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Best 4WDs for towing

A robust, capable and reliable tow vehicle is a must if you're planning to tow anything, big or small, on your adventures.

It looks like we're going to be stuck on our island continent for a little while. Not that it's really a problem because between the exceptional beauty of places like the Victorian High Country and the remote paradises of northern Australia, we have pretty much everything we need for a great escape right here. 

And, once all borders are opened – yep, we’re looking at you, Qld and WA – we can all drive to those aforementioned paradises, towing our caravans, camper trailers and boats with us. If that's part of your plans, have you got the best 4x4 for towing across this great country?

4WDs have been the vehicle of choice for Aussies exploring since the likes of Toyota and Nissan released the LandCruiser 60 Series and GQ Patrol respectively – both combining some semblance of vehicle comfort with decent power and towing ability. 

Since then, 4WDs have evolved to become more comfortable, more powerful and able to tow more economically, so none of us has ever looked back to the family wagons and sedans that first hauled our caravans up and down the coast. With them, caravans and trailers have become heavier (because it's cheaper to build heavy than it is light), so we couldn't go back, even if we wanted to. 

Today, the best 4WDs for towing have been specifically purpose-engineered for the job, have powerful, efficient turbo-diesel engines, and include integrated safety features specially tuned to work when there's a trailer hitched. Most are targeted towards family use and can carry a load in the back or in the tray, for all the extra camping gear we just can't live without. 

The best 4WD tow vehicles haul more than 3000kg, making them suitable for the majority of caravans and towable boats on the market. They're able to handle at least 300kg of tow ball weight and, in most situations, can still carry a load in the tray or wagon without being overloaded. 

7. Subaru Outback - 2015 onwards

The Subaru Outback is excellent if you're staying on the black-top and have a light trailer.  The Subaru Outback is excellent if you're staying on the black-top and have a light trailer. 

Max towing limit – 1500kg to 1800kg

Max ball weight – 150kg to 180kg

Not everyone wants or needs a large, rugged SUV to tow a caravan twice the size of Buckingham Palace. If your towing needs are modest, like a small teardrop trailer or even something like the Pod All-Roada 4x4 camper trailer, the refined, comfortable and powerful Subaru Outback is a great choice. 

With the 3.6-litre boxer-six engine, the Outback can tow 1800kg, although even the 1500kg limit on the 2.5-litre turbo diesel will handle most smaller camper trailers and some small caravans. Paired with the advanced safety features, this is an excellent choice for back-country weekend getaways. 

6. Ford Ranger 4x4 – 2011 onwards

The Ford Ranger's power and comfort is a big plus on long-distance road trips. The Ford Ranger's power and comfort is a big plus on long-distance road trips.

Max towing capacity – 3500kg

Max ball weight – 350kg

The Ford Ranger has always been a formidable ute since its introduction to Australia in 2006, alongside the co-developed Mazda BT-50. The PJ and PK Rangers, though, have benefited from more power, thanks first to the 3.2-litre, five-cylinder turbo diesel, and now the 2.2-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder. 

Accompanied by smooth-shifting auto transmissions, the models excelled with a large load on the back. Ford (and Mazda) added towing specific options early on, including electronic brake control systems and specific towing or touring packs, which kitted the vehicles out nicely for touring.

5. Isuzu MU-X – 2013 onwards

The MU-X offers great fuel economy and reliability. The MU-X offers great fuel economy and reliability.

Max towing capacity – 3000kg

Max ball weight – 300kg

On paper, the Isuzu MU-X is the SUV underachiever. It's never been overly powerful, hasn't had the biggest towing capacity, and its design and features have been a little bland. For all those reasons, and more, it's made an exceptional vehicle whether you're towing a motorcycle, caravan or boats. 

The MU-X (and Isuzu D-Max) have a 3.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, which is exceptionally economical when towing, and a solid reputation for reliability. 

4. LandCruiser Prado 120 Series (2003-2009)

For a real bargain, look out for a petrol 120 Prado. They have heaps of power and are great off-road. For a real bargain, look out for a petrol 120 Prado. They have heaps of power and are great off-road.

Maximum towing capacity – 2500kg

Max ball weight – 250kg

I'm going to say something controversial here: the 4.0-litre petrol Prado is the pick in this instance, rather than the more popular 3.0-litre turbo-diesel. You can pick up low-kilometre examples for less than $20,000, and expect the engine to last well over 400,000km without any significant issues. 

Although the 120 Series Prados can only tow 2500kg, that's more than enough for most respectable caravans or camper trailers. 

3. HSV Chevy Silverado 2500

Big American muscle offers the ultimate towing experience, if money is no issue. Big American muscle offers the ultimate towing experience, if money is no issue.

Max towing capacity – 5890kg

Max ball weight – 450kg

If you're serious about towing for work, towing a horse float or don't want to sacrifice any comforts towing a caravan, American pick-up muscle is the best option. 

If 332kW of power and 1234Nm of torque seems like overkill, you've probably never experienced how good that is. 

The 2500 can tow up to 4500kg on a 70mm ball-hitch, or even more with a fifth-wheel setup. All the while, it can carry up to 975kg onboard while it's at it.

2. LandCruiser 70 Series – 2007 onwards

The torquey V8 turbo diesel in the 70 Series LandCruisers is perfect for hauling large caravans. The torquey V8 turbo diesel in the 70 Series LandCruisers is perfect for hauling large caravans.

Max towing capacity – 3500kg

Max ball weight – 350kg

Whether it's the traditional Troopy (78 Series), single- or double-cab 79 Series, or four-door wagon 76 Series that takes your fancy, each of these utilitarian LandCruisers makes an exceptional towing vehicle, especially if you're keen on towing off-road. 

The rigid-axle set-up, lazy, yet powerful turbo-diesel V8 and high level of customisation available mean these trucks can do just about anything. 

Although they are all basic in function (features such as cruise control or air-conditioning aren't standard, so if buying second hand, make sure yours has both), used prices begin at about $45,000. The vehicles hold their value well.

1. LandCruiser 200 Series

If you want to take your caravan everywhere, there's no better 4WD than the 200 Series LandCruiser. If you want to take your caravan everywhere, there's no better 4WD than the 200 Series LandCruiser.

Maximum towing capacity – 3500kg

Max ball weight – 350kg

There are a lot of LandCruisers on this list. Not sorry, though. Is there any four-wheel-drive more iconic to caravanning than a 200 Series LandCruiser? (Maybe only a white LandCruiser Prado). 

With the same lazily capable V8 turbo-diesel that's offered in the 70 Series LandCruisers, but with an extra turbo, the 200 Series is eminently suited to long-haul caravanning trips. It's very comfortable, reliable, has plenty of torque, can tow large trailers with ease and has large tanks, so you're not stopping at every servo to fill up. Consider that every aftermarket supplier makes modifications for it, and it's one of the most versatile 4WDs for towing on the market in Australia. 

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