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I've been towing with my Gen 2 (2004) for several years now. As the Sienna gets older and my trips become a little more adventurous, I realize I'm eventually going to have to get a new tow vehicle. A minivan with 5000lb tow capacity would be ideal (Chevy Astro!), but that doesn't exist. A few SUVs and cross overs are close, but nothing matches the flexibility of a mini van short of a full size SUV (think Expedition EL/Suburban!) So, if I were to consider another Sienna, my questions would be...


1. Does the extra horse power of the Gen 3 at least pull with any more authority than the Gen 2? They're both rated for the same 3500lb capacity after all.
2. Is the hitch receiver height as least as high as the Gen 2?
3. Is the hitch receiver height any different between models, i.e. FWD vs. AWD or in the SE (sportier) trim?


I haven't seen much chatter on the web from people who tow with the 3rd Gen. I even posed these questions to a sales guy while checking out a Gen. 3. He laughed and said he'd never heard of such a thing. Seemed to be unaware there was even a tow package (I was not surprised by this!)


Anyways, just curious to see what you guys think.
 

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There's not much difference between the gen 2 and gen 3 except for the larger engine with 50 more horsepower, an additional transmission gear and revised exterior panels/lights and interior trim. They both have the same wheelbase and length.

The same aftermarket hitches fit all trim levels of the gen 3 Sienna so the receiver height should be very similar. The only reason that the SE has slightly less ground clearance is because of its "boy racer" body panels. Some brands of aftermarket hitches ride slightly higher than others. The Curt hitch on my 2014 FWD Sienna Limited has never dragged on the pavement a single time. I think my drawbar has a 2 inch rise but don't remember for sure - it's whatever etrailer.com recommended.

The non-hybrid Toyota Highlander with the tow prep package is rated at towing 5,000 pounds. Verify that whatever you buy has the factory tow prep package since it is not practical to install it after the vehicle is assembled at the factory.

The factory installed hitch receiver and wiring harness seems rare on the gen 3 Sienna. There was a "stop sale" on it when I bought my Sienna in 2014 so I went aftermarket.
 

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I've been towing with my Gen 2 (2004) for several years now. ........... minivan with 5000lb tow capacity would be ideal (Chevy Astro!), but that doesn't exist. ..........

1. Does the extra horse power of the Gen 3 at least pull with any more authority than the Gen 2? They're both rated for the same 3500lb capacity after all.
2. Is the hitch receiver height as least as high as the Gen 2?
3. Is the hitch receiver height any different between models, i.e. FWD vs. AWD or in the SE (sportier) trim?
I have experience towing with both Gen 2 & Gen 3 vans. For the Gen 2 we had a 2006 & 2010 both FWD and currently have a 2017 Gen 3 also FWD. No traditional minivan in north america has a 5K lb tow rating unless you go the Ford Transit or RAM Promaster route which are bigger than a Sienna but have a lot of space and are actually not bad to drive in tight spaces. The Gen 3 Sienna was rated for near 5K lbs when it was sold in some Scandinavian countries for a few years and my understanding there were no structural changes including the powertrain, the V6 with 6 spreed trans.

1. I notice a difference with the extra horsepower when towing and there is a headwind or climbing hills it can maintain a high speed if needed. To me the biggest improvement is the 8 speed transmission as it has a much better spacing for towing so that there isn't such large jumps between gears to climb hills or in headwind conditions compared to the 5 speed we had in the Gen 2 vans.
2. I haven't actual measure them but it appears to be the same. Haven't had to adjust the height of the ball between the two for our trailers.
3. The AWD vans are about 3/4" higher I believe max 1" so not a huge difference.

Our vans have had an aftermarket hitch and we transferred our hitch from the Gen 2 to Gen 3 van without issues bolted right up. For brake controller it is not plug and play it has to be wired in but that wasn't a big deal either.

As the Gen 4 vans a hybrid with the e-CVT there isn't any data on durability while towing so we will not be purchasing another Sienna unfortunately, I just don't think the 4 cyl will have what it takes to tow a heavier trailer like ours (hope that someone proves me wrong). I was really hoping that they would have an option for a V6 gas only with 8 speed but no such luck. So we are considering a Ford Transit now that they have the 10 speed transmission in them they are a bit more efficient. Also a rumor of the V6 hybrid for 2022 model year that is currently in the Ford Explorer? We won't be in the market for another van anytime soon usually 8-10 years of age and depending on mileage, usually at around 200-250K mi is when we consider a new van.

I am attaching photos below of our vans and trailer(s). First is of our G2 then our G3 with same trailer and last one is same G3 with new trailer.

London-CanAm RV- P-up of New trailer 2.jpg IMG-20170831-00066.jpg IMG_0009.JPG
 

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Wow, that's a pretty substantial trailer! Are you able to keep up to freeway speeds without strain on your Gen, 3?
 

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Depends on what you consider freeway speeds. We never tow faster than 65 mph, even though we can, the substantial drop in MPGs doesn't justify going faster than that. We stay in the right lane and enjoy the trip. Do we slow down on steep long grades yes but that is by choice, we can maintain 65 mph but depending on the incline the RPMs can be 4500+ so we usually slow down to 50-55 mph when climbing steep long grades but are still faster than the semi rigs climbing the same grades usually at 45-50 mph max.

Also not sure by what you mean by strain on the van.
 

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I’m wondering because we just acquired a gen 3 AWD, and we’re trying to select a travel trailer. Can I ask: what are you towing now, and how much does it weigh? I think I ruined my 2006 AWD by trying to go too fast towing a bulky travel trailer.
 

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I’m wondering because we just acquired a gen 3 AWD, and we’re trying to select a travel trailer. Can I ask: what are you towing now, and how much does it weigh? I think I ruined my 2006 AWD by trying to go too fast towing a bulky travel trailer.
Our current trailer is a 2018 Coachmen Freedom Express 249 RKS. Trailer is 28ft - 3in long from tip of tongue to back of bumper and is 8ft wide. It is 10ft-4in at its highets point which is top of the AC unit and it has a fairly sloped front profile that helps with wind resistance. Loaded for a 2-3 week trip it weighs in at 5200 lbs. We don't carry water in tank (fill at sites we stay at), as we don't like to haul extra weight plus the tank on this model is almost at the back of the trailer so it would reduce the tongue weight which isn't good for stability. This trailer is 6" wider than our last one but tows easier due to the front profile being so much more sloped than the previous one.

As stated above we tow at max 65 mph if there is a strong head wind we will slow down to 60 mph max otherwise we are just burning through fuel unnecessarily. We average 12.5 mpg on our trips towing at 65. We have been to every province in Canada including Yukon territory and as far south as Florida on the east coast and visited most of the north-western and mid-western states.

Here is the combination
IMG_0009.JPG

As far as wear and tear on the van we increase our maintenance to sever service recommendations. Our engine oil changes are done every 3K mi when towing and we changed our trans fluid at 30K mi, next one we will do at 60K mi which should be this fall/winter most likely. Brake wear isn't any different than not towing we still get about 50K mi on the front pads and much longer on the rear, still on original pads on this van. We have everything checked over by our mechanic every spring before the season starts. Last van had over 250K mi on it when we traded it in.

Hope that helps out.
 

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I’m wondering because we just acquired a gen 3 AWD, and we’re trying to select a travel trailer. Can I ask: what are you towing now, and how much does it weigh? I think I ruined my 2006 AWD by trying to go too fast towing a bulky travel trailer.
One thing to check is whether or not your Gen 3 has the tow package, which was optional (at least some years) and includes an engine oil cooler. This is not always clear, depending on the model year and trim level. Our 2015 Limited AWD does not have it.

There are some threads here on the topic, and pics showing the engine bay and where to look for the oil cooler. If you have the tow package its rated to 3500 lbs. Without it, there is info here (but not in the brochure for our 2015) indicating you are (technically) limited to 1500 lbs.
 

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I have experience towing with both Gen 2 & Gen 3 vans. For the Gen 2 we had a 2006 & 2010 both FWD and currently have a 2017 Gen 3 also FWD. No traditional minivan in north america has a 5K lb tow rating unless you go the Ford Transit or RAM Promaster route which are bigger than a Sienna but have a lot of space and are actually not bad to drive in tight spaces. The Gen 3 Sienna was rated for near 5K lbs when it was sold in some Scandinavian countries for a few years and my understanding there were no structural changes including the powertrain, the V6 with 6 spreed trans.

1. I notice a difference with the extra horsepower when towing and there is a headwind or climbing hills it can maintain a high speed if needed. To me the biggest improvement is the 8 speed transmission as it has a much better spacing for towing so that there isn't such large jumps between gears to climb hills or in headwind conditions compared to the 5 speed we had in the Gen 2 vans.
2. I haven't actual measure them but it appears to be the same. Haven't had to adjust the height of the ball between the two for our trailers.
3. The AWD vans are about 3/4" higher I believe max 1" so not a huge difference.

Our vans have had an aftermarket hitch and we transferred our hitch from the Gen 2 to Gen 3 van without issues bolted right up. For brake controller it is not plug and play it has to be wired in but that wasn't a big deal either.

As the Gen 4 vans a hybrid with the e-CVT there isn't any data on durability while towing so we will not be purchasing another Sienna unfortunately, I just don't think the 4 cyl will have what it takes to tow a heavier trailer like ours (hope that someone proves me wrong). I was really hoping that they would have an option for a V6 gas only with 8 speed but no such luck. So we are considering a Ford Transit now that they have the 10 speed transmission in them they are a bit more efficient. Also a rumor of the V6 hybrid for 2022 model year that is currently in the Ford Explorer? We won't be in the market for another van anytime soon usually 8-10 years of age and depending on mileage, usually at around 200-250K mi is when we consider a new van.

I am attaching photos below of our vans and trailer(s). First is of our G2 then our G3 with same trailer and last one is same G3 with new trailer.

View attachment 46239 View attachment 46240 View attachment 46241
So GG... do I understand you correctly... you are comfortably towing a 5,200lb trailer with a Sienna with a 3,500lb tow rating??
 
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Our current trailer is a 2018 Coachmen Freedom Express 249 RKS. Trailer is 28ft - 3in long from tip of tongue to back of bumper and is 8ft wide. It is 10ft-4in at its highets point which is top of the AC unit and it has a faily sloped front profile that helps with wind resistance. Loaded for a 2-3 week trip it weighs in at 5200 lbs. We don't carry water in tank (fill at sites we stay at), as we don't like to haul extra weight plus the tank on this model is almost at the back of the trailer so it would reduce the tongue weight which isn't good for stability. This trailer is 6" wider than our last one but tows easier due to the front profile being so much more sloped than the previous one.

As stated above we tow at max 65 mph if there is a strong head wind we will slow down to 60 mph max otherwise we are just burning through fuel unnecessarily. We average 12.5 mpg on our trips towing at 65. We have been to every province in Canada including Yukon territory and as far south as Florida on the east coast and visited most of the north-western and mid-western states.

Here is the combination
View attachment 46777

As far as wear and tear on the van we increase our maintenance to sever service recommendations. Our engine oil changes are done every 3K mi when towing and we changed our trans fluid at 30K mi, next one we will do at 60K mi which should be this fall/winter most likely. Brake wear isn't any different than not towing we still get about 50K mi on the front pads and much longer on the rear, still on original pads on this van. We have everything checked over by our mechanic every spring before the season starts. Last van had over 250K mi on it when we traded it in.

Hope that helps out.
Sure does... thanks! Makes me more confident about buying a 3000-lb dry weight travel trailer. I'm adding air bags and anti-sway bar, and probably a weight-distribution hitch too. Thanks again.
 

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So GG... do I understand you correctly... you are comfortably towing a 5,200lb trailer with a Sienna with a 3,500lb tow rating??
Yes. There are number of factors to consider when choosing a vehicle for towing. Tow capacity for me is generally at the bottom of the list.

One thing that most people forget to even look at is the payload capacity of the vehicle being considered. Our Sienna has a payload of 1385 lbs as per the door plate on the van. The 2016 Tacoma that I owned had a tow capacity of 6200 lbs (double cab, long box 4x4 model) but the payload was only 980 lbs !!!. So with the tongue weight of 625 lbs for our current trailer I would only have 355 lbs of payload left in the Tacoma as compared to 760 lbs that I have left in the Sienna. Now you have to subtract the weight of passengers, any gear, etc from those payload numbers. There are other factors, like center of gravity, track width, rear overhang, tires, IRS vs soild axle, etc.

People get too fixated on the tow capacity and forget all of the other numbers that need to be consider.
 
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