Towing with 12-Passenger Transit? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-26-2021, 10:00 AM   #1
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Towing with 12-Passenger Transit?

Number Two Son is considering buying a 10-12-passenger van, maybe a Ford Transit. He says their nominal towing capability is limited, maybe 4k lbs. That might be enough for a molded fiberglass trailer like our Casita 17, but they have a passel of kids, so may need larger—or, as we suggest, a couple of tents.

Anyone done any towing with one of those 12-passenger Transits? My guess is that by the time you pile all the kids inside the Transit, and the luggage on top (or somewhere), your gross vehicle + camper weight is going to be hard to pull up hills. But I'm just speculating.

/Mr Lynn
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Old 07-26-2021, 10:09 AM   #2
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Maybe this will help:
https://www.carindigo.com/ford/trans...owing-capacity
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Old 07-26-2021, 12:49 PM   #3
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If all 10-12 seats are filled, towing will likely be very limited. But if it's not at full passenger capacity and you remove the extra seats to further reduce weight (the Transit seats are very modular), I think you might make it work. You’ll want the T350 version for greatest payload. Paired with the optional 3.5L Ecoboost engine, it should have power to spare. You’ll have to take a careful look at all the relevant weight ratings and estimate the weight of passengers, gear, and the loaded trailer.

The van could make up some of the sleeping spots lacking in a smaller molded trailer and eliminate the need for a tent. How many people are we talking about here?

If the Transit doesn’t pan out there is also the Chevy Express 3500 passenger van. Its maximum base tow rating (before you factor in passengers) is 9600#, so you’ve got more margin to work with. The 6.0L V8/6 speed automatic is very strong and surprisingly economical for a large van (around 18-19 mpg highway in our fully converted, raised roof van camper). Downsides of the Chevy include less seating flexibility and lack of head restraints for rear passengers.

Biggest obstacle of this plan right now might be the lack of full-size van inventory.
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Old 07-27-2021, 05:31 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
If all 10-12 seats are filled, towing will likely be very limited. But if it's not at full passenger capacity and you remove the extra seats to further reduce weight (the Transit seats are very modular), I think you might make it work. You’ll want the T350 version for greatest payload. Paired with the optional 3.5L Ecoboost engine, it should have power to spare. You’ll have to take a careful look at all the relevant weight ratings and estimate the weight of passengers, gear, and the loaded trailer.

The van could make up some of the sleeping spots lacking in a smaller molded trailer and eliminate the need for a tent. How many people are we talking about here?

If the Transit doesn’t pan out there is also the Chevy Express 3500 passenger van. Its maximum base tow rating (before you factor in passengers) is 9600#, so you’ve got more margin to work with. The 6.0L V8/6 speed automatic is very strong and surprisingly economical for a large van (around 18-19 mpg highway in our fully converted, raised roof van camper). Downsides of the Chevy include less seating flexibility and lack of head restraints for rear passengers.

Biggest obstacle of this plan right now might be the lack of full-size van inventory.
Thanks, Jon, for the helpful reply.

Family will total nine by new year. Little kids don't weigh a lot, but of course they have a way of growing. The Chevy/GMC would be a good tow-vehicle option, but lack of rear headrests is a deal killer. It's possible to get a conversion company to install better seats, but that would drive up costs. (I had a 1998 Chevy Express 2500 with interior modified by Glaval, including a 'fold and tumble' rear seat which gave me extra luggage if we didn't need the last row, sold as 'Luxury Utility Van' [LUV]. Great van, but frame rusted out [from salt] and had to sell for nothing with body and drive train still in great shape.)

Another option is the Nissan NV3500, 10-passenger, and flexible seating, with V8 and good towing ability. No luggage space, though, and I read that Nissan is taking it off the American market.

Dodge (now 'Ram') offers a cargo van with windows that can be customized with seats and passenger amenities. Then there's the Mercedes Sprinter, which is similar to the Transit. Word is that the Mercedes are buggy and expensive to repair.

So for a family bus, the Transit looks best. But the towing limits are a stumbling block. His best bet might be a light hybrid trailer with expandable wings, but he is prone to mold allergies, so wants to avoid canvas.

/LEJ
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Old 07-27-2021, 07:25 AM   #5
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Vans like the Transit are designed to carry a lot of payload, but mediocre tow ratings. The tow ratings of the Transit are all on line.

Pickups are just the opposite, lower payloads and MUCH higher tow ratings.

One is designed to CARRY stuff, the other is designed to TOW stuff.
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Old 07-27-2021, 07:37 AM   #6
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Agree with your assessment all around. Forget the Promaster. Its FWD layout with only one engine option will be the worst of the lot for towing. Custom seating is expensive, and it won’t have rear A/C, curtain airbags, and other comfort and safety features common in factory passenger vans.

There are rumors on the Class B forum that Mercedes will offer a gas version of the Sprinter soon. The diesel emissions system seems to be the main source of complaints about the Sprinter.

Still, the Transit looks like the more practical choice. I’d download a manual and start looking at the numbers closely, as in, “with xxxx pounds on board, combined with the factory curb weight, how much is left in the GVWR and GCWR for the hitch weight and trailer weight?”

A Casita Heritage standard sleeps 6, maybe 7 when they’re little, and 2-3 in the van? Build out a cargo trailer or an old Airstream shell with bunks? A tent trailer is the logical choice for that many people. Storage in a garage eliminates a lot of the potential mold issues with a folding trailer. Store with the top partly raised to maximize air circulation.

But wow! Nine people… I know another family like that- a few of their own and a bunch of adopted/foster kids. They’re amazing and very active outdoors, but they don’t travel far from home.
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