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Vehicles for Towing

Getting the right Tow Vehicle

For a number of people, towing the boat or caravan to the holiday spot for some much needed R&R is what makes life exciting for them.  And, on a more work-related note, towing is essential if you’re a builder, labourer, farmer or gardener.  So what does make a good tow vehicle?  A good tow vehicle must be structurally strong, and it must offer plenty of torque -­ the lower down the revs the better.

Before all else, always check the manufacturer’s tow capacity guidelines for any vehicle that you are interested in purchasing, particularly if towing is going to be one of the tasks on the vehicle’s to-do-list.  A vehicle’s towing capacity is determined by its manufacturer and it is based on factors such as: the engineering and structural design of the vehicle, the vehicle’s rear axle load limits, the capacity of its tyres, the effect the laden trailer will have on the vehicle’s handling and stability, and the durability of the car’s underpinnings, and overall road safety.

So, after checking the manufacturer’s guidelines, then you need to look at what power and, more particularly, what torque is on offer.  Generally, vehicles with diesel engines make better towing vehicles than equivalent petrol-powered models because they produce much higher torque in low-to-medium engine revolution.  They are also more fuel efficient when under load.  Peak torque figures under 200 Nm will struggle to keep up with modern-day motorway and open-road demands, and throw in a hill or two and you’ll quickly have a build-up of traffic following behind you.

RWD vehicles are better than FWD vehicles for towing because any weight that pushes down on the tow ball will generally lighten the front wheels at the same time, which lessens the traction available to the front wheels.  The more wheel chatter (where the front wheels lose and gain traction instantly) that the front wheels endure, the more the wear and tear will be found on the FWD componentry.

If you’re only pulling a small trailer load of rubbish to the dump, then it’s surprising what most vehicles will tow.  However, I’m focusing on those of us who require trailer loads that are going to be more than 700 kg laden.  Here are some useful towing vehicles you might like to consider:

The Mitsubishi Outlander is a seven-seater SUV that has a maximum towing capacity of 2000 kg braked.  Its 2.2-litre Turbo-Diesel engine boasts 110 kW of power and a very useful 360 Nm of torque.  The Outlander Turbo-Diesel motor offers 360 Nm from 1500 rpm to 2750 rpm, making towing a breeze.  It’s also a fuel efficient and roomy SUV even when you’re not towing.  A combined fuel consumption is a claimed 6.2 litres/100 km: quite impressive.

Hyundai’s Tucson has a maximum towing capacity of 1600 kg braked.  This mid-size SUV has a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine with 136 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque.  That 400 Nm is definitely a strong asset when it comes to towing.  The Tucson is also frugal without the trailer.

Another option for light towing duties would be the Suzuki Grand Vitara Sport.  With a maximum towing capacity of 1700 kg braked and 750 kg un-braked it’s a handy workhorse to have around.  Being RWD that will employ the FWD when required makes for decent traction.  A larger 2000 kg braked capacity is offered with the V6 Sport model.  The Grand Vitara uses a 2.4-litre petrol and a four-speed auto delivering a 122 kW/225 Nm combo through the dual-range transmission.  The torque comes on strongly from lower down in the revs.

A Hyundai Sante Fe with the 2.2-litre turbo diesel can tow a 2000 kg braked trailer.  On offer is a remarkably grunty 440 Nm of torque that sets off low down in the revs for easy power delivery for towing.

The Mazda CX-5 2.2-litre diesel is also capable of towing a braked trailer up to 1800 kg.  With 393 Nm of torque, this is a smooth cruiser.  Mazda’s CX-9 can tow a 2000 kg braked trailer or up to 750 kg unbraked.  Mazda’s CX-9 petrol engines perform very well and are very fuel efficient.  This is a big seven-seater wagon with a turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine boasting 170 kW at 5000 rpm and 420 Nm of torque at 2000 rpm.  This CX-9 is a great family all-rounder with plenty of space on offer.

The small Audi Q3 2.0-litre diesel SUV, which can tow a braked trailer up to 2000 kg offers a decent European towing option.  A responsive 380 Nm of torque from 1750 rpm works well, and it’s also Quattro (AWD).

SKODA’s Kodiaq SUV can tow up to 2000 kg braked. It’s also roomy and very practical.  With the option of 4WD and some very powerful diesel engines, this is a really good tow vehicle to have parked up the driveway.  It also has a 620 litre boot space with five seats up or 270 litres in seven-seat guise.

What about the Volkswagen Tiguan?  This is a stable and spacious drive, offering a 2500 kg braked towing capacity.  Having the option of AWD, the Tiguan goes some serious places and is therefore great for getting onto gravel-type roads.  A towing assistance package and plenty of space makes this a likable tow vehicle.

Something a bit different would be BMW’s 520d Touring wagon, which is RWD or AWD and is a decent towing vehicle (2000 kg braked).  Excellent handling, even when towing, makes it a joy to drive.  The 4×4 automatic transmission and strong engine makes this a really easy car to manage for drivers towing a load.  There’s heaps of room in the boot to pack in everything you need for family weekends away.

Another station wagon that happily tows a trailer or caravan is the Audi A6 Allroad.  This is an Estate with AWD, and it is also very comfortable and well-equipped.  The toque-filled TDI engine makes for a quick drive and a heap of grunt.  You also get 565 litres of boot space, which goes up to 1680 litres with the rear seats down.

On the station wagon theme, the last of the recent Falcon and Commodore Wagons are RWD and have always been great towing vehicles.  They offered RWD utes as well.  Sadly these icons won’t be with us anymore.

Some more serious towing machines:

The Mitsubishi Pajero 3.0 diesel 4X4 SUV is capable of towing a 3300 kg braked trailer.

Toyota’s Prado 3.0 diesel 4X$ SUV will tow up to a 2500 kg as a braked trailer.

The Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover vehicles are a very good towing machine.  It’s also luxurious and practical, and will happily head of into the toughest off-road terrain.  The Discovery can pull up to 3000 kg braked.  Inside there’s room for seven adults as well as an impressively-sized boot to bring along the luggage for all those people.

An LDV T60 ute is a solid, capable performer. With a 2.8-litre 110kW/360Nm turbo diesel four-cylinder, this is more than enough grunt to tow up to 2200 kg.  Boasting a remarkable fuel economy figure of 10 litres/100 km towing and offering a low buying price makes this a very tempting tow package.

Though Nissan runs both a single- and twin-turbo four-cylinder in the Navara, they’re both rated to 3500 kg for towing.  The best engine is the twin-turbo 2.3-litre that pumps out 140kW/450Nm.  Very fuel efficient (around 7.2 litres/100 km unladen) and it’s also equipped with a recent rear spring upgrade..

Don’t forget to check out the Isuzu D-Max ute with 430 Nm of torque on offer.  It’s a rugged ute with 4×4 ability.  There is also the Isuzu MU-X SUV 4WD rated to tow 3000 kg (braked).  LS-T models are very well equipped vehicles that are extremely comfortable.

With a high 3500 kg tow rating, thanks to its solid rear axle, the SsangYong Rexton is a highly capable tow vehicle.  So too is the SsangYong Rhino ute.  Both use the same 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine that can easily pull up to 3500 kg (braked).

The legendary Toyota Hilux’s towing capabilities are superb.  The new 2.8-litre turbo-diesel motor delivers a 130kW/450Nm blend of power.  Depending on the model, your new Hilux ute can tow from 2500 kg braked.

Mazda’s latest BT-50 ute shares mechanicals with the Ford Ranger, which means that 147 kW and 470 Nm is impressively competent.  Towing over 2500 kg braked in this comfortable, practical ute with all the bells and whistles is easy, and like many utes these days it also offers 4×4 action.

Ford’s Ranger packs great tow grunt and capability with its 3.2-litre, five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine.  You can tow up to 3500 kg braked.  There is also a 2.0-litre bi-turbo option for towing up to 3500 kg.

A whopping 500 Nm from its 2.8-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder has the Holden Colorado ute take top spot for popular 4WD ute towing grunt; and it tows like a champion.

In V6 guise, the Volkswagen Amarok packs a 550 Nm or 580 Nm torque delivery option with its 3.0-litre V6 engine.  You can tow up to 3500 kg braked, but with the optional softer suspension pack this drops to 3000 kg braked.

Very Serious Towing Machines

Capable of towing up to 3500 kg braked, the Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series ute has a V8 under the hood.  The 4.5-litre 32- valve quad-cam turbo diesel V8 with 151 kW and 430 Nm is a total beast and highly recommended for use as a tow vehicle.  Impressive fuel economy (for a V8) should see well under 12 litres/100 km fuel use when unladen.  The only gearbox is a five-speed manual.  Toyota’s reputation for reliability and dependability makes this a beauty.

Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series GXL (4X4):  This vehicle cruises comfortably and effortlessly over long distances, powering up long hills without a sweat.  Extremely capable when the tarmac runs out, along with its smooth six-speed automatic and 4.5-litre twin turbo-diesel V8 you’re always finding grunt at any revs.  The combination of 200 kW at 3600 rpm and 650 Nm at 1600 rpm makes this one of the very best vehicles for 4X4 towing.

Nissan Patrol TI 4X4 (Y62):  OK, this is petrol; but with 298 kW and 560 Nm on offer, who cares!  This base-spec eight-seater Patrol is rated to tow 3500 kg (braked).  Comfort and premium technology makes this an effortless vehicle for cruising and towing.  And premium off-road action is guaranteed.

The RAM is the ultimate tow vehicle

RAM Laramie 2500 4X4: This one has a maximum towing capacity of 6942kg (braked) and its power comes from a 6.7-litre six cylinder Cummins turbo-diesel engine (276kW/1084Nm!).  The sweet six-speed automatic transmission makes towing a doddle.

RAM 3500: is another big tow option with a maximum towing capacity (braked) of 6171kg.

 

9 comments

  1. Paul Winchester says:

    No mention of the Mitsubishi Triton?

    December 4th, 2020 at 9:54 am

  2. Ashton Cooper says:

    I am really interested in the Subaru Outback or XV as a vehicle but need something with the ability to tow a smallish (only two berth) caravan or camper trailer. Before I start looking seriously, are these vehicles capable of such feats? I note there was no mention of either vehicle in the article above

    December 4th, 2020 at 10:22 am

  3. paul may says:

    The Subaru Forester specs appear similar to many of the vehicles mentioned in your towing article, but I see no mention of it, or any other Subaru, in the article. Why not?

    December 4th, 2020 at 10:29 am

  4. John McMaster says:

    Hi, i think you’ve under-quoted the Mazda CX5. My 2018 CX5 GT AWD has the 2.2 litre twin turbo diesel and is quoted at 140kw with 450 NM. It certainly tows my golf cart very well!!!

    December 4th, 2020 at 10:56 am

  5. Trish W says:

    I’d like to echo Paul’s disappointment in the lack of info re: Subaru vehicles. Why was this brand not included?

    December 4th, 2020 at 11:57 am

  6. Jane says:

    No mention of ball weights with the vehicles…..

    December 4th, 2020 at 12:43 pm

  7. George Green says:

    I am surprised that the article does not mention tow ball download. Some of the vehicles reviewed have very low tow ball download restrictions and therefore cannot legally tow much more than a box trailer. I know this from unfortunate experience with a VW Passat Alltrack, a magnificent vehicle with great power and torque, but a low tow ball download figure.

    December 4th, 2020 at 3:32 pm

  8. Wal Pywell says:

    No mention of the VW Touareg. Similar 3l engine to the Amarok but in a very comfortable package and a lot more space than the Tiguan.Excellent highway vehicle woth reasonable off-road capacity.

    December 4th, 2020 at 7:28 pm

  9. Richard Woodgate says:

    Ford Ranger and Mazda BT50 do not share the same specks any more and last time I was in checking out the Dodge Ram it was mainly in petrol available in Petrol where as the Ford F250 has a V8 diesel as well as the F350 but beware the 350 you need a light truck license to drive which also puts you in 0 Alcohol. This might be the same for the Ram 3500

    December 5th, 2020 at 7:40 am

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