Downsizing TV

Discussion in 'Tow Vehicles, Hitch & Towing' started by jaynine89, Apr 13, 2018.

  1. jaynine89

    jaynine89 Member

    73
    39
    Mar 19, 2018
    West Central WI
    So I have a bit of a dilemma, and I've seen it discussed before, but I want to get some thoughts on my particular situation.

    I currently have a 2001 Ford Ranger XL, regular cab 2wd with a 4-cylinder and 5-speed. I pull an early 1980's Starcraft Starflyer 1706XL. Several summers ago, I stopped at a weigh station on a trip and got a scale reading on the camper of about 1300# fully loaded for a trip around Lake Michigan. I have no idea what my truck is rated to tow, and to honest, I'm probably over-loaded as it is right now.

    The problem is that now I have a fiance and 7 month old, and we don't all fit in the truck. Any trips are going to be two-vehicle affairs, which is less than ideal. The bigger problem is my pride. I am a CAR guy, frankly never thought I would own a pick-up in my life, but it was the right vehicle when I was single. Now I need a vehicle that can fit the family, tow the camper, and I'd like decent gas mileage and handling. I get 21MPG pulling right now. We live in West Central WI, so there are hills, but we don't have mountains by any means. We' would like to take trips out west in the future, though.

    My questions are:
    1) Are there any light-weight trailers (that are still traditional pop-ups - not motorcycle trailers or Livin'Lite trailers) that I could look into to lower my trailer weight?
    2) Are there any CARS that can tow anything anymore? I'm not interested in a cross-over, SUV, mini-van, or pickup at all, but I would be willing to drive a true station wagon. You know... A car.

    What would you recommend? I have a feeling I'm going to get a lot of responses telling me what I don't want to hear, but maybe someone has some shimmering advice that can shift my thought-process.

    I have considered older full-size cars from the 80's and 90's. I've considered getting a smaller trailer, but it just seems like a camper that's that light doesn't exist anymore. I found a 980# 1988 Rockwood for sale yesterday, but it's gone already.

    For the record, I absolutely despise lawyers in the U.S., I don't believe there's any reason that a VW Golf that can tow several thousand pounds in Europe shouldn't be able to tow the same amount here. But for some reason the same car comes state-side and isn't rated to pull anything, which leads to an overabundance of pickups because people have to tow a 1500# trailer 6 times a year. That's not enough justification to buy a massive truck to me. My fiance's 2006 Impala is rated for 1000# with a 3.9L V6, and that seems criminally low.

    Again, I'm probably going to get responses telling me what I don't want to hear, but I'm holding out hope that someone has that "ah-ha" piece of advice. I've wracked my head left and right about this situation for the last year when we found out we were pregnant and I'm about at wit's end trying to figure it out.
     
  2. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

    1,183
    679
    Apr 24, 2017
    Maplewood, MN
    Here's your first response you don't want to hear.

    Don't rule out a mini van. Pup's were designed for the past several decades with minivans in mind as tow vehicles. Good MPG and proper towing capacity. You aren't going to find much in a pup with a lower weight than what you already have.
     
    Orchid and neighbormike like this.
  3. J Starsky

    J Starsky Active Member

    415
    229
    Aug 3, 2017
    East Central MN
    We love our Mani-van and has done well pulling our old '84 popup.

    From experience, my old 2001 Buick lesabre with 3.8 v6 is a small job pulling winner. Pretty much a front wheel drive s10 blazer! Seats six in leather style and comfort and still has a TAPE PLAYER with CD as well! I've pulled the pup, and my 8x8 utility trailer loaded with two 4wheelers and many scrap runs. And, that trailer hitch saved the car in a bad parking lot rear ender... So, low mileage buick 3.8 with a real trailer hitch from real world experience, no looking at capacity numbers.... It the hot ticket.
     
    BikeNFish likes this.
  4. jaynine89

    jaynine89 Member

    73
    39
    Mar 19, 2018
    West Central WI
    Thanks for replying.

    My problem with a minivan is that I have one child, and we're planning on stopping at two. I don't need 7-passenger seating. If I could find a sedan that could do the job, I'd be set. I've looked at Crown Victoria's, Chevy Caprice's, Buick Roadmaster's. All those cars are starting to get really old now, though.

    I don't understand people who have one baby and run out and get the biggest SUV or minivan they can get. Our Impala has handled every task we've asked of it so far in the last 7 months, save for towing. If it could pull 2500-3000# and had a long roof (wagon body style), I wouldn't be in this situation, but that's not how GM sells high-profit-margin pick-up trucks.

    I'm just too opinionated about the topic, which is why I haven't been able to find a solution yet.
     
  5. eoleson1

    eoleson1 Well-Known Member

    1,553
    236
    Jul 5, 2011
    Macomb County Michigan
    Just ran across something I found strange. I was checking the towing capacity of some sedans that I thought might fit the bill, and I found out that a 2010 Camry was only rated to pull 1000#, but a 2010 Corolla was rated to pull 1500#. Can't figure that one.
     
  6. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

    1,183
    679
    Apr 24, 2017
    Maplewood, MN
    What I liked about owning a minivan is that it wasn't just about seating capacity. It truly was multi-purpose vehicle. The kids had a variety of places to sit (sometimes you need to keep them separate), it was spacious enough to carry all of our camping supplies and a dog kennel (before we bought a camper), there is plenty of room for sports equipment and I could use it to carry large items (lawn mower, snow blower, etc...) that won't fit in a car while not needing a trailer.

    I get that some people have a stigma about minivans, but there are multiple reasons why they are popular.
     
  7. eoleson1

    eoleson1 Well-Known Member

    1,553
    236
    Jul 5, 2011
    Macomb County Michigan
    You could look into a Dodge Charger or the 300. They both have capacities of 2000#, and they're both RWD, so they would probably do a good job of pulling your Starflyer.
     
  8. jaynine89

    jaynine89 Member

    73
    39
    Mar 19, 2018
    West Central WI
    I've seen that about the Corolla. Really bizarre that Toyota rates it that high in this market, considering what the other manufacturers do.

    Trust me, I'm truly a practical person. A mini-van SHOULD be the only vehicle I'm even considering. But like I said, I'm a car guy, and I'll be damned if I start driving a tall-box. As a car-enthusiast, I really do love station wagons (even though I'm 28). The car mileage, car handling, ability to carry a bunch of stuff inside, and the old ones could tow Airstream trailers no problem. That's what I'm looking for. It's funny that people "hate wagons," yet they drive cross-overs and SUVs that have the exact same roofline as... You guessed it! Station wagons!

    As far as the stigma goes, it's coming full-circle. Kids in the 70's started having kids in the 80's, but didn't want their parents wagons, which led to mini-vans. As wagons in general were phased out, the full-size SUV replaced the full-size ones for towing duties, and mini-vans and SUVs ruled the roads until gas got expensive. Then kids from the 90s started having kids. People still wanted the high ride height, but better mileage, which led to crossovers. Now crossovers are everywhere, and some people are looking to branch out, which is leading to wagons starting to come back, as long as they're jacked up like a Subaru Outback and looks like a crossover. Buick has a new Regal TourX, which has been on my short-list, but again, it's only rated for 1000#. Bump that up another 2000#, and my problem is solved.

    I have considered the Charger and 300 as well. A mechanic friend tends to push me away from Chrysler Corp. products, but if I can find the right one, I could put it on my short-list as well.

    Thanks again to everyone replying. Like I said, I know I'm pretty opinionated about some things, which puts some people off. But you guys are offering really helpful advice, even if it might not be exactly what I want to hear.
     
  9. J Starsky

    J Starsky Active Member

    415
    229
    Aug 3, 2017
    East Central MN
    Wifey hated vans with passion! But, we blew up her cadaver....oh a cavalier... So uncle mark borrowed us a Minivan. If you are over 6ft tall, you'll love sitting in it for sure! We bought our 2007 a month later with 20K on it. Now at 190k, stock motor and trans and hardly have touched the thing - if she'd keep it outta of a ditch [B)] Well OK - I did the entire front end because I wanted to for preventive maintenance, but why align it when balljoints, struts, steer arms and link are all so cheap at Rock Auto! Rides like a cadi brother. Minivan is the new Vista Cruiser![PUT]
     
    BlueJeansMama and BikeNFish like this.
  10. jaynine89

    jaynine89 Member

    73
    39
    Mar 19, 2018
    West Central WI
    Lol. My fiance and I both aren't fans of mini-vans. We both grew up in them. They really are practical, and I understand that, but we just can't get ourselves to do it. Minivan is the new Vista Cruiser, though, I've never heard that attitude about it. Lol. Give me an actual Vista Cruiser, I'll take that.

    We are both shorter, though, I'm 5'-8" and she's 5'-2", so we don't need a vehicle with a ton of stretch out space, either. Mid-size sedan/wagon really seems to be the sweet spot, but full-size seems to be the only thing that could remotely pull the weight.
     
    J Starsky likes this.
  11. davekkk

    davekkk Member

    423
    23
    Oct 7, 2013
    I raised my kids driving a car or hatchback and had no issues with that. It was when they got into their teens a van came in handy hauling their friends and stuff around for sports. Yep, you need a van!
     
    BlueJeansMama likes this.
  12. eoleson1

    eoleson1 Well-Known Member

    1,553
    236
    Jul 5, 2011
    Macomb County Michigan
    Chrysler products do tend to keep repair shops in business, but now days, it seems like they got their powertrain issues worked out, and what you'll run into are less costly repairs.
     
  13. MNTCamper

    MNTCamper Active Member

    601
    65
    Jun 14, 2014
    Realistically, any of your V6 sedans with larger HP will tow your rig. Probably the main issue would be tongue weight on the rear suspension. I completely understand the issue with the minivan and two kids, but I think that you will find that coming from a small PU, it is super flexible. I had a Chevy S10 initially (single and then married). We got a '01 Honda Odyssey and it worked great, can fit a 4' x 8' sheet of materials in the back of the minivans, set up in many seat configurations, also take a dog, friends.... I actually have three minivans right now (have kids who drive also). They are major haulers for all sorts of stuff. I'm actually towing with a '03 Odyssey right now and my rig comes in about 2800 lbs and it tows great. (just towed out to Pacific NW last year and lots of ups and downs).

    They get pretty good mileage and what I really like about them is that you can get used minivans for cheap and then drive them for another 10 years, there are tons of them out there on craigslist. There are some wagons out there, but they are not that popular and because of that the price tends to be higher and selection is limited. Anyway, things to think about, but the minivan is a pretty darn useful vehicle.
     
  14. jaynine89

    jaynine89 Member

    73
    39
    Mar 19, 2018
    West Central WI
    The biggest problem I'm aware of with Chrysler cars are the front ends. Ball joints, struts, that kind of stuff.

    You guys seem fairly supportive of the sedan as a TV. I've looked at a lot of posts on this topic on the forum, and it seems the general consensus is that it's absolute insanity to even consider going over the manufacturer's tow rating. Like I said in my initial post, I'm probably overweight with my truck anyway, and I want to be safe, but I also want to be practical. A minivan is great for the flexibility, but I'm not opposed to owning, borrowing, or renting a utility trailer for hauling materials and that kind of thing behind a sedan.

    I do have one confession. I have considered another small pick-up if exploring all my sedan/wagon options doesn't give any results. I see in eoleson1's signature that he owns a 2006 Colorado. There's one for sale nearby, 2WD, crew cab (which would fit the car seat), but it has the 5-cylinder, which I've heard gets V8 gas mileage. I'm spoiled now, I get 22 combined, and I used to get 25-28 combined in the summer. But a 2010-2012 Colorado IS on my shortlist. Strictly as a last resort, though.

    I also realize that considering a full-size V8 sedan kind of runs contrary to the goal of good gas mileage, but I feel that being in a car outweighs the mileage in that situation.
     
  15. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

    3,284
    593
    Oct 10, 2013
    Northern Virginia
    I have no suggestions but wanted to provide my story. I had a Ford station wagon long time back that we towed a nearly #1500-#2000 pound camper that we were suckered with "your vehicle can easily tow this". Well less than 100k miles later the transmission dies and engine wasn't doing well either. The repair shop we brought it to said it was towing that killed the car. Can't remember what it could tow but know that we towed at or over the posted rating. As we didn't do our full research and listened to the RV dealer. Long gone are those ancient cadis that could tow an airstream, most cars today are not built as solid. Now the only very light weight popup I can think of are livin'light popups and a Sylvan sport.
     
  16. eoleson1

    eoleson1 Well-Known Member

    1,553
    236
    Jul 5, 2011
    Macomb County Michigan
    As much as I love my Colorado, if I had to do it again, I'd go full size. The Colorado only gets 18 combined if I'm driving, 20 if the wife is. When I'm towing the pup, it drops to around 15. The towing capacity is limited to 4000 lbs. I could get a Silverado or an F150 that could pull 5000-6500 lbs and still get similar mileage.
     
  17. mpking

    mpking Active Member

    975
    136
    Jun 17, 2014
    Raynham, MA
    Don't agree with you.... But

    How about a Dodge Magnum RT. Supposed to have a tow capacity of 3800.
    [​IMG]
     
  18. jaynine89

    jaynine89 Member

    73
    39
    Mar 19, 2018
    West Central WI
    Thanks for the input. Can I ask, was the wagon full-size or midsize? I can see a Taurus wagon being overworked, but the old Crown Victoria wagons (like the Wagon Queen Family Truckster) really were practically full-size trucks underneath. With a tow package, there's no reason that kind of car shouldn't have been able to handle it.

    This whole thread really boils down to the internal struggle I've had since I found out I would need more seats in my tow vehicle. I'm trying to find a balance so I have a Daily Driver that:
    1. Isn't a chore to park or drive (rules out full-size trucks, lots of crossovers, yet favors sedans)
    2. Doesn't hurt at the pump (again, rules out most trucks, and realistically also rules out V8 sedans even if I like them)
    3. Can fit the family without necessarily being overkill (gives me a reason to rule out minivans)
    4. Has enough capability to pull the camper
    5. Is reasonably new enough to not need tons of maintenance to get it up to speed, OR if it's older, then had enough of a production volume that replacement parts aren't difficult to find

    I think these 5 things are key criteria I'm looking for. And I'm afraid the vehicle doesn't exist. These criteria really also show my bias toward cars...

    All the numbers I've seen from Dodge Magnums have maxed out at 2000#. Which is technically enough for the camper I have. They're just getting older, they stopped production in 2008 and don't seem to have aged very gracefully around here.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2018
  19. J Starsky

    J Starsky Active Member

    415
    229
    Aug 3, 2017
    East Central MN
    Well if the van is a rockin'....afterall!

    Saw a sweet REAL Caprice SS for sale in Duluth MN for 6k. Not a clone either! I support you, but also own the finest rusted man-ivan in the land. No fooling, I added a hardhat keychain on my spares so I can stand driving it. An actual quote from me sums it up: "the van has worst car payment I ever enjoyed owning...." Sweet and sour are buddies sometimes. Go rent a van for the weekend, go "test out the shocks" and see you can stand it.
     
  20. J Starsky

    J Starsky Active Member

    415
    229
    Aug 3, 2017
    East Central MN
    Exactly why I did my whole fwd setup at once - on every fwd I own. I am the chief mechanic here, so I do all my own stunts. If I gotta pay a guy to align it, all front end parts are on a Fire Sale and Everything MUST GO!
     

Share This Page