow both my 3,800lb pop up camper and my 4,500 flatbed trailer and 88 Race Mustang up and down the mountains around Phoenix. I'm up to 3,600 miles of towing in these conditions and so far so good.

It's not the Rocky mountains, but I often go from 2,000ft up to 7,000 ft in a short time. Many have 6% to 8% grades. Never struggled and there's always power available, even if I need to accelerate to pass a slow semi-truck uphill.
 
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