Caravanning has seen a bit of revival over the past couple of years, as the Pandemic forced many Australians to forgo their annual trip abroad and stay home instead. There are now some 800,000 registered recreational vehicles in Australia, with many manufacturers reporting 18-month waiting lists for new models.

There is something about caravanning that appeals to adventurous types. The open road, the freedom to go anywhere at any time, the opportunity to explore off the beaten track. But before you go rushing off to buy your first caravan, there is something you need to consider. How are you going to tow it?

In this blog, we’ll look at what makes a good towing vehicle and we’ll explain what all those towing capacity numbers mean. Then we’ll look at our picks for the 11 best cars for towing a caravan in 2022. That way you’ll know what to look for when selecting your new tow car and have a shortlist of vehicles to test drive.

Find The Complete Caravan Buyer's Guide From OneAdventure

What to look for in a towing vehicle

Buying a car is hard enough, but the problem becomes worse if you want to tow a caravan. Because what works well on the daily commute isn’t necessarily going to have the oomph to pull a heavy caravan. So how do you go about choosing the perfect towing vehicle? Well, there are four things to consider.

Stability

You don’t want to get into a situation where a strong crosswind causes the caravan and car combo to start swaying from side to side. Several things contribute to stability, but by far the most important is the vehicle's weight compared to the caravan. For stability and safety, your caravan should weigh no more than 85% of the vehicle's kerb weight.

Driver aides

Many manufacturers now offer driver aids to help manage trailers and caravans. These systems monitor when the trailer starts swaying and automatically adjust the throttle and brakes to bring it under control. Driver aids like these are useful if you don’t have much experience towing a caravan.

Torque

When buying a road car you probably look at the power of the engine. But when it comes to towing, torque is more important. The more torque you have the better. That’s why turbo-diesel engines are popular for towing because they have a lot of torque spread evenly across the rev range.

AWD

While AWD is not essential, it does make it easier for the car to put its power down on the road. When pulling a caravan there is a lot of weight on the rear axle, which causes the front axle to lift. This is a problem for FWD cars, which don’t make the best tow vehicles.

Here Are The Best 4WDs For The Aussie Outback

Towing capacity explained

So, now you know what makes a good tow car, let's talk about towing capacity, tow ball weights and combination mass.

Towing capacity – Sometimes called braked towing capacity. This is the maximum weight your vehicle is capable of towing.

Maximum tow ball weight – This is the maximum weight that can be exerted onto the tow ball. This should not exceed the nose weight of your caravan.

Gross Combination Mass – This is the combined weight of the car and caravan including accessories such as roof racks and bull bars etc.

Our picks for the 11 best cars for towing a caravan

We’ve tried to include a vehicle for everyone on this list. There’s everything from luxury 4x4s to utilitarian utes and everything in between. So no matter what kind of towing you intend to do, you’ll find a vehicle here to suit.

1. Toyota Landcruiser 300 GX

The Toyota Landcruiser is renowned for its bulletproof reliability, go-anywhere chassis and powerful V6 engines. But it’s less well known for its exceptional towing performance. However, previous models have always felt a little utilitarian. Not so with the new 300 model which offers the kind of refinement you would expect from a car costing $90,000.

Price: From $89,990 plus on-road costs

Engine: 3.3L V6 twin-turbo diesel

Power: 227kW/700Nm

Towing Capacity: 3500kg

Gross combination mass: 6730kg

Fuel consumption: 8.9L/100km


2. Land Rover Defender 110 P300

The new Defender has won praise for its refinement and off-road ability. But the 110 model also makes a pretty decent towing vehicle. The 2.0L four-cylinder diesel engine provides plenty of torque across the rev range. And the smart 4x4 drivetrain helps to keep even the biggest caravan pointing in the right direction on twisty roads.

Price: From $79,830 plus on-road costs

Engine: 2.0L 4-cylinder diesel

Power: 221kW/400Nm

Towing Capacity: 3500kg

Gross combination mass: 6665kg

Fuel consumption: 10.1L/100km

3. Ford Ranger XLT Double Cab 4x4 auto

The new Ford Ranger has seen several improvements over its predecessor including better handling, a more comfortable interior and improved equipment levels. The new 3.0L V6 engine also has plenty of torque which makes it ideal for towing. Get the 4x4 version and you’ll also benefit from excellent stability and handling in all road conditions.

Price: From $64,190 plus on-road costs

Engine: 3.0L V6 turbo diesel

Power: 184kW/600Nm

Towing Capacity: 3500kg

Gross combination mass: 6400kg

Fuel consumption: 8.4L/100km

Check Out Our Ranger vs HiLux Match-up

4. RAM 1500 Express crew-cab V8 4x4 auto

The RAM 1500 is a behemoth of a thing, which feels right at home in the Outback. The interior of the crew cab also offers plenty of space and refinement. And the pickup body offers practicalities few SUVs can match. But at just short of $90,000, this is expensive for a ute. And its size may prove a problem in city centre parking lots.

Price: From $89,950 plus on-road costs

Engine: 5.7L V8 petrol

Power: 291kW/556Nm

Towing Capacity: 4500kg

Gross combination mass: 7237kg

Fuel consumption: 12.2L/100km

5. Ssangyong Rexton Ultimate AWD

The Rexton Ultimate AWD is the top spec Rexton, but at $52,000 it's one of the cheapest cars on the list. For that, you get a well-equipped car that comes with all the latest active safety features. While inside the cabin belies its lowly price tag. The materials are good and it feels solidly put together. You have to wonder how they can sell it so cheaply.

Price: From $52,120 plus on-road costs

Engine: 2.2L 4-cylinder diesel

Power: 148kW/441Nm

Towing Capacity: 3500kg

Gross combination mass: 6700kg

Fuel consumption: 8.7L/100km

6. Jeep Grand Cherokee Night Eagle 4x4 auto

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a pretty refined and luxurious car these days. And with its 3.0L V6 engine and 4x4 drivetrain, it makes a pretty decent towing vehicle as well. The smooth V6 offers plenty of torque across the rev range. The ride is also super smooth and the handling is sharp. At just over $65,000 it feels like a bit of a bargain.

Price: From $65,950 plus on-road costs

Engine: 3.0L V6 turbo diesel

Power: 184kW/570Nm

Towing Capacity: 3500kg

Gross combination mass: 6099kg

Fuel consumption: 7.5L/100km

7. Isuzu MU-X LS 4x4 auto

The Isuzu MU-X may be getting long in the tooth, but it has a bit of a cult following in the caravan community. Take one for a test drive and you’ll see why. On the road, the MU-X is surprisingly refined. While inside the spacious interior can comfortably seat seven. It’s pretty well equipped too considering the price.

Price: From $52,600 plus on-road costs

Engine: 3.0L 4-cylinder turbo diesel

Power: 130Kw/430Nm

Towing Capacity: 3000kg

Gross combination mass: 6000kg

Fuel consumption: 7.9L/100km

8. Nissan Patrol Ti AWD auto

The Nissan Patrol has long been a favourite with caravanners. The powerful V8 engine offers plenty of pulling power and refinement. While the interior has lots of space and can comfortably seat seven. The Patrol also recently gained a new face and some much-needed safety equipment. While it’s not the most economical, it’s a solid performer.

Price: From $77,760 plus on-road costs

Engine: 5.6L V8 petrol

Power: 298kW/560Nm

Towing Capacity: 3500kg

Gross combination mass: 7000kg

Fuel consumption: 14.4L/100km

9. Volkswagen Amarok TDI580

The Amarok brought car-like refinement to the ute market when it was launched in 2010. On the road, this dual-cab pick-up feels like a Passat. The ride is smooth and there is little body roll. In 4x4 form, the chassis is also very capable off-road. And when equipped with the silky smooth V6 turbo diesel engine it also makes a pretty decent towing vehicle.

Price: From $56,590 plus on-road costs

Engine: 3.0L V6 turbo diesel

Power: 165kW/550Nm

Towing Capacity: 3500kg

Gross combination mass: 6000kg

Fuel consumption: 9.1L/100km

Here Is Our 2023 Amarok Preview

10. Mitsubishi Outlander LS AWD

Most cars on this list are focused on pulling power, but what if you want to pull a small caravan? That’s where the Outlander comes in. The economical 2.2L diesel engine has enough torque to pull a decent size caravan. While the interior can seat seven comfortably. And at just over $40,000 it represents excellent value for money as well.

Price: From $41,490 plus on-road costs

Engine: 2.2L 4-cylinder turbo diesel

Power: 110kW/360Nm

Towing Capacity: 2000kg

Gross combination mass: 3955kg

Fuel consumption: 6.2L/100km

Have A Look At The Mitsubishi Outlander 2022 Review

11. Subaru Outback Touring 4x4 auto

The Outback is neither an SUV nor a Ute. It’s an AWD wagon that offers all the space of an SUV with the handling characteristics of a car. While it doesn't have the towing capacity of the bigger SUVs, it can still tow a pretty respectable 2000kg. And the smart AWD system allows it to handle all road conditions with ease.

Price: From $49,790 plus on-road costs

Engine: 2.5L 4-cylinder petrol

Power: 141kW/441Nm

Towing Capacity: 2000kg

Gross combination mass: 4200kg

Fuel consumption: 7.3L/100km

Conclusion

Choosing a tow car is very different from choosing a car for the school run or daily commute. The right tow car will not only depend on your budget but on the size of the caravan you want to pull, where you want to take it and what you do once you get there.

Our tip is to start with your chosen caravan, then select a shortlist of cars with a high enough towing capacity. And don’t forget to factor in Gross Vehicle Mass, this is the total weight of the car/caravan combo and it must not be exceeded. Then it's just a case of taking each car for a test drive to find the one you like best.

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Jordan Ballard

Jordan Ballard

Automotive Content Editor

Jordan is a car finance and automotive industry specialist at Cartopia. With over 20 years of experience with frontline and management roles in sales, finance and other areas, Jordan has an incredible understanding of the automotive industry. As Automotive Content Editor, Jordan loves sharing his passion for cars with the Cartopia audience.