The Counter-Intuitive Tow Car Problem

OK so you’ve decided you want to try caravanning, and obviously you want to be as safe as possible, so your first thoughts might be to opt for a 4WD car to tow with. Seems sensible, right? Yes it does, and in an ideal world, that’s exactly what most would recommend.

Lets take a large 4wd car to give you an example:

Land Rover Discovery 3.0 TD6 – an excellent car for towing (and Practical Caravan’s overall Tow Car winner 2017), has a large towing limit far bigger than anything you’re likely to want to tow, of 3500kg so would be very comfortable towing a normal sized caravan.

The problem with this type of 4WD, although excellent and safe for towing, is that the car alone has a Gross Vehicle Weight of 3170kg. This leaves you with 330kg left of your Maximum Allowable Mass (MAM) of 3500kg. There isn’t a caravan weighing that little, you’d be lucky to tow a trailer tent within your limits!

*You can legally tow up to 750kg with a vehicle weighing up to 3500kg, but no caravan weighs this little.

The Caravan Club’s tow car of the year is a VW Passat Alltrack Estate, a great tow car but has a GVW of 2220kg, leaving you with 1280kg for the caravan, something that will allow you to choose a small 2 berth at most, not great if you have a family.

So, rather counter-intuitively, the tow car you choose has to be light enough to allow you a reasonable weight remaining for the caravan, but not too light and near it’s towing limit, to be unstable on the road. It’s a tricky balancing act.

We aim to advise you on the best tow cars and largest caravans towable whilst remaining legal and safe.