The best tow cars are stable and reliable – they can be relied upon to get you and your caravan safely from A to B.

The very standout towing vehicles, therefore, will combine a number of talents. After all, towing does take a lot out of a tow car. Having enough muscle to pull a tourer while also remaining stable is a big ask.

As a result, it can be hard to know how to go about finding the best towing vehicle for a caravan – there are a lot on the market. That’s where we come in.

Since Practical Caravan first launched in 1967, we’ve tested hundreds of tow cars, covering everything from small crossovers to family hatchbacks, roomy estates to big SUVs – we’ve seen them and we’ve reviewed them for their towing ability, helping our readers pick out the best tow cars for their caravans.

We also run the Practical Caravan Awards, where our expert judging panel identify the best caravans across a range of categories, as well as the tow cars that have really impressed us.

To help you choose the right tow car for your caravan, our experts at Practical Caravan have picked out the best towing vehicles on the market. The biggest caravan tow car brands, from Land Rover and BMW to Skoda and Seat all feature in our round-up, as we pick the cars that will provide reliability and stability on your travels.

If you decide you’d rather buy a pre-owned towing vehicle, be sure to take a look at our guide to the best used tow cars too.

What do I need to know before buying a tow car?

To stay within the law, your car needs to have a legal towing limit that will either match or surpasses your caravan’s loaded weight – for instance, if your caravan weights 1500kg, your car will need a towing limit of at least 1500kg.

A car’s legal maximum is based on its ability to tow a trailer up a slope repeatedly, so it shouldn’t be assumed that because a car can legally tow, say, 2500kg, it’s going to be wise to tow something that heavy at 60mph on the motorway on a windy day.

As a result, it’s recommended by the two main caravanning clubs that you tow no more than 85% of the tow car’s kerbweight. You can then work out the maximum weight of the caravan you can tow to stick to the 85% guideline by taking the tow car’s kerbweight and multiplying it by 0.85. For legal towing, this figure should not exceed the car’s towing limit.

Our guide to the licence you need to tow a caravan will also talk you through all you need to know to make sure you have the correct licence.

What should I be looking for in the best tow car?

Important things to consider will be the safety, economy, practicality and value of the tow car. However, the most important quality will be stability. It’s not always easy to assess, based solely on the spec, but combining this with a test drive can be helpful.

Even if the test drive doesn’t see you towing a caravan, you can still look out for certain signs – are you getting a firmly controlled ride? Does the suspension recover straight away?

You can find out more about what to look out for in our guide to how to choose a tow car.

The best tow cars for caravans are…

The Skoda Octavia Estate 2.0 TDI
The Skoda Octavia Estate 2.0 TDI

Skoda Octavia Estate 2.0 TDI

  • Price: from £26,250
  • Kerbweight: 1436kg
  • Towing limit: 1600kg

This Skoda is the towing vehicle that our judging panel picked out as the best lightweight tow car at the Practical Caravan Awards – it won the best caravan tow car under 1600kg category. It provides a comfortable and spacious interior to drive in, as well as a huge 640-litre boot.

You may wonder why we’ve gone for the 150hp 2.0-litre diesel, but simply put, this engine makes towing a caravan a pleasure. This is due to its strong mid-range and a fuel economy that was deemed “excellent” by David Motton, our tow car expert.

The Seat Leon 1.0 ETSI SE Dynamic
The Seat Leon 1.0 ETSI SE Dynamic

Seat Leon 1.0 ETSI SE Dynamic

  • Price: from £23,885
  • Kerbweight: 1330kg
  • Towing limit: 1300kg

Reasons to buy:

  • Good performance
  • Stable at speed

Reasons to avoid:

  • No air vents for the back seats
  • Awkward tall boot lip

You may find yourself surprised by just how well the 1.0-litre engine with mild-hybrid assistance deals with towing in this Seat model. In fact, we’d be quite happy to tow a suitable caravan for a long distance with this.

Its gentle acceleration means good fuel economy – we saw better than 27.7mpg when towing a lightweight caravan – while the decent interior space is always welcome. However, it’s the stability that it provides that we really like. The relatively firm suspension may not be for everyone but it should guarantee a straightforward towing experience.

While the interior is comfortable, we’d have liked to see air vents for those sitting in the rear. The 380-litre capacity is good for the boot, but we would prefer it if there was not a high loading lip too.

Full review: Seat Leon 1.0 ETSI SE Dynamic

The Suzuki Vitara Hybrid Allgrip
The Suzuki Vitara Hybrid Allgrip

Suzuki Vitara Hybrid Allgrip

  • Price: from £25,049
  • Kerbweight: 1275kg
  • Towing limit: 1200kg

Reasons to buy:

  • Ideal for all-weather touring

Reasons to avoid:

  • Restricted by what you can tow

This updated model comes with a refreshed cabin and drivetrain, ensuring the Vitara remains a competitive option.

As it’s among the lightest 4x4s that you can buy, you will be a bit restricted by what you can tow with the Vitara. We tested it with the Swift Basecamp 4, and found it a comfortable tow car, with the Vitara more than up to a 1-in-10 hill start.

It did require a number of revs to pull off, but the Allgrip 4×4 system “put the car’s power to the road smoothly”, without any issues from the clutch.

We liked how secure the Vitara was when reaching 60mph on a motorway – it prompted David Motton to say “the Vitara towed every bit as well as some bigger, heavier cars”.

If you find you’re driving through muddy terrain, the Allgrip four-wheel-drive system will make sure you don’t flounder. It’s this that makes the Vitara a worthy choice for caravanners who love touring all-year round.

You could certainly get a more convenient towing vehicle for every day life, but if you’re touring in all weathers, this stable and comfortable tow car is certainly worth considering.

You’ll also find the mild-hybrid tech ensures the tow car has reasonable running costs.

Full review: Suzuki Vitara

The Volvo V60 Recharge T6 AWD Inscription
The Volvo V60 Recharge T6 AWD Inscription

Volvo V60 Recharge T6 AWD Inscription

  • Price: £48,150
  • Kerbweight: 2075kg
  • Towing limit: 2000kg

Reasons to buy:

  • Comfortable interior
  • Stable tow

Reasons to avoid:

  • Infotainment system is fiddly to use

We were really impressed by this hybrid when we tested it, and we think it’s a strong performer, whether it’s towing a caravan or going solo.

Coming with a kerbweight of 2075kg, it gives you an 85% match figure of 1764kg.

When we put it to the test, we found it was capable of towing a caravan with a MiRO of 1437kg on electric power alone, and when both petrol and electric worked together, it was quickly towing at up to 60mph.

It’s a quiet tow car when the electric motor is in charge, and even when we switched to the petrol engine as the battery run low, the noise produced was still at reasonable levels.

Stability is one of the hallmarks of the best tow cars, and the V60 certainly provided that – our reviewer labelled it “secure and confidence-inspiring”. A 1-in-10 slope was no issue either; it pulled away without a problem.

We did think it was a little quicker than we would have liked when reversing at the campsite, but it’s something you would adapt to quite fast.

When you’re driving it in solo, we found the gearbox could sometimes be “a little slow to grab a lower gear” but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t corner neatly – instead, it’s simply a car that is suited to a sensible driving style.

It has a comfortable interior, but we’re not huge fans of the Sense infotainment system. While it may look good, we thought it was fiddly to operate, and didn’t respond immediately all the time. However, the seats are comfortable, ideal if you find yourself on a long drive.

Full review: Volvo V60 Recharge T6 AWD Inscription

The Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi
The Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi

Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi

  • Price: from £41,770
  • Kerbweight: 1954kg
  • Towing limit: 2500kg

Reasons to buy:

  • Stable drive

Reasons to avoid:

  • Slight hesitancy when pulling off in ‘Eco’ mode

A car that won the best caravan tow car under 2000kg category at the Practical Caravan Awards is always going to deliver a good performance.

The Kia Sorento provides a stable drive, with towing a pleasant business in this seven-seater, even when travelling at speed. You can choose the model that suits you best here – this includes full hybrid, plug-in hybrid and also diesel (although this is only available in mid-spec ‘3’ trim). We’d recommend the 2.2 CRDi for regular towing though.

Our review of the Sorento provides more information on the different pros and cons of each type.

We were impressed to see that the Sorento was able to easily hold 60mph on motorway gradients and in headwinds.

It would have been nice to see a bit more performance when pulling away at junctions, but this was due to the gearbox, rather than a lack of pulling power. ‘Eco’ – the default mode – seemed more hesitant, while switching to ‘Sport’ made the car more willing. On country roads, we felt the Kia was controlled, with dips and crests resulting in very little float being felt, thanks to the taut suspension.

When we took the Kia on the motorway, we were pleased to see how smoothly it tows. Despite high winds when we tested it, the Kia was more than up to the challenge, hardly moving except when we were on a really exposed stretch of road.

We also love how this is, frankly, a very practical family car. For instance, there are plenty of air vents – it means a pleasant driving experience for all.

Full review: Kia Sorento

The Seat Ateca 2.0 TDI
The Seat Ateca 2.0 TDI

Seat Ateca 2.0 TDI

  • Price: from £31,435
  • Kerbweight: 1602kg
  • Towing limit: 2100kg

Reasons to buy:

  • Excellent drive
  • Slick-shifting gearbox

Reasons to avoid:

  • Bigger and roomier 4x4s are within reach at a similar price point

The Ateca makes a very impressive towing vehicle. You get a four-wheel drive, a good kerbweight and an impressive diesel engine in the car that was shortlisted for best caravan tow car over 2000kg.

The 2.0-litre engine provides good acceleration and if you’re driving in crosswinds on the motorway, you’ll find the Ateca is more than up to the challenge. When we tested a hill start on a 1-in-10 slope, we were pleased to see it was simple, with the electronic parking brake releasing smoothly.

Inside, space is good too – you’ll find plenty of room for people and luggage.

Perhaps something we’d highlight is that by the time you’ve paid £35,000, you could find a heavier and roomier 4×4 within your reach – although, as our reviewer David Motton, said, you’d also most likely have to “live with a slightly less generous specification”.

Full review: Seat Ateca 2.0 TDI

The Volkswagen Tiguan
The Volkswagen Tiguan

Volkswagen Tiguan

  • Price: from £38,125
  • Kerbweight: 1715kg
  • Towing limit: 2500kg

Reasons to buy:

  • Stable tow provided
  • Roomy interior

Reasons to avoid:

  • Air-con controls fiddly to use

Sometimes, a good tow car doesn’t have to be the fastest or the heaviest – instead, it just needs to do what a tow car should do, and that’s something the Tiguan certainly does.

Coming with a kerbweight of 1715kg, the Tiguain has an 85% match of 1485kg – more than covered by the 2500kg towing limit.

When we reviewed it, we highlighted just how much of a “reassuring, relaxing car to tow with” the Tiguan is. We did note that when moving onto hillier roads, it helps to switch from ‘drive’ to ‘sport’ on the gearbox, just to help hold the speed. Should you find yourself stopping on such a road, you’ll be pleased to hear we found it no trouble to start again.

There’s a lot of pulling power to hand, with the 4Motion four-wheel-drive system ensuring that driving on greasy roads should not be an issue.

The well-designed and roomy interior is another plus point, although we did think the air-con controls – small touch-sensitive pads – were a bit fiddly to use, as was the new infotainment system.

Despite this there’s plenty of legroom. Overall, we’d say it’s an excellent towing vehicle, which, while pricey, provides what you pay for it.

Full review: Volkswagen Tiguan

Land Rover Discovery D300 AWD Auto
Land Rover Discovery D300 AWD Auto

Land Rover Discovery D300 AWD Auto

  • Price: from £56,480
  • Kerbweight: 2437kg
  • Towing limit: 3500kg

While the gap that once existed between the Land Rover Discovery and other brands – such as the BMW X5 – has certainly got smaller, this still remains a very reliable tow car. In fact, our tow car expert, David Motton, remarked “if we had to tow from one end of the country tomorrow, though, we’d still pick the Land Rover Discovery for the job”.

Space isn’t an issue in the Discovery. It has seven seats – anyone who finds themselves in the back row of the car will also have both head and legroom to ensure they have a pleasant experience.

The vehicle that won the best caravan tow car over 2000kg category at the Practical Caravan Awards can also be trusted to provide some reliable off-road driving.

BMW X5 45e

  • Price: from £66,415
  • Kerbweight: 2510kg
  • Towing limit: 2700kg

The BMW X5 45e is a great option if you’re looking for a plug-in hybrid – we think it really stands out, mainly due to its electric range. An average plug-in SUV has a range of around 30 miles before using a drop of petrol, while this BMW is closer to 50 miles.

It’s also a highly stable tow – heavy, but with a firm and sporty suspension. This means you will feel comfortable when driving at speed. A couple of points to note with the car though – you only get five seats, as opposed to the seven in the Land Rover Discovery, and the fuel economy isn’t as good when the batteries start running low. Despite this, it makes a great towing option.

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate

  • Price: £62,705
  • Kerbweight: 2015kg
  • Towing limit: 2100kg

Reasons to buy:

  • Provides excellent stability
  • Spacious interior

Reasons to avoid:

  • High running costs
  • Expensive

When we tested this Merc, we couldn’t fault its towing abilities. Thanks to its kerbweight, it has an 85% match of 1713kg, making it a viable alternative to an SUV.

We found the 3.0-litre six cylinder diesel to be “superb” – in fact, our reviewer, David Motton, remarked “it pulls strongly right from the bottom of the rev range”.

If you stop on a slope, it will be a simple business to get going again, with the electronic parking brake keeping both car and tourer in position, before allowing for smooth release.

The stability is also something very much in the favour of this E-Class.

We’d go so far as to say this E-Class stands up to the best SUVs, with excellent performance and stability on offer.

It also has a roomy interior, with generous luggage space and good leg room. One thing we would point out is that it can have high running costs.

All-in-all, it’s a worthy addition to our best tow car list – spacious, stable and practical.

Full review: Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate

The Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake
The Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake

Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake

  • Price: £45,055
  • Kerbweight: 1814kg
  • Towing limit: 1600kg

Reasons to buy:

  • Stylish exterior
  • Great to drive

Reasons to avoid:

  • Boot space
  • No four-wheel drive

When we tested the petrol-electric version (the Arteon Shooting Brake Hybrid 1.4 TSI 218PS R-Line to be precise), we thought it was a great tow car to consider for a well-matched caravan.

When in hybrid mode, we found the engine and motor combined well, and once at speed, it could stick to a healthy pace. One thing we did notice was that acceleration wouldn’t always be as crisp as we expected, and it could take the petrol engine a while “to get into its stride”.

A hill start on a 1-in-10 slope was no problem, although noisy, with the petrol engine working hard. Once on the motorway, we found it drove with excellent stability.

For everyday use, it provides a smooth drive with quiet progress; the engine will only really be heard if revved hard.

The hybrid only has a boot space capacity of 455 litres, while a load lip means heavy items can’t be slid straight into the boot. However, rear legroom is very generous, and there’s more than enough headroom too. With the exception of the touch-sensitive pads that are used for the air-con, the controls are all easy to use too.

We think this is a very capable tow car – and one that has an excellent exterior. Something that stopped us giving it five stars when we reviewed it is the boot space and the absence of a four-wheel drive, but overall, we think it’s a very stable tow car that is more than capable of pulling a sensibly matched caravan.

Full review: Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake

The Ford Kuga 2.0 EcoBlue 150PS MHEV ST-Line X FWD
The Ford Kuga 2.0 EcoBlue 150PS MHEV ST-Line X FWD

Ford Kuga 2.0 EcoBlue 150PS MHEV ST-Line X FWD

  • Price: £33,505
  • Kerbweight: 1680kg
  • Towing limit: 1900kg

Reasons to buy:

  • Fuel efficient

Reasons to avoid:

  • Interior can look a bit cheap
  • Boot space could be better

When we took the Kuga out on A-roads and motorways, we found it to be an “accomplished tow car” – it was a breezy day, and we did find the caravan moved around a bit in crosswinds, but rarely anything large enough to require any steering correction.

We were impressed that it accelerated briskly, and it was easy to reach 60mph by the end of a motorway slip road.

Damp weather could be a bit of an issue – pulling away on a 1-in-10 slope made the front wheels briefly spin, if we didn’t carefully use the throttle. A grassy pitch could pose similar problems, but we think hardstanding would be easy to manoeuvre.

As a solo drive, the Kuga was enjoyable. It was nimble to handle, and B-roads were simple to navigate. Firm suspension means any bumps in the road are likely to be felt though.

There’s plenty of head-and-legroom inside, with air vents between the front seats keeping everyone cool. We like that the controls for the air-con are separate from the touchscreen too. We did think the plastics used on the bottom half of the doors and dash are a bit cheap-looking though.

However, the 412 litre capacity of the boot could be better, even if it can be extended to 526 litres if you slide the rear bench forward. The issue with this is it would hamper the room for passengers.

One of our favourite features with this Ford is how fuel efficient it is. We found the official combined economy figure of 55.3-57.6mpg “broadly achievable if you drive with restraint”, and when we towed the Swift Fairway 580, we saw 31.6mpg.

Full review: Ford Kuga 2.0 EcoBlue 150PS MHEV ST-Line X FWD

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