20' Pontoon Tow - 2017+ Chrysler Pacifica Minivan Forums
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-11-2018, 10:53 AM Thread Starter
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20' Pontoon Tow

So I towed a pontoon boat with the Pac last night. Weight estimate of the load was around 3000lbs, but I'm not 100% sure. Anyway, the van handled very well, felt stable, at no time did I feel that the load was dictating the tow.

However, this is the biggie... The engine seemed to struggle mightily. A lot of 3500 and 4500 RPM time trying to keep it at speed (~60MPH). And of course, fuel mileage was in the gutter. For those who have towed fairly heavy loads, is the engine supposed to be revving that high regularly? While I had no handling issues with the tow, I'm not very confident of the Pac's ability to drag this thing around with people and cargo in the passenger compartment as well. It sort of felt like it was already trying to punch above its' weight. Do I need to be concerned?
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-11-2018, 11:27 AM
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I have a similar pontoon boat, and my experience towing it with the Pacifica was the same as yours. It can certainly do it without damage, but the engine doesn't sound happy about it. For what it's worth, my Cherokee was rated to tow 4500 lbs and it sounded exactly the same as the Pacifica while towing the same boat.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-11-2018, 11:30 AM
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It is not just the weight of the trailer to consider although, as you describe, your trailer weight likely exceeds the Pacifica's ratings (refer to other posts regarding actual tow capacity. Hint: it is not #3500 lb even with tow package).

The other big factor is the frontal area of the trailer. The max trailer frontal area for the Pacifica is 40 sq ft. Hard to calculate with all the different surfaces but the pontoon boat has a lot of frontal surface area. Likely exceeds 40. I think wind drag is causing your Pacifica to struggle.

I don't see them in the photo but I hope you use mirror extenders when towing the boat.

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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-11-2018, 11:32 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by generaltso View Post
I have a similar pontoon boat, and my experience towing it with the Pacifica was the same as yours. It can certainly do it without damage, but the engine doesn't sound happy about it. For what it's worth, my Cherokee was rated to tow 4500 lbs and it sounded exactly the same as the Pacifica while towing the same boat.
I didn't know I was going to get a pontoon boat when we got the Pac, but I intentionally got the tow package for any "in case" future needs. So to see how the engine performed is a concern and a letdown. I have a 96 E-350 with a 460 that could easily handle towing duties, but we got the Pac specifically to tow something like this, and like I said, now I'm worried it isn't up to the task.

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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-11-2018, 02:07 PM Thread Starter
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It is not just the weight of the trailer to consider although, as you describe, your trailer weight likely exceeds the Pacifica's ratings (refer to other posts regarding actual tow capacity. Hint: it is not #3500 lb even with tow package).

The other big factor is the frontal area of the trailer. The max trailer frontal area for the Pacifica is 40 sq ft. Hard to calculate with all the different surfaces but the pontoon boat has a lot of frontal surface area. Likely exceeds 40. I think wind drag is causing your Pacifica to struggle.

I don't see them in the photo but I hope you use mirror extenders when towing the boat.
I didn't see your post, sorry.

I did not have extenders but will definitely get them if the Pac ends up being the tow vehicle. I could see fine but I'm not 'that guy' and will have the right equipment.

The 3k lb estimate was just that, calculated off the intertubes based on the model and equipment. I fudged another 15% or so in the estimate, and really I won;t know until I get an actual weight measured. Probably wasn't actually that heavy.

I think your point about the wind-facing-brick-wall front of the pontoon boat is the biggest issue. As I've never towed a pontoon previously, anyone have any tips for helping reduce the drag? Surprisingly the interwebs aren't long on information. If I can't help ease the strain on the Pac, I will just use the older beasts instead, but that's so not what I would prefer.

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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-11-2018, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
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I didn't see your post, sorry.

I did not have extenders but will definitely get them if the Pac ends up being the tow vehicle. I could see fine but I'm not 'that guy' and will have the right equipment.

The 3k lb estimate was just that, calculated off the intertubes based on the model and equipment. I fudged another 15% or so in the estimate, and really I won;t know until I get an actual weight measured. Probably wasn't actually that heavy.

I think your point about the wind-facing-brick-wall front of the pontoon boat is the biggest issue. As I've never towed a pontoon previously, anyone have any tips for helping reduce the drag? Surprisingly the interwebs aren't long on information. If I can't help ease the strain on the Pac, I will just use the older beasts instead, but that's so not what I would prefer.
With regards to reducing the drag, a cover may help.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-11-2018, 07:45 PM
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I would never tow a boat like that with the Pacifica...

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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-12-2018, 09:11 AM
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I don't think that boat weighs 3,000 lbs; pontoons are pretty light for their size. I'd say something that size would be in the 2,500-lb range. If you drive by a truck stop with a scale, it may be worth spending $10 to get it weighed so you know for sure.

It's all about wind resistance, and you see just how much of an effect that can have. On the downside, there aren't many ways to mitigate that other than slowing down. As long as your transmission and engine temperatures stay reasonable you shouldn't hurt anything, but you're going to drink a lot of gas pulling that wind sail down the highway.

For comparison, I put my 18' bowrider on a scale a few years ago, and it's right at 3,500 lbs. My towing experience is very different from what you describe; I spend most of my time between 6th and 7th gear on the highway, which keeps my engine around 2,100 RPMs or 2,700 RPMs at 65 MPH. I very rarely tach over 3K unless I'm accelerating.
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-12-2018, 01:15 PM
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Lol. You might as well be towing a parachute. I bet it behaved pretty well in the 0-20mph range though.

I've towed 3600+ pounds through the Rockies and thought it behaved amazingly. Very impressed. But my load was a tow dolly + aerodynamic compact car.

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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-12-2018, 02:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toast View Post
So I towed a pontoon boat with the Pac last night. Weight estimate of the load was around 3000lbs, but I'm not 100% sure. Anyway, the van handled very well, felt stable, at no time did I feel that the load was dictating the tow.

However, this is the biggie... The engine seemed to struggle mightily. A lot of 3500 and 4500 RPM time trying to keep it at speed (~60MPH). And of course, fuel mileage was in the gutter. For those who have towed fairly heavy loads, is the engine supposed to be revving that high regularly? While I had no handling issues with the tow, I'm not very confident of the Pac's ability to drag this thing around with people and cargo in the passenger compartment as well. It sort of felt like it was already trying to punch above its' weight. Do I need to be concerned?
1. Moderator: this thread might best be moved to the Towing sub-forum.
2. Unbelievable. Even my wife said "Oh my God!" when I showed her the pic.
3. Hope thread-starter has good insurance and a good lawyer. His financial future could be toast otherwise.

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