Change the tow vehicle, trailer, neither? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-07-2014, 01:46 PM   #1
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Name: Brian
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Change the tow vehicle, trailer, neither?

Long read ahead, I appreciate any input folks can provide.

I bought a 2005 Bigfoot 25B21FB a few months back, and a 2007 Toyota 4Runner as my tow vehicle. Took it out a couple times so far, and really enjoy both. The Toyota has good power (4.7L V8), and tows very well with a WDH. I'm aware of the Bigfoot FB tongue weight recall - I've had no problems, and I believe having the WDH and consciously monitoring how the trailer is loaded will result in it being a non-issue for me.

There are a couple factors that are causing me some concern:
-Fuel economy (10-11 mpg in *good* conditions), along with poor range of roughly 200 miles. No aux fuel tanks are available, I'm interested in building my own, but have limited time available.
-Limited visibility - the Bigfoot is wide, and there are few good towing mirror options (McKesh seems only good option, and I'm not keen on using them). I have used a couple different towing mirrors, not happy with any yet.

More about my situation (to see where I'm coming from)
-Married healthy ~40 year old couple, 2 young children (3 yr old and 1 week old), hyperactive 50lb dog (Belgian Malinois)
-We plan on some extended trips next few years, as I can work from remote, wherever we have internet access
-Our dream trips are Alaska, across Canada, southwestern US - scenic mountainous areas that may involve some boondocking, and necessitate a vehicle/trailer that can handle some rough roads, some longer distances between fuel stops
-I want a vehicle the wife feels comfortable driving on the open road. I can deal with any planned 'uncomfortable' situations (city driving, backing up, etc). Big diesel with manual trans - nope!
-Budget would have to be similar to what we have invested already (~$40k)

I find myself wanting to change up my combination of TV and trailer, however I like both equally. The 4Runner is great for the family, I'm a big fan of Toyota, and 4Runners specifically. It's my daily driver, and very wife/kid/pet friendly. The Bigfoot is a nice trailer, but if I could find something a bit lighter and smaller (improving aerodynamics/visibility), I'd be interested in going that route.

Dream setup
2014 Toyota Tundra crewmax limited & Escape 5.0TA

My more realistic dream TV/trailer combos - all assume used vehicles:
-Toyota Tundra DC/CM with my Bigfoot - an extended range tank is available for the Tundra; it has better visibility than the 4Runner. Add a cap, it might result in better fuel economy than the 4Runner. Not an SUV though
-4Runner with a used Escape 19' - lighter, smaller, should be slightly better mpg/range
-4Runner with a Lil Snoozy - see above
-Tacoma double cab with Scamp 19 - necessitates selling both tv/trailer
-Tacoma double cab with used Escape 5.0 - see above
-Tundra DC/CM with used Escape 5.0 - see above

The wife wants me to hold off on any decision, but I'd rather decide sooner so we can take action during our break from travels (until our second child is a bit older). If the decision is to sell the trailer, getting it on the market ASAP is important, especially if I want to hunt for a used trailer to replace it.
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Old 06-07-2014, 02:25 PM   #2
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Name: Bob Ruggles
Trailer: 2015 Escape 19 2012 Chevy Silverado
Michigan
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The mpg you're getting is right in the ballpark for your combination. I also would like a used Escape 19 and have been looking for a few months but there don't seem to be any right now. Mostly, weight is not the big mpg killer. It's wind resistance. I had some mirrors like the McKesh but didn't cost as much. They worked very well and were easy to put on and take off. Good luck.
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Old 06-07-2014, 02:34 PM   #3
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You didn't mention how fast you prefer to drive, but I'm betting that the Tundra
wouldn't do as well as the 4Runner. They are somewhat well known for thirst...
Could you scale down to a 17.5' or a 19' Bigfoot?
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Old 06-07-2014, 02:41 PM   #4
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Name: Brian
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgrugg View Post
The mpg you're getting is right in the ballpark for your combination. I also would like a used Escape 19 and have been looking for a few months but there don't seem to be any right now. Mostly, weight is not the big mpg killer. It's wind resistance. I had some mirrors like the McKesh but didn't cost as much. They worked very well and were easy to put on and take off. Good luck.
Yep, I think my mpg is on the mark for my combination. When reading up, I found varying results for 4Runners towing travel trailers, and it seemed to be in the 10-14mpg range, depending on conditions (driving style, trailer, elevation). I was hoping for the upper range, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

I agree with you on the aerodynamics, however the weight does play a small factor in fuel economy, and a larger role in vehicle dynamics, driving comfort, etc.

As far as the Escape 19's - yes they are hard to come by. I figured if I decided to go that direction, I could sell my Bigfoot and just watch and wait and be opportunistic for the right deal.

Thanks for the input
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Old 06-07-2014, 02:56 PM   #5
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Name: Brian
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Miller View Post
You didn't mention how fast you prefer to drive, but I'm betting that the Tundra
wouldn't do as well as the 4Runner. They are somewhat well known for thirst...
Could you scale down to a 17.5' or a 19' Bigfoot?
For the few trips I've taken, I've driven slow and steady - 60mph, trying to get the best possible fuel economy. This was in the midwest with flat roads, little traffic, early fall for the first trip. Meaning that it could only go DOWN from 10mpg, which really bothered me.

As far as the Tundra, I've seen mixed results. Some people stating how bad they are on gas, some stating how they've been so impressed. I think it depends on expectations and driving behavior. They are rated similar to my 4Runner from the factory, have 6 speed transmissions versus my 5 speed. The engine is the next generation Toyota V8 versus my last generation (3UR vs 2UZ), so its potentially more efficient. The best data I can find is that a Tundra would get similar mileage to what I get now. If similar, I could get the larger tank for longer range, benefit from having a vehicle with much higher towing capacities, and better visibility for a wide trailer. It's not so much that I expect or need a vehicle that gets 25mpg towing my Bigfoot (though that would be nice). I expect 'bad' fuel economy towing my trailer, compared to a typical vehicle getting 20-35mpg. It'd be nice to get 13-16mpg and be able to go 500 miles without a fuel stop. 8-10mpg and 150-200 miles between fuel stops is no fun.

As far as other Bigfoots, they never offered (to the best of my knowledge) a 19', and the 17.5' is much smaller, but similar width. I consider the Escape 19' to be the ideal trailer for my needs and my 4Runner (without actually having looked at/towed one, that is). If I had a Tundra already and looking for a trailer, I'd look at both an Escape 21 and the Bigfoot 21.
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Old 06-07-2014, 02:59 PM   #6
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No right or wrong answer, just shades of gray based on personal situation. With your growing family, if you want to keep your trailer long term, I think a Snoozy will be too hard to sleep 4 once your kids get a bit older.

Escape 19 or 21 would be dandy if you found one. Even a 17 using beds at each end might work. You should see fuel economy increase to 14-15 mpg, which will help range.
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Old 06-07-2014, 03:00 PM   #7
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More to consider. Around town, short trips, I got 15 mpg from my RAV4 V6. Hitched up the trailer and drove a flat highway at a steady 60+ mph and got 17.5 mpg.
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Old 06-07-2014, 03:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smeagol View Post
As far as other Bigfoots, they never offered (to the best of my knowledge) a 19', and the 17.5' is much smaller, but similar width. I consider the Escape 19' to be the ideal trailer for my needs and my 4Runner (without actually having looked at/towed one, that is). If I had a Tundra already and looking for a trailer, I'd look at both an Escape 21 and the Bigfoot 21.
The 19' is the smallest of the twin axle Bigfoots. Here's a link to some pics.
https://www.google.com/search?source....0.Bf-WtWX1JGo

Good Luck
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Old 06-07-2014, 03:11 PM   #9
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Name: Brian
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Magee View Post
No right or wrong answer, just shades of gray based on personal situation. With your growing family, if you want to keep your trailer long term, I think a Snoozy will be too hard to sleep 4 once your kids get a bit older.

Escape 19 or 21 would be dandy if you found one. Even a 17 using beds at each end might work. You should see fuel economy increase to 14-15 mpg, which will help range.
Yep there is no right answer, and since I'm married I'm never right anyways I figured it was a good discussion to have on the board, while I take breaks between changing diapers and dreaming of my next road trip.

I have the same concern with the Snoozy, or any of the 16-17' sized trailers. I like the layout of the Snoozy best for that range, however, with the Escape 17' a close second.
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Old 06-07-2014, 03:15 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Bob Miller View Post
The 19' is the smallest of the twin axle Bigfoots. Here's a link to some pics.
https://www.google.com/search?source....0.Bf-WtWX1JGo

Good Luck
Ah thanks for the education. While I'm sure it's lighter than my current Bigfoot, I wonder about the difference in aerodynamics, and subsequently, the fuel economy. Not to mention width/visibility.
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Old 06-07-2014, 05:51 PM   #11
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Well, first there MAY be a right answer, but along the way there a lot of wrong answers, I know I have made a number of them myself.

At 55-60 mph aerodynamics are barely starting to become an issue. Raw frontal area still figures in, but shape isn't going to be that big an issue, something that the Airstream peeps will be quick to counter I am sure.

Weight is a concern and gathering some weight numbers could be useful, especially if you make the decision to do the balance retrofit on your Bigfoot.

Also think about the huge amounts of depreciation you will take by selling your existing TV.....

Right now is a good time to sell your Bigfoot as prices are starting to peak, late fall is the best time to buy.
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Old 06-07-2014, 06:56 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Bob Miller View Post
Well, first there MAY be a right answer, but along the way there a lot of wrong answers, I know I have made a number of them myself.

At 55-60 mph aerodynamics are barely starting to become an issue. Raw frontal area still figures in, but shape isn't going to be that big an issue, something that the Airstream peeps will be quick to counter I am sure.

Weight is a concern and gathering some weight numbers could be useful, especially if you make the decision to do the balance retrofit on your Bigfoot.

Also think about the huge amounts of depreciation you will take by selling your existing TV.....

Right now is a good time to sell your Bigfoot as prices are starting to peak, late fall is the best time to buy.
Sorry, I was referring more to the frontal area. I don't have specs on the Bigfoot 19, but I'm assuming frontal dimensions similar to the 21, as most Bigfoots are of similar height and weight. Weight would be less of course. Any of this is really speculation though, as I don't know anyone towing one of those with the same vehicle I have. I have had some private messages with someone using a 4Runner and a Escape 19 - the mileage numbers were a bit better than mine (they reported 14 mpg). So slightly better range, slightly better visibility (not as wide). Is the difference enough to justify selling & buying a different trailer?

Given enough time on the market, I think I can recoup most of the money I have in my trailer given what I paid and what I've seen the same model go for on the forums. Still a valid point; people aren't flipping trailers for profit

The wife chastises me for buying and selling vehicles too often, I hope I don't follow the same course with trailers. I've given her the final say on anything, as I've admitted I have ADHD in this realm, plus the whole happy wife, happy life thing
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Old 06-07-2014, 07:07 PM   #13
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Name: Karen
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We towed our 21 ft. Bigfoot with a Sequoia. I noticed you did not mention it as a possible tow vehicle. It was a very solid combination. I had a 4Runner and I would not have towed the 21 Bigfoot with it; just not quite big enough for my comfort. The interior of the Sequoia is fantastic for pets and kids (we traveled with four kids and two large dogs).

Visibility is an issue with a Sequoia, too, because the Bigfoot is wide, but I love the width of the Bigfoot especially if your family is stuck inside in inclement weather. I had a Scamp 19 previously and the interior space is very different.

I've towed all manner of trailers and driven several RVs. Gas mileage is just not going to be pretty unless you are doing something like a minivan and a popup or a-frame or other low profile, lightweight trailer, IMHO.
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Old 06-07-2014, 08:12 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Karen T View Post
We towed our 21 ft. Bigfoot with a Sequoia. I noticed you did not mention it as a possible tow vehicle. It was a very solid combination. I had a 4Runner and I would not have towed the 21 Bigfoot with it; just not quite big enough for my comfort. The interior of the Sequoia is fantastic for pets and kids (we traveled with four kids and two large dogs).

Visibility is an issue with a Sequoia, too, because the Bigfoot is wide, but I love the width of the Bigfoot especially if your family is stuck inside in inclement weather. I had a Scamp 19 previously and the interior space is very different.

I've towed all manner of trailers and driven several RVs. Gas mileage is just not going to be pretty unless you are doing something like a minivan and a popup or a-frame or other low profile, lightweight trailer, IMHO.
Actually I was strongly considering a Sequoia before purchasing the 4Runner. I drove a couple first gen models as well as a 2008 second gen model and was impressed with how nimble and powerful the 2008 model was. It does look like there are some good aftermarket mirrors for the later model Sequoias, to help with the visibility issue. I chose the 4Runner as I wanted something a bit smaller/sportier, but still capable of towing a 5000 lb trailer.

Since re-evaluating my situation, the main concern was that if the fuel economy was similar to what I'm getting now, the Sequoia doesn't have any aftermarket larger fuel tanks, leaving me without options. Again, I understand fuel economy and heavy trailer towing just don't belong in the same sentence, but I really would like to have a better range - the big trips would necessitate me carrying fuel in auxiliary containers. A Tundra has good visibility, and options for larger fuel tank capacity. Otherwise, the Sequoia would be great.

When stationary, I love the width of the Bigfoot; not so much when driving
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