Trailer suggestions for Toyota Sienna as Tow Vehicle

Discussion in 'Camper Pre-Purchase Questions' started by winwin, Jan 2, 2011.

  1. winwin

    winwin New Member

    Jan 2, 2011
    Hi, I'm looking to buy a tent trailer to be towed by my Toyota Sienna Minivan with a V-6. This is my first tent trailer. My Sienna has a GVWR of 5,250 lbs., and Gross Trailer Weight Rating of 3,500 lbs. Based on that, what should the max dry weight of the trailer be without pushing the limits? Also, I'd like to park in my garage, so looking for something that has a closed length of less than 17ft w/ a shower (wife's requirement). Any recommendations on make and model? Much appreciated.
  2. bigdad

    bigdad Active Member

    Mar 5, 2007
    Springfield Kentucky
    Hi you can pull up to a 12ft which has a gross weight of 3200 lbs that looking at mine is a 2005 coachmen clipper 1265st with a shower and toilet heat a/c slide out dinette the dry weight on mine is about 2200 lbs and the gross weight is 3200 lbs this is with elect brakes you can go with a 10 ft size you would have to look for one that has a shower on it when i had my 94 coleman it was a 10 ft size box with a shower and a/c i think with all my gear in it it weighed at 2100 lbs. with your van i would put a tranns cooler and elec brake controler and air bags in the rear springs. if you want i can go and look at my 05 for the actual weight ? but i think its close.
  3. Twisty

    Twisty New Member

    Aug 24, 2008
    Hillsboro, Oregon
    You need to know the GCWR.
    It includes ALL of the weights together.
    You have to subtract EVERYTHING from it - the weight of the ball mount, anti sway device, cooler, ice, food, passengers, pets, pet food, books, maps, games, water, personal items, bedding, containers, cookware, fuels, clothing.............
    The gross trailer weight allowed may only take into account the driver, and NOTHING else.
  4. bigdad

    bigdad Active Member

    Mar 5, 2007
    Springfield Kentucky
    Here a side view of my 05 coachmen[​IMG]and here is my 94 coleman oustside pic[​IMG][/img]
  5. Rodger D.

    Rodger D. New Member

    Sep 29, 2010

    Not knowing all the answers to the questions at ( the largest trailer hitch installer
    in the United States ) I used ... Hitch components that fit a 2010 Toyota Sienna 6 cyl. FWD . Their
    information is the same as yours on the Max Pulling amount ( 3500 pounds ). When you do this,
    also install a Trailer Brake Controller and the Seven Pin Vehicle to Trailer Plug.

    As you seek your unit, try to think of all the aminities that your feel you want or need and then
    look at the lightest trailer shorter than seventeen feet with these item's, not to look at the max
    limit may be for the vehicle ( The Camper will get heavier and heavier with out you wanting it to ).
    This may not be a very quick process.

    Did you know that at almost every Natl Park or State Park or whatever that has camping, they have
    a full service rest room with shower's. This is part of the Electrical and Water "hook up" fees.

    Rodger & Gabby
  6. pianewman

    pianewman Ft. Worth, TX

    Aug 30, 2006
    Arlington, VA
    3500 lbs includes ALL cargo and passengers in the Sienna.

    I strongly recommend <2600lbs. for your pup. Sienna should have adequate trans cooler, possibly PS cooler (Odyssey requires a PS cooler, as PS fluid gets VERY HOT when running under constant load). Even at 2600lbs, and a nominal load in your TV (900lbs. isn't as much as you might think!), you'll be towing at very close to 100% capacity of the Sienna.

    I've got over 25k miles experience towing with a comparable vehicle, Honda Odyssey, both 2001 and 2007. Both had airbags installed (highly recommended), trans coolers and PS coolers. Electric brake control (Prodigy). Trailer also had weight distribution hitch.

    After all those miles, about 80% at highway speeds, solid and stable all the while, I can say that I was always concerned about moving down the road with a load that approached 100% capacity of the tow vehicle. Now that I'm towing with an 05 Toyota Tundra (capacity around 6300lbs), I can also state that I would never again tow that close to the limit, even with all the stability devices on the pup and TV.

    If you ask around amongst serious truckers with trailers, you would find that the general rule of thumb is to keep your weight total <70-75% of the capacity of the TV. They're talking about 70-75% of TRUCK towing capacity, NOT passenger vehicle capacity, and obviously, trucks are designed from the ground up for towing.

    Hope this isn't raining on your parade, and I know there will be many here that will disagree with my cautious perspective, but for me, it's all about your personal safety, as well as the safety of others. Of course, your Sienna could probably easily pull a 5,000lb. trailer for several miles without any serious issues...assuming you don't need to stop quickly, or avoid something in the road.

    I'm glad you're asking this question now, before you buy. There have been a few that have come here after the purchase, and then either have to accept the risk of towing at the limit, or having to sell their recently purchased pup. In either case, it's no fun.

    Good luck to you.
  7. Matt O

    Matt O Strangers are friends who have not yet met

    Dec 16, 2008
    Chester County PA
    I have a Toyota Tacoma 4cyl which is rated to tow 3,000#'s. I have a 10 foot 1992 Coleman Seneca. The trailer weighs just under 1,500 #'s and does not have trailer brakes. I am not winning any races but then again I don't have a number painted on my door [SCOTR]

    It has a stove, sink, and heater. It can sleep 8 people [LOL]. 3 on the queen, 2 on the double, 2 on the dinette, and one on this little 19inch wide 2nd table. It is just my wife, 1 year old son, and a 25# dog.

    I have read in a few threads that air bags in the rear springs are very "helpful" in the Sienna's to prevent bottoming out when pulling out of your driveway. DW would be driving a Sienna right now if we didn't inherit my Dad's Ford Windstar.

    Just remember......If the engine accelerates uncontrollably [?:~{] , put it in neutral [MOD]
  8. winwin

    winwin New Member

    Jan 2, 2011
    Great advice everyone. Thank you!

    I definitely see the benefits of keeping the trailer weight down as much as possible, and am thinking that I should keep the dry weight below 2,200 lbs based on your comments and my other research. I just need to make sure it's big enough to fit my family of 4 kids (ages 2 to 13), my wife, and, oh yeah, me (yes, we've taken measures to keep the kid headcount at 4 ;) ). I still like the shower idea, as many of the campgrounds we enjoy camping at out here don't have the showers, and we like the flexibility. I saw a trailer that looks like it may fit the bill. It's a barely used 2010 Rockwood Freedom 2280. Dry weight is 1,987 lbs and closed length is just under 16 feet. Only problem is, it's priced more than I'd like to spend at $10k. So, will keep searching for something similar within my $8k budget (considering that the taxes, registration, and the TV modifications I'll need to make). BTW, thanks for the tips on the other TV modifications. I knew about the need for tranny cooler and brake controller, but not the other items.

    Been searching on Craigslist and Ebay for last week, or so but haven't found right fit yet. I've only found one tent trailer dealer in San Diego so far. Most of the dealers seem to focus on the bigger stuff. I'm sure there's more...just need to dig a little more. If anyone can recommend other places to find tent trailers (online or otherwise), I'd greatly appreciate it. I'm looking for previously owned, but clean, and really good condition (I know, who isn't?).

  9. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

    Mar 3, 2006
    Check out a Sun Valley by Coleman, 12' box, plenty of cargo capacity.
  10. Matt O

    Matt O Strangers are friends who have not yet met

    Dec 16, 2008
    Chester County PA
    You need to check Craigslist and Ebay every day and eventually one will pop up [LOL] that fits your needs.
  11. fallsrider

    fallsrider Active Member

    Nov 16, 2006
    We have an '04 Sienna, and it makes a really great camping vehicle if you stay well within its limits. We just sold our PUP a few weeks ago, but we towed our Jayco Eagle 10 UD probably 4,000+ miles over 4 camping seasons. It weighed in the neighborhood of 2,000 to 2,200 lbs. loaded for camping (dry weight of 1,590).

    I would stay well under 3,000 lbs. total weight for your PUP. The 3,500 lbs. towing limit would most likely cause you to exceed your GVWR and your GCWR. I wouldn't exceed either. Also, keep in mind that you need a weight distributing hitch (WDH) on the Sienna with a tongue weight over 350 lbs. That would mean getting a Fleetwood/Coleman camper most likely. Most other brands aren't built to handle a WDH. So be sure to check the tongue weight of any camper you might be interested in buying.

    I heartily agree with all those who said you need air bags in the rear suspension. I installed the AirLift 1000s, and I've also heard great things about the Firestone brand. I always kept them aired up to 7 or 8 psi when just driving around unloaded, and I would go to 30 psi when towing the PUP. It made a world of difference in keeping the van level.

    Since the Sienna has a V6 engine, it doesn't have very much low end torque. To get power to climb hills, you need to get your rpms up. Don't worry at all running 3,500 to 4,000 rpms climbing a long grade. It won't hurt anything, and it will give you the torque you need to keep your speed up. There's a 7% grade (I think that's right) in western North Carolina that runs about 7 miles on I-40. I've pulled that grade twice now with the PUP, and I could easily maintain 60 mph by pulling the transmission down into 3rd and letting the rpms run around 3,400 to 3,500. This was our family of 4, fully loaded for camping. Once I saw I could do it, I backed off a little because that was a little too fast for my comfort on those curves. If you tow in flatter areas, this doesn't apply to you.

    One reason I chose the Sienna over the Honda was the ability to choose any gear I wanted. I towed quite a few miles with the transmission in 4th (D). The Honda doesn't let you choose 4th, only 5th or 1st through 3rd. It was a big deal to me, but those who own Hondas report they make nice tow vehicles, as well.

    When going down steeper hills in the Sienna, don't hesitate to pull the transmission down into 4th, 3rd or even 2nd if needed to keep your speed down. Let the engine help you brake.

    One of the things we enjoyed about the Sienna was having all the room inside, and we still got 18-19 mpg when towing the PUP. That's hard to beat.

    By all means, install a 7-pin Bargman connector and a brake controller on your Sienna and make sure your PUP has functioning brakes. This isn't a heavy duty pickup.

    Take your time, choose your PUP carefully, then go enjoy it!
  12. bigdad

    bigdad Active Member

    Mar 5, 2007
    Springfield Kentucky
    You can keep eye on the dealer website i got mine for 7,000 it's 2005 a 10ft wel sleep 6 ok

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