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Old 08-09-2020, 06:08 PM   #1
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Towing a 21C with a BMWx5

We're taking delivery of a 21C and are planning to tow with a BMW X5 35d, which can tow 6,000 pounds and handle a max tongue weight of 600lbs. The TV has air suspension. After much research, we went with one of the aftermarket hitches (Draw-tite) that supports weight distribution and ordered an Equalizer hitch and a Prodigy RF brake controller.

Anyone see any issues with this setup?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 08-09-2020, 07:17 PM   #2
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Sounds good: 413 # torque, 115.5 Wheelbase, almost 5K curbweight. If people say Highlanders(263 # torque) do fine with a 21 then you should be more than fine. Will probably need mirror extensions.
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Old 08-09-2020, 07:34 PM   #3
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My brother is pulling a 19 with an X5 diesel and is very happy with it. He recently did a trip from the Seattle area to Colorado Springs and back, so he has tested it over some high passes. No problems.
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Old 08-09-2020, 07:35 PM   #4
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Sounds good: 413 # torque, 115.5 Wheelbase, almost 5K curbweight. If people say Highlanders(263 # torque) do fine with a 21 then you should be more than fine. Will probably need mirror extensions.
Thanks for the reply. Based on reviews, I'm getting the Fit System 3891 Deluxe Universal Clip-on Trailer Towing Mirror on Amazon. There is, of course, nothing made by BMW for this purpose, so it's gotta be a universal solution with clips or velcro.
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Old 08-09-2020, 07:41 PM   #5
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My brother is pulling a 19 with an X5 diesel and is very happy with it. He recently did a trip from the Seattle area to Colorado Springs and back, so he has tested it over some high passes. No problems.
Thanks. That's good news. Any idea whether he's using a weight distribution hitch with it? I ran into some folks today with 19 and a 4Runner TV. They said they have been towing for years without a WD setup with no problems.
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Old 08-09-2020, 08:06 PM   #6
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I use a WDH with an Expedition- as do many towing a 21 with an F-150 for a lot of reasons.
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Old 08-09-2020, 08:07 PM   #7
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He is. He has the Fastway E2 WDH that Escape sells as an option.
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Old 08-10-2020, 12:27 AM   #8
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I’m pulling my e19 with X5 50i, different engine same 6000/600 towing rating. My X5 has the rear air suspension, I’m not using weight distribution hitch. The Prodigy RF works great.
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Old 08-10-2020, 08:46 AM   #9
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He is. He has the Fastway E2 WDH that Escape sells as an option.
Thanks. I wish now that I'd pushed escape harder on adding the WDH. I'd have much preferred to hook up and go camping rather than fiddling with my aftermarket hitch. All these replies have eased any concerns I had about the setup. While the BMW's a torque monster and should tow great, there's not a lot of reliable information out there on specific configurations.
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Old 08-10-2020, 08:47 AM   #10
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I’m pulling my e19 with X5 50i, different engine same 6000/600 towing rating. My X5 has the rear air suspension, I’m not using weight distribution hitch. The Prodigy RF works great.
Excellent. Thanks. Did you have any trouble getting the prodigy configured on the BMW? I've heard some horror stories.
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Old 08-10-2020, 08:49 AM   #11
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That's good to know. I have a 2017 X5 35i and was planning to use the draw-tite hitch and a curt wireless brake controller. I would use a cab mounted controller but haven't been able to figure out how to route the wiring from the back of the vehicle to the front. Not sure yet which WDH I will use. Don't have a trailer yet but am looking at the 21NE.
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Old 08-10-2020, 09:02 AM   #12
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That's good to know. I have a 2017 X5 35i and was planning to use the draw-tite hitch and a curt wireless brake controller. I would use a cab mounted controller but haven't been able to figure out how to route the wiring from the back of the vehicle to the front. Not sure yet which WDH I will use. Don't have a trailer yet but am looking at the 21NE.
I went for the prodigy RF for the same reason (plus the fact that we've put almost 150K on the vehicle and may be getting rid of it soon). Apparently BMW used to offer an OEM controller (since discontinued) that was supposedly a rebadged prodigy P2, so I'm sure the wired controllers can be made to work.

For hitches, we ended up going with the Draw Tite because Curt's have been on backorder for weeks. Both hitches offer the same specs and support weight distribution. The one hitch to avoid if using WDH is the BMW hitch which apparently does not support Weight distribution, while both the Curt and the Draw tite expressly do support it.
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Old 08-10-2020, 12:20 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by cityofdestiny View Post
Excellent. Thanks. Did you have any trouble getting the prodigy configured on the BMW? I've heard some horror stories.
You’re right, sorry I forgot to mention it, before I got the Prodigy I read that you can’t pair the remote with the controller in a BMW, in my case I had no problem, (did it on my now sold 2011 X3, before moving it to the X5). If you do have this issue you’ll have to find someone with more “traditional” car or truck with a seven pin trailer connector and do the pairing on that setup. Once you paired successfully you can move the controller between towing vehicles without a problem.
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Old 08-10-2020, 12:49 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by cityofdestiny View Post
For hitches, we ended up going with the Draw Tite because Curt's have been on backorder for weeks. Both hitches offer the same specs and support weight distribution. The one hitch to avoid if using WDH is the BMW hitch which apparently does not support Weight distribution, while both the Curt and the Draw tite expressly do support it.

You may have seen on the BMW forums and elsewhere that some say regardless of what hitch you use, BMW says you CANNOT use WDH on the X5. But many believe that it's not the vehicle but the BMW OEM hitch that prohibits WDH. That understanding makes the most sense to me.


Does anyone know if Escape offers a WDH other than the Fastway e2 as an option? An outfit in London, Ontario (Can-Am Towing) configures lots of X5s for use with Airstream trailers. They like the Eaz-Lift Elite WDH and use that one for their installs.
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Old 08-10-2020, 01:34 PM   #15
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You may have seen on the BMW forums and elsewhere that some say regardless of what hitch you use, BMW says you CANNOT use WDH on the X5. But many believe that it's not the vehicle but the BMW OEM hitch that prohibits WDH. That understanding makes the most sense to me.


Does anyone know if Escape offers a WDH other than the Fastway e2 as an option? An outfit in London, Ontario (Can-Am Towing) configures lots of X5s for use with Airstream trailers. They like the Eaz-Lift Elite WDH and use that one for their installs.
Your understanding is basically the same is mine. Looking through BMW forums like Bimmerpost and Xoutpost, as well as a thorough review of the manual led me to conclude that the restriction against WD hitches is related to the OEM hitch only. The vehicle manual itself is silent concerning weight distribution. Both the Curt and Draw Tite hitches made for the X5 explicitly say they support it.

I'd read about some of the Can-Am reinforcements (many of which were for the purposes of towing larger Airstreams than I'd want to tackle with an X5). It sounded like they had lots of expertise, but both of their US and Canadian locations are extremely inconvenient for me.

Based on the fact that that the 21C is well within the vehicle's rated capabilities, I concluded that going with an aftermarket hitch, weight distribution, and no extra reinforcement was probably OK.

We'll see how it works out. The trailer arrives this week...
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Old 08-10-2020, 01:37 PM   #16
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You’re right, sorry I forgot to mention it, before I got the Prodigy I read that you can’t pair the remote with the controller in a BMW, in my case I had no problem, (did it on my now sold 2011 X3, before moving it to the X5). If you do have this issue you’ll have to find someone with more “traditional” car or truck with a seven pin trailer connector and do the pairing on that setup. Once you paired successfully you can move the controller between towing vehicles without a problem.
Thanks for the reply.

I'd seen some issues with trailer lights working properly and some recommendations to use an aftermarket adapter intended for German vehicles (something like this https://www.etrailer.com/question-223924.html).

Are you running with something like that?
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Old 08-10-2020, 02:36 PM   #17
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Land Rover LR4 has similar wording regarding the use of WDH with the air suspension. I read everything I could find on it and came to the conclusion that, while many people are happily running a WDH with either the LR4 OEM hitch or 3rd party options, the LR4 has a computerized suspension system that was developed and tested to be used without a WDH. Since it was developed and tested to tow up to 7700 lbs, it would seem to be best to stay within the manufacturers recommendations, rather than adding the WDH in an attempt to improve the ride, but possibly instead confusing or counteracting the suspension's programming. In the end I decided to give it a try with the OEM setup and if all seems fine, no reason to mess with it. So far (4 trips) I've had no complaints. Different vehicles of course but I think it is a relevant data point because we are talking about sophisticated modern air controlled suspensions with programming, while WDH were developed around simpler suspensions.

Regarding the trailer lights, the LR4 does have an issue with detecting the LED tail lights. If it does not detect them, then it does not know a trailer is there for the purposes of engaging the trailer sway control feature, and possibly some of the rear camera features. It will still control the trailer lights and brakes, however. To fix this, I ordered a pair of high wattage load resistors and put them in parallel with the tail lights. This was easily done at the junction box under the front of the trailer with the resistors mounted to the frame. This might apply to the X5 as well.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I went with clip on mirrors as well. There are 3rd party replacement mirrors available for the LR4 (and BMW) that extend outwards for towing, but they aren't compatible with the camera system in the OEM mirrors, which is a feature I wanted to preserve. The clip mirrors do vibrate quite a bit making visibility poor but they are acceptable (and relatively cheap).
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Old 08-10-2020, 04:51 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by cityofdestiny View Post
Thanks for the reply.

I'd seen some issues with trailer lights working properly and some recommendations to use an aftermarket adapter intended for German vehicles (something like this https://www.etrailer.com/question-223924.html).

Are you running with something like that?
My e19 lights are working fine without this gizmo as did the lights on my now sold 2014 e15. On the other hand the backup camera (installed by Escape) does not work, this can be fixed installing a DC filter in the camera 12v supply, there is a thread here somewhere, that I just can't find.
I am using the BMW original towing wiring harness, once installed and programed it adds a function to the rear view camera that's makes hitching the trailer easy, it also disables the rear proximity sensors when a trailer is connected. And FWI, I'm getting about 15a of charge from the car.
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Old 08-11-2020, 11:32 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by daniel108 View Post
Land Rover LR4 has similar wording regarding the use of WDH with the air suspension. I read everything I could find on it and came to the conclusion that, while many people are happily running a WDH with either the LR4 OEM hitch or 3rd party options, the LR4 has a computerized suspension system that was developed and tested to be used without a WDH. Since it was developed and tested to tow up to 7700 lbs, it would seem to be best to stay within the manufacturers recommendations, rather than adding the WDH in an attempt to improve the ride, but possibly instead confusing or counteracting the suspension's programming. In the end I decided to give it a try with the OEM setup and if all seems fine, no reason to mess with it. So far (4 trips) I've had no complaints. Different vehicles of course but I think it is a relevant data point because we are talking about sophisticated modern air controlled suspensions with programming, while WDH were developed around simpler suspensions.

Regarding the trailer lights, the LR4 does have an issue with detecting the LED tail lights. If it does not detect them, then it does not know a trailer is there for the purposes of engaging the trailer sway control feature, and possibly some of the rear camera features. It will still control the trailer lights and brakes, however. To fix this, I ordered a pair of high wattage load resistors and put them in parallel with the tail lights. This was easily done at the junction box under the front of the trailer with the resistors mounted to the frame. This might apply to the X5 as well.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I went with clip on mirrors as well. There are 3rd party replacement mirrors available for the LR4 (and BMW) that extend outwards for towing, but they aren't compatible with the camera system in the OEM mirrors, which is a feature I wanted to preserve. The clip mirrors do vibrate quite a bit making visibility poor but they are acceptable (and relatively cheap).
Thanks for the tip on the resistors.

It's been odd--BMW seems to ignore towing and push the "Sport Activity Vehicle" concept even though the vehicle tows beautifully by all accounts. I was told by the dealer that the vehicle and OEM hitch support weight distribution. Clearly the OEM hitch doesn't based on the documentation that comes with it. I'm sure it will all be fine one I get the vehicle dialed in, but this has been a wild ride, especially with Covid-driven unavailability of key components.
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Old 08-11-2020, 11:36 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Effie View Post
My e19 lights are working fine without this gizmo as did the lights on my now sold 2014 e15. On the other hand the backup camera (installed by Escape) does not work, this can be fixed installing a DC filter in the camera 12v supply, there is a thread here somewhere, that I just can't find.
I am using the BMW original towing wiring harness, once installed and programed it adds a function to the rear view camera that's makes hitching the trailer easy, it also disables the rear proximity sensors when a trailer is connected. And FWI, I'm getting about 15a of charge from the car.
Thanks for the tip about the camera--nice to know in advance. I think this might be the forum post you were referencing: https://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f...g-15369-2.html

Glad to hear that the vehicle pushes decent current to the house batteries. With that and the solar, I should be in good shape.
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