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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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