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Old 12-27-2014, 01:53 PM   #1
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Sienna minivan tow limits

I'm about to buy a new minivan, dealer says it can tow 3500 lbs.

I searched this site and found many folks discussing towing the minivan but not much about using it to tow.

I'm trying to future proof my life a little, so we will try camping first, but thinking we might want a trailer, can this minivan pull one ?

It would just be the 2 of us (real total of 350 lbs ) plus luggage in the van.

I have seen ads of 20 ft lightweight trailers, but then I read some posts where folks feel anything less than a diesel monster truck is too small

Anyone have real experience using the Sienna as a puller ?

Thanks..........
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Old 12-27-2014, 04:51 PM   #2
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I think a 4-wheel drive Sienna would tow a 2,000 pound trailer just fine. Get the tow package if it is available.

I have a Highlander, not a van. Sorry........
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Old 12-27-2014, 04:57 PM   #3
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You realistically shouldn't be towing anything more than a pop up with a mini van.
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Old 12-27-2014, 05:47 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by timetogo View Post
I think a 4-wheel drive Sienna would tow a 2,000 pound trailer just fine. Get the tow package if it is available.

I have a Highlander, not a van. Sorry........
Its standard on all the Sienna's:
"the Tow Prep Package has been made standard on all grades. All 2014 Sienna models come standard with a 266-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine teamed to a six-speed automatic transmission."

I just need to get the hitch and wiring to tow.
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Old 12-27-2014, 10:30 PM   #5
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When I was younger my parents towed a 3500lb deck boat 40 miles to the lake. Never an issue. I think the Toyota could do fine with something within specs. What are the amenities you "must have" in a trailer? I've seen several full sized travel trailers that would fall within the Toyota's to limits but you will most likely have a wet bath and need to make the dinette you bed. But you'll be out of a pop up which is a plus. I think the sienna's have decent load carrying capabilities. The guy who bought our first pop up had one and it didn't even squat the rear an inch and it had a tongue weight of 350lbs.
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Old 12-27-2014, 10:46 PM   #6
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Look at coachmen clippers. The 16FB and 17FQ are 3500lbs GVWR and 12.5% tongue weight would put you at 437lbs plus say you, DW, plus gear is 600lbs would be 1037. Heaviest sienna weights ~4800lbs with a GVWR of 5995lbs. 5995-4800=1100lbs of carrying capacity which means you're in the good as far as the weight police are concerned. The sienna has a decent wheel base length and hp/tq with a 6spd transmission. I think you'd do fine with a trailer 20ft or less and 3500lbs.
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Old 12-28-2014, 01:20 AM   #7
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Look at coachmen clippers. The 16FB and 17FQ are 3500lbs GVWR and 12.5% tongue weight would put you at 437lbs plus say you, DW, plus gear is 600lbs would be 1037. Heaviest sienna weights ~4800lbs with a GVWR of 5995lbs. 5995-4800=1100lbs of carrying capacity which means you're in the good as far as the weight police are concerned. The sienna has a decent wheel base length and hp/tq with a 6spd transmission. I think you'd do fine with a trailer 20ft or less and 3500lbs.
Both of those are the size of trailer I was hoping would tow-able.
Its just the 2 of us, and we don't need much space as we like each other.
So this is good news.

I'll be buying a LE Sienna, as it has enough bells/whistles for me.
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Old 12-28-2014, 07:32 AM   #8
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We towed a popup with our old mini-van.

An "upright" trailer could put a lot more strain on the van what with the increased wind resistance at higher speeds.

Have you looked at hard-side popups like A-Liner and the smaller Trailmanors? A lot of people are towing them with mini-vans.
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Old 12-28-2014, 02:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverLining;2358977[/quote
It would just be the 2 of us (real total of 350 lbs ) plus luggage in the van.
Not a good plan. Plan on hauling the luggage in the trailer. Any weight you haul in the trailer will add only 15% of that weight to the van axles. But if you haul it in the van, then 100% of that weight will be on the van axles. And the weight on the van axles is probably your weight limiter as to how much trailer you can tow without being overloaded.

Quote:
I have seen ads of 20 ft lightweight trailers, but then I read some posts where folks feel anything less than a diesel monster truck is too small
A 20' ultra-light travel trailer (TT) will probably overload your van. I have a 19.5' (box length) Skyline Nomad Joey that overloads my F-150 with just me and Darling Wife in the pickup. Trailer GVWR is 5,600 and actual wet and loaded weight on the road is 4,780 with 650 pounds tongue weight. My F-150 has GVWR of 7,100 and it needs another 300 to 500 pounds of payload capacity to drag that trailer without being overloaded. Ford makes the right optional packages for my needs, but my F-150 doesn't have one of them.

Quote:
Anyone have real experience using the Sienna as a puller ?
Not exactly, but extensive experience dragging a cargo trailer with a similar minivan - a 2009 Honda Odyssey 3.5L V6. I beefed up the Odyssey by adding the Honda factory transmission cooler, pumped the stock tires up to the max on the sidewall, and towed that trailer that grosses about 4,000 pounds from Midland to Phoenix and back. We made it, but the poor Honda was struggling all the way. Several shorter trips including to Austin and back, loaded as well as empty.

The Honda did about as good with an empty trailer as when it was loaded to 4,000 pounds gross. So that means that aerodynamic drag is the big problem. So you can probably tow a decent size pop-up trailer that grosses up to 3,500 pounds a lot better than you could tow a similar weight TT.

I concluded that the Honda was not cut out for the hard work of dragging a tall trailer though the air. For one thing I know I needed a tranny temp gauge, but my Honda dealer couldn't figure out how to add one. So I added a pickup to my fleet to handle the towing chores.

The Sienna specs include the following note: "Towing capacity 3,500 (lb.) with Towing Prep Package: engine oil cooler, plus heavy-duty radiator, fan and coupling."

So you can tow a TT grossing up to 3,500 pounds only if your Sienna has that optional Towing Prep Pkg. And I would still want a tranny temp gauge and heavy duty tranny cooler.

Consider instead a nice pop-up trailer such as the Forest River 627D, with GVWR of 3,370. Includes restroom w/shower, stove and reefer. Flagstaff Tent Pop Up Camper by Forest River

My first camper that replaced a tent was a much-more-primitive and smaller pop-up trailer. The only thing inside was an ice box (yes, ice box, not a reefer), a dinette that converted into a bed for two kids, and the two big fold-out beds. We hauled a slop jar that had a commode seat as our pottie, and a Coleman gasoline stove, Coleman gasoline lattern, and Coleman gasoline catalytic heater in the storage cabinet of the trailer. We hauled our water in 5-gallon jugs, and washed dishes in a plastic dishpan. We camped in that trailer all the years my kids were growing up. California to Maine, Florida to Seattle, and everywhere in between. Fond memories.

Our current TT with hot and cold running water, electric lights, propane stovetop and oven, propane furnace, microwave, bathroom with shower and lavatory is pure luxury compared to that 1968 Wheel Camper pop-up. But it overloads my F-150 that has a tow rating of 8,400, and it would overload your Sienna with a tow rating of 3,500 even more.
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Old 12-28-2014, 02:57 PM   #10
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I mentioned Trailmanor earlier. Think their 2417 would work.
Wouldn't go any bigger though:
2417 Series | TrailManor Website
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Old 12-28-2014, 04:47 PM   #11
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I saw a trailmanor at a RV show in Fort Worth last year. Seriously considered purchasing one for the aerodynamics. The setup and tear down was actually much faster than our old pop up and no canvas walls made my wife feel it was safe when camping off the beaten path in Colorado. The only reason we didn't purchase one was because of the price. They seem to be about 10-15k more for similarly equipped Full sized TTs. The supposedly 1mpg decrease over 500 miles is pretty intriguing though.
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Old 12-28-2014, 05:54 PM   #12
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Mini-vans in general have a softer suspension. Yes, pulling a pop-up is do-able. But go to a boxed RV trailer like the Coachman 16FB or 17FQ with a GVWR already above 3500lbs. is really pushing it. You don't see many minivans towing RV trailer trailers. Yes, pulling pop-ups, but not 10' tall trailers. The Sienna is going to cost you a good coin anyway, if you want to stick with the Toyota line think about the 4Runner, still with the V-6, but I believe it will have 4700k towing and a better rear suspension. A base 4Runner will be about the same as a mid priced Sienna. I had 3 4Runners (90' V-6, 99 V-6 and 05' V-8). now have a Tundra to pull my 5200lb tt.

Or go with the Toyota Tacoma double cab and get 6500 towing cap. with the V-6.

Quote:
I have seen ads of 20 ft lightweight trailers, but then I read some posts where folks feel anything less than a diesel monster truck is too small
No, you don't need a monster TV, but a minivan is not going to tow a 20' tt. If your are going to buy (Not lease) a $30 to $35k new vehicle, you better think now before you buy if you like camping and might like it better with a tt. Even my 1999 V-6 4Runner I would never have thought about towing my 24' hybrid back then. I waited till the V-8 4Runners came out 2003-2009 to upgrade from a pop-up to a 24' hybrid.
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Old 12-29-2014, 12:40 AM   #13
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Wow, what a lot of good input. Not all of it makes me happy, but better to learn here than on the road with a broken down Tow Vehicle.

I do see from reading that the wind resistance or sail effect is very large, so of course a popup has less and therefore tows easier.

I can tell you folks that I'd rather buy the "right" kind of vehicle than get something that just won't work. So while I was targeting a Sienna, I won't if it is too restrictive.

I'll be checking out the popup suggestion by brulaz and the ones suggested by SmokeyWren .
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Old 12-29-2014, 01:03 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by SmokeyWren View Post
Plan on hauling the luggage in the trailer. Any weight you haul in the trailer will add only 15% of that weight to the van axles. But if you haul it in the van, then 100% of that weight will be on the van axles. And the weight on the van axles is probably your weight limiter as to how much trailer you can tow without being overloaded.
That makes sense, I used to play with loading a fishing boat weight distribution to make sure the trailer tongue was not too heavy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokeyWren View Post
A 20' ultra-light travel trailer (TT) will probably overload your van. I have a 19.5' (box length) Skyline Nomad Joey that overloads my F-150 with just me and Darling Wife in the pickup. Trailer GVWR is 5,600 and actual wet and loaded weight on the road is 4,780 with 650 pounds tongue weight. My F-150 has GVWR of 7,100 and it needs another 300 to 500 pounds of payload capacity to drag that trailer without being overloaded. Ford makes the right optional packages for my needs, but my F-150 doesn't have one of them.
Now this surprises me. As I consider those 20' TT to be modest in size, and a 150 as pretty powerful.

I have to re-read on those GVWR etc numbers to see how it works, as I'm understanding from everyone, the simple 3500 lb towing capacity is not really valid ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokeyWren View Post
Not exactly, but extensive experience dragging a cargo trailer with a similar minivan - a 2009 Honda Odyssey 3.5L V6. I beefed up the Odyssey by adding the Honda factory transmission cooler, pumped the stock tires up to the max on the sidewall, and towed that trailer that grosses about 4,000 pounds from Midland to Phoenix and back. We made it, but the poor Honda was struggling all the way. Several shorter trips including to Austin and back, loaded as well as empty.
The Odyssey was my other equivalent choice and I consider it very very comparable to the the Sienna.



Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokeyWren View Post
The Sienna specs include the following note: "Towing capacity 3,500 (lb.) with Towing Prep Package: engine oil cooler, plus heavy-duty radiator, fan and coupling."

So you can tow a TT grossing up to 3,500 pounds only if your Sienna has that optional Towing Prep Pkg. And I would still want a tranny temp gauge and heavy duty tranny cooler.
They all have the Towing Prep Package as standard its not optional.

But it does appear this issue of towing is pretty complex, but everyone's input is appreciated, even if it bursts my bubble
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