Making the switch to a fully electric vehicle is quite a leap for caravanners, and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) are expensive. For many customers, a full hybrid tow car (sometimes called a “self-charging” hybrid) requires fewer adjustments and shallower pockets. To help you find the one for you, we’re sharing our picks for the best hybrid tow car.

Full hybrids can run on electricity alone, albeit only for short distances. You never charge a hybrid’s battery as you would an electric car’s or a plug-in hybrid’s. Instead, you rely on energy recaptured while slowing down and braking to top up the vehicle’s battery and give the engine – usually petrol – some extra help as and when needed.

Although this type of powertrain can’t match the super-low running costs of a pure electric vehicle or the fuel-efficiency of a plug-in hybrid tow car, you can treat them much the same as you would any conventional car. Just fill up and go. The best hybrids make very appealing tow cars, and these are some of our favourites (please note the vehicles pictured may not be exact model or year).

Be sure to take a look at our best tow car guide too, where we share our top towing options on the market.

The best hybrid tow cars

Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDI 226hp GT-Line S AWD
Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDI 226hp GT-Line S AWD

Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDI 226hp GT-Line S AWD

  • Price: £42,075
  • Kerbweight: 1715kg
  • 85% match: 1458kg
  • Towing limit: 1650kg

The latest Sportage is one of the best family SUVs you can buy. There’s a broad variety of powertrains available, including mild hybrids and plug-in models. For many caravanners, the full hybrid is the sweet spot in the range.

It costs around £3500 less than the PHEV, and because it’s lighter, despite being less powerful, performance is very similar. With a kerbweight of 1715kg for the 4×4 model (front-wheel-drive versions are also available), the regular hybrid is still heavy enough to make a sensible match for a wide choice of caravans.

The Sportage makes a stable hybrid tow car, and the combination of a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol and an electric motor gives strong acceleration.

It’s enjoyable in everyday driving too, with tidy handling and a comfortable ride.

Inside, the car is well finished, and the infotainment system looks great and is reasonably easy to use. Whether you are up front or in the back, there’s enough space for adults, and the boot has plenty of room for packing your caravan essentials.

The latest generation hasn’t been around long, but there are low-mileage used examples for just over £35,000. You’ll be able to pick up one of the front-wheel-drive cars for less.

See our review of the automatic version, the Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDI HEV AWD GT-Line S Auto.

Ford Kuga 2.5 FHEV 190PS ST-Line X Edition FWD Auto
Ford Kuga 2.5 FHEV 190PS ST-Line X Edition FWD Auto

Ford Kuga 2.5 FHEV 190PS ST-Line X Edition FWD Auto

  • Price: £39,125
  • Kerbweight: 1701kg
  • 85% match: 1446kg
  • Towing limit: 1600kg

The current-generation Ford Kuga used to be available with a diesel engine, but it’s a sign of how far from grace diesel has fallen that this version has been dropped (see our best diesel tow car guide if it’s the type of vehicle you’re looking for though). However, when the hybrid tow car is this good, that’s no great hardship.

When we tested the Kuga a few months ago, it returned a remarkable 30.7mpg while towing a caravan weighing just under 1400kg. According to the onboard computer, some 14% of the trip was completed using electricity rather than petrol power.

You can choose a more powerful, 225hp hybrid version of the Kuga, but the 190hp model that we tested certainly wasn’t underpowered. Perhaps it’s not as strong as the best turbodiesel equivalents between 40mph and 60mph, but it’s certainly no slouch.

It’s a shame there’s no 4×4, though, despite the Kuga being an SUV. The only 4x4s were diesel powered, so disappeared from the range some time ago.

Inside, there’s reasonable space for people, but the boot is small for a car of this size, and the finish could be better.

We’ve spotted some used Kuga hybrids priced from around £26,499.

Full review: Ford Kuga 2.5 FHEV 190PS ST-Line X Edition FWD Auto

Hyundai Kona Hybrid 1.6 GDi 141PS DCT Ultimate
Hyundai Kona Hybrid 1.6 GDi 141PS DCT Ultimate

Hyundai Kona Hybrid 1.6 GDi 141PS DCT Ultimate

  • Price: £31,635
  • Kerbweight: From 1376kg
  • 85% match: 1170kg
  • Towing limit: 1300kg

By far the smallest and lightest model on this list, the Kona is a surprisingly good tow car if your tourer is light enough to make a sensible match.

Hill starts are easy. Small petrol engines with no electrical assistance can struggle to pull away on a slope, but the Kona’s electric motor provides instant pulling power from standing.

At low speeds, the Kona will sometimes tow on electric power alone, but most of the time, the electric motor and petrol engine work together.

Accelerate up to the motorway limit and engine and motor must try hard, but so long as you are patient, the Kona will reach 60mph. The stability is impressive for such a relatively light and small tow car. Even while towing in breezy weather, we rarely needed to make any steering corrections.

Inside, the Kona is roomy enough up front, but quite cramped in the back. Boot space isn’t that generous.

Ultimate trim is the priciest, but SE Connect and Premium cars are quite well equipped for less. High-mileage used examples on a 69-plate can be picked up for around £15,500.

Toyota Highlander Excel Premium
Toyota Highlander Excel Premium

Toyota Highlander Excel Premium

  • Price: £57,980
  • Kerbweight: From 2050kg
  • 85% match: 1743kg
  • Towing limit: 2000kg

Toyota really knows a thing or two about hybrids, having championed this type of power for decades. Its best-known hybrid, the Prius, has a paltry maximum towing figure, but the Highlander 4×4 offers a two-tonne limit.

Even sticking to the 85% match figure of 1743kg for the sake of stability gives plenty of scope to choose a large and luxurious caravan.

Stability is good, and there’s rarely any need for corrections with the steering, even in a crosswind. The acceleration is steady at best, though, with the engine working hard to build speed. That’s less of an issue in everyday driving, especially if you tend to drive at a relaxed pace.

Soft suspension encourages more sedate driving, and the Highlander will cover long distances in comfort.

The seven-seat cabin offers plenty of space in the first two rows, but seats six and seven are cramped. Fold these and there’s lots of room for bags.

At just under £58,000, the Highlander sits between the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Audi Q7. It’s well equipped for the price. You can buy a used model for less. We spotted a 21-plate, 23,000-mile car for £39,500.

See our review of the Toyota Highlander 2.5 Hybrid AWD-i Excel.

Ford S-Max 2.5 FHEV 190PS Titanium Auto
Ford S-Max 2.5 FHEV 190PS Titanium Auto

Ford S-Max 2.5 FHEV 190PS Titanium Auto

  • Price: £38,565
  • Kerbweight: 1947kg
  • 85% match: 1655kg
  • Towing limit: 2000kg

You’ll need to move quickly if you want a brand-new S-Max, because the model is about to go off sale. The only version you can still buy is the hybrid.

It’s the same petrol-electric combo we tested in the Kuga, so expect similar performance. Every S-Max we’ve towed with has impressed us with its stable and reassuring towing manners. Being such a heavy car, there’s a good choice of caravans that will make safe matches.

Leave the caravan behind, and the S-Max is the most enjoyable MPV to drive, bar none. It has clearly been developed with keen drivers in mind, but without seriously compromising the comfort you’d expect of a family car.

The clever cabin has space for seven, with individually sliding and folding seats. The third row isn’t all that roomy, but you could always choose the slightly larger Ford Galaxy.

Although there’s just the one powertrain, there are several levels of specification. We’ve gone for entry-level Titanium, largely to keep the price below £40,000 and curb VED bills.

You may struggle to save anything shopping for a used model, but there’s a choice of petrol and diesels available.

  • Take a look at our caravan sat nav guide if you’re after a towing aid for when you’re on the road.

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