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Hey @robtkurtz - I replied a bit longer near the bottom of thread explaining the differences in the aftermarket hitches vs OEM. Hope it helps - here are the parts:

Large shank to raise and level the trailer about to where the OEM receiver would sit. (Install WDH head using highest holes - this one works with a Curt WDH - probably would work with other weight distribution hitches - you would have to confirm)

Weight distribution rated aftermarket hitch made for Atlas.
@alramos - thanks for all your posts and the information you're sharing. You might have mentioned it and I missed it, but what was the main driver in switching from your original setup to the second hitch for your WDH system? Was there a performance issue or was it for peace of mind, knowing that the OEM hitch isn't designed for WD?

Congrats on getting out in your camper so much this summer -- enjoy the rest of your trip!
 

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@alramos

Appreciate your real world experiences in this thread. If you had to do it all over again would you skip the factory installed hitch and just install the aftermarket one you purchased?

Also have you heard about or had any experience with the Gen-Y torsion hitches? Seems to be an interesting product.
 

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Discussion Starter #43
@alramos - thanks for all your posts and the information you're sharing. You might have mentioned it and I missed it, but what was the main driver in switching from your original setup to the second hitch for your WDH system? Was there a performance issue or was it for peace of mind, knowing that the OEM hitch isn't designed for WD?

Congrats on getting out in your camper so much this summer -- enjoy the rest of your trip!
Good morning @Bill B - you are observant as I didn't directly come out and say why I switched over to the aftermarket hitch system. Just as you presumed, it comes down to peace of mind. I didn't have any negative experiences with the OEM hitch nor issues with performance - just wanted to know that I was using something designed to bear the weight and forces of a WDH. I probably would have continued to use the OEM hitch based on my previous experience if the hitch I switched over to didn't exist.

Thanks Bill - we have been fortunate enough this summer and certainly enjoying ourselves staying away from triple digits in the mountains and have a few more days of it before heading back.
 

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Thanks @alramos. You’ve been a great source of information. We‘re ordering our travel trailer today for pick up in November. I’m planning to start with the airbag helpers and a friction bar and graduate to the aftermarket hitch if needed. Northern Arizona is on our short list of places to visit. Continued safe travels to you!
 

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Discussion Starter #45
@alramos

Appreciate your real world experiences in this thread. If you had to do it all over again would you skip the factory installed hitch and just install the aftermarket one you purchased?

Also have you heard about or had any experience with the Gen-Y torsion hitches? Seems to be an interesting product.
Good morning @Reroll - regarding skipping the factory installed hitch I am unsure if I would have done that. There is much debate on whether or not there is additional features added to the Atlas when purchasing with the factory installed towing package, for example "enhanced cooling". There has also been some information about an "enhanced fan and alternator" set up. This along with with proper trailer harness wiring - which I haven't a need with the Curt Echo Brake Controller. I have heard of this, but have yet to verify or really look into it. To have the 5K rating was simply enough peace of mind for me. At the end of the day, it was only $550 added to sticker price, and we purchased with about a 5K discount overall - so I haven't lost any sleep over the hitch now sitting defunct, although the OEM hitch loops are still serving a real purpose by acting as back-up safety as mentioned in a previous post.

I have heard of the Gen-Y torsion hitch and have seen videos on it on YouTube. Although it seems like a great system for what it does - I am unsure if it would perform like I would want it to with the higher towing weights I am working with and stability I am looking for in a hitch system. I believe it would work well for lower weights, perhaps <3,500 lbs. I haven't spent enough time looking at the Gen-Y hitch for my application. Ultimately, I don't believe it does anything with transferring weight to front axle to increase safety with steering and balance during any serious traffic / driving event / maneuver.

I just came back from the Gen-Y site, and they apparently have a product made now for WDH - called "The Boss (Torsion-Flex) Weight Distribution. That seems like an interesting set up, but of course would utilize weight distribution. I am unsure the basic Gen-Y torsion hitch would accomplish much more than smoothing out the ride. I don't have a harsh ride with my set up. Gen-Y does also sell a sway control attachment - I would consider that with the basic Gen-Y hitch at minimum for improved safety.
 

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Hi All, thought I would share my experience over the weekend with the new setup.

Some background: My trailer is a 2018 Jayco Jayfeather with the Baja package, 3080lbs and around 4000lbs with water and gear. Tongue weight about 450lbs (used a hitch scale). I have a 2019 SEL premium with the tow package. Like some of us here I went back and fourth with the used of the WDH, I tried it for a couple short trips and found it to be much better, especially with anti sway. However my paranoia kicked in using the WDH and I just couldn't justify buying another hitch to mount below. I spoke to the RV dealer and a local trailer/tow shop and bother raised their eyebrow at not using WDH. Even the local tow shop said it doesn't make sense, the hitch that's installed should handle it fine. At this point I had already purchased the Firestone air bags so I decided to install.

The Setup: Last week I installed the Firestone air bags (charged to 30-35psi), as well as had a local shop weld an anti-sway ball mount to a 4" rise hitch. Used the bags and anti-sway bar - no WDH. Maybe 2" of drop on the back end but not nearly as bad as before. SUV didn't feel like it was sagging down the road. Brought my WDH bars and hitch just in case (did I say I'm paranoid?)

The Trip: From Prince George BC to Lac La Hache BC, about 300kms (186miles) - 600kms round trip of lots of rolling hills and straights (this is western Canada after all). 200kms of the trip on my way out the tanks were empty, then added a full water tank for the last 100kms - no change in performance.

Trailer performance : Happily surprised at how solid the trailer was. Didn't sway much and though bounce was slightly worse than with the WDH it was minimal and very manageable.

Atlas performance : Happy with the way it towed. The air bags kept the nose down which gave me much more confidence in the steering and braking. I could relax a bit while towing. On the straight stretches the Atlas did great, RMPs were about 1500 maintaining 100km/h (62mph), when it needed a bit of a push or acceleration 2500rpm got the job done. Some very steep hills I would need to be at 3500rpm or slightly higher to maintain/accelerate but I took it easy and in those rare and steep climbs I backed off the speed to 80km/h (Im on vacation!). However if I wanted to she would have gone faster. I actually passed a motor home doing 75-80km/h and commented to my wife if you cant do the limit get off the road! I would say that keeping RPMs from 1500-3500 is very good for an SUV with a V6. Engine has good torque and the 8 speed transmission is great to keep those RPMs down.

Fuel economy : On average (using the "since refuel" scree) was 21L/100kms (11.2mpg). It was ok, some on here say its great, but I dont think so but I also dont have a lot to compare to. Ive towed my trailer with a Dodge Ram with the Pentastar V6 and got about 17L/100kms (13.84mpg), but that engine was also gutless so....

Summery: Overall I think the Atlas did great for a "non towing vehicle" as far a performance with a trailer around 5000lbs. I think if you aren't using a WDH (I'm still not convinced you cant), you should be getting the air bags, they make a world of difference and are actually cheaper than a WDH anyways. I was comfortable and confident with the setup. Don't push her if you don't have to, use a brake controller, and drive smart. If you're in the 5000lb range for towing than maybe this story changes a bit but I wouldn't hesitate to add another 500lbs to the trailer.

Hope that helps!
1398
 

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Discussion Starter #47
Hi All, thought I would share my experience over the weekend with the new setup.

Some background: My trailer is a 2018 Jayco Jayfeather with the Baja package, 3080lbs and around 4000lbs with water and gear. Tongue weight about 450lbs (used a hitch scale). I have a 2019 SEL premium with the tow package. Like some of us here I went back and fourth with the used of the WDH, I tried it for a couple short trips and found it to be much better, especially with anti sway. However my paranoia kicked in using the WDH and I just couldn't justify buying another hitch to mount below. I spoke to the RV dealer and a local trailer/tow shop and bother raised their eyebrow at not using WDH. Even the local tow shop said it doesn't make sense, the hitch that's installed should handle it fine. At this point I had already purchased the Firestone air bags so I decided to install.

The Setup: Last week I installed the Firestone air bags (charged to 30-35psi), as well as had a local shop weld an anti-sway ball mount to a 4" rise hitch. Used the bags and anti-sway bar - no WDH. Maybe 2" of drop on the back end but not nearly as bad as before. SUV didn't feel like it was sagging down the road. Brought my WDH bars and hitch just in case (did I say I'm paranoid?)

The Trip: From Prince George BC to Lac La Hache BC, about 300kms (186miles) - 600kms round trip of lots of rolling hills and straights (this is western Canada after all). 200kms of the trip on my way out the tanks were empty, then added a full water tank for the last 100kms - no change in performance.

Trailer performance : Happily surprised at how solid the trailer was. Didn't sway much and though bounce was slightly worse than with the WDH it was minimal and very manageable.

Atlas performance : Happy with the way it towed. The air bags kept the nose down which gave me much more confidence in the steering and braking. I could relax a bit while towing. On the straight stretches the Atlas did great, RMPs were about 1500 maintaining 100km/h (62mph), when it needed a bit of a push or acceleration 2500rpm got the job done. Some very steep hills I would need to be at 3500rpm or slightly higher to maintain/accelerate but I took it easy and in those rare and steep climbs I backed off the speed to 80km/h (Im on vacation!). However if I wanted to she would have gone faster. I actually passed a motor home doing 75-80km/h and commented to my wife if you cant do the limit get off the road! I would say that keeping RPMs from 1500-3500 is very good for an SUV with a V6. Engine has good torque and the 8 speed transmission is great to keep those RPMs down.

Fuel economy : On average (using the "since refuel" scree) was 21L/100kms (11.2mpg). It was ok, some on here say its great, but I dont think so but I also dont have a lot to compare to. Ive towed my trailer with a Dodge Ram with the Pentastar V6 and got about 17L/100kms (13.84mpg), but that engine was also gutless so....

Summery: Overall I think the Atlas did great for a "non towing vehicle" as far a performance with a trailer around 5000lbs. I think if you aren't using a WDH (I'm still not convinced you cant), you should be getting the air bags, they make a world of difference and are actually cheaper than a WDH anyways. I was comfortable and confident with the setup. Don't push her if you don't have to, use a brake controller, and drive smart. If you're in the 5000lb range for towing than maybe this story changes a bit but I wouldn't hesitate to add another 500lbs to the trailer.

Hope that helps!
View attachment 1398
This is a fantastic review and thanks for sharing your experience. I wholeheartedly agree - for a "non-towing vehicle" the Atlas continues to impress me and is very capable. Great to hear your weekend trip went well with your current set up.
 

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Hi All, thought I would share my experience over the weekend with the new setup.

Some background: My trailer is a 2018 Jayco Jayfeather with the Baja package, 3080lbs and around 4000lbs with water and gear. Tongue weight about 450lbs (used a hitch scale). I have a 2019 SEL premium with the tow package. Like some of us here I went back and fourth with the used of the WDH, I tried it for a couple short trips and found it to be much better, especially with anti sway. However my paranoia kicked in using the WDH and I just couldn't justify buying another hitch to mount below. I spoke to the RV dealer and a local trailer/tow shop and bother raised their eyebrow at not using WDH. Even the local tow shop said it doesn't make sense, the hitch that's installed should handle it fine. At this point I had already purchased the Firestone air bags so I decided to install.

The Setup: Last week I installed the Firestone air bags (charged to 30-35psi), as well as had a local shop weld an anti-sway ball mount to a 4" rise hitch. Used the bags and anti-sway bar - no WDH. Maybe 2" of drop on the back end but not nearly as bad as before. SUV didn't feel like it was sagging down the road. Brought my WDH bars and hitch just in case (did I say I'm paranoid?)

The Trip: From Prince George BC to Lac La Hache BC, about 300kms (186miles) - 600kms round trip of lots of rolling hills and straights (this is western Canada after all). 200kms of the trip on my way out the tanks were empty, then added a full water tank for the last 100kms - no change in performance.

Trailer performance : Happily surprised at how solid the trailer was. Didn't sway much and though bounce was slightly worse than with the WDH it was minimal and very manageable.

Atlas performance : Happy with the way it towed. The air bags kept the nose down which gave me much more confidence in the steering and braking. I could relax a bit while towing. On the straight stretches the Atlas did great, RMPs were about 1500 maintaining 100km/h (62mph), when it needed a bit of a push or acceleration 2500rpm got the job done. Some very steep hills I would need to be at 3500rpm or slightly higher to maintain/accelerate but I took it easy and in those rare and steep climbs I backed off the speed to 80km/h (Im on vacation!). However if I wanted to she would have gone faster. I actually passed a motor home doing 75-80km/h and commented to my wife if you cant do the limit get off the road! I would say that keeping RPMs from 1500-3500 is very good for an SUV with a V6. Engine has good torque and the 8 speed transmission is great to keep those RPMs down.

Fuel economy : On average (using the "since refuel" scree) was 21L/100kms (11.2mpg). It was ok, some on here say its great, but I dont think so but I also dont have a lot to compare to. Ive towed my trailer with a Dodge Ram with the Pentastar V6 and got about 17L/100kms (13.84mpg), but that engine was also gutless so....

Summery: Overall I think the Atlas did great for a "non towing vehicle" as far a performance with a trailer around 5000lbs. I think if you aren't using a WDH (I'm still not convinced you cant), you should be getting the air bags, they make a world of difference and are actually cheaper than a WDH anyways. I was comfortable and confident with the setup. Don't push her if you don't have to, use a brake controller, and drive smart. If you're in the 5000lb range for towing than maybe this story changes a bit but I wouldn't hesitate to add another 500lbs to the trailer.

Hope that helps!
View attachment 1398
Thanks much for taking the time to post this super helpful overview. Your experience, along with others who have taken the time to share, gives me confidence that we should be ok with a 3600 lb trailer we’re expecting in November.

Is your Atlas AWD or FWD?
 

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Thanks much for taking the time to post this super helpful overview. Your experience, along with others who have taken the time to share, gives me confidence that we should be ok with a 3600 lb trailer we’re expecting in November.

Is your Atlas AWD or FWD?
AWD...thats another story. The AWD on the atlas is awesome
 

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Thanks for all the great info here! I have not invested in the DrawTite hitch yet, or a weight distribution setup. I am running a 6-3/4” rise ball mount with the husky sway control. I also have the firestone helper bags which helps with the squat, but as others mentioned, it does bounce on the front a fair bit. We are towing a Winnebago Micro Minnie that is almost 3900 dry weight. It does have tandem axles, and the GVWR is 7000, so I am being careful about how much I load on the tongue and load in general. BUT I really do like the idea of the aftermarket hitch with 6000lb tow rating and 900lbs of tongue weight available. I plan to add that at some point, but for now, this setup is working much better than what I had. Thanks again for all the detailed shares here. It is really helpful!!
 

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I'm not Alramos or Johnny nor have I stayed at Holiday Inn lately but just chiming in - the Curt & Draw-Tite has similar specs but Draw specifically states it is rated for weight distribution, The OEM hitch does not connect to the side frame rails(tube ends short of) like the aftermarkets do. The aftermarket hitch will add weight to the Atlas so best to keep that in mind when computing for the payload(1213 lbs max)Probably can do WDH on OEM but one has to consider warranty, insurance(in case of accident) etc etc.
@robtkurtz my atlas had the factory towing package. The Curt reciever bolted in directly underneath, no modifications needed, no welding involved.

i now have 2 reciever openings, directly on top of each other.
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4069F704-0A8E-407B-B1F0-31614A1532CE.jpeg
 

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So we recently drove our Atlas 4500 miles pulling our Winnebago Micro Minnie to CO, WY, and SD. I only had a ball mount and no sway control. I will say the trailer was all over the place. The wind in Wyoming and Kansas were brutal, and anytime a semi passed us, it was like they created a vacuum and it sucked us in like a vortex! I had purchased the husky sway control, but the adapter didn’t fit the ball mount we had, so I had to leave it at home on that trip.

Yesterday I almost bought a WD system, but decided not to for now. I already had the sway control items, but I needed to get them mounted. So I bought a new ball mount with a 6-3/4 rise, and got everything mounted for our trip. Last night we drove 3 hours from Nashville area to Chattanooga with the new setup and it was AWESOME!! The sway was gone, and my hands and shoulders didn’t feel like I lost a fight. I have the firestone helper bags, and those helped level up the back end. All that to say, I wish I had set this up before traveling all over the country, but I know now that sway control is a game changer and necessary. I hope to get the WD system at some point with the aftermarket hitch, but for now I am happy with this setup. In any case, having sway control is a must as I am sure most everyone here already knows. Also, the ball mount I had with the squatting I was getting from the trailer made the rise too short. Getting the trailer level I think was a huge part of reducing the trailer sway as well.
Hey @robtkurtz which model Micro Minnie do you have and how do you like it? I have been looking at 1800BH and 2100BH, prefer the tongue weight and dry weight of 1800BH, but would love the extra space from the slide out of 2100BH. I am not planning on using WD, but I am planning on the air bags and an electronic sway control system (https://www.etrailer.com/Weight-Distribution-Hitch/Hayes/HA81775.html). It can be used with WD or without, but senses sway and gradually applies trailer brake to stop sway.
 

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Thought I would share some recent towing experience with our camper. Camper weighs in at 4100 lbs without cargo or water (dry). We add approximately 600 lbs in cargo. This includes a 100 lb generator, 2 gallons of gasoline, a grill with it's own stand, 1 utility table, 5 chairs, tools, general RV supplies and tools, a portable septic tote (empty), fishing tackle, a few board games, a smaller side table, a propane tank (not including RVs tank), a portable propane fire pit, clothes, sheets, towels, pillows and some starter foods, juices, dog food and beer. The beer went in the trailer first as it's considered valuable cargo and cannot be thrown overboard in the event of an emergency. The mother-in-law had two bags, one larger one that seemed rather heavy for one week of camping. Not sure what was in that one. We mostly get our food supplies and the equivalent of two medium cases of water near campsites after unhooking. I still have to go to a CAT scale loaded up, but I know I am pretty close with the cargo weight. We are not exceeding 5K - however, I know I am over on tongue weight by a few lbs.

I am using a Curt weight distributing hitch (up to 6K on towing and 600 on tongue) with a Curt anti-sway friction bar and of course brake controller (Curt Echo Bluetooth). This is helping offset tongue weight. I've also installed Firestone helper airbags into the rear suspension coils (if you consider yourself handy and have a few tools laying around you can do this install yourself and save $$). I drilled the schrader valve access hole right into the steel-tow label plate next to the hitch (right side looking at hitch receiver). Perfect spot. If you want pics of the airbag install I'd be happy to add. These of course do not increase towing or tongue ratings, however, they improve the ride and rear squat with the load. We had 640 lbs of payload in the vehicle - that is all bodies, 3 Adults, two kids, and one dog. With the exception of a couple of bags of chips, some drinks, an iPad and maybe two purses - and some smaller tools with the VW first aid kit in the cubbies in the trunk, that was all we had in the vehicle. I deliberately kept it as empty as possible - with preferring to evenly distribute whatever weight we needed to bring in the trailer. This does not include tongue weight when hitched. We were probably right at or under payload with the hitch mounted. All tanks in the RV, with the exception of the water heater were empty. I added water to the trailer when we arrived to the campground and maxed the tank out - 50 gallons. That put me over the Atlas towing rating - by at least 100-300 lbs. However, we crept to our campsite from there, probably an eighth to one-quarter mile at about 10 mph once inside the campground. Even so, towed perfectly fine - however, I would not tow with 400 lbs of water in addition to our cargo - going any faster or on interstate/hwy roads at highway speeds - at least with the Atlas.

I've towed with this rig now for several hundred miles, steep hills - ascents and descents. The Atlas is extremely well powered and does not feel underpowered at all with this amount of weight - even at higher altitudes - at least as high as we have gone. In two or three instances, I can remember the Atlas hitting 4,000-4,300 RPMS. It still had tons of power left and could have gone faster uphills - but I didn't really push it at all. We kept average speeds of 60 mph (96 kph) with a max of 65 mph on a few occasions when building momentum heading towards a few hills. With our steepest and longest ascent, the oil temp hit 280 degrees for about 3 minutes, but then dropped down quick after we plateaued. This was reaching close to our destination - which was at 7,500 ft elevation, coming from Phoenix, AZ. Yes, it would slow down a bit depending on the grade we were climbing, and I would adjust the pedal back so as not to push the engine too much allowing for the Atlas to do more work at lower RPMs - which it is very good at. You can tell it has good amount of low-end torque power. With this said however, I could have easily kept the speeds higher, at the sacrifice of higher RPMS - which I was working to avoid. Again - the Atlas could have easily done this. It cools just fine - we must have passed at least 10 vehicles on the way home on the side of the road with their hoods up on uphill climbs. These were probably cooling problems. Keep in mind, we had our AC on for 3/4s of the trip as we descended into the Phoenix Valley area with temps quickly reaching 100 degrees.

While driving on cruise control - I kept Sport Mode on for the most part. I found this to be the best mode for having the engine and transmission ready to tackle the climbs as well as to use the engine and transmission to slow down, in combination with the automatic braking it performs on cruise control - which made my life easier having to just monitor the systems using the adaptive cruise and keeping my brake controller app open on my phone watching pressure being applied accordingly. We also have a rear-view camera on the trailer to monitor incoming traffic about to pass us or when we are passing, knowing when to cut back into the lane.

I've decided to post this information to assist anybody else that has thought of, or has considered towing with the VR6 powered Atlas with the tow package. Our Atlas is 4Motion equipped, and although I believe it helped me a few instances when turning over a few buckled roads (I remember one vividly) - it powers all other wheels wonderfully as you can feel it, I don't think 4Motion is required to tow with a similar set up. Additionally, I am very aware of what the manuals indicate regarding weight-distributing hitches. If you are so inclined, as friendly and cautious as you probably might be, I don't need the towing police pulling me over in here. With that said - I could not imagine towing a similar set-up without a weigh-distributing hitch or anti-sway bar assisting the system. I felt that both were doing their job wonderfully as we were going down the road. In one instance, I had a tractor trailer come up to pass, while at the same time hitting the crest of a pass and felt the trailer shudder hard behind us with a massive gust of wind, but instantly freeze in place with the system kicking in - preventing any kind of wobble or sway. I felt incredibly safe the entire time. I will put it to you this way, if you are planning on towing anything over 4K, I personally would use a weight-distributing system coupled along with an anti-sway friction bar attached - preventing any dangerous events on the highway. In other words - I strongly recommend using a WDH - if I was the driver, along with a sway-control bar system if I am towing higher weights. It boggles me that the VW Atlas manuals recommend the opposite. It's possible that they think people may try and tow higher than 5K, with also potentially damaging the frame. I personally believe that if I am towing without WDH and an incorporated anti-sway friction bar at higher weights, I am putting myself and others on the road at risk. I also have no need to go 75-85 mph when towing a medium sized camper with my family in the vehicle while on vacation. And yes, I saw other people doing just that - which to me is getting into dangerous territory. But, maybe they understand something about their vehicles that I do not.

Also keep this in mind - other pickups and larger full sized SUVs typically have non-WDH and WDH ratings as a guide - usually increasing the available capacities by a few thousand lbs if using a WDH. I am not interested in trying to tow 7,000 or 8,000 lbs using the Atlas. I am just trying to tow at or below 5K (what my Atlas is rated for) safely. I have plenty of adjustment links available on the WDH (not risking binding) and I am not overly pushing the downward or upward forces on the receiver hitch - risking damage to the unibody frame. I've continued to inspect the integrity of the weld contact points of the hitch and surrounding tube and frame points. From what I can tell, Bosal GmbH incorporates a good towing system product during the VW manufacturing process.

In case you are curious, our camper is a 24 feet long, tandem axle, hard-sided trailer rated for a gross cargo-carrying capacity of 6K. Of course - we kept our weights just at about 5K - slightly less for the main and longer leg of the trip - and then I am sure over a bit with water while we set up driving inside the campground at very slow speeds over a very short distance, never exceeding the trailers capacity. The brand is a 2020 Coachmen Apex Nano (lightest for it's kind of trailer with features offered) - model 208BHS. We are a family of 4 to 5 mainly with a 60 lb dog.

While at the campsite - I even had someone ask me how the Atlas towed - and he himself mentioned that he felt that the Atlas is probably one of the most under-rated mid-sized family-tow vehicles out there. Given my experience so far, I could not agree more.

If you have any questions on the Atlas, the set up, airbags, or the trailer - feel free to reply. This site has assisted me quite a bit with my Atlas, and I am happy to pay it forward.

Full disclosure, I am not a towing expert nor am I a Volkswagen Atlas expert and I officially do not advise going against whatever recommendations and instructions your vehicle manual provides you. I am not liable for any kind of damage or catastrophes as a result of the use or application of any recommendations or advice that you may or may not find in my post. I do not represent any companies or entities mentioned in this or any other posts I may create. What I have stated in this paragraph supersedes any previous comments in this post or other posts that I create, in the past, now, or at any point in the future.

Once I get the rig to the CAT scales - loaded, I will update this post with more accurate weights. I may have to invest in a tongue weight scale.

ar
Hey @alramos how do you like the curt echo? I am leaning to purchasing this to avoid mounting anything inside, but I've seen a couple of people say they had issues with it working with the Atlas.
 

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Discussion Starter #54
Hey @alramos how do you like the curt echo? I am leaning to purchasing this to avoid mounting anything inside, but I've seen a couple of people say they had issues with it working with the Atlas.
@Cdub - I haven't had any problems at all with the Curt Echo. It's nice because it avoids plugging into the harnesses and adding an additional external brake controller on the dash by the steering wheel. I think it's the way to go these days. The controller plugs right into to 7 pole trailer socket on the Atlas, and then you just plug the trailer connector into the Echo. It's dummy proof and I have not had any connectivity issues between the device or my phone while trailering.

The phone is how you can monitor/adjust the brake controller. However, if for whatever reason you do lose connection - the brake controller just works with the last stored settings and you do not lose any control of the trailer brakes. I have disconnected the Echo while everything was on "and working" - and my phone has alerted me that "I have lost connection with brake controller but the device will continue to work".

When towing, on my dash I have my rear camera on, my TPMS system next to the camera display, and then my phone on, mounted on the vent and open to the Curt Echo app, and I can monitor when the brakes are actively being applied while driving, either by me, or the adaptive cruise control. Hope that helps.
 

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Hey @alramos how do you like the curt echo? I am leaning to purchasing this to avoid mounting anything inside, but I've seen a couple of people say they had issues with it working with the Atlas.
From personal experience, only issue with Curt echo is that it will not power a Furrion wireless RV backup/monitor camera unless a 7 way vehicle power adapter cable is also installed/plugged in;something to do with Atlas' power management software.
 

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Discussion Starter #56
From personal experience, only issue with Curt echo is that it will not power a Furrion wireless RV backup/monitor camera unless a 7 way vehicle power adapter cable is also installed/plugged in;something to do with Atlas' power management software.
It's interesting that you bring this up. I had my dealer install an aftermarket rear-view camera - I believe Haloview MC7108 model. With the initial set-up, the camera was not being powered. From what I remember, even with the Echo Brake controller not installed, and just installed directly into the Atlas's 7 pole plug, there was not enough power to the camera. So I am not sure the power issue is isolated to the Curt Echo itself - or just a general VW Atlas issue.

As a side note, the installer that was working to solve the issue told me that he had run into similar problems in the past with Audis and Mercedes. Something about how "German" vehicles don't produce enough power at the switch, much beyond enough for the navigation lights and turn signals and relays for trailer brakes. Again, not sure about the validity of the claim, but would be interested in hearing about other people's experience with this.

They fixed the power problem by connecting directly into the 12V line from the battery, and then installing a switch inside of the bathroom of the camper for the camera. When using the camera, switch goes on. Battery disconnect shuts everything off when stored.
 

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Not a Curt Echo issue per se but anything in between the TV & TT connection that requires 12v will not receive constant voltage. In contrast, wired in cabin brake controller will work with camera etc without the extra hardware.
 

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Hi All, thought I would share my experience over the weekend with the new setup.

Some background: My trailer is a 2018 Jayco Jayfeather with the Baja package, 3080lbs and around 4000lbs with water and gear. Tongue weight about 450lbs (used a hitch scale). I have a 2019 SEL premium with the tow package. Like some of us here I went back and fourth with the used of the WDH, I tried it for a couple short trips and found it to be much better, especially with anti sway. However my paranoia kicked in using the WDH and I just couldn't justify buying another hitch to mount below. I spoke to the RV dealer and a local trailer/tow shop and bother raised their eyebrow at not using WDH. Even the local tow shop said it doesn't make sense, the hitch that's installed should handle it fine. At this point I had already purchased the Firestone air bags so I decided to install.

The Setup: Last week I installed the Firestone air bags (charged to 30-35psi), as well as had a local shop weld an anti-sway ball mount to a 4" rise hitch. Used the bags and anti-sway bar - no WDH. Maybe 2" of drop on the back end but not nearly as bad as before. SUV didn't feel like it was sagging down the road. Brought my WDH bars and hitch just in case (did I say I'm paranoid?)

The Trip: From Prince George BC to Lac La Hache BC, about 300kms (186miles) - 600kms round trip of lots of rolling hills and straights (this is western Canada after all). 200kms of the trip on my way out the tanks were empty, then added a full water tank for the last 100kms - no change in performance.

Trailer performance : Happily surprised at how solid the trailer was. Didn't sway much and though bounce was slightly worse than with the WDH it was minimal and very manageable.

Atlas performance : Happy with the way it towed. The air bags kept the nose down which gave me much more confidence in the steering and braking. I could relax a bit while towing. On the straight stretches the Atlas did great, RMPs were about 1500 maintaining 100km/h (62mph), when it needed a bit of a push or acceleration 2500rpm got the job done. Some very steep hills I would need to be at 3500rpm or slightly higher to maintain/accelerate but I took it easy and in those rare and steep climbs I backed off the speed to 80km/h (Im on vacation!). However if I wanted to she would have gone faster. I actually passed a motor home doing 75-80km/h and commented to my wife if you cant do the limit get off the road! I would say that keeping RPMs from 1500-3500 is very good for an SUV with a V6. Engine has good torque and the 8 speed transmission is great to keep those RPMs down.

Fuel economy : On average (using the "since refuel" scree) was 21L/100kms (11.2mpg). It was ok, some on here say its great, but I dont think so but I also dont have a lot to compare to. Ive towed my trailer with a Dodge Ram with the Pentastar V6 and got about 17L/100kms (13.84mpg), but that engine was also gutless so....

Summery: Overall I think the Atlas did great for a "non towing vehicle" as far a performance with a trailer around 5000lbs. I think if you aren't using a WDH (I'm still not convinced you cant), you should be getting the air bags, they make a world of difference and are actually cheaper than a WDH anyways. I was comfortable and confident with the setup. Don't push her if you don't have to, use a brake controller, and drive smart. If you're in the 5000lb range for towing than maybe this story changes a bit but I wouldn't hesitate to add another 500lbs to the trailer.

Hope that helps!
View attachment 1398
Wow, thanks to everyone for sharing some great insights. I'm just getting back into the trailering game after years in a tent, I've got the v6 awd with the package. We're looking at a light hybrid, kz 160, about 2800 dry, hitting about 3600 loaded. I found out about the wdh issue pay Atlas purchase, and feel the same"it says no in the manual" as many have already mentioned. We're not going to be close to the tow max, my initial intent was to tow with just brake controller, but considering all the info I just read I'm curious on the following options:
Just brake controller (bc)
Bc, sway bars
Bc, sway bars, air bags
Bc, sway bars, air bags, wdh
Bc, sway bars, wdh
@Brancozorus you mention welding some additional sway points on your set up. Care to share a pic?
Thanks in advance for help.
 

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Is the FWD version that limited compared to the 4 Motion one?
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: (Update: After all I left the ibex idea aside and now I'm looking for a way lighter TT. I still want to know what upgrades are worth to do in order to have a better towing experience)

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.
https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Hitch/Volkswagen/Atlas/2019/76176.html?VehicleID=201965679

2.Firestone Air Helper Spring - Unfortunately this is just to be installed in 4Motion versions. (haven't found anything similar specifically for FWD)
https://www.etrailer.com/Vehicle-Suspension/Volkswagen/Atlas/2019/F4175.html?VehicleID=201986139

3.Shock Absorbing ball mount - At this point I'm not sure if it is even worth it.
https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Hitch-Ball-Mount/Gen-Y-Hitch/325-GH-12001.html

4.TRailer brake controller - Prodigy P3
https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Br...gen/Atlas/2019/90195.html?VehicleID=201969505

5.Electronic Sway control - As you know VW recommends not to use WDH :/
https://www.etrailer.com/Weight-Distribution-Hitch/Hayes/HA81775.html

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 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?

Thank you all in advance.
 

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Discussion Starter #60
Is the FWD version that limited compared to the 4 Motion one?
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: (Update: After all I left the ibex idea aside and now I'm looking for a way lighter TT. I still want to know what upgrades are worth to do in order to have a better towing experience)

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.
https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Hitch/Volkswagen/Atlas/2019/76176.html?VehicleID=201965679

2.Firestone Air Helper Spring - Unfortunately this is just to be installed in 4Motion versions. (haven't found anything similar specifically for FWD)
https://www.etrailer.com/Vehicle-Suspension/Volkswagen/Atlas/2019/F4175.html?VehicleID=201986139

3.Shock Absorbing ball mount - At this point I'm not sure if it is even worth it.
https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Hitch-Ball-Mount/Gen-Y-Hitch/325-GH-12001.html

4.TRailer brake controller - Prodigy P3
https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Br...gen/Atlas/2019/90195.html?VehicleID=201969505

5.Electronic Sway control - As you know VW recommends not to use WDH :/
https://www.etrailer.com/Weight-Distribution-Hitch/Hayes/HA81775.html

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 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?

Thank you all in advance.

Hey @Vic - welcome to the thread.

You go into a few questions here so I will try my best given your drivetrain.

I don't think there will be a significant difference with the geometry and accessibility of suspension coils between the 4Motion and the FWD version. I am not a certified VW Tech, but, if you can access the rear coils like I did, then you can probably install the airbags without a hitch. (get it?)

With that said, I would go into page two of this thread, and compare my coils with yours and how accessible they are. I have a few pictures on that page showing what the access to the coils look like. Again, if yours looks like those, then you should be fine.

I have no idea why they would be unsafe to install on the REAR axle suspension, on a FWD vehicle. Maybe the eTrailer rep is confused? I can't imagine, mechanically - why it would be any different. I also cannot find anything on the link that you provided for the airbags, the same ones I used - that they are strictly designated for only for the 4 wheel drive model Atlas.

They just go on the rear wheels, not on the front wheels. Maybe there is some confusion there.

I cannot speak from experience for a wired-harness type of trailer brake. I use the Bluetooth Curt Echo brake control and it has worked flawlessly.

I don't have any experience with the electronic sway control. I use friction control mounted between the head of the WDH and the trailer frame.

I have no experience with Gen Y hitch, although I am sure it does what it claims to do.

Here are the upgrades I would consider worth it if I owned your vehicle - towing anything heavier than 4K lbs (including cargo):

  • Airbags
  • Weight Distribution Rated Receiver - Draw Tite - made for atlas.
  • Weight Distribution Hitch
  • Oversized Weight Distribution Shank so that the trailer sits level (in rise position)
  • Friction sway bar.
  • Curt Echo brake controller
This is what I would get, and not necessarily what I would advise you to get. This is basically my set up and it drives fine. I tow close to 5,000 lbs.

I cannot tell you how your vehicle would handle with that set up, as I can only speak from experience on how my vehicle handles. Given that you do not have 4Motion, here are the things I would be cognizant about when trailering with any camper:

Dispersed / off the beaten path / into the woods camping - this may pose more of a challenge since extra traction might be required in certain situations when pulling your rig in and out of your camping sites. What would I probably do with FWD? Probably stick more to campgrounds with pavement, developed roads, developed dirt roads. Not a big sacrifice.

I cannot tell you how the vehicle would handle going 60 MPH - given that it's FWD - and you have weight on the ball hitch. I can tell you that my front axle is lighter than my rear axle - and I would imagine that it would be the same for you.

Even on my Atlas with 4Motion - I have felt the front wheels slip slightly when trying to go over, for example railroad tracks at just the right degree of incline on a turn, however the vehicle still moving forward - with weight on the ball. I am sure the 4Motion kicked on in that situation and was able to keep things going in a forward direction. If you have less traction on the front end, and the vehicle is limited to FWD, I would imagine in that specific situation you might feel the wheels grab the road a bit more differently than I would. You initially ask if there might be a limitations given both vehicles - I cannot imagine much more differences. So again - in your case, I would just be cautious on where I camp - and watch any steep inclines around your or approaching inclines and think about your angle of attack. That's about it.

I would not buy that tekonsha brake controller. Just appears to be more complicated than the Curt echo. That is a technology nearing end of life.

Also, for your information - I did use weight distribution on the OEM factory hitch for a few months with no problem - towing about 5,000 lbs. However, only for peace of mind, I decided to upgrade and install the weight distribution receiver hitch (properly rated) - below the OEM hitch. Yeah, I have two hitches and it doesn't look too bad.

For reference, my camper is about 4,100 lbs dry. After I load it up, we are approaching 5,000 lbs - which includes a 100 lbs generator and gas.

Hope this helps.
 
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