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It seems to me the tow dolly has the advantage of requiring no modifications to the towed car (a FWD in my case), plus I'm sure some dollies provide the braking assist you suggest. The lighting is on the dolly as well, although I'd probably rig up some kind of simple light that attaches to the back of the van, as that's where people expect to see brake lights.

Further, the tow dolly has an advantage to me in that some of it's cost could be recovered after this planned trip. Modifications to the car would not.

The main advantage I can think of to flat towing is weight. A dolly is going to add something around 1000 pounds to the rig. It would be nice not to have to drag that extra weight around.

Forget about the lights on the tow dolly; they can't be seen from behind, and don't matter from any other direction. You'll still need the hookup for the lights. Fortunately that's pretty cheap. I don't know if tow dollies have brakes or not.

If you have to hook up or unhook in bad weather, from what I've seen - I only have personal experience with flat towing - the tow dolly is the worst and flat towing is the easiest (possibly not so good if you have to mess with hubs on 4WD). On the other hand, for ability to fit in older smaller parks, a complete trailer is the worst (you're dealing with three vehicles) and flat towing is the easiest.

Neither front wheel drive, four wheel drive, nor an automatic transmission automatically means the vehicle is not manufacturer-approved for flat towing. In fact there's a good reason you see a lot of Saturns behind RVs: almost everything ever sold under that brand was approved by the manufacturer as flat-towable, most models from day one.

Flip side, rear wheel drive and a manual transmission does not automatically mean the vehicle IS approved for flat towing.

You really do need to look in the owner's manual for the section on towing (particularly if you care about voiding the warranty) and then maybe check at Remco (link in my previous post). Even if you plan on using a tow dolly, because there are a few vehicles that you'd think would be pretty straightforward that way but actually require special handling.
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