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Old 02-06-2014, 08:17 PM   #15
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That's great, congratulations.
A backup camera makes hitching up a lot easier.

If you see a 34' and an Ody in the Parks this summer,come and say hi.
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Old 02-06-2014, 08:48 PM   #16
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OK, I finally made up my mind. After much thought, research, many test drives of several different vehicles and "sleeping on it" for several nights (after each test drive) the right choice finally became clear. I realized that after many years of owing and driving vans, I need to stay with a van. A sedan just wouldn't do. An SUV or crossover might have worked, but the best deal seems to be on certain vans. Originally I thought I'd go for the super value priced Canada Value Priced 2014 Grand Caravan.

But then I realized full stow and go (not just the 3rd row stow & go) would make my life infinitely easier, and you need to go to a higher model to get those. I also wanted the stereo with a backup camera, navigation and satellite radio. The power roll down sliding door windows are nice to have too. This leads me to the high end luxury version - the Chrysler Town & Country. But, new ones are too expensive. I found several used 2012 and 2013 models with various amounts of mileage. Finally found a nice, super clean silver 2012 Chrysler Town & Country Touring-L with heated leather seats, transmission cooler, factory remote starter and security system, etc, etc. etc. Not fully loaded, but just about. It's a low mileage van that was driven by a Chrysler executive, not a former daily rental. And it's silver too, so it should match my Airstream nicely! I wanted a light color, and silver was actually my first choice and I got it!

I'm so excited to pick it up! That's scheduled for Tuesday (unless there's a blizzard or nasty weather. Then I get to drive it for a week or so and then I take it to Can Am to get my Can Am special towing equipment installed and tow my 25' Airstream Excella home!



Pics to come soon either in this thread and/or future threads. I can't even show you pics from the online ad as the dealership used stock photos that weren't even the right colors.
Excellent! Good luck with your Airstream adventures!
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Old 02-06-2014, 08:55 PM   #17
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Thanks! I'm really excited to get traveling with my new van and Airstream. Although I may not be in Ontario that much as I plan on moving out west to British Columbia soon. But I may get around and I'm sure we'll meet up.

Once I realized how useful a backup camera would be, especially for hitching up to the trailer since I'll be traveling solo most of the time, I realized it was a must have item. Either that or I need to train my dog to help me with hitching up, lol!
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Old 02-06-2014, 09:35 PM   #18
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Thanks! I'm really excited to get traveling with my new van and Airstream. Although I may not be in Ontario that much as I plan on moving out west to British Columbia soon. But I may get around and I'm sure we'll meet up.

Once I realized how useful a backup camera would be, especially for hitching up to the trailer since I'll be traveling solo most of the time, I realized it was a must have item. Either that or I need to train my dog to help me with hitching up, lol!
The backup camera is a real help. On the Sienna it's slightly off-centre and takes a bit of getting used to, but once you get the hang of it it's quiet easy to hitch on your own. I discovered this year that i could alter the contrast and brightness of the screen on the Sienna's dash, which made the picture on the backup camera so much clearer - I don't know if the T&C is the same but it's worth checking that out.

Good luck if you do get to BC, I hear it's beautiful out there. There's plenty of Airstreaming to be done there, that's for sure.

We may well cross paths in Ontario, though, as we're staying mostly in the Province this year. The kids are at an age where they don't want to go too far from home and their Playstations so we're just going to be on shorter trips in the summer. I'll let you know what we're up to as our plans evolve.
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Old 02-07-2014, 12:15 AM   #19
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Great evaluation and I am sure you made the right choice for you. Isn't it amazing how you consider all the options, and then this little light goes off in your pea brain and you decide, and you just know that you made the right decision.

I only have 2wd in my Toyota Tundra Truck. I bought 2wd because it was 3k cheaper, better fuel economy, no 4wd maintenance and a higher payload. I realize it is just a matter of time before I do get stuck, so I bought a set of Thule chains, about $200 from Amazon. Well designed and easy to put on and take off. Get a set and you will be prepared when you do get stuck.

Good luck with you new Steam and TV. You are in the best hands with Andy.

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Old 02-07-2014, 08:43 AM   #20
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How's that van gonna do in the mountains? Do they play soccer in BC? A joke. Jim
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Old 02-07-2014, 10:05 AM   #21
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Yep. After taking the time to carefully evaluate so many vehicles rather than making an impulsive move, the right choice finally became really clear. Since I had the opportunity to pick almost anything (within reason), I wanted to make sure I picked the best one for my needs. I'm glad I took the time to evaluate so many different vehicles and test drive several of them. I want to thank all of you here for your input and to Andy at Can Am - we spoke by phone and email several times. I increased my budget a couple of times once I realized I might as well get a new or almost new vehicle that I will probably keep for the next 10 years. And I may not be around London for a while once I move out west, so getting the Can Am special hitch would not be as easy. It was worth paying a bit more to get the full stow & go seating rather that just the partial stow & go in the base model Grand Caravan.

I'm really happy that I got a backup camera. I always thought it would be nice to have, but now that I'll be towing a trailer, solo most of the time, I figured the backup camera would make my life a lot easier. I think it's slightly off centre in the T&C too. It looks pretty good as it's set up, but once I get the van home I'll see if I can adjust the contrast. I also need to figure out how to use the navigation - it's set up a bit different than my portable Garmin.

I don't have AWD, but that's OK. I don't think it's even available in the Chrysler minvans. But if I bought another vehicle that did have it, I'd be paying more to buy it, slightly more for fuel consumption and possible higher maintenance and repair costs. I've had 4x4 before, but rarely made true use of it, though coupled with winter tires and full time 4WD, it certainly made winter driving easier. But, my plan is to get away from snow, so that won't be an issue. I just need to be careful where I drive and park at campgrounds. I think a set of tire chains would be a good idea to have on hand just in case I need them.

The new Pentastar V6 is quite powerful and torquey with reasonable fuel consumption considering the engine and vehicle size. Definitely more powerful and more fuel efficient than my Astro which has a bigger engine that uses more fuel with about 100 less horsepower and only a 4 speed automatic. Still would have made a decent tow vehicle, but after driving the 2014 Grand Caravan towing my 25 foot Airstream Excella at Can Am, and with Andy's recommendation (not to mention Can Am has used and continues to use several Grand Caravans and Town & Country vans and Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger cars), I feel quite confident I've got a good tow vehicle as well as a good everyday vehicle for when I'm not towing. It's the most luxurious vehicle I've ever had.

I could have kept increasing my budget but I had to stop somewhere. A brand new Town & Country or Odyssey or Sienna AWD would have been nice, but I think this 2 year old gently used T&C is a very good compromise. Quality and reliability have come a long way in the last 10-15 years. Even the worst car now is close to being as good as the best car was 15 years ago.

As for pulling the Airstream through the Rocky Mountains... I guess I'll just have to wait and find out! It will probably be easier than it would have been with my Astro. And if it's slow going, well.... I won't be the only one. Tractor trailers and large trucks will probably also be going slowly uphill. And I can use the handy dash mounted shifter to manually downshift when going downhill for engine braking power to take the heat and wear off the brakes.

Yeah, it's a soccer mom van. That's OK, I'm used to driving a soccer mom van (Over the years I've had a Ford Windstar, Ford Aerostar XLT Sport aka the Errorstar, Chevy Astro - kind of a manly minivan, drove a Grand Caravan at work, had a Sienna for vacation, etc) . Either that or the infamous white cargo vans (had a Ford Econoline 250 windowless cargo van). And the airport shuttle style 15 passenger full size vans (I've driven them all except Sprinters). I can live with the stigma! Rather than get something that looks cool but isn't practical didn't seem like a wise choice. So, I'm driving a soccer mom van. It's actually quite generic looking, especially in silver, which I really like. It's nice to just go incognito and blend in (when not towing). I don't like to stand out. This silver Town & Country minivan will fit the bill just fine while I spoil myself with all of the nice luxurious features it has. And I still get to keep the utility and practicality of a van that I know I would have missed if I got any other style of vehicle.
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Old 02-07-2014, 01:09 PM   #22
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Yeah, it's a soccer mom van.


I hadn't appreciated how deep the marketing goes.

A friend of mine had some tough things to say about my using a minivan as a tow vehicle, this despite his admission that he'd never towed a thing in his life. When I debated it with him I discovered that it was really an issue for him that I was driving a "Soccer Mom" car; definitely non-manly. His rides are an Audi A4 and an Accura SUV, both black and clearly sufficiently manly for him.

I'm of simple stock and I look at my minivan as a big vehicle, way more power than I'm ever going need (yes, even towing) and room for a ton of stuff inside. It has no gender specification!

Tsk, marketing

PS I know you were only kidding
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Old 02-07-2014, 07:40 PM   #23
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When we started looking at van, I must admit I had a bit of a hard time with it. I wasn't quite ready to see myself driving a minivan.

My wife put it into perspective in the end by simply stating: "You're a dad to three kids, I think you've proven your manliness, don't you?"

We then went out and bought the van. Most useful car we ever owned.
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Old 02-07-2014, 08:30 PM   #24
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I believe your new V6 Penta with probably at least a 6 speed tranny will do a nice job of towing your new Airstream. I suspect you will use the tranny downshifting a lot going down hill. This will really save your brakes. I let my tranny do a lot of the braking on my Tundra when towing and also solo. It is such a wonderful transmission. My last TV was a 93 GM with the 5.7L motor and 4 speed tranny. It had 200 hp as I recall and a 3.43 rear end. It did not have near the towing power that your penta V6 will have. Great choice, especially since your TV will also be your daily driver.

Dan
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Old 02-07-2014, 11:30 PM   #25
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I'm really looking forward to driving my new van by itself and as a tow vehicle, and of course enjoying my Airstream. My Astro would have made a decent tow vehicle, and back in its heyday, it was one of the top choices for towing, especially if you needed the versatility of a minivan. With its truck based roots and high stance, I think it's the most "manly" minivan out there. Having said that, I have no problem driving a soccer mom minvan. My new Chrysler Town & Country will spoil me in the height of luxury, be fairly fuel efficient for a vehicle of this size with this much power & torque and be a very good tow vehicle. Of course, from the factory it's not rated to tow something as big as my 5100 pound (dry) 25 foot Airstream Excella, but thanks to Andy and the crew at CanAm, and the great feedback from many people on this forum, and my own experience towing my new Airstream with CanAm's 2014 Grand Caravan, I'm confident that with the CanAm hitch set up, this will make a great tow vehicle and an easy daily driver. I'm glad I was able to afford to pick up this great van. It was a bit of a stretch and sacrifice, but now I feel I have a comfortable vehicle for all of my needs that I can count on for many years to come.

Much as I like the manly 1 ton dually diesel pickups, I don't fancy driving one daily, especially in tight urban and suburban areas. I can't afford two vehicles either, so since one vehicle must serve all of my needs, the soccer mom minvan wins out. In fact, I hear it will actually be a better tow vehicle than a large pickup with a taller centre of gravity, likely with leaf spring rear suspension, higher fuel consumption, less usable space (for me), etc. I wouldn't turn one down if someone gave me one, but I really just want one vehicle that can do everything I need it to.

Some guys may get stuck on the soccer mom image of a minivan, especially a Grand Caravan or Town & Country. Now, I have to admit, I passed up an otherwise very nice Town & Country that was painted in a special limited edition baby blue/robin's egg blue. I like blue, but not that shade. To me, it looked the the kind of van a middle class or upper middle class suburban mom with kids would drive. That colour was a bit too feminine and was enough to make me not want the van. The only thing worse would have been if it were mauve, or any shade of pink - I'd have to draw the line there. That's OK, there were plenty of others out there. In fact, I kind of see the more upscale Town & Country as more of a senior's or empty nesters vehicle. The Grand Caravan is more a family and soccer mom vehicle. But who cares! I get a fully loaded luxury van with all the space I need and all the features I want, with great towing capacity and that will be a good daily driver when not towing. And being two years old with only 36,000 kilometers (23,000 miles) it's still fairly new and has already taken a depreciation hit that I don't have to.

Ironically, despite all of the minivans I've owned (including the ultra soccer mom Windstar a while back), I actually don't have kids. Never did and never will. Just my dog (who's like a kid, lol). I'm a single guy, early 40s and I just like minvans. I've never been bothered by their soccer mom image. While my friends tried to cram small pieces of furniture into their sporty coupes and sedans sticking out the trunk with the trunk lid tied down, or on the roof or wedged into the back seat or protruding into the front seat area with the drivers seat up against the steering wheel, I was able to bring home filing cabinets and couches in my vans with room to spare. Who's laughing when they get me to help the move large items in my soccer mom van! I just find vans are so handy to have and are still manageable enough to drive and park as an everyday vehicle. As Andy said, once you've had a van, it's hard to go back to anything else.
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Old 02-08-2014, 05:21 AM   #26
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" . . As for pulling the Airstream through the Rocky Mountains... I guess I'll just have to wait and find out! It will probably be easier than it would have been with my Astro. And if it's slow going, well.... I won't be the only one. Tractor trailers and large trucks will probably also be going slowly uphill. And I can use the handy dash mounted shifter to manually downshift when going downhill for engine braking power to take the heat and wear off the brakes.

Puts you waaay ahead of the RV crowd. Burning extra fuel to travel at a high rate of speed is fairly stupid. The herd mentality is fully in evidence on threads that crow about that. The descent matters, not the ascent.


" . . Much as I like the manly 1 ton dually diesel pickups, I don't fancy driving one daily, especially in tight urban and suburban areas. I can't afford two vehicles either, so since one vehicle must serve all of my needs, the soccer mom minvan wins out. In fact, I hear it will actually be a better tow vehicle than a large pickup with a taller centre of gravity, likely with leaf spring rear suspension, higher fuel consumption, less usable space (for me), etc. I wouldn't turn one down if someone gave me one, but I really just want one vehicle that can do everything I need it to.

I use a Dodge diesel. 19-mpg city, and 26-mpg highway. Spec'd it for lowest fuel burn and longest life. Had business use at time of purchase. And still works well for me. But, correct, errands are a chore (truck is big, slow and not at all nimble). The best TV is the one that most closely meets solo duty specifications and can tow the TT. As a fulltimer (one who owns TT, TV and no house) this truck offers the storage and payload capacity that a car wouldn't. The fuel economy makes it a winner. But it's now more than 10-years old and current models offersomewhat lower FE, but far higher purchase costs. The tables have turned as to how cheaply a "big" TV can be dual duty. The performance penalties weigh heavier.

The soccer mommy thing is too shallow for words. A van is a useful, highly useful, configuration.

.
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Old 02-08-2014, 07:21 AM   #27
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It was a joke!, can't you read. A joke. I should have known that certain members here cannot take any statements that they disagree with, but in my post I said it was a joke. Jim
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Old 02-08-2014, 07:32 AM   #28
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Yes, that's true. A lot of people expect their tow vehicle to pull up steep hills without slowing down. The big rig tractor trailers are strong, torquey machines that can pull heavy loads, but they still slow down going up steep hills. So, it can't be such a bad thing. It will use a bit more fuel and take a bit longer, but that's OK. And you're right, going down the steep hill on the other side is what really counts. With the nice dash mounted shifter it's easy to manually downshift the automatic transmission and hold in a gear. Using engine braking should help keep the heat and wear off my brakes going down those big hills in the Rocky Mountains.

I may very well be full timing too. I sold my house, got a travel trailer and tow vehicle. Currently staying at my parents' house but once I hit the road, I've got no house to go home to. I may or may not rush into buying another home. Even if I do, it will probably be few months, so the TV and TT will be home. There may be better tow vehicles out there, but from what I've read on this forum and the advice from Can Am RV, V6 minvans tend to be pretty good tow vehicles, and have the added benefit of being versatile, reasonably fuel efficient daily drivers. Pickups can also carry a lot in the bed, but I don't like hopping up into the bed, or crawling on my hands and knees to get to the back of it. A full size van would also be OK, but in my case, it would be overkill and they consume more fuel and being larger in size, tougher to park in those small parking spaces in many new parking lots. Having said that, I love driving full size pickups and vans with diesel engines. Maybe in the future if my needs change or I can have two vehicles, I may get one to go along with the minvan.
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