The New Year fizz has barely gone flat, but it’s already clear that 2017 could be a vintage year for new tow cars. In particular, if you are shopping for a crossover or SUV you can expect to be spoilt for choice.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the new cars launching this year. But if you are wondering what tow car to buy, here are some of the most promising new tugs of 2017.
Land Rover Discovery
Perhaps the most eagerly awaited tow car of 2017 is the new Land Rover Discovery. A handful of journalists have already driven the car (you can read what our colleagues on What Car? make of it here), and unsurprisingly the Disco impressed off road.
The fifth generation is faster, more economical and emits less than the previous model. However, these improvements have been achieved in part by putting the Discovery on a serious diet, losing nearly half a tonne from the kerbweight.
Should caravanners be concerned? Probably not. The aluminium architecture which underpins the new Discovery is already used in the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, and those are exceptionally capable tow cars.
And even after slimming down, every Discovery will still weigh more than two tonnes.
Alongside the 3.0-litre diesel with 258bhp and 443lb ft of torque, the Discovery will also be available with a 2.0-litre diesel with 237bhp and 369lb ft. There’s a 3.0-litre supercharged petrol, too, although it’s unlikely to be a big seller in the UK.
Prices will start from £43,495, although the most affordable 3.0-litre diesel will cost from £50,995. That’s around £3500 more than the Discovery 3.0-litre diesel which won the heavyweight class at the Tow Car Awards last year.
The higher price is part of a concerted push upmarket that’s reflected in the new car’s styling. It’s considerably slicker and more Range Rover-like than before, but the no-nonsense toughness of previous Discovery models has been lost.
I know two Discovery owners, and both dislike the styling of the new car. That’s not exactly a robust sample size, but it will be interesting to see if Land Rover can attract new admirers without alienating the old faithful.
Customer deliveries will start in the spring. We should get a chance to drive the car in late February or early March.
Another big SUV, but a considerably more affordable one, the Škoda Kodiaq also has the makings of a very impressive tow car.
Unlike the Discovery, I’ve already driven the Kodiaq and wrote a review last year. I’ve towed with it, too, although reversing a trailer in a hotel car park doesn’t qualify me to say how well the Kodiaq will pull a caravan. But the early signs are mostly very positive.
The 2.0-litre diesel models – in particular the range-topping 187bhp version – have enough muscle for towing duties. And the Kodiaq’s controlled and composed ride quality ought to deliver good stability while towing.
Five- and seven-seat versions of the Škoda Kodiaq will be available, although not with all engine and gearbox combinations. The most powerful models are seven-seat only in the UK.
Frustratingly, this means reduced towing limits (down from 2500kg to 2000kg) and a lower maximum noseweight (dropping from 100kg to 80kg) for the 187bhp diesel compared with the five-seat version sold in other markets.
And, oddly, the 2.0 TDI 150PS manual seven-seater isn’t homologated for towing at all. At first I thought this must have been an error in the data given to journalists, but Škoda tells me that most customers prefer to tow with the DSG auto.
Prices start from £21,495, rising to £34,895. Order books are open, with the first cars set to arrive in the UK in April.
I’ve never been especially keen on the old Peugeot 3008. It’s not that it was a bad car, but I’ve always found the looks awkward, as if the designers were unsure whether to use MPV or 4×4 styling cues and ended up with an ungainly mix of the two.
Peugeot has clearly understood which way the wind is blowing, and the new 3008 follows market trends with much tougher styling than the original.
Nobody from the Practical Caravan team has driven the 3008 yet, but our colleagues on What Car? have been impressed with the way the 3008 drives as well as its sharper looks. They say it’s good enough to give the Nissan Qashqai and Seat Ateca a run for their money.
Like most new cars, the 3008 is lighter than its predecessor. Kerbweights start from just 1325kg for the 1.2 Puretech petrol (including 75kg for the driver which Peugeot doesn’t include in its published kerbweights).
The diesels are more likely to prove popular with caravanners – four engines are available with power outputs from 98bhp to 178bhp. The 118bhp model is predicted to be the most popular, and it’s available with a choice of manual or EAT automatic gearboxes.
That’s a relatively modest power output, but with 221lb ft of torque it should be capable of towing a well-matched caravan. With a manual gearbox, this version has a kerbweight of 1375kg and a legal towing limit of 1500kg.
Prices start from £21,795 for the Puretech petrol models, with diesels priced from £22,845. That makes the 3008 more expensive than its key rivals.
We’ll be testing one in February to see if the stiff pricing is justified – and to see what tow car talent it has.
The Audi Q5 has always performed well as a tow car. It’s twice been judged at the Tow Car Awards, and each time it has earned a four-star verdict.
Could the new model be a five-star tow car? Time will tell, but our friends on What Car? have awarded the new Q5 top marks, praising its smooth diesel engines, high-quality interior and comfort at speed.
The first UK customer deliveries are expected in the spring. The 187bhp 2.0 TDI diesel will arrive first, and looks like the most sensible choice. Soon after, the 249bhp 2.0 TFSI petrol will also be available, while a 3.0-litre diesel with 282bhp will join the range.
As you’d expect, the new Audi Q5 is lighter than the outgoing car to improve fuel economy and emissions, but Audi says the car has slimmed down by up to 90kg, depending on the engine variant.
That’s a modest diet which means matching ratios should still be healthy, when considering what tow car ability it has.
It should be more practical than before, as boot space with all five seats upright is increasing from 550 litres to 610 litres.
Pricing hasn’t been confirmed, but don’t be surprised if the new Q5 costs more than the current car’s starting price of £37,170 for a like-for-like specification.
There are plenty of other intriguing new tow cars on the horizon, so I’m looking forward to another busy year on the road.
If you are shopping for a crossover or SUV you can expect to be spoilt for choice in 2017