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Discussion Starter #1
So it looks like my wife's octogenarian mom is going to be moving in with us, and we're considering buying a travel trailer as a means to both enjoy the region and possibly to eventually be able to take her from the desert southwest back to Boston for a trip to honor her fairly recently deceased husband's memory. I'm looking at my options and I'm leaning for something in the 3000-3500lb dry-weight class, most likely something hard-sided, a typical box-on-an-axle trailer. My towing capacity with my crew cab long wheelbase is theoretically around 6250lb, but I'm also trying to make towing not suck the big one and to make it possible for my mid-nineties GM rear wheel drive sedan to also tow the same trailer.

What do you think the thresholds for needing to upfit the truck are? I'm already planning on a brake controller and the bigger V8 Pathfinder front brakes. I'm wanting to know when a load-leveling hitch, auxiliary transmission and/or engine oil coolers, upgraded rear suspension, etc would start be basically necessary to make the experience not suck.

I already have the elephant-ear mirrors, bought though not for towing but because the stock mirrors were not to my liking. I've also put the OE hitch on and the wiring/relays needed for an unbraked trailer.
 

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Definitely use a brake controller (sounds like you have that covered) and make sure the trailer has working brakes. Kind of obvious, but worth mentioning nevertheless. Spend time testing the controller settings at non-highway speeds and make sure you're comfortable with them before starting a journey. For the weight range you are considering, I would strongly recommend using a weight distribution hitch and an anti-sway device as they will significantly improve overall handling and safety. You might also need to do some light mods to the rear suspension, depending on the trailer.

One of my relatives has a 3800lb (dry weight) single-axle camper trailer that he's towing with a 2017 SV CCSB. I believe the length of his trailer is 19 feet. After test-driving that setup, I wouldn't even consider towing it without the WD hitch. Even with the hitch, the back end of the truck sags quite a bit. He ended up installing taller bump-stops that the dealer sold him (a relatively inexpensive/simple fix that he's been reasonably happy with), but the rest of the suspension is stock. Something like the Firestone air bags would be another good option and would allow for adjustability. He just didn't want the extra hassle since he only tows a few times per year.

The anti-sway device helps maintain stability of the trailer in crosswinds or when passing 18-wheelers.

My relative's truck came with a factory-installed transmission cooler, but he hasn't had a Scangauge connected while towing so I can't comment on actual transmission temps under load. I'd recommend using a Scangauge or similar device to keep an eye on those temps. The idea is to keep trans temp below 230F or so.

You have an advantage with the longer wheelbase, but if it were me, I would definitely still want to use the WD hitch. When towing any trailer over 3000 lbs with a Frontier, you will know it's back there, but the WD hitch makes it suck a whole lot less.

With regard to towing the trailer with your other vehicle: There is no way I would attempt towing my relative's trailer with a sedan unless it had a seriously beefed-up suspension, but I don't have enough info about your other vehicle to provide an informed opinion.

One other general comment (and you might already know this): a trailer with twin axles will tow significantly better - and by that I mean less bouncing/tugging and better stability - than a trailer with a single axle, though the twin axle trailer will also be more expensive all else being equal. Just something to keep in mind as you are searching.

Hope this helps.
 

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To more directly answer your question, I would want a WD/anti-sway hitch for any box-style camper trailer greater than 2500lbs. Suspension upgrades likely needed for anything over 3000lbs (assuming single axle trailer) if you want to keep the truck relatively level. With a twin axle trailer you could go heavier without needing suspension upgrades. Trans cooler for anything over 3000-3500lbs but this really depends on trans temp readings. These are my personal opinions.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Makes sense about the axle count, equipment and car trailers are usually double axle for that reason. Unfortunately it looks like most of the travel trailer manufacturers don't build double-axle trailers under 4000lb GVWR unless the dry-weight is pretty high, unusually close to the GVWR.

The car is a '95 Chevy Impala SS, but I've put helper airbags in the rear coils. Car is body-on-frame, has the LT1 V8, and weighs over 4000lb. I have no doubt that it would be capable on pavement of pulling a travel trailer as the Caprice has towing capacity of 5000lb. Technically GM specced the Caprice and Impala differently for towing but I suspect that was due to the softer rear springs on the Impala, which I've made up for with the airbags. An Impala is a Caprice with an appearance package basically.

I hadn't considered sway particularly but it makes sense. I am thinking more strongly about those Hi-Lo and Trailmanor trailers that telescope-up and are 6' tall when driving, along with some of the other pop-up types, but this is all a moving target. I'd rather not have the tall box on wheels if I can avoid it.
 

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Sounds like you'd probably be ok with the Impala.

One other trailer manufacturer that might be worth considering is R-Pod. A few people on here have them and seem to like them. I have no idea about prices or any of that, but might be worth at least a cursory look. They are not pop-ups, but the shape is better than a box. The other two brands you mentioned should tow easily and probably wouldn't even need a WD hitch (basing this on a cursory look at the websites).
 

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It always amazes me how many people I see on here want to tow close to 20 foot trailers. With this truck. It just blows me away. Granted, I live in a very mountainous area. Maybe it's different in the Flatlands. But it just seems ludicrous to me. I guess I'm a little sensitive just because of all my bad experiences with tourists and trailers here. I do pull stuff with my Frontier. But if I have any kind of weight, I don't go too far.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
It always amazes me how many people I see on here want to tow close to 20 foot trailers. With this truck. It just blows me away. Granted, I live in a very mountainous area. Maybe it's different in the Flatlands. But it just seems ludicrous to me. I guess I'm a little sensitive just because of all my bad experiences with tourists and trailers here. I do pull stuff with my Frontier. But if I have any kind of weight, I don't go too far.
This truck is a Titan that got left in the dryer too long. That's part why the turning radius sucks relative to the size of the truck. In the case of the crew cab long wheelbase, it's the same wheelbase as the Titan. My CC LWB is also the same gear-ratio as the Titan, and the Frontiers are available with the same rear-end as the Titan, albeit with shorter axles to match the body. My Frontier weighs 4700lb curb weight, up there with full-sized trucks. The suspensions and brakes have been reduced as well, but those can be partly made-up for with aftermarket bolt-on parts. The Frontier is narrow enough to go into narrower places than the Titan. The related NV full-sized platform is also available with the 4.0 V6 and it gets towed-with just fine as well.

So I don't see a reason to refrain from towing with the Frontier, especially if the weight of what's being towed is well below the weight of the tow vehicle. To expand your argument, should we refrain from towing with old half-ton trucks that had 14" wheels and drum brakes? How about with full-sized unibody vans that didn't even have frames? How about with modern minivans with close to 300 horsepower out of their big V6s? How about modern full-sized vans based on European designs? Hell, even the new Ram Promaster is front wheel drive!
 

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We pulled 3k+ from Maine to Maryland with a UHaul twin-axle w/ surge brakes and Firestone RideRites. Rode level and pulled pretty easy, braking no issues, maintaining 65-70-ish was more of a challenge, ended up running 96% of the distance in 4th gear, about 11.9MPG. Engine and transmission temps stayed pretty good except for one longer uphill stretch where transmission pressure test-port measured temp exceeded 215F. Came right back down again afterwards, averaged right around 195-200F. Planning to purchase a twin-axle travel trailer next May / June, about 3800# dry weight rating.
 
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