Suv for towing and roadtrips

We have 4 kids and a pop-up trailer that we would like to be able to take on the road. Currently we are looking at used Suburbans, Yukons, Tahoes, and Expeditions. We need the space in the back for luggage and the leg room for long roadtrips. Does anyone have experience with these vehicles long term or alternate vehicle suggestions? We want to hang onto this vehicle for awhile.

You may or may not need something that big. Pop-ups are NOT that big. Look at the new Pathfinder or even the smaller GM trucks or Explorer. You all may fit comfortably in there (depending on size of kids). And any of those vehicles should EASILY tow you and all your gear.

I have a pop-up and right now we only have 1 kid going camping with us. Use to have 2…and sometimes 3. I currently have a 05 4runner with the V6…The engine is MORE then powerful enough to tow all of us with all our gear. And I my 98 Pathy was easily able to haul everything also. The problem you might have is the 6 people.

Another vehicle to look at is the Pathfinder Armada. Not quite as big as the Suburbans or Yukons…but it’s pretty big…Much bigger then the regular Pathfinder.

I second the size issue Mike brought up. My parents have a Ford Escape they tow their pop-up with. With four kids clearly you need more seats than the Escape has, but you don’t need the largest possible SUV either. Luggage and camping gear can be towed in the pop-up, so you really only need room for the passengers.

I’m not sure what your price range is, but a few of my coworkers have Honda Pilots and rave about them. Their towing capacity should be sufficient unless your camper is at the very heavy end of the range.

Remember that what ever you get, you get to use the rest of the year as well. It will be drinking fuel all year long. How about renting? At least until you are sure how often you are going to be needing the additional size. BTW renting will help you decide what size you really need without committing to buying.

Towing a pop-up is probably less of an issue than cramming the kids in. I would submit to you that ANY vehicle sold here in the past 10-15 years that is capable of comfortably seating a family of 6 will have no problem towing a pop-up trailer. The full-size SUV’s you mention are incredibly inefficient and unless you live somewhere that you regularly need the higher clearance and 4wd, they’re overkill. I’d say look at a V6 powered mini-van, which I believe most of them are these days. The next step up would be something like an Astro van, which are a little bigger, more powerful and have a sturdier truck-chassis. You might even consider a full-size van, which will give you even more room than one of those mammoth SUV’s, likely give better gas mileage and will have no trouble towing. Plus you can pick up a 9-passenger van from a fleet auction for a fraction of what you’d pay for a big SUV.

Of course, what you really need is one of these things they used to sell called a “station wagon”, which had lots of room, but still had the aerodynamics of a car. If you were considering something this old, a Chevy Caprice/Buick Roadmaster/Olds Cruiser station wagon would be PERFECT for you, but they haven’t sold them since '92, I think.

The old Station Wagon is PERFECT for this situation. But the Minivan killed them.

I know that many of the Minivans have a towing capacity that can tow most pop-ups I still don’t like the idea of towing with a FWD vehicle. The Full-size van is probably a good idea too.

Both my 98 Windstar and it’s replacement, a 2006 Sienna have a 3500 lb towing capacity with the towing package. The package was an option with the Windstar and standard on the Sienna. That should be enough to handle a pop-up and both get about 20/25 mpg city/highway. On the other hand, my 93 Caprice with a 5.0 V8 has a 2000 lb towing capacity (2.56 rear).

Ed B.

For a lightweight pop-up trailer all of those vehicles are overkill. You don’t list the weight of your pop-up trailer, but if it is less than 2,500 pounds, a minivan would be fine and would use less fuel. You could even get one with a roof rack if you need to haul extra cargo.

There are large pop-up trailers that could justify the large vehicles you have mentioned. If yours is one of those, you might also consider a full-sized van instead of an SUV.

The Chevy Equinox rear seat slides forward and back. You can position it where you need to when you want extra leg room or more storage space. It comes in FWD and AWD versions, and will get much better gas mileage than the SUVs you mentioned. You might check it out on line and test drive it if you like what you see.