Edmunds Answers



  • morin2 10/14/12 11:25 am PST

    Any minivan would be a poor choice to tow your camper. A full-size van with old-fashioned body-on-frame construction would be the closest thing - but probably not a significant improvement over your present vehicles for towing.

    What is the problem with access in the Tahoe and Jeep (model?) that you are trying to solve?

  • hbusam 10/14/12 5:10 pm PST

    The doors are too small to get in an out of with carseats / kids stuf - it would be great if they made an SUV with sliding doors !!

  • Stever@Edmunds 10/14/12 7:50 pm PST

    A Honda Odyssey will tow up to 3,500 pounds "when properly equipped". My brother traded in his old Odyssey not long ago for a new one. And he used to have a smaller popup. Now he has a bigger popup.

    He would tow the smaller one on "local" trips but for any longer trips, they use the F-150.

    The Town and Country/Grand Caravan/Routan can tow 3,600 pounds. The Sienna, Sedona and Quest 3,500. The others don't appear to be rated for towing at all.

    So I agree, no good choices unless you go to an ultralight and keep your overall weight down. We just tent camp with our Quest, but we don't have kids to try to keep dry.

    There is however, the Nissan NV Passenger Van. That puppy has sliders and can tow 7,000 pounds, 9,500 with the V8. But you'll wind up carpooling the entire soccer team.

    I'm a bit partial to Nissans but if you want to look into cargo vans, there's also the Chevy Express and Ford E Series and the Mercedes Sprinter.


  • morin2 10/14/12 8:06 pm PST

    Take the tow "ratings" with a large grain of salt. I've towed large, heavy boats on trailers with a variety of vehicles for about 30 years. Most towers like to keep the weight to less than 75% of the optimistic manufacturer "rating". So that Odyssey rated for 3500 lbs would be best under 3500 x .75 = 2625 lbs.

    If you are towing for only very short distances, such as a boat to a local ramp, then you can "make do", but usually campers are towed longer distances and I would only recommend a vehicle with an actual real axle, specifically geared for better towing performance, such as a 3.73 or 4.10 rear (which you may already have on your Tahoe).

    Towing with a minivan could damage the drivetrain - and you might have a hard time with a warranty fix when they see the tow receiver and electric hook-up.

    But, you bring up an interesting question about a slider on a vehicle capable of towing.
    Some of the 1 ton vans that I have used in the past had dual swing opening "suicide"-style doors on the passenger side only. That allowed for a much larger opening than the regularly configured doors on your present rigs. This was common on some Dodge Ram 350 vans that I used for towing. Those doors opened into a large opening with easier access to both the 2nd and 3rd row seats without a door pillar in the way. In those days, my passengers were guys well over 300 lbs - and they had no trouble getting into the 2nd and 3rd rows.

  • MrShift@Edmunds 10/14/12 9:29 pm PST

    I'd certainly make sure it had a transmission cooler.

  • Stever@Edmunds 10/14/12 9:53 pm PST

    The other consideration that we perhaps should emphasize more is that the maximum you can tow goes down with each passenger. Plus gear.

    I think sliders are now available on all the cargo vans, although sometimes they are optional.

    Most SUVs seem too high to climb into to me after years of driving wagons and minivans. Don't know if something like a Ford Flex would be easier to get the kids in and out of than your Tahoe.


  • MrShift@Edmunds 10/15/12 9:38 am PST

    also, another misconception is that the type of tow hitch increases your towing capacity---this is not so---the type of hitch increases your safety and stability within your tow limits.

    The only ways I know to increase tow capacity would be a) bigger engine or turbocharging b) 4WD and c) changing the differential ratio

  • morin2 10/15/12 9:14 pm PST

    4x4 is nice to have if you are pulling a boat off a slimy boat ramp or stuck at a muddy campground - But it does not increase your towing capacity. It only makes the rig more practical. Usually the same vehicle with 4x4 loses about 200 lbs of tow capacity when compared to the same vehicle in every other way in 2WD - due to the extra weight of the 4x4 components.

    Most Tahoes have the tow/haul mode switch that makes this vehicle a great tow choice. Not only does it lock out o/d, but it changes the shift points so you don't lug the engine with an automatic shifting at too low rpm while pulling a load. My best personal vehicle for towing my personal boat was a 2001 Silverado with a tow package and that tow/haul switch on the dash. It was a dream towing with that truck with the tow/haul mode engaged. I now tow a boat (that together with the motor and trailer, weighs about 3300 pounds) with a 2011 Nissan Frontier V-6 4x4 rated at 6600 lbs capacity - also with a tow package. You would think that it would tow this load easily - but that would be a mistaken assumption. Lacking the tow/haul mode that you have on a GM truck, the automatic on the Nissan shifts at far too low rpms, lugging the engine while sluggishly towing (and straining the drivetrain). I have adapted to this by shifting the automatic manually - something that was never needed in that older Chevy.

    I bring up that story as a precaution about modern vehicles used for towing.

  • MrShift@Edmunds 10/16/12 11:13 am PST

    Hmmm...interesting. I wonder why I sometimes see higher tow ratings for the 4X4 versions of the same vehicle. Maybe it's because they change the differential ratio? I'll have to look into that more--thanks.


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