As towing vehicles, pick-ups have some clear pros and cons. On the one hand, the best pick-up for towing a caravan will be heavy and usually have a very high legal towing limit. Go for a double-cab and you have two rows of seats, making your truck a viable alternative to a family car. 

On the other, however, pick-ups typically have tough but fairly crude rear suspension, which can’t provide the firm control and stability that you will find in the best SUVs, for towing or solo driving.

You have fewer pick-ups to choose from than there were a few years back, with Fiat, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Volkswagen having recently left the market in the UK. But there are still several new pick-ups available, and a broad choice if you are shopping for a used truck. To help you find the model for you, we’re taking a look at our candidates for the best pick-ups for towing a caravan.

  • If you’re looking for some advice on how to improve your towing, our caravan towing tips guide is a great place to start.

Should I tow with a double-cab pick-up?

A pick-up tow car works best for caravanners who own a business and can use them during the week. That should allow the driver to reclaim the VAT, which makes a double-cab pick-up much more affordable when you compare it to a conventional passenger SUV.

However, if you like the tough image of a pick-up but can’t reclaim the VAT, the price advantage isn’t so notable. What’s more, you’ll be driving a vehicle that isn’t as quiet or comfortable as a good car at a similar price. As a rule, although pick-ups have high towing limits, they don’t feel as secure at speed as the best passenger cars.

Check your caravan handbook, because some preclude the use of vans and pick-ups for towing, and make sure the pick-up’s towball is compatible with your tourer’s hitch.

You can also take a look at our best tow car guide for more towing vehicle ideas, as we share our top picks on the market in 2023.

The best pick-up tow cars – our top choices:

Ford Ranger 2.0 TD Ecoblue 205PS Wildtrak
The Ford Ranger 2.0 TD Ecoblue 205PS Wildtrak

Ford Ranger 2.0 TD Ecoblue 205PS Wildtrak

  • Approx price: £39,350 (ex VAT)
  • Kerbweight: 2436kg
  • 85% match: 2071kg
  • Legal towing limit: 3500kg

As we write this, a new Ford Ranger is about to arrive in showrooms. Given that the old Ranger was our favourite pick-up for towing, even towards the end of its life, we’re excited to see what the new one is capable of.

It certainly looks striking, and the very high kerbweight of almost 2.5 tonnes means it will make a sensible match for just about any caravan.

Buyers with deep pockets might like to take a look at the high-performance Raptor, but with a thirsty V6 petrol engine and a price tag of £47,000 (ex VAT), it will be pricey to buy and run. The regular Ranger is more expensive than most rivals, but even so, £39,350 for the Wildtrak is more palatable than the Raptor’s cost.

With 205hp and 369lb ft of torque, the Wildtrak should easily tow a large van. It will make a capable workhorse, too, with a large load bed and a payload of over one tonne.

Official combined economy of 32.1mpg is competitive for its size, weight and performance. And this is a big vehicle, larger than the model it replaces.

You won’t be shortchanged if you go for the old model. We’ve seen 20,000-mile two-year-old double-cabs priced at around the £24,000 mark.

SsangYong Musso 2.2D Saracen
The SsangYong Musso 2.2D Saracen

SsangYong Musso 2.2D Saracen

  • Approx price: £31,010 (ex VAT)
  • Kerbweight: 2155kg
  • 85% match: 1832kg
  • Legal towing limit: 3500kg

It’s hard to argue against the Musso as Britain’s best-value pick-up. Even the high-spec Saracen model is just a little over £31,000 (before VAT), while the entry-level vehicle costs £23,610 excluding VAT.

The Musso Saracen’s 2.2-litre diesel engine has 202hp and 325lb ft of torque. While those numbers don’t quite match the muscle of the Ford Ranger, the engine is strong enough to cope with any sensibly matched van.

Overall, the Musso makes a stable tow car, although like many pick-ups, it isn’t quite as planted in windy weather as the best of the large SUVs.

The Saracen is four-wheel drive, so hill starts in the wet aren’t a problem. The driver can switch to two-wheel drive to save fuel. When we last towed with the Musso, it returned 20.6mpg while pulling a 1554kg caravan.

The Saracen comes well equipped, including 18-inch alloys, climate control, and heated front and rear seats.

Our biggest complaint is its uncomfortable ride, although this improves with weight in the load bed or a van on tow.

Prefer to buy used? We’ve seen a 40,000-mile 68-plate Musso on sale for £17,000.

Take a look at our review of the SsangYong Musso from 2022.

Toyota Hilux 2.8 Invincible Auto
The Toyota Hilux 2.8 Invincible Auto

Toyota Hilux 2.8 Invincible Auto

  • Approx price: £35,045 (ex VAT)
  • Kerbweight: From 2130kg
  • 85% match: From 1811kg
  • Legal towing limit: 3500kg

The Hilux has a reputation for durability and toughness. It’s hugely popular in parts of the world where breaking down could be dangerous rather than just inconvenient.

Toyota updated the Hilux for the 2021 model year, adding a more powerful 2.8-litre diesel. It’s a big improvement over the 2.4-litre, with power jumping from 150hp to 204hp, and pulling power up to 369lb ft. That’s more than enough to pull a big twin-axle caravan without feeling underpowered.

Driven at the legal limit on the motorway, the Hilux feels secure in still air. It’s only when a crosswind picks up, or you’re overtaking an HGV, that you notice the van bobbing from side to side in your mirrors. That’s true of most pick-ups, however, because their long rear overhang and relatively crude suspension can count against them when you’re pulling a tourer at speed.

Trailer sway control is fitted as standard on all Hilux models, which should help to keep such movements in check.

It’s not the most polished towing vehicle on Tarmac, but the Hilux will have no trouble towing across a muddy field, thanks to generous ground clearance and four-wheel drive.

Invincible spec comes well equipped, with front and rear parking sensors, 18-inch alloys, climate control, heated front seats and a full-size spare.

We’ve spotted a 21,000-mile 70-plate model priced at £29,995.

Take a look at our review of the Toyota Hilux from 2021.

Isuzu D-Max DL40
The Isuzu D-Max DL40

Isuzu D-Max DL40

  • Approx price: £31,999 (ex VAT)
  • Kerbweight: 2000kg
  • 85% match: 1700kg
  • Legal towing limit: 3500kg

If the new Ranger is beyond your budget, take a look at the Isuzu D-Max DL40. Assuming you are running the pick-up through your business and can claim back VAT, it costs £31,999.

It’s well equipped for the money, with LED headlights, leather upholstery, electric adjustment for the driver’s seat, heated front seats, a touchscreen infotainment system and 18-inch alloys.

There are more powerful pick-ups, but the D-Max’s 164hp engine is no slouch.

The latest D-Max is a big step up over the previous generation, especially in the cabin, which is much better finished.

Choose a manual gearbox, and the D-Max has a payload of 1100kg. Go for an automatic and that drops to 1070kg, but it’s still a healthy number.

The D-Max can tow 3500kg (not that caravanners need to), but if you’re abiding by the 85% guideline, 1700kg is a sensible maximum, because its kerbweight is lighter than that of rivals.

When we towed with the D-Max, it performed well in a hill start and was stable at 60mph, but struggled in an emergency lane-change test.

The DL40 is quite new, so you might not find a used example easily, but there are plenty of older D-Max models to choose from.

  • We talk you through all you need to know about buying a tow car online, making you aware of the pros and cons, your rights, and more.

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