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I know this is a maybe a long shot after looking through several pages of threads, but on the theory that you never know until you ask I am asking.  Since I am going to be a fulltime RVer with my Oliver (picking it up in early to mid October), I have been focusing my tow vehicle search on vans. I wanted something that would offer a combination of good storage and easy access. I'm narrowed down to the Chevy Express, GMC Savana and the Ford Transit. Does anyone have any experience with any of these? Would love to hear from you even if you didn't use the van to tow an Oliver.

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I've been towing with my old and trusty Ford E-250, a remnant of my old life in construction. It tows very well, although the 5.4 liter Triton struggles in the mountains. As much as I love it, my van has inconveniences as a TV for my use and has me wanting a pickup truck instead. First, it is only 2 wheel drive. Depending on what kind of roads you travel, having 4 wheel drive can be of great help. Second, it has only 2 seats (cargo van). This is really a pain when traveling with friends. The seating arrangement you could alter with your list of vans, but I don't think any are available in 4 wheel drive. If you find yourself on pavement all the time, then that may not be an issue either. Vans are great for storage and are very versatile, but you'll have to decide what kind of camping/driving you'll be in to and go from there. Good luck!

 

Dave

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2015 Oliver Elite, Hull 107


1998 Ford E-250, 5.4 liter

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 but I don’t think any are available in 4 wheel drive.

There are a number of aftermarket 4wd conversions, Sportsmobile, for more radical trucks, and Quigley, more mainstream, are the big names. The OP could order a new van with added 4wd or get theirs done later.

 

http://www.quigley4x4.com

 

The Sprinter is now available with a VERY good factory system with low range and added ride height, but that truck is marginal for the bigger Oliver.

 

Any if the full sized vans will tow well with a proper engine selection, but I agree that 4wd is highly desirable!

 

A big downside is that repairing the engine is lots harder, since access to the back is through the cab. Most mechanics hate working on them and you will pay extra labor cost. That may be acceptable to you, to get the huge cargo volume they offer.

 

Any of the 2500 or 3500 vans (and most trucks) will ride uncomfortably when lightly loaded. A half ton pickup makes more sense in this regard, you can get a long bed and install a canopy, to maximize cargo space. OTH the latest Ram 2500 with rear coil springs rides very nicely. You won't find any HD van with that design.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Debbie,

 

As you know from my comments on your blog, we only ordered our Ollie, "Amazing Grace", a couple of weeks ago so we haven't towed yet but when I was researching vehicles (number 2 of travel trailer decisions), we were looking at used Toyota land crusiers and Mercedes GL450.  These have lots of room, are very dependable and good for high mileage.  We have had pick-ups which didn't make our list at all because for a female, if you aren't at least 5'10" (maybe more), you can't reach anything in it without a ladder so definitely not convenient.  As fate would have it, our first day out browsing dealerships (I'd already checked out cargurus and autotrader to check out vehicles and get values), we happened upon a white (nice match) GL450 with no tags or for sale signs but decided to ask about it anyway. Well, a doctor had just traded it that day at this Toyota dealership for a car for his daughter. It had the tow package, looked like a new one, rode like a new one and when the price was right, we were sold. Now some would discourage one from purchasing a Mercedes because of maintenance/service costs (an oil change is like $200 at a dealership) but there are many import shops around to deal with rather than dealers, we have a good one. Bottom line...everything has pros and cons but you know that after all your research into this endeavor.  The most important issue, I think, is being comfortable with the "handling" of whatever vehicle you choose and get it sooner than later so you aren't having to get use to towing a trailer at the same time as learning the feel of the tow vehicle. Well, that's all I got on the issue.....BTW, surprised you aren't picking up earlier than October as it looked practically finished 2 weeks ago.

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Trish & Jack

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, we happened upon a white (nice match) GL450

 

Another Mercedes :) Nice choice, the GL's are really hard to beat for comfortable driving. You're going to need this to make the brakes and lights work correctly -

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FZTWVE4/_encoding=UTF8?coliid=I3M1UBD7YV0VPN&colid=DVETVI1ZF5E8

 

Then if you bought the 4matic version, you're going to want to fully understand how to engage all 4 wheels for off-road. If it's an older model from 2012 or before then there's a simple button on the dash with a car and skid marks that you push. When the yellow light is on, on the dash, then you're ready to go off-road :)

 

Reed

 

 

 

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Happy Camping,


null


Reed & Karen Lukens with Riffles our Miniature Poodle


2017 Oliver Legacy Elite II  Standard, Hull #200 / 2017 Silverado High Country 1500 Short Bed 4x4


Past TV - 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 4Matic BlueTEC Diesel


Click on our avatar pic above to find the videos on our Oliver Legacy Elite II


 

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Thanks all for the input. As someone who hasn't had a trailer before, this whole process can be daunting. So helpful to bounce ideas off of others. I love Less Junk More Journey and, in fact, their set up was how the GMC Savana got to my list. Thanks for heads up on Transit--I just assumed if the van was big enough, it could have a hitch added.

 

Trish, getting out of Alaska was planned for August but it got moved to end of September so I know my trailer is going to be in the Oliver parking lot for a bit before I can get to it. But I'm super excited. I was just on their website as they are updating sections and got a shock (a good shock) when I saw they are using my rig's front as their sample picture for the custom graphics. Got more even MORE excited to get to it and I didn't know that was even possible.

 

I've done all of my research online so far because I'm not a big fan of the car buying process. But I will get to a few dealerships this coming weekend and I'll take the Oliver info plus the thoughts of people on this thread. I know it will help in my discussions. But the replies here definitely help me form my check list and question list.  Thanks again!! I appreciate all of you.

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I just want to add that since you are going to be full timing, driving comfort is PARAMOUNT. A truck that rattles your kidneys on choppy or broken  pavement will be agonizing in the long run.

 

On any test drive, seek out the absolute worst possible roads to drive on, and go a little faster than you would normally, to see how rough, or cushy, it is. Be sure to focus on seat adjustability, lumbar support and general comfort.

 

Don't drive a Land Cruiser, it will spoil you rotten....

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Randy


One Life Live It Enjoyably


2017 F350 6.7L SRW CC LB


2015 Oliver Elite II Hull #69

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There was a user, in NY who used to tow with a Nissan NV3500 seemed like a good pairing.

It may not matter to some, but I personally would never choose a vehicle that nauseated me every time I looked at it. The NV is one strange truck. My neighbor has a large brood of young kids and uses one of the passenger versions. The six year old was walking around up on top of the roof when I drove by the other day...LOL

 

The weird nose compromises interior volume, so in addition to being butt ugly, it isn't actually a very efficient design for hauling cargo compared to a real van. That 5.6 l gas engine is very nice, but it is RWD only, a real handicap.

 

On a very long list of possible tow vehicles, mine at least, the NV ranks dead last. Especially with a nightmare interior conversion like in Post 21 of that link. ... what were they thinking?

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=84592&d=1432

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

 

 

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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John, you're so shy, have you ever thought of counseling to bring you out of your shell and better express your feelings... ;)

 

I don't disagree with your visual assessment of the body styling. Some do actually like them though, so all options make for better decision making.

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Randy


One Life Live It Enjoyably


2017 F350 6.7L SRW CC LB


2015 Oliver Elite II Hull #69

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Regarding the Ford Transit and weight distribution hitches--I tow with a 2015 VW Toureg TDI and VW doesn't recommend the use of a WDH. I've towed with the standard bulldog hitch for almost 2 years and I've never had any issues or problems with my setup. I have a highly adjustable ball mount that allows me to fine-tune the ball height and tongue weight. I've towed the Ollie with the TDI over 13,000 miles. I've towed in the mountains, desert, in high winds, etc. and have never felt insecure or unsafe. I typically tow at 55 to 65 mph on two lane highways depending on road conditions and 65 mph or a little higher on interstate highways.

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Don

 

2020 Conqueror UEV 490 Extreme Platinum

 

 

2019 Ram Rebel

 

 

States I visited with my Ollie (Sold October, 2019)

 

 

States Visited Map

 

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Regarding the Ford Transit and weight distribution hitches–I tow with a 2015 VW Toureg TDI and VW doesn’t recommend the use of a WDH. I’ve towed with the standard bulldog hitch for almost 2 years and I’ve never had any issues or problems with my setup. I have a highly adjustable ball mount that allows me to fine-tune the ball height and tongue weight. I’ve towed the Ollie with the TDI over 13,000 miles. I’ve towed in the mountains, desert, in high winds, etc. and have never felt insecure or unsafe. I typically tow at 55 to 65 mph on two lane highways depending on road conditions and 65 mph or a little higher on interstate highways.

 

And the new map looks great! :)

 

Reed

Happy Camping,


null


Reed & Karen Lukens with Riffles our Miniature Poodle


2017 Oliver Legacy Elite II  Standard, Hull #200 / 2017 Silverado High Country 1500 Short Bed 4x4


Past TV - 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 4Matic BlueTEC Diesel


Click on our avatar pic above to find the videos on our Oliver Legacy Elite II


 

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I have a highly adjustable ball mount that allows me to fine-tune the ball height and tongue weight.  

Do you mind explaining that last part? How can adjusting ball height affect weight in any measureable way?

 

Thanks,

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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John, I've spent time on a CAT scale. If the tongue of the bulldog hitch sits too low on the ball mount, it increased the tongue weight. If it sits too high, it decreases the tongue weight. The CAT scale allows you to see the difference in tongue weight depending on the height of the tongue of the hitch on the ball mount. It also allows you to check the weight of tow vehicle only with the camper attached and to check the weight of the front and rear axles of the TV with the camper attached to make sure the weight distribution front and rear are close to the same as the weight distribution without the camper attached.

 

Here are the details of my CAT scale visit in September, 2016:

 

* Vehicle with Oliver Attached:

* 2460 lbs Steer Axle

* 3140 lbs Rear Axle

* 4940 lbs Trailer Axles

* Vehicle with Oliver attached:

* 5620 lbs.

* Vehicle without Oliver Attached:

* 5120 lbs

* Tongue Weight:

* 500 lbs.

 

If anyone reading this sees any red flags or issues, please let me know.

Don

 

2020 Conqueror UEV 490 Extreme Platinum

 

 

2019 Ram Rebel

 

 

States I visited with my Ollie (Sold October, 2019)

 

 

States Visited Map

 

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That's probably from water shifting in the tanks, so it wouldn't be a constant on the road, is my thought on it :)

Happy Camping,


null


Reed & Karen Lukens with Riffles our Miniature Poodle


2017 Oliver Legacy Elite II  Standard, Hull #200 / 2017 Silverado High Country 1500 Short Bed 4x4


Past TV - 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 4Matic BlueTEC Diesel


Click on our avatar pic above to find the videos on our Oliver Legacy Elite II


 

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  • Moderators

We haven't towed with a van in a decade, but I can tell you why a lot of people love them, including me.

Vans do it all. Tow your trailer. Hide your Christmas presents. Carry just 2, and a cavern of cargo. Or, carry seven people in the same space.

Paul loved his 70 something Chevy van. Frankly, so did I. Our first 'camper'.

We owned that one for almost 30 years.

 

When I gave up my bronco for a more versatile minivan... well, I had misgivings. But, it hauled one to 7 in comfort. Carried an amazing amount of stuff for my catering business, and was fairly nimble in busy traffic, though fairly unattractive. That is what it is. Vans aren't beauty contest winners.

They are, however, amazing cargo and people movers.

I actually cried when my 14 year old van was towed away. Never a beauty queen, always a dependable, spacious, out of the rain vehicle. ( My 2004 Silverado has replaced my beloved van.)

I can understand why the owners in the earlier post modified their van to suit their needs. Easy to do, economical. I might be tempted to do the same, if I needed extra camping space.

Sherry

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just wanted to say thanks again to everyone who weighed in on this debate. Helped tremendously. It came down to either the Chevy Express 3500 Cargo Van or the Nissan NV w High Roof. Both had positives and features I really liked. But as of last night, I'm the owner of a 2017 Chevy Express. I ended up with the extended wheelbase so the 2 additional feet helps with the room I lost by not having the high roof. I haven't taken possession of it yet or I'd send a photo. But I will post the photo soon. Thanks again my Oliver friends.

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  • 1 month later...

Dave,

 

I'm new to the Oliver forum, but have used a Chevy Express AWD van for the last 6 years. My van was purchased off EBay motors with ~70,000 miles on it. I drove it from Norfolk, VA to Austin, TX, then attached a UHaul trailer to haul my Jeep. The van and the Jeep were loaded with household goods as we were moving to the mountains of Colorado. Not sure how safe it was, but I cruised at 75 MPH with the van and trailer all the way from Austin to Lake City, Colorado. Over passes... uphill... downhill... through snow... and up/down passes with snow and ice.

 

Absolutely no problems at all. Neither the van nor the trailer broke-loose during the trip.

 

Last week I drove from Montrose to Lake City during an unexpected snow storm. No chains. Empty van. We drove through 6 inches of snow on the highway without single problem, all the while passing cars and trucks stranded or stuck.

 

I love our Chevy Express AWD, and hope the the numbers will allow us to pull a new OLE II.

 

Peter

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The is a full timing Airstream couple that tows a 30 footer with a van.  They have been out West extensively.  You can look them up and reach out to them for experiences.  #lessjunkmorejourney is their blog.

 

 

 

 

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Current 2007 Airstream Classic Limited 31


2015 Oliver Legacy Elite II (Sold)


2016 Ram 2500 HD 6.7i Cummins turbo diesel


 

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  • 2 years later...

I know this is an ancient thread but I thought I would throw in on this one since I've been towing for about a year with an Express 3500 extended 6L + 6spd. It's been no-drama situation. I looked at the Transits too but to get to the desired rating involved, IMO, pushing that platform to its ragged edge. They really are light duty trucks. Sure would be nice to have that big "euro" box though. Hoping GM revs the Express platform soon but I'm hearing it's still several years out.

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Before we load up our soon to be delivered EII with too much stuff, we will try towing it with our 2017 4-wd 2500 Sprinter (towing capacity 5000#).  I don't think that this is TV is a good match - too much windage and marginal capacity, but I want to test it nevertheless.  Also, our Sprinter is utilitarian and can be a rattle can on rough roads.  I believe the newer Sprinters are more refined for driver comfort.  If I were serious about towing an EII with a Sprinter then I would look to the 3500 with a towing capacity of 7500#.  

Jason and Sonja are located in western Wyoming near Pinedale, WY.

Oliver Elite II #609 (2020)

TV: 2017 Ram 3500

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  • 3 months later...
On 3/1/2020 at 10:07 PM, wyofilm said:

Before we load up our soon to be delivered EII with too much stuff, we will try towing it with our 2017 4-wd 2500 Sprinter (towing capacity 5000#).  I don't think that this is TV is a good match - too much windage and marginal capacity, but I want to test it nevertheless.  Also, our Sprinter is utilitarian and can be a rattle can on rough roads.  I believe the newer Sprinters are more refined for driver comfort.  If I were serious about towing an EII with a Sprinter then I would look to the 3500 with a towing capacity of 7500#.  

Wyofilm, you mentioned trying to tow an Oliver Legacy Elite II (OLE II) with a 2500 Sprinter prior to "loading it up". How did you do?  My wife and I have a 2013 2WD Sprinter and like it a lot. We have been debating buying a 3500 with tow hitch to get the extra margin for towing a OLE II.

The company that makes the air suspension system for the Sprinter in Europe now has an American subsidiary that can "upfitter" install it in the North America. Unfortunately, it is not a standard option for the Sprinter. It is supposed to make towing much better. The other option that makes the Sprinter a more comfortable tow vehicle is to add the "suspension seat" option to the comfort seat. The US factory has these but the sales ordering software does not acknowledge their existence. 

Your impressions would be very valuable to our decision making as to whether we could safely order an OLE II in the future or should order a different lighter travel trailer. We would like a good "margin of safety".

We were told by another Sprinter owner that he had gotten the new 6 cylinder with the 7 speed transmission and that this made a world of difference in towing. He tows a cargo trailer of around 5,000 pounds. He said that he no longer has to do a lot of manual shifting. He has a ScanGauge and said that he can track the engine loads and RPM with it and that the 7 speed transmission does a much better job then the older transmission did. This is comparable in weight to the OLE II but is a significantly different shape and possibly towing characteristics.

Thank you,

Scribe With a Stylus

Edited by Scribe with a Stylus
added note on new Sprinter transmission
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Scribe, I want to caution that you can spend a whole lot of money and effort trying to make a marginal vehicle better at towing, but it will always remain marginal. You can add suspension parts to help stabilize everything, and suspension seats to stabilize your posteriors, but nothing you do can legally increase the tow rating. What is your Sprinter’s rating? 

Plus you need to consider the problem of finding a repair shop when you break down in the middle of nowhere. There are many solid reasons why it is very rare to see these tall boxy vehicles being used for towing travel trailers.

An Elite would be no worries in terms of weight, but that doesn’t do anything about the other negative factors.

FYI I installed an excellent set of Corbeau suspension seats ($1400 for the pair with cloth, base brackets, heating and inflatable lumbar) in my ‘06 Ram 3500 in an attempt to make the ride less obnoxious. They worked fairly well, but it was a bandaid fix. I sold the truck a year later in frustration after taking out the seats, which I resold for $800. I know that this type of seat is commonly used in commercial trucks like yours that are lightly loaded or in expedition rigs like the Earthcruiser (Mitsubishi FUSO chassis). They must be beneficial or folks would not bother with them. I don’t know if these can be fitted to your truck, but I do recommend them if you can’t stomach the heady price of Recaros, they are 90% as good for a third the price:  https://corbeau.com/baja-xrs/

John Davies

Spokane WA

 

Edited by John E Davies

"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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