David Motton

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If you're wondering what tow car will see you through winter, our David Motton considers the top used winter tugs for your low season caravan holidays

Winter can be a great time of year for caravan holidays, especially if you have the right tow car for the job. I've been taking a look through our archive of Tow Car Awards tests to find four of the best four-season tow cars.

Land Rover Discovery TDV6 HSE

  • Year tested: 2009
  • Price then: £45,725
  • Price now: £23,060

A friend of mine has just bought himself a used Land Rover Discovery 3 as a 40th birthday present to himself. Needless to say I'm very jealous.

I'm not going to pretend that a used Land Rover will have the bulletproof reliability of a Toyota Land Cruiser, but the third-generation Discovery has a better reputation than earlier models. Land Rover's much-improved perfomance in customer satisfaction surveys such as JD Power shows just how far the brand has come in the past few years.

For roughly half the price someone paid five years ago, you get a huge, seven-seat 4x4 with a 2.5-tonne kerbweight, making the Disco a suitable match for any caravan. The 2.7-litre diesel isn't as strong as the 3.0-litre fitted to later cars, but it comfortably pulls a big, twin-axle tourer along at 60mph, making it a good option if you're figuring out what tow car to buy.

What Car?'s used car valuation service calculates £23,060 as the price for an 09-plate 60,000-mile car from a dealer, but you'll pay a lot less if you buy privately or choose a higher mileage car.

Kia Sorento 2.5 CRDi XS

  • Year tested: 2007
  • Price then: £23,045
  • Price now: £5160

What Car?'s used car people reckon a 56-plate 80,000-mile Kia Sorento will cost just over £5k from a dealer. A private sale should be closer to £4690.

As a cut-price winter tow car, a used Sorento has a lot going for it so long as you buy a car with self-levelling suspension. It really makes a big difference to how stable the Sorento feels when towing. The car we tested at the Tow Car Awards didn't have it, and suffered as a result.

Cars from mid-2006 onwards were fitted with a more powerful diesel engine with 168bhp. It delivers useful extra performance compared with the earlier 138bhp version.

Reliability is generally good, but look for a car with a full service history. There are plenty of Sorentos about, so you can afford to be picky. The Kia Sorento has become a popular car for caravanners – we look forward to finding out more about the new, third generation model.

Audi A6 Allroad 3.0 TDI Quattro Tiptronic

  • Year tested: 2008
  • Price then: £37,125
  • Price now: £13,595

If my numbers ever come up on a Saturday night, I think I'd buy a new Audi A6 Allroad.

I've always liked cars like the Allroad – estate cars with four-wheel drive. To my mind, they offer most of the benefits of a 4x4 (excellent traction in wet and wintry weather) with fewer drawbacks (so-so handling on Tarmac and high running costs). The Allroad goes one better than most four-wheel-drive estates with air suspension which can raise or lower the ride height to give greater ground clearance off road, or improved handling and aerodynamics on it. The ability to lift the car up at the touch of a button will also come in handy if you need to tow over snow this winter.

The 3.0-litre diesel engine delivers superb performance, and the kerbweight of just over 1900kg means the A6 Allroad makes a sensible match for most tourers.

According to What Car?, an 08-plate A6 Allroad with 70,000 miles from a dealer will cost around £13,595. At that price, maybe there's no need to wait for a lottery win.

Honda CR-V 2.2 i-CTDi ES

  • Year tested: 2007
  • Price then: £21,417
  • Price now: £7640

I once interviewed the comedian Tom O'Connor (not for Practical Caravan, I should add). He likes his cars, and has owned all sorts of exotic machines over the years. However, when I visited him a couple of years ago he had a Honda CR-V on his driveway.

It's the kind of car people choose to buy even when they could afford something more expensive, because it's reliable, capable and easy to live with.

It also makes a very good winter tow car. It may not have the go-anywhere ability of a Land Rover Discovery, but it does comes with four-wheel drive. The CR-V rides comfortably with or without a caravan in tow and has a very large boot.

With a 56-plate 80,000-mile CR-V costing around £7.5k you get a lot of car for your money, with the ability to deliver many more years of reliable towing. 

With the right tow car for the job and a bundle of expert winter caravanning tips to hand, we hope you enjoy your winter adventure – and stay safe on the roads.

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