Earlier this month, we revealed the results of our 2016 Tow Car Awards. But as this was the 10th year of our awards, there was an extra gong to be handed out, something to mark this milestone.
That prize was our Tow Car of the Decade. Sometimes our Tow Car Awards judges take a long time to reach agreement over the merits of different rivals, but the discussion over this award was short and to the point. Congratulations to the Land Rover Discovery 4.
Quite simply, it is the best tow car of past 10 years. If you include the earlier Discovery 3, there has been just one year since the Tow Car Awards started when a Discovery of some description didn’t win a prize. No other model can match that record.
While the 3 was a very fine tow car, the 4 marked a significant improvement. When we first reviewed it back in 2010 we described how the new model fixed some of the old car’s weaknesses. “The 3.0-litre engine delivers a much-improved performance and its revised suspension preserves the pillowy ride but now combines this with more precise handling.” Not only did it win the heavyweight class, it took the top award, too. “It’s the best car in this year’s tests by some margin, and a more than worthy overall champion,” we wrote.
Since then, every new big 4×4 has come along to take a shot at the title, but each one has fallen short. The Audi Q7, BMW X5, Kia Sorento and Mercedes-Benz M-Class are among the cars to have tried but failed.
Just why is the Discovery so good? Most importantly, its stability at speed is beyond reproach. At the test track we’ve towed with the Discovery at speeds well above the UK legal limit and never had reason to feel nervous. It achieves this without the over-stiff ride of some big 4x4s – the Discovery handles our lane-change test as well as any car we’ve tested, but it’s supremely forgiving of poor road surfaces.
Inside, there’s lots of space for seven. In particular the third row of seats offers more room than most rivals, and the huge glass area and stadium seating mean everyone has a good view out.
It would be pointless to pretend that Land Rover has a flawless reputation for reliability, but it has improved. The 2015 Warranty Direct Reliability Index ranked Land Rover above Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Jeep, and customer satisfaction surveys also show owners to be very happy with their cars.
Spending someone else’s money for them is one thing, spending our own is quite another. So it’s telling that having towed with over 400 different cars, one of our most experienced judges has spent his own money on a Land Rover Discovery. These days an early Land Rover Discovery 4 will set you back as little as £14,000.
Next year we’ll be testing the new Discovery 5. It will be lighter, more fuel-efficient and more modern inside than its predecessor. And as a tow car, it will have a lot to live up to.
And if you want to catch up on all the news from our 2016 Tow Car Awards, get a copy of the August issue of Practical Caravan, on sale now, which is a Tow Car Awards special, or head to our dedicated website.
Tow Car Awards Overall Winners
- 2007: Volkswagen Passat Estate 2.0 TDI 4Motion Sport
- 2008: Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi Titanium auto
- 2009: Volvo XC60 D5 SE Geartronic
- 2010: Land Rover Discovery 43.0 TDV6 XS
- 2011: Volkswagen Passat Estate 2.0 TDI 170 Bluemotion Sport
- 2012: Jaguar XF 2.2D Premium Luxury
- 2013: Škoda Octavia 2.0 TDI CR 150PS Elegance
- 2014: Nissan Qashqai 1.6 dCi (130PS) Stop/Start System Acenta Premium
- 2015: Volkswagen Passat Estate 2.0 TDI BMT 150PS SE Business DSG
- 2016: Škoda Superb Hatch 2.0 TDI 150PS SE Business
Most importantly, its stability at speed is beyond reproach