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Old 12-26-2014, 08:57 AM   #57
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Well, more than a claim. There is substantial experience that they do quite well. The regular posters here are examples, and didn't I read that Can-Am Airstream has set up hundreds of minivans this way.
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Old 12-26-2014, 12:22 PM   #58
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... You guys are all entitled to your opinions, but the only way to show that the 3500# rating of the minivan manufacturer is incorrect is by having J2807 tests run by a heavier trailer in tow and showing the minivan actually passes those tests. I have not seen anyone do that yet. Until that happens, the claim that minivans can tow more remains just an unsubstantiated claim.
I doubt there's been any formal testing of a minivan's actual tow capability, by a manufacturer, or an independent body. Sure, minivan manufacturers will test tow something up their stated rating but, as there's no incentive at all to see if it's capable of more, they simply won't bother.

We are left, then, to rely on the evidence of people who actually tow with these vehicles and the report above seems to be a fair account. The author's not guessing or claiming, he's just saying it as he found it; slow on the hills but capable all the same, which pretty much accords with my own observations whilst towing with a minivan.

Short of the formal testing I mentioned above, you're stuck with people's personal accounts of their actual towing experience; unscientific for sure, but it's real world experience that can't simply be dismissed as unsubstantiated claims.
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Old 12-26-2014, 01:43 PM   #59
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Until that happens, the claim that minivans can tow more remains just an unsubstantiated claim.
Here we go again.

People towing with minivans (thousands and thousands of miles, across the continent): "It works well, few if any problems to report."

People not towing with minivans: "Unsubstantiated claims, your real world experience means nothing."

Sigh. It's like the Middle Ages, when the first scientists dared to claim that the earth perhaps rotated around the sun, not the other way around.
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Old 12-26-2014, 02:34 PM   #60
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Originally Posted by PaulnGina View Post
Was that towing set-up made by CanAm? Could the hitch not be adjusted to eliminate the nose-down attitude of the trailer? The description you provided of your trip is exactly why I would never recommend towing a larger trailer with a small tow vehicle. I would bet that after not too many trips like that, the minivan will be ready for the scrap heap. I like the way CanAm reinforces the receiver hitches on tow vehicles, but I'm not a fan of their tow vehicle recommendations.

Glad you made it to your destination.
Yes, the entire set-up was made by Can-Am. It also included a weight distribution system. I noticed that it really did spread out the weight when I parked near another Town & Country or Dodge Grand Caravan that was empty with no trailer attached. I noticed that my van sat lower at the front as well as at the back. And yes, the back of the van squatted down. I didn't like the look of that, but Can-Am assured me it was fine. I'm not sure if there's a way to adjust that, but if there was, I'm sure Can-Am would have done that. I'm not close by anymore, but if I happen to be in their area with my van and trailer, I'll see if they can do something about the nose-down stance of the trailer.

They also told me I have a factory transmission cooler. Since they have a few of these vans in their fleet, and have apparently set up over 2000 front-wheel drive minvans over the years (presumably V6 equipped), I felt reassured. In fact, they told me I could tow even a larger trailer. Being new to towing, I'm not sure I would try that just yet.

But what I was happy about was that I could have a versatile and reasonably fuel efficient minivan for a daily driver (which it is used for most of the time) and also be able to tow my trailer with it. Sometimes those parking spaces in urban areas like Vancouver seem to be just big enough for a compact car, and even parking the minivan is a bit tight. I can only imagine what it would be like parking a large pickup. For the same money, I could have bought a 3/4 ton turbo diesel pickup or truck-based V8 SUV. For regular trips through the Rockies, knowing what I know now, and if I could have a smaller car for city driving, I might do that.

As fate would have it, I just inherited my mother's Toyota Corolla, since she had a stroke and can't drive anymore. It's a perfect car for city driving, but now I'm stuck with two vehicles in the city - something I really didn't want. That's why I chose the Town & Country since it could so everything I needed, albeit in a compromise since it was a bit large for city driving and parking, but a bit small and lightweight for towing through the mountains. Had I known I would inherit my mother's Toyota Corolla, I might have picked a different tow vehicle. But at the time, I wanted one vehicle that could do everything.

My plans for the Airstream were (and still are) to spend some time with it in the Okanagan Valley. Of course, I will stay off the extremely steep hills and high mountain roads of the Coquihala. There are other, less steep ways of getting there. And I would also like to go to the US south-west. My online research shows me that there are a few ways of getting there which don't seem to be too steep, and US Interstate highways tend to be well engineered without too many steep hills or sharp turns.

And in the event my van blows up and is ready for the scrap heap, I'll take that opportunity to get a 3/4 ton turbo diesel pickup or a full size V8 SUV. Or a gas V8 Class B motorhome, like a Roadtrek, based on a full size Chevy van. That would make the ultimate tow vehicle, and great for weekend getaways when I don't want to take the Airstream, or go places where a trailer won't fit. Now that I have the Corolla for city driving, I could do that. The down side is I have to register and insure two motor vehicles now, and I had to find parking for the Corolla (not always easy in busy urban areas). And the Airstream is kept in storage at an RV dealer. If I can get 10 years of use out of my Town & Country minivan, and then it's ready for the scrap heap and I only get scrap value for it, that's OK. I'll feel like I got my money's worth out of it.

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Originally Posted by dkottum View Post
Well, more than a claim. There is substantial experience that they do quite well. The regular posters here are examples, and didn't I read that Can-Am Airstream has set up hundreds of minivans this way.
Yes, that's true. I recall reading somewhere that Andy posted they've set up over 2000 front wheel drive minivans over the years. I read about some of Can-Am's past customers (here and in private blogs) who have successfully used their V6 minivans of various makes to tow their Airstream travel trailers. Because it's not commonly done, and I think Can-Am is the only one who has been willing to research this, and push the envelope a bit, they and their customers are often the recipients of criticism and negative comments.

Occasionally when I stopped, people would come up to me and tell me that my tow vehicle is too light weight or I can't tow that trailer with that van, not knowing that it was set up by a company who carefully researches and tests less common, lighter weight tow vehicles. It does get a bit annoying, and that alone is perhaps reason enough to jump on bandwagon and get a 3/4 ton turbo diesel pickup or full size truck based SUV. And, one of those would certainly be more appropriate for towing through the mountains. But the V6 minivan can get the job done too, and be a great daily driver when you're not towing. And if you're not towing through the mountains, even better. The back end of the van may squat down a bit, and I wish there was a way to address that issue. But it seems to look worse than it really is.

Anyways, it can't be that bad, since Can-Am has blazed the trail for setting up uncommon vehicles for towing. With their custom hitch assemblies, and their blessing on vehicle choices, as well as a lengthy track record of using cars and minivans as tow vehicles, I feel OK with using the minivan as a tow vehicle. Just not for high mountain roads with steep hills in the Rocky Mountains. Now that I know how it performs in those circumstances, I will plan my route accordingly to take roads with less steep hills when going through the Rockies. And when travelling through other areas like the Great Plains or Prairies which are flat, that's nice and easy. Or mixed terrain with rolling hills like in northern Ontario, even that's OK.

I like to think about the 1970s and 1980s when people would use their Chevy Caprice sedan or Ford Country Squire station wagon with 150 hp V8 engines and soft suspension with the back end really squatted down and the front end sitting really high. I figure I can't be that badly off with my almost 300 hp and almost 300 pound feet of torque, sophisticated high tech transmission, stability control, traction control, etc, I have in my modern minivan.

Having said that, if someone can afford to have a dedicated tow vehicle, or you can drive a large 3/4 ton turbo diesel pickup or V8 SUV as your daily driver, then do it. Probably easier in the suburbs or rural areas, and you'll be paying more for fuel, even when not towing. Or keep this large vehicle strictly for towing and use something smaller and more fuel-efficient for your daily driver. If not, then a minivan may be a decent compromise, but I would recommend that Can-Am sets it up, since they know what they are doing.

I found a few more pictures that show the "nose-down" of the trailer, or the back end of my van "squatting." Interestingly, it looks less noticeable in some pictures, and more pronounced in others. Not sure why, as the ground seems to be flat and level in all of the pictures.
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Old 12-26-2014, 02:40 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by andreasduess View Post
Here we go again.

People towing with minivans (thousands and thousands of miles, across the continent): "It works well, few if any problems to report."

People not towing with minivans: "Unsubstantiated claims, your real world experience means nothing."

Sigh. It's like the Middle Ages, when the first scientists dared to claim that the earth perhaps rotated around the sun, not the other way around.
Well put. Summarizes what I said nicely. I can't seem to be brief, always giving lots of details, but this really cuts to the chase. The frustrating thing is having to try and justify this online and in person all of the time. Almost makes me feel like getting a big diesel pickup just to avoid all of the comments about towing with a minivan, lol!
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Old 12-26-2014, 03:21 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by andreasduess View Post
Here we go again.

People towing with minivans (thousands and thousands of miles, across the continent): "It works well, few if any problems to report."

People not towing with minivans: "Unsubstantiated claims, your real world experience means nothing."

Sigh. It's like the Middle Ages, when the first scientists dared to claim that the earth perhaps rotated around the sun, not the other way around.
The point I am trying to make is actually pretty simple: There is only one way to measure the tow ratings: J2807 towing standards. You are claiming that minivans/sedans/station wagons are under rated, yet you have no J2807 test to back it up. This makes your claim unsubstantiated in my book.

With all due respect, your subjective personal experience cannot be used as a reference, as what you consider "fine" might be considered "white knuckles" by someone else.

I think we should stop this discussion now, as its clearly going nowhere.
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Old 12-26-2014, 04:44 PM   #63
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I think you mean the discussion is not going where you want it to go.
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Old 12-26-2014, 05:30 PM   #64
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Almost makes me feel like getting a big diesel pickup just to avoid all of the comments about towing with a minivan, lol!
Do it!!!! You'll LOVE it!!
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Old 12-26-2014, 05:51 PM   #65
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JustSomeGuy... first, I want to say that I really do appreciate all of the time and effort you put in to the update. I really do think your trip really did give a good report of what to expect when towing with a minivan. On the flats it'll do well, on hills no so well. Even though the van has extra cooling for the transmission, I would wonder if the entire drivetrain of the van is heavy-duty enough to last as long as you'd like the van to last. If your trailer was in the 20' range, I probably wouldn't be as concerned. Regardless of that, though, I hope it works for you and didn't mean to come off as "bashing" your setup. I need to be more diplomatic, I guess.

Here's what I say about me and Gina..... "I'm frugal, she's cheap!" So, I can relate to your want/need/choice of finding a good vehicle, and you/I don't shy away from used vehicles. If you want some more sage advice from me at this point.... I'm glad you now have a Corolla to drive in town, but I hate it that it came to you that way. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. From experience, I know you can find a good deal on an older 3/4-ton diesel (or gasoline) pickup if you are patient and ready to pounce on a good deal when it presents itself. I paid $6850 for my 1995 F250 PowerStroke 3 years ago. It had only 70,000 miles on it, and it hadn't towed more than a small fishing boat. Now that was a good deal!!! Unless and until something shows itself, enjoy the van, keep your experience in mind, and enjoy your travels. In the meantime, you can pray for the day when you can enjoy the beautiful smell of diesel!!!!

(I would also see if you can adjust your hitch so that the van and the trailer sit level when hitched together.)
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Old 12-26-2014, 06:03 PM   #66
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JustSomeGuy... first, I want to say that I really do appreciate all of the time and effort you put in to the update. I really do think your trip really did give a good report of what to expect when towing with a minivan. On the flats it'll do well, on hills no so well. Even though the van has extra cooling for the transmission, I would wonder if the entire drivetrain of the van is heavy-duty enough to last as long as you'd like the van to last. If your trailer was in the 20' range, I probably wouldn't be as concerned. Regardless of that, though, I hope it works for you and didn't mean to come off as "bashing" your setup. I need to be more diplomatic, I guess.
Agree with this 100%, specially the highlighted part Thanks PaulnGina.
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Old 12-26-2014, 06:53 PM   #67
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Thanks for all of the feedback everyone. No offense taken. I know this is a controversial topic and everyone has an opinion on it. I'm realizing that more and more as time goes on. Although a minivan may not be the optimal tow vehicle, as long as it's set up correctly by people who are in the know (like Can-Am), and you're not planning on towing a large trailer on super steep high mountain roads, it's a great all around vehicle - otherwise a 3/4 ton or larger turbo diesel pickup or truck based SUV would be better. A minivan gives you the interior space, reasonable fuel efficiency for a vehicle of that size, easier to fit into tighter urban city parking spaces and can tow reasonably well in most situations.

As my time with the Airstream goes on, I'll see what my needs are and how the van holds up. I really don't want to buy a dedicated tow vehicle, even if I get a really good deal on an older low mileage diesel truck. Then I'll have to find a place to park three motor vehicles, unless I sell one. For sentimental reasons, I don't want to sell the Toyota Corolla I just inherited from my mother. And if I sell the minivan now, I would certainly lose money. I saved a lot by buying it two years old used, but now it's three years old with more mileage on it. I need to keep it a while to get my money's worth out of it. Or until it blows up from all of that towing, lol!

I know the benefits of diesels. I used to drive 1 ton turbo diesel Ford and Chevy trucks and vans at a previous job. And I've personally owned a Toyota Land Cruiser diesel and a Volkswagen Jetta diesel (both older non-turbo models - they had the torque, but without turbo, not the power for good acceleration). There's nothing I'd like more than another diesel. If I could have found a decent low mileage Jeep Grand Cherokee V6 diesel when I was shopping around almost a year ago, I would have bought that, but they were all high mileage and I hear they become a maintenance money pit at that point. So, I got the low mileage Town & Country minivan, based a lot on the recommendation from Can-Am RV.

Incidentally, I think my Town & Country minivan is a better tow vehicle than my former Chevy Astro minivan would have been, which came with a 5000 pound factory tow rating. Back in the 80s, 90s and even early 2000s, that was the minivan to get if you had to tow and needed a minivan (or a Ford Aerostar, another truck based rear wheel drive minivan which is non-existent today). I loved that van and wanted to keep it forever. But the Town & Country has a lower, wider (read: more stable) stance, traction control, stability control, about 100 more horsepower, more torque, more fuel efficient, and I love all of the modern conveniences such as integrated bluetooth, satellite radio, steering wheel controls, back up camera, etc. Automotive technology has come a long way in a very short period of time.
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Old 12-26-2014, 07:08 PM   #68
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Actually, I was thinking of using something smaller, like the guy in this video:

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Old 12-26-2014, 07:43 PM   #69
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Now THAT was FUNNY!!!!
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Old 12-26-2014, 10:41 PM   #70
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The point I am trying to make is actually pretty simple: There is only one way to measure the tow ratings: J2807 towing standards. You are claiming that minivans/sedans/station wagons are under rated, yet you have no J2807 test to back it up. This makes your claim unsubstantiated in my book.

With all due respect, your subjective personal experience cannot be used as a reference, as what you consider "fine" might be considered "white knuckles" by someone else.

I think we should stop this discussion now, as its clearly going nowhere.

I can assure you that I am a cautious family man who doesn't take any unnecessary risks, especially when my kids are involved. There is no white knuckle driving. There is no risk taking. There's just controlled, stable towing.

This is real world experience, not just mine but many others, that demonstrates quite clearly that modern vans make excellent tow vehicles. Those who disagree have only their opinions and speculations to back them up, not any actual experience.

On this forum alone there are several members demonstrating the capabilities of vans every summer, I know several others who don't post here but travel extensively with their vans and experience no issues. To suggest that we are all sugar coating our towing experience, or just not telling the truth, is really quite patronizing.

The doom and gloom crowd has yet to proof one single problem yet continues to belittle the real world experience of those who choose to tow with vans. Unless you've got your own first hand experience to back your opinions up , your concerns are mere speculations.
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