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From good-looking estate cars, such as the Mercedes E50d, through to the Hercules of towing cars itself, the Land Rover Discovery, a car should have plenty of pulling power (torque and horsepower) to tow your caravan, horsebox or other trailer type.  It should feel smooth and stable on the roads and the journey should be comfortable.

Tips for towing caravans

The date you receive your driving licence is important because it determines how much you can tow with your vehicle legally.

If you received your driving licence from 1 January 1997 onwards, you can tow a vehicle of up to 3 500 maximum authorised mass (MAM) and a trailer of up to 750 kilos or tow a trailer of more than 750 kilo as long the combined MAM of the trailer and vehicle is no more than 3 500 kilo.

If you received your licence before 1 January 1997, you can drive a vehicle and trailer combination of up to 8 250 kilo MAM.

MAM describes the weight of the vehicle when it’s loaded, so it helps to know the weight of your caravan and of your car.

Here are some helpful tips for towing caravans:

  • Match the caravan’s nose weight to the vehicle. This is the weight the caravan places on the tow ball when attached. This should be between 50 and 100 kilos, but no more (although some 4x4s can handle 120 kilos).
  • Add extended mirrors
  • Learn to load your caravan properly
  • Keep below the speed limit, which is 30 mph in built-up areas, 50 mph on single carriageways, 60 mph on dual ones and 60 mph on motorways when towing a caravan

Best cars for towing caravans

Got somewhere planned to spend the summer? Looking for a reliable vehicle to assist you in a caravanning adventure? Look no further. Here are the 10 best cars for towing a caravan.

1. Land Rover Discovery

Nothing topples the Land Rover Discovery when it comes to towing prowess. This four-wheel drive (4WD) brute can tow up to 3 500 kilos of braked weight (meaning the towed vehicle has its own brakes) and 750 kilos unbraked (meaning the towed vehicle has no brakes). Choosing the 3.0 L diesel engine will give you 306 hp (310 PS) and torque of 517lb ft (700 Nm). The maximum nose weight is 350 kilos and the vehicle’s unladen weight (EU) is 2 184 kilos, which accounts for a 75 kilo driver, full fluids and 90% fuel.

The vehicle is a seven seater and offers passengers plenty of leg space between rows, not to mention headroom. The later version is also 460 kilos lighter than its predecessor and can reach 0 to 60 mph in 7 second dead, so it’s reasonably light on its feet.

The steering is precise and the vehicle handles its own bulk with aplomb, feeling stable and solid on the road. The ride is comfortable, with the suspension dismissing the bumps and imperfections in the road with casual regard so you barely feel a thing during the ride. Would you have expected anything else, though?

Best features:

  • Maximum tow capacity of 3 500 kilos
  • 4WD
  • Lighter than some previous models

USED PRICE FROM £1,300

2. Nissan Qashqai

The spacious Nissan Qashqai offers various engines, with the 1.3 L petrol engines featuring mostly manual transmission, two-wheel drive (2WD) and 157 hp (160 PS). Upgrade to a 1.7 L diesel and you’ll enjoy a continuous variable transmission (CVT), 147 hp (150 PS) and four-wheel drive (4WD). A Qashqai can tow up to 1 800 kilos braked, 720 kilo unbraked and can handle a loading weight of 541 kilos. An entry level Qashqai has a gross weight of 1 870 kilos.

The car has good overall handing, with plenty of grip and balance. It’s easy to drive, too, and is as comfortable in the countryside as it is on the roads. When you have a heavy load in town, this vehicle will serve you faithfully.

Best features:

  • Family oriented SUV
  • Spacious inside
  • Respectable towing capacity

USED PRICE FROM £2,200

3. Volvo XC60 D5 PowerPulse AWD R-Design

This powerful all-wheel drive from Volvo boasts a 2.5 L turbo engine, 235 hp (238), 354 lb ft (480 Nm) of torque and 6-speed automatic transmission. It shifts relatively quickly for a big vehicle, too, hitting 0 to 60 in 7.1 seconds, and the ride is smooth and comfortable.

The vehicle has a kerb weight of 1 911 kilos – i.e. the weight when there’s no one or no cargo in it — maximum braked weight towing capacity of 2 400 kilo, an unbraked one of 750 and a loading weight of 597

Meanwhile, the ride is smooth and comfortable and the handling is steady. The suspension does a decent job of absorbing any bumps. Some might say it’s one of the better SUVs in this regard.

Best features:

  • Nimble for a large vehicle
  • High maximum braked weight capacity
  • Automatic transmission

USED PRICE FROM £6,900

4. Volkswagen Tiguan

The Volkswagen Tiguan performs solidly and has a range of diesel and petrol engines in its basic S model. The diesels generally have a higher pulling power, with a torque of 251 lb ft (340 Nm) at 1 500 rpm and horsepower of 148 hp (150 PS), whereas a lot of their petrol counterparts offer 128 hp (130 PS) and around 162 to 184 lb ft (220 to 250 Nm). There’s no major chasm between the two when it comes to speed eithers, with acceleration of 0 to 60 between 9.3 and 10.2 seconds.

The vehicle has an unladen weight of 1505 to 1715 kilos depending on the model. The towing capacity is solid across the board, with a maximum of 750 kilos unbraked, some models handling up to 2 500 braked and load capacities ranging between 606 and 619. The towbar load limit is 100 kilos and the vehicle can cope with 75 kilos on the roof.

The Volkswagen Tiguan is car-like in its handling, which makes it more fun to drive. The steering is precise and the car has plenty of grip, generally holding the road well. You always feel like you’re the boss in it.

Best features:

  • Solid performer
  • Virtually consistent towing capacity across the range
  • Diesel versions offering higher pulling power

USED PRICES FROM £2,800

5. SsangYong Turismo

The SsangYong Turismo is a big deal in the SUV world. On the SE edition, the 2.2 L diesel engine of this five-door, seven-seater affair harnesses 178 bhp (180 Nm) and 295 lb ft (400 Nm) of torque to drive the vehicle forward. The vehicle can take up to 2 000 kilos braked weight and 750 unbraked and has a minimum kerb weight of 2 092 kilos.

This SUV handles like a Land Rover Discovery, but has a generally lower price tag and needs slightly more love and attention when you drive it. Softly, softly is the way to go to get the best out of it. The suspension is soft but not OTT-soft and copes happily with bumps and imperfections in roads for a comfortable ride.

Best features:

  • Lots of storage space inside
  • Handles like a Land Rover Discovery
  • Affordable price tag

USED PRICE FROM £7,200

6. Skoda Octavia Scout

The Skoda Octavia Scout with 2 L diesel engine, 4WD — although there is a front-wheel drive option, if you prefer it — 6-speed manual transmission and a starting horsepower of 114 hp is a rugged little piece of machinery.

The car tows up to 2 000 kilos braked and the vehicle has plenty of traction, so you’ll feel confident when you hit the motorways with your trailer or caravan in tow. Scouts can hit a top speed of 136 mph and 0 to 6 mph in 7.8, so they’re no slouch.

The Scout comes with the comfortable handling of the more vanilla Octavia predecessor. It has serious traction and holds the road well. Ultimately, it won’t let you down. It even feels like an Audi, but has a lighter price tag. Bonus.

Best features:

  • Spacious inside
  • Good traction
  • Feels like an Audi but lower in price

USED PRICE FROM £2,000

7. Audi A6 Allroad

Choose the top spec Audi A6 Allroad and you’ve got a mighty towing piece of kit on your hands. The vehicle can manage 2 500 kilos maximum braked, 750 unbraked and, on the roof, 100 kilos. It has a kerb weight of 2 270 kilos and a nose limit of 100 kilos. All this capability is thanks to a 3 L diesel engine with 282 hp (286 PS) and 457 lb ft (0 62Nm) maximum torque, which charges from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and delivers a top speed of 155 mph.

The handling of the vehicle is reassuring, with the steering feeling comfortably weighted, and the Allroad feeling secure and well set on more challenging roads. The different driving modes adjust the suspension to ensure that you don’t feel that any bumps don’t distract while you’re driving.

Best features:

  • Reassuring handling
  • Powerful engine
  • Plenty of cargo space inside

USED PRICE FROM £595

8. Ford Mondeo Estate

The Ford Mondeo Estate is a towing titan. Ford have created the vehicle with petrol, diesel and hybrid engines to deliver the performance you want from it. A 2 L petrol-electric hybrid will deliver 184 hp (187 PS) and 127 lb ft (173 Nm) of torque, but at the higher end of the specs, a 2.0 L EcoBlue diesel can provide significant extra pulling power with up to 187 hp (190 PS) and more than double the torque at 295 lb ft (400 Nm).

At the higher end of the specs, a Ford Mondeo Estate will tow a braked maximum of 2 000 kilos, whereas at the lower end this will be just 750 kilos braked and unbraked. Upgrading to a 2L diesel would boost this to at least 1 650 braked. Kerb weight, you’re looking at 1 728 kilos or a little higher, depending on the model.

Ford vehicles have a solid reputation for their handling. The Estate handles to the same good standard. The steering is responsive and the vehicle has plenty of grip on the roads, with Ford favouring stability a little more than agility. The suspension is just right for a towing vehicle and, overall, the drive is pleasant and comfortable.

Best features:

  • Reassuring handling
  • Powerful engine
  • Plenty of cargo space inside

USED PRICE FROM £450

9. Jaguar F-Pace

The Jaguar F-Pace is just the ticket for towing. At entry level, the 2 L AWD engine proffers 160 hp (163 PS) and (280 lb ft) 380 Nm of torque and the vehicle can tow a wide range of caravans and trailers, so you have plenty of flexibility. The vehicle can handle a braked weight of 2 400, an unbraked weight one of 750 kilos and a nose weight of 100 kilos. It has an unladen weight of 1 951 kilos (this accounts for a 75 kilo passenger and a small amount of luggage).

This handsome set of wheels is spacious inside and you’ll look at the part as you cruise up the motorways. Cruising is the operative word here, with the top speed being 121 mph and the vehicle in no major hurry, taking 9.2 seconds to reach 60 mph. That’s okay because you’ll have your trailer attached anyway. Besides, you’ll be too busy enjoying the well-weighted steering and overall excellent handling and ride to care.

Best features:

  • Excellent handling with consistently well weighted steering
  • All-wheel drive
  • Versatile towing capacity

USED PRICE FROM £16,000

10. Mercedes Benz E350d Estate

It’s hard not to love the Mercedes Benz E350 d Estate. This graduate of the E-class has a kerb weight of 1 935 kilos and can tow a braked weight of 2 100 kilos and unbraked one of 750 kilo. The car counts on a 2.9 L diesel engine that has a chunky 442 lb ft of torque (600 Nm) and 286 hp (300 PS). A fair bit of pulling power, in other words.

It’s light on its feet as well, zipping from 0 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and charging towards its top speed of 155 mph. The steering well is well weighted and the overall handing is generally quite tidy. The vehicle warms quickly to the road on longer journeys and the suspension performs a stellar job of contending with any bumps in the road. Powerful and graceful… it’s hard to go wrong with this one.

Best features:

  • Smooth, comfortable ride
  • Immense pulling power
  • Good acceleration

USED PRICE FROM £1,200

Find a powerful car for towing your caravan this year at Motors.co.uk

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