Cargo Van or Cargo Trailer?

Looking for economical recommendations. My son has a growing antiques business that we are planning to help him expand by getting him to shows in other states (not old enough to drive). This is looking to be a permanent fixture in the family so I want to find the most sensible economic way to go.

My question is: Cargo Van or Enclosed Cargo Trailer (small one, maybe 8’ long) Which option makes the most sense, if based on wear and tear on vehicle towing it, or maintenance on an additional vehicle (cargo van).

we currently have a hyundai santa fe, but willing to upgrade to towing friendlier vehicle.

we are looking to make at least 8 show trips a year and traveling across the country.

been mulling this over for sooooo long then I remembered my good old boys at Car Talk and knew someone here would have an opinion :slight_smile:


Just last week I was driving 70 mph and overtaking a full size pickup towing a 6 x 8 foot single axle trailer loaded with saplings, fill dirt, etc. Suddenly the trailer began to wag from side to side in an ever widening sweep until suddenly the truck was thrown sideways covering both lanes and drifting with the brakes locked up by the panicked driver. Luckily myself and other nearby drivers were able to brake quickly enough to avoid a collision and the truck/trailer drifted into the median against a barricade fence. Once the driver jumped out and looked around to see what the damage was I continued on. But again, my poor opinion of bumper hitch trailers was justified.

Yes, a well engineered boat & trailer combination can track trouble free at 70+ mph day in and day out. But the fore/aft placement of the load and a high center of gravity of general purpose trailers will often go unnoticed until it is too late.

I would hope the business would expand and grow, if you outgrow a van you are stuck. I would recommend a vehicle with greater towing capacity than you currently need, then use a bigger trailor. The return to the same spot rentals at say U-Haul are extremely reasonable, vs buying a trailer. RE @rod_knox I have experienced the waggle and in my case it was due to too much weight on the rear of the boat on the trailer rather than a bumper hitch issue. That 65 boat is gone now. My 2cents.

Hi there - that’s 4 cents so far! thanks for the advice to chew on. definitely will be a growing business - he’s also an auctioneer so won’t get bored with all too quickly! i’m not a logistical genious when it comes to packing loads and my husband won’t always be able to travel, so cargo van might just be the way to go. i’ll keep listening to any other responses - thanks for the quick ones…

Start with a cargo van. But, buy one with some decent towing capacity. As the business grows you might need to pull a cargo trailer behind the cargo van. Start with the van and add the trailer if and when needed.

Keep and use the Santa Fe for daily use and errands. The cargo van will get horrible mpg, and towing a trailer with the cargo van will get about 10mpg on a good level road. Just use the cargo van for those trips where you need the capacity to carry a bunch of stuff.

One of those box vans would be a good idea. It has the front end of a cargo van with a cube behind it. Looks like a U-Haul. Those will hold any size furniture. The fuel economy will be kind of lousy but will compare to a large pickup that is towing an eight foot trailer.

Remember; you will forget that the trailer is back there and cause damage. Once or twice a year you will try to back up and forget that the trailer is attached. It always happens.

I tend to agree with @uncle. Regardless of what you choose, cargo van or towing, you will get lousy mileage. There is no way you can as safely tow as using a van. Antiques come in all sizes and a trailor is pretty limited loading. A van offers more flexibility loading betwen the axles. The Santa Fe is out IMHO for frequent towing. I am a huge fan of cargo vans. They also make excellent advertising billboards. You need a lot of towing experience to maunuver around in traffic and places you wish to pick up and load. I use trailers only in known traveling places. On those occasions you need even more room, the van can easily tow as well. Start out with the van.

Count me as one vote in favor of a cargo van as well. I don’t think I would trust a fragile antique in a cargo trailer. I love cargo trailers but they are not made to haul fragile items.

Wow, so grateful for the responses … we are leaning toward a cargo van now, as i love the advertising real estate on the outside. his antiques aren’t fragile though - he deals only in old paper/ephemera. not fragile, just heavy by the boxload :frowning:

I think you are leaning the right direction. I have moved with U-Haul trucks and with U-Haul trailers. I felt much more comfortable with the truck. I’ve used the smallest truck and the largest truck for different moves. The small box truck was very easy to handle. I grew up in the country and have backed trailers around, but even with this experience, it is still easier to back up a cargo van for me.

I agree that a van is inherantly safer than a trailer…I’ve witness the phenominon Rod described many times of the years. Too many times to count.

Besides, as the business grows, a loaded full size van pulling a small trailer is a lot safer IMHO than a car pulling a loaded trailer. You want the greater weight on the tow vehicle rather than the trailer.

Right…Unless you are in the habit of tying everything down, especially if you have to make a couple of stops; loads then can shift very easily making trailers inherently unsafe. This happens more so when partially loaded which probably might be the norm in your business.

If you buy a box van, the mileage wil be a little better if it uses a small diesel…Brands like Isuzu/GMC and Mitsubishi Fuso come to mind.

Thanks all so much - the decision is: Cargo Van!

For a business, go with a van. For short local trips to the big box store go with an economic vehicle that can tow a small trailer.