Motor shows don’t come much bigger than Frankfurt, that’s running at the moment.
While most of the headlines are grabbed by F1-powered Mercedes and super-green electric concept cars, there are plenty of new models with strong potential as tow cars.
Some manufacturers have also announced updates to existing favourites.
Here’s our round-up of some of the most promising cars for caravanners at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Toyota Land Cruiser
Toyota‘s big 4×4 hasn’t always fared well in our towing tests, but nonetheless it has a loyal following among those looking for genuine off-road ability and cast-iron reliability.
The new Land Cruiser isn’t new from the wheels up, but it amounts to a thorough revision to give the car a more sophisticated feel with improved technology and infotainment.
Toyota describes the exterior as “visually more agile and dynamic”. You can judge for yourself whether the designers have pulled that off. To my eyes it’s certainly imposing, but “agile” seems like a bit of a stretch.
Inside, there’s an eight-inch touchscreen multimedia system and another 4.2-inch screen within the instrument binnacle.
As before, the Land Cruiser is powered by a 2.8-litre D-4D diesel engine with 175bhp and 310lb ft of torque.
We haven’t seen kerbweights and towing limits for the updated car but, given that it is mechanically similar and retains the body-on-frame construction of the current car, expect a kerbweight of over 2100kg and a towing limit of around 3000kg.
The updated Toyota Land Cruiser should be in showrooms early next year.
Sized to compete against the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, the Impreza is the only car in this class I can think of with four-wheel drive as standard on every model. That’s clearly a big plus point as a tow car, especially if you like to tour all-year round.
Subaru promises the new car is better to drive than before, with a stiffer chassis and suspension tuned for a “firm, but comfortable” ride.
The car is larger than its predecessor, 35mm wider and with an extra 25mm between the front and rear wheels, which has helped free up more interior space.
Subaru promises 26mm (just over an inch) of extra legroom in the back. Luggage space with the seats down is 1280 litres, a 10-litre improvement.
The new car has more safety kit than before, including the Eyesight suite of driver aids, which includes Pre-Collision Braking and Lane Keep Assist. The Impreza’s stiffer body structure also promises improved safety in an accident.
Disappointingly for tow car drivers, the car is to be sold with two petrol engines but no diesel. There’s a 1.6-litre with 112bhp and 111lb ft of torque, and a 2.0-litre with 154bhp and 145lb ft of torque. Both are matched to a Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).
Either way, we don’t have kerbweights and towing limits yet. But given the petrol engines’ torque outputs, the Impreza is likely to be suited to lightweight caravans only. It will be on sale by the end of the year.
Kia Stonic and Sorento
The Nissan Juke rival is likely to cost upwards of £15-£16,000 when it goes on sale in the UK next month. Buyers will have a choice of petrol and diesel models.
However, any sensibly matched caravan will have to be very light. Kerbweights range from 1160-1253kg for the 99bhp 1.4 MPi, 1185-1278kg for the 118bhp 1.0 T-GDi, and 1255-1349kg for the 109bhp 1.6 CRDi diesel.
The least powerful petrol has a 1000kg legal towing limit, and the other two engines can legally pull just 1110kg.
In addition to the new Stonic, the manufacturer also showed off the facelifted Kia Sorento, which is likely to be of more interest if you own a heavy caravan.
As well as updated styling, there’s a new eight-speed automatic gearbox, an uprated infotainment system with an eight-inch screen, and a longer roster of driver assistance systems.
Inside, the dashboard and front seats are new, to improve ease of use and comfort. Dacia also promises better fit and finish than before, and more storage space in the cabin.
There’s a much needed improvement in the safety equipment available, too, which will include a multi-view camera, blind spot warning, curtain airbags and automatic headlights.
Buyers will have a choice of two petrol engines, with 115PS (113bhp) or 125PS (123bhp). All petrol cars will have manual gearboxes, but there will be a choice of 2WD and 4WD versions.
Diesel buyers can opt for a 90PS (89bhp) 2WD or a 110PS (108bhp) with 2WD or 4WD. The 110PS 2WD is the only version which is available with the EDC automatic as well as a manual ‘box.
Kerbweights and legal towing limits are likely to be confirmed closer to the car’s on-sale date. In the UK, that’s the middle of next year.
Yet another small SUV, the Kona looks striking enough to stand out in this increasingly competitive market sector. Like the Kia Stonic, the Kona is a rival for the Nissan Juke.
Although we don’t yet have technical data on the car, expect its weights and capacities to largely mirror those of the Stonic as detailed above.
The Hyundai Kona is likely to be priced from around £15,000 when it reaches UK showrooms late this autumn.
We’ve already written about the Karoq in some detail and I’ll be driving the car in the middle of October, so please check back for my thoughts then, to see what tow car potential it has.
Kia showed off its new Stonic – and there's a facelifted Sorento