Replace my ford aerostar and tow stuff

I cannot tell you how much we love this

car and why - but if you ask, I will try.

The relevant question at the moment

concerns towing capacity and mileage.

A 95 extended length awd aerostar is rated

at 4000+lb capacity and ours gets 17 mpg in

the city, not towing. We tow a 2100lb

dry weight trailer. Any recommendations

on a vehicle rated at 3500+lb capacity

with equivalent or better city mileage?

So far, I haven’t found anything much

better, even in 5 passenger models.

…and why is that? In 15 years, we can’t

beat the mileage of an aged scout mom van

and tow stuff? I know one loses mileage

with power, but still no improvement after

all these years?

Thanks for any suggestions…

especially if you can get rid of the

dead scout smell.

Sharon K in Wyoming

I believe both the Toyota Sienna and the Honda Odyssey have 3,500 pounds of towing capacity and get more than 20 MPG.

I hear your pride in a dependable friend that’s been a good provider for many years. But, I have yet to see anything on the market that can cart 5 people around in comfort equal to many sedans, tow 5000 lbs, go off road as well as anything in it’s class and get a legit 26 mpg highway under 60 mph and 22 under 70 mph; as the updated 03-09 6 cyl. 4Runner. City mileage is so variable, I wouldn’t compare. It does includes 3 rd row seats (not for humans, so you got me there).
The Aerostar and the GMC/Chevy counterparts full frame vans are sadly missed by many. But the modern SUVs including some car based from Ford, Nissan and GMC do partially fill the void.

Alas, being in Wyoming, I really really want the AWD
capability, which puts the Sienna down to
16 city/21 hwy/ 18 combined by Edmunds; and the odyssey
does not have an AWD or 4WD model.
I know a lot of folks poopoo AWD and 4WD, but we go off-road.
…even in the aerostar.
Thanks for the suggestions,
Sharon K in Wyo.

Well, it sounds like you are going to have to compromise on one of your goals. You seem to want AWD, towing capacity, and fuel economy. You will probably have to pick the two of the three. Maybe you should be looking for a used Aerostar. Ford discontinued it because they couldn’t justify the cost of integrating a passenger airbag with the model’s limited sales.

A 4WD GMC Yukon or Chevy Tahoe hybrid gets 20/20 MPG. But it’ll cost over $50,000; a used one will be about $44,000 on the dealer’s lot. You did not say anything about price, though. And it tows up to 6000#.

How much are you willing to spend?

I get 16 and 23 with a traiblazer, 03 with the L6 and plenty of towing capacity for your needs, and they are probably readily available as a thought.

I really liked the 1990 Ford Aerostar, the Eddie Bauer extended model, that I once owned. It was a rear wheel drive. What I did find interesting is that U-Haul would not rent me a tandem axle trailer when I needed to help my son move. U-Haul had installed the hitch for me. On the other hand, with the 2000 Ford Windstar that replaced the Aerostar, U-Haul would allow me to tow any trailer that they had available, including the tandem axle models. The U-Haul agencies each have a book on which trailers may be towed behind which vehicles. I would have thought that the Aerostar with its rear wheel drive would have had the greater towing capacity, but that wasn’t the case. The Windstar with its front wheel drive theoretically could handle the larger trailer. I have used both the Aerostar and the Windstar to tow single axle box trailers when I helped my son and my in-laws move. My son’s move involved a distance of 425 miles-my in-laws only 50 miles. Both the Windstar and the Aerostar were up to the task.

I am not familiar with the Toyota Sienna, but since it does have the all wheel drive that you want and has a 3500 pound towing capacity, this may be your best bet. I miss the spacious interior of the Aerostar, but I find my present minivan, a Chevrolet Uplander, adequate.

It looks like the Aerostar was the last of the RWD minivans, which gave it a little more towing capacity. It’s a shame Ford didn’t sell enough of them to keep this model alive. With Ford’s current position in the so-called “domestic” market, they could really clean up if they made RWD minivans as nice as the Odyssey and the Sienna. Instead, it looks like Ford has given up on the minivan market and gone to crossover vehicles instead.

I think that the Chevrolet Astro RWD minivan and the corresponding GMC Safari were still available after the Aerostar was no longer manufactured. I think both the Chevrolet and the Ford RWD minivans came in commercial versions and were particularly useful for repairmen who didn’t need a full sized van.

I don’t think Ford or GM currently has a minivan in production. I see minivans everywhere, and in my opinion, a crossover vehicle is no substitute. I find the sliding doors of the minivan particularly useful for carrying musical instruments. These doors also make it easy for the older musicians that ride with me who have physical disabilities to get in and out of the vehicle.

Dodger Sprinter 2500 passenger van seems more than capable with it’s 6 cyl, diesel. I’m sure it’s up there in price, but it fits the bill I’m sure. I think 4 wd may now be available or limited slip which I feel MORE suitable for most applications.

I like the idea of the Dodge/Freigntliner Sprinter too, except the diesel engine is made by Mercedes and the Sprinter doesn’t have a very good reputation for reliability, but then again, neither did the Aerostar. Other than those shortcomings, the Sprinter is an impressive vehicle. The diesel engines are quite quiet. You can stand next to one and you won’t be able to tell whether or not it is running.

Sharon, if you are interested in looking at the Sprinter, take a look at

You bring up a good point…why buy a car with questionable reliability from a company with questionable viability. I retract my suggestion though the concept is appealing.

I had looked at those, and they are pricier than what we
wanted to consider. That’s partly what started me on the
questions, though.
Sharon K

Interestingly, we looked at some class b rv based on the Sprinter.
It’s a bit more people capacity than we need and I did wonder about
reliability. Our Aerostar has been very reliable, but I have heard
reports to the contrary from others.
Sharon K

You can get a 2006 Sprinter for less than $20,000. It’s towing capacity is 5000#. 2006 and newer use a 6-cyl Benz diesel; 2005 and earlier use the 5-cyl. Benz engine.

Just don’t expect to park it in a garage. It is extremely tall. Of course, you don’t have to squat to get into it. I think it’s an excellent choice. Test drive one if you can find it.

out of morbid curiosity,
I do want AWD, 3500lb towing capacity at least, and would like
the equal or better mileage than the Aerostar. I do understand
that there are physics trade-offs. You can’t get AWD or 4WD without
losing mileage and you can’t get 3500+ capacity without losing
mileage. Both of those options seem to cap you at 18-19mpg,
and most vehicles with both seem to cluster around 16-17mpg.
Is that a hard physics limit? Or is it demand and manufacturing
limits…can that limit be beaten? As noted below, the Tahoe and
Yukon Hybrids do, but at lots of dollars. So I guess it is just
Sharon K