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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone, I own a 2019 SEL FWD towing package (NOT 4MOTION)
We all know how roomy and family oriented SUV this is. We used to have a smaller SUV but since we were expecting a second baby, we decided to go bigger and the Atlas was the best option for us. After we purchased it, we decided to look for an RV (too late to look for a 4Motion or a pickup truck).

So, we really like the Ibex 20tbh from Forest river but dry weight is 4500lb and TW is 510lb. (I know I could go the "easy way"and get something lighter) I was willing to try going that heavy after some upgrades. I was planning on getting the following:

1.Hitch receiver class III - rated for 6000 towing and 900 tongue (yes, the original hitch would stay in place. Doable?)
my understanding is towing capacity depends mostly on the hitch, Class II vs. Class III.

2.Firestone Air Helper Spring - Unfortunately this is just to be installed in 4Motion versions. (haven't found anything similar specifically for FWD)

3.Shock Absorbing ball mount - At this point I'm not sure if it is even worth it.

4.TRailer brake controller - Prodigy P3

5.Electronic Sway control - As you know VW recommends not to use WDH :/

I spoke with a Etrailer.com representative looking for advice and basically what she said was. "it is unsafe to install this airbags in a FWD. If you have a factory installed hitch, you cannot install a class III. What you have is what you can use".
My question is: Why are companies like Curt and Draw-tite among others, offering products that are "unsafe"/unusable to its max capacity because of a factory restriction? I'm pretty sure they are aware of that.

I definitely I need good advice here other than get a lighter TT or get a pick up truck. Remember we bought this one like 3 months ago.

Anyone here using air bags on a FWD version? Is somebody towing a TT heavier than 4000 pounds? If so, What mods have you done?
 

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I'm not the right guy to reply to most of your questions above but wanted to suggest that you might consider re-posting in Real World Towing Almost 5K - SE V6 4Motion @ 7,500 Feet. It's pretty active with some really helpful guys and insights. On the Firestone Air Helper Springs, I had some installed on my 2018 FWD SEL but have only done one test tow with them. Although they were difficult to install in my particular vehicle, I can't imagine why they would be dangerous as they will only serve to keep the vehicle more level while towing. If anything, that should keep the front wheels more firmly planted.

I'll be interested in what answers you get or what experience you have if you decide to go with the 4500 lb Ibex. For me, it sounds a bit too heavy and will almost assuredly exceed recommended towing capacity and combined vehicle weights when loaded. We have an R-Pod 193 on order, also from Forest River, that comes in 900 lbs lighter and has a similar layout to what you're interested in. If you decide to go lighter, it might be something worth taking a look at.

BTW, I hadn't seen the Hayes Sway Master before. Thanks for that as I'll definitely consider it for my setup. Thanks for posting your questions. I'll be interested to hear others inputs.
 

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Hello everyone, I own a 2019 SEL FWD towing package (NOT 4MOTION)
We all know how roomy and family oriented SUV this is. We used to have a smaller SUV but since we were expecting a second baby, we decided to go bigger and the Atlas was the best option for us. After we purchased it, we decided to look for an RV (too late to look for a 4Motion or a pickup truck).

So, we really like the Ibex 20tbh from Forest river but dry weight is 4500lb and TW is 510lb. (I know I could go the "easy way"and get something lighter) I was willing to try going that heavy after some upgrades. I was planning on getting the following:

1.Hitch receiver class III - rated for 6000 towing and 900 tongue (yes, the original hitch would stay in place. Doable?)
my understanding is towing capacity depends mostly on the hitch, Class II vs. Class III.

2.Firestone Air Helper Spring - Unfortunately this is just to be installed in 4Motion versions. (haven't found anything similar specifically for FWD)

3.Shock Absorbing ball mount - At this point I'm not sure if it is even worth it.

4.TRailer brake controller - Prodigy P3

5.Electronic Sway control - As you know VW recommends not to use WDH :/

I spoke with a Etrailer.com representative looking for advice and basically what she said was. "it is unsafe to install this airbags in a FWD. If you have a factory installed hitch, you cannot install a class III. What you have is what you can use".
My question is: Why are companies like Curt and Draw-tite among others, offering products that are "unsafe"/unusable to its max capacity because of a factory restriction? I'm pretty sure they are aware of that.

I definitely I need good advice here other than get a lighter TT or get a pick up truck. Remember we bought this one like 3 months ago.

Anyone here using air bags on a FWD version? Is somebody towing a TT heavier than 4000 pounds? If so, What mods have you done?

@Vic I am in almost the same boat as you. I purchased my 2019 Atlas SE w/Tech FWD back in December and failed to realize that you could not use any type of weight distribution hitch with it and am now finding the 500 lb tongue weight to be a challenge when looking at bunk house campers. That being said I have looked at most of the things you have mentioned (not purchased yet, but researched quite a bit).

1.) Hitch receiver - There are several people that have posted on this forum in other posts that have installed a second hitch to be able to use weight distribution. Most have said they have had good results. That being said I would not do that myself as even if the hitch is rated for higher amounts, you have other factors on the vehicle that are not being considered such as GVWR, weight on rear axle, brake capacity, etc.

2.) Air Helper Spring - I have ordered this, but not yet received to be able to install. I saw the same message you saw on etrailer and called and they advised the same that it could not be installed on FWD, but could not give me a reason why. I looked up the schematic on VW Parts between the FWD and AWD and did not see much difference in the rear suspension components and then I reached out to Firestone and they confirmed it would work on either model. I eneded up ordering from AutoAnything (Firestone Air Bag Suspension Kit) as I have ordered from them before and had good results and the part number is the same, but about $120 cheaper from AutoAnything. They also confirmed it would work with either model.

3.)I was looking at the gen y hitch also. Seems like a good idea and there is a video online of someone using this with an atlas. I don't know how much it will help, but I think it will be better than nothing. I am not decided on which model yet (amount of drop/rise since I am not sure which camper we are getting yet).

4.) Trailer brake - I decided to order the Curt Echo wireless Bluetooth brake controller. The Atlas is wired for a brake controller with the plug being under the carpet near the driver door (So I have seen online), but I wasn't crazy about trying to mount something inside. The Echo plugs in outside in between the camper plug and vehicle and is controlled by your phone. A phone is not needed to use it once set up, but can be used to monitor it. You can check out another post where @alramos gave me a review on his curt echo with the Atlas (Real World Towing Almost 5K - SE V6 4Motion @ 7,500 Feet). I just picked it up so I am planning on trying it this weekend with a trailer with brakes. If you decide to go this route or with any other controller check out Advance Auto. The echo was $229.99 everywhere I could find it (Advance Auto included), but they allowed me to apply a 25% off (up to $50) coupon so it brought it down to $179.99. You can find coupons from them by just looking on there site on your phone and it will prompt you check out now and use the provided coupon.

5.) I found the Hayes Sway control also and have not ordered yet, but this is what I plan to order. Reviews all seem solid and can be used with lots of different set ups. I found a couple reviews that said it may decrease gas mileage slightly due to brake usage, but considering it's not going to be good mileage anyway I would trade that for the safety. I researched sway bars also (friction bars, not weight distribution), but was turned off to those because you have to remove before reversing otherwise you could cause damage if it binds up.

6.) On the camper I had looked at the Ibex previously, but ultimately ruled it out because of the weight. Remember dry tongue weight is without anything loaded in the camper. Directly on the tongue you are going to have propane tanks (1 @ 20lbs or 2 @ 40 lbs), battery (estimated 50 lbs), and anything you load in front of the axle will contribute to tongue weight. With everything I have found in my research I am trying to find something with a dry tongue weight of under 380 lbs and dry total weight of under 3600 lbs and even with that we will have to load carefully to manage weight. I am currently looking at the Winnebago Micro Minnie 1800 BH, Apex Nano 185 BHS, and the Flagstaff EPro E19BH. It all depends on what your looking for in the camper, but my ideal was having two axles, biggest bunks we could get, biggest dinette, pack and play door towards rear, and lightest weight possible. Micro Minnie is the only one that has two axles, but also comes in the heaviest, where the other two models come in lighter.

Best of luck and come back and share what you end up doing and if you install any of the above parts. I'll do the same once I finalize my decision and purchase.
 

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I'm not the right guy to reply to most of your questions above but wanted to suggest that you might consider re-posting in Real World Towing Almost 5K - SE V6 4Motion @ 7,500 Feet. It's pretty active with some really helpful guys and insights. On the Firestone Air Helper Springs, I had some installed on my 2018 FWD SEL but have only done one test tow with them. Although they were difficult to install in my particular vehicle, I can't imagine why they would be dangerous as they will only serve to keep the vehicle more level while towing. If anything, that should keep the front wheels more firmly planted.

I'll be interested in what answers you get or what experience you have if you decide to go with the 4500 lb Ibex. For me, it sounds a bit too heavy and will almost assuredly exceed recommended towing capacity and combined vehicle weights when loaded. We have an R-Pod 193 on order, also from Forest River, that comes in 900 lbs lighter and has a similar layout to what you're interested in. If you decide to go lighter, it might be something worth taking a look at.

BTW, I hadn't seen the Hayes Sway Master before. Thanks for that as I'll definitely consider it for my setup. Thanks for posting your questions. I'll be interested to hear others inputs.
@Bill B let me know how it works out once you get your r pod. I was looking at another model camper with similar dry weights to that and the dealer told me I needed to look at something with a 300 lb dry tongue weight. I am looking now at 350-380 and I know I'll have to load appropriately, but even that has me nervous now when you add up just the propane tanks and battery on the tongue.
 

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Unfortunately we're still a few months out from taking delivery @Cdub, but I'll be happy to share once we get it. You probably already know this, but be careful if you try to unload the tongue that you don't get the back end of your trailer too heavy as you could induce dangerous trailer sway. In my opinion, I'd far prefer to be a little heavy on the tongue vs. the other way around, and with the tongue weights you're talking about, it seems it wouldn't be that difficult to stay under 500 lbs.
 

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Unfortunately we're still a few months out from taking delivery @Cdub, but I'll be happy to share once we get it. You probably already know this, but be careful if you try to unload the tongue that you don't get the back end of your trailer too heavy as you could induce dangerous trailer sway. In my opinion, I'd far prefer to be a little heavy on the tongue vs. the other way around, and with the tongue weights you're talking about, it seems it wouldn't be that difficult to stay under 500 lbs.
@Bill B Yeah I definitely want to avoid sway, I'll be keeping tongue weight in the 10-15% range with hopefully a max of 450-470.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you guys for so very helpful input here. I definitely will keep you posted on every step I make. @Bill B I will repost in Real World Towing Almost 5K - SE V6 4Motion @ 7,500 Feet. Good idea!
@Cdub I think airbags will be more help than harm and I'll get them. Thank you for the tip of buying from autoanything and advance auto, saving money is always good.
In regards of the TT. I agree the Ibex will be difficult to maintain within the weight limits. So, now I'm considering the idea of the No Boundaries 16.6 which is around 3400 dry and 340 tongue. My almost 4yo daughter loves the concept of open bunks and my wife definitely wants/needs wall to wall bed (safer to sleep with the kiddos) As everything in life, you can't have it both ways :/ unless you're filthy rich and can have everything custom made... Anyway!
Please keep me posted as you guys are moving forward as well, I think this is a great way of help each other make "good " decisions.
 

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Thank you guys for so very helpful input here. I definitely will keep you posted on every step I make. @Bill B I will repost in Real World Towing Almost 5K - SE V6 4Motion @ 7,500 Feet. Good idea!
@Cdub I think airbags will be more help than harm and I'll get them. Thank you for the tip of buying from autoanything and advance auto, saving money is always good.
In regards of the TT. I agree the Ibex will be difficult to maintain within the weight limits. So, now I'm considering the idea of the No Boundaries 16.6 which is around 3400 dry and 340 tongue. My almost 4yo daughter loves the concept of open bunks and my wife definitely wants/needs wall to wall bed (safer to sleep with the kiddos) As everything in life, you can't have it both ways :/ unless you're filthy rich and can have everything custom made... Anyway!
Please keep me posted as you guys are moving forward as well, I think this is a great way of help each other make "good " decisions.
Thank you guys for so very helpful input here. I definitely will keep you posted on every step I make. @Bill B I will repost in Real World Towing Almost 5K - SE V6 4Motion @ 7,500 Feet. Good idea!
@Cdub I think airbags will be more help than harm and I'll get them. Thank you for the tip of buying from autoanything and advance auto, saving money is always good.
In regards of the TT. I agree the Ibex will be difficult to maintain within the weight limits. So, now I'm considering the idea of the No Boundaries 16.6 which is around 3400 dry and 340 tongue. My almost 4yo daughter loves the concept of open bunks and my wife definitely wants/needs wall to wall bed (safer to sleep with the kiddos) As everything in life, you can't have it both ways :/ unless you're filthy rich and can have everything custom made... Anyway!
Please keep me posted as you guys are moving forward as well, I think this is a great way of help each other make "good " decisions.
Will definitely keep you updated @Vic and will look forward to updates from both of you as well. I was glad to see the response you got on the other forum thread. @Cdub, make sure to check it out if you haven't seen it. It's super helpful.
 
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