Thinking about upgrading from tent camping, but love your minivan? You may think it’s impossible to enjoy the RV lifestyle with your minivan, but that may not be the case. Here are some tips for towing with a minivan, as well as a few travel trailer / towing camper options that may work for you.

Also check out: 5 great Travel Trailers To Tow With an SUV

Which minivans are good for towing?

The three most popular minivans are the Toyota Sienna, the Honda Odyssey, and The Chrysler Pacifica. Depending on the year and options on yours, you may or may not be able to safely tow a travel trailer. 

If your minivan comes with a factory tow package installed, you are set to tow – some things. Be aware that the presence of a towing package doesn’t mean you can tow any travel trailer – you MUST stay well within the towing limits of your particular VIN. Take a look at the sticker on the doorframe to help you determine your max and safe towing weight, and take the time to learn all about Gross Vehicle Weight, Tongue Weight, and Combined Weights. Your RV dealer should help you find the correct hitch and weight limits based on these numbers. 

minivan towing a travel trailer

IMPORTANT TOWING OPTIONS

  • Class of Hitch
  • 7-pin wiring
  • Transmission Cooling
  • Brake Controller

Hitch classes are separated by their maximum weight capacity rating and receiver opening size. Classes range from I to V, and each class has its own unique capacity and applications. To find yours: Read the label on your hitch, or better yet, take a look in your minivan’s owner’s manual.

Class 2 trailer hitches have a 1-1/4″ x 1-1/4″ receiver tube opening and are used for lightweight towing applications. Most class 2 hitches are able to tow up to 3,500 lbs. gross trailer weight. Most Minivans with tow packages installed are able to tow this weight, so this should be suitable for lighter travel trailer towing.

Most late model minivans with factory tow packages have a Class 3 Trailer Hitch, which should align with most travel trailers and handle the weight of the tongue. 

HITCH SIZE BY MINIVAN

Chrysler Pacifica: Class 3. The Pacifica is well equipped for towing, and the factory tow option adds even more capacity to the 3,200 standard limit. 

Honda Odyssey: Class 2 (note that the Odyssey must have the factory transmission cooler option installed to safely tow). Limits: 3,000 – 3,500 depending on year and model

Toyota Sienna: none available at a factory level (note that without the factory tow package, including engine cooler, the towing capacity maxes out at 1,200 lbs). You will need to get an aftermarket hitch for your sienna. 

TOW PACKAGES

Tow packages can be the difference between being able to tow a travel trailer and tent camping. Since every minivan has different options to assist with towing, it is important to know which features your minivan has. Let’s take a look at the factory tow packages on each of the three minivans, to help you compare them.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Tow Package2021 Honda Odyssey Tow Package2021 Toyota Sienna
Trailer hitch with 2-inch receiver and integrated connectorTrailer Hitch with ball mountNo hitch option
Trailer sway damping technologyAutomatic Transmission Fluid cooler (ATF)engine oil cooler
220-amp alternatorPower Steering Fluid cooler (PSF)Heavy duty radiator
7-pin/4-pin trailer-tow wiring harnesscooler air duct for enhanced air flowHeavy duty fan
Heavy-duty radiatorHonda Eco Assist System

Brake Controllers. A brake controller is necessary in most states for hauling trailers above a certain weight. Check your state’s DMV for requirements. In addition, if you choose a travel trailer that has electric brakes installed, you will need to install a brake controller on your minivan to stop the trailer. 

Wiring harness. Although you may have a hitch installed, double check that you are also able to connect the travel trailer’s wires to your vehicle. You may have either a 4 pin or a 7 pin. Without a wiring harness, you will not be able to use the blinkers, tail lights. In addition, with a 7-pin connection, you can charge your minivan’s battery and also control the brakes of the travel trailer. 

WIRING HARNESS SUMMARY

  • A 4-Way trailer connector has the basic lighting functions only; running lights, left turn signal and brake lights, right turn signal and brake lights, and ground.
  • A 7-Way has these functions and a 12 volt circuit, a circuit for electric trailer brakes (requires a brake controller in the vehicle), and a reverse light or auxiliary power circuit.

Which Travel Trailers are best to tow behind a minivan?

We found three lightweight towables that fall within the limits of all of the above minivans – 2 travel trailers and one towable tent camper.

1.Sylvan Sport Go. 

Per Sylvan, the Go “…can carry up to a dozen boats, boards, bikes, boxes, or any other combination of gear. Or pick up a load of supplies from the home store. When it’s time for camping, open up the spacious and comfortable tent, relax and enjoy what National Geographic Adventure declared the “Coolest. Camper. Ever”.”

Empty Weight: 840 lbs

  • Gross Weight (total it can handle) 1800 lbs
  • Sleeping capacity: 2 adults + 2 kids

PROs:

  • Tent like experience
  • Super lightweight and easy to tow

CONs:

  • No electricity
  • No air conditioning, water or heat options

Sylvan GO Feature list: 

  • equipment rack
  • crank handle
  • tent pod
  • 4 sleeping pads
  • 4 bed support poles
  • gear deck
  • tailgate step and bungee
  • storage box with keys
  • stabilizer jack rod

Here are some new and used Sylvan Sport Go Campers for sale

2. Braxton Creek Bushwacker.

The Bushwacker line includes the ultra lightweight model, the 10SS, that weighs just 1,300 lbs unloaded. Built with quality in mind, the Bushwacker Teardrop is a solid, well appointed option for towing behind your minivan.

SPECS and FEATURES

  • Exterior Length13′ 2″
  • Exterior Width 6′ 9″
  • Exterior Height 6′ 10″
  • Unloaded TT Weight 1,300 lbs
  • DRY Hitch Weight 120 lbs
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) 2,200 lbs
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity 817 lbs
  • Fresh Water Capacity 24 gals
  • Sleeps 2
  • A/C integrated
  • Bluetooth stereo speakers
  • Outdoor kitchen

Here are some new and used Braxton Creek Bushwacker campers for sale.

3. Sunray from Sunset Park RV.

The adorable Sunray weighs in at 1280 for the 109 floorplan. With it’s clamshell exterior kitchen, cute color schemes and easy storage, the Sunray is a great minivan tow option. 

SPECS and FEATURES

  • Hitch Weight: 120
  • GVRW: 2000
  • Fresh Water Capacity: 16 gallons
  • Dinette bed: 64×74
  • Length: 12 ft
  • Awning: yes
  • Sleeps: 2
  • Outdoor patio: option
  • All terrain tires: option

Here are some new and used Sunray travel trailers for sale

We hope you found this MiniVan Travel Trailer Towing Guide Useful. Be sure to check out all Travel Trailers for sale at RVT.com! 

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