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Which towing vehicle?

From: Susan

Dear Jessica, I hope you'll answer this because we're about to buy our first new towing vehicle in a long time, and my husband has agreed to wait until we know what you think about our choices. We have two children and a dog that go everywhere with us, so a truck is really out. We've pretty much narrowed our choices down to a Suburban (Chevy or GMC, we don't care which) or else the GMC Yukon or the Chevy Tahoe. That's where we aren't agreeing. It seems to me that we can put everything we need, tack and luggage and whatever in the Yukon or Tahoe. We don't really need the extra space in the Suburban. My husband wants the larger vehicle although he can't give me a good reason! We only pull a two-horse trailer, so that won't play into our choice. I feel like the Suburban is just too big for me to park comfortably when I'm just using it around town. The smaller ones seem more controllable. I'm not real good at parallel parking anyway, so I'd rather have a smaller vehicle to park. We're not really fighting about this, but sometimes the discussion gets a little tense, and it's getting more tense as we get closer to "buying day", so we're leaving it up to you.

Please help us! Susan

Hi Susan! I'm flattered that you'd leave the decision up to me, but you know what I'm going to say: This is YOUR decision and your husband's, and you need to make the choice that's going to satisfy both of you in the long term. I won't choose for you, but I'll throw out some ideas that may help you make your own choice.

The Suburban is, indeed, huge. You're probably right: you'd be able to take everything you need, comfortably, in the smaller vehicles. And you're also correct about parking. But you're overlooking the very real feeling of accomplishment that you get when you parallel park a Suburban! ;-)

The Yukon and Tahoe are smaller versions of the Suburban: two and a half feet shorter, to be exact. They are easier to park, and probably a bit easier to drive in city traffic, but HOW MUCH easier is something you'll have to determine for yourself. And maybe you don't need the extra cargo space -- many people don't. But before you decide on a smaller vehicle, remember the subject of your letter: which TOWING vehicle?

The towing capacity may be the single factor that makes the difference and helps you make your final decision.

With a Suburban, you can pull just about anything: its towing capacity is rated at 10,000 pounds. The Yukon and Tahoe don't have as much towing capacity: they are rated at 6,500 pounds.

You can figure out what your towing needs are, very simply: just add the weight of your trailer, the weight of your horses, and the weight of everything that goes into the trailer and towing vehicle: humans, dog, luggage, and tack. Don't forget hay -- and water if you carry that with you.

The total should add up to LESS than the maximum towing capacity of your vehicle. Considerably less, if possible -- you may, at some point, buy a heavier trailer or larger horses, or you may want to pull a four-horse trailer instead of a two-horse trailer! If you sometimes carry other people's horses or pull other people's trailers, this too will be something to consider. You'll want to be absolutely sure that you have a good safety margin, and that you aren't pushing your vehicle's towing capacity to the limit. Hot, humid weather, stop-start driving conditions, high hills -- all of these can put towing vehicles to a severe test.

For now, if your trailer is reasonably light and your horses are reasonably small, and you don't carry a lot of tack, feed, and water when you and your family and horses go on the road, then you may not need the extra capacity of the Suburban. If you sit down with your husband, do all the math, and decide which vehicle makes more sense in terms of your current lifestyle and future plans, I'm sure you'll be able to come to an agreement. Good luck, and have fun driving whatever you buy!


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