Hello again, Glamperinos!
For those of you rockin’ the tow-behind Glamper lifestyle, I thought we’d discuss our recent quest to find a new tow vehicle.
When we first bought our Airstream, we started towing with my beloved ’04 Jeep Grand Cherokee (AKA “Ralphie”). He was sturdy, powerful, and manly. (I mean… it’s a Jeep. Right?!) He even had the battle scars to prove his indestructible nature… full-body hail damage inflicted by a merciless Oklahoma thunderstorm.
Unfortunately, he was just barely adequate to tow our 22’ Airstream Sport. The camper’s fully-loaded weight was somewhere around 5600 lbs, and Ralphie’s max tow rating was 6000lbs. (Well within the “90%” rule I mentioned in my last towing post…) Plus, at 10 years old, Ralphie was beginning to show his age. On a long-distance Glamping escapade a few months back, Ralphie started to overheat, culminating in a replaced radiator and a new “there I was” story for our Glamping repertoire.
With our Santa Fe trip looming on the horizon (and the high-altitude, twisty mountain roads that came with it), we decided it was time to put Ralphie to pasture. But what to choose?
I was deployed while Laura and I began looking at new tow vehicles. My duties overseas required that I work closely with several of our European partners—many of whom kicked bad-guy-butt in a nearly indestructible little workhorse: the Land Rover Defender.
They were perfect! The state-of-the-art diesel engine had tons of power and wonderful fuel efficiency (for a tow vehicle, anyway), accompanied by a Tow Rating of nearly 7800lbs. As an added bonus, they were rugged, affordable, reliable, and LOOKED COMPLETELY AWESOME. (I mean, the Queen drives one… the QUEEN!)
Then, a tragic turn of events. Enter, stage left, America’s Highway Safety Laws. A few days’ research uncovered that the Defender’s lack of air bags make them illegal to own in the States. Sadly, for we American Glampers, we’re out of luck. (You Euro-Glampers are so lucky!)
After drowning my Land-Roverless existence in a DoD-provided bottle of suspicious Ethiopian Beer (rumor has it that it had trace amounts of formaldehyde! Neat!), we began exploring other options. Obviously, Half-Ton Trucks are pretty ideal for towing (that’s why you’ll see them in front of most campers), but I also had a long, tumultuous love affair with SUVs. I tried hard… so very hard… to justify a full-size SUV–but in the end, they were WAY more expensive, usually less powerful, and had restricted cargo space. Amongst our top choices were the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra, and Ram 1500. I was also impressed with the amount of space available in new Crew Cab trucks! Wowzers!
Now let me pause here to discuss something… In 2014, Chrysler offered an EcoDiesel option with their Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500. We were STRONGLY tempted to pay the extra $4,000 for the Ram’s EcoDiesel. With a remarkable 28 mpg, the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel looked tempting. Adding to its allure, the Ram 1500 was named Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year TWICE in a row. Alas, its popularity meant that the EcoDiesel was in high demand. With a backlog of orders, most dealers had little reason to negotiate on price. Additionally, this meant that the gasoline-powered trucks, even the powerful V8 Hemi, was dramatically reduced in price. Considering we paid nearly $10,000 less than sticker for the gas-powered Ram (plus $4,000 saved by not opting for the EcoDiesel), the gas engine won the cost-savings battle.
Thus, while all the options had their pros and cons, we eventually (and happily) drove off the lot in a gas-powered V8 Hemi Ram 1500. Great price, excellent reviews, and the manliest goddamn glamper accessory a guy (or gal) could ask for!
The girls promptly named our new camper-hauler, “Truckasaurus.” (Bonus points to those of you who picked up on the obscure “Simpsons” reference…)
Now that we have a few Truckasaurus-led Glamper Expeditions under our belt, we know we made the right choice. The Ram hauls like a dream. Even Laura, accustomed to her low-sitting Hyundai Elantra, could hitch up, tow, and park like a pro. Plus, a gorgeous woman driving a big ‘ol truck… well, that’s just sexy.
I’m sure many of you have opinions on tow vehicles, too (and many of you likely have WAY more experience than we do). Feel free to discuss in the comments below. We’d love to hear what our fellow Glampers drive, and why!
Take care, fellow Glamp Towers. Drive safely, enjoy nature, and have fun!