The basic trailer weight rating
of the Toyota Sienna
(any vintage) is 3500 lb, which is enough for just about anything other than Bigfoot
models over 18'. Many owners (including myself) of current-generation Siennas (2004 and newer) report satisfaction towing trailers up to (and sometimes over) 3000 lb, in combination with significant passenger and cargo loads.
The 3500 lb limit requires a "towing package" (basically just an enlarged transmission oil cooler in most years), but that is included as standard in all Canadian Siennas and almost all US units.
As with any other vehicle, that basic rating by itself is not enough. Every vehicle has a limit of the total of the tow vehicle, trailer, and all cargo, called the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR
). In the current Sienna, this is about 8700 lb, and allows the combination of a trailer with a loaded weight of 3000 lb plus the entire regular payload (over 1000 pounds) of passengers and cargo, if distributed properly between front and rear van axles. We have towed our Boler
with the rig very close to this limit, in the Rocky Mountains, with no concerns for performance.
The most limiting
aspects of this vehicle will be tongue weight capacity
and traction. The tongue weight limit is 350 lb if not using a weight-distributing hitch; and over 500 lb with the WD system. I do not use a WD system, and have a loaded tongue weight around 300 lb. The Casita 17' has an unusually front-heavy configuration, and is thus not a great match for the Sienna, but it has been done.
The reason for the traction
limitation is that with any front-drive vehicle when a lot of load is added to the back, the load on the front wheels to provide drive traction decreases. I don't think this is much of a concern, as I have just as much load on my front wheels as a typical rear-drive minivan (the classic Chev Astro, for instance) would have on its rears with the same trailer... but an AWD Sienna is available if you really want it, and a WD system alleviates this effect.
I find that the Sienna's rear suspension is more suited to trailer and heavy cargo loads with air bags
added inside the rear coil springs. This is an easy and common addition.
The current Highlander
has the same drivetrain as a 2004-2006 Sienna, and the same basic trailer weight rating. This vehicle has a shorter wheelbase (less desirable for towing) and a completely different rear suspension; I do not know its hitch weight limits, but some of our Sienna experience would be applicable to it.
The Honda Pilot
is very similar in size and configuration to the Highlander, and might be a reasonable option.