Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
7/24/19 12:18 p.m.

Ford is buying my 2018 F-150 back and I'm finding myself suddenly in the market for a new tow vehicle/daily driver. I am towing a 20' aluminum enclosed trailer with an E36 M3 sedan in the back. The pickup has been fine but I don't really use the bed, and a slightly shorter vehicle would be nice, given I live in the DC metro area (in the city) and park in tight underground garages/on the street often.

My first thought was another, slightly older, truck... but I'm thinking large SUV may work as well. I am coming out of a week with a 2019 Sequoia press car. The Sequoia has a 122" wheelbase and towed my enclosed to and from Pitt Race (4.5 hours each way) very well.

In looking at longish-wheelbase SUVs, the standout is the Mercedes GL/GLS. I would only look at the current X166 chassis from 2013 onward. They are rated to pull 7500 lbs and have a 122" wheelbase. This is longer than the Cayenne, X5, and Touareg which are all at 112".

Before anyone suggests, no GM products. If I get an Expedition, I'd rather have an F-150 again. The Sequoia is not my cup of tea so it's out as well.

Curious who's got experience with a GL450 or GL550, or the drivetrains in them. Seems some people on mbworld.org tow car trailers and campers with them and are generally pleased:

wae
wae SuperDork
7/24/19 12:30 p.m.

I tried that.  Granted it was with the 350 which is diesel, but please learn from me.  Run.  Do not walk.  When they're running, they're amazing places to spend time.  When things go wrong - and I assure you, they will go wrong - they go wrong big time.  The diesels are worse than the gassers, but that's like comparing Bundy to Dahmer - only one of them will eat your corpse, but neither one of them will make a very good roommate.

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
7/24/19 12:40 p.m.
wae said:

I tried that.  Granted it was with the 350 which is diesel, but please learn from me.  Run.  Do not walk.  When they're running, they're amazing places to spend time.  When things go wrong - and I assure you, they will go wrong - they go wrong big time.  The diesels are worse than the gassers, but that's like comparing Bundy to Dahmer - only one of them will eat your corpse, but neither one of them will make a very good roommate.

Does your tune change if I mention I had a flawless ownership experience with a L322 supercharged Range Rover? ;) 

wae
wae SuperDork
7/24/19 12:56 p.m.
Brake_L8 said:
wae said:

I tried that.  Granted it was with the 350 which is diesel, but please learn from me.  Run.  Do not walk.  When they're running, they're amazing places to spend time.  When things go wrong - and I assure you, they will go wrong - they go wrong big time.  The diesels are worse than the gassers, but that's like comparing Bundy to Dahmer - only one of them will eat your corpse, but neither one of them will make a very good roommate.

Does your tune change if I mention I had a flawless ownership experience with a L322 supercharged Range Rover? ;) 

Yes it does.  Run even faster.  You've used up all of the good luck that can possibly be allotted to a single human being in his lifetime and will have none left to spare on German engineering.

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
7/24/19 12:59 p.m.
wae said:
Brake_L8 said:
wae said:

I tried that.  Granted it was with the 350 which is diesel, but please learn from me.  Run.  Do not walk.  When they're running, they're amazing places to spend time.  When things go wrong - and I assure you, they will go wrong - they go wrong big time.  The diesels are worse than the gassers, but that's like comparing Bundy to Dahmer - only one of them will eat your corpse, but neither one of them will make a very good roommate.

Does your tune change if I mention I had a flawless ownership experience with a L322 supercharged Range Rover? ;) 

Yes it does.  Run even faster.  You've used up all of the good luck that can possibly be allotted to a single human being in his lifetime and will have none left to spare on German engineering.

Hah. My Range Rover and 10x BMWs have been relatively flawless altogether. My 3 GMs and 3 Fords have been the worst of all the vehicles I've owned. And they weren't really old or poorly maintained. Maybe I'm living in a Stranger Things alternate universe or something.

Sonic
Sonic UltraDork
7/24/19 1:22 p.m.

I’m interested as well, I’ve been thinking that a GL63 (or maybe 550) would be a way to combine my CLS63 and Suburban 2500 into one car that is nice to drive and can also tow my 20’ aluminum enclosed trailer and boat. 

Olemiss540
Olemiss540 New Reader
7/24/19 1:32 p.m.

Nope. Smallish wheelbase SUV for towing loaded enclosed trailer is a recipe for maintenance and white knuckled nightmares from my research.

Armada possibly? Maybe the Infinity QX80? Navigator? Land Cruiser? You seem to rule out the typical suspects for large wheelbase SUV's which is really the only option to consider outside of a pickup truck. 

Personally, give me an escalade over any option above aside from the toyota possibly. LOVE my 2004 and 2002 escalade as they tow without concern and have been relatively bulletproof +150k miles so far. Easily a 200k mile truck before I get bored and want something else. 

Sonic
Sonic UltraDork
7/24/19 1:36 p.m.

In reply to Olemiss540 :

You mention wheelbase as a reason against it and then list alternatives that all have shorter wheelbases.  GL: 122, Escalade 116, QX 121, land cruiser/LX 112. 

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
7/24/19 1:41 p.m.

The GL is the longest-wheelbase option that was provided, short of a half-ton truck.

Olemiss540
Olemiss540 New Reader
7/24/19 2:29 p.m.

Wow. It looks so SMALL comparatively? 

https://www.roadandtrack.com/new-cars/road-tests/a10159528/the-mercedes-benz-gls450-is-a-shockingly-capable-tow-vehicle/

Not going to lie, sounds like a pretty rad toe vehicle if purchase price and maintenance concern doesn't make you lose sleep at night! With an enclosed trailer, would be worth trying before buying I would think just to make sure. 

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
7/24/19 2:45 p.m.
Olemiss540 said:

Wow. It looks so SMALL comparatively? 

https://www.roadandtrack.com/new-cars/road-tests/a10159528/the-mercedes-benz-gls450-is-a-shockingly-capable-tow-vehicle/

Not going to lie, sounds like a pretty rad toe vehicle if purchase price and maintenance concern doesn't make you lose sleep at night! With an enclosed trailer, would be worth trying before buying I would think just to make sure. 

That article is one reason I am even considering them! They depreciate quickly and I wouldn't be buying new, so I'm looking at the mid-30s for price. I have a few friends who are techs at Mercedes dealerships so I am reaching out to them about reliability. They sound okay for the most part.

I'm wondering if Carmax or a similar place woudl let me try it out with the trailer first. That would be pretty crucial to the purchase.

Olemiss540
Olemiss540 New Reader
7/24/19 3:56 p.m.

Agreed. Carmax warranty baby!

yupididit
yupididit UltraDork
7/24/19 4:34 p.m.

Do it. Those biturbo v8's are awesome.

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
7/24/19 5:02 p.m.

I would be more concerned about the wheel base than the actual vehicle.  I have always felt that longer tows better and over all I have more control over the trailer.  I have always felt I had less control of things in shorter tow vehicles.  Obviously trailer size is a factor and yours being 20 feet and enclosed meaning wind can play a much bigger factor than an open trailer I would really be leaning back towards another F150 type vehicle.  

 

 

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 HalfDork
7/24/19 11:58 p.m.

I have an aquaintance who is a service writer at a MB dealership for the past 30 years. This person says Benzes built in the last 10 years break everything, frequently, and early, and they are not to be compared with the indestructible cars of the previous century.

yupididit
yupididit UltraDork
7/25/19 6:52 a.m.
TurnerX19 said:

I have an aquaintance who is a service writer at a MB dealership for the past 30 years. This person says Benzes built in the last 10 years break everything, frequently, and early, and they are not to be compared with the indestructible cars of the previous century.

It's funny how people use this example to tell you a car or entire make is unreliable. A MD will tell you people are always sick or hurt. 

I know Mercedes from the 90's to about 2007 are considered unreliable and complex at best. No, modern Mercedes aren't as reliable as the w123, w126, and w124 of yesteryear. Those models were simple to work on and well built, but probably have 1/10th of the parts that modern cars come with. I would say no modern car will be that reliable.

When buying any used car especially luxury models or cars with lots of features, buy one with good history that was taken cared of. 

 

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
7/25/19 8:27 a.m.
dean1484 said:

I would be more concerned about the wheel base than the actual vehicle.  I have always felt that longer tows better and over all I have more control over the trailer.  I have always felt I had less control of things in shorter tow vehicles.  Obviously trailer size is a factor and yours being 20 feet and enclosed meaning wind can play a much bigger factor than an open trailer I would really be leaning back towards another F150 type vehicle.  

That'd be my concern as well. BUT - I just gave back a Toyota Sequoia, which has the same wheelbase as the GL550 at 122". It towed extremely well and was very stable. The smaller size of the Sequoia vs. a pickup is attractive, I just don't want a Sequoia.

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
8/6/19 8:43 a.m.

Follow-up: I test drove a 2013 GL450 over the weekend and asked for an "extended test drive." Salesman said sure, I drove to the trailer lot and gave it a whirl. I have a Tekonsha Prodigy RF brake controller on the trailer tongue, so the trailer brakes function even if the tow vehicle doesn't have a controller installed.

The Mercedes did really well with the trailer in my limited driving - probably put 30 miles on it. Air suspension keeps any squat at bay, it handled curves and 70 mph down the highway both with ease. Mirrors are small. It'd be the easiest thing to drive and park in the city. That said, I still think a half-ton truck is the best idea for my use.

I'm still not sure I like it enough to want to spend $25k+ and maintenance/insurance on it, though. It is very good, but it's more or less a German Tahoe with four-corner air suspension. Frankly I'm not jazzed about buying a new-to-me vehicle that isn't a 911 or F-Type or Mustang so part of me feels like having something too pimpy is pointless. I think my 2001 X5 has a better driving position and steering feel than this GL.

CobraSpdRH
CobraSpdRH Reader
8/6/19 9:43 a.m.

You said you don't like the Sequoia, maybe move up to the Lexus options? LX570 and GX460 would be the only two to consider, but they are both a much nicer place to be than a Sequoia or 4Runner (coming from a current GX460 owner and previous 4Runner owner). Not sure on the wheelbase but I would guess the LX is pretty close to the Sequoia, with the GX being a little smaller.

mtn
mtn MegaDork
8/6/19 9:52 a.m.

My uncle has an '07(?) GL450. This is a big SUV, don't be fooled. 

 

His experience has been nothing but positive with the exception of the maintenance costs. He told me about almost everything he's done, and none of it sounded like anything unreliable to me; all it sounded like was the parts are expensive. He goes to an Indy guy, so not paying dealership prices. 

 

I think they're nice, but for me I'd be going for a Sequoia, Tahoe, Infiniti big thing, or maybe a Navigator.

yupididit
yupididit UltraDork
8/6/19 10:02 a.m.
mtn said:

My uncle has an '07(?) GL450. This is a big SUV, don't be fooled. 

 

His experience has been nothing but positive with the exception of the maintenance costs. He told me about almost everything he's done, and none of it sounded like anything unreliable to me; all it sounded like was the parts are expensive. He goes to an Indy guy, so not paying dealership prices. 

 

I think they're nice, but for me I'd be going for a Sequoia, Tahoe, Infiniti big thing, or maybe a Navigator.

2007 is arguably the most unreliable year of the GL, same for S class v8 cars too.

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
8/6/19 10:21 a.m.
CobraSpdRH said:

You said you don't like the Sequoia, maybe move up to the Lexus options? LX570 and GX460 would be the only two to consider, but they are both a much nicer place to be than a Sequoia or 4Runner (coming from a current GX460 owner and previous 4Runner owner). Not sure on the wheelbase but I would guess the LX is pretty close to the Sequoia, with the GX being a little smaller.

The LX and GX are both shorter wheelbase than the Mercedes. They would be scary AF with my trailer hooked up.

93gsxturbo
93gsxturbo SuperDork
8/6/19 12:23 p.m.
Brake_L8 said:
CobraSpdRH said:

You said you don't like the Sequoia, maybe move up to the Lexus options? LX570 and GX460 would be the only two to consider, but they are both a much nicer place to be than a Sequoia or 4Runner (coming from a current GX460 owner and previous 4Runner owner). Not sure on the wheelbase but I would guess the LX is pretty close to the Sequoia, with the GX being a little smaller.

The LX and GX are both shorter wheelbase than the Mercedes. They would be scary AF with my trailer hooked up.

10" shorter in wheelbase for the LX570/LC200 but also proper live axle and LT rated tires.

Honestly I would think anything short of a long box/long cab 3/4 ton is a compromise for a trailer of that size.  Sure it will tow it but not safely.  Even the Benzo looks like the tail is wagging the dog.

yupididit
yupididit UltraDork
8/6/19 1:08 p.m.

I remember when I towed my ex wife ford fusion from CA to central TX back in Aug 2017. It was on an open trailer behind my diesel excursion there was some pretty E36 M3 windy weather. If it wasn't behind a 3/4 truck I don't think I would've kept driving through it. I cant imagine towing in those conditions with a smaller vehicle especially with a enclosed trailer.

I don't tow nearly as much as I used to so my excursion seems like too much truck to have now. I will probably sell it because I'm not planning on grabbing any projects for the next couple years. 

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
8/6/19 1:41 p.m.
93gsxturbo said:

10" shorter in wheelbase for the LX570/LC200 but also proper live axle and LT rated tires.

Honestly I would think anything short of a long box/long cab 3/4 ton is a compromise for a trailer of that size.  Sure it will tow it but not safely.  Even the Benzo looks like the tail is wagging the dog.

I've towed it with a 2018 F-150, 2019 Tundra, and 2019 Sequoia. Fine behind all three. The F-150 is my personal truck but is being repurchased by Ford soon.

I've also towed it with a 2010 full-size Range Rover, which has a 112" wheelbase and soft suspension. Thaaaat sucked and I sold it for the 2018 Ford.

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