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Old 03-21-2013, 05:09 PM   #1
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Default Towing with minivan

Hi, I bought a x 160 fun finder which I LOVE so I could use my 2002 town and Country minivan with a towing capacity of 3800 lbs. It tows well (though it may have toasted our electrical harness..no proof but....another story). Anyway, we are trying to replace our Old Town And Country with another newer used van and we are being told that the newer mini vans can't tow as much as the older ones. Anyone know if that is really true? Very disappointing since we purchased the 16 ft. fun finder (2400 lbs) so we could tow it with a mini van. We wanted to not have to have a separate tow vehicle since we like minivans for everyday use. I will not tow with anything less than the 3800 lb capacity for all the reasons that you all stated on this site...we need a weight buffer. Any ideas? I may have to rethink this whole thing. Thanks, Deneen
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Old 03-21-2013, 05:29 PM   #2
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just check towing capacities know the new Toyotas have about 3500 towing capacity
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Old 03-22-2013, 08:06 AM   #3
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Trailer life magazine publishes a towing guide every year. Just do an online search for the guide for the model year you're interested in.
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Old 03-22-2013, 09:24 AM   #4
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One of the problems with the newer vehicles is the new mandates from the Feds for higher miles per gallon of fuel. Engine technology is just about tapped out as far as wringing more miles per gallon out of fuel. Hybrids are an answer for some models, but, most of the manufacturers are looking at transmissions for the answer to a bit more mpg. More speeds (6 to 8 now vs 3 to 4 a few years ago and CVT for others) and computer control of the shift points. The problem with more speeds is that it equates, by necessity, more shifting and shifting generates heat and heat destroys transmissions. In order to avoid excessive wear and tear, larger transmission coolers are installed... All of the above means that in order to keep transmissions cool, tow ratings on a lot of vehicles, are being reduced to prevent premature failure of the transmission.

Transmissions can be made more robust, but, at the sacrifice of size, weight and cost. My diesel truck has the high output Cumins Turbo and there is only one transmission rated to handle the heavier output. It is designed and built for towing. My new Journey, has the new 6 speed transmission; it is built for hauling people economically and its towing capacity has been reduced from 3500 lbs to 2500 lbs because it was designed more as a "people mover" and less as a "material mover". You will find soon, more and more "purpose" built vehicles and fewer "all around" vehicles. Those designed for towing will be able to that in spades, but, you will pay for it in mileage and cost. Those vehicles that are designed for hauling people will be able to do that in more luxury and mpg, but, don't look for them to be able to tow as much; a trade-off.

There are min-vans out there that can still tow a reasonable amount, but, they are getting fewer and fewer and I suspect their reliability is going to suffer a bit and I don't look for that to change much in the next few years. Minivans are people movers so their first design characteristics will be for comfort and mpg, neither of which is amenable to "hauling" unless specifically designed for it. My truck is hauling machine and quite luxurious (a LongHorn), but, it is far from an economical daily driver.

Another consideration when looking for a minivan with a tow rating of 3500 lbs, is what that 3500 lbs consists of. Many will still say 3500 lbs, but, have changed what that 3500 lbs can consist of in the manner of frontal area. It may have been previously rated at 3500 lbs for at trailer with an 8x8 frontal area (an RV type trailer). Now, it may still be rated at 3500 lbs, but, the frontal area has been changed to 4x8 or even 2x8 (a utility trailer). Frontal area is just as important (more important, actually) than weight once you get over about 30 mph. So, if you do find a new minivan that is rated at 3500 lbs. you'll need to find out what that 3500 lbs consists of; you may find that your FunFinder meets the weight limits, but, exceeds the frontal area limits and being "over" on the frontal area is worse than being a few pounds over on weight...

When investigating the towing capacity of a primarily designed people mover vehicle, you need, nowadays, to also pay close attention to the "fine" print of what the other "limits" are. You may find tighter restrictions on frontal area and tighter restrictions on tongue weight as more of the minivans try to "lighten up" (again for mpg reasons) by changing the frame designs to lighter weight materials and composites.

There are some out there...just be aware of the limitations of the "new age" of high mileage mandates and their results on the utility of vehicles. That is reasoning behind what you were told, and, yes it is true.



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Old 03-23-2013, 10:35 PM   #5
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Thanks to all. Before I first posted I called 9 local car dealers asking for a newer van that had the factory direct towing package making it capable of the 3500 or 3800 lb capacity. None of them could find one on their lot or through their contacts. One dealer called their experts and was told the info I first shared on this post that they "don't make them anymore" comment. Thanks for all posts...very helpful. Duh, I looked up new van towing capacities and they still can tow the 3500 or now 3600 but probably because they aren't like they used to be, I got the message, "they aren't available" anymore. Very helpful info posted. Still, with calling NINE local dealers and not ONE could find one?? I wonder if they can "search" on "factory installed towing package" so they can easily find it. Wouldn't more people order new vans with this package if it only cost $600 more and gave you a couple thousand pounds of towing capacity? Obviously, people aren't towing trailers with them but what about small boats and pop ups? I still am searching....thanks.
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Old 03-24-2013, 06:48 AM   #6
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The 2013 Honda Odyssey has 3500 lb towing
The 2013 Town and Country has 3600 lb towing
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Old 03-24-2013, 11:33 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deneen
Obviously, people aren't towing trailers with them but what about small boats and pop ups? I still am searching....thanks.
This is where it starts to get tricky... As fourfourto posted the Chrysler is rated to 3600 lbs, when properly equipped and following the recommended specifications...

Here are the specifications as listed in the 2013 Owners manual:

3.6L/Automatic 8,750 lbs (3 969 kg) 40 sq ft (3.72 sq m) Up to 2 persons &
Luggage 3,600 lbs
(1 633 kg)*
8,750 lbs (3 969 kg) 40 sq ft (3.72 sq m) 3 to 5 persons &
Luggage 3,350 lbs
(1 519 kg)*
8,750 lbs (3 969 kg) 40 sq ft (3.72 sq m) 6 to 7 persons &
Luggage 3,000 lbs
(1 360 kg)*
360 lbs (163 kg)
335 lbs (152 kg)
300 lbs (136 kg)

You can see (sorry about the formatting; I emphasized to clarify), with only two people, the Town and Country is rated to 3600 lbs...but, the frontal area is limited to 40 sq feet. That is a utility trailer (less than 5' tall and 8' wide). The Chrysler Town and Country is, in fact, rated to 3600 lbs with only two people, an empty van and the trailer doesn't have a frontal area greater than 40 sq. feet. As you add people (or their equivalent weight in gear), then the 3600 lbs rapidly drops to 3000 lbs, however, the frontal area is never to exceed 40 sq. feet. That means that, yes, it can tow a pop-up, it can tow a utility trailer, it can tow a boat (small), but, it cannot tow a full size travel trailer. Tongue weight is also an issue as the tongue weights listed are not adequate to stabilize a travel trailer. 360 lbs of tongue weight is not adequate for a 3000 lbs trailer and off that 360 lbs of tongue weight, you'll need to subtract the weight of the hitch.

I'm going to guess, as I posted before, that you are not going to be able to find a new minivan that is rated for a full size travel trailer and that is why the people "in the know" are telling you that they aren't made any longer. As I mentioned, you have to very careful when doing your searches and find a "Gee whiz, here's one that is rated for 3600 lbs!". That 3600 lbs. comes with a lot of restrictions...while it may handle the weight, it won't be able to handle the wind resistance of frontal area and will go through transmissions rather quickly along with being unstable in cross winds...



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Old 03-26-2013, 02:12 PM   #8
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Default Sienna

Might I suggest a Sienna. With the 3500lb tow rating, they still have a cargo capacity of 600-900lbs to reach the GCWR.

http://www.siennachat.com/forum/95-towing-reference/
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Old 03-27-2013, 03:49 PM   #9
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Again, you'll have to read the "fine print". I don't have the tow listing for each of the years you may be considering, but, the Toyota Sienna also has limitations (I was just using the Chrysler for an example; I wasn't singling them out as the only one with limits...). Depending on the year, you may find that the tongue weight is inadequate when used with a WD hitch (the Sienna is a Unibody; they don't have a frame for the hitch to attach to), or you may find that towing is limited to 45 mph or less (actually saw that in one of the posts; don't remember the year)... Toyota is less than forthcoming with their restrictions based on some of the posts I read. One of the forums that I read on them stated that the factory wouldn't even tell them what the restrictions were or even what the "tow package" consisted of. Most of those writing in the Sienna forum (several of the tow threads) were towing pupups and not full size trailers, but, that is annecdotal to any suppositions as to the true nature of the Sienna's tow capacity. Most of the posters were (and still are) confused as to what, exactly, Toyota's tow package was, what it meant as to "restrictions" and where the factory stood in relation to what the Sienna can really tow. In lieu of something in the factory manual, I would want something in writing stating that the factory, in fact, authorizes a full frontal area tow rating of 3500 lbs. at normal highway speeds up to the trailer's tire rating of 65 mph.

For all the reasons listed in another post here; you will probably not find a "modern" minivan that has a flat, unrestricted tow rating of 3500 lbs. for a full size travel trailer with an 8-10'H x 7.5'W (or 8') frontal area. That isn't to say that you couldn't go out and buy one (the Chrysler or the Toyota or a Honda or any other make) with a published tow rating of 3500 lbs and go right ahead and tow with it, but, when push comes to shove, when the transmission or the crankshaft gives up the ghost, don't look for the warranty to cover it. As a matter of fact, you might want to look in your factory manual for your current minivan; you might find that you've actually been exceeding the limits of your current minivan There are a lot of people that see that "3500 lbs" and take it as gospel without even looking for fine print, I know when I first started out, I did. Wasn't until several years later I found out that I had been towing with a vehicle that wasn't rated for my trailer...

Keep looking, there may be one out there, but, bear in mind that the "published" tow ratings you find most places are "blanket" statements (after all, Chrysler says on their website that the Town & Country has a 3500 lb rated tow capacity until you dig much deeper) that don't include all the "but", "as long as" or "when properly outfitted" statements and are almost as useful and accurate as the dry weight listing of the trailer you bought.



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Old 04-01-2013, 10:23 AM   #10
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Default I can only go by experience

I've been pulling 3500-4000lb trailers with my 2005 sienna for the last 7 years. For the first 5 years it was a 2005 F-18 Bantam flyer that weighed in at 3600lbs (400lb tongue weight) and for the last two years it was our 189 FDS that weighed in at 4100lbs loaded (500+ tongue). The Sienna's unibody frame is rated for 525lb tongue weight with a WDH system according to the manual in my glovebox.

I used a curt hitch with a 600lb Reese trunion WDH and have airbags in the rear springs. We have travelled throughout western Canada (every major pass in the rockies and a lot of backroads) and the sienna just works.






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Old 06-14-2013, 01:48 PM   #11
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If you want an educated answer I would talk to Can-Am RV
http://www.canamrv.ca/hitch-hints/

Here is a post from one of Andy's articles on towing and their limitations.
http://rvlifemag.dgtlpub.com/?i=2321

Check out the article under the hitch hints topic.
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