Shopping for a new car is just as exciting as finding a new caravan for sale. The good thing is, there are plenty of both new and used vehicles that are suitable tow vehicles! You can’t take your caravan on an adventure without a car! Whether you’re shopping for a dual cab ute, new 4WD or SUV, here are some tips on what to look out for and some examples of the best cars for towing caravans.
What to look out for when shopping for the best tow vehicle
Shopping for a new vehicle can be overwhelming. With so many different makes and models available it can be hard to know where to start. If you want to buy a vehicle that’s the best tow car for your caravan, here are some points you need to consider:
Know your tow vehicle and caravan weights
When shopping for a new car you’ll need to know your main caravan weights including Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM), GTM and maximum tow ball weight. The vehicle you buy will have a maximum tow ball weight allowance. You’ll also need to take into consideration the towing capacities of the vehicles you are interested in purchasing. This is often referred to as maximum braked towing capacity and is the maximum weight your car is capable of towing. Above all, ask about the GCM, or Gross Combined Mass which is the total your loaded car and loaded caravan are allowed to weigh when towing.
Ensure your tow vehicle is known for reliability
If you’ve got a vehicle that is notorious for breaking down, older, and not well maintained, it’s not going to fare well towing a larger luxury caravan, such as the Crusader Excalibur Kingsman. If you’re shopping for a used vehicle, it’s important to check the service history and maintenance records. Check for any outstanding faults or problems. If you do discover any issues, have them serviced and repaired before you hit the road.
Ensure your tow vehicle isn’t maxing out its vehicle weight limits
Just because on paper, your vehicle states it can legally tow 2500kg, doesn’t mean you should tow a caravan that weighs exactly 2500kg. Always allow for a bit of a buffer. Not just for the sake of maintaining your tow vehicle but also for ensuring safety on the road. Towing a caravan that is heavier than the maximum towing capacity will place extra strain on your tow vehicle. Over time, this can cause premature wear and tear of components, especially if you are driving up hills or have lots of baggage in your tow vehicle. It could also lead you into dangerous situations where you risk breaking down or getting stranded.
Ensure your tow vehicle is suitable for the environment you’re towing in
If you’re hoping to take your adventure off-road, ensure both your caravan and tow vehicle is suitable for this purpose. Cars and caravans that are very much designed for an on-road environment, do not take kindly to off-road experiences. If you’ve got an off-road caravan, stick to 4X4 vehicles with enough power, good quality all-terrain wheels, robust suspension and ground clearance to take on the rugged terrain.
Ensure your tow vehicle has enough torque & power
Sure if your vehicle has a towing capacity of 3 or 3.5 Tonne, you’ll be right for towing a caravan. However, if your vehicle also has low torque and power, you may struggle to maintain speed on the road when towing a fully loaded caravan. Therefore, you’ll need to ensure the vehicle model you have in mind has enough torque and power for your needs.
Best larger cars suitable for towing a caravan
Lucky for you, there are so many larger vehicles that have the towing capacity to tow your family caravan. Often when searching for a larger car, a 4WD is the best way to go. They’re big enough to fit the whole family and have the power to tow a fully loaded caravan.
Here are some of the most popular larger tow vehicles.
- Nissan Patrol
- Toyota Land Cruiser
- Isuzu MU-X
Best utes for towing a caravan
Utes are heavy duty and are built to transport heavy loads. They’re also a popular towing vehicle for those looking to take their off-road caravan on an adventure. For caravan owners, dual-cab utes are especially popular due to their extra row of seating, meaning there’s also more than enough storage.
Popular utes for towing include:
- Ford Ranger
- Toyota Hilux
- Volkswagen Amarok
- Isuzu D Max
- Mazda BT-50
Best SUVs that can tow a caravan
For those who like to live a more minimalist lifestyle, there are smaller vehicles available that are perfectly suitable for towing small caravans such as the Crusader Chameleon, which has a minimum ATM of 1600kg. However, they won’t cut it for larger caravans or those who like to travel with loads of gear. You’ll need to consider a larger 4WD for these purposes.
SUVs that could be suitable for towing your caravan include:
- Mazda CX-9
- Hyundai Santa Fe
- Subaru Forester
Looking for more caravan advice? Chat to Lewis RV!
Finding the best tow vehicle for your caravan doesn’t have to be difficult. These days there are ample towing vehicles on the market to suit everyone’s needs. By following these tips, or asking the team at Lewis RV about unusual towing requirements, you can ensure that your car’s towing capacity is suitable for your caravan’s weights.
With the rise in electric vehicles, a question we often see is can a Tesla tow a caravan? In short, yes most models are suitable for towing however, you’ll need to check the specifications of your specific vehicle model to ensure they’re suitable for your caravan. It's important to note, some Tesla models are unable to fit a tow ball and retrofitting one will void the insurance and warranty.
Whilst many hatchbacks can fit a tow bar and do have a small towing capacity, it’s fairly likely that your fully loaded caravan will exceed the towing capacity of your car. If you are shopping for a smaller towing vehicle, it is recommended that you stick with an SUV as opposed to a hatchback.
The rules for towing a caravan vary from state to state. In Western Australia, the maximum permissible speed limit for any vehicle towing a caravan is 100km/h. If your caravan is wider than your vehicle, you must have proper towing mirrors attached. You also must leave at least 60m between your vehicle and the one in front of it, if it is also towing or if it’s a heavy vehicle, to allow for other vehicles to overtake safely. If you notice traffic building up behind you, you can always take frequent breaks where it is safe to do so to allow traffic to pass.
The amount of torque your vehicle requires to tow a caravan depends on many factors. For example, larger caravans will obviously require more torque than smaller caravans. Other factors you need to consider include whether the car is petrol or diesel, the amount of power, type of engine, and size of the vehicle.