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Mako

Best Minivan for towing?

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Hi All,

 

Well with the arrival of the little one, already having a dog and plans for for another child in the future the time has come. :(

 

Just wondering what should I look out for when shopping for a minivan that I can tow with.

 

My boat is a Crestliner Angler 16 SC with 30hp 4stroke - I estimate with trailer and all, its around 1500lb. I use to tow it with my Grand am for the first two years I owed it.

 

Any information or experiences you could share would be great. Like is there any rear wheel drive mini vans?

 

Thanks in advance,

Aron

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I've never towed anything in my life but I do own a Chevy Astro van which is supposed to be very good for towing. Rear wheel drive, six cylinder, very strong transmission with a special 'towing' button (which I've never used).

 

I think there are some other guys here who drive Astros or Safaris

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any of the v6 powered vans will have no problem pulling your boat, my customers use dodge caravans, seinnas, the honda van and of course freestar's and montana/venture vans pick the one you like and go with it, just get optional trans cooler or go aftermarket for it.

looking for new or used? might be able to hook you up

Edited by ecmilley

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agreed the Safari/Astro was the best mini-van towing wise. '05 was the last year they were produced. I dont know how the Montana/Venture, ect.. compares to it

 

Not really sure what newer "mini-vans" are good for towing these days to be honest.... just stay away from Caravans & if your chosen vehicle is not equipped with a "tow package", have a tranny cooler installed.

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EH!

 

Unfortunately the big 2 {dodge never made one} no longer make a Truck Based Mini Van...like the Ford Aerostar based on a Ranger platform...quit making those when they introduced the Windstar.

 

The chevy Astro AWD is a S-15 ... They made those 'til 2005 I beleive... so you can find a good used one I'm sure... the 4.3 l v6 is a good powerplant but kinda hard on gas when pushed.

parts are pretty cheap...reliable.

 

Forget about a Caravan AWD ..Dodge Intrepid based... they suck!!! period. drivetrain is fragile very very break down prone.

 

Believe me I sell parts for a living... I see what's good and what is crap.

 

I believe LEW, from the Board here has an Astro AWD or a Safari AWD..he tows a big boat..

 

 

but if your looking for the ultimate minivan......

 

check out the " MITSUBISHI DELICA" on YOUTUBE....

 

dang' amazing.

 

Randy

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Used to own a Chevy Astro (1988) that thing rocked. It would go anywhere and pull very easily. After 17 years I had to replace it. Got a 1998 Safari. There was no comparison. The Astro was a way better vehicle. Safari lasted 3 months and got replaced by the Ridgeline.

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I have a 1999 Safari and it tows my Apache trailer no problem. It is based on an S10 chassis, so it is actually a truck.

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I have to agree. I think the Astro/Safari (same basic van) are the best for the job. Rear wheel drive and a traditional V6 are easy to work on and cheap to fix. Heck you can change your own oil, plugs,alternator etc. with relative ease compared to any of the front wheel drives. I have customers that have converted them to a V8 (say a 350) and that's a pretty simple job too. It almost bolts right in. The 4.3 is basically a 350 (5.7) chevy with a couple cylinders lopped off and you know how reliable they are.

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I have had 3 safari/astro vans still driving my current one a 2002. Great vans, never had any serious issues with any of them. Normal maintenance, an alternator, tie rods, window motor.

 

Pulled my 17 foot aluminum with them and no problems. Ya Lew has one, 2005 I think the last year for them, don`t be afraid to buy used if you know what you are doing, all of mine have been used.

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I have had Dodge Caravans for the last 20 years pulling our old 16' with a 40HP and very heavy wood floors and casting deck never had a problem. One thing to remember is that there are alot more caravans out there that is one reason why people see them more in the shops I have two in my driveway right now a 2000 which has aprox 219,000KM and a 2001 with about 156,000KM both are great runners but you need to take care of them I use the 2000 all the time to pull my boat from Chatham to LSC and yearly trips to Sudbury area rice lake and other area it has always been great to me and now with there new power train warrentys they will last. JMO

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I have the 2005 GMC Safari. It does pull well, but make no mistake, it is based on a truck chassis. It has the ride and fuel consumption of a truck to go along with the power and pulling capabilities.

 

After driving Chrysler mini vans from 1987 to 2005, I was sick and tired of their fragile tranny and otherwise crappy construction. They did ride very well though and were comfortable.

 

Besides the fuel consumption and ride of the Safari, the other issues I notice are all the wind drafts you get up front. It is a pig to heat and I have the rear AC and heat option! They never really kept up with any creature comfort or technology options like all the other vehicles did. It is still based on the 1980's format. I guess they never really felt the need to keep on top of this stuff with the market they catered to, which was the commercial service vehicles. I'll never understand why they would choose to eliminate this workhorse from their lineup with the millions of commercial users out there! I know they decided to develop a different engine that did not fit the body layout of this van, but it was still a goofy decision in my opinion.

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LOL Rattletrap, most of my driving the last 20 years or so was an 18 wheeler, I think the Astro is very comfortable! My wife`s 1995 was a conversion model with the fancy seats and interior, seats were way too soft for me, steering seemed different too, becaused or the added weight? maybe a different gear ration in the steering? Seemed sluggish compared to my more basic model.

 

Same thoughts on it though, if they were looking to improve fleet fuel economy numbers they should have done away with the V8 full size van. LOL Lumina van? that was short lived! I pulled my tandem axle utility trailer 6 1/2x 12 heaped with green slabwood from the amish sawmill with ours, got to be near 5000 gross no problems.

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Best minvan for towing... Astro/Safari. Most of us agree to that but before you rush out looking for one....

-intermittent wipers circuit board issues (cracks, factory recall)

-heater switch relay issues (not the rayostat in the dash, $35 from APC)

-vent selector vacuum issues (vacuum hose breaks over the manifold, $1.00+2 hrs labour)

-fuel pump/sending unit issues (pump is $600 dealer, $150 eBay)

-idler arms wear fast ($300 ea. dealer, $120ea. APC+20 minutes labour)

-pinion seal/bearing issues (not a DIY job... $300+)

 

Those are the most commen issues that arrise prematurely. The good news is I made my way through all of them with a little help from the astro/safari forum online.

 

They are a great van overall but very little creature comforts as mentioned. I would highly recommend it for a family towing but not for a famly that will never tow a trailer.

 

On my '97 200,000 KM...

-original plugs/wires, new cap and rotor

-original headlights/brake lights/f&r signals, several rear marker lights.

-original exhaust, just had the donut replaced a month ago

-3rd set of tires two weeks ago

-3rd set front brakes two weeks ago/still on 2nd set of rotors

-2nd alternator 2 yrs ago

-2nd waterpump 2 months ago

-all shocks replaced (well overdue) 1 month ago ($13/pair on eBay!!)

-all front end components replaced 1 month ago

 

Overall this vehical has been our best yet for reliability and low maintnence. We were faced with replacing it or fixing it a couple months ago and I decided to spend nearly $2000 on it. Runs and drives like new now. Even with original plugs and wires, it runs smooth and fuel economy has yet to drop off. 80L tank gets me 650km highway IIRC.

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All of mine needed new plug wires around 100,000 miles, even the 2 my wife drove most of the time that were parked in the garage at night. Easy to tell hard starting when it is damp out.

 

Just my understanding a design change in the window motors a while ago, quieter but not as durable. My 2002 also has had some issues with the door lock actuators.

 

Like any car these days and dealer prices for labor, roughly 75 bucks an hour, if you can do it yourself it`s almost like getting the parts for free.

 

fan belt tensioner went on my wife`s 95 part of the alternator bracket assembly dealer only part, at like 150,000 miles though.

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I have owned 3 mini vans 2 were Safaris & 1 was a Astro all great trucks, Wish I could have found another when my last 96 got hit Head On and drove it away but the Insurance wrote it off. :angry: To much damage they said :dunno: I drove it away to the body shop so I don't no what they were talking about :whistling:

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I Currently Have 2....yes 2 Chevy Ventures (2000 & 2005)

I love my Vans!!!

 

I Would obviously love a truck but with 2 kids under 4, and one on the way.....I need room for 3 car seats :rolleyes:

 

I use the venture to tow my Tent trailer, and my Boat (14' 40hp Aluminium Starcraft)

Absolutely zero issues.

 

Last year I was told that the Ventures are the best rated Van for towing that are currently manufactured.

This came from a tech who works at Mobile life....

I Just happened to get into a coversation about this very topic while there once.

So comming from a proffessional who deals in trailers I suppose thats solid advice.

 

But for the record the Venture pulls great.... I Almost forget the trailer is there once I'm under way LOL!

 

Its good on gas when towing, but....Beware of steep or slick ramps!

Now that your using a Van I feel I should mention I have noticed getting the boat out can be a bit dicey if its a steep or slick ramp.....you'll only have the 2 wheel drive now

 

If your used to using a 4 wheel drive truck, make sure you give it some thought before backing her in.

That being said I have had no issues to date but I thought it was worth mentioning.

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I have owned 3 mini vans 2 were Safaris & 1 was a Astro all great trucks, Wish I could have found another when my last 96 got hit Head On and drove it away but the Insurance wrote it off. :angry: To much damage they said :dunno: I drove it away to the body shop so I don't no what they were talking about :whistling:

 

Cost to repair exceeds the value of the vehicle.

Early Hyundai owners know this all too well... resale value was directly proportional to fuel level.

-Brian

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I drove a Chevy Astro for a few years back in the early 90's and while I had very few problems with the vehicle it was like driving a cardboard box, very unstable in a crosswind and virtually no traction.

Can be a scary vehicle to drive in the winter.

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Can be a scary vehicle to drive in the winter.

 

We've never had a problem in the winter. Never stuck, no close calls. My wife just got in with it from work driving in a foot of snow... "glad I had the van, not the Tahoe". (She doesn't like the limited slip diff in the Tahoe)

We have the extended van which will make a difference and run good all-season rubber. I'll take a RWD anytime for winter driving!!

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I know what you are saying Slowpoke... put it still cost them in the long run as the Adjuster said that he had never seen a 1996 in the shape this was in and this was in 2004... Held out for $6,000.00 as it only had 102,000km.. Go figure, find a great vehicle and some people don't know how to drive and wipe it out for you #####*##

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Honda Odyssey .Reliable that is what I have to say.

 

Mine is a 2000 EX very satisfied with it 135 000 kms and keeps on ticking .

 

Only changed the front shocks due to Quebec 's crappy roads.

 

Regular Maintenance and I had to change the timing belt at 100 000k

 

My Buddy had an Astro it is a good truck but man it loves to consume fuel.

 

With 210hp I pull a double axle tent trailer with ease and it weighs 2614 lbs empty alot more when the wife makes me bring those

things we don't need :whistling:

 

You don't need a truck to pull a 1600 pound boat .I don't even feel my boat behind my van .

 

Most V6 minivans will pull your boat .Too bad they don't make the GM Safari and Astro anymore.

 

I will tell you this my next Van will be a Honda :thumbsup_anim:

 

.

Edited by Mike the Pike

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Forget aboot the wimpy minivan!

randy_international_cxt_truck.jpg

Get one of these!!! There's enough room you could live in it if need be, and it'll tow a Battleship! :thumbsup_anim:

 

Can't see you drivin this truck Bubba unless you are sitting on the Yellow pages trying to see over the dash of yer yella truck.

 

I can see the Tracker Danglin in the back while you zip down the highway not touchin the ground.

 

You could back up over Bozo#1 and 2 at the boat ramp. :thumbsup_anim:

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My GMC Equinowx is rated for 3500lbs, and pulls my tent trailer with no problems. It does come with all-wheel drive but I dont have it. I'm no mechanic, but, it does the job for me !

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My GMC Equinowx is rated for 3500lbs, and pulls my tent trailer with no problems. It does come with all-wheel drive but I dont have it. I'm no mechanic, but, it does the job for me !

 

Nanook Mako has to give up his SUV to make room for kids sure the Equinox is a fine tow vehicle but Mako is looking

for Minivan opinions.

 

I myself would prefer an SUV or a pickup over a minivan but with 3 kids who all enjoy seperate seats it does keep the peace on long trips.

 

IF gas prices were not spiraling out of control I would be driving a Suburban or a Ford Excursion not a minivan.

 

Not too many SUV's have the space a minvan provides.

 

Ford Explorer,Envoy Excel,Nissan Pathfinder,Armada, all Have 7 passenger seating but barely any space for luggage.

Edited by Mike the Pike

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