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Old 02-07-2014, 09:05 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, 12:09 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, 06:40 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, 07:30 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.

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Old 02-07-2014, 10:30 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, 04:21 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, 06:21 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, 06:32 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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Old 02-08-2014, 06:40 AM   #29
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Hills are why you have a transmission. Select the proper gear and a 6 cyl can pull as well as an 8 when driven by an experienced driver. And the new 6 s are as powerful as the old v8s we grew up with were. There are limitations, but generally the new six cyl will do just fine for towing under most condtions if the driver does not want a rocket ship up the hills. Sometimes slow and easy is a lot safer than fast and furious. Jim
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Old 02-08-2014, 06:45 AM   #30
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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
That's OK, I knew it was a joke, not sure if it came across as me being serious, but I partly did it for the benefit of anyone who does take the soccer mom minvan thing seriously.

And some people do. For the sake of image, I know of some people who will avoid driving a minivan even though it totally meets their needs. Instead they'll drive a sedan or maybe an SUV which somewhat works for them. I say to heck with that - buy and drive what works for you. If you can afford two vehicles, then great. Get a minivan and a sports car. Otherwise, get one vehicle that will get all of your primary needs taken care of.

I know of a lady who had a family of six. This was a while ago, and they had a Dodge Grand Caravan (very sensible) that she drove most of the time and when the whole family had to go out. Her husband drove a Chevy Cavalier sedan which he used as a commuter car and they had as a second vehicle. Well, she worked as a receptionist at a garage. One day my friend came in to get his Mustang GT convertible for a mechanical inspection, as he was going to sell it.... to buy a minivan! Why? Because the Mustang GT convertible did not suit his needs for having space to haul around stuff he routinely does. The Mustang and Caravan were both of about the same value at the time. The lady was absolutely drooling over the Mustang and said how she couldn't wait to get out of a minvan. So... they traded vehicles! Yep. So when her family of 6 had to go out, they had to take two vehicles - the Mustang and the Cavalier. And my friend, who was single, had a nice roomy soccer mom minvan where he could easily haul around all of the things he needed to in comfort.
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Old 02-08-2014, 06:50 AM   #31
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Hills are why you have a transmission. Select the proper gear and a 6 cyl can pull as well as an 8 when driven by an experienced driver. And the new 6 s are as powerful as the old v8s we grew up with were. There are limitations, but generally the new six cyl will do just fine for towing under most condtions if the driver does not want a rocket ship up the hills. Sometimes slow and easy is a lot safer than fast and furious. Jim
Absolutely right on the money. Some of it I can relate to personally, some of it I know in theory and will soon experience in real life.
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Old 02-11-2014, 04:59 PM   #32
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I picked up my 2012 Chrysler Town & Country Touring-L today. I love it!

The Town & Country is the top of the line minvan from Chrysler, although there are still different levels of trim. Looking through the owner's manual I see there are still a few things I don't have, but it has almost everything, including a factory transmission cooler, backup camera, navigation, remote starter, full stow & go seating, full leather, touring suspension, etc, etc, etc. I'm totally spoiled with luxury features - it's the nicest vehicle I've ever had. I usually get base models but this time I splurged. It will make a great tow vehicle and great traveling vehicle - both when towing and when solo.

Weather permitting, I go to Can Am next Wednesday to get the hitch and other equipment installed and of course pick up my 1990 Airstream Excella. I just remembered I have a picture of the Airstream from the day I went to look at it. You'll see it hitched up to a dark grey 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan that belongs to Can Am. I think it will look even better hitched up to my silver Town & Country. Also pictured are some pics from today when I got home with my new van, parked next to my 2005 Chevy Astro, which I was originally going to use as my tow vehicle. It's still a good van, but the Town & Country is quite an upgrade!
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Old 02-11-2014, 05:03 PM   #33
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I picked up my 2012 Chrysler Town & Country Touring-L today. I love it!

The Town & Country is the top of the line minvan from Chrysler, although there are still different levels of trim. Looking through the owner's manual I see there are still a few things I don't have, but it has almost everything, including a factory transmission cooler, backup camera, navigation, remote starter, full stow & go seating, full leather, touring suspension, etc, etc, etc. I'm totally spoiled with luxury features - it's the nicest vehicle I've ever had. I usually get base models but this time I splurged. It will make a great tow vehicle and great traveling vehicle - both when towing and when solo.

Weather permitting, I go to Can Am next Wednesday to get the hitch and other equipment installed and of course pick up my 1990 Airstream Excella. I just remembered I have a picture of the Airstream from the day I went to look at it. You'll see it hitched up to a dark grey 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan that belongs to Can Am. I think it will look even better hitched up to my silver Town & Country. Also pictured are some pics from today when I got home with my new van, parked next to my 2005 Chevy Astro, which I was originally going to use as my tow vehicle. It's still a good van, but the Town & Country is quite an upgrade!
Excellent!
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Old 02-12-2014, 09:10 PM   #34
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Congrats on your new TV. It looks great! Great for towing your new Stream and traveling solo (no Stream).

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Old 02-18-2014, 11:02 AM   #35
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Congrats on the move to the Mini Van JSG. We have had one in our driveway for the last 14 years. Don't know how we would get buy without one. That new Chrysler V6 sounds like a winner.
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Old 02-18-2014, 12:13 PM   #36
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Thanks. I've been really enjoying driving the new minivan over the last week since I got it. Very nice, modern and comfortable. I'm still discovering more nice luxury touches and features every time I drive it. And it's more fuel efficient than my last van. It's definitely a great vehicle to drive solo, without towing. I'm sure it will make a great tow vehicle too, from what I've heard. I'm supposed to go to Can Am tomorrow to get the hitch put on and bring the Airstream home. Just waiting on confirmation if the appointment is still on, as there were some delays in getting a few parts. If not tomorrow, then weather permitting, I'm sure it will be before the end of the week.

As others have mentioned, once you have had a van, it's hard to go back to a sedan again. I've had several vans over the years. For some of that time, I also had a small sedan too, but had a van as well. It's nice to have just one vehicle and make things simpler. The van can do everything I need it to, except be as fuel efficient as a small sedan. But, I can't have everything. It's a small tradeoff for the versatility of having a practical van.
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Old 02-18-2014, 12:37 PM   #37
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Happiness is a well hitched minivan....

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Old 02-18-2014, 05:23 PM   #38
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Yes, looks great! If all goes well, and it's not dark outside yet, I will be able to show you a picture of my minivan pulling my Airstream like that too!
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Old 02-20-2014, 07:23 PM   #39
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OK, here we go, pics of my nearly-new minivan and my nearly-vintage Airstream. 2012 Chrysler Town & Country Touring-L towing my 1990 Airstream Excella 25. Both are now all mine and at home in my driveway!

The van sure drives different with the Airstream hitched up, but felt very secure, even as the big rig semi-trucks passed me, or I passed others (no crazy driving, I took it easy driving at or just under the speed limit for the most part). Towards the end of the almost 3 hour drive home, I was starting to feel more comfortable driving. But I still need lots of practice backing up and hitching up/unhitching. I got the "Can-AM Special Hitch" as the Hensely, which I really wanted, was not available. I think it tows quite well with the equipment its got, and the Airstreams are known for being the best towing travel trailers anyways. So far so good!

I want to thank everyone at Can-Am RV in London for their help in getting me set up and on the road, and for Don McKelvey from this forum and local WBCCI chapter President for coming over to meet me in person yesterday. Even though I've spent limited time in my Airstream, it really feels comfortable and like home. Can't wait to go camping in it, or I might even be full timing in it (or possibly being a part time full timer, as a snowbird if I can set up my work situation). Anyways, here are the pics of my new (to me) van and Airstream!
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Old 02-23-2014, 06:47 PM   #40
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OK, here we go, pics of my nearly-new minivan and my nearly-vintage Airstream. 2012 Chrysler Town & Country Touring-L towing my 1990 Airstream Excella 25. Both are now all mine and at home in my driveway!

The van sure drives different with the Airstream hitched up, but felt very secure, even as the big rig semi-trucks passed me, or I passed others (no crazy driving, I took it easy driving at or just under the speed limit for the most part). Towards the end of the almost 3 hour drive home, I was starting to feel more comfortable driving. But I still need lots of practice backing up and hitching up/unhitching. I got the "Can-AM Special Hitch" as the Hensely, which I really wanted, was not available. I think it tows quite well with the equipment its got, and the Airstreams are known for being the best towing travel trailers anyways. So far so good!

I want to thank everyone at Can-Am RV in London for their help in getting me set up and on the road, and for Don McKelvey from this forum and local WBCCI chapter President for coming over to meet me in person yesterday. Even though I've spent limited time in my Airstream, it really feels comfortable and like home. Can't wait to go camping in it, or I might even be full timing in it (or possibly being a part time full timer, as a snowbird if I can set up my work situation). Anyways, here are the pics of my new (to me) van and Airstream!
Lovely to see. Thanks JSG.
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