Car ReviewsTowing

The 10 Best Cars For Towing A Caravan

The 10 Best Cars For Towing A Caravan In Australia

We have spent hours and hours researching and reviewing cars for the most reliable brand in Australia that are great for towing and finding out the good and bad of each of them. Budget plays a big part when choosing the right tow car.

Understanding caravan weights is crucial when towing caravans. The compliance plate of every caravan has important towing details. The compliance plate will show you how much the caravan weighs empty (Tare Mass), the amount it can legally weigh loaded (Gross vehicle mass or GVM), and the maximum weight it can tow. This is the GVM multiplied by the maximum weight allowed on the tow ball of your vehicle (Tow Ball download or TBD). This is typically around 10% of the GVM. However, it can vary.

Many caravanners choose dual cab utes for their towing vehicle. They have many advantages, including the open tub at the back and the relatively smaller dimensions compared to four-wheel drive vehicles.

As with any dual-cab ute that can tow more than 3000kgs, you should be aware that a trailer of this size will likely weigh around 1000kgs more than the vehicle towing it. The trailer may be braked and the engine and transmission of the vehicle can handle the task, but if something goes wrong at 100km/h it can happen very quickly. Towing a vehicle at or close to its rated limit will reduce the amount of other cargo it can haul, including people and their gear. The ideal scenario would be to have a vehicle that can handle long distances and also a vehicle that is smaller, cheaper, and easier to drive in the city. For many people, this is not an option.

Towing a vehicle that is rated at three tonnes and above will always involve compromises. These compromises help the vehicle to do its job more safely. The most important figures are the maximum braked towing capability (or maximum weight of a braked trailer), the maximum towball download, and the maximum combined weight for your vehicle and its trailer (Gross Combine Mass or GCM).

How To Select The Right Vehicle Yo Tow A Caravan?

The best place to begin when you are new to caravan towing is with the caravan itself, not the vehicle that will tow it.

You need to put your cart before your horse. The process of selecting the vehicle that will tow your caravan is simplified by first deciding what model and make of caravan best suits your needs.

The 10 Best Cars For Towing A Caravan
The 10 Best Cars For Towing A Caravan

How To Calculate The Weight of a Caravan

Understanding caravan weights is crucial when towing caravans. The compliance plate of every caravan has important towing numbers. The compliance plate will show you how much the caravan weighs empty (Tare Mass), the amount it can legally weigh loaded (Gross vehicle mass or GVM), and the maximum weight it can tow. This is the GVM multiplied by the maximum weight allowed on the tow ball of your vehicle (Tow Ball download or TBD). This is typically around 10% of the GVM. However, it can vary.

The compliance plate does not include important numbers related to towing. You can find them in the owner manual or manufacturer specifications sheets, which are available online.

The most important figures are the maximum braked towing capability (or maximum weight of a braked trailer), the maximum towball download, and the maximum combined weight for your vehicle and its trailer (the Gross Combination Mass).

For larger caravans weighing between 2 and 3 tonnes, you will need something heavier duty.

With these figures in hand, you can create a list of tow vehicles that are suitable for your caravan. You can eliminate any tow vehicle that does not meet or exceed the ATM and TBD.

The more reserve you have, the safer and easier it will be to tow your caravan. The more reserve you have, the safer the caravan towing process will be.

The vehicle that is operating at its maximum towing capacity will not only consume a lot of fuel, but also suffer the most wear and tear to its chassis, suspensions, tyres, and brakes. It won’t have any reserves left to deal with unexpected problems (trailer-sway, heatwaves or poor roads).

It goes without saying, that if you select a tow car that is heavier than your caravan’s ATM or TDB rating, the combined weight will be comfortably below your GCM. This will protect your reserve.

If, for example, your caravan’s ATM is 2500kg but your tow vehicle only has a braked towing rating of 3500kg you have literally a ton of towing capability in reserve. This would allow the tow vehicle to increase its payload (GVM), while remaining comfortably under the GCM.

It is not always possible to have such large reserves, but you should always strive for the maximum margin. To avoid dragging the tail, the GVM of the tow vehicle should always be greater (even slightly) than the caravan’s ATM.

The 10 Best Cars For Towing A Caravan Open Roads
The 10 Best Cars For Towing A Caravan Open Roads

The Cars We Reviewed

Dodge RAM 1500

The RAM 1500 is a big car. The RAM 1500 is too big to fit in many shopping centres. The 14-metre-long turning circle and 6-metre-long length of the vehicle don’t help.

RAM comes with many standard features for towing. These include a ‘tow/haul mode’ to improve the transmission shifts while towing. It also has an integrated electric brake controller, and a towbar. (A 50mm or 70mm ball is available as an option).

The Limited also comes with blind-spot monitors that allow for bed and trailer length lowering modes (rear air suspension is lowered to the body, so you can hitch up more easily).

This huge US-built vehicle has a towing capacity of 4.5 tonnes, which is more than a Toyota Landcruiser 300 Series (3 tonnes), which is priced similarly. It would be able to tow large caravans.

The RAM 1500 Express has a V8 5.7-litre engine that produces 291kW. The diesel version (2500 Laramie), which has less power (276kW), but more than double the torque, is 1152Nm. The price is almost double, $178,270. The RAM is your best choice if you want to be able to haul a lot of weight while still having enough room for the family and their gear.

Chevrolet Silverado

The US-built Silverado, as it is known in the USA, is a full size pick-up truck that competes directly against the RAM lineup. The Silverado 6.2-litre petrol V8 has a slightly bigger engine than RAM and higher outputs of 313kW and a 624Nm. If you choose the diesel, it will be a 6.6-litre turbo diesel with 332kW of power and 1234Nm.

The Silverado has a very impressive camera monitoring system. There are 12 standard camera views, and you can also set up optional cameras to view the trailer behind it or inside the trailer. You can do this from the infotainment centre screen. When you select the centre screen, the side view is displayed.

Chevrolet also offers a phone application called Advanced Trailer System. This app includes a checklist for pre-departure, maintenance reminders and security alerts. The system also provides towing reminders, trailer electrical diagnostics, and monitors tyres.

RAM and Silverado are both imported as left-hand-drive vehicles to Australia, but converted to right-hand drive to suit Australian roads. Both the RAM and the Silverado are the best tow vehicles, without having to upgrade to a lighter truck that might not be as comfortable for long journeys. Silverado can tow a 3.5-tonne van, leaving more payload space for your other cargo.

Ford Ranger

We reviewed the Ford Ranger as it is a car we love but it isn’t the best in this bunch when it comes to owing heavy! The Ford Ranger is a a great tow car but it has ongoing known gearbox & converter issues. Many Rangers oil gets too hot, the converter locks up and throws metal through the gear box and you are out of pocket 10k. We highly recommend upgrading the converter and cooler if you are planning on a lot of time towing with these.

Statistically, people looking for a dual-cab ute in Australia will consider a Ranger as it is one of the most popular vehicles. Ford’s heavily revised Ranger, which is due to arrive in mid-2022, was not too early. Its predecessor has been on the market since 2011.

The interior, chassis and suspension of the new Ranger have been heavily revised, but the biturbo 4-cylinder diesel engine (albeit with some minor revisions) is still available as an option. The 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine with 184kW is the big news. The new Ranger is still in its early stages, so potential buyers would do well to wait to see how reliable these engines are before making a purchase.

Ford Ranger Review

Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series GXL

The 4.5-litre twin turbocharged diesel V8 engine has enough torque for it to lift a large tree from the ground.

It’s likely that if you had a blank sheet of paper to work with, you would end up designing something similar to this iconic towing vehicle. The hefty 2630kg curb weight and 2850mm wheels. It also has a smooth-riding spring suspension, and a short rear wheel to reach the tow ball.

The 4.5-litre twin turbocharged Diesel V8 is matched to a smooth and intelligent six-speed automatic transmission. This means that you can tow up to 3500kg with no reduction in the GVM.

The 200, despite its thirsty nature when towing heavy loads, is widely regarded as the standard by which other caravan tow-tugs are measured.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland TDV6

The short distance between the rear axle and tow-ball results in a caravan hauler that is very predictable in any condition. (Select variant shown)

The Grand Cherokee is a top-notch towing vehicle, thanks to its 3.0-litre turbo – diesel engine. It also has an eight-speed automatic transmission that delivers a 550Nm torque.

The caravan hauler’s 2915mm wheels, 2327kg kerb weight and short rear-axle to tow ball reach make it a stable and predictable vehicle in any condition. The towing capacity is the same as the 200 Series, but you would have to reduce its maximum payload of 534kg by 184kg in order to stay within the GCM.

Toyota LandCruiser 76 Series GXL

Customers love its rigid live axles, and the five-speed manual is a classic.

The 70 Series is a mighty machine that has earned its stripes in the most demanding work and play environments. The manual five-speed gearbox and rigid live axles, which are unmatched in terms of ruggedness and load carrying ability, are old-school because it’s what its loyal customers prefer (although an automatic option for towing would have been ideal).

The 4.5-litre single turbo Diesel V8 is a hard worker, delivering 430 Nm across a torque range as wide as Lake Eyre at 2000rpm. The 2730mm wheelbase, 2265kg kerb weight and 6560kg GCM provide a stable anchor for caravan towing.

Ford Everest

Everest is a capable tow vehicle with its shorter 2850mm wheels base and solid 2407kg curb weight.

The Ford Ranger Dual Cab ute and its Mazda Bt50 twin are known for their effortless towing abilities. The Everest, which is derived directly from the Ranger ute, has a lot of DNA in common with it. It also offers seven seat for added comfort.

The Everest’s shorter 2850mm wheelbase and solid 2407kg kerb weight, combined with the coil-spring rear suspension, short rear axle to tow-ball reach and 3000kg braked towing capacity makes it a very capable vehicle. Everest has a shorter wheelbase of 2850mm and a solid 2407kg kerb weight. coil spring rear suspension is also included.

Remember that the 693kg maximum payload must be reduced by 300kg to achieve the 3000kg braked towing rating. The RWD model is significantly cheaper and has the same braked tow rating of 3000kg. It could be perfect for caravanners who never venture too far from the road.

Isuzu MU-X

The MU-X is derived from the D-Max ute and exudes a rugged, sometimes sacrificing luxury, character. The cabin is simple, and the roughness of its exterior is evident. The MU-X’s engine is a turbo-diesel 3.0-litre 4-cylinder unit, which can also be found in some small trucks. It has a high performance but lacks refinement compared to other diesel engines.

The MU-X is distinguished by its ladder frame chassis that is similar to those found in 4x4s. It is notable that it comes in two-wheel and four-wheel drives. Even without the 4WD system you can tow up to 3000kg. This gives you flexibility for different towing requirements.

The seven seat Mu-X is Australia’s most popular vehicle for towing caravans. The 2845mm wheelbase, combined with the 2075kg kerb weight, provides a stable towing platform.

With its automatic six-speed, the refined 3.0 litre four-cylinder turbo and diesel match the Land Cruiser 70 Series 430Nm torque. With a generous GCM of 5750kg, it can tow up 3000kg braked trailers without having to lower its 675kg peak payload. The is a truck with a long history of building trucks. It shows in its ability to haul heavy loads.

Land Rover Discovery

Most grades also offer height adjustable air suspension.

The Disco has always been a great vehicle for towing a caravan. We look forward to hooking up one of these to the recently released fifth-generation of this Land Rover icon.

It uses the same unitary construction as the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but instead of using steel it adopts Range Rover Technology. This weight savings results in a GVM of 3170kg, which allows for an incredible 940kg payload. Many dual cab utes cannot match this.

The 2923mm wheelbase of the vehicle and its 2230kg kerb weight make it a great combination for towing. This is especially true when it’s powered by an diesel 3.0-litre turbo V6 engine with a 600Nm torque, and automatic eight-speed. The vehicle is rated for towing up to 3500kg, and its GCM of 6670kg can achieve this with the maximum payload. Most grades also offer height adjustable air suspension.

Toyota Prado GXL

Its 5990kg GCM allows for full payload and towing up until the maximum 3000kg.

It’s another LandCruiser. But in our opinion, the seven-seater Prado deserves praise just as much for its caravan towing ability as their larger 200 and 70 series stablemates. This is even more true now that its braked-tow rating has been increased by 500kg, to 3000kg.

The HiLux’s 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo Diesel motor delivers a strong 450Nm via an intelligent 6-speed auto. The Prado has a rugged plush riding chassis that combines a 2790mm wheel span and 2205kg kerbweight with a 2990kg gross vehicle mass. This results in a predictable and towable vehicle with a useful payload of 785kg.

Its GCM of 5990kg allows for full payload when towing up to 3000kg. The higher towing rating of the 2018 Prado will be put to the test when we hook up a caravan.

Long gone are the days of towing anything with sagging suspension, no ratings and no electronics!

Towing A Caravan Old School
Towing A Caravan Old School

Well there you go, I hope our tips and reviews have made it easier to decide on what car to tow what weight caravan. If you want us to expand on anything, review another car or have a request, comment below!

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