Piston Slap: Minivan or SUV to Take the "A" Liner?
We plan on buying a hard-side folding camper (a.k.a. an Aliner) with a dry weight of about 2,100 lbs. Which minivan or SUV would you recommend?
I would be remiss if I didn’t admit I kinda want a pop-up camper to tow behind my Ranger. Kinda the same thing…sorta.
Anyway, if you stick with an Aliner and don’t totally overload both the trailer and exceed the tow rig’s GVWR, almost any late-model V6 powered CUV or minivan is fine. I’d go vanning, for practicality and stretch out comfort; ideal for a small family, a couple, or just one person with mucho outdoor stuff. And their boxy shape (usually) punches a larger hole in the air for the trailer to “rest” inside.
Consider these minivan parameters, in no particular order:
- The option for a large, standalone, transmission cooler. And maybe the same for power steering. Or, as previously discussed, a super trick bolt-in setup in the aftermarket. Or perhaps give up and get the largest universal-fitting tranny cooler you can slap in. The latter could be the best and most affordable alternative.
- Size of brake discs and, to a lesser extent, any variance in caliper surface area between manufacturers. While I’m not holding my breath for a minivan with 4-piston front calipers, that would be sweet.
- Towing Capacity: checking the manufacturer websites, Chrysler wins the minivan towing race for MY 2015. Not only does it have available trailer sway control, there’s an extra 100 lbs of tow rating beyond every 3,500 pound rated minivan. But is that extra rated 100 lbs a tangible improvement?
- Another option: The Nissan Quest offers the same 3,500 pound towing capacity, but is the CVT gearbox is a good or bad thing? Good: CVTs work so well to put down power with efficiency, no steps for downshifting must be nice with the extra demands from towing. Bad: well, who here actually knows people who tow with CVT gearboxes over long periods of time?
- Tires: with all that load, finding the van with the most tow-worthy rubber is also important. Or switch to LT tires.
- Ease of adding aftermarket camping accessories: if you want it, can you get it for non-Chrysler minivans?
- U-body with LS4-FTW. Obviously, the rightest of the most righteous answers, if not the easiest to acquire. How sad for everyone!
What say you, Best and Brightest?
[Image: Shutterstock user Sundry Photography]
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