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timjame0719

5.3L or 6.2L tow vehicle?

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timjame0719

Hello everybody. I'm looking at opinions on engines for my tow vehicle. I have an 06 VLX and started pulling it with an 04 Nissan Armada. The Armada is a beast and had no issues pulling the bu except very poor fuel economy in town, freeway, or pulling. I upgraded to an 07 Tahoe with the 5.3L. Although that motor did the job, I always felt that it was underpowered compared to the Armada and on hot summer days the trans temp would rocket to 215+ degrees. I never cared for that but I eventually decided I wanted/needed a pickup so I traded for F150 with the Ecoboost engine. I'm a Chevy guy but was convinced this was the truck to have. Note that I've had plenty of Silverados with the 5.3L but always towed with the Tahoe. After a year of owning this Ford, I found (no offense to Ford guys) that this F150 was not as well or ruggedly built as the Chevys I've had. For starters when you close the front doors you can see the ripple of "shock wave" run down the whole door making it seem like an awfully thin metal used. I notice not towing the transmission stays over 205 deg on a summer day and towing it can climb to 218 + easily. I'm having transmission shifting problems and the dealer just keeps updating the system but it isn't helping much. When I run it through the car wash and the heaters blow dry the truck it sounds like somebody is walking on the roof as the whole roof flexes with the forced air (holy cow is the metal this thin to make the truck lighter for fuel economy?). I also was promised the fuel economy of 17-25 mpg and have yet to see over 15.5 mpg with 70% freeway speed 30% easy very few traffic light city driving. I have several other gripes but won't continue for your sake....Although I will miss Ford's awesome interior features and space in the crew cab, I'm going back to Chevy/GMC. My question is having driven a 6.2L Silverado but not towing with it and coming from the powerful Ecoboost motor, am I going to be dissapointed in the 5.3L Silverado for towing? I generally tow pretty flat 40 mi round trip to the lake once or twice a week in the season and maybe one or two several hour long trips to another state, however, our long trips we take and tow with our RV so those out of town trips are a bit more rare requiring the truck to tow. How many here have the 5.3L or 6.2L silverados and can comment on power/fuel economy? I also daily drive the truck though 70% of my commute is freeway so fuel economy is somewhat a factor. Also, I really like the GMC Denali Silverado (1500) but the AWD concerns me a bit. With the 40/60% split power I'm not sure how a steep slippery boat ramp or deep snow would work not being able to lock all four wheels to power and not having a 4 LO option. I also do some mild off roading going through some wooded property and not sure the denali's suspension is ideal. Any input is helpful. Thanks!

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jetskipro550

You should really get a diesel. My cousins friends brothers co-worker has one and he doesn't even feel his 18k trailer and gets 25mpg while towing!

:lol: Sorry couldn't help myself

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inlandlaker

I would agree on the diesel. Given your gasser experiences, that's what I'd be doing.

Sorry to hear of your woes with the ecoboost. I love mine. Don't get the MPG advertised but that's because of the 3.73 rear end, 4 x 4 , and max tow package. I get decent MPG, but nothing like what's advertised. I'll likely get myself another ecoboost when the time comes for an upgrade. I'd love an F-250 Powerstroke, but can't justify it. I tow all of 200 yards unless I'm on a trip or going to the dealer.

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Bill_AirJunky

If you get a 5.3, be sure to get the 4.11 gears. Thats the only thing that makes my Avalanche tow very well. It will average 15 mpg around town, and about 11 towing.

If your going to tow very often, then get the bigger engine.

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Nitrousbird

I tow with my '02 Avalanche all the time. 5.3L, only the 275HP version, 3.73 gears, 4L60E tranny, and every option available that year (so the heaviest of the bunch).

Not towing, she will average 18MPG freeway, 15 mixed driving. Towing, depends on hills or flat land and how much weight. Last summer I had her loaded town with about 7000lbs of gear/passengers/boat going through the Kentucky and Tennessee hills. Did pretty well, though maybe got 9 MPG through the hills, 10-11 otherwise. Power wise she did okay other than if I had to start from a stop at the bottom of a hill - WOT hill climbs tend to make her run a bit hot with that much weight.

Not sure on tranny temps as my doesn't have a gauge. But 150k on the original tranny. I have always ran it with a 24k GVW tranny cooler...best $50 you can spend.

That said, if I was towing that heavy all the time I'd want the 6.2L (though that motor was never put in an Avalanche; 6.0 was in the 2nd gens for a couple of years).

If you are buying new, the '14 GM trucks are going to be an all new model so I'd wait for that. If going used, I'd either get a Diesel Sierra Denali 2500 or a 1500 Sierra Denali 6.2L. Also consider an Escalade EXT (Caddy's Avalanche). 6.2L motor, 6-speed, and they take a steep depreciation hit the first couple of years so used ones become affordable pretty quick...after that initial hit they seem to hold their value pretty well.

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Bozboat

I love tow vehicle threads they bring out the best in the crew members.

I have had a 2007 Z71 5.3 Silverado, a 2009 Z71 5.3 Silverado, a 2007 6.2 Sierra Denali, and a 2007 6.2 Denali XL. Currently I am Ford Man and love my F150 FX4 Ecoboost. (I have also owned both the Dodge Quad Cab Diesel and a Chevy Duramax but you did not ask about Diesels)

Q 1) My question is having driven a 6.2L Silverado but not towing with it and coming from the powerful Ecoboost motor, am I going to be disappointed in the 5.3L Silverado for towing?

My answer: When comparing the 5.3 to the Ecoboost: No, you won't be disappointed if your tow route keeps you at speeds under 55 mph. Yes, you will likely be disappointed in the 5.3 if you tow over 55 mph, the 5.3 will pretty much need to stay in 4th, and grab 3rd on any grade at all. The 6.2 will drop from 6th gear into 5th on any small incline at highway speeds, if your trying to maintain 70 on more than a 1% grade it may need 4th gear.

Q 2)I also daily drive the truck though 70% of my commute is freeway so fuel economy is somewhat a factor.

My answer: My Sierra Denali never saw more than 11 mpg average. It could get 12-14 if babied on the highway. 10.5 towing. Funny thing is that it got the same almost the same bad mileage no matter what. The way I look at my ecoboost, 15 mpg is 50% better than 10 mpg, so be ready to buy more gas if you go with the 6.2., also the 6.2s required premium unleaded. My 5.3s got about 13-15 mpg.

Q 3) ...but the AWD concerns me a bit. With the 40/60% split power I'm not sure how a steep slippery boat ramp or deep snow would work not being able to lock all four wheels to power and not having a 4 LO option.

My answer: The AWD was perfect at the boat ramp, with good 20 inch tires, it never slipped. I also had a Denali XL with AWD, while I never towed with it, I did use it to run to Colorado on ski trips. It had amazing traction in the snow. So amazing, it was almost no fun to drive in the snow.

Q4.... I also do some mild off roading going through some wooded property and not sure the denali's suspension is ideal. Any input is helpful

My answer: The Sierra Denali suspension was tighter and more firm than the F150, noticeably less bounce when towing. The AWD was fine driving around the farm on the two rut farm roads, with some soft mud. But I would not rock crawl with it. But then I wouldn't do that with any truck.:

Both my Sierra and my Denali XL had drive train failures between 70k and 85k miles. Other notable failures for the Sierra Denali included a broken left Motor Mount, left wheel bearing and ball joint failure. Also whenever it rained the doors filled up with water and the sun roof leaked into the floor board. For the Denali XL: the rear air suspension failed, the tailgate motor failed and the idler arm pulley froze.

But given all the problems I had with the AWD, and the bad gas mileage of the 6.2, they were still the most fun to drive of any pickup/suv that I have had.

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martinarcher

Good advice Boz.

I think climbing and off the line you'll miss the Ecoboost if you end up with a 5.3L.

That rear air suspension on the Denalis sounds like the shizzle until it needs work. One of the guys at work has a Denali XL and the rear air is failing on it. It's so expensive to fix he said he's debating running in off level. That would drive me nuts, but I guess if you don't care and don't tow....

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Lance B. Johnson

FWIW......

I believe waaaaaaay to much emphasis is placed on fuel economy for tow rigs.

Case in point. People will pay at least 5k more for a diesel because it gets better economy. Then you've got more expensive fuel and more expensive upkeep. People will pay an extra 10k to buy the newest truck because it gets 2 mpg better than their current truck.....just examples here.

Question: How long does it take to make up the price difference when your only improving 2 mpg?

Answer: Probably longer than you will keep the vehicle.

My take on all this is buy the truck you like that tows your boat comfortably. Given this logic I would have stuck with the Armada.

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timjame0719

Wow, great insights already! Bozboat you are the man with this topic, you've had everything under the sun! I have towed my boat 4 hrs with a Dmax dually and that was a great experience. 90 degrees out anbd never broke 180 degrees on the transmission and never felt any bouncing. My initial search was for a diesel....I've had three before but passing gas stations here seeing diesel fuel steady at $4.35-4.40/gal scared me away from them. I also would have to buy a 2007-2008 Dmax crew with about 100k mi on them for the same price as what I'm looking at in a 1500. They seem to have gone through the roof in price for used diesels here. For some reason used 2500 crew silverados with the duramax hold a $30K + price for being 6 yrs old with 100k mi!!

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shawndoggy

FWIW......

I believe waaaaaaay to much emphasis is placed on fuel economy for tow rigs.

Case in point. People will pay at least 5k more for a diesel because it gets better economy. Then you've got more expensive fuel and more expensive upkeep. People will pay an extra 10k to buy the newest truck because it gets 2 mpg better than their current truck.....just examples here.

Question: How long does it take to make up the price difference when your only improving 2 mpg?

Answer: Probably longer than you will keep the vehicle.

My take on all this is buy the truck you like that tows your boat comfortably. Given this logic I would have stuck with the Armada.

Or find a suburban 2500 with the 8.1....

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wakesetter8796

07+ suburbans have 6.0, earlier ones had 8.1. Avalanche 2500 has 8.1

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timjame0719

My Armada was an 04, first year for them. I had a bunch of problems with it including oddly all the windows would roll down when it rained while all by itself turned off sitting by itself. About four times of getting wet interiors and having to sit on a wet seat with the dealer "unable to duplicate the problem" I got mad and traded it. I want to stay with a pickup for now as I have multiple old car projects on the schedule and I don't really like moving engines/parts/transmissions/engine lifts with an SUV. Maybe some day down the road I will be back in an SUV and my wife's favorite was the Armada.

I am nervous about that air system in the Denali now. My LTZ tahoe had the rear leveling system and I had good luck with it. Always worked. I do want to emphasize for the Ecoboost owners that I do really love the interior features/space and power the truck has. I have the FX4 with max towing package (3.73 rear) but the dealer I go to also has one. He sees 18mpg regularly and 22mpg on the freeway. They have no idea what my problem is and I'm being extremely easy on the gas. Just odd to me. I don't buy a tow vehicle and expect great gas mileage, but I also hoped this would offer a better blend of tow vehicle/daily driver with the promised economy I don't get. Don't get me wrong, I also switched for the interior cab space Chevy can't offer and much nicer options Ford has inside but the issues I'm having with it now with only 8000 mi I'm worried about the future with it. I also am not one big into fancy navigation options but my wife is fairly techy. I purchased my Ford with the nav/media screen but only went to use the navigation one time. Funny (but really hacked me off) the first and only time I went to use it, the system crashed and totally went blank....never to come on again until I got it to the dealer to reflash the system with an update. I made sure everybody knew next truck I wouldn't have navigation as the one time I went to use one, it wasn't there despite the expensive option it was! :mad:

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85 Barefoot

You didn't ask but I'm the resident Dodge fanboy so here goes:

I have a 2010 laramie 4x4 crew. Interior is ridic and JMO, outclasses the ford easily. Ford is so plasticky. Dodge interior is top of the line, stitching, materials, creature comforts (heated steering wheel, cooled seats, etc.) The center console is PERFECT for a truck. I launch my boat on my sandy sugar sand beach and have to back it out about 25-30 inches deep and its not even the max per the owners manual for water depth and have never had a traction issue. Tows fine for me and I've towed 2 boats 500 miles from the Loudon factory and averaged betetr than 12 both times. In about teh same mix of city and highway as you I average 16 or better. I have 53k, not a single issue, not one, just oil and gas. I cannot say enough good things about my experience. With the new dodge fuel saving tech this year, they're going to do even better. I get better mileage than anyone I know with the ecoboost and, well, I still have a truck that sounds like a truck should :rofl:

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Nitrousbird

You didn't ask but I'm the resident Dodge fanboy so here goes:

I have a 2010 laramie 4x4 crew. Interior is ridic and JMO, outclasses the ford easily. Ford is so plasticky. Dodge interior is top of the line, stitching, materials, creature comforts (heated steering wheel, cooled seats, etc.)

LOL, I felt the exact opposite about a couple of the newer Dodge trucks I've been in - I thought the interior was a step down from the offerings of pretty much every other truck maker. To each their own I guess.

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Bozboat

FWIW......

I believe waaaaaaay to much emphasis is placed on fuel economy for tow rigs.

Case in point. People will pay at least 5k more for a diesel because it gets better economy. Then you've got more expensive fuel and more expensive upkeep. People will pay an extra 10k to buy the newest truck because it gets 2 mpg better than their current truck.....just examples here.

Question: How long does it take to make up the price difference when your only improving 2 mpg?

Answer: Probably longer than you will keep the vehicle.

My take on all this is buy the truck you like that tows your boat comfortably. Given this logic I would have stuck with the Armada.

From my perspective, trading trucks has little to do with gas mileage logic or any logic for that matter. Once it gets into the mind that a new truck is needed the justification begins. Here the OP has soured on the F150 after 8000 miles. Thats about where my F150 Ecoboost started getting better mileage. He seems unhappy with the doors that ripple when you slam them and the thin sheet metal. The ecoboost is a great truck, but the doors are flimsy and the sheet metal pretty thin, the front end is all plastic. The hardest part is getting used to the lack of engine noise, its strangley quiet. I miss the sound of the 6.2, wait I need to stop here before I talk myself into something I shouldn't...

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85 Barefoot

Nitrous it's all good. This is far less serious than a vtx Lxi comparison haha.

But we're those impressions since the redesign? Were they work truck strippers? Buddy of mjne has a Laramie longhorn. That thing is a work of art.

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Bozboat

I have seen the Laramie Longhorn and it is a work if art. It will be interesting to see how the new eight speed automatic works. I read where it's built by ZF. Dodge has some very clever features.

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macdaddy

Go get an excursion with the powerstroke. I have a 247 lsv and get 17-18.5 on the highway towing at 70mph. That is not by the mpg indicator...this is by me calculating at fueling.

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inlandlaker

I've been in the new Dodge and it's an impressive vehicle on lots of different levels. There are some minor things I don't like about it and some quality issues that I've seen friends have, but you find that with all trucks. The thing I miss with my ecoboost, as Boz mentioned, is the sound of a V8. At the same time, I still really like my Ford. There are some things about it I don't like, but overall, I'm pleased. I have never owned a Dodge, but have been impressed by them lately.

It's good to hear positive remarks from you, 85, on the Dodge. I hope to hear you say similar things at 100,000+ miles.

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timjame0719

Where do I start with Dodge......ok kidding. Slightly. I bought a 2001 Dodge Ram 1500 (granted not a 2500 diesel) but it was the first new vehicle I had the change to buy. This was just before I was married and had no kids....in other words I absolutely babied that thing. On my weekend I was waxing it, changing fluids, doing things well in advance of when they were due. I had an 01 Malibu Sportster (pretty light) and at 39k miles the transmission went out just a mere thirty miles from my house on the way to Cumberland. Dodge turned their back to me (warranty ran out at 36k miles) and not only did I have to cancel my trip but was also out a couple thousand dollars for a rebuild. There is no excuse at all for this incident. I realize they had a bad spell on trannys but this blew my mind. I vowed to never buy a Dodge again. With that said, I give Dodge props for 1. using Cummins diesels and 2. the mega cab. By 2006 my brother in law purchased a 2006 Dodge ram 2500 diesel with the mega cab and I thought maybe they could be trusted. At 75k miles (he has a 7500 lb camper he pulls with it) we were at Cumberland and I needed him to pull my boat out of the water. I can't get my RV down to get it so he hooked up the boat trailer and down to the ramp we go. His Dodge was 2wd and as we began to pull it out of the water the wheels lost a bit of traction. Now I'm right there and can say he didn't hillbilly go crazy spinning wheels to pull it out, as soon as the wheels began to spin he backed off and babied it back to traction. About 5 min of this the engine light came on and the tranny was cooked. He said about 60k miles he began to notice some sloppy shifting but discounted it at the time. Now we were stuck at the ramp with my second Dodge transmission failure. It would take some serious convincing for me to drop money on a Dodge. They look awesome and sound great, but I'm very shy of that brand just from experience, NOT hearsay.

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timjame0719

From my perspective, trading trucks has little to do with gas mileage logic or any logic for that matter. Once it gets into the mind that a new truck is needed the justification begins. Here the OP has soured on the F150 after 8000 miles. Thats about where my F150 Ecoboost started getting better mileage. He seems unhappy with the doors that ripple when you slam them and the thin sheet metal. The ecoboost is a great truck, but the doors are flimsy and the sheet metal pretty thin, the front end is all plastic. The hardest part is getting used to the lack of engine noise, its strangley quiet. I miss the sound of the 6.2, wait I need to stop here before I talk myself into something I shouldn't...

Maybe I'm giving up on Ford too early. I think a lot of things out thoroughly. Sometimes maybe too much. For the Ecoboost my process went like this: I bought it for 1. the extra 6" of leg room in the back seat so my car seats fit better 2. the power of the Ecoboost 3. the speculated higher fuel economy 4. the newer updated interior design/more options for the same price of a new Chevy. For #1 I have no gripe. It has decent back seat leg room. #2. The Ecoboost is powerful but so is the 6.2L and that sounds mean and like a truck should. #3. Fuel economy is a failure. I can get Ecoboost fuel economy with any truck just about from what I have experienced #4. The interior looks nice (lots of plastic but looks way more current than Chevy) but I have had a few plastic pieces break needing replaced, have a rubber grommit from somewhere nobody knows where it came from, my expensive navigation option failed me when I needed it, and I already have a squeak somewhere in the dash and squeaks annoy me especially from a truck with a $51k msrp. So I decided of the few positives still left above with my Ecoboost, the fact that the transmission is shifting hard/and slipping in and out between 3-4th gear already, yesterday I put it in reverse and it wouldn't engage reverse (I had to put it in drive then reverse again and it thumped hard), and all the flimpsy metal (also I flat out cracked the bottom of the hood grill when I opened it once due to the plastic crap) I decided it wasn't worth the positives. These are issues maybe I expected to encounter over the life of the vehicle, not the first 8k miles. But I'm kinda picky, maybe I shouldn't be?

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timjame0719

I forgot the 4X4 got stuck last month engaged. It took several miles for it to shift back into 2wd and was with an extremely loud clunk. Thought that was odd also. Maybe I just have a lemon. I want to believe in the Ecoboost and I really do hope the others with this truck have better luck than I.

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Bozboat

TJ, you have had a run of bad luck and it has soured your Ecoboost experience. When that happens its best to just trade it away and try something else.

I haven't had that yet with this truck but I have with each of my last 20 plus rides. Eventually every ride will disappoint in one way or the other. Some right away some years later.

I first became aware of this when I was 12 and drove my dads day old, 74 olds 98 around and told him the brakes were bad, the next day they failed on his way home. That car was nothing but trouble, years later it caught on fire and had to be extinguished.

Many similar stories later my duramax started sounding different when I turned the key, a slower or different note or something. I ignored it and a few weeks later one of the batteries exploded setting off six months of trouble.

And in a deja vu moment last year my son drove my Sierra Denali and told me the steering was off, I dumped on him just like my dad did when I told him his new car had no brakes. The next morning the wheel bearing and ball joint failed and I could only go straight or right. (Not that I ever would turn left lol)

So now I subscribe to the theory that I will drive until the experience sours and then move on and get something else. You really don't need a reason other than your not happy with it.

Edited by Bozboat

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Lance B. Johnson

Not sure about the armada...... But my Titan has a key fob sequence to roll down the windows remotely. This is likely why your windows rolled down while the fob was in your pocket. It's happened to me.

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wakesetter8796

Our 2010 Armada has been flawless, fuel mileage sucks, been getting about 13 average and about 10-11 when towing 6k, but it sure tows amazing!

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