Your holiday is one of the most exciting times of the year. It’s a time to unwind and get that well deserved break you’ve worked so hard for. Everything but the kitchen sink is packed, your whole family pile into the car and you're just one journey away from the experience of a lifetime. Plus, you’re taking your very own caravan for an all-in-one break. Because you decided you might want that kitchen sink after all.
It's going to take a very reliable car to cope with the extra heavy drive, and a very special one to make the journey just as fun as the destination.
So what kind of car can not just drive, but shine? On one hand, a trusty diesel road warrior will beat out petrol in raw power, pulling your caravan down the M1 with the ease of a buggy attached to a bull without making you sweat at the pumps. But torque isn’t everything, the lightning quick response of a petrol car can more than offset both the force and the thrift of its diesel rivals.
Whatever you decide, remember to make absolutely sure the weight of the caravan being towed is something the car can cope well with. The maximum weight a vehicle can tow is easily discovered through the manufacturer, but we advise you don’t go too close to the limit and keep to at least 85% of the recommended maximum weight, just to make double sure your vacation goes off without a hitch.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that a Land Rover is on any list of cars best suited to tow, well, anything. There’s plenty to pick from in the showrooms of everyone’s favourite off roader. With over six decades of beaten tracks behind it, the legendary brand is unlikely to let you down, no matter what you go home with. But for us, the Range SDV8 Autobiography leaves all others in its dust. Even the heaviest caravan should be no match for its 4.4 litre V8 engine and brilliant 4 x 4 handling. But don’t let its rough edges fool you: this old farm boy has a sensitive side with a smooth, responsive drive. Good things don’t always come in small packages.
Not a brand you’d normally associate with brute force, the Skoda Octavia Scout has proved itself a reliable piece of kit for small to mid range caravans. This is all about how much power you need: if you’re planning on shifting a motorised mansion from coast to coast, you’ll probably need something a little meatier, but for modest caravan dwellers, this surprise entry from Skoda should more than hit the spot. With similar used cars retailing for around £6,999, the Octavia Scout may be a little steeper than other options, but with excellent 4 wheel drive, it should manage the steepest of all soggy hills with ease.
Sometimes a bargain can take you by surprise. Towing up to 1500kg and coming in at under £6,000 for a used model, the Seat Leon ST 2.0 TDI is the automobile equivalent of finding diamonds in the bottom of your cereal box. With good fuel economy and low emissions, you won’t get toothache with this bargain, outmatching virtually all rival hatchbacks in its class.
The VW Passat Estate, comes from an award winning range. It tows effortlessly through town, motorway and country roads, with torque tough enough to keep a stable ride, even in high cross winds. Speaking of strength, its electronic parking brake will leave you worry free on the highest of hills. There’s even the Trailer Assist option, which will steer the car for you as you reverse into a caravan pitch for a picture perfect journey.
Economic to run and with torque by the ton, this £13,999 automotive underdog may be a little lighter than its predecessors, but this fiery fighter more than packs a punch with a strong towing capacity and a sturdy drive to boot. Like the VW Passat Estate, it comes with an electric parking brake, which is a boon when parking on a slope. The car has space and comfort, with a supersized boot that might just prove this runner to be the most deceptive of all on our list.
The Sorento has left its tire marks as a reliable up and comer of the Kia generation. Retaining the same feeling of power and stability as its predecessors, its exterior design has been given a revamp, making it longer and wider. This means there is space inside for seven seats, but does sacrifice on boot space, although folding the back row of seats down fixes this issue in a click of a button. It boasts a good parking handbrake but has dropped the divisive electronic parking break feature, so depending on your preferences, this could be a tick in either column for the Sorento. Overall though, it has a reasonable fuel economy and takes most situations in its stride, with a fine towing power and real overtaking punch.
This sturdy seven seater is one of the best MPVs on the market. The MPV is really more of the Clark Kent to the Grand C4 Picasso’s Superman, and its powers really start to shine through as soon as you stick a caravan on the back. Whatever the situation, this car’s masterful design swoops in to the rescue, even in emergency maneuvers, motorway speeds and high winds. And it does all this without sacrificing on space, with foldable rear seats and under seat storage. With an average used price tag of £11,999, it has all the brawn you need for any adventure.
No list of great towing cars would be complete without the VW Golf. This reliable hatchback has cemented its reputation as a longtime favourite and, starting from £6,199 for a 1.2 litre model[PL1] , it’s raised its game even more. The VW Golf 1.2 hatchback has a maximum towing weight of 1100kg, which can cut your caravan options down, but for those with a modest weight to tow, its stability and control is hard to surpass. It delivers smooth motorway driving and remains unfazed by even the trickiest of hill starts. It’s no wonder that the deceptive size and power of the Golf leaves it leagues ahead of other hatchbacks.
The prestige that comes with the Audi badge is not lost on the Q7 4.2 TGI Quattro. Its speed alone accelerates it ahead of some other cars, even with the bulkiest of caravans in tow. And it comes at no expense to its stability and control. What it lacks for in fuel economy, it makes up for in bounds with its slick design and brute power, meaning you’ll feel in complete control no matter what terrain you’re traversing.
Hitch your caravan to the VW Touareg for a whole lot of hauling power. This five seater 4x4 has an 85% towing capacity of 1857kg and a choice of two different V6 diesel engines, giving you up to 428Ibs of torque to play with. This pricey powerhouse comes at a cost of around £43,000 , with the top spec R-line range offering pricey but desirable automatic levelling. You get a whole lot of bang for your buck though, with stable towing and a great turn of speed. However, this does come at the cost of fuel economy. But when pricing up your family holiday, the spacious interiors and Trailer Stability programme as standard may prove too good an investment to resist, and one of the best ways to kick your holiday into high gear.