Originally Posted by Campin' Ron
I've got a 2003 Sienna and have yet to experience any "drag". We pack the trailer, not the van. With dual batteries on the hitch, we do our best to balance the load. Mileage has been a low of 11 MPG (thankfully one tank), to a high of 16 MPG. On average, we are around 13 - 14. All towing is done in third gear (four speed transmission). I'm considering moving up to a Highlander due to the ratings but would hate to give up the practicality of the minivan (seats 6 full size people). I was a little disappointed that the 2011 Sienna still carries the same tow rating even though the engine is more powerful than the current Highlander and Toyota states the new frame is 11% stiffer. I just spent a week test driving a Ford Flex AWD Limited. Liked the crossover, but almost choked at the 15 MPG. The car was relatively new with just 300 miles on it when I got it. Don't even want to think of the fuel consumption while towing. Didn't know the Flying J had scales. I'm curious as to see what I'm towing. Figured 4,500 to 4700 lbs.
I believe that the 1st gen. sienna has a higher hitch mount due to the fact that that model does not have the fold in the floor seating and some pretty low bumper facia pieces. It is a common complaint for many 2nd gen. sienna owners. I have several friends that tow small boats or pop up trailers, most of them have added air bags to the rear suspension.
The highlander is a nice ride but I love the room of the minivan. I believe that the '08 highlander and the '11 sienna is actually the same motor but the sienna now has a six speed tranny. My '04 has a five speed tranny and I tow in fourth (the wind drag is sufficient enough that it won't tow in fifth even if I put it there, except for the odd down hill run).
Has your trailer got the yellow sticker inside the screen door? Mine does and it lists it as 4650 lbs. (I assume that is before the battery is installed and propane tanks are full).
I want to love the ford flex so much... I has a killer powertrain this year (350 h.p. and 350 ft/lbs. of torque along with a six speed tranny) but sitting in it at the car show left me wanting more. That being said, I still haven't ruled this ride out yet, I have not driven one. The gas mileage seems to be a common complaint with this model (and that was before this new motor was offered).
The new 2011 sienna left me feeling grateful that I have a older model. It seems to be a nicer looking ride but has lost some of it's practicality with the redesign. For instance, the second row seats are a lazy boy style and recline, in theory. I am only 5'-8" and with the seats back as far as it could go I still did not have enough leg room to recline with my feet up. It must be made for kids only.
Two drink holders instead of one in the dash along with two more in the center console 6" away (at the expense of lost storage space also), folding rear seats that are actually harder to manipulate etc. etc. I wasn't impressed.
It doesn't really matter anyway, I don't think I'll be buying anything for at least five more years.