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Discussion Starter #1
My 17 Touring L has about 29K miles on it with no problems. About 6 months ago I installed a class III hitch because I have a cargo rack that I use to haul my swimming pool chemicals on since, for obvious reasons, I don't want to carry inside the vehicle. Now, I am thinking of buying a camping trainer and would like to know what experiences others have, had, both good and especially bad, considering the limited pulling weight restrictions, front wheel drive, etc. If you prefer to remain anonymous, please PM me. BTW, I have years of experience pulling with other vehicles. Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I have not started to look, probably the biggest with the least violation of the weight and wind restrictions. As my post noted, my hitch is a class III. I'm prepared to ad brakes, transmission cooler, and load leveler hitch if necessary, depending on what others have experienced. Dave
 

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I'm also interested in this type of info. I've been looking at what I could tow...and it isn't much! The 3500 limit (probably less by the time you figure in the loaded weight of the van itself) and the 40 square feet of frontal area are both pretty limiting. An enclosed cargo trailer has to be pretty small and it seems like campers are pretty much limited to pop-ups.

Anyway, very interested in anyone else's real world experiences.

Thanks!
 

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I tow a popup camper with a 2500 lb dry weight. All in with 3 kids, gear, popup etc total weight is 8100 lbs. That is 500 lbs less then the 8600 max. I also used to own a 1500 lb popup. Here are my experiences

1500 lb popup. No trailer brakes
- I towed this popup all though skyline drive up multiple grades getting in and out of skyline drive. I hardly ever even noticed the trailer was even there.

2500 lb popup with brakes
- I have not yet taken this popup on a trip with the same grades as the 1500 lb popup. 1000 lbs more weight makes more of a difference then I thought it would, but I had no issue maintaining 55 on the highway at 2500 ft on light grades.
- Biggest issue is there is some sag in the rear suspension. I have yet to encounter any van handling issues, but its more sag then I would like. I am considering a WDH and would have airbags if they were available.
- Temps have also been fine towing this unit, but I have yet to tow it under 90 degree conditions.

I also rented a Pacifica and drove around Colorado with at least 1200 lbs of cargo (no trailer) last summer. The Van did well, but I had issues with the transmission on steep grades in some of the NP's. The transmission simply did not know what gear to go into. Shifting into Low helps, but I wish it had a 2 and 3 setting. Given this experience I would not tow my popup in the Rockies, at least not for an extended trip.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
One of my concerns was the 9 speed electronic transmission and how well it would stand up. To your knowledge, did it ever overheat? Did the front wheel drive cause any exciting moments? By sag did you mean the tongue weight caused it to ride low in back?
I (we) really appreciate your comments.
Dave
 

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I towed a 1600 lb. pop up camper (no brakes) with a Dodge Grand Caravan. Barely knew it was back there with 4 kids, dog, and lots of camping gear. Had the 4.0 with tow package and self leveling rear suspension. Don’t plan to tow it with my wife’s Pacifica because we didn’t get the tow package. I wish it had the tow package but they’re hard to find on dealer lots. So we decided to just use my truck for towing for the next 10 years. I bet the van could handle it just fine but the lack of heavy duty radiator without the tow package scares me a bit. Good luck.
 

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I bet the van could handle it just fine but the lack of heavy duty radiator without the tow package scares me a bit. Good luck.
From all my experience towing more than double what your pop-up weighs, you have nothing to worry about unless you're a considerably hotter climate then I am. I live in Minnesota, but I've towed my boat in 99° weather with no issues to speak of. I closely monitor my temperatures whenever I'm towing, and even when flogging it with the boat behind me I've never seen over 235° that I can recall. And that was on that 99° day.

When not towing I see 230° in warm weather climbing floors in the parking garage, the fan doesn't even come on until 232. Seriously, these things do a great job with a trailer.



 

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From all my experience towing more than double what your pop-up weighs, you have nothing to worry about unless you're a considerably hotter climate then I am. I live in Minnesota, but I've towed my boat in 99° weather with no issues to speak of. I closely monitor my temperatures whenever I'm towing, and even when flogging it with the boat behind me I've never seen over 235° that I can recall. And that was on that 99° day.

When not towing I see 230° in warm weather climbing floors in the parking garage, the fan doesn't even come on until 232. Seriously, these things do a great job with a trailer.



I agree. After reading these posts and the other thread I can't see how the towing package can add so much towing capacity. Seems like 1500 is a standard number they just go with. Then they don't need to do real testing on the van without the "tow package." IMO they should just include all features of the tow package on all vans except for the hitch and wiring and then we'd all have the tow package. I think the load leveling shocks were the most expensive part on the old vans tow package and they don't use them anymore. There's just not many with the package available unless you order one. I'd rather have the tow package instead of 18" rims. Apparently, most people don't feel that way. Not complaining though - We like the van.
 

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I am not sure I buy the negative arguments about about needing extra engine cooling. The V6 Penstar is a very good engine, its been around for at least 10 year. Its the same engine in the Durango which is rated to 6200 lbs. The same engine is also in my friends Jeep which he has done all sorts of crazy off roading in. Then engine also has a built in cooling via the anti freeze for the oil. Sure the Durango may have a larger radiator, but its the same oil filter and oil cooler.

As for bad experiences I have had two.
1. On the highway I was cut off and I had to stomp on the brakes I did not change lanes because I was worried about the trailer. I honestly did not notice an increased or reduced stopping capacity. I am sure it was there, but I could not tell.
2. I have noticed a few times where I had reduced traction in the front wheels. One was with the trailer on a hill. I was at a stop sign, road was wet, I had a little trouble starting due to front wheel slip. Then 2nd was the rental Pacifica in Colorado. No trailer but maxed out interior weight. 7000 feet, slow speeds up rather steep inclines. Again some reduced traction in the front wheel. I had 4 large adults, plus two weeks of luggage, plus 3 kids, plus car seats in this scenario. So it was honestly more weight then I tow with.

So again I feel very comfortable at 2500 lbs towing. I may add weight distribution one day and I will add air bags once they are available. Otherwise it has done well.
 

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I am not sure I buy the negative arguments about about needing extra engine cooling. The V6 Penstar is a very good engine, its been around for at least 10 year. Its the same engine in the Durango which is rated to 6200 lbs. The same engine is also in my friends Jeep which he has done all sorts of crazy off roading in. Then engine also has a built in cooling via the anti freeze for the oil. Sure the Durango may have a larger radiator, but its the same oil filter and oil cooler.
Not as concerned about strain on the engine as about strain on the transmission, and the fact that we can't select gears or even see which gear is currently engaged.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Not as concerned about strain on the engine as about strain on the transmission, and the fact that we can't select gears or even see which gear is currently engaged.
I agree. When I get around to it when I am setting up mine I will closely look into a good transmission cooler if available, and plan on a load leveling hitch w/o air bags to keep the front wheels firmly planted for better control and traction, plus electric brakes as an ante dote for my Highway Hula Syndrome and then decide what I can pull. Better overbuilt than under. Thinks guys, I appreciate all your comments.
Dave
 

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I agree. When I get around to it when I am setting up mine I will closely look into a good transmission cooler if available, and plan on a load leveling hitch w/o air bags to keep the front wheels firmly planted for better control and traction, plus electric brakes as an ante dote for my Highway Hula Syndrome and then decide what I can pull. Better overbuilt than under. Thinks guys, I appreciate all your comments.
Dave
I wouldn't waste your time or money.

The transmission cooling system in these is pretty robust. The temperature of the transmission is controlled by a fluid thermostat set to hold 160°, and the system seems more than capable of controlling temperatures with a full load. Towing 3500 pounds with the load of people in the van in 97° weather, I don't believe I've been able to break 190° during stop and go traffic. This isn't hot for modern transmission, a lot of them are regulated to 190-200° for efficiency purposes.

You're more likely to cause harm by adding another failure point for a leak or increasing backpressure to the circuit and restricting flow. Unless you're towing more than 3500 pounds, you will not help anything by adding a cooler.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I wouldn't waste your time or money.

The transmission cooling system in these is pretty robust. The temperature of the transmission is controlled by a fluid thermostat set to hold 160°, and the system seems more than capable of controlling temperatures with a full load. Towing 3500 pounds with the load of people in the van in 97° weather, I don't believe I've been able to break 190° during stop and go traffic. This isn't hot for modern transmission, a lot of them are regulated to 190-200° for efficiency purposes.

You're more likely to cause harm by adding another failure point for a leak or increasing backpressure to the circuit and restricting flow. Unless you're towing more than 3500 pounds, you will not help anything by adding a cooler.
Thanks, I appreciate your comments.
Dave
 

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I tow a smaller pop up but with all the gear and stuff inside the van, it is probably over 2000 lbs extra of gear. Highest trans temp i saw was on 100 degree day in slow traffic and it hit about 201
 

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I also added a class III hitch to my 2017 Touring L. I pull an 18' bowrider in/out board boat and stainless steel trailer weighing a total of about 3300 lbs.

I watch the temps and pressures on the dash as I drive and have never overheated even pulling through the hilly and often mountainy New England countryside. I've had no problems pulling the wet boat and trailer out of the lake on a boat ramp either.

Sometimes I wish it were a 4WD truck rated to pull 10,000lbs but it works for now.
 

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