May need new vehicle - Fiberglass RV

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Old 09-24-2009, 08:01 PM   #1
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Penney H. & Mike E.'s Avatar
Trailer: 2005 17 ft Escape ('Turtle')
Posts: 388
Okay, this is a good place to get ideas from diverse folks about vehicles.

Our 1995 Toyota Previa, which we love and bought for the physical comfort I need, has 250,000 miles on it and we will find out tomorrow if the super charger needs replacing. Ouch! This will cost several thousand. And in the not too distant future it will be the engine, then the transmission, etc. Remember in the 'ole days when cars lasted forever and it was worth replacing all these things? We are still of that mind set, the body is in good shape, a few thousand here and a few thousand there is a lot but for our situation, (me not working) possibly more manageable than financing a new car, or even a slightly used car. (we average 20,000 miles a year so high mileage used cars don't make sense - life in the country).

But.....were we to do that we would consider a Toyota Sienna, one of the top rated mini vans. We are Toyota folks, I have owned both a pick-up and Corona, both bought used, low mileage and lasted well over 200,000 miles each. We have an older, '84, little Toyota pick-up that just keeps going.

So..... would love input from other Toyota owners, (or anyone else with an opinion) both Previas and Siennas. What would you do? Keep the Previa going? Consider something newer?

In reading up - I discovered this little quote "The towing capacity values for Toyota vehicles are based on using a genuine Toyota towing hitch." Our Previa does not have the official tow package, as we did not have a trailer when we got it. I wonder if we have put too much stress on the engine, as I also read this:

Maximum tongue weight for Sienna:
Without Towing Package 120
With Towing Package 350

Just want to pick some brains out there on this, most folks we know would go for smaller high mileage vehicles, but this is both our main vehicle and our tow vehicle and it needs to be comfortable for travel - criteria many of you understand.

thanks to anyone who has read this far and willing to make a reply!


"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Enjoy our travel photos at: Turtle Travels
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Old 09-24-2009, 09:37 PM   #2
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Name: Tom
Trailer: 1980 Bigfoot 17 ft
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We have towed with 2 Toyota Siennas. We had a 2002 CE that we put 100,000 miles on and it performed any and all tasks well. Last June we traded it and bought a 2006 LE. Both had non Toyota class III hitches that I installed. Both had Air Lift rear spring bags that I installed to cure rear end sag and firm up the ride. We occasionally rent a 19' stick built and then I use a single bar WDH and Prodigy brake controller. The 2002 had an added transmission cooler. I have never been disappointed with either van and will buy another when this one is too old.

I would also suggest to you read the "towing" section at

1980 Bigfoot 17' & former owner of 1973 Compact Jr
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Old 09-25-2009, 03:39 AM   #3
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Penney H. & Mike E.'s Avatar
Trailer: 2005 17 ft Escape ('Turtle')
Posts: 388
thanks Tom, appreciate your remarks and the links. It sounds like the newer Toyoto need a special engine cooler to tow anything over 1200, which obviously our Escape is. Do you have that on your's? What is the weight of your Compact Jr?
"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Enjoy our travel photos at: Turtle Travels
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Old 09-25-2009, 04:17 AM   #4
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Name: Ed
Trailer: 1982 Fiber Stream and 2002 Casita Freedom Deluxe,The driveway is a Dark & Lonely Place now!
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Mike & Penny,I feel your pain.
My 4th Previa sits dead in my driveway with a blown head gasket and I just can't seem to part with it.
I also do have a good supercharger on it and am thinking of parting it out.

But to the point,I have not found anything else like them. Mine have all been All-Tracs and I have gotten over 300,000 miles on each of them except the SC model also a 95.
The Sienna seem too pricey to me new and the Odyssey the only real competitor.
I think either would work well for you and they evidently offer an All-Trac Sienna but I have never seen one.

I work for three different Toyota Dealers here and have had many conversations about the Prev's and the consensus is that they do not make them like that anymore.
I get a little weepy each time I see your photo on the site.

Lots of friends like the Dodge vans but I will not buy another one so I ended up in a Tundra.
I also have a 2000 Odyssey that I use for work and many here tow with them but I don't.

Good Luck
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Old 09-25-2009, 04:46 AM   #5
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Name: Ron
Trailer: Eggless for now.
Formerly NH, now full timing
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Hi Penney,

I tow with a 2002 Sienna that I bought used for my business. It's currently got 75K and a lot of life left in it.

I tow a 17 ft. EggCamper with it. Before I picked up the EggCamper in Michigan, I had hitch and a transmission cooler installed. The EggCamper is fairly light for its size and the Sienna handles it well, even on hills.

I especially like towing with the van. I can pull all the seats out leaving a large area where I can put the bikes, and an assortment of other camping gear.

I've owned several Toyota vehicles and racked up a bunch of trouble-free miles on all of them. I expect that the Sienna will be around for another 100,000 plus miles.

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Old 09-25-2009, 10:37 AM   #6
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Trailer: 2005 17 ft Escape ('Turtle')
Posts: 388
It is very helpful and supportive to hear other happy Toyota van owners who tow with their vans. We will find out today the story on ours. Amazingly the closest dealer to us has our exact Previa - taken in on a trade - for sale amazing cheap and with 100,000 less miles than ours (maybe I shouldn't be telling this - Ed you are too far away to get it!). They told me most the 2009 Siennas were snatched up in the cash for trash deals and the used 2005 they have seems pricy for a four year old vehicle, but that is because it only has 30,000 miles on it. We have dealt with this dealer before so feel pretty trusting of their info and pricing.

edit: Bummer......the good deal on a 1995 is not all-trac, important to us in the winter - ours is (we found out it is not the super-charger, well it sort of is, it is using oil, but they hope a new muffler is the cause and plan to also drain the transmission which over heated while towing up hill - all this will be expensive work on a van that may be headed for the sunset), though we may have to rethink that. I'm wondering if all-trac, either with the Previa or the Sienna makes a difference when towing?

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Enjoy our travel photos at: Turtle Travels
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