Towing a 2500lb pop up camper


#1

We now own a 2500lb pop up camper. We have a 1999 Sienna which pulled our last camper just fine (1700lbs) We live in Portland Oregon where it rains a lot and we have mountains to cross. Even though we have the tow package on the van, having front wheel drive in the rain and gaining so much altitude isn’t the vans favorite thing to do.

We are looking to buy a new vehicle now and need your advice.

How do I find tow capacities on vehicles?

How much tow capacity should I be looking for?

We are a one car family so the auto we buy needs to be reliable and good on gas as well as economical to buy as we spent all our money on the camper.

What kind, type, make would you recommend?

It need not be new.


#2

a rule of thumb is about 1600 lbs towing for every 100 horse power. However, if you want to get mathamatically exact get the Haynes and they will give you a formula. Two wt. varies depending on how much weight you are carrying in the van however, so subtract that from the trailer wt. As for what you want to use to two with, it depends on where you will be twoing it. 4wd, and a V6 with around 200 horsepower should do the job, and you want a sway brace on the rear end to keep from fishtailing. An outfit like that should even take you up dirt roads in the hills in the rain and light snow. good luck.


#3

A better rule of thumb is to look at the manual. An RDX has 240hp which conservatively means 3200lbs towing, but it’s only rated for 1500 pounds. Getting the load moving is easy. Stopping it and controlling it safely in motion is another story.


#4

points well taken, but electric bakes on the loads wheels can change that load rating significantly.


#5

I doubt the OP is looking for a CRX or a Morris. A 4wd van or truck is more likely going by the description of the need.


#6

You can check the vehicle manufacturer web sites for towing capacities. They are usually under “specifications,” “safety,” or “capacities.”

Personally, I think a V6 Toyota Tacoma would be a good choice. With 3,500 lbs. of towing capacity, I think a Sienna would also do the job. A good weight distribution hitch would help move weight from the rear wheels to the front wheels, mitigating the FWD towing issues.


#7

Well from the OP’s post, they’ve been towing with a minivan, not a semi. They’re probably not trying to use this camper as an excuse to get a superduty pickup with dual rears, and so towing capacity is going to be something they’ll need to pay close attention to.

And because of that, going purely by “1600lb/100hp” could get them in trouble. There are plenty of small SUV’s out there that can tow trailers, but that probably shouldn’t be towing 2500+ pounds (remember that 2500 does not include water, waste, propane, or the stuff they pack in the camper).


#8

A V6 Rav4 has a max towing capacity of 3500lbs, as does a V6 Ford Escape. The real rule of thumb should be to have more towing capacity than the weight of the item you’re towing(if someone want’s to throw a percentage in there, feel free). But, like another said, you don’t need an F450 dually diesel to tow that little trailer. The v6 Ranger can tow up to 5800lbs, if you don’t mind a truck


#9

We do have a sway bar and electric brakes on the camper. We do not do allot of snow camping with the trailer but we do use the vehicle in the snow. We went camping last weekend and with heavy rain the front end feels like it could be hydroplaning at times. With the camper on it felt much more pronounced. Then when we were at the campground we had to go up a little hill on gravel then fortunately, I had room to back down and try again.
Would a Toyota Highlander Hybrid solve all of our problems? What year would be a good one? Is there another SUV type we should be looking at. A truck would not be my favorite pick. We love the Sienna and on good roads or the highway it controls the camper fine. Going up mountains, on gravel uphill roads or on any road with allot of rain is what I am most concerned about and would like to solve.
Thank you all for your input, it sure helps


#10

it sounds like your tongue weight is too high for your vehicle. That’s making the back of the van settle, which makes the front lift up a bit. That’s why you hydroplane more with the camper attached. Have you checked the weight distribution of the camper?

If it’s doing that to the minivan, then what you get may need to have the rear suspension modified a bit to compensate for the weight of the trailer.

A Highlander is a good choice, and comes standard with a towing package. It has a 3500 pound capacity. But if you really spent all your money on the camper, you might be in for sticker shock. You’d be spending around 38 grand without options.


#11

It sounds like AWD might solve your problems. Any AWD SUV with 3,500 lbs. of towing capacity and traction control would be better than your FWD Sienna. Still, I think you should try using a weight distribution hitch (not just sway control) before you switch to another vehicle. Check to see if there is one you can borrow from a friend or a business that sells them.


#12

Personally I don’t like towing with a fwd vehicle…When hitch up the trailer…it adds weight to the back end and thus removes weight from the front (i.e. drive wheels). Also you have very little control of the rear wheels of your vehicle…Towing anything over 2500lbs could be a problem with FWD…especially if you have to make any sudden moves.

I prefer RWD/4WD …AWD is fine…I don’t recommend FWD.

Any vehicle rated a Class-II with the above conditions is what I recommend. Also get an automatic…Auto’s are far better for towing then manuals. And get one with an external tranny cooler.

I too own a pop-up…2500lbs also…but when I add in all the junk it’s over 3000lbs. I’ve had no problems towing with my 98 Pathfinder or now 05 4-Runner. Although I like the 4runner because it’s an auto.


#13

What would you all think of a KIA 2011 Sorento LX V6 276hp AWD? It’s got good mpg as well. Is there any other makes that I should be looking at? It doesn’t have to be new but from what I read they changed this KIA and put it on a different frame for this year. Lowers the towing cap. from 5,000 to 3,600 but that should still be fine. It also way improved the mpg so it would be good as an only car and every day driving.