towing with GM mini van - Fiberglass RV

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Old 01-09-2006, 03:55 PM   #1
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I have a GM mini van with towing package (hitch, transmission cooler, extra engine cooling and auto level control) rated at 3500 lbs. Does any one tow with similar TV? I plan to travel many miles and economy is important. I need actual towing experience with minivans and not speculation based on the numbers.

My concerns are: How does it handle the weight in mountains? What fuel economy to expect? Any information on wind drag.

Thanks for the help.

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Old 01-09-2006, 05:07 PM   #2
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What type of gm minivan?

I had a 1995 Lumina APV 3.8 litre and I towed my 13 foot Trillium everywhere.
I barely saw a gas mileage drop.
When I got the 17 foot Trillium, my mileage dropped to about 22mpg.
It still towed well but I added an anti-swaybar as well as air bags in my shocks.
My van was just prematurley retired at 319000 km(divide by 1.6 for miles) as the body shop it was in burned it for my Christmas present. ( I hate people who don't pay attention to what they are doing)
It still ran great, and I averaged 30mpg on the highway with 5 passengers carpooling to work.

I probably towed about 3000 miles/year with the big trailer, but never in overdrive.
I also had a brake controller, The minivan brakes are not adequate for anything over 1500 pounds without one, and marginal for stuff over 1000 lbs. even thought they say it's ok in the book.

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Old 01-09-2006, 11:03 PM   #3
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Hi James, We tow with a Nissan frontier 4x4 3.3 liter and a Ford Windstar 3.8 liter. They do about the same for gas mileage, 15 to18 mpg. For over the road trips the Windstar is much more comfortable. But in back roads of Idaho the Nissan is much better. Actually the Windstar pulls it easier but the Nissan with it's standard transmission gives me more peace of mind. I don't think you will be disappointed withyour rig. What seems to really makes the biggest difference in my gas mileage isn't the mountains as much as it is the speed at which you tow. Oh yes I pull an Escape trailer 17" locked and loaded its about 23 to 2400 pounds.

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Old 01-10-2006, 11:54 AM   #4
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I tow my UHaul with a Mazda MPV rated for 3000lbs. We get 16-18mpg depending on wind conditions. Love the minivan for camping - plenty of cargo space and easy access! Last year we logged about 8,000 miles with this combination.

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Old 01-10-2006, 04:19 PM   #5
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My 2004 Toyota Sienna is generally similar to the Venture/Montana/etc series of GM minivans, and in fact I considered a Venture or Montana with the options mentioned as an alternative when we bought the Sienna. The most different specifications might be the air suspension (GM factory versus add-in bags in my Sienna) and the engine power output (230 HP in the Sienna, significantly less in 2004 GM vans).

The Boler B1700RGH is a 17-foot long and 7.5-foot-wide unit of about 3000 pounds as we tow it; James, you didn't mention what size and weight of trailer is being considered for combination with the GM van, but my Boler is much heavier and a foot wider than the typical 13-foot egg. I do not use a weight-distributing hitch or sway control, but I do use electric brakes with a proportional controller.

I found that the combination had more than adequate power in the Rocky Mountains (accepting that automatic downshifting by the 5-speed transmission is required), and handled and braked well in the twistiest (is that a word?) and steepest sections of the Crowsnest Highway of southern BC. I don't think I'll quote fuel economy today, because I can't remember the numbers offhand, and my mountain towing was under time constraints and often significantly faster than a typical towing pace.
1979 Boler B1700RGH, pulled by 2004 Toyota Sienna LE 2WD
Information is good. Lack of information is not so good, but misinformation is much worse. Check facts, and apply common sense liberally.
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Old 01-10-2006, 09:03 PM   #6
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Hi James, you didn`t mention if your van is a front drive or rear, i.e. Safari with a Vortec 4.3l motor....Benny

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