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If you own a Chevy Tahoe, you have a beast of an SUV under your hands. You're probably wondering if this is enough for you to purchase or rent a travel trailer and hit the road. The 2018 Chevy Tahoe features revamped 5.3L Ecotec3 V8 that produces a horsepower of 355 with a 383 pound-foot of torque. The V8 engine is incredibly efficient and responsive, which is part of the reason why it’s one of the best selling full-sized SUVs in the US. With all that power, you’re tempted to wonder – can your Chevy Tahoe pull a traveling trailer? Or better yet, a 5th wheel.
A 2018 Chevy Tahoe is more than capable of hauling a travel trailer, as long as the total weight of the trailer does not exceed more than 8500 lbs, which is ideal for most campers.
Keep reading to find out more about the Tahoe's towing limitations and what kind or RV's you can - and can't - pull with your Chevy SUV.
The towing limitations of the Chevy Tahoe
Most full sized SUVs can haul between 7000 to 8000lbs of weight. The Chevy Tahoe has a beast of an engine with impressive fuel averages to boot, such as 16mpg city/23mpg highway in the two-wheel variant and 16mpg city/22mpg highway in the four-wheel drive mode. This means that when it comes to power, your Chevy won’t struggle.
The 2018 Chevy Tahoe, for instance, has a maximum towing capacity of 8500 lbs in the 2WD trim. The figures for the 4WD variant dip to 6500 lbs. These impressive numbers are a far cry from the comparatively measly 4800 lbs the 2009 Chevy Tahoe could pull, thanks to its 4.8-liter V8 engine.
You can see all of the exact numbers right here in Chevy's catalog.
This means that as long as your gross trailer weight doesn’t exceed 8500 lbs, you should be able to haul it around. Remember we’re talking about the gross weight, not the dry weight. The more stuff you put into your traveling trailer, the heavier it gets. So make sure you account for all the different items on your traveling trailer.
To ensure you keep the load within towing capabilities of your Chevy Tahoe, make sure to check the weight of the trailer beforehand. As a rule of thumb, note down your Chevy Tahoe’s GCWR and then subtract the trailer’s weight from it. The resulting difference is the capacity you have for your passengers, cargo, trailer, and other equipment you want to set up.
The GCWR is known as the Gross Combination Weight Rating, and it is the total weight of the trailer and vehicle when both are fully loaded.
What Your Chevy Tahoe SUV Can’t Do
Unfortunately, SUVs are ill-equipped to haul 5th wheels. You will need fully featured pickup truck to get the job done. This is simply a question of shape. 5th wheel campers are structures in such a way that they can only be towed while attached to the 5th wheel hitch in the bed of a pickup truck.
If you're not familiar with the differences between travel trailers and 5th wheels, you can check out our guide about the different types of RV's out there.
But a travel trailer is a different story, its shape makes it easy enough to tow by any vehicle that has the strength to do so. However, keep in mind that towing a 5th wheel with a truck is generally safer. The weight of the front of the RV on the bed of the truck makes for a stable construction.
Whenever towing a travel trailer, you're more prone to experiencing sway under certain road conditions. Stay safe and make sure you understand this before hitting the road. Read our guide about how to prevent sway when towing a travel trailer.
Which SUV Has the Highest Towing Capacity?
While the Chevy Tahoe pulls no punches with its 2018 model, it is by no means the most capable SUV out there. The 2018 Ford Expedition takes the cake with an impressive maximum towing capacity of 9,300 lbs thanks to its powerful twin-turbo 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6 engine. Just like the Chevy Tahoe, you will have to opt for the 2WD version.
The second most capable SUV would be the 2018 Lincoln Navigator with a towing capacity of 8700 pounds. It uses a 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6 engine that is capable of horsepower of 450 and 510 lb-ft of torque.
Closely following at third position is the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT, capable of towing 8700 lbs thanks to its V8 6.4 liter Hemi engine that boasts impressive numbers such as 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. The Durango was marketed towards families, so it makes sense for it to have impressive towing capabilities. The only downside is the high price tag, which most people might not be willing to spend.
The 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe comes in at the 4th place, which is nothing to complain about. You will have to opt for the 2WD package because the 4WD will shave off the extra 2000 pounds of towing capacity, which is important when your motorhome is fully loaded.
What’s More Important: Horsepower or Torque for Towing?
Both horsepower and torque are very important for towing, but they serve different functions. When it comes to towing large motorhomes, the torque is more important. Torque is the ability to do work, while horsepower is a number that says how fast you can do that work. If you compare two SUVs with the same torque but different horsepower, you will find that both will be able to haul the same weight but at different speeds.
Always Be On the Safe Side When Towing
Experience tells us that very few travel trailers are fully checked for their dry weight before deliveries. Any numbers quoted are only rough estimates, so to be on the safe side, assume your travel trailer to be a couple of hundred pounds heavier than that. As a general rule of thumb, if your Chevy Tahoe is rated to pull 8500 lbs of weight, choose a travel trailer with a total weight that doesn’t exceed 7900 lbs.
Try to avoid the mid-day heat because the hotter your SUV gets, the harder it becomes to tow any vehicle.
Understanding Tongue Weight
You should take into account the tongue weight if you’re serious about towing a motorhome behind your SUV. Put simply the tongue weight is the amount of force the trailer applied to the hitch. Experts believe that the tongue weight for any trailer should never exceed more than 15 percent of the gross trailer weight.
If the tongue weight is too low, the trailer would sway, which is dangerous for everyone on the road. If it is too heavy, steering becomes super difficult. The good news is that tongue weight is easy to adjust. To adjust the tongue weight when it’s too light, simply move some of the cargo toward the trailer’s axle. Move the cargo towards the back if the tongue weight is too heavy.
If you’re towing heavier motorhomes, you will need to purchase a tongue weight scale that is designed to measure trailer tongue weights. You could do the same with a bathroom scale, but that would require would require practice and will take up a bit of your time.
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