The kids are looking for a 6 passenger vehicle to tow behind their new 2004 Jayco C, 31ft on a Ford 450. They would like a previously owned car/van to be used as a dinghy. Any suggestions.
Your positive and negative experiences would be most appreciated.
Check the Ford Flex, they have a small rear row of seating, and I think they will seat 7.
Also I was looking at the 2007 Ford Taurus X and it was a station wagon type vehicle, a little larger than the Ford Edge, towable with 4 wheels down and seats 7. But I think that Ford dropped the Taurus X in 2008, finding one might be difficult.
I tow a 2007 Ford Edge, it only seats 5, I am very happy with it, a bit heavier about 4,200 pounds it is disinguished with having very few driver's deaths in a study, so I consider it one of the safest vehicles to tow and drive in.
Roadmaster sells the hitch brackets to mount on the front end. I installed my own, but I also install air conditioners for a living, and have more than the average number of tools, and took about 4 hours to install the hitch brackets. I bought it at Camping World.
Back before about 2002, you could tow a Honda minivan, also seating for 7. But HOnda stopped factory endorcement of the towing their van around that time. So you might find a used Honda van.
You will need a braking system if the tow vehicle is over "1,500" pounds in some cases, but really over 3,000 pounds in all cases. Some motorhome manufacutres say any trailer over 1,500 pounds must have brakes, while others say over 3,000 pounds. The RV can brake about 3,000 pounds more than it's GVWR, but why risk it?
I installed brakes on my car this way. I ran a vacuum line from the engine manifold to the back bumper - 3/8" air line with quick connect to the car, then installed a couple of check valves, electric switch for the vacuum line, and cruise control that I pulled out of a Nissan from a junkyard. When vacuum is applied to the CC motor, it pulls a cable attached to the firewall of the car and the brake pedal. This pulls the brake pedal to the foor, applying the car brakes.
The check valves are installed between a newly installed tee in the line going from the brake master cylinder to the towed car intake manifold, and beween the motorhome line and that same tee. This allows vacuum to go to the motorhome, and to to towards the car intake manifold, but not the other direction. I got the check valves at the same junkyard. The electric valve is off another junk car, simple smog control valve, it has 12 volt input and 3 small vacuum lines can connect to it. The line that you can blow through when not energized is left open, the line that you can not blow through when off but can blow through with 12 volts applied goes to the RV vacuum, while the common line goes to the cruise control motor that will pull the cable when vacuum is applied, releases when the RV brake lights go off.
I also ran a wire from my motorhome brake lights to the car to energize the solinoid that will apply the vacuum to the CC motor.
I know of three small, towable cars that would seat at least six.
Suzuki's XL-7 (called Grand Vitara XL-7 at the time) had up to seven seats (three rows) and the 4X4 was four-down towable. This compact SUV is not real roomy, for seven adults but it had that many seats.
Honda Odyssey. First generation, 1994-1998 (the one with swinging doors and Accord 4-cylinder) was a global-market MPV sold here as a Honda's entry into minivans. This version is both light and four-down towable, and I see many used that way. I also see some on dollies. You might also find it as Isuzu Oasis.
That Odyssey was replaced for North America by a larger U.S.-style mini-van, made here for our market only, and in China for China only. Early 2nd generation (1999-2001) Odysseys were, by the book, towable four down. This larger Odyssey is a bit on the heavy side, if you are looking for under 4000 pounds the better equipped models may be well over that. It was transmission durability issues with this Odyssey, and court-ordered extended warranties, that led to Honda removing towing permission from the car.
Mazda MPV, then Mazda 5, is another global-size MPV with three rows of seats, six seats in U.S. configuration. It is about the size of the original Odyssey, but has sliding rear doors. Manual transmission examples (hard to find) are towable four down.
As Golden_HVAC suggested, assuming it's not too heavy, consider the Honda Odyssey minivan. Honda no longer grants official approval to tow them, however plenty of folks out there seem to be towing them without issues.
2012 Jayco Embark TB390
2009 Honda CRV (mini toad) with Blue Ox Aventa LX Tow Bar
2014 Ford F-150 4x4 (monster toad)
1999 - 2004 Honda Odyssey is towable, but about 4400 pounds. If you can stand the 4400 pounds, the Odyssey makes an excellent toad because it is so versatile for seating and for hauling odd shaped loads. It does have a 65 mph speed limit for towing.
I have a 2008 Ford Taurus X that is also towable, but I have not set it up for towing so no experience on that one.