Redefining the Classics

July 1, 2004
Filed under Trailer Reviews

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If there exists a classic pairing in the world of RVs, this is it. Fifty years ago the
Suburban was in a class by itself, probably didn’t start right up in sub-zero weather and
you would consider yourself fortunate to have power-assisted steering, never mind the
four-wheel steering available now. The Airstream would also look similar, but air
conditioning, an electronic-ignition water heater and a CD player were dreams for Buck
Rogers. Chevrolet’s Suburban 2500 essentially puts an eight-passenger bus on top of a
heavy-duty pickup frame. Standard engine is the 6-liter V-8 and the 8.1-liter is optional;
however, the 8.1-liter is not offered in conjunction with Quadrasteer. Despite its
6,600-pound weight and new engine, we were able to get 12 mpg while towing the trailer on
flat ground at 55 mph, and 15.5 mpg doing the same thing empty; the data panel shows
mileage that includes other driving conditions. The Airstream Safari from a distance looks
much like it did in the past. Only when you get closer do you pick up things such as Alcoa
aluminum wheels and an air conditioner on the roof. The basic construction of aluminum skin
and framing on steel frame rails, surrounded by riveted aluminum panels remains, as does
the sleek shape that improves aerodynamics and gave the Suburban a fuel-economy advantage
over the last basic box we towed. The Safari 28W is said to accommodate six: two in the 75
x 60-inch bedroom queen, two on the 80 x 44-inch forward sofa, and two on the 76 x 42-inch
dinette. Assuming four of these occupants are kids this will work out, but if the kids are
full-size or the guests are adults, you’ll be more comfortable with four. In the
ever-expanding towable market, the Airstream Safari still feels, looks and tows more like
it was meant for such things than most others. It may not have a 42-inch plasma television,
but the view out of its large windows may do just as well, there is good livability for the
real estate it occupies, and the Airstream cachet is second to none. And the Suburban 2500
is still an ideal candidate for pulling it, making this classic combination as good today
as it was half a century ago. Pick up the July 2004 issue of Trailer Life for full test
impressions and details on Redefining the Classics — then subscribe to Trailer Life, so
you can stay informed on the latest tests, previews, tow vehicles, and technical and
RV-lifestyle information. Airstream, (937) 596-6111, airstream.com

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