Author Topic: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?  (Read 2007 times)

RH

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Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« on: June 05, 2019, 04:14:10 PM »
Call me crazy, but I think the wife and I want a minivan. We only drive maybe 4000 miles a year and need something where we can:
1) put 2 kayaks on a roof rack
2) possibly tow a small dingy
3) comfortable for road trips

I'm digging that the rear seats can fold flat for easy camping too and I can haul 4x8 plywood....doggy would like that too. Seems like I can pick up a used one for a great price. Gas mileage isn't the best, but we don't drive much at all. I've checked out the MMM car list, and they can't tow anything (per the car manuals).

So...call me crazy?? It would be our only car. We bike around for local errands.

FIREstache

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2019, 04:22:00 PM »
Nothing wrong with it.  I kind of wish I had one sometimes for hauling stuff and and to take a trip in, even sleeping in sometimes when on the road, or down by the river.  lol

CheapScholar

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2019, 04:24:03 PM »
Sounds like you really want it to do stuff that would bring you a lot of joy.  And we’re not talking about buying a Range Rover here.  I say go for it (assuming your finances are in decent order).

nick663

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2019, 04:27:11 PM »
Not crazy.  They're incredibly useful and due to them not being trendy the used prices are reasonable.

fuzzy math

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2019, 04:28:54 PM »
Ive slept on a queen blow up mattress in the back. Ive moved an entire house with one - couches, king mattresses on top etc (no fridge, washer or dryer attempted tho)... They’re incredibly versatile. If you can afford it and have specific plans for one, why not?  Gas mileage isn’t that much different than a Subaru


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EngagedToFIRE

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2019, 04:35:46 PM »
Are you sure they can't tow anything?  Ever been to Europe?  They tow campers with hatchbacks.  Surely a minivan can tow small stuff just fine.

I say go for it, too.  Seems like you thought it through and it fits your needs.

Goldielocks

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2019, 05:04:56 PM »
Our minivan towed great.  We had a larger than base engine and the "cooling package" for towing. 
We have an older Toyota highlander now.
Both bought for long distance touring comfort.

The differences:

Mini van was an AWESOME costruction / moving / hauling vehicle.   I need to put on the trailer to have similar space the Toyota.
Minivan was so cheap to run/maintain/own (Chevy).
Sliding doors are nice with kids in carseats and for hauling stuff.

Toyota SUV
Roof is lower so the kayaks fit so much easier on top.  (Murderous pain on the minivan)
Four wheel drive, because camping / hiking and kayak spots are not always on the nicer roads, you know?  We go to free sites a lot more now.   The minivan was ok for 4 wheel drive, if "moderate" or "good" conditions... but not for "high clearance vehicle" and you had to drive SLOW.
Better in snow / ditches, although ice tires are the best and can be put on the minivan, too.
Back seat has more leg room than the minivan, unless you take out the middle row and only use the back seats in a minivan.

Radagast

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2019, 09:25:21 PM »
MMM has several blog posts extolling minivans, so you are on firm Mustachian footing there. If you want to be on firm footing with the rest of the world, I don't know...

Are you sure they can't tow anything?  Ever been to Europe?  They tow campers with hatchbacks.  Surely a minivan can tow small stuff just fine.
Amazingly it seems many manufacturers deliberately remove structural elements from US market vehicles, crippling towing capacity. Anyhow mine has a towing capacity that I recall is about 2000 lb less than the same model in Europe.

sol

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2019, 10:36:33 PM »
I love my minivan.  Right now it's full of tools and construction debris from a big ongoing project.  This weekend it will take five people and all of their gear camping, while three of them get to watch DVDs in the back.  Sometimes it takes seven of us to family events, when grandparents join.  It tows great, though I think the brakes are probably the weak point.  Minivans are heavy vehicles to begin with, and I worry about putting a few thousand extra pounds back there.

As to your desire to put kayak racks on the roof, I should point out that minivans are about the WORST vehicles for this because they are so tall.  The hard part about managing a kayak is lifting up on to the roof, and loading/unloading from passenger cars is much more convenient than is loading/unloading from minivans or (even worse) trucks.  Some friends of mine carry their two 17 foot sea kayaks on the roof of their Prius.

chemistk

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2019, 05:43:40 AM »
If it weren't such a toll on the environment, I would get one to match my wife's.

We recently bought a used one for an excellent price and I am not ashamed in the slightest to admit that I love driving it. Is it sporty? No. Is it agile? No. Is it responsive? No. But hot damn it's a comfortable, easy ride.

I was able to use it to help haul a bunch of furniture last weekend, and we're planning on jamming a month's worth of gear into it (plus our family) come August.

Ours came with a dealer-installed OEM hitch and towing package (transmission cooler, basically) and with a 3500 lb towing capacity, I don't think there's much we won't be able to do with it over the course of its life.

Papa bear

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2019, 06:05:24 AM »
Best vehicles ever.  And I am a fanboy for Chrysler/dodge minivans specifically for their 3rd row AND 2nd row stow n go seating.

I pull those seats up and down multiple times  when I’m not able to just leave some seats at home. 

So you’re looking at 2008 or newer Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler town and country or 2018 and newer Chrysler pacificas.

And to reiterate past comments, you can move a house, build a house, put all your friends in it, have awesome road trips, they typically have tow packages up to 3000lb, and they do great in snow.  I’ve taken them through shut down the highway type conditions and through snowy mountain passes with little to no issues.

Plus you look really cool driving them. 


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tampaite

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2019, 06:22:43 AM »
Call me crazy, but I think the wife and I want a minivan.

You haven't provided any details regarding finances. I assume you have the money and so, can afford it. Need affirmation?

Zamboni

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2019, 06:54:04 AM »
I love my minivan. My teenager is about to take over my Prius, so it's back to driving the party barge full time again, which is fine with me. Meanwhile, we just hauled a bunch of pine straw with it this past week. I've used it to buy tons of used stuff of Craigslist (sofas, refrigerator, bedroom set, etc.) They are great.

Seems like you have a lot of company here.

wxdevil

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2019, 07:01:37 AM »
100% recommend. Trust me, I was not a minivan guy before getting one. My wife even less so. Now we both can't imagine our lives without one. With three kids in tow it has simplified our life tremendously. Road trips are a dream in it. Just go for it. I'd recommend a Sienna or Odyssey for their durability.

meandmyfamily

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2019, 08:34:31 AM »
We love our minivan.  It fits us and our 4 kids plus the grandparents!  Ours seats 8.  We fit 2 2-seater kayaks on top no problem with 6 people and gear inside.  We can do so many things with our minivan.  My only issue is ground clearance especially when loaded down.  We just have to be very careful when camping. 

JoJo

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2019, 09:07:54 AM »
Do you need more than 2 seats?  I bought a cargo van and it's more useful for setting up a camper, transporting stuff.  The base price for new is quite a bit cheaper for cargo vans, although used you might be better to get a mini-van.

The ford transit connect is mini-van size but not the extra weight, space for back seats.

Camping in the van is awesome!  I rarely pay for accommodation.  On a 3 week trip I spent a total of $100 for accommodation.

https://thehotflashpacker.com/tips-for-overnight-camping-in-van/

HBFIRE

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2019, 09:57:21 AM »
I've been considering getting one myself.  One kid, but we will be doing a lot of road trips and tons of snowboard trips for the next several years.  Likely will have friends/family on these trips.  Thinking about the Sienna for AWD, even though I know snow tires are better (live in socal, so don't want the hassle of having to swap tires constantly).  Seems like a very comfortable way to go.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2019, 10:00:13 AM by HBFIRE »

tct

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #17 on: June 06, 2019, 10:36:07 AM »
I've got a used Honda Odyssey for sale. 2009 with 146k miles. I'm the original owner, its clean, good tires, everything works, good tires, no mechanical issues, never any accidents. I'm in arizona. Let me know if interested.

Buffalo Chip

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2019, 10:39:07 AM »
Minivans and are great for long trips, hauling kids, hauling large amounts of stuff,etc.  If you can afford a well used one, they’re a good choice.

John Galt incarnate!

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2019, 12:03:04 PM »
Call me crazy, but I think the wife and I want a minivan. We only drive maybe 4000 miles a year and need something where we can:
1) put 2 kayaks on a roof rack
2) possibly tow a small dingy
3) comfortable for road trips

I'm digging that the rear seats can fold flat for easy camping too and I can haul 4x8 plywood....doggy would like that too. Seems like I can pick up a used one for a great price. Gas mileage isn't the best, but we don't drive much at all. I've checked out the MMM car list, and they can't tow anything (per the car manuals).

So...call me crazy?? It would be our only car. We bike around for local errands.

Given your requirements I do not deem you crazy for wanting a minivan.

I think it is a sensible  choice.

MatthewK

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #20 on: June 06, 2019, 12:37:03 PM »
We don't have kayaks so I can't speak to that, but I love our mini van. We have 3 kids and it is great for trips. It's like the swiss army knife of vehicles. Put down the seats and it becomes a bike hauler, construction vehicle, camper and on and on. Not too bad on fuel either.

We currently have a Town and Country and just put new plugs, brakes and tires on it in preparation for our summer road trip to Montreal. Two summers ago we drove it from Mi to Mt and back. 109k on it and still looks/runs fine.

EngagedToFIRE

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #21 on: June 06, 2019, 04:53:40 PM »
If it weren't such a toll on the environment, I would get one to match my wife's.

We recently bought a used one for an excellent price and I am not ashamed in the slightest to admit that I love driving it. Is it sporty? No. Is it agile? No. Is it responsive? No. But hot damn it's a comfortable, easy ride.

I was able to use it to help haul a bunch of furniture last weekend, and we're planning on jamming a month's worth of gear into it (plus our family) come August.

Ours came with a dealer-installed OEM hitch and towing package (transmission cooler, basically) and with a 3500 lb towing capacity, I don't think there's much we won't be able to do with it over the course of its life.

I feel this way about my truck.  We went with a crew cab F150 as our family car and it's been phenomenal.  Tons of leg room and space in the cab.  We put DVD players in for the little ones.  Can carry 6 people when needed, tows our camper or just about anything else, etc.  And damn, it's like driving a lazy boy recliner.  Cruising in that thing is awesome.

Personally, I'd take a truck over a minivan but that's just personal preference.

Ch@d

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #22 on: June 06, 2019, 08:55:27 PM »
At one time I vowed to never own a minivan...  We've had a 2000 Honda odyssey for about 11 years now.  It's the most useful vehicle I've ever owned.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #23 on: June 06, 2019, 11:00:13 PM »
The consensus is pretty clear:  minivans are simply awesome vehicles.  And I agree wholeheartedly.

The question remains:  "Is it right for you?"  A minivan will indeed satisfy the three use cases you mention.  But with no mention of children, I can't help but think that a minivan is overkill, and that something far smaller (cheaper?) would also meet those needs. It'd also be more fuel efficient, but with the number of miles you drive, that's not likely to be a significant factor.

I'm afraid I don't have any specific recommendations, as our family has long outgrown anything smaller than a minivan :)

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #24 on: June 07, 2019, 04:35:21 AM »
I thought I was the only one! Glad you made this thread.

Selling my RWD sports car and buying a mini van this fall!

BuildingFrugalHabits

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #25 on: June 07, 2019, 05:10:16 PM »
If you need the utility, minivan could be a decent option.  I say go for it.

accolay

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #26 on: June 10, 2019, 06:07:49 PM »
My spouse and I bought our 2010 Dodge minivan a couple of years ago used and it's been a very good purchase so far. We don't have kids, so I got weird looks from stupid people when we bought it. It's "my" car to drive, but it's mainly used for house projects and hauling stuff, so fairly minimal mileage being driven with it. I like that you can put things in it locked up and keep them out of the elements vs. how things would be in a truck, really like the stow-n-go seats. I bought a cheap outside carpet to line the floor when I throw stuff in it.

Recommendation is that you buy and install, or at least have on hand a metal "Y" coolant adapter. Common problem for these to break, and mine broke on the drive home from picking up the vehicle.

https://www.ebay.com/i/303136494170?chn=ps

Spiffy

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #27 on: June 10, 2019, 07:05:54 PM »
You would be crazy NOT to get a minivan! I love mine (used Dodge Grand Caravan). We call it the living room on wheels. Super comfy for my long-legged family of five. We took it on a 3 week road trip and it was great. We can fit a sailboat in it with the seats stowed. I have moved so much furniture in it.  Get one! You will not be sorry.

MatthewK

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #28 on: June 10, 2019, 07:10:21 PM »
My spouse and I bought our 2010 Dodge minivan a couple of years ago used and it's been a very good purchase so far. We don't have kids, so I got weird looks from stupid people when we bought it. It's "my" car to drive, but it's mainly used for house projects and hauling stuff, so fairly minimal mileage being driven with it. I like that you can put things in it locked up and keep them out of the elements vs. how things would be in a truck, really like the stow-n-go seats. I bought a cheap outside carpet to line the floor when I throw stuff in it.

Recommendation is that you buy and install, or at least have on hand a metal "Y" coolant adapter. Common problem for these to break, and mine broke on the drive home from picking up the vehicle.

https://www.ebay.com/i/303136494170?chn=ps
yes to this!!! I replaced mine two years ago and still no leaking. I first took it to the mechanic and he quoted me something like $300 plus for OEM replacement.

After I did a bit of research on Youtube and found EXACTLY what you linked to and replaced it in less than 2 hours on my driveway. Felt like a huge win once done!

**My Town and Country is a 2010 as well
« Last Edit: June 10, 2019, 07:12:00 PM by MatthewK »

Dicey

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #29 on: June 10, 2019, 10:25:48 PM »
This thread has made the rounds before, but I'll play again. I loved my minivans. When I bought my first one, I was single and really, really didn't want one. I was looking for a good used vehicle and found a deal on a Mazda. I didn't want to buy it, but the deal was excellent. I decided that if I could find a cool license plate, that would be my sign to buy the damn thing. A quick DMV search provided "NOTAMOM" and the decision was made. I've had three since then, all company cars, all Dodge Grand Caravans. I loved every one of them. The Stow&Go seats are badass and those things can carry 4x8 sheets of plywood FLAT!

I finally gave it up, well after FIRE, when DH, who does the maintenance, insisted. The other day, I saw a white CG with a For Sale sign parked on the street and I was sorely, sorely tempted to stop and get the phone number.

Do it.

BTW, my last van was a distinctive color. Some new grandparents in the next town over bought it to haul their grandchild(ren) in. We still see it once in a while. Good to know it's still on the road.

Xlar

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #30 on: June 11, 2019, 10:06:01 AM »
Are you sure they can't tow anything?  Ever been to Europe?  They tow campers with hatchbacks.  Surely a minivan can tow small stuff just fine.

I say go for it, too.  Seems like you thought it through and it fits your needs.

2 important notes here:

1. In Europe they have different towing standards. Basically they have less tongue weight on the trailer which means smaller cars can tow larger amounts. BUT: They are much more unstable at higher speeds. So that means that you cannot tow safely on American highways with a trailer setup to the European standard! If you want a detailed article on the topic: https://oppositelock.kinja.com/tow-me-down-1609112611

2. While I don't believe it is illegal to tow above your cars rating, make sure you check with your insurance. If you get in a crash towing with a car that the manufacture states isn't suitable for towing will your insurance cover you? You may also open yourself up to additional liability if this person sues you.

Basically, if you want to tow get the right tool for the job and do it safely.

EricEng

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #31 on: June 11, 2019, 07:52:10 PM »
Here's a great article comparing Minivans to SUVs by Jalopnik
https://jalopnik.com/minivan-sales-are-plummeting-compared-to-suvs-because-w-1835336564

Almost identical dimensions, but the mini van gets so much more storage and convenience of sliding doors.  Minivans are awesome
Quote
Let’s look at cargo space, a major reason why people say they need SUVs or minivans in the first place. With all but the front row seats folded, the Traverse has 98.2 cubic feet of cargo room; with two rows up, it has 57.8 cubic feet, and with all three rows, to seat a maximum of eight people, there’s 23 cubic feet left for cargo.

On the Pacifica, with all seats but the front row folded, you have 140.5 cubic feet of space— over 40 cubic feet more, which is more than the entire trunk volume of a Toyota RAV4 with the rear seat up. With two rows up, the Pacifica gives you 87.5 cubic feet—30 more than the Traverse—and with all three rows up, which allow nine people to sit, one more than the Traverse, you get 32.3 cubic feet, almost 10 more cubic feet than the Traverse.

EngagedToFIRE

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #32 on: June 12, 2019, 06:41:43 AM »
Are you sure they can't tow anything?  Ever been to Europe?  They tow campers with hatchbacks.  Surely a minivan can tow small stuff just fine.

I say go for it, too.  Seems like you thought it through and it fits your needs.

2 important notes here:

1. In Europe they have different towing standards. Basically they have less tongue weight on the trailer which means smaller cars can tow larger amounts. BUT: They are much more unstable at higher speeds. So that means that you cannot tow safely on American highways with a trailer setup to the European standard! If you want a detailed article on the topic: https://oppositelock.kinja.com/tow-me-down-1609112611

2. While I don't believe it is illegal to tow above your cars rating, make sure you check with your insurance. If you get in a crash towing with a car that the manufacture states isn't suitable for towing will your insurance cover you? You may also open yourself up to additional liability if this person sues you.

Basically, if you want to tow get the right tool for the job and do it safely.

If I read correctly, OP mentioned wanting to tow a small dingy.  I'm not sure there is a minivan in America that can't tow a small dingy.

Xlar

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #33 on: June 12, 2019, 03:10:06 PM »
Are you sure they can't tow anything?  Ever been to Europe?  They tow campers with hatchbacks.  Surely a minivan can tow small stuff just fine.

I say go for it, too.  Seems like you thought it through and it fits your needs.

2 important notes here:

1. In Europe they have different towing standards. Basically they have less tongue weight on the trailer which means smaller cars can tow larger amounts. BUT: They are much more unstable at higher speeds. So that means that you cannot tow safely on American highways with a trailer setup to the European standard! If you want a detailed article on the topic: https://oppositelock.kinja.com/tow-me-down-1609112611

2. While I don't believe it is illegal to tow above your cars rating, make sure you check with your insurance. If you get in a crash towing with a car that the manufacture states isn't suitable for towing will your insurance cover you? You may also open yourself up to additional liability if this person sues you.

Basically, if you want to tow get the right tool for the job and do it safely.

If I read correctly, OP mentioned wanting to tow a small dingy.  I'm not sure there is a minivan in America that can't tow a small dingy.

As long as the dingy + trailer is less than the towing capacity of the vehicle and the tongue is balanced properly you won't have any problems. My comment was more towards towing with vehicles that have 0 lb as their towing capacity.

Some minivans only have a towing capacity if they are properly equipped with a towing package. For example the 2020 Toyota Sienna has a 3500 lb towing capacity with the towing package installed. And note that the towing package isn't just a ball hitch, it includes proper upgrades to the cooling system.

Just Joe

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #34 on: June 13, 2019, 03:08:50 PM »
Are you sure they can't tow anything?  Ever been to Europe?  They tow campers with hatchbacks.  Surely a minivan can tow small stuff just fine.

I say go for it, too.  Seems like you thought it through and it fits your needs.

A quick Google shows that they are rated for 3500 to 5000 lbs depending on the brand of the vehicle. In Europe that limit is probably higher b/c in the USA we grow lawyers and lawsuits like kudzu. In Europe they have higher driver license requirements and better tow equipment requirements. Here in the USA you can just cut a pickup truck in half and call it a trailer. ;)

EngagedToFIRE

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Re: Am I crazy to want a Minivan?
« Reply #35 on: June 17, 2019, 03:19:09 PM »
Are you sure they can't tow anything?  Ever been to Europe?  They tow campers with hatchbacks.  Surely a minivan can tow small stuff just fine.

I say go for it, too.  Seems like you thought it through and it fits your needs.

2 important notes here:

1. In Europe they have different towing standards. Basically they have less tongue weight on the trailer which means smaller cars can tow larger amounts. BUT: They are much more unstable at higher speeds. So that means that you cannot tow safely on American highways with a trailer setup to the European standard! If you want a detailed article on the topic: https://oppositelock.kinja.com/tow-me-down-1609112611

2. While I don't believe it is illegal to tow above your cars rating, make sure you check with your insurance. If you get in a crash towing with a car that the manufacture states isn't suitable for towing will your insurance cover you? You may also open yourself up to additional liability if this person sues you.

Basically, if you want to tow get the right tool for the job and do it safely.

If I read correctly, OP mentioned wanting to tow a small dingy.  I'm not sure there is a minivan in America that can't tow a small dingy.

As long as the dingy + trailer is less than the towing capacity of the vehicle and the tongue is balanced properly you won't have any problems. My comment was more towards towing with vehicles that have 0 lb as their towing capacity.

Some minivans only have a towing capacity if they are properly equipped with a towing package. For example the 2020 Toyota Sienna has a 3500 lb towing capacity with the towing package installed. And note that the towing package isn't just a ball hitch, it includes proper upgrades to the cooling system.

I saw a Sienna towing a camper just yesterday.  Hopefully they got the package!

Anyways, I think my point was that OP is talking about towing very light stuff.  Surely a minivan won't be a problem.  People tow small trailers, safely, with compact cars just fine.