David MottonSee other Advice articles filed in ‘Tow cars’ written by David Motton
Tow Car Editor
Over the years, we've tested hundreds of new tow cars for caravans. Everything from small crossovers to family hatchbacks, roomy estates and big SUVs have been reviewed and rated for towing ability.
Towing a caravan asks a lot of a car. Having enough muscle to pull a tourer and the poise to remain stable while doing so is a big ask. The best new tow cars need to combine many talents.
Here's our selection of 10 of the best new tow cars.
10 best new tow cars
BMW 5 Series Touring
We'd struggle to name a better tow car than the BMW 5 Series Touring, especially the 530d xDrive. Fast, stable, practical – the BMW is the complete package.
Of the qualities that make a really great tow car, stability is the most important, and the 5 Series is as secure as they come. Nothing seems to shake the BMW's composure.
Towing isn't something to be done in a hurry, but the 530d's performance makes for effortless overtaking. And the xDrive four-wheel-drive system helps put the car's power to the road, even in slipper conditions.
Read more in our full review of the BMW 5 Series Touring
Ford Focus Estate
If you passed your test on or after 1 January 1997 and haven't taken a towing test since, then you have a B licence. This restricts the combined weight of car and caravan you can tow. If this applies to you, a lightweight but capable tow car like the Ford Focus Estate should suit your needs.
As a rule we prefer towing with a diesel, but the Focus's Ecoboost engine is one of our favourite petrols for towing. It has more mid-range pull than you'd expect of a petrol, and comfortably handles any sensibly matched caravan.
The estate body-style gives the Focus enough luggage space for a family caravan holiday.
Read more in our full review of the Ford Focus Estate
The finest SUVs make some of the very best cars for towing a caravan. And if you want an SUV that's rewarding to drive everyday as well as an excellent tow car, the Jaguar F-Pace deserves a place on your shortlist.
At the motorway limit, the F-Pace is serene. You'd hardly know you were towing at all if it wasn't for the caravan in your mirrors.
Leave the caravan on its pitch and the Jaguar is a fast and exciting car, blending nimble handling with a smooth ride. There's enough space for passengers and luggage for the F-Pace to make a practical tow car.
• Read more in our full review of the Jaguar F-Pace
Land Rover Discovery 5
Sales of the latest Land Rover Discovery have been disappointing. Perhaps it lacks the character of earlier generations.
But it's an even better car to drive, with a choice of powerful but quiet engines, a supple ride, and tidy handling. The interior is well made and spacious, with room for seven.
Rivals now run the Discovery very close, but for us, the Discovery is still the best heavyweight tow car. It's stable at speed and can cope easily with wet roads and bad weather.
• Read more in our full review of the Land Rover Discovery 5
We've always enjoyed towing a caravan with the Mazda CX-5, and the current model is the best yet.
Go for the most powerful diesel with four-wheel drive, and you'll be choosing an able tow car that will handle a mid-sized caravan with ease. Punchy acceleration, trouble-free hill starts, and strong brakes are the order of the day.
Inside, the CX-5 looks sporty and modern. There's enough space in the back for adults to travel in comfort, and a big enough boot for a family's holiday bags.
In everyday driving, the CX-5 is quick, agile and entertaining.
• Read more in our full review of the Mazda CX-5
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate
Estate cars don't come much bigger than the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate. It's huge inside, with a luggage capacity of 640 litres. Fold the back seats down and that increases to 1820 litres.
Passengers are well looked after too, with plenty of head and legroom in the front of the car and the back.
As well as being very practical, the E-Class is one of the best cars for towing a caravan. There's a choice of strong but frugal engines, with the E220d in particular striking a good balance between performance and economy. It's stable at speed, even when the wind picks up.
• Read more in our full review of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate
Skoda Octavia Estate
You don't need to spend a fortune to buy one of the best cars for towing a caravan. The Skoda Octavia Estate is affordably priced, but a very capable tow car.
The Octavia is a light for its size, but so long as your caravan makes a sensible match, the Skoda makes a stable tow car. One of the 2.0-litre diesel models would be our pick for regular towing.
Inside, the Skoda belies its relatively small size with lots of space for people and their luggage. In fact, rear legroom and boot space put many bigger and more expensive estate cars to shame.
• Read more in our full review of the Skoda Octavia Estate
With its coupé-like looks, the Volkswagen Arteon isn't the most obvious tow car. But it really is exceptionally good at towing a caravan.
The 2.0-litre diesel has enough pulling power to tow a sensibly matched caravan with ease, but still delivers excellent fuel economy. At high speeds, the Arteon is stable and secure.
What's really surprising is how practical the Arteon is. There's plenty of space whether you are in the front of the car or the back, and boot space is very generous.
• Read more in our full review of the Volkswagen Arteon
Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate
More and more car buyers are choosing plug-in hybrids rather than diesels. We've had reservations about most of the hybrids we've tested, but not the Passat GTE.
Fuel economy while towing is extremely good, and the car doesn't become overly thirsty even when the batteries are low. We achieved 29.5mpg while towing on a 73-mile route, starting with a full battery.
As we've come to expect of the Volkswagen Passat, the GTE makes a very stable tow car. It's secure at 60mph, and the petrol-electric drivetrain can easily maintain this speed.
Inside, there's lots of space, and only slightly less luggage space than you'd find in a conventionally powered Passat.
• Read more in our full review of the Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate
Volvo V60 Cross Country
Volvo makes many capable tow cars, but we particularly like the V60 Cross Country.
It has just about all the qualities we look for in a car for towing a caravan. The D4 diesel engine has plenty of pulling power, so overtaking is straightforward and it's easy to maintain momentum on hilly roads.
The V60 Cross Country is heavy, so it makes a suitable tow car for a wide range of caravans. And with four-wheel drive, it should have know trouble towing away from a damp pitch.
Inside, the V60 is beautifully made and very stylish. Some estates offer more luggage room, but the V60 is big enough for most needs.
• Read more in our full review of the Volvo V60 Cross Country
If you're in the market for a used tow car, read our top ten used tow cars review here
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