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Old 09-13-2016, 02:45 PM   #1
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Van vs pickup

What are the thoughts on towing with a van vs pickup of equal size?

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Old 09-13-2016, 02:47 PM   #2
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Assuming the same underpinnings, I would expect the van to be able to tow (or carry) less because the van itself weighs more.

1996 Fleetwood Southwind 34'
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Old 09-13-2016, 03:22 PM   #3
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What Podivin said. As long as you stick to the limits you should be fine with either. The temptation with a van would be to load it up with people or stuff and eat into your available payload quickly. I would expect a van to have more limitations with towing than a similar truck but you will need to do your homework. Good luck!
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Old 09-13-2016, 04:55 PM   #4
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Vans do not have 4wd, if that is a concern for you.
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2016 Chevy Silverado 2500HD, 6.0L, CC, 4.10
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Old 09-14-2016, 02:45 AM   #5
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Used to tow with a Chevy Express 1500, now I have a Silverado 1500.

1. The van is exponentially more comfortable, especially for a family. (no more kids at home, which is one reason I ditched the van)
2. It's just as easy to overload a truck as a van.
3. The van stayed cooler inside while parked (probably because we could pull all the shades).
4. The truck is more cargo versatile (don't really want to throw wet/muddy gear into the van).
5. You must be a pint-sized contortionist to do most engine work on the van (which I am neither).
6. You can get some awesome dragon and sorcery murals painted on the sides of the van.
7. With plastic sheeting, you can make the bed of the truck into a relaxing pool of water.
8. I actually prefer the overall ride while towing with the van, but prefer the versatility of the truck when not towing.

I need a larger driveway.
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Old 09-14-2016, 08:04 AM   #6
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We've been back and forth between vans and trucks. The trucks were better for the driver but worse for everyone else.

For towing, a 1/2 ton pickup seemed comparable to a 3/4 ton van in terms of suspension. For a trailer under 5000 gvw I'd get 2500, and a 3500 for heavier, or 3500 if you expect to seat 8 and tow.
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Old 09-14-2016, 09:38 AM   #7
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I've had both. Way back when, I custom ordered a commercial van with privacy glass windows all around, and with the fanciest interior they made. With front and rear AC, the interior was finished everywhere except the floor. The floor behind the front seats was bare metal. Front seats were Flexsteel Captain's Chairs. I found two more of those Captain's Chairs in the bone yard so I had a luxury touring van for the 4 of us.

On the bare metal floor I installed a plywood base, then 2" of high-density foam, then covered it all with expensive plush carpeting. I added a separate sterio system with headphones so the kids could blow out their brains with their music while DW and I relaxed to our own sounds.

That was the late 1970s, before the nanny rules required kids to be belted in. My kids spent almost all travel time laying about on the plush carpet "bed" in the back. They rarely used the back seats. We drug a camper trailer everywhere in the USA from Maine to Seattle and San Diego to south Florida. We lived in Denver, so most of our camping was in the Rockies west of Denver, and in southern New Mexico near Ruidoso.

The only problem with a van for towing a trailer is that folks tend to overload the van. Tongue weight of anything more than a very small travel trailer will cause you to exceed the payload capacity of the van. So buy more van than you at first think you might need.

To duplicate my 1977 van except use a 2017 Ford Transit van as the base, here's what you'd order. Then add the plush carpet and any other seats you need.

Your Transit
$44,280 Total MSRP (about $40k delivered)
$38,030 2017 Ford Transit Van XL, Medium Roof, Long Wheelbase, 3.5L EcoBoost® V6 Engine, 6-Speed Automatic Overdrive with SelectShift® Transmission, 9500 GVWR, 3.73 Limited Slip Axle Ratio
Paint $150 White Gold
$1,730 Premium Package - Van
$485 Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package
$230 Trailer Brake Controller
$675 Privacy Glass
$160 Running Board
$95 Remote Keyless-Entry Keypad
$450 All-Around Windows, Fixed
$220 Long-Arm Power Heated Mirrors with Turn Signals (tow mirrors)
$0 16-inch Steel Wheels with Full Silver Wheel Cover
$0 235/65R16C 121/119 R BSW All-Season Tires
$0 Vinyl Sun Visors with Illuminated Vanity Mirror
$860 Air Conditioning Front/Rear
$0 Cruise Control with Message Center
$0 6 Speakers (4 Front / 2 Rear)
$0 AM/FM Stereo with SYNC® (other options available at extra cost, including navigation)
$0 Pewter Grey Leather, 10-Way Power Driver and Front-Passenger Seats
Grumpy ole man with over 50 years towing experience. Now my heaviest trailer is a 7,000-pound enclosed cargo trailer, RV is a 5,600 pound Skyline Nomad Joey 196S, and my tow vehicle is a 2012 F-150 EcoBoost SuperCrew.
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Old 09-14-2016, 09:54 AM   #8
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This is just what we found...
A Van of identical maker and weight rating will usually have a lower HP rating than the pick-up. Dealer described it as a design point due to engine cooling being less in the van.

This HP rating does not drop the GVWR. It only makes the drive a bit slower up a hill.

The van will typically be a better platform for usability over a pick-up. Owners put a topper on the pick-up to try to claim some of that usability, but it will never be equal.

Go with which works best for you.

BTW, the MB Sprinter and Ford Transit ARE available in 4 wheel drive from the factory and the Chevy van is still available in 4 wheel drive, converted by Quigley and other shops.

Safe travels
Kim and Steve, Mustang LCDR (Ret), '07 Damon Outlaw #1193
I have seen gross intolerance shown in support of tolerance, Samuel Coleridge
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Old 09-14-2016, 10:07 AM   #9
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I did a hippy-dippy van conversion too way back when

but in this eon, we went with the middle option - not a pickup OR van, but an Excursion that could seat 8 or 9....

great for traveling, terrible for towing because the gvwr was taken up as stated by the load in the Ex...

SO we went to the quad cab pickup with the capacity to tow the big tt's and 5'ers...
If you really are sad and think nobody cares, just try missing a few payments ! '11 Monaco Diplomat 43DFT RR10R pushed by a Demco Excali-Bar II hitch which is pushed by a '14 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport.
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Old 09-14-2016, 09:20 PM   #10
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I too have towed a travel trailer with a van. The problem was that my van started out at 6600 lbs. without an interior, and I also had a high top fiberglass roof. My suspension was max'd out without any trailer being towed.

Auto manufacturers are in the process of changing over to completely different families of vans. Most are of European design, and they're simply made without the guts of the old generation vans. Very few of these new generation vans have the power trains or springing to handle much of a a travel trailer.

Properly equipped pickup trucks that match the weight of your travel trailer would be very much preferred over a modern day van. If you need dry storage, you can always put a nice topper on the bed.
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Old 09-15-2016, 01:52 PM   #11
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I have had both and towed with both. We use to tow a pop-up StarCraft 8 a 1976 model with a Chevy Van 3/4 ton and than three fifth wheels with two different pick-up trucks.
I now have the best of both worlds the "RAM MEGA CAB" diesel pick-up truck.

Jim & Jill
Sold: 2010 318SAB Cougar:New: 2016 Cedar Creek 34RL. 2008 Dodge 6.7LCummins the original 6.7L engine, w/68RFE Auto
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