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Top 10 vehicles for towing

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    The D-Max doesn't have the highest towing weight rating in the one-tonner ute class, but it's built like a tank.

Our pick of the vehicles for towing your trailer, boat, van or jet-ski.

You'll only see one petrol model in this top-10 list of towing vehicles. A diesel is infinitely more suited to dragging a load around.

It's got more of that all-important commodity called torque (otherwise known as "grunt'' and measured in Newton metres) and the fuel bills won't kill you. The ideal towing combo is diesel/automatic/all-wheel drive.

Always give yourself plenty of leeway on weight limits and keep within the crucial Gross Combination Mass (GCM). This is the all-up weight of your vehicle, trailer, your gear, fuel and you. Car companies will often argue a warranty claim that's a result of towing; the GCM, which you'll find in the handbook, is the first figure they'll use as evidence.

Here are the top models for towing:


SUBARU FORESTER 2.0D

The Forester's 2.0-litre turbo diesel is matched only with a six-speed manual, geared tall to maximise fuel efficiency, so you'll have to use the stick early and often. However 350Nm from just 1600rpm is more than enough to haul its maximum rated trailer weight of 1600kg.

Constant all-wheel drive, self-levelling rear suspension and a hill holder, which works in forward and reverse, are also useful. You can have the same drivetrain, in a bigger wagon, in the Outback. It's rated to pull 1700kg.

 

Subaru Forester - see other Subaru Forester verdicts

 


SUZUKI GRAND VITARA DDIS

This is a rare beast -- a fair dinkum 4WD in a compact package -- with low-range gearing, locking centre diff and a separate steel frame chassis, so it's got the hardware to tow up to 2000kg through tougher conditions, including rugged off-road country, than any high-range only SUV.

The 1.9-litre turbo diesel has 300Nm at 2000rpm. It's as slow as Tuesday, and the five-speed manual isn't exactly the slickest shifter around, but you're towing, so what's the hurry?

 

Suzuki Grand Vitara - see other Suzuki Grand Vitara verdicts

 


LAND ROVER FREELANDER2 TD4

There's the usual quality and reliability caveat that comes with any Land Rover test, but the base Freelander2 TD4 is a cracker to drive, with 420Nm of grunt and great fuel economy from its 2.2-litre turbo diesel. It will pull up to 2000kg with ease.

Six-speed manual is standard; a six-speed auto adds $2300. Hill descent control, adjustable traction control for various surfaces, a full-size spare and high clearance make the Freelander a much more versatile, capable wagon than its poncy German brand rivals.
 

Land Rover Freelander2 - see other Land Rover Freelander2 verdicts


 


FORD FALCON

Every man and his uncle used to tow the van behind a Falcon. If you're prepared to cop the fuel bills, the mighty 4.0-litre petrol six, with 391Nm of grunt, will do the job without fuss. The EcoLPi gas engine produces 409Nm, so it won't be bothered by a load either.

The Falcon sedan and ute -- which has a robust live axle/leaf spring rear end -- will tow up to 2300kg with the optional factory load-levelling kit. The standard factory towpack gives you up to 1600kg with the six-speed automatic.

 

Ford Falcon - see other Ford Falcon verdicts

 


MITSUBISHI PAJERO

If you're after a big seven-seater turbo diesel, the Pajero is the best value going around. Its 3.2-litre four produces a solid 441Nm at 2000rpm, which is 31Nm more than the Prado's 3.0-litre, and it works nicely with the five-speed automatic.

It can run in 2WD or 4WD, high or low range, and will go just about anywhere, especially with the optional rear diff lock. The Paj is rated to pull three tonnes, but that's with only 180kg towball download. If you're pulling 2.5 tonnes or less, this increases to 250kg.

 

Mitsubishi Pajero - see other Mitsubishi Pajero verdicts

 


JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE

This is great value for money, especially the $50,000 base Laredo 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel. It produces big grunt 550Nm -- and is bolted to a five-speed automatic with a dual-range transfer case. OK, it's a Fiat engine, but they're a lot more reliable than they used to be. So they reckon.

It's rated to tow up to 3500kg, with a maximum towball download of 350kg. So is the 5.7-litre V8. Unless your name begins with "Sheikh," take the diesel.

 

Jeep Grand Cherokee - see other Jeep Grand Cherokee verdicts

 


ISUZU D-MAX

The D-Max doesn't have the highest towing weight rating in the one-tonner ute class, but it's built like a tank. The Isuzu 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel is bulletproof, has a lovely relaxed, effortless delivery and good fuel economy; 4WD models will pull up to 3000kg.

The 3.0-litre produces 380Nm from 1800rpm and is matched with five-speed manual or automatic transmissions. Body styles include single, space and crew-cab chassis, plus space and crew-cab pick-up.

 

Isuzu D-Max - see other Isuzu D-Max verdicts

 

MAZDA BT50

You could also opt for the BT50's Ford Ranger twin, but model for model (with 4WD drivetrains) the Mazda usually costs less and it has firmer suspension, which better suits its towing brief.

The Ranger XLT dual cab includes a towbar, which is optional on its Mazda XTR rival. The 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel, with 470Nm from 1750rpm, works a treat with the optional ($2000) six-speed automatic. It's a slugger, and has no problem hauling up to 3350kg. The stability control system includes trailer sway control.


 

Mazda BT50 - see other Mazda BT50 verdicts

 


TOYOTA 70 SERIES LANDCRUISER

The indestructible 70 Series, which emerged from a cave somewhere west of Alice Springs about 32 million years ago, is now available as a dual as well as single-cab chassis, plus the Troopy and five-door wagon.

It will tow up to 3500kg all day, every day, for as long as you wish. Its 4.5-litre turbo diesel V8 delivers 430Nm from idle (1200rpm) and doesn't seem to have the oil consumption issues that some owners have complained of with its twin-turbo counterpart in the 200 Series 'Cruiser.

 

Toyota Landcruiser - see other Toyota Landcruiser verdicts

 


TOYOTA 200 SERIES LANDCRUISER

Until recently, Toyota wanted a ridiculous $10,000 premium for diesel over petrol power in the 200 Series but that's now come down to $5000 on the 200 Series GXL, VX and Sahara.

The twin-turbo 4.5-litre V8/six-speed automatic is the most effortless towing combo there is, with 650Nm of torque from just 1600rpm. Keep an eye on oil consumption, though. If you're going to pull close to 3500kg, you might want to upgrade the suspension, which is pretty soft, especially at the rear.

 

Toyota Landcruiser - see other Toyota Landcruiser verdicts


 

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 38 comments

  • I have towed my 1450kg Windsor Rapid with an Outback 2ltr turbo diesel but blew up the clutch after just 95,000k. Very surprised to see the Forester in this list. Outback is a great tow vehicle but disappointed with the failure.

    Outback_Brian of Newcastle Posted on 07 April 2014 7:50pm
  • I have a Nissan X Trail ST with a pulling power of 2000kg I have purchased a caravan that has a tare weight of 1548 I want to make sure I will be safe to pull this caravan as planning to go up north in July or should I be looking to buy another vehicle Linda

    Linda Clough of Perth WA Posted on 31 March 2014 5:49pm
  • I am on the verge of retiring and am looking for a reliable [possibly 4WD] vehicle, to tow a 2,000kg caravan.I have in between $30,000 - $35,000 to spend.I prefer to have a 4 door because I still take my parents out for dinner each month, and need the space for that.Any ideas will be greatly appreciated.

    Rick V of South Australia Posted on 25 March 2014 1:12pm
  • Elizabeth B, a 2003 Range Rover HSE TD6 will tow your horse float and has towing capacity of up to 3500kg. Mine averages 11L around town and I can get it down to 9L on the freeway.

    Sam Rutter of victoria Posted on 09 March 2014 12:14pm
  • I have a 2007-7 seater LWB 3.2ltr turbo diesel Pajero. It was 10mths old when purchased.  She now has 140,000klms on clock. It came with factory sports pack, safety pack, uhf, gps, elect brakes for van, hay/reese towpack and loads of other beauties. I fitted a 60litr fuel tank, steel bull bar, turbo timer, isolator. I have towed 17ft to 25 ft vans over thousands of klms and never had a problem. I always keep my vehicle properly maintained. Handled heavy traffic, hill climbs, hot conditions, rough, sandy and muddy road conditions exceptionally well.  I agree you can get a bit of a lag if taking off too fast at the lights…lesson learnt. Have fitted Cooper tyres and noticed a difference. I love my “Le Tank” (her nickname), but have decided to sell it as I am no longer travelling and far exceeds my needs with only myself and my little dog to transport. I will cry when she goes.  If you want a vehicle that is safe, comfortable, reliable, good towing and fuel economy then you should buy a Mitsubishi Pajero.  I am an active 69yo lady who loves life.  I will be looking to buy a smaller Mitsubishi vehicle as they have proven to me the genuineness of the brand. Live on Mitsubishi.

    Diana Roper of Australia Posted on 27 February 2014 11:30pm
  • Would anyone have a opinion on what would be the best car to buy to pull up to 3500kg. I have a 3 horse float I would like to tow without hassle. Cheers

    Elizabeth B of Cairns Posted on 23 February 2014 10:39pm
  • Would anyone have a opinion on what is the best vehicle to buy to tow up 3500kg please? I have a 3 horse float and looking to buy something that will pull it without hassle.  Cheers

    Elizabeth B of Cairns Posted on 23 February 2014 10:37pm
  • Dave of Gawler, you are wrong!  The DMax has a flat torque curve, from 1,800 rpm to 2,800 rpm, it is the better engine for towing. If you drove both with a 2,500 kg caravan, you will find the DMax engine more suitable and economical. Yes, the 3.0 L DMax engine may be older, but it is bullet proof and proven. Also, DMax now has 3,500 kg towing capacity as well.

    Anthony G of Tanunda Posted on 16 February 2014 7:43pm
  • Is a Holden Commodore VX sedan a suitable vehicle for towing a 1 Ton Caravan??

    Jo English of Ferntree Gully Posted on 05 February 2014 5:37pm
  • I would like to know how a vw tiquin rates and thier towing capasity

    john healey of Australia Posted on 27 November 2013 8:53am
  • Absolute rubbish. Ive towed a 2.7 tonne boat behind a new Ford Ranger and also behind a SR5 late model Hilux, vastly different towing capacity specs on paper yet the Hilux did it with ease even under rated, much smoother than the Ranger. Besides for the law, I take no real interest or concern in what the rated towing capacity is of a vehicle and stand by quality of the vehicle to do the job.

    Nathan of QLD Posted on 20 November 2013 3:20pm
  • How a Forester or Vitara could even rate a mention in the top ten tow vehicles is beyond me. As for the Land Rover wouldn’t the Disco4 be better than a Freelander.

    I think your story is more of an advert for a few car companies than an informative piece of journalism.

    Roy of Canberra Posted on 19 November 2013 1:40pm
  • i was at the hay servo some time ago and noticed a bloke that was climbing out his window of his new Jeep Grand Cherokee because the van had stretched his jeep that much that the doors had locked

    Wayne Deaner of wagga wagga Posted on 06 November 2013 10:46am
  • What is a petrol territory like and is the dieselthat much better if tow weight is no more than 2000kg

    tony of melbourne Posted on 20 October 2013 12:38pm
  • What about the BMW33D which has won international towing awards. 520Nm can’t be bad

    Geoff Gillett of Canberra Posted on 16 August 2013 12:30am
  • The new Jeep Grand Cherokee does the trick. The V8 will average 16.5 litres to 100 kilometres towing a 17’ Jayco from
    Perth the Darwin and return and the diesel is about 4 litres to the kilometre better.. There is a long range fuel tank available at about 2 grand giving a combined fuel capacity of about 160 litres

    Rob Carson of Perth Posted on 27 June 2013 8:01pm
  • What a heap of biased rubbish.  Nothing equals the Land Rover Discovery 3 and 4, and you know it !

    Keith Simpson of Howlong, NSW Posted on 26 June 2013 11:25am
  • I own a Falcon because of its ability to tow. Suppose that I’ll need to purchase a SUV with higher capital and running costs now that they are coming to an end. The Falcon and Commodore are actually quite unique, hopefully the commodore will survive?

    Wayne of Dalby Qld Posted on 22 June 2013 8:27pm
  • I have a VW Touareg for power and fuel consumption I don’t no why it is not in your top ten Vehicles, Is there a reason why?

    Max Johnston of Melbourne Posted on 09 May 2013 10:28am
  • confused with variety!!looking forward to retirement down the track,however one thing some people have not mentioned is value for money!!definatelty want to travel around australia but not sure what would be the best for my situation,which is me and my sister.i myself am cabable and confident in driving as i also have a forklift licence etc, however need something that is compatible for both me and sister to to be to have confidence in driving and more importantly towing a caravan.dont plan on spending all my $supannuation on car and van!!i also would tolike get a answer on what or where is the best place to learn the skills on reversing etc a caravan.planning all this so that i am prepared for retirement.

    donna carkeek of victoria,melbourne. Posted on 19 April 2013 3:09pm
  • So why feature the Falcon when clearly a Territory would have been more comparable to the vehicles selected from other manufacturers? Perhaps it is because Ford have recognised that its owners prefer to drive a sedan with occasional rather than dedicated towing abilities.  Aussie families will mourn the loss of the superb engineering effort that went in to making the Falcon a contender for this role whilst fulfilling duties as an extremely competent sedan.

    Gordon Wadsworth of Gretna Tas Posted on 30 January 2013 9:37pm
  • Interesting to note that the Volkswagon ute was missed. It has scored well against eveb the Landcruiser in comparative tow tests in other magazines?

    David of Ipswich Posted on 25 January 2013 5:15am
  • Guys you’re unlikely to see anything from Ford and Holden in there because CarsGuide is so against those two manufacturers (especially Holden) as to make the concept of an unbiased press laughable.  Yes, they did put a Falcon in there…. and damned it with faint praise - making the fuel economy sound so bad that no-one in their right mind would consider it.  Yes, Colorado isn’t made in Australia, although Territory and Falcon are… but all that matters to CarsGuide is that Ford and Holden manufacture *some* cars in Aus and so they’re to be shunned or put down wherever possible.
    They do seem to like Toyota a bit more though… they only can half of their cars!

    WR of Melb Posted on 24 January 2013 6:06pm
  • Sounds like a biases opinion Mike. You must be a dealer trying to drum up sales.

    Albert of Taree Posted on 24 January 2013 12:53pm
  • I’m just getting up off the floor, some of your picks are so out of touch with what people are actually buying.  If we are talking towing then why wouldn’t you have a vehicle that has 170kw of power and a massive 550 Nm of torque with a 3 tonne towing capacity which blows nearly everything you have mentioned in your article out of the water. I am talking about the Nissan Navara STX with the V6 turbo diesel. This would have to be one of the best towing vehicles I have driven.  Also have YOU ever towed with a DMax and a Mazda BT-50.  I have, there is no comparison the BT-50 wins hands down.

    Gavin Posted on 24 January 2013 9:50am
  • EcoLPi gas engine produces 409Nm and would cost less to run than any of the smelly cancer causing diesels. Even at todays rediculous LPG prices the falcon would cost about $10- per 100km to run towing a heavy load. The diesels would have to burn less than 7lts/100km to match it and that is very unlikely.

    John of Colac Posted on 23 January 2013 11:26pm
  • I agree with Dave of Gawler on the Colorado should have been there over the D-Max considering the Holden has a higher Tow rating by 500 kg and the newer and stronger Duramax engine. Whilst I find the interior so so in its finish the Isuzu shares the majority of the Colorado’s interior. General Motors actually took the lead on the design of this vehicle and Isuzu piggy backed off of the work they did in Brazil.

    Mark Y of Australia Posted on 23 January 2013 10:30pm
  • Landrover Discovery is still hard to beat as a tow vehicle.
    It is powerful, economical and very comfortable.

    Richard Faulds of Western Australia Posted on 23 January 2013 6:29pm
  • How do you know they are not having quality problems? Volkswagens have quality problems as well but they seel like hotcakes compared to Land Rovers.

    Amazed of Warner Posted on 23 January 2013 6:25pm
  • What about the VW Touareg? An excellent tow vehicle and completely under-rated.

    Doug turner Posted on 23 January 2013 6:03pm
  • This is a funny story. What are they wanting to tow with a forester? When I think towing vehicle, I don’t think 1600kg limit. Kieran, why is the Territory too slow? Didn’t think this was a top 10 speed towing list. The so called ancient 2.7 diesel has 440Nm of torque, is this not enough by your standards?

    Alex Posted on 23 January 2013 6:01pm
  • Land Rover Discovery doesn’t rate a mention??/ You can’t be serious!

    Mike Parsons of harrington Posted on 22 January 2013 12:15pm
  • what about colorado? better towing capacity and better fule economy than isuzu for a start.  Isuzu has the old Colorado RA engine. What a pointless review.

    Dave of gawler Posted on 22 January 2013 12:05pm
  • I just don’t understand the reliability and quality caveat mentioned with the Freelander.  Please, Land Rovers might have had a problem 10 years ago, but now??  They are just as good as anything else out there, otherwise they wouldn’t be selling them as well as they are.

    akovach of Australia Posted on 22 January 2013 11:18am
  • The Territory, with its ancient Land Rover hand-me-down 2.7 diesel, is just too slow to make onto this list.

    I would have thought the Land Rover Discovery TDV6 or SDV6 would be a good towing vehicle. Unlike the Landcruiser 200 series, they also look good too.

    Kieran Posted on 21 January 2013 11:25pm
  • What about the Suzuki Alto?

    alex Posted on 21 January 2013 4:34pm
  • I would have thought the Territory would be near the top of the list?!

    kevcole Posted on 21 January 2013 12:05pm
  • I would have thought the territory would be up there!

    kevcole Posted on 21 January 2013 12:03pm
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