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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?
 

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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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Hi guys I just purchase 2017 JAYCO JAY FEATHER 7 19XUD is 3690 dry weight I own Atlas 2019 r line ,se 4 motion with towing package incluid, maybe somebody can help me if my Atlas will be pulling ok this year rv. ? Maybe some advice , I will be appreciate. Thanks
 

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Hi @Maurin, I'm still waiting on the delivery of similar size trailer, and I'm counting on it being ok. I'd recommend reading through Real World Towing Almost 5K - SE V6 4Motion @ 7,500 Feet. There's a wealth of really helpful information there, and I think you'll get your questions answered and pick up some great tips along the way. Congrats on your new purchase!
Thanks Bill . I will do it , I going to pickup my camper tomorrow I will keep you posted!!
 

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Thanks Bill . I will do it , I going to pickup my camper tomorrow I will keep you posted!!
Congrats! You probably already know, but even with factory towing, you’ll need to install the final connector at your 7-pin to be able to hook up the trailer lights. You can get the part from your dealer or much cheaper on Amazon. For those with factory towing. You’re also going to need a brake controller if you haven’t already installed one.
 

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This is a technical question which a VW mechanic should be able to answer since they work on these vehicles. This may not give you the answer you want, but at least you will get an answer from someone with more knowledge than the opinions from "googlers".
 

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Agree, always a good idea to check with your mechanic. Mine was able to confirm the 5000/500 lb. tow limit and tongue weight but didn't have experience towing a trailer this size with an Atlas. I found it helpful to do both -- checked with VW and appreciated the insights of others who had towed trailers of similar size. @Maurin let us know how things work out for you.
 

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Agree, always a good idea to check with your mechanic. Mine was able to confirm the 5000/500 lb. tow limit and tongue weight but didn't have experience towing a trailer this size with an Atlas. I found it helpful to do both -- checked with VW and appreciated the insights of others who had towed trailers of similar size. @Maurin let us know how things work out for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hey Guys, I'm back... Yup! I can see it's been more than four months now since I started picking brains looking for good advice and guidance. Sadly I have not done anything yet, no TT, no mods, nothing... It's been a crazy time and I've been enjoying my "mandatory" family time. I have decided to replace my SEL FWD for a SEL 4motion and captain chairs. 4motion just to have peace in mind and we realized is more comfortable for my wife to have the setup as captains since she's in the back with the kids all the time.
@Bill B are you towing your TT already? If so, tell me about your experience so far. What have you done to your suspension and what accessories are you using to make the trips more comfortable while towing. How about you @Cdub anything new? have you tried new products or configurations? let me know guys. As I said before now I am actively looking for that Sel 4motion and ideally I'll get it before the end of the year. Will see... Also I went back to research about TT because we know for sure that's what we want to do. So, If you have any advice about TT brand and size I'll appreciate it. Stay safe and happy holidays.
 

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Hi @Vic, it's nice to hear from you again -- no, we're still 5 weeks out from promised delivery on our new TT, and with everything going on, I'll be pleasantly surprised if they hit the promise date -- fingers crossed! I haven't made any additional mods to my Atlas until the trailer arrives and will hang tight until I can test the air bags and brake controller I have ready to go.

Are you sure you want to take the leap on a 4Motion before you decide on what TT you want to pull? I LOVE my Atlas, but if I had known before buying that I would want to tow a 3700 lb. (unloaded) trailer, I would have opted for something with more towing margin. Not sure if that would have been something like a Dodge Durango, Jeep Grand Cherokee, or a truck, but something that wasn't going to be at it's specified limit when I load everything up. To me, it's a decidedly different conversation to figure out how to optimize towing for the vehicle you already own vs. choosing the vehicle that's best for the trailer you buy. If you want to stay with the Atlas anyway, I get it as it's a great vehicle, but just my two cents.

Regarding TT, we're waiting on an R-Pod 193. We saw one over the summer and loved the bunk beds for our two grandkids, the dry bath, relatively open floor plan (bath in rear), the murphy queen in the front, and the updated white color scheme that they just changed to. We're a little concerned with quality control from any manufacturer during these times, but we'll see how things pan out when it arrives.

Will update more when we get it. Let us know what you decide, and either way, best of luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Hi @Bill B, I'll help you with my fingers crossed too.

One of my concerns of getting a brand new TT is the quality (you are right) so, I've been looking probably older models but I honestly don't know what would be worst... or better?

In regard of the 4motion, I see your point and believe me I have considered other options. In fact we went yesterday to try a 2018 Durango R/T (loved the Hemi V8) The big downside is the space compared to the Atlas. For us (my wife) interior space and comfort goes first then towing capacity. We also tried a Ford Expedition Max, we really liked it but way over budget. The 3rd row on the Tahoe is uncomfortable and the second row does not move. Toyota Highlander is smaller inside and towing capacity is not better. This brings us back to the Atlas. Even though towing capacity is limited, we think as a whole package it is the best option for the money. Would you agree? Should I look for an older Expedition?

I'll keep you posted on whatever decision or purchase we make. In the meantime if there is a SUV comparable in price and space to the Atlas that you would consider in my case please let me know.

Regards
 

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Hi @Bill B, I'll help you with my fingers crossed too.

One of my concerns of getting a brand new TT is the quality (you are right) so, I've been looking probably older models but I honestly don't know what would be worst... or better?

In regard of the 4motion, I see your point and believe me I have considered other options. In fact we went yesterday to try a 2018 Durango R/T (loved the Hemi V8) The big downside is the space compared to the Atlas. For us (my wife) interior space and comfort goes first then towing capacity. We also tried a Ford Expedition Max, we really liked it but way over budget. The 3rd row on the Tahoe is uncomfortable and the second row does not move. Toyota Highlander is smaller inside and towing capacity is not better. This brings us back to the Atlas. Even though towing capacity is limited, we think as a whole package it is the best option for the money. Would you agree? Should I look for an older Expedition?

I'll keep you posted on whatever decision or purchase we make. In the meantime if there is a SUV comparable in price and space to the Atlas that you would consider in my case please let me know.

Regards
I've gone through the same debates in my mind, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee is the only other 2 row SUV that I might throw into the mix for consideration. That said, none of these tick all the boxes for me, and I agree the Atlas is by far the best value for the money if it meets your needs. If you stay below 3500 lbs on your TT, you'll hopefully be fine. You may not increase your tow capacity with the 4motion over the FWD, but if you're wife is more comfortable with the 2nd row captain chairs, it could be a great investment. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I've gone through the same debates in my mind, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee is the only other 2 row SUV that I might throw into the mix for consideration. That said, none of these tick all the boxes for me, and I agree the Atlas is by far the best value for the money if it meets your needs. If you stay below 3500 lbs on your TT, you'll hopefully be fine. You may not increase your tow capacity with the 4motion over the FWD, but if you're wife is more comfortable with the 2nd row captain chairs, it could be a great investment. :)
Let me ask you something @Bill B. Even though 4motion has same towing capacity, do you think is there any advantage to go from FWD to a 4motion? Am I wasting my time and money trying to replace the one I have? I’m thinking now that the amount of weight we can tow is not worth the hustle.
Thoughts?
 
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