Getting the caravan of your dreams (or even a basic starter caravan, really) is a major step towards the extremely rewarding and adventure-packed caravanning lifestyle. But did you know that getting the right towing vehicle is just as important? On paper, any car with a towing capacity compatible with your loaded caravan, and a decent kerb weight and wheelbase length, will work for you. But when we consider the practical realities of towing a caravan through difficult terrain (particularly for the first time), a number of subtle differences set some towing cars apart from others. Here are 5 towing cars that would make a great fit for first timers:
BMW 320I E90 (Series 2005-08)
Before you reject this car for being too fancy for a first timer, think again. This BMW isn’t just about brand value; it’s a car that scores a full five stars on the Euro NCAP testing, popularly deemed to be the toughest in the world. What does this mean? Well, the BMW 320I E90 is one of the safest towing cars out there. It is also extremely well-built, and will negotiate the Outback with finesse. A tip: buy it used and get it for under $10k! How’s that for turning your friends green with envy?
If you’re not into buying second-hand, the Mazda CX-5 is an affordable towing car at $43k. A perfect fit for first timers looking to tow a lightweight caravan, the CX-5 has a towing capacity of 1800kg. Heavy-ish on the kerb weight, the car scores quite high on the safety index. Fuel consumption is on the low side as well. A good all-round towing car, with the only downside being less-than-ideal interiors. We can live with that, right?
Volvo V60 D3 Wagon
Speaking of all-rounder cars, the Volvo V60 D3 features high up on the leader-board. With an ultra-low fuel consumption of 4.5l/100km, 400 torque and 1800kg towing capacity, it offers a rather tempting set of figures. Sure the price is a little high at about $57k, but again, you could score a good second hand model with under 150k km to its credit for a lot less than that.
Subaru Liberty 2.5i (Series 2006-08)
As a first timer sifting through lists of used cars in the hope of finding your very first towing vehicle, you might want to take a serious look at the Subaru Liberty 2.5i. On the face of it, a number of family sedans of a comparable size and price range can be a good fit for you. But where this particular car scores is its all-wheel drive. Equipped with sensors and computerized controls, the car actually makes it difficult to lose control! In addition to this, it comes with a great set of safety features, and aptly scores five stars on safety tests. Good quality used models will cost you under $10k, even with some add-ons fitted in for extra power.
Toyota LandCruiser 200
If you’re looking to primarily go off-road, take the Toyota LandCruiser 200 along! This super-tough, high-performance and ultra-safe car will not only tow caravans weighing up to 3500kg, but also tow them on difficult terrain without skipping a beat. The extreme performance of this off-roader does ask for some extra fuel (and a higher price), but an additional sub tank should tide you over, and a used model could find a place in your budget.
These towing cars in no way reflect the complete spectrum of options that first timers have at their disposal today. But we hope they give you some idea of what to look for in your first towing car, and get you to a perfect caravanning kick-start!
DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.