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Discussion Starter #1
I've read through the forums and other sites on towing, but still a little confused, so any help would really be appreciated.

I have a 2017 Pacifica with factory trailer tow group package.
I towed a pop up camper the last two years and barely noticed it once I got used to it.

We want to step up to something a little larger and have been looking at these two hybrid campers and others that are similar:

KZ Sportsmen Classic 160RBT
Starcraft Launch Outfitter 7 16RB

(Sorry, I tried to link to them but it wouldn't let me)

I'm confused about why the lighter trailer (dry weight KZ is 2,696 lbs and Starcraft is 2,975 lbs) has a heavier hitch weight: KZ 336 lbs and Starcraft 313lbs.
Would that mean the Starcraft would be easier to pull, even though it is heavier?

And should I even be pulling either of these? We are family of four, kids age 3 and 5. We try to travel efficiently and don’t usually camp for more than 3 or 4 days.

I understand that I'll need a brake controller. Do I also need sway bars? Any recommendations for what I am trying to do.

Thanks in advance for any help with unmelting my brain here!
 

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I say no, you shouldn't tow either of those with your van. The tongue weight of those trailers exceeds the 300lb max tongue weight that you van is rated for. Also, keep in mind that those dry weights of the trailers are before optional equipment is installed (ie Awning, A/C, propane tanks, battery, etc). Once you start throwing gear in there too and any water to the tanks, you will be close if not over the 3600lb tow rating.
 

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The lower tongue weight of the starcraft does not mean it will be easier to tow. In fact, it may be worse. Proper tongue weight provides stability. Too little will result in trailer sway. Too much may overload the rear axle and take weight off the front wheels of the van resulting in reduction in steering control. The general rule of thumb is the tongue weight should be between 10% and 15% of the total trailer weight. The advertised tongue weight of the starcraft is 10.5% of the dry weight whereas the KZ tongue weight is 12.5%. But both will change depending on how you load the trailer with water, food, clothes, gear, etc. The axles on both trailers are far back so just about anything you add will be in front of the axle and add tongue weight. Don't know where the water and waste tanks are located but you should consider what full tanks will do to the tongue weight.

I think both trailers are very close to maximum ratings in the "dry" condition. This will require careful loading to stay within limits. Probably not good choices for the Pacifica as you could easily exceed the limits.

Gross Combined Weight Rating (total of loaded van and trailer) is 8600 pounds. A previous post showed the math on how this could limit real word max trailer weight to around 2900 pounds.
Max tongue weight is 360 pounds. Both trailers are very close to this and the tongue weight will likely increase as you add load.
The max frontal area for a trailer being towed by the Pacifica is 40 sq feet. Both trailers appear to exceed this value.
 

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A reputable, local RV dealer should be able to tell you whether this will work, and set up your van for it. The internet will have you trading in your van for a one-ton diesel to tow anything bigger than a pop-up.
 

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CaseyK, listen to the above advice! Your Pacifica is not meant to tow the heavy stuff. It may cost you dearly to do so.

A suggestion, if I may? Popups are the next best thing to tents to enjoy being close to nature. The benefit, of course is that you don't get washed out in the rain! Another benefit is that they do not have the oversized frontal area that makes towing even more difficult. So maybe you might want to shop for a larger popup?

If you're dead set on a larger trailer, trade your Pacifica for a larger SUV that can do the job. All the advice leads to one point: don't come anywhere close to reaching the maximum capacity suggested for your vehicle. Leave a lot of "fudge factor". You will always be wrong about total weight when you pack up to go on your vacation!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you all for the great advice and suggestions!

Just sad news to hear. The pop-up has been so easy to tow, we figured something a little bigger would still be okay.
It's just strange that at RV shows and on YouTube the dealers are say these hybrids are towable with a minivan :(

The pop-up isn't bad, but we were looking forward to not having to deal with the trouble of setup/teardown, as well as the benefits of a bathroom and larger fridge. Ours is a 2007 and doesn't have AC, but I know many of the newer ones do.

Some of the bigger pop-ups do look nice, and maybe the hard side pop-ups (which I haven't looked into much), but the weight is about the same as these hybrids...
 

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I towed that exact same KZ trailer with the Pacifica from Michigan to Yellowstone round trip. Used a weight distribution with anti-sway hitch. 2 adults & 3 kids 3rd -7th grade. Towed with water & waste tanks empty between campgrounds, lightly packed with minimal gear & only fridge & dry food stuff. I weighed on truck scale before trip and we were within 25 lbs of the combined vehicle plus trailer limits. Within axel limits as well. The Pacifica was not sagging at the rear and handling was quite stable. Braking also good with the electric trailer brakes properly adjusted on the controller. However, the trailer exceeds the frontal area maximum limit specified for the van in the owner’s manual. The van struggled with wind resistance over 60 - 65 depending on headwinds. The gearing of the transmission & the fact you can not select/hold lower gears exacerbates the issue. Too bad since the engine has enough torque & power & the chassis can handle the weight comfortably enough. This was a rental & a one time trip. Because carrying all our normal camping stuff & bikes would put us over weight, plus the kids getting bigger & wanting to bring friends, I wouldn’t personally choose this trailer & tow vehicle combination. However, less passengers, careful packing, flat geography, & not being in a hurry, the KZ hybrid is theoretically “towable by a minivan.”
 

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I towed that exact same KZ trailer with the Pacifica from Michigan to Yellowstone round trip. Used a weight distribution with anti-sway hitch. 2 adults & 3 kids 3rd -7th grade. Towed with water & waste tanks empty between campgrounds, lightly packed with minimal gear & only fridge & dry food stuff. I weighed on truck scale before trip and we were within 25 lbs of the combined vehicle plus trailer limits. Within axel limits as well. The Pacifica was not sagging at the rear and handling was quite stable. Braking also good with the electric trailer brakes properly adjusted on the controller. However, the trailer exceeds the frontal area maximum limit specified for the van in the owner’s manual. The van struggled with wind resistance over 60 - 65 depending on headwinds. The gearing of the transmission & the fact you can not select/hold lower gears exacerbates the issue. Too bad since the engine has enough torque & power & the chassis can handle the weight comfortably enough. This was a rental & a one time trip. Because carrying all our normal camping stuff & bikes would put us over weight, plus the kids getting bigger & wanting to bring friends, I wouldn’t personally choose this trailer & tow vehicle combination. However, less passengers, careful packing, flat geography, & not being in a hurry, the KZ hybrid is theoretically “towable by a minivan.”
Thank you for the insight with your experience towing the KZ!
My wife and I talked about it last night and we're 90% sure we're going with an upgraded pop-up... but the thought of never having to deal with tent/awning setup has still got us on the fence. The Pacifica is a lease so weighing the possibility of towing the hybrid a few times this year, then trading in for an SUV before next spring.
Decisions, decisions...
 

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The Pacifica is a lease so weighing the possibility of towing the hybrid a few times this year, then trading in for an SUV before next spring.
Decisions, decisions...
I vote for this. You can enjoy the hybrid now and get another tow vehicle if you'd like later.

I've been towing for 30 years with cars, trucks, vans, minivans and SUVs. An SUV, or even a pickup truck, is not necessarily a better tow vehicle than a minivan, regardless of the towing capacity claimed by the manufacturer. Most SUVs, minivans and some half-tons will run out of cargo and tongue weight capacity before they hit gross combined weight rating (the basis for towing capacity). And the numbers don't tell you everything, anyway. You can turn a marginal tow vehicle into a good one by making a change as simple as putting on different tires.
 

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I vote for this. You can enjoy the hybrid now and get another tow vehicle if you'd like later.

I've been towing for 30 years with cars, trucks, vans, minivans and SUVs. An SUV, or even a pickup truck, is not necessarily a better tow vehicle than a minivan, regardless of the towing capacity claimed by the manufacturer. Most SUVs, minivans and some half-tons will run out of cargo and tongue weight capacity before they hit gross combined weight rating (the basis for towing capacity). And the numbers don't tell you everything, anyway. You can turn a marginal tow vehicle into a good one by making a change as simple as putting on different tires.
Thanks! Definitely an option we're thinking about now. Hard to give up the idea of the simpler hybrid!
 

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have you looked at the livin' lite trailers? all aluminum construction saves weight. We have their pop up and its only 1000 lbs
 
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