Baby on the way! Minivan time? Please help!

Discussion in 'Tow Vehicles, Hitch & Towing' started by jschway, Sep 9, 2016.

  1. mickaqua

    mickaqua Member

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    Dodge Grand Caravan with Pentastar V6 and Monroe Sensatrac shocks(rear) does a great job! [:D]
     
  2. Hersbird

    Hersbird Member

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    Actually the 2011 up Dodge has more horsepower then your 454 and only has to move 1/2 the weight, it will handle 10,000 foot mountains just fine. This from somebody who has had both a 99 454 Suburban and many minivans. We are talking about pulling a pop-up camper not a 30' travel trailer.
     
  3. DSchulten88

    DSchulten88 Member

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    Horsepower doesn't move trailers. Torque does. Shoot, I've built my 4.0 XJ to have more HP than this Suburban does but it struggled (4.10 gears and 33" tires bringing it back to a stock final drive ratio) to get over the Rockies into Moab with a three rail motorcycle trailer and three light dirt bikes on it. Probaby ~1000 pounds. I wouldn't dream of attempting to pull our 3,700 pound pop up over I-70 with it and on paper it's still a better tow vehicle than a minivan. The way an engine utilizes it's power and torque is more important than numbers. Consider gearing, drivetrain, displacement(no replacement) not data sheets. People have been using these 3/4 ton suburbans to haul 10,000 pound horse trailers for decades on their measly HP numbers.

    Also, my Suburban only weighs ~1000 more pounds. If it was "half the weight" the minivan would be closer to ~2700 pounds, not ~4400. My Suburban is ~5500

    I understand we're talking about a pop up, not a TT. He's still talking about being loaded down using nearly all his vehicle's towing capacity plus loaded down near GVWR.

    I digress, he lives in Mississippi though, unless he intends on touring America with it, he'll probably do fine near sea level and not pulling grades.

    A minivan might pull 3100 pounds up I-70 doing 35 mph in second gear at 5,000 RPM a few times.. Before you blow a head gasket or grenade your transmission/transaxle.

    [2C] [2C]
     
  4. Jughed

    Jughed Member

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    Yep - a Caravan at 10,000' is producing 160+/-#'s of torque at wide open throttle.

    The 454 makes 380#'s of torque at 1600 rpm. Or about 270+/-#'s at elevation.

    Night and day towing over high elevations.
     
  5. ScoobyDoo

    ScoobyDoo New Member

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    Yes, but what % of the miles are you towing, let alone towing that high? Most that own one will need to feed their big rat if they work it or not.
    A couple of years back brother bought a few cars out in South Dakota. Seller wanted them moved ASAP. We loaded my little 6 behind his 3/4 ton 454 powered 'burb. I was little over gross with the car on a U-haul and parts in the back of pickup. On the way back I used about 2/3 of the gas he did...
     
  6. Ryanm

    Ryanm Member

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    Come on, a real TV can pull the boat you don't own up the mountain you don't live near, without even noticing.

    We're talking pop-ups here. Yes, torque does indeed move trailers. You know what increases torque, besides something huge that burns a ton of gas? Gears. Gears, and the understanding that you don't need to be able to pass people on the way up a mountain while towing.
     
  7. Hersbird

    Hersbird Member

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    my 1999 7.4 4x4 loaded Suburban was almost 7000 pounds with just me in it when I weighed it AFTER dropping off a load of scrap metal. The 3.6 makes 260 ft-lbs from 2000-6000 rpm and there you see the key on why hp is just as important as torque. What it means is the high rpm ability means the lower gears are in play for twice the RPM range. So while the 454 makes 100 or so more ft-lbs it has to shift up sooner. Add to that now the 6 speed on the minivan compared to the 4 speed on the 454 and you get even more torque multiplication from the gearing. Final gearing on the Burb sounds impressive until you reduce it with the taller tires. Torque is a measure of force, but HP is a measurement of the actual work being done. I guarantee put the 3500# trailer behind both of them on a 1/4 mile strip and the 3.6 minivan will beat it, ET, MPH, and get better gas mileage while doing it. Compared to something as old as a 94 I bet it out stops it even with the trailer as well. The new vans have massive rotors on all 4 corners now. Bigger and stronger then any thing Chevy put on Suburbans all through the 90's. You cant even fit 16" wheels over the brakes on a 2012 up Caravan anymore. It may FEEL like it's working hard, while the 454 is just easily lumbering along, but it is designed to rev a little to make the power, it's OK. It's like comparing a sport bike to a Harley. My Honda needs to be kept over 4000 rpm or it doesn't oil or charge right, yet it is 40 years old and still running strong as ever putting Harleys to shame. Oh and we just got new 2 1/2 ton commercial trucks at work powered by the same 3.6 minivan motor and transmission.

    I don't know where anybody got 160 ft-lb peak for torque on a 3.6, it's 260 and 90% of the torque is available from 1800 to 6350 rpm.
     
  8. arthuruscg

    arthuruscg Active Member

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    Minivans have underrated tow capacity compared to trucks. OEMs basically count on having multiple people in the van so they want to leave enough cargo capacity when towing. With most trucks, when you do the math, GCWR - curb - max trailer = 180lbs for the driver. Below is the math for the Mercury Monterey.

    2004 Mercury Monterey
    GCWR 8700
    GVWR 5860
    Tow cap 3500 , 350 tongue weight (10%)
    curb weight of the heaviest Freestar/Monterey 4340 (mine does not have all the options)

    Max payload 1200lbs

    8700 GCWR - 4340 (max curb) = 4360 remaining GCWR amount
    4360 (remaining GCWR) - 3500 trailer = 860 -150 (driver) = 710 remaining GCWR

    5860 GVWR -4340 (max curb) = 1520 payload
    1520 max payload - 350 tongue = 1170 remaining GVWR

    So, I can have 5 passenger in the van that weight 142lbs each and still be under my limits.
     
  9. smhartman

    smhartman Member

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    Hi,

    We have an '07 Honda Odyssey, 04 Jayco Eagle FSO (slide out dinette and A/C). We towed it from OH to Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Custer NP this summer for 4,438 miles (some miles without camper) with 3 bikes on rooftop of van. I drove it out and back and my husband did the mountains because fear of heights. I drove the crazy speed limits (75+). Don't knock the minivan!

    Susan
     
  10. Ryanm

    Ryanm Member

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    Stop it, Susan! You're supposed to convince yourself that you need a 2500, preferably a diesel, because regular vehicles can't possibly hold up to the rigors of... driving places with stuff.
     
  11. rjhammetter

    rjhammetter Husband, Dad, Engineer & Camper

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    I wonder if OP is reading these anymore. There is some good discussion on GVWR, GCWR, tow capacity, transmission oile coolers and benefits of minivan ownership. I'd put a plug in for 2011+ Odyssey. Agree with Orchid that earlier generations had transmission problems (without even towing). Disagree that you need a pickup or full sized SUV to tow a PUP. Agree with Ryanm that some people overexaggerate safety margins and vehicular capabilities.

    I looked up the Palomino Yearline 4125. Dry weight 1985#. You would probably add a fewhundred# of gear. Dry hitch weight 188#. You would probably add ahundred# for battery and propane. That means you essentially have an identical set up to mine. 2012 Odyssey towing a 12' box Jayco. Our van does beautifully. Trailer tracks well. Engine has enough power to do 70 on the expressway. Only time transmission hunts for gears is when terrain gets hilly. I would guess that you will do just fine with your rig.

    I did some math for myself earlier this fall.
    Miles traveled this year: 12560mi
    Miles traveled while towing: 716mi
    Time spent towing: 5.7%
    Total gas consumed (avg 21mpg): 598gal
    Total cost of fuel (assume $2.20/gal): $1,315

    If I had used the GMC Yukon I used to drive as a daily driver this year, which averaged 12mpg, I would have used 1,046gal and spent $2,302 this year on gas for the same period... because I spent 5.7% of my time towing. YMMV.
     
  12. DSchulten88

    DSchulten88 Member

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    You've convinced yourself of some strange things here. I'll forgo the pissing contest and wait to have someone who lives in Colorado and regularly tows over the Rocky Mountains with a minivan to chime in... I figure we'll be waiting a while. I wanted so badly to dissect your post "fact" for "fact" but I just don't have the time.

    Either way, we've deviated from the original post so much these points are moot.

    Not to mention no one who's chimed in lives at 6,000 feet and everytime they tow will be going over 10,000 passes.. Let alone with 3-4 kids, 2 adults, 2 dogs, hundreds of pounds of gear and a 3,600 pound PUP.

    ..but I digress because none of this has anything to do with pulling a 3,100 pound trailer around Mississippi with a minivan.

    Apples to oranges.

    Our suburban serves several purposes for us and was not purchased with the intention of towing a pop up at all. I bought it to tow my Jeep on a car hauler into Moab. I haven't given any thought to gas mileage either considering the 'burb cost me 4 grand.

    I probably shouldn't have bothered responding in the first place.

    Cheers! Happy Camping.
     
  13. arthuruscg

    arthuruscg Active Member

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    All naturally aspirated vehicles loose about 3% of their power per 1,000 ft of elevation gain due to reduction in atmospheric density. ((Elevation(ft) * .03) * hp at sea Level)/ 1000

    Now, the actual power loss can be even more if the ECU or carburetor can not adjust for the new elevation. This is where any newer vehicle will be better. The old TBI and EFI systems used narrow band O2 sensors, which are not as accurate as the newer Wideband O2. Also, the older systems adjusted slower to the long term fuel trim changes then the newer systems. So, during constant elevation changes, newer EFI systems can maintain more power/efficency.

    Also, at elevation is where super or turbo charged cars really shine.
     
  14. Hersbird

    Hersbird Member

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    So the more modern 3.6 has both higher compression and better electronics both in fuel injection and ignition control to help minimize the loss at elevation compared to the 90's 454. I live in Western Montana, it's not like we don't have 10,000ft+ passes or high altitude day to day driving. I agree a turbo is a big plus either gas or diesel but the 454 doesn't have that advantage. No question if you were going to tow 6000+ pounds the 2500 big block would be better, but right tool for the right job says a modern minivan pulls a popup just fine.

    I am sorry I rubbed you the wrong way, as both a 454 suburban owner, and a minivan owner (and Duramax diesel, and 1500 Hemi owner) who has owned both popup and hard sides and towed all over Montana including the Beartooth pass, I have experienced it all.
     
  15. DSchulten88

    DSchulten88 Member

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    If we're on the same page I'm not sure about the 3% power loss but it is a fact that per 1,000 feet of elevation you do lose 3% oxygen saturation (per 1000' of elevation) in the air. So of course your vehicle's fuel to air mixture will have to adjust.

    To be fair I haven't been "rubbed the wrong way" everyone has their own experiences.

    What works for some, doesn't work for others and vise versa.

    We all have what we can afford and what makes sense for us.

    If I had been in the market to spend 12 or 14 grand on a vehicle I probably would have found a 9th gen 3/4 ton 'burb with the 8.1 vortec. We rent out our old house and have a large mortgage on our current house so we pay cash for everything. I'm only 28 and if we can't afford it we don't buy it. It's important that we keep our credit ratings up in case anything comes up with our houses that we can't shell out the cash for. Everyone's in a different position monetarily and I respect that.

    Don't get me wrong... I really like minivans but they just weren't right for us.. I very much dig my old suburban. We looked at them for a very long time before coming across this great example of one that was equipped exactly how we wanted it for a ridiculous price...
     
  16. Gjburkey

    Gjburkey Member

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    I run our family owned truss shop and do deliveries all the time with either a 1 ton pickup and 30' goose neck, or else a semi. So towing a trailer with a van just feels wrong.

    But.

    We are using a 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan to tow our PUP. The PUP is between 1900 and 2000 lbs dry. I only got the PUP about a month ago, and we've only gone out twice. I posted awhile back about adding a "tow package" to our van. It wasn't too hard to do all that, and I'm glad I did.

    Here's the thing. I live in Nebraska. It's pretty flat here, and I won't be pulling any mountains with my setup. Frankly, I wouldn't even consider it at this point. I feel that with the trailer I've got I'm pushing the limits a little to tow it with the van. I know that the numbers all come out OK, but it still seems like a bit much. But that may be because I spend a lot of time in a 1 ton Dodge dually. My basic worry is that if anything happens, bad roads, swerving to miss something, or suddenly having to get on the brakes, that trailer has enough weight to throw the back of my van around, and once that happens there's nothing I can do to recover.

    So I do it, but I do it with a lot of caution and a fair amount of driving experience. I'm one of those guys you don't want to get behind on a two lane road, because I'm a lot more worried about our safety than your schedule. [:(!]

    We also have 4 children, so our options are limited to the van or a suburban. We already had the van. The next vehicle just might be a suburban, I'll know better after I get a few more in-state camping trips under my belt.

    Below is a picture of my rig, all ready to head out.

    Good luck, and take those children camping!
     

    Attached Files:

  17. ScoobyDoo

    ScoobyDoo New Member

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    I'm not sure about supercharger, does the volume of air forced in change? If not and you just shove in the same volume of thin air you get a equal drop in power. The turbo will spin faster in thin air, but without inter-cooling it is not hard to overheat the combustion chambers...

    From what I read here it appears you are overlooking one important option, help with safety, keep the trailer from throwing the van, help you recover...
    PUT BRAKES ON THE TRAILER!
     
  18. arthuruscg

    arthuruscg Active Member

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    typically, OEM SC/TC setups are boost limited to a certain PSI and the extra air volume is recirculated. So, at higher altitudes there is less venting to maintain the same PSI. But typicaly at lower RPM, the SC/TC can't push enough air to reach the PSI limit so low RPM performance is reduced.

    Agreed on having trailer brakes and a good proportional brake controller.
    The Jayco's website doesn't list the 2002 but 2003, 12' should have brakes according to Jayco's website.
    Jayco reduced the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating to 2800 lbs to not be required to have brakes in most states so they might have been optional in 2002. The weight is over the limit of a 2K axle, so most likely it has a 3.5lk axle/springs with the square backing plate to add the brakes.
     
  19. Gjburkey

    Gjburkey Member

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    Yeah, it's got brakes. Surge brakes, but they work well.

    Sent from my XT1080 using Tapatalk
     
  20. MNTCamper

    MNTCamper Well-Known Member

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    The Jayco UDST has surge brakes as noted and they work well (I pull the same camper - 2001). You might be a bit heavier because you have AC, but we pulled that camper fine for many miles with our 2001 Honda Odyssey. We typically pull the camper with our Sprinter now, but I would pull it with any minivan set up to tow. It pulls very well. Max weight on it loaded is around 2900 lbs or so. You know it is there on acceleration and stopping, but it tracks very well. We have pulled it in more hilly or mountainous locations and you just go a little slower, not really a big deal. A properly set up minivan will pull all pups up to 3K without a problem and can go up to 3.5K as well with careful driving. The main issue with all the minivans is the back end sag due to the tongue weight, so often load assist shocks or air bags are needed.
     

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