By Mark Nichol
So you’re looking to lease a new car to tow your caravan? We’re here to help. The good news is, you don’t necessarily need a massive SUV, nor to spend a fortune on making sure your getaway home is towed safely, securely and comfortably.
This article will look at the best cars for towing a caravan, horsebox or even a boat on a trailer - all large objects with an integrated braking system, that is. It’s important that you know all the rules around what you can and can’t tow, specifically the driving licence rules and the towing capability you’ll need from your car. As a general rule, if you’re a novice at towing then you should follow the 85% principle: that the total loaded weight of what you’re towing shouldn’t exceed 85% of the kerb weight of your car. For that reason, for the following cars we’ve given you the official towing capacity as well as the kerb weight.
Land Rover Discovery Sport D165 AWD Auto
Braked Towing Capacity: 2200kg
Kerb Weight: 2000kg
We can’t do tow-car suggestions without invoking Land Rover, right? And while you could of course go for any one of its cars, really - the latest Defender has a whopping 3500kg towing capacity - you’ll find the Discovery Sport is a great all-rounder with enough pulling ability for most caravans. We’d choose the AWD version for the extra traction, though it’s not essential. Either way, the 2.0-litre diesel engine in the D165 had loads of low down torque (380Nm), great for hauling a caravan effortlessly, while the 9-speed automatic gearbox is great at utilising all that torque. On top of that it’s just a really flexible car, with a huge boot and loads of seating configurations; you can get a 7-seat Discovery Sport, although it does reduce the maximum towing capacity, which is something to consider.
Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDi
Braked Towing Capacity: 1650kg
Kerb Weight: 1500kg
With a relatively low kerb weight for an SUV-shaped car, yet a towing capacity that’s suitable for most small- or medium-sized caravans, the Tucson could be all the tow car you need. Despite the ‘D’ in the name, the 1.6 T-GDi is actually a turbo petrol engine (it stands for ‘Turbo Gasoline Direct Injection’ if you’re interested) but it’s a really flexible unit that develops 250Nm of torque at just 1500rpm. In other words, it’s got a lot of low-down pulling power, like a diesel, but it’s quieter and more refined than the average diesel. That aside, the Tucson is just a fantastic family car, with plenty of interior space, lots of equipment as standard and a real sense of high quality and comfort.
MG HS 1.5 T-GDi Auto
Braked Towing Capacity: 1750kg
Kerb Weight: 1600kg
MG is making the best-value cars on sale today, Dacia aside, and the HS is the company’s most appealing product: a large, high-quality crossover-SUV with a starting price that undercuts the Volkswagen Polo small hatchback. Like the Tucson, the HS 1.5 T-GDi is petrol-powered and front-wheel drive, but as you can see it has a very useful 1500kg maximum towing capacity. This is almost certainly the best-value method to tow your caravan, while getting the space and flexibility of a 4x4-type car. It’s not the most efficient set-up in the world - you can expect around 35mpg in reality - but that’s more than compensated for with a massive standard equipment list. Base model ‘Excite’ cars get climate control, a parking camera, navigation, and a suite of safety systems including emergency automatic braking and lane keeping assistant.
Seat Leon Estate FR 1.5 TSI 150 DSG
Braked Towing Capacity: 1700kg
Kerb weight: 1400kg
You might think that a family hatchback with a petrol engine and front-wheel drive is a strange choice for a tow car, but the Seat Leon Estate FR 1.5 TSI 150 DSG is the 2022 Caravan & Motorhome Club Towcar Of The Year winner. Yep. The judges remarked that the Leon 1.5 TSI has “lively performance from a willing petrol engine with plenty of pulling power, while remaining composed at speed”. Its relatively light weight means it's suitable for small- to medium sized caravans, but if that’s what you have, then the Leon’s petrol engine has plenty enough pulling power, and in Estate form its 620-litre boot makes it the perfect holiday companion.
Audi Q7 50 TDI Quattro
Braked Towing Capacity: 3500kg
Kerb weight: 2200kg
If you need the highest maximum towing capacity possible - for your mega 6-bed touring caravan, say - here’s an option. The Audi Q7 50 TDI quattro has a 3.0-litre 6-cylinder turbo diesel engine linked to a 4-wheel-drive system, putting 600Nm of torque down at the tyres. That’s enough torque to pull your caravan out of concrete, basically. This is of course not the cheapest way to pull your mobile home or your horses, but it’s one of the very best. And when you’re not doing that, in the Q7 you have one of the world’s great luxury cars, with 7-seat flexibility, amazing refinement, and almost peerless cabin quality. You should get 40mpg from the diesel too, which is lovely.