The best used car for towing a caravan should offer reliability, stability and practicality, providing caravanners with a budget-friendly way of entering the world of touring or upgrading an existing vehicle.

A lot of muscle will be required to remain stable while pulling a van. As a result, you’ll want to pick a used tow car that has a number of talents to ensure it can get you and your tourer safely from A to B.

To help you find the option for you, we’re sharing our pick of the best used tow cars, featuring options from leading brands such as Škoda, BMW, Kia and more. Whether you have a small caravan or a heavier twin-axle tourer, there’s going to be a pre-owned vehicle for you.

Alternatively, if you’re thinking about buying a new model instead, our best caravan tow car guide is sure to help.

The best used cars for towing caravans are:

Mercedes C-Class Estate
Jaguar XF
Kia Sorento
Skoda Superb
Subaru Outback
Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer
Volkswagen Touareg
Dacia Duster
Land Rover Discovery 4

The best used tow cars:

Mercedes C-Class Estate

Mercedes C-Class Estate
  • Kerbweight: 1615kg
  • Towing limit: 1800kg
  • Noseweight limit: 100kg
  • 85% match: 1373kg

Reason to buy:

  • Brilliant interior finish, plenty of equipment, competent at towing

Reason to avoid:

  • Space is competitive in the rear seats, engine can sound harsh until you’re cruising

If you’re looking for the best used estate car for towing a caravan, the Mercedes C-Class Estate will most likely be on your radar.

It’s brilliantly finished inside, with plenty of space up front and a decent amount of boot space. However, we found room more competitive in the rear seats.

We’re impressed by the level of equipment that comes as standard – take the entry-level SE models, which offer automatic lights and wipers, cruise control, a reversing camera, electrically adjustable front seats, a seven-inch infotainment screen and a DAB radio!

We like that it has no problem moving briskly either, thanks to its 2.1-litre diesel engine and 295lb ft of torque. Until it’s settled down when you’re cruising, the engine does sound harsh though.

We’re impressed by its competency when towing too – only small corrections are required on motorways, and side winds don’t pose a problem. Hill starts are also a doddle, thanks to its electric handbrake.

Full review: Mercedes C-Class Estate


The BMW X5 parked on grass with a Swift caravan
  • Kerbweight: 2185kg
  • Maximum Towing Limit: 3500kg
  • Towball limit: 140kg
  • 85% match: 1857kg

Reason to buy:

  • Good at hill starts, easy to access towbar electrics

Reason to avoid:

  • Could be quieter on motorways, some rivals provide more luggage space

When we tested the BMW X5 in 2015, we praised the BMW for its “superb performance and stability”. Find an X5 that’s been well cared for, and the same should be true today.

The xDrive 40d we tested is very powerful – the 30d should be cheaper to buy, and will still have enough poke to pull a twin-axle caravan. Either way, try to find an example with a towball already fitted, as it can be expensive to add one to a used X5.

Without a caravan to tow, the X5 is more agile than any two-tonne 4×4 has a right to be. The ride may not be as plush as a Land Rover Discovery’s, but keen drivers will likely consider this a price worth paying for the BMW’s taut handling.

Full review: BMW X5

Jaguar XF

The Jaguar XF towing to a caravan
  • Kerbweight: 1595kg
  • Maximum Towing Limit: 2000kg
  • Towball limit: 100kg
  • 85% match: 1356kg

Reason to buy:

  • Makes a great second hand tow car, stable

Reason to avoid:

  • Back more comfortable for two than three, stop-start system may feel abrupt

One of our favourite executive saloons, the Jaguar XF also makes an excellent used car for towing a caravan. Shop for a pre-owned Jaguar, and you can enjoy this high-performance saloon at a budget price.

Stability was the XF’s outstanding feature when we tested it in 2016, even when at the caravan speed limit. We wrote: “At 60mph it felt relaxed and in control, unfazed by crosswinds or when overtaking high-sided vehicles. At the test track we pushed well beyond 60mph and had no nervous moments.”

The 2.0-litre diesel version we tested might not be as quick or smooth as the 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel, but it’s punchy enough and very economical.

Rear seat space should ensure tall adults can enjoy travelling in comfort as well, while 540 litres of boot space is good by executive saloon standards.

A Lexus GS may be more reliable than the Jag, but we’d live with a few foibles to enjoy towing with the XF.

Full review: Jaguar XF

Kia Sorento

The Kia Sorento towing a caravan
  • Kerbweight: 1953kg
  • Maximum Towing Limit: 2000kg
  • Towball limit: 100kg
  • 85% match: 1660kg

Reason to buy:

  • Great performance and towing abilities, provides space for seven

Reason to avoid:

  • Other rivals are more fuel efficient

If you don’t own a Kia Sorento, the chances are you will know someone who does. It’s one of Britain’s most popular tow cars.

It makes a cracking buy if you want a used car for towing a caravan too. New examples are more expensive than they used to be, so if you want to grab a very capable towing vehicle at a bargain price, the pre-owned market is the way to go. And don’t forget, Kia’s warranty lasts for seven years.

The Sorento we tested in 2016 impressed us with its high kerbweight, slick automatic gearbox, and muscular diesel engine. We liked the roomy seven-seat interior, too.

Full review: Kia Sorento

Skoda Superb

The Skoda Superb towing a caravan
  • Kerbweight: 1485kg
  • Maximum Towing Limit: 2000kg
  • Towball limit: 90kg
  • 85% match: 1262kg

Reason to buy:

  • Offers plenty of room for storage and passengers, tows well

Reason to avoid:

  • Light for its size

You can buy more powerful used cars for towing caravans, and you can buy heavier ones. But for many of us, a Škoda Superb is all the tow car we really need.

It’s extremely roomy inside, thrashing most rivals for passenger space and boot capacity. In fact, the hatchback version of the Superb has more luggage room than many estate tow cars.

The Skoda also tows very well, with reassuring stability at speed and purposeful acceleration from the 2.0-litre diesel engine.

We loved the car we drove in 2016, and a few years down the road that same car would be great value on the used market.

Full review: Skoda Superb

Subaru Outback

A red Subaru Outback
  • Kerbweight: 1648kg
  • Maximum Towing Limit: 1700kg
  • Towball limit: 82kg
  • 85% match: 1401kg

Reason to buy:

  • Stable when hitting motorway speeds, quiet engine, plenty of room

Reason to avoid:

  • Kerbweight is low

The best Subaru models make reliable, fuss-free second-hand tow cars. We think the Outback was one of the Japanese brands best efforts of recent years.

With its lofty ride height and four-wheel drive, the Outback offers the advantages of an SUV with the practicality of an estate.

It’s also great to see that this is a used tow car that makes the most of its size, ensuring passengers in the rear have plenty of space. In fact, it feels airy for those in the back. There will be plenty of room for luggage too, with a huge 1677 litres provided when the rear seats are folded down – if they are in use, you still get 526 litres. A slightly sloping rear windscreen helps to increase the available load capacity too.

It’s not an especially heavy car, but if your caravan is light enough, the Outback should tow it well. Stability at motorway speeds is reassuring, and the 2.0-litre diesel engine has enough pulling power to handle any suitably matched caravan.

Full review: Subaru Outback

Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer

The Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer towing a caravan
  • Kerbweight: 1633kg
  • Maximum Towing Limit: 1950kg
  • Towball limit: 90kg
  • 85% match: 1388kg

Reason to buy:

  • Stable

Reason to avoid:

  • Rivals are roomier

Vauxhalls don’t tend to hold their value particularly well. That’s bad news for new car buyers, but music to the ears of a canny car shopper who’s on the lookout for the best used tow car.

The Insignia Sports Tourer is a good example. We rated it highly when we tested it as a new car in 2017. A relatively high kerbweight makes for favourable matching ratios, and we found the Insignia to be stable, even in windy conditions. We were also fans of the torquey diesel engine, although we found the caravan could push a bit when changing lanes.

Overtaking when towing is brisk, while braking is smooth. In fact, we carried out an emergency stop from 30mph and found it took 10.6 metres, with no shunting felt from the caravan either.

Hill starts were relatively straightforward too – while revs were needed to reach the top of a 1-in-10 slope, no wheelspin was felt either.

Inside, the Vauxhall isn’t as roomy as a Skoda Superb, but there’s enough space to make this a practical family tow car.

Full review: Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer

Volkswagen Touareg

The Volkswagen Touareg
  • Kerbweight: 2070kg
  • Maximum Towing Limit: 3500kg
  • Towball limit: 140kg
  • 85% match: 1760kg

Reason to buy:

  • Large boot, fared well in windy conditions

Reason to avoid:

  • No third row

If you’re looking for a candidate for the best used 4×4 tow car to tow an upmarket twin-axle van without having to pay silly money, the Volkswagen Touareg would be our pick.

When we reviewed the 2019 model, we were impressed by just how well the tow car handled, despite the strong wind conditions – in fact, our reviewer noted that “few tow cars combine such strong acceleration with exceptional stability”.

Towing on the motorway was no issue either, with the VW just as adept as maintaining speed on hillier roads. The stability is excellent too – in fact, when we tested it in 2018, we found gusts and wet roads were no issue, with minimal movement.

Everyday driving is a pleasure too – acceleration is fast, cruising is smooth and we liked the precise steering.

Some people may want a vehicle with seven seats, in which case this isn’t going to be the used tow car for you – despite having room for a third row, it only offers five seats.

However, a choice of powerful diesel engines and a kerbweight the chunky side of two tonnes help the Touareg tow a caravan with pace and stability, two of the qualities we look for when searching for the best used car for towing a caravan.

What’s more, the VW is roomy and has a very large boot.

Full review: Volkswagen Touareg

Dacia Duster

Dacia Duster
  • Kerbweight: 1480kg
  • Towing limit: 1500kg
  • Noseweight limit: 75kg
  • 85% match: 1258kg

Reason to buy:

  • Inexpensive, provides a good ride

Reason to avoid:

  • Lightweight, some may find it too basic

If you’re looking for an inexpensive option and have a smaller van, this Dacia, a winner in its class at the Tow Car of the Year Awards 2019, could be the best used tow car for you.

Headroom isn’t an issue, whether you’re sitting in the front or back – however, both could do with improved legroom.

We’d say the 130bhp 1.3-litre model is the best all-rounder petrol vehicle, but regular towers will probably be more interested in a four-wheel drive, in which case we’d suggest the 1.5-litre 115bhp diesel engine. It may not be pacey but it’s strong and doesn’t have too much of a thirst.

Thanks to the Duster’s high-profile tyres and soft suspension, it provides a good ride too, although twisty roads are more of a struggle.

Hill starts and lane changes pose no problems though, even if the suspension leads to wobbles from side winds.

However, something we should highlight is that it achieved a three-star Euro NCAP crash result.

It may be a bit too basic for some, as it doesn’t hide its budget origins – the entry-level Access range included no audio – but we think this makes a great used towing car.

Full review: Dacia Duster

Land Rover Discovery 4

Land Rover Discovery 4
  • Kerbweight: 2583kg
  • Towing limit: 3500kg
  • Towball limit: 150kg
  • 85% match: 2196kg

Reason to buy:

  • Plenty of room, highly efficient at towing

Reason to avoid:

  • Layout and equipment feel dated, thirsty tow car

Offering plenty of cabin space and practicality, this seven-seater is a good used tow car to consider.

We like that there’s plenty of legroom and headroom throughout, even if you’re in the rearmost seats – opt to fold these down instead and you get a huge load area.

Touring as a couple? Then fold down the middle row of seats to benefit from a 2558-litre space, ideal for taking all of those heavy caravan essentials on tour with you. Our only complaint in here would be that we think its layout and the tech provided feel a bit dated.

There’s no avoiding that this is a thirsty tow car too, and reliability isn’t a given.

However, it provides direct steering. The 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged diesel engine is smooth and strong, working effortlessly with the automatic transmission. It’s comfortable when towing heavy tourers too – side winds are no problem, for instance. It takes hill starts in its stride, while traction is unwavering, even on a slippery surface.

Put all this together and it’s easy to see how our reviewer, Euan Doig, said “there are few finer tow cars than the Land Rover Discovery 4”.

Full review: Land Rover Discovery 4

How do I pick the best used car for towing a caravan?

Picking the right used tow car will enhance any towing experience, allowing you to enjoy a stable and reliable experience when you’re out on the road with your tourer. In contrast, the wrong model could result in an unstable and unenjoyable experience – the last thing anyone wants when towing a caravan.

The starting point will be the caravan you have, as you’ll need to ensure the used tow car you have in mind can legally pull your tourer. The two major caravanning clubs recommend abiding by the 85% guideline for safe towing – to work this out, take your caravan’s MTPLM, divide it by 85 and multiply it by 100 to work out the kerbweight you will need your car to provide

As an example, if your tourer has an MTPLM of 1350, divide it by 85, multiply it by 100, and you’ll get a kerb weight of 1588kg.

As well as this, you’d also have to make sure the legal towing limit is at least 1350kg.

After you know your tourer’s weight, you’ll be well on your way to finding a suitable used car for towing a caravan.

Do I want my used tow car to have 4WD?

Whether you want a four-wheel drive or not will, in many ways, come down to your touring habits.

For many, 4WD will be the right choice, particularly if you want to visit rural campsites and intend to tow a caravan in winter. Matching is also easier, as a 4WD will weigh more than a 2WD.

However, the counter consideration is that a 4WD will cost more and will also have worse fuel economy than a 2WD model. A 2WD car is also likely to be easier to find a pre-owned version of.

We’d say if you’re only planning to tow in the summer months and are intending to stay on hardstanding pitches, 2WD could be the way to go – otherwise, you may find it hard to justify the higher costs associated with a 4WD.

Should I pick a manual or automatic used car for towing a caravan?

Again, this comes down to personal choice. However, don’t make the mistake of assuming that the towing limits of a manual would be the same as the automatic version – it won’t necessarily follow. Take, for instance, the 2011- 2015 Honda Accord 2.2 i-DTEC manual, which comes with a legal towing limit of 1500kg – in comparison, the automatic offers 1100kg.

How we choose the best used cars for towing caravans

Since Practical Caravan launched in 1967, our expert team have carried out hundreds of tow car tests, encompassing everything from 4x4s and estate cars to SUVs and small crossovers. Heading to our tow car review section will let you see many of these.

Each vehicle in our guide will have been seen, tried and experienced by our experts, which puts us in a position to provide those qualities that are important when choosing a used car for towing a caravan.

These factors include the fuel economy provided, how well-suited it is to everyday use, whether it’s financially worth buying, the stability it provides, and, of course, its towing ability.

Combining this and then comparing the model with other towing options that have been tested puts us in an authoritative position to share the models that we think deserve to be in our best used car to tow a caravan guide.

Written with contributions from Peter Byrne

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