Towing a 16' fiberglass trailer with a 2014 Toyota Sienna - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-04-2019, 09:33 AM   #1
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Towing a 16' fiberglass trailer with a 2014 Toyota Sienna

Does anyone have experience with this? Is it even a good idea? The minivan is 6 cylilnders and has the capacity of towing 3,500. I've read on some modifications that include transmission cooler, heavy duty radiator fan, upgraded brakes.

I haven't purchased the trailer yet and currently have the minivan. I'm just looking at options before I purchase and whether I can get away without buying a new tow vehicle.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 07-04-2019, 09:54 AM   #2
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It will tow fine assuming it has any required mechanical upgrades specified by the manufacturer (my 2000 Sienna required an optional tow prep package with upgraded engine and transmission cooling to tow 3500#, but I don’t know about 2014). You will also have to wire the van for trailer brakes with a controller.

Biggest issue will be low clearance at the rear under the hitch.
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Old 07-04-2019, 10:10 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply Jon. If I were to do all the mods., do you think it will tow okay on inclines in the mountains? I was also thinking about doing a slight lift on the van to help on the clearance.
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Old 07-04-2019, 10:29 AM   #4
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Name: Gordon
Trailer: 2015 Scamp (16 Std Layout 4) with '15 Toyota Sienna LE Tug
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Yes a few people tow with a Sienna.. mine is a 2015 LE with a Scamp 16 Layout 4 coming in at about 2500 lbs. It does quite well overall. But I do not fill the van with people and tons of gear, so I have no worry about exceeding the gross combined vehicle weight rating. I have experienced front (steering) wheel slippage twice under very demanding conditions. One was on wet pavement and one on gravel. Both on sharp grades with turns. Neither were nearly so bad as be worried about a loss of control. The after market hitch sits low and I have scraped it twice, one time pulling out the umbilical. No damage - I just stopped, plugged it back in and its been fine ever since. So you do need to watch for those “gotchas.”

I seem to recall that the rear end was beefed up in 2015, but now I can’t confirm that. If you do get too much rear-end squat because of tongue weight and/or vehicle loading, there are some ways to deal with that such as air bags for the springs.

I don’t think that any changes to the transmission cooling brakes, etc are required nor recommended. Mine has a 3500 lb tow rating with 350 tongue weight limit from the facotry which is a good rating for most Scamp 16s. Where you will see equipment issues is with the hitch receiver, brake controller and trailer light converter. Last I knew, Toyota does not manufacture towing accessories that you will need, and they have clearly told me that they do not endorse the use of any after-market towing accessories and their use may void the vehicle warranty. They would have to prove that any modifications were the cause of any warranted vehicle failure before denying a claim, but just know that you could be in for a fight if things went that way. And thats not just Siennas or even only Toyotas.

One approach is to see if you can find a similar trailer.. say 2500-2800 lbs with 10 to 15 percent of that on the tongue and go ahead and install the towing gear on the Sienna, then give it a few hundred mile test drive. If you are comfortable with that then go buy a camper. (BTW, sorry but I’m not offering mine up )
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Old 07-04-2019, 10:33 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by scott_lobe View Post
Thanks for the reply Jon. If I were to do all the mods., do you think it will tow okay on inclines in the mountains? ..
Mountains in North Carolina... Asheville area and NV/VA state line. no problem... the latter has a seven mile steep grade with truck escape ramps on the downgrade.. I climb that towing the Scamp and have no problem keeping up with traffic, passing all the tractor-trailers. But The Rockies.. well I dont know - have not towed it out west. I guess it might depend on the particular route.

And that is Unmodified. For a 2014 Sienna rated at 3500 and a typical Scamp 16, I really dont think you should start doing mods until and unless you find a need for it.
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Old 07-04-2019, 10:42 AM   #6
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Thanks for the detailed advice, Gordon. Right now I have a teardrop trailer so no worries about tow vehicle or load issues. My kids are getting older so we've outgrown the teardrop. It was good a run, but now time to get my feet wet with the big boys

This is a great community. People are there to help at the drop of a pin. Thanks again!
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Old 07-05-2019, 12:31 PM   #7
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We towed our 16 DLX Scamp with 3 different Honda Odysseys, equivalent to the Sienna. towing was just fine.
Drawbacks: A low rear bumper requiring a high rise ball mount; "soft" rear axle suspension allowed about 2" of sag with hitch weight. I would have added booster shocks or air bags inside the coil springs but no space for such.
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Old 07-06-2019, 09:51 AM   #8
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Hey Wayne, thanks for the feedback. I feel a lot more confident now knowing this. I spoke to some people and they said the Sienna is not really made for towing so they wouldn't risk it. But getting real info from people who have been there and done that is the best. Thanks again!
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Old 07-06-2019, 10:24 AM   #9
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When most people think of "towing," large 25-30' conventional trailers come to mind. That's what you typically see on the road. In that context, yes, the Sienna isn't really built for towing. Its main purpose is a people hauler.

But within its modest tow rating, and cognizant of the limitations of a low clearance, unibody, FWD vehicle (limited off-pavement use), it's perfectly capable. Toyota is notoriously cautious and risk-averse, and that extends to tow ratings. Towing-related mechanical problems are rare, assuming you're within specs.

Know that you can't utilize the full people- and/or cargo-hauling capacity and tow a trailer at the same time; it's a trade-off. You might experience some issues rigging the trailer brake wiring, but it can be done. Read all the fine print in the manual.
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Old 07-07-2019, 07:48 PM   #10
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Yes, I towed our 16 foot Scamp with a 2011 Toyota Sienna, that had the "towing upgrade", which I think included the transmission cooler ( I am not a gearhead, so I am probably not using the correct jargon).

We live and camp mostly in very hilly east TN, and it did just fine for the couple of years I had the van.
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Old 07-07-2019, 10:14 PM   #11
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Thanks Nancy! It def. takes away my doubts with the minivan. I did hear somewhere that I should tow only 80% of the capacity. The Sienna can tow up to 3500 lbs. so the max would be 2800. That's pretty close including passengers and gear
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Old 07-08-2019, 04:58 AM   #12
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I tow with a Rav4 V6 tow pkg. 3500/350 tongue wt.
A little smaller then the Seianna. It tows fine, I have been to va NC Asheville area handled very well. You can do most off road towing with it but I would avoid those logging trails, leave that to jeeps and 4wd trucks with a high rear end.
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Old 07-08-2019, 06:09 AM   #13
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I wouldn’t do it based on towing a 16 ft Scamp
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Old 07-08-2019, 06:18 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
I wouldn’t do it based on towing a 16 ft Scamp
Please explain why. I dont want to do anything thats not safe. Maybe with my Scamp 16 and Sienna I have just been lucky with my close to 10,000 miles in three years (not to mention the others who have similar setups).
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Old 07-08-2019, 08:44 AM   #15
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I followed friends that towed a 2010 Scamp 16 with a 2011 Sienna (with tow package) to Alaska & back in 2015, and on another trip to the Boler 50th & the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta last year. They had few problems other than trying to start on a steep gravel hill in a campground (spinning front wheels; had to back down to get enough traction to keep going). The low hitch was sometimes a problem with steep entryways.
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Old 07-08-2019, 10:24 AM   #16
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Towing a 16' fiberglass trailer with a 2014 Toyota Sienna

I’ve had the same issue- spinning front wheels on loose campground surfaces- with my FWD Pilot. It cones with territory when you tow with any FWD-only vehicle. Disabling electronic stability control was necessary on one occasion; otherwise, ESC de-powered the engine and applied brakes to stop the spin, bringing the whole rig to a standstill. Don’t know if you can do that on a Sienna.

As I said, “limited off-highway use.”
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Old 07-08-2019, 01:35 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by gordon2 View Post
Please explain why. I dont want to do anything thats not safe. Maybe with my Scamp 16 and Sienna I have just been lucky with my close to 10,000 miles in three years (not to mention the others who have similar setups).
All I said was “I wouldn’t based on my experience “ . If you feel it’s ok and safe you are entitled to your opinion as am I but I don’t make my decisions based on luck
Like my dad use to say “ Just because others do it doesn’t make it right “
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Old 07-08-2019, 02:32 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
All I said was “I wouldn’t based on my experience “ . If you feel it’s ok and safe you are entitled to your opinion as am I but I don’t make my decisions based on luck
Like my dad use to say “ Just because others do it doesn’t make it right “
Of course it was your experience I was interested in hearing about. I can learn from my own experience as well as the experiences of others. That is a big reason I am on this forum. But to just say you wouldn't do it and not provide any reason, evidence, explanation or detail will have next to no influence on my decision, esp since I have done so well with it. Perhaps you had a prior generation Sienna.. I would not tow with it either. But as it is I am just left guessing about your statement.

As my dad used to say, "Just because others don't do it, doesn’t mean its not perfectly OK to do."

(OK, I never really heard him say that but he might have when I was not around )
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Old 07-08-2019, 03:59 PM   #19
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We tow just fine on paved roads

We are towing a 16' Casita with a 2017 Toyota Sienna LE on paved roads just fine. The biggest limitation so far is scrapping the pavement entering/exiting driveways and parking lots with the tow hitch as it sits pretty low to the ground. You will need a 1.5" - 2" RISE tow hitch to accommodate for that. Slowing down helps, too.
A 2017 Sienna came with a towing package standard but it was optional on earlier models.
We do NOT go off road, so if you plan to go off road, you may have more serious limitations with a Sienna. Others have addressed this already.
I towed once with a 4Runner and it's a better, more confident towing vehicle but you can put loads more in a minivan
If you were buying a vehicle for purposes of towing, I would say a frame SUV or truck is a better choice, but if you already have a minivan, you don't need to buy another towing vehicle for a 16' fiberglass trailer.
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Old 07-08-2019, 04:49 PM   #20
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I'm with Steve D except perhaps I'm a little rougher around the edges. (No adult supervision these days.) I wouldn't do it. Too close to the limits. This is a well covered topic and I'm not part of a dog and pony circus act to run out all the reasons that have been covered before. I don't provide advice, I only report what works for me and I'm a conservative tow-er.

As long as we're passing along parental advice, my mother's was "If everybody jumped off a cliff would you too?" Pretty much out of the same parenting handbook. Of course Evel Knievel wasn't my parent.
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