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Old 02-23-2014, 09:00 AM   #435
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Have you driven it in any snow, yet? How's it do?

(I was thinking 'minivan' for our next tv; it'll be the wife's daily driver, though, and she's now saying "I want AWD". ).
With the 2012 Chrysler Town & Country, I've only driven in light snow. There was a bit on the ground from the last snowfall. It did pretty well. The traction control kicks in and keeps things under control. My first time with the trailer, on the test drive with someone from Can-Am RV in the passenger seat, I pulled away from a stop on a totally ice covered, lumpy parking lot and had a bit of trouble getting going with normal pressure on the gas pedal. But feathering it lightly got me going. I've got Goodyear Assurance CS TripleTred tires now. They're SUV rated tires (could not find any XL rated tires in my size). They're supposedly all season tires that better than average in light snow, with a snowflake symbol (but the not the mountain and snowflake symbol that would be for a true winter tire). The original tires were cheapie OEM Kumho KH16 with a bit of wear on the edges, but still decent tread otherwise. Even they were OK in snow with the traction control, but the Goodyear Assurance CS TripleTred seem even better. Note that I got the "CS" version. The non-CS version is for coupes and sedans, the CS version is the SUV rated version.

I should also note that I used to drive a Dodge Grand Caravan (same, current generation, also with traction control) and with OEM Kumho all-season (I call them 3 season) tires. And this was in the snow belt. As long as you drive sensibly, don't speed, floor it, take corners fast, etc, you'll be fine. But if you live in, or often drive to areas with more significant snow, I'd definitely recommend a dedicated winter tire for the winter months. Makes a huge difference. If you'll be in urban/suburban type areas, usually a "snow" tire is better, with wider gaps between the tread to bite into snow.

If you drive more in rural areas with icy roads, then an "ice" tire would be better. I once made the mistake of getting Michelin X-Ice (first generation) and found they were no better in snow than an all-season tire. But they were better than average on ice. Even better if you get a studdable winter tire and put studs in in if you think you'll need ice traction. Though studs will wear down and actually give less traction on road surfaces without ice. It's like metal sliding on asphalt.

Having said that, my best vehicle for winter driving was with full time 4-wheel drive, manual transmission and awesome Nokian Hakkapellita winter tires. But, you can't always have everything. Life is full of compromises. For 95% of the time, I think a minivan with traction control will be fine for me. If I lived somewhere else and my needs were different, I would choose a different vehicle. Otherwise it would be great if there were a V6 turbo diesel minivan with full time 4wd that gave amazing fuel economy, winter traction, trailer towing capability, lots of interior space yet small enough to fit in the newer compact car parking spaces. I haven't yet found a vehicle like that. But a mainstream minivan should be just fine. I really like the full stow & go seating in my 2012 Chrysler Town & Country. And being a 2 year old domestic, a good amount of depreciation already occurred so the price was good. Quality control and fit & finish is leaps and bounds ahead of what it was 10-15 years ago. I think most, if not all vehicles made in the last few years will have traction control, stability control and ABS - all good helpers for winter driving. Unless you live in an area that gets routinely hammered with snow, then maybe a 4x4 3/4 ton diesel pickup or Suburban would be a better choice.

Having said that, I noticed a few All-Wheel-Drive Toyota Sienna minvans out there, but they tend to a bit pricier because of it being a Toyota AND because it has AWD. But if your budget allows it, and you think you need AWD, it would probably be a great choice, and I hear they work well as tow vehicles too.
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Old 02-23-2014, 01:34 PM   #436
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..But, you can't always have everything. Life is full of compromises. ...
Yeah, I know. Thats the problem.
My vehicular needs are kind of complex. I have 500' driveway that meanders through the woods, and then curves and goes uphill steeply for the last 100' or so. That's the thing that freaks out the wife the most. It can be quite treacherous in the winter. Usually, it isn't a problem for a fwd car to zip up the hill, but sometimes you can slip and slide a bit. I don't know the actual "grade" of the slope, but to give you an idea, my pickup can *not* make it up the hill in 2wd, if it isn't bare/dry pavement. If there's any ice, or a light coating of snow, forget it. Pop it into 4x4, and sure, no problem-o. This is my current tow vehicle, but it is old and ratty, and the wife gets stuck driving it most of the time (mom-duties), because I have to commute 25 miles to work--so I have a fuel efficient sedan for that. So she gets stuck with the low-mpg behemoth, which is a terrible grocery-getter, actually, and she hates it. (oh, and to back the trailer up that same slope to the spot where I like to park it in the summer--gotta use low-range. I overheated the tranny once doing it in 2wd.).
So, she has declared that whatever its replacement is going to be, it shall not be a pick-em-up truck.
But--I need to plow the driveway, and tow the trailer. That leaves very few options, (a vehicle that can do both, be a good mom-mobile, and not be a pickup), and each of them is $$$.
So a few months ago, we decided to go to a 2-vehicle solution. I bought a 15-year old jeep that was in good repair, and had a nice plow on it. Cheap. So, take that job off the list, and you open up the door to a whole lot of not-so-rediculously-expensive options. (particularly if you're not married to tow ratings).
I could get a gently used T&C (just like yours; I like to buy them like that, too--pre-depreciated), plus my $6k jeep, and still be 10-15K ahead of a full-sized suv of similar age. Plus, I have a spare vehicle to use if one of the daily drivers is in the shop.
So anyway...if you add AWD to the list of requirements, its bumps up the price a bit. If it was purely up to me, I'd go mini-van and put snows on in the winter. Plus, the "mini's" blow-away all of the other candidates in terms of cargo space.
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Old 02-24-2014, 09:23 AM   #437
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Those are quite a list of specific requirements. Besides a minivan, I'd say perhaps a FWD or in your case, ideally AWD crossover or SUV might also be a consideration. At one point, I was considering a Chevy Traverse. There are at least two members on this forum towing with a Traverse and seem happy with them, though I forget their usernames and what size Airstreams they have. Some of the SUVs have gone Crossover now, like the Nissan Pathfinder (which I call the Mallfinder, lol) and Ford Explorer (some people call the Ford Exploder). But all joking aside, I think those are both fine vehicles, but they've shed their rugged SUV image now that they've gone Crossover.

Otherwise, I think a minvan would also work well for you, and could probably be bought for an even better price, especially if "pre-depreciated." I think most, if not all of them in the last few years come with traction control. Coupled with some decent winters should make a pretty good compromise. A Sienna AWD will cost a bit more. I briefly considered one but was priced out of my budget.

Five hundred feet is a long driveway! Is all of it paved? If it is, and it's due for a re-paving soon, maybe you could install heating elements on the steepest part to melt the snow there. I have no idea how much that would cost or if its economically feasible. Another option is to hire someone to clear the snow for you, but that might also be outrageously expensive. We pay over $400 per year to get our small 4 car driveway done here in the suburbs. I can't imagine how much a 500 foot meandering steep driveway would cost. Might be worth the $6000 you paid for the used Jeep, plus, like you said, it gives you a back up vehicle when you need one. Could the Jeep tow the Airstream too?

Do you take the Airstream out in the winter too? Maybe to go to Florida for a week or two to escape winter? If so, that also adds the challenge of getting your 23 foot trailer up that driveway. Sounds like a nice place though, lots of privacy I'm sure! Do you have a space at the top or near the top to turn around? Or do you have to back up the trailer part of that way? Hopefully not the whole 500 feet, lol!
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Old 02-24-2014, 09:25 AM   #438
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2006 Chevrolet 6spd LS2 400hp SSR and 2006 Airstream International Bambi 75th Anniversary Prototype built by David Winick:



That's a good looking set up! I'd drive it!

I bet you get a lot of looks with that - either one on their own, the Airstream or the SSR is distinctive enough, but couple the two of them together and it's a real looker!
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Old 02-24-2014, 01:10 PM   #439
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Oh, it gets better. (just didn't want to go too far off topic).

500'--only paved on the last 100' (the hill and parking area up top). Even the super-rich wouldn't ever try to heat that much driveway...ridiculously expensive.

Not much room up top to maneuver. There is room for 2 cars to park perpendicularly to the road, at the end. just enough room to back out, turn around, and be pointed down the road...barely enough space to do that with a full-sized pickup and a plow. (one of the reasons I got the jeep--super-short wheelbase makes it very maneuverable--and it has been a "dream" to plow the driveway this year, due to that...but no, no way you could tow a camper with this; it barely moves itself. I could use it to "park" the camper, but not tow it on the road).
I did pay someone else to do it for a couple of seasons. It really didn't work out. Its not an easy push, and they can't spend too much time, but mostly, there isn't anywhere for them to put the snow. If one of my vehicles isn't the one doing the plowing, it would be in the way of the only place to put the snow.
I keep the trailer near the street in the winter; there is a little cut-out in the woods that is just big enough to tuck the trailer into, parallel with the driveway. Never gone south with it. (one of the problems with that idea: what if we get a blizzard while I'm gone? who is going to deal with it? It actually happened one year, when I was paying the plow-guys--wife and I took a cruise to the Caribbean, and there was a blizzard. A tree came down across the driveway--plow guys couldn't get in. My dad and brother came by to check on the place, and found this--they managed to get the tree cut up, but couldn't' do much with the rest of the snow that the plow guys couldn't get to--they managed to cut a path that was just wide enough for 1 car to get through. quite the ordeal).
But in the summer, Yes, I back the trailer up that 500' to park it near the house. I call it "the aircraft carrier landing of trailer parking".
300' back straight, 90-degree curve, then another 90 up the steep slope, and another 90 to back it into the parking spot, with a stone wall along the blind-side.
I'll post a link of a video of me plowing it...not a good view of the top/parking area, but the rest of it gives you a pretty good picture of what I'm dealing with.
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Old 02-24-2014, 01:19 PM   #440
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Chuck, your driveway situation might be a good example of the idea of a front mounted hitch on the Jeep to take the A/S up the driveway to it's parking spot.
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Old 02-24-2014, 01:19 PM   #441
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The first 2 pics in my gallery, from when I joined 12 years ago:



What you can't see here is that if you were to back up a couple of feet, you'd fall over a cliff. the parking area/driveway is terraced into the hill, held up by large boulders. about a 4' drop, then down a steep embankment into the pucker-brush.



Here is a panorama of the same area, but you can see the driveway heading down the hill. The camera tends to flatten it out; it looks a lot steeper, in reality. The house is just to the right of the car, outside of the picture. I'm standing up in the back yard (raises up about 4' or so)looking down on the parking area.

Here's a video of me plowing it in the winter: http://home.comcast.net/~cac4/video/theplow.wmv
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Old 02-25-2014, 08:31 AM   #442
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Wow, that's quite a driveway! I'm sure it's nice and private and looks great, but the tradeoff is the winter maintenance and maneuvering the trailer. Thanks for sharing the video too. Yeah I can see how you're probably better off clearing the snow yourself, after seeing the video of you clearing the snow with the Ram pickup.
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Old 02-25-2014, 05:40 PM   #443
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That's a good looking set up! I'd drive it!

I bet you get a lot of looks with that - either one on their own, the Airstream or the SSR is distinctive enough, but couple the two of them together and it's a real looker!
Thanks! It's been a lot of work, but worth it! Best tow vehicle I've ever had...a blast to drive through the mountains with the top down.

Jeff
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Old 02-25-2014, 08:19 PM   #444
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If there was ever a pickup truck that was actually designed to tow, it would look like that.
maybe move the rear axle aft a little bit more. Oh, and add a back seat.
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Old 02-25-2014, 08:42 PM   #445
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You have all seen it a hundred times before but I just couldn't help myself! Forgive me
Alan,

Thank you for posting that picture. In reading through this thread and thinking about smaller tow vehicles, a bicycle kept popping into my mind.

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Old 02-25-2014, 10:38 PM   #446
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My tow vehicle has a 5000 lb. rating from the factory and a little 430 to pull the Airstream along. We don't talk about gas mileage, but it's probably better than some of the monster truck TVs.
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Old 02-25-2014, 11:14 PM   #447
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My tow vehicle has a 5000 lb. rating from the factory and a little 430 to pull the Airstream along. We don't talk about gas mileage, but it's probably better than some of the monster truck TVs.
Sweet! Suicide Doors and all!

Did someone say ROADTRIP!?

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Old 02-26-2014, 01:12 AM   #448
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Hell Yeah!!! Mr. Douglas painted his car!!!
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