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 car to tow 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 caravan tow cars on the market. The biggest brands, from Kia and Ford to Skoda and Seat all feature in our round-up, as we pick the vehicles 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 I buy the best caravan 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 car – our top picks:

Seat Ateca 1.5 TSI Evo 150PS SE DSG
The Seat Ateca 1.5 TSI Evo 150PS SE DSG

Seat Ateca 1.5 TSI Evo 150PS SE DSG

  • Price: £29,630
  • Kerbweight: 1416kg
  • Legal towing limit: 1600kg

Reasons to buy:

  • Well-judged suspension, spacious cabin

Reasons to avoid:

  • Only suited to smaller caravans

We rate the Ateca highly, and think you’ll get a superb towing car, whether you opt for a more affordable 1.0-litre petrol model or a more powerful diesel 4×4.

The 1.5 TSI SE was our winner of the best caravan tow car under 1600kg category at the Practical Caravan Awards 2023 and is an excellent option to consider if you own a lightweight and small caravan, as we think the value and performance it provides are hard to beat.

Our reviewer, David Motton, noted that “1.5-litre engine has a much punchier mid-range than most small-capacity petrol engines.” This means you’ll find it more than up to the task of pulling a well-matched caravan, while we’re fans of how the DSG auto efficiently swaps gears.

One of the traits we look for in the best caravan tow cars is stability, and the Ateca really delivers here, thanks to its firm and well-judged suspension. Then there’s the spacious cabin that will help to make the trip to your campsite of choice a more pleasant experience.

When you put this all together, it’s easy to see how the Ateca has made it onto our round up.

The Skoda Superb Estate

Škoda Superb Estate

  • Price: £33,760
  • Kerbweight: 1620kg
  • Towing limit: 2000kg

Reasons to buy:

  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Practical at towing

Reasons to avoid:

  • Sportier options available

The Superb is one of our favourite family tow cars, thanks to the brilliant fuel economy and reliable towing it provides.

We tested the 150hp 2.0-litre-diesel matched to a DSG auto, but it’s also available as a petrol and plug-in hybrid tow car, as well as a front- and four-wheel-drive.

After matching the Superb to a Swift Fairway Classic 590 with a MiRO of 1374kg, we found it easy to reach 60mph on an uphill slipway when joining a dual carriageway. We liked how controlled the caravan tow car felt on country roads, despite the conditions we tested it in.

The Skoda acquitted itself well when we tried a hill start too. Our test car had front-wheel-drive and summer tyres, but the electronic parking brake held the tow car in place on a 1-in-10 slope, releasing smoothly and allowing us to pull away without any wheelspin, in spite of the snowy weather.

We found the Superb tows effortlessly on a motorway too, with steep inclines proving no issue. Its soft suspension set-up allows rough roads to be easily manoeuvred, although we found bumpy roads could feel a little floaty when driving solo. For everyday driving, we achieved over 50mpg, while 29.5mpg was seen while towing.

There are definitely sportier options around, but if you want a practical, spacious and comfortable vehicle, the Skoda could be the best tow car for you.

Full review: Škoda Superb Estate

Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace
The Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

  • Price: £41,995
  • Kerbweight: 1834kg
  • Towing limit: 2500kg

Reason to buy:

  • Stable tow car
  • Sensible running costs

Reason to avoid:

  • Third row more suited to occasional use
  • Pricey

We think the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace makes a great tow car.

When we tested the 2.0 TDI 150 4Motion Elegance DSG, we were impressed by how easily it towed a Swift Fairway Platinum 860 with a MiRO of 1554kg.

While its torque of 266lb ft may be lower than that seen in the Kia Sorento, we found the Tiguan had no issue getting up to 60mph when towing. A hill start on a 1-in-10 slope was also no challenge, with the electronic parking brake promptly releasing. The engine could be heard working hard, but we reached the top of the hill without any wheelspin.

We also think this is a very stable car for towing a caravan – we barely felt any movement in windy weather or when overtaking a HGV.

It’s a fairly quiet and comfortable option for everyday use, even if the firm ride does mean sharp bumps are felt.

While it seats seven, we’d say the third row is more for occasional use, due to restricted head and legroom. There’s plenty of space up front and in the middle row, although we found the transmission tunnel intrudes a bit if the latter is fully occupied.

If you’re using all three rows, you’ll still get 230 litres of storage, but this can be increased to up to 760 litres if you’re only using the front two.

We saw roughly 40mpg when solo driving, and 23.8mpg when towing.

This may be a pricey option to consider, but we think that the stability it offers and its sensible running costs makes it a very worthwhile addition to our best tow car guide.

Full review: Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

The Kia Sorento 1.6 T-GDi Plug-In Hybrid 4
The Kia Sorento 1.6 T-GDi Plug-In Hybrid 4

Kia Sorento 1.6 T-GDi Plug-In Hybrid 4

  • Price: £54,695
  • Kerbweight: 2099kg
  • Towing limit: 1500kg

Reasons to buy:

  • Spacious interior with plenty of legroom in each row
  • Ideal company car

Reasons to avoid:

  • Diesel option is cheaper and can tow heavier caravans

We’ve always rated the Sorento, and we were impressed by the plug-in hybrid version when we tested it too.

After matching it to a Swift Challenger 530 with a MiRO of 1330kg, it pulled effortlessly, easily towing at 50mph on a steep hill.

It was a similar story when we took the Sorento on dual carriageway and motorway inclines, with 60mph posing no issue.

When it comes to solo driving, this is a tow car that is built towards precise steering, comfort and neat handling. When you’ve charged it, you can choose between pure electric and hybrid running, and the petrol engine starts smoothly too. It has an official electric range of 35 miles, but we reckon the high 20s are a more realistic aim, based on the conditions and style of driving.

One of our favourite things with the Sorento is the spacious interior. Ventilated and heated front seats let you drive at a temperature that suits you, and we appreciate that the infotainment graphics are easy to read. Middle row passengers will get to enjoy plenty of head-and legroom, and the outer two seats are also heated. Even in the back row, you get more space than a typical seven-seater.

While the diesel option is cheaper and would tow a heavier tourer, we think if you can get this PHEV as a company car, it could be the best car to tow a caravan with for you.

Full review: Kia Sorento 1.6 T-GDi Plug-In Hybrid 4

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 when we tested this hybrid, 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 VW Multivan 2.0 TSI 204PS Style DSG
The VW Multivan 2.0 TSI 204PS Style DSG

VW Multivan 2.0 TSI 204PS Style DSG

  • Price: £58,253
  • Kerbweight: 2123kg
  • Towing limit: 2000kg

Reasons to buy:

  • Ideal for anyone with an eight-foot wide caravan
  • Clever arrangement where chairs are on runners

Reasons to avoid:

  • No four-wheel drive

This large MPV is an impressive option that offers plenty of space and tech.

If you have an eight-foot wide caravan, the tow car’s extra width will come in very handy – with extension mirrors, you can see down the side of your tourer, making it a far less intimidating prospect to tow.

The Multivan is available as a diesel, petrol and plug-in hybrid option, and when we tested the 204hp petrol, we found it made light work of towing a Swift Challenger X 860 with a MiRO of 1504kg.

The only thing we’d flag is the poor traction; you’ll likely find the wheels spinning when making a hill start, something that could be more of an issue on a wet day. It’s a shame there’s no four-wheel-drive option.

Despite this, it’s incredibly stable, with only the slightest movement felt on a windy day. The big windows provide a fairly clear view if you’re looking over your shoulder, and hitching up a caravan is simple.

For day-to-day use, it drives well, with the engine operating unobtrusively in the background, while the DSG transmission is smooth. Comfort is prioritised, with bumps not felt, merely heard.

The sliding side doors make it easy for passengers to get into the cabin; this comes in a 2-2-3 formation as standard, but there’s a no-cost option of taking out the central rear seat. We like how the middle and rear seats are on runners too, providing a flexible set up that can be altered, based on legroom and luggage requirements.

Full review: VW Multivan 2.0 TSI 204PS Style DSG

The Škoda Karoq 2.0 TDI 150PS Sportline 4×4 DSG
The Škoda Karoq 2.0 TDI 150PS Sportline 4×4 DSG

Škoda Karoq

  • Price: £38,515
  • Kerbweight: 1656kg
  • Towing limit: 2100kg

Reasons to buy:

  • Great to tow with
  • Good head and legroom

Reasons to avoid:

  • Range topping Sportline spec doesn’t have VarioFlex arrangement

There’s plenty to like about this Škoda, and it’s easy to see how it makes its way onto our best tow car round up.

The Karoq is available with a number of different engine options, and with both a front- and four-wheel drive model.

When we tested the range topping 2.0 TDI Evo 150PS SE L 4×4 DSG, we matched the diesel model with a caravan that had a MiRO of 1330kg. One thing became apparent quite quickly – this is a towing car that just felt “at home with a caravan behind it”, as our reviewer, David Motton, put it.

There’s plenty to be impressed by: steering is accurate, and we liked the composed suspension, which manages to strike a near-perfect match of not being too firm or too soft. Hill starts are no problem, even on steep gradients, and we found we could reach the top of a 1-in-6 slope without any difficulty.

Motorway towing is a similarly enjoyable experience; you get the security you feel from a heavier SUV, with barely any movement felt when overtaking HGVs.

Its short size may make it easier to navigate urban environments, but you still get a spacious interior, with plenty of room available in the front.

Rear legroom is generous, as is the headroom, and you get a decent 521 litres of storage, which can be increased to 1630 litres after folding the rear seats.

One reason you may want to consider the mid-spec SE L over the range topping Sportline spec is that it comes with the VarioFlex rear seats. This allows you to swap legroom and luggage space as required, a useful feature that helped it secure the best caravan tow car under 2000kg category at the Practical Caravan Awards 2023.

Full review: Škoda Karoq

The Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDI HEV AWD GT-Line S Auto
The Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDI HEV AWD GT-Line S Auto

Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDI HEV AWD GT-Line S Auto

  • Price: £41,000
  • Kerbweight: 1715kg
  • Towing limit: 1650kg

Reasons to buy:

  • Spacious cabin
  • Well suited to towing and everyday driving

Reasons to avoid:

  • Pricey

The Kia Sportage is one of the most popular tow car ranges in Britain, and is available with diesel power, as well as a mild, full or plug-in hybrid.

When we tested the full hybrid we were impressed. The plug-in hybrid has a modest towing limit of 1350kg, but the regular hybrid, in 4×4 mode, goes up to 1650kg.

We matched our test model to a Swift Challenger 530 with a MiRO of 1394kg, and we liked how quickly it got up to speed.

There may be a bit of movement when driving in crosswinds, but this was slight, with steering corrections rarely needed.

Hill starts were simple, with no wheelspin as the electric motor gets to work. It’s good to see this powertrain can be purchased as a four-wheel drive – it may add an extra £1,600 to the price, but it gives you an extra 66kg of kerbweight and will also be ideal for all-season towing.

Internally, there’s plenty of space too in the fully digital cockpit. You may be surprised by how low to the floor you’ll be sitting, but we found it comfortable. There’s room in the back too, and we appreciate the inclusion of USB ports that are built into the front seats.

587 litres of baggage space is good to see in a hybrid; this can be increased to 1776 litres by lowering the 40/20/40 split rear bench.

It’s pricey, but we think the full hybrid can lay claim to being the pick of the new Sportage range.

Full review: Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDI HEV AWD GT-Line S Auto

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

BMW X5 45e M Sport
The BMW X5 45e M Sport

BMW X5 45e M Sport

  • Price: £73,425
  • Kerbweight: 2510kg
  • Legal towing limit: 2700kg

Reason to buy:

  • Highly stable

Reason to avoid:

  • Most expensive model on our list

The BMW X5 45e is a great option to consider if you’re looking for a plug-in hybrid – we think it really stands out, mainly due to its electric range.

In fact, this was our winner of the best caravan tow car over 2000kg category at the Practical Caravan Awards 2023, with David Motton commenting that he considers it to be “one of the most secure and dependable tow cars”.

As a result, it’s not surprising to hear that this is a car that provides plenty of stability, and is capable of towing a twin-axle caravan and getting up to speed quickly.

Official figures say it returns 217.3mpg, and while real-world performance will be influenced by the distance you’re driving and the frequency with which it’s recharged, our reviewer said he’s “heard of owners achieving 80mpg or better over many months of use” – impressive.

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

How we choose the best caravan tow cars

Practical Caravan launched in 1967, and since then, our experts have conducted hundreds of tow car tests, covering everything from small crossovers to family hatchbacks, roomy estates to big SUVs. Many of these can be seen in our tow car review section.

Every vehicle we feature in this round up will have been seen, tried out and experienced by our team, allowing us to make sure the models we’ve selected do provide the most important tow car qualities.

Some of the factors we consider include the safety and stability of the car, the fuel economy it offers, the practicalities of using it as both a towing vehicle and for everyday use, plus whether it makes financial sense to buy.

Putting this all together, and comparing it with other models we’ve tried out, puts us in an authoritative position to pick out the vehicles we think are the standout options on the market.

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