5th Wheel Truck Heaven

Our criteria for a 5th wheel truck are pretty much the same as for our choice of motorhome chassis. It needs to be comfortable enough to drive for long periods of time, have a world-wide dealer and service network and be known for its reliability.

Ideally, we would be able to drive the vehicle on a car license but it seems that we run into a strange situation when towing a motorhome: the incompatible measures of GCM and GVM and the way they are handled by the licensing authorities in New Zealand.

There are two curiously complicating aspects with looking at a tow vehicle rather than a motor home chassis: the Gross Combined Mass and the impact this has on which driver’s license we need, and the GCM and the influence this has on the 5th wheeler we choose.

In New Zealand, we can drive a vehicle with a GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) up to 6000kg on a normal car license. We can also drive a vehicle of GCM (Gross Combined Mass) up to 6000kg on the same license. However, most tow vehicles with enough power to pull a small fifth wheel have a GCM of about 8000kg so we are, once again, pushed towards having a Class 2 license. The rules are different in different countries and we’ll be investigating those as we go…

Australian fifth wheel manufacturers are very keen to show that their trailers can be towed by the range of heavy utes so common in Australia. These include the following and all have a GCM of 6000kg or under. They all have a maximum towing capacity of 3000 – 3500 kg. Pretty impressive.

  • Ford Ranger
  • Isuzu DMax
  • Mazda BT50
  • Mitsubishi Triton
  • Nissan Navara
  • Toyota HiLux or Workmate 70 (Landcruiser)
  • VW Amarok

The problem arises when we look at the ATM (Aggregate Trailer Mass) of the fifth wheel trailer. Most of these are of the order of 3500 – 3800 kg which approaches and even exceeds the limits of the GCM of the heavy ute. Effectively, this renders them unsuitable, despite the marketing…

The bigger problem arises when we consider that this is using the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended gross weight. For travelling any sort of distance in unknown territory, we prefer to keep any load to a maximum of 80% of the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended limits and 90% of the trailer manufacturer’s recommended weights. This so we are not putting unnecessary strain on the either vehicle’s components for extended periods of time.

This pushes us into the light truck categories and means we need to be checking vehicles such as

  • Fuso Canter
  • Hyundai HD
  • Isuzu NPS
  • Iveco Daily
  • Toyota Hino

You can see our Tow-Vehicle-Calcs right here (if you download this, please let us know if you have any comments and remember to come back and check if there is an updated version).

We quite like the Iveco Daily 4×4 shown below. Quirky enough to be interesting and powerful enough to do the job…

Which 5th Wheel Truck for us?

We’re leaning heavily toward an Iveco 4×4 Double Cab at the moment for all the reasons outlined by Col and Kym on their site www.traveltrucks.com.au

Are You a Satisfied 5th Wheel Truck Owner?

Which 5th wheel truck did you choose, and why? Can you help us with our deliberations? Please, share it right here!

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