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Old 03-03-2015, 09:04 PM   #1
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Towing Bambi with Honda Odyssey 2011

Honda will tow 3500 lbs, the weight of the Bambi. Will have hitch installed and transmission cooler. Have a years experience in traveling light. Did a year in a Interstate

Honda dealer says its a go but the down the mountain ride is worse than up keeping brakes cool. Use lower gear which I am used to living near Denver.

Replace transmission and brake fluid more often.

Plan on touring for months at a time, not just weekends.

Any thoughts on if this is going to give me troubles?

Thanks Ty
Lafayette, Colorado
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Old 03-03-2015, 09:19 PM   #2
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Any time you run at max capacity you will shorten the life of the tow vehicle .I.E. more wear.

Also performance will be marginal , ride stressed, mileage much lower.

I would recommend a tow vehicle with at least a 5000# tow rating for a 3500# trailer.

Honda Ridgeline would be good, but at this time its out of production.
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Old 03-03-2015, 10:17 PM   #3
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Several years ago, we saw in Montana a Honda Odyssey which towed a much larger Airstream than the Bambi. We talked to the owners and they said they had no problems whatsoever. They also said that the rig had been set up by Andy Thompson of Can-Am RV in Canada. You may want to contact him.

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Old 03-07-2015, 06:41 AM   #4
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I agree with Glenritas. I would be wary about being at your max and by the time you load all your gear you'll likely be over the max. Personally, I like a bit of cushion and don't like to routinely exceed 80% of max.
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Old 03-07-2015, 07:01 AM   #5
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I have a tendency to look at the laws of physics. I have seen on numerous occasions a very old picture of a guy pulling an Airstream with a bicycle. That's great, but unfortunately the stopping distance would be so great as to be totally worthless. Not to even enter into the "what happens when he hits a slight upgrade or downgrade".

Anything you pull with must also responsibly stop said total weight within a safe distance. Not just for you but for everyone else involved in the scenario. If it can be done with an Odyssey fine. I have one. I think it is one of the finest vehicles ever designed. It was not designed for towing, no unibody vehicle was. That is not to say it won't so I will not guess as to whether it will meet your needs. But seriously ask yourself and all the experts a simple question. On a 2.2% downgrade how far will it take my 2 ton Odyssey to stop a ton and a half of trailer?

There is your answer. The 2.2% downgrade by the way is the Max railroads allow. Most roads you take your car on have maximums of 6-7%. If you used that for your calculations you would likely not pull a trailer at all so there is some risk involved no matter what.
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Old 03-07-2015, 07:50 AM   #6
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I owned two different Odysseys (a 2005 and a 2010), towing a T@B teardrop and an Argosy Minuet 20' (around 3,200 lbs loaded) for a total of probably 20,000 miles. I NEVER had a problem with braking or stability, and that includes towing up and down some rather big mountains both here in the East and out West.

Indeed, properly set-up, the van was a more stable tow vehicle than my current rig. Two emergency situations, requiring a quick lane change, proved to me how well it towed - and I've spent a good amount of time on vehicle test tracks.

An Odyssey is no lightweight, and it has a lot of wheelbase and a small rear overhang, both aiding stability. Sure, some will think that a heavier tow vehicle will stop better - but that only means that you need to slow down that much more mass. Plus, the Odyssey has rather good brakes and on-road-biased tires, both aiding stopping distance compared to some more-truck like/SUV choices.

I wouldn't really make much of a decision based on whether the Odyssey is a unibody or not. Plenty of highly capable tow vehicles - my unibody-built Durango, or a unibody-built Grand Cherokee, or most European SUVs - don't have truck frames. The Odyssey also has a surprisingly high payload rating (around 1,500 lbs for mine, IIRC) that tops many 1/2 ton pickups.

I would reinforce the hitch in the Odyssey, which I had done at CanAm RV in London, Ontario. It's also a hassle to run the 7-pin and brake controller wiring, but is certainly doable. Note that a Ridgeline or Pilot both have a higher rating, and most are prewired for towing, but since they weigh more, they won't really perform better (especially given that a 14 Odyssey has a 6-speed automatic that the others don't.) (Their AWD can help pull the trailer out of a muddy site, but I never got stuck with my van.)

I planned to tow my current trailer with the Odyssey, but I upgraded to my Durango mostly because of its added power, quieter interior, and added gadgets. But if I owned a lighter trailer, or didn't mind dealing with the peer pressure/hassle of everyone telling me "You can't tow that trailer with that van", I would very happily go back to another Odyssey. My wife misses her van too...

Now: 2007 Safari SE 23' "Anne" towed by 2011 Dodge Durango "Herman"
Before: Argosy Minuet and T@B, towed by various Honda Odysseys
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Old 03-07-2015, 09:21 AM   #7
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Backing up what Tom said, I tow a 2011 28' International with a Toyota Sienna, similar to the Odyssey and with a 3,500lb manufacturers' tow rating.

Yes, it's modified with a strengthened hitch, second transmission oil cooler, seven-pin wiring and a well adjusted weight distribution set up, but it's never given us a single problem and we're about to enter our fifth season. It stops and starts effectively, handles well and pulls hills at a reasonable pace, although like any big commercial truck, it will lose speed on those climbs. The payload of the van is good, as Tom mentioned, and the solo gas mileage is not too shabby either. No, it won't really take bikes/canoes/firewood/generators, but if you travel light, as we do, the minivan will prove to be a very capable tow vehicle.

Certainly most of my fellow Airstreamers cry "madness" when they hear about my set up but then again, very few have actually tried the combination.

Have chat with Andy Thompson at Can-Am RV in London, Ontario; he's the man with the facts.
Steve; also known as Mr UK Toad

"You can't tow that with that!"
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Old 03-07-2015, 10:08 AM   #8
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Another day another tow thread.

Ratings aside, if there is a problem it's that the Oddessy is almost too big for the 16 bambi. Unloaded the 5000 lbs front will be tossing the old bambi around back there in the corners.

Some physics:

1) Weight does not STOP a vehicle. This is done by the braking(engine brk too if you like) and tires. If you can prove otherwise I think there is a nobel in for you.

2) Raising the center of G does NOT improve vehicle dynamics. Wally B himself was of the opinion that trucks weren't great tow vehicles(i think he mentioned the stone age suspension). Which is ironic since most AS seem to be now pulled by them.

Jeeps were great though, because you could use them to winch people out of the mud after they told you how great their TV setup was.

3) Mass does put Inertia on your side ...or not on your side when things get out of control.

4) A unibody with a properly attached hitch is stronger than a body on frame vehicle in terms of overall strength and rigidity. Because force is DISTRIBUTED. (exception if the frame is from freightliner perhaps with I beams from an office building). While there are those in here that insist your unibody will come apart, the body on frame is actually infinitely more likely to do so as it is already not one piece. High strength modern robo welded galvanized steel is your friend.
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Old 03-07-2015, 10:17 AM   #9
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You won't always be towing in the mountains, will you? Your travels will take you to less mountainous terrain.
If a Lexus RX330 (seen it done) can do it, A Honda Odyssey with a 3.5L engine will do it.
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Old 03-07-2015, 10:55 AM   #10
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All the advice you've been getting is good. In spite of built in safety margins when an automaker posts capacities, going near the max limits is probably not wise. And if you are going to go light and have any chance, DEFINITELY let Andy Thompson set up your rig! He is the master of light TV's, and has decades of experience going back to his father with these kind of setups.

That being said, you definitely will be wanting to keep the speed on the lower side, especially downhill. You may want to invest in a digital readout brake controller for accuracy so that you can make your trailer braking settings more aggressive on the downhills so that the trailer acts a bit like an anchor. But don't overdo it--think about what happens to a bicycle if you're going downhill and brake too hard on the rear wheels! You'll need to inspect all of your brakes--tow vehicle and trailer--more often, to make sure. And definitely change your transmission fluid often, to give it the best chance of success.

If you keep your cruising speeds modest, you should be OK. And especially if you're going to park your AS for long periods of time and use the Odyssey to cruise from your new temporary home base, you'll reap the benefit of all that space and good mpg in your unattached tow vehicle.

Go see Andy!
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Old 03-08-2015, 04:56 PM   #11
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If after you get all set up you still need more braking power try disc brakes. Overall they are much more efficient than electric drum brakes. I would estimate that the stopping power is increased 45-50%. Besides the Chevy brake pads that Acti-brake uses are super cheap. I sure like mine and the first set of pads lasted 40,000 miles. Andy at Inland RV sells al the parts for disc brake conversion. Also, Airstream is selling a Direct Link OBD II controlled digital brake controller that optimizes the disc brake performance
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Old 03-20-2015, 05:06 PM   #12
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We safely and reliably tow a 34' 1984 International with a Honda Odyssey. We are within all weight and load limits of the vehicle, including payload and axle rating. As has already been mentioned, the Odyssey has a higher carrying capacity than some pickups. The vehicle has been modified with a transmission cooler and a custom hitch, set up by CanAm in London, Ontario.

The rig is wonderfully stable and handles incredibly well. The link in my signature leads to more information if you're interested.
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Old 03-20-2015, 07:50 PM   #13
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Customized hitch

Good Day,

I agree with Andy about the towing handling and capacity of the Honda Odyssey . I own 2 of these for more than 7 years in a row and the last one (2008) tow a 19 feet Safari SE for nearly 3 years without any issue of any kind. Beautiful car/trailer match.
I suggest to talk to Andy of CanAm. He proceeds to my hitch installation, additional transmission radiator, electrical hardness and Hitch/trailer calibration; totally satisfy!
The hitch is also reinforced as well. Take a look on the one that I retrieved from the Odyssey prior to resale it. This reinforcement to the vehicle chassis is major to provide a very good stability of the rig...
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Old 03-20-2015, 08:29 PM   #14
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Missing info

I forget to mention one important thing!
Appropriate choice of the car's tires. Believe me, follow the Andy's recommendation…

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Old 03-20-2015, 08:42 PM   #15
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An Odyssey will handle a Bambi no problem.

Done right, the trailer brakes stop the trailer weight.... And every car made today has enough braking power to lock its brakes under any circumstance,,, the only reason they wont lock is because of antilock brakes...

1/2 Ton 4WD Truck, 72 Sovereign Hensley Arrow
The fact that I am opinionated does not presuppose that I am wrong......

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