Originally Posted by mstephens
I've always been interested in your setup with the Honda. What engine and trans do you have? Was the receiver special made installation? And can you climb long grades in the mountains?
I'm still hoping to get more miles on my 6 year old Suburban, but if the repair costs climb, we'll be looking to change to something more economical. We're definitely open to the "alternative" world of TVs, like the 300, the Flex and so on.
The Honda works for us and our use - but might not be for everybody.
Our trailer, despite it's size, is relatively light; 6250lbs empty, about 7000lbs ready for camping. Tongue weight on the old triple axles is also low, just over 600lbs when empty, about 850lbs fully loaded. With good WD, the car ends up carrying around 600lbs - this with an official payload of 1400lbs.
The Honda has a V6, developing 260hp. The torque is adequate, with 240 pound-feet. I've got an OBD II reader installed that measures hp output at the wheel, I've yet to exceed 141hp - this on a relatively steep incline from a standing start. Towing on the level, with my setup, requires about 40-50hp, standard acceleration from a stop light about 65hp. In other words, we don't need a huge engine to get our trailer moving.
We had an oil cooler and a custom hitch installed by CanAm, as well as the standard brake controller.
How we camp
We're a young family of five, with three kids under the age of four - a three year old and 17 months old twins. Long journeys are currently out of the question - the best we can hope for in a day is about three hours of travel time, then it's meltdown time.
As a result, we tend to camp in Provincial Parks close to Toronto - from Algonquin to Long Point. We're incredibly spoiled and lucky that we have so much natural beauty within easy driving distance.
We come from tent and canoe camping, and perhaps because of that we tend to camp lightly. We look at the Airstream as more luxurious camping
, not as a mobile home
. We don't carry generators, firewood (illegal on the Provincial Parks to bring your own), or huge propane BBQs.
The PP campsites don't have full hook-ups, often we make do with no hook-ups at all although it's nice to have power during the height of summer. Next year, I am planning to make the Airstream even more independent by installing more solar panels (currently we've got 100W) and a composting toilet.
Ontario, or rather the part of Ontario we're camping in, is mostly flat or rolling hills. I have spoken to WBCCI members who have taken their Sienna across the continent, including the Rockies, although that did mean making some compromises in terms of speed that I personally might not be prepared to make.
Once the kids are old enough to not need the van anymore, we will probably move to a large Diesel SUV, either the Jeep Grand Cherokee or the Mercedes GL350 Bluetec. Another contender would be the Dodge Durango that shares the Mercedes platform, although that would mean the loss of the diesel.
The main reason to move to either one of these would be the increase in torque, which would make it possible for us to take the family on a cross Canada trip without having to worry about towing in the mountains.