Four-wheel drive really comes into its own when you’re towing, especially if you don’t like to let the Great British Weather stand between you and your holiday. If you’re on the lookout for one, our best 4×4 for towing a caravan guide is here to help.
SUVs are the obvious choice when you’re looking for a 4×4 for towing a caravan, but they’re not the only option. A hatchback or estate car with four-wheel drive can be better to drive, cheaper to run, and quite possibly more practical than an SUV. What’s more, the popularity of used SUVs can lead to stiff price competition (if you’re looking for a pre-owned option, be sure to check out our best used tow car guide too).
You could buy an estate tow car that will tow just as well for a whole lot less, or a newer car for similar money. And as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite, value for money counts more than ever, and with that in mind, we’re sharing our pick of the best 4×4 tow cars to suit different needs and budgets.
The best 4×4 for towing – our top picks:
- Price: £38,515
- Kerbweight: 1656kg
- 85% match: 1408kg
- Towing limit: 2100kg
Upon taking the Karoq for a test, our reviewer remarked “some vehicles just feel at home with a caravan behind them, and the Karoq is one of them”. The stability it offers is excellent, and it felt in control on all types of road, with accurate steering and good suspension,.
Hill starts are no problem in this vehicle which made our best caravan tow car guide, and towing to the top of a 1-in-6 slope was a simple task. We found it offered that sense of security you get from a two-tonne SUV, with virtually no movement felt when overtaking HGVs.
Its 2.0-litre diesel engine is well-suited to the challenge of towing, getting on with the job at hand, without a need to work the engine hard.
The Sportline models come on 19-inch alloys, giving a firmer ride than a Karoq with smaller alloys and taller tyres. It’s smooth when solo driving, and gets better as its speed rises, making it ideal for motorways.
Another useful feature is its length of less than 4.4m – this makes it easy to negotiate urban areas and park up, yet you still get a spacious interior. Rear seats have good head- and legroom, while those sitting up front will find bolstered seats and an eight-inch infotainment screen.
It’s great to tow with, handles well on twisty roads, and has excellent fuel economy (we had 29mpg while towing) – this is an impressive 4×4 for towing a caravan.
Full review: Škoda Karoq 2.0 TDI 150PS Sportline 4×4 DSG
- Price: £45,310
- Kerbweight: 1880kg
- 85% match: 1598kg
- Towing limit: 1800kg
This thoughtfully designed 4×4 tow car is a hybrid which may be relatively lightweight, with a kerbweight of 1880kg, but it offers an excellent towing limit of 1800kg, giving experienced drivers a good choice of tourers to pick from. When we tested it, we liked how refined it felt, with the tow car engine only heard occasionally.
The stability it offers is another big factor in its favour, with only mild hints of movement when overtaking HGVs at motorway speeds. However, one thing we would point out is its economy – even when we were in favourable conditions, the average indication was 21.4mpg.
Solo driving was excellent though – this is a 4×4 tow car that’s capable of cruising with ease at motorway speeds and also has some punch for overtaking. In fact, our reviewer, Nigel Hutson, remarked: “it felt totally secure and was a very pleasant drive”.
There’s a nice amount of space too, with electrically adjustable seats in the front. Excellent boot space is provided, while three should be able to travel in reasonable comfort in the back seats, despite that hint of transmission tunnel.
Full review: Nissan X-Trail e-4orce Tekna
- Price: £47,760
- Kerbweight: 1842kg
- 85% match: 1566kg
- Towing limit: 1650kg
We think this is one of the most practical SUVs you could buy, with plenty of space and features provided – in fact, when we tested it earlier in the year, David Motton said the “Santa Fe is now our favourite non-premium 4×4”. The diesel is possibly the pick of the range for towing, but if you’re after a hybrid which is competent and composed, this could be the right one for you.
As we towed a Swift Fairway Platinum Grande 580, we immediately noted just how at home it felt with a caravan to tow. The petrol engine and electric motor work together to allow brisk acceleration, although pulling away from junctions could lead to a moment of hesitation when the motor was relied on before turning to the engine.
This is a 4×4 towing option which prioritises comfort with its suspension, as opposed to more sporty handling, yet it still feels secure and stable when towing at speed. Slight movements were felt when HGVs were overtaking our tester, but nothing major, and any movement from the tourer didn’t last long.
A hill start on a 1-in-10 slope proved no problem either, even though we were towing in wintry conditions at the time.
The tow car works well for everyday use, and it feels composed at high speeds. Inside, you’ll find electrically adjustable front seats, along with a fairly straightforward 10.25-inch touchscreen. We were also pleased to see the sensibly separated air-con controls.
Full review: Hyundai Santa Fe 1.6 T-GDi Hybrid Ultimate 4WD Auto
Volvo V60 T6 AWD plug-in hybrid Recharge Plus
- Price: £51,620
- Kerbweight: 2064kg*
- 85% match: 1754kg
- Towing limit: 2000kg
It’s not as imposing as an SUV, but if you value subtlety and understatement, the V60 could well be your ideal tow car.
Being a plug-in hybrid tow car with a motor and battery as well as an engine, the V60 Recharge is very heavy. In fact, at around two tonnes, it’s just as hefty as many four-wheel-drive SUVs. But with the weight carried closer to the road, the V60 has a poise few SUVs can match.
It tows brilliantly, with superb stability and effortless performance. Start your trip with a fully charged battery and you’ll be surprised how far you can travel on electricity, with help from the 253hp petrol engine as soon as it’s needed. When driving solo, the pure electric range is just under 55 miles (WLTP combined).
Being four-wheel drive, the V60 T6 isn’t going to be fazed by rain, and should comfortably deal with a muddy pitch.
The interior is beautifully finished and very spacious. As you’d expect of a Volvo estate, it also has a practical boot, with a capacity of 519 litres.
You’ll struggle to find the latest model, with the 55-mile range, on the used market, but there are plenty of the earlier version, with a range closer to 30 miles. We’ve seen a 30,000-mile car for sale at £36,780.
BMW i4 M50
- Price: £69,040
- Kerbweight: 2290kg
- 85% match: Above towing limit
- Towing limit: 1600kg
The BMW i4 is one of the best electric cars you can buy. And while the i4 eDrive40 is better value for money, the i40 M50 provides four-wheel drive and greater power.
We’ve yet to tow with an i4, but the combination of firmly controlled suspension and a huge kerbweight of well over two tonnes bodes well for its stability. For an electric car,
the i4 has a high towing limit
The M50 will have no trouble towing a van of that weight, thanks to 544hp and a colossal 586lb ft of pulling power.
As with any electric car, the tricky things about towing with the i4 are range and recharging along the way. The WLTP combined range is quoted at 257-318 miles, so as a rule of thumb, reckon on 125-130 miles between charges while towing.
Leave the caravan behind and the i4 M50 is one of the most rewarding electric cars to drive, with a stunning interior and a thoroughly impressive infotainment system. Rear-seat space is a bit tight, though.
There’s no getting away from the price of the M50, which might lead you to look for a used example in the classifieds. But this is still going to be an expensive car. The cheapest
we could find for sale was a 21,000-mile, 71-reg vehicle, priced at £55,500.
- Price: £41,000
- Kerbweight: 1715kg
- 85% match: 1458kg
- Towing limit: 1650kg
This very capable option is a full hybrid tow car which, in 4×4 guise, offers a kerbweight of 1715kg and a legal towing limit of 1650kg.
When testing the Kia, we found it was able to tow up to speed quickly, with enough muscle to pull a sensibly matched tourer, courtesy of its 226bhp and 258lb ft of torque. We did note the six-speed automatic gearbox could hold onto high revs for longer than seemed necessary, so it could be a bit noisy when towing uphill or accelerating along country roads. However, this settled down when reaching the caravan speed limit of 60 mph on a motorway.
It’s a relatively stable 4×4 too, although it wasn’t immune to crosswinds and the caravan could sometimes be felt pushing and shoving a bit on bumpier country roads.
Yet a hill start was simple, with no wheelspin on a 1-in-10 slope, while towing at a slow speed was a doddle.
Space inside isn’t a problem either, with room for our 6′ 3″ reviewer to sit comfortably in the driver’s seat. Compared to a typical SUV, you sit low to the floor, but we found it didn’t pose any problems after a day behind the wheel either.
There’s also plenty of room for luggage – 587 litres, which can be increased to 1776 litres by dropping the back seats.
If you tow all year round, this 4×4 is a very attractive option, and we liked the straightforward touchscreen in the fully digital cockpit too.
Full review: Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDI HEV AWD GT-Line S Auto
- Price: £41,995
- Kerbweight: 1834kg
- 85% match: 1559kg
- Towing limit: 2500kg
A hallmark of the standout tow cars is stability, and that’s certainly something this 4×4 towing option offers.
Coming with a kerbweight of 1834kg, the Tiguan Allspace has an 85% match figure of 1559kg. This is well within its legal towing limit of 2500kg, so caravanners are provided with a wide choice of vans that can be matched sensibly.
We were impressed by the ease with which it pulled a Swift Fairway Platinum 860 with a MiRO of 1554kg, reaching 60mph with no difficulty.
Hill starts are no problem on a 1-in-10 slope either, and no wheelspin was felt when towing to the top of a hill. Something we really liked was the stability provided when towing on a breezy day; in fact, even when overtaking a HGV there was barely any movement felt.
Inside, you’ll find plenty of space for the driver and passenger, while the second row should also provide enough room, even if the transmission tunnel is noticeable when all three seats are in use. The third row is probably best treated as being for occasional use, with both leg- and headroom restricted. You’ll also have to make do with only 230 litres of storage when it’s being used, as opposed to 700-760 litres if it’s stowed.
Something else we’re fans of are the sensible running costs (we achieved around 40mpg in solo driving, and 23.8mpg when towing) too. Put this all together and we’d say that while it may be a little pricey, it makes a very fine tow car indeed.
Full review: Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace
Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited
- Price: £36,845
- Kerbweight: 1641kg
- 85% match: 1395kg
- Towing limit: 2000kg
If there’s a frontier somewhere, where estates morph into SUVs, that’s where you would find the Subaru Outback. With its raised ride height and SUV-style body cladding, it’s an estate that’s as rough and tough as a big 4×4.
Subaru has always followed a different path from that of other carmakers, with a range of very practical, go-anywhere models that put no-nonsense ability above the latest fashion. And you can’t get much less fashionable than an estate car with a thirsty petrol engine – the official combined figure is just 32.8mpg.
Even so, there’s still a place for cars like this. It will travel much further into the great outdoors than a regular family estate, and just as far as some 4×4 SUVs. The Subaru is a truly rugged vehicle.
As a tow car, we wish that the Outback could keep the caravan under tighter control in windy weather, but four-wheel drive makes it very surefooted in the rain and when you need to tow away from Tarmac.
Safety kit is comprehensive, and it’s roomy for people and luggage. The boot has a 561-litre capacity, rising to 1822 litres with the back seats folded.
If you baulk at the £36k-plus price tag, we’ve seen a 2020 car with 40,000 miles for £23,490.
Audi A6 Avant 40 TDI Quattro S tronic
- Price: £51,455
- Kerbweight: 1845kg
- 85% match: 1568kg
- Towing limit: 2000kg
Audi has long championed four-wheel drive for saloons and estates as well as SUVs. The A6 Avant Quattro is one of the very best of the breed.
From the outside, there’s nothing obvious to mark this out as a 4×4, apart from some discreet Quattro badging. Instead, the big Audi looks very much like any other upmarket estate car.
The 40 TDI would be our choice for towing. The diesel engine has 295lb ft of torque, enough to cope with any sensibly matched caravan.
Whichever engine is fitted, we have always found the A6 Avant a secure and stable tow car. Compared with a big SUV, it keeps its weight low to the ground, which contributes
to a secure feeling when you are hauling a caravan along
Inside, the Audi is very well finished, as it should be at this price. There’s plenty of room for passengers and their bags, and the comfortable ride makes longer journeys a pleasure.
Keen drivers might prefer the BMW 5 Series Touring, which is rather more agile and responsive, but others will find the Audi’s softer suspension more appealing.
Look in the classified ads, and 19-reg cars with 50,000 miles on the clock are being advertised for about £26,000.
Suzuki Swift SZ5 1.2 Dual jet Mild Hybrid Allgrip
- Price: £19,999
- Kerbweight: 991kg
- 85% match: 842kg
- Towing limit: 1000kg
The Swift Allgrip is pretty much unrivalled – really, nobody else bothers fitting four-wheel drive to such small cars as Suzuki.
You will need a very small caravan to tow behind the Swift. Its feathery kerbweight and meagre 1000kg towing limit make it suitable for trailer tents and micro-caravans.
But if you enjoy taking your teeny-tiny tourer on extra-large adventures, the Swift Allgrip is just the car for the job.
The 1.2-litre Dualjet engine is a delight, lively and willing far beyond its modest power output. So you’ll be towing quite slowly, but you’ll have a smile on your face.
Leave your lightweight van on its pitch, and you’ll find the Swift is eager and agile. It’s small enough to squeeze into compact parking spaces and will easily thread down narrow country lanes.
The Suzuki is the cheapest of the five vehicles that we’re recommending here, and by a country mile, but then it’s also by far the smallest and most restrictive in terms of what it can tow.
Still, £1 less than £20,000 is a fair price for a well-equipped small car with all-wheel drive.
We’ve seen a 68-plate model with 48,000 miles on the clock on the market for £10,774.
- Check out our best pick-up for towing a caravan to see our standout picks on the market.
Written with contributions from Peter Byrne.
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