Whether it’s a caravan, trailer or even a horse float, when it comes to towing you need a vehicle with plenty of power and control, and one that’s not going to spin its tyres on the spot in a vain effort to get moving after you’re done loading it up.
The most important figure you’ll want to investigate is towing capacity, which is the maximum weight your vehicle can safely and legally tow, measured in kilograms, as recommended by the manufacturer.
Typically your car will come with two towing capacity figures – one for braked (when what you’re towing also has its own brakes attached), and one rating for unbraked (as you’d suspect, this means no brakes on what it is you’re towing).
Towing capacities typically range from 640kg (unbraked) and 1200kg (braked) in a compact AWD SUV, to 750kg (unbraked) and 3500kg (braked) in larger SUV wagons and dual-cab utes.
An important factor to keep in mind is that the towing capacity is measured using an empty vehicle – if your SUV is crammed with people and/or camping equipment, be aware that that weight counts towards your towing capacity.
The combined weight of your vehicle and what you’re towing must also be below the legal Gross Combined Mass (GCM) limit.
Other weights to be aware of are the ball load (how much weight the thing you’re towing places on your tow ball), aggregate trailer mass (the combined weight of what you’re towing and its contents), and your vehicle’s weight when it’s empty (known as tare weight).
Being aware of the weights involved when you’ll be towing is crucial, but so is choosing the right vehicle for the job.
Top 10 Cars for Towing
10. Toyota Kluger
Price: From $47,650, plus on-road costs
A popular family SUV, the Toyota Kluger comes in three grades – GX, GXL and Grande – and you can choose between having your model with either a V6 petrol engine or a petrol-hybrid combination. The braked towing capacity for all Klugers is 2000kg, and the unbraked towing capacity is 750kg.
9. Subaru Outback Sport
Price: $45,190, plus on-road costs
This wagon-style SUV is a good option for family weekend getaways, coming with a braked towing capacity of 2000kg. The slightly cheaper Subaru Forester 2.5i-S mid-size SUV at $44,190 also comes with a lower braked towing capacity of 1800kg – a decent figure for a SUV that sits in the same category as the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5.
8. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GSR
Price: $52,490, plus on-road costs
Those after an SUV with towing capability that also has a lower negative impact on the environment will find their needs catered for with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GSR, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) with a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder petrol internal combustion engine and an electric motor. Towing capacity is 1500kg (braked) and 750kg (unbraked).
7. Mazda CX-5 Akera
Price: $53,380, plus on-road costs
The Mazda CX-5 is one of Australia’s most popular mid-size SUVs, and the top-spec Akera All-Wheel Drive (AWD) variant is equiped with a 2.5-litre turbo-petrol, four-cylinder engine. It also comes with a handy reversing camera and rear parking sensors, as well as a braked towing capacity of 1800kg.
6. Ford Everest Titanium
Price: $73,190, plus on-road costs
The Ford Everest Titanium is a seven-seater four-wheel drive (4WD) at the higher end of the price range, but its 3100kg towing capacity (braked) and ability to carry up to a 757kg payload means that it’s got the grunt to take a caravan or boat on a family holiday with minimum fuss.
5. Toyota HiLux SR5
Price: $58,680, plus on-road costs
The Toyota HiLux has always been a reliable workhorse and one of the best towing cars around, and the SR5 dual cab-chassis ute boats a towing capacity of 750kg unbraked and 3500kg braked, as well as a payload capacity of 1105kg. The SR5 comes with a powerful four-cylinder turbo-diesel 2.8-litre engine.
4. Nissan X-Trail Ti
Price: $46,115, plus on-road costs
This AWD variant of the X-Trail comes with a 360-degree camera, which can be a huge help when towing. The Ti comes with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, and a braked towing capacity of 1500kg. In terms of price and ability, is it the best SUV for towing on the market? Perhaps not, but it’s definitely up there.
3. Ford Ranger FX4 Max
Price: $66,190, plus on-road costs
The trusty and attractive Ranger comes in a range of variants – the cheapest being $29,190 for the basic trim level, the most expensive being $79,390 for the top-of-the-range Ranger Raptor 2.0 4×4 ute. The towing capacity is 750kg unbraked and 3500kg braked, and the 2.0-litre four-cylinder bi-turbo diesel engine delivers a hefty 500Nm of torque.
2. Mazda BT-50 Thunder
Price: From $68,190, plus-on road costs
The Thunder is Mazda’s range-topping BT-50 variant, and it comes with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission and is powered by a 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. The payload is 887kg for the automatic (the manual allows for an extra 10kg), and towing capacities are 750kg (unbraked) and 3500kg (braked).
1. Toyota 300 Series LandCruiser
Price: From $89,990, plus on-road costs
The beefy Toyota LandCruiser is perhaps the best towing vehicle on the market, and it comes in a range of variants, the top-of-the-line model being the Sahara ZX from $138,790. What you’re getting with a LandCruiser, though, is a sizeable 3500kg braked towing capacity, making it one of the best caravan-towing vehicles around. There’s a good reason why, when you head to the real outback of Australia, you see so many LandCruisers.
By Stephen Corby
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