Trailering to the Dells

This past weekend we took our little trailer on it’s longest trip so far – 150 miles to Wisconsin Dells. We stayed at Fox Hill RV Park. It is a very nice facility with great people and plenty of activities. The weather was just about perfect and we had a good time. Unfortunately, this trip did turn up a rather large problem with our trailer and tow vehicle combination.

Our trailer has a max weight of 3750 pounds and, I am sure, we are a little under that weight. Our Jeep Liberty has a towing package installed with max towing weight of 5000 pounds so we are well within limits. On our short trips we didn’t have any problem at all with towing except a little lower gas mileage which is to be expected. The jeep pulled the trailer easily and smoothly. On those trips though, we never got over 55 mph and were usually well under that speed.

During our trip to the Dells, we had a lot of 55 mph driving and also some long stretches of freeway where the speed limit is 65. We quickly learned that the wind resistance of the trailer goes up very quickly with higher speeds. I could barely even get above 60 and the gas mileage was horrible. Even the low hills of Illinois and Southern Wisconsin were a challenge. Combine the low mileage with the relatively small gas tank on the Jeep and we used a full tank to go those 150 miles. The good news is that the trailer was still very stable at highway speeds and I had no problem at all with sway, even when being passed by semi trucks – and I got passed a lot!

So, we have some decisions to make. We would like to be able to take longer trips, tow in hillier and maybe even mountainous terrain and not have to stop for fuel every 100 miles. If we keep our present rig, I think we will be very reluctant to go more than a couple hours from home and I’m not sure we are willing to limit ourselves like that.

The bottom line is that we are now seriously looking at more capable trucks. Just about any small truck or large SUV would work for our present trailer. We have checked out some 1/2 ton pickups and some SUVs with tow ratings up around 7000 pounds. Any of those should be a big improvement for us and let us travel further afield.

But, we are also trying to consider what our future needs might be. Hopefully I will be able to retire in the next couple years and then what? Will we want a bigger trailer that will be more comfortable for one or two week trips? Any truck we buy now should be chosen to meet our future requirements too. With that in mind, we are taking a hard look at 3/4 tons trucks like the Chevy 2500HD. Gas mileage will still suck but at least we will be able to keep up with traffic and go up hills so our stress level should be lower. More importantly, we will have a truck that can meet our needs for many years to come. That is the way we are leaning for now anyway.

UPDATE: 10/5/2012 – We decided! We agreed to buy that new Chevy Silverado 2500HD in the picture. It is already equipped with special towing add-ons. We will finalize the purchase tonight or Saturday.