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Best cars for towing

Best cars for towing

Aussies love to tow – and plenty are hitting the road looking to explore Australia for a holiday.

But towing isn’t as easy as hitching up the boat or caravan and heading off into the sunset.

Finding the right vehicle and ensuring it’s properly set up for the task at hand is crucial for safety and comfort.

While car makers love claiming big numbers for a car’s maximum tow capacity, often having that much in tow will compromise what you can take in the car, including people. So make sure you crunch the numbers and do your research before towing anything.

And if you want to tow something big and heavy you’ll typically need something bigger and heavier to tow it. Size and grunt count for plenty when it comes to towing.

Here are some of the best tows cars to shop for:

Isuzu MU-X

Based on the architecture of the D-Max ute, the MU-X oozes toughness, often at the expense of luxury. It has a basic cabin and a gruffness that reminds you of its commercial vehicle origins.

Under the bonnet is a 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine also used in some small trucks. It’s grunty and effective but lacks the refinement of some diesels.

The MU-X also has a secret weapon. It’s one of the few SUVs that sits on a truck-like ladder frame chassis typically used by hard core four-wheel drives – but it’s also available as a two-wheel drive. That means you don’t need the 4WD hardware but you can still tow up to 3000kg.

Toyota LandCruiser

The 200-Series LandCruiser has long been a favourite for family duties and off-roading – and with good reason.

But it’s also one of the best tow machines in the country. The 200-Series is rated to tow a full 3.5 tonnes, something it does with relative ease.

The 4.5-litre twin-turbo V8 diesel engine helps and means you can cruise with a little less fuss.

The 200-Series never had a great payload, though, so be wary of how much you can carry if you’re towing a big load.

Mazda BT-50

The BT-50 is technically paired with the Ford Ranger ute. The two share an engine and platform as well as many other components.

The BT-50 comes with a proven 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel engine that responds well to throttle inputs and provides the torque required to shift heavy things.

It’s tough, too, with a rugged nature that doesn’t shy away from carrying things. Plus it’s one of the more spacious utes for families, albeit with the caveat that you’ll have to put most of your luggage in the load area.

Plus the BT-50 can tow up to 3.5 tonnes.

Ford Everest

Much of the development work for Ford’s large off-road SUV was done in Australia, which explains why it’s so well suited to our conditions. It’s an easy car to tackle big trips in and does a great job on bumpy roads.

Underneath there’s plenty of Ford Ranger DNA, including its basic architecture and mechanicals, albeit with a unique rear suspension system tailored more to comfort and control.

The Everest can also tow plenty and is available as a rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive configuration. All can take at least 3000kg in tow, with those fitted with the newer and more powerful 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel adding another 100kg to the total tow tally.

In some ways, though, the older 3.2-litre five-cylinder is a nicer match for towing.

Nissan Navara

The Navara is a rarity in the ute world because it has coil springs suspending the rear-end rather than more agricultural leaf springs. That brings plenty of benefits, including ride comfort and compliance over bumps.

But the current shape NP300 was not initially great at carrying heavy things, something that translated to its tow experience.

Nissan realised this and embarked on updates, the most comprehensive of which was implemented by 2017 and included a stiffer rear suspension setup that is also much better suited to towing.

It’s those cars that we recommend as best for the job of towing, in turn tapping into the goodness elsewhere in the Navara range.

The 2.3-litre twin-turbo engine is smooth and grunty and can be relatively fuel efficient.

Toyota Kluger

The Kluger doesn’t have the same tow capacity of many others mentioned here. Instead it tops out at 2000kg, leaving those bigger loads for something else.

That’s in part because underneath the high-riding SUV body is a passenger car architecture that’s more focused on comfort and everyday control over the ruggedness of an off-roader.

The Kluger is best left to light tracks at best. Its optional four-wheel drive system isn’t set up for the heavy duty stuff and it doesn’t have the ground clearance to clear big rocks or ridges.

But the 3.5-litre V6 has loads of pull and will easily shift smaller caravans or boats. Sure, it’ll need more of a rev to get moving, but the Kluger will still do a decent towing job for those who don’t need to lug heavier loads.

Holden Trailblazer

It was formerly known as the Colorado 7 – the 7 denoting the number of seats – but the large off-roader morphed into the Trailblazer in 2016. With the change of name came a styling update and some local engineering tweaks that made it better to drive.

That included tuning of the transmission with the 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel. It’s a grunty unit that is nicely suited to long-distance touring and towing duties, the latter extending to an overall capacity of 3000kg.

And the Trailblazer is a proper off-roader, so you can go dventuring beyond its towing duties.

Even better is that prices are more subdued than some rivals due to the closure of the Holden brand in 2020. Warranty and after-sales support is still available through a network appointed by General Motors.

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Land Rovers often have quite high tow capacities compared with rivals and the Discovery Sport is no different. Smaller in stature than the regular Discovery, the Sport is more city friendly while still having some adventurous spirit in its DNA.

Plus, with a range of hearty diesel engines it is beautifully suited to towing compared with some other mid-sized SUVs. The Td4 models have torque where you need it but the Sd4 ups that by adding another turbo and a lot more pull across the rev range.

The Discovery Sport is also rated to tow up to two tonnes. Plus, it exudes some British class in the cabin.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

The long-running Grand Cherokee has always been a popular choice for towing. That’s because it’s not as big as some of the hulking off-roaders on the road but it can still tow as much as them, with up to 3.5 tonnes of tow capacity.

Not all Grand Cherokees can tow the full 3500kg (two-wheel drive ones have a lower limit) but those that can often make a popular choice for grey nomads and couples wanting to explore.

The 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel is the weapon of choice for those hitting the road. And while the Grand Cherokee isn’t as accomplished as the Jeep Wrangler in the rough stuff, it still has available off-road hardware for tackling some challenging terrain.

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

Relying on the bones of the Triton ute, the Pajero Sport makes a strong start on the towing front.

It can haul up to 3100kg, which is impressive for a seven-seater that’s not as big and bulky as some, even if the chome-heavy styling certainly stands out.

With no relation to the regular Pajero other than its name, the Pajero Sport gets a 2.4-litre four-cylinder mated to an eight-speed automatic. It also has Mitsubishi’s clever Super Select four-wheel drive system, which allows the car to be driven on bitumen with all four wheels driving.

There’s proper off-road cred, too, although the on-road manners aren’t as well resolved as some.