Towing a horse trailer, caravan or any other type of trailer on the road in the UK can be a daunting task. There are several things to consider when you are thinking about choosing a suitable vehicle for the job. Here, we offer some advice on the practical aspects of towing and offer some suggestions of the best cars to choose to tow a trailer or caravan.
First of all consider the weight of the item(s) you are intending to tow. That might be a horse box or trailer, or a 4 berth caravan. You must work out how much weight will be on board. For example, how heavy is your horse or horses? Will you be transporting the tack and other equipment in the trailer too? Even with camping equipment or boot fair jumble, a fully loaded trailer can be pretty heavy. You may know the weight of your caravan, but remember it will be heavier once you've packed all your holiday luggage inside too.
It's important to consider proper and suitable towing and hitching equipment that will need to be fitted to your chosen vehicle. Tow bars are usually available as additional optional accessories on a car and there are various designs available that are manufacturer approved to be used with their vehicles. Tow bars can be detachable, electric, flangeball or swan neck. It is important to consult an expert in the brand of car you choose, as some designs are not compatible with parking sensors and other sensory equipment fitted to the rear of the vehicle. Tow bar electrics are important to enable the trailer or caravan directional indicators and brake lights to work properly in synch with the car. You need your trailer or caravan to be safely and securely connected to your car to avoid swaying or difficulty manoeuvring. Nose weight becomes important too! What's that? The Caravan and Motorhome Club is great for further information on this.
Once you know the cargo weight or gross trailer or caravan weight, you will then need to check the maximum towing weight, with trailer braked or unbraked, of your chosen car or pick-up truck. For example, the ŠKODA Kodiaq SE 5 seater 2.0 TDI 150PS DSG SCR has a maximum towing weight - braked 12%/ 8% gradient in kg of 2,000/2,000 and a maximum towing weight unbraked of 750 kg. Don't forget too, to understand the kerbweight of your chosen vehicle. Some SUVs and 4x4s can weigh heavy. If you are travelling in the countryside and likely to be crossing ancient bridges or fording streams, you may be too heavy! The RAC is a useful resource for this calculation.
The latest driver assistance and safety technology comes into its own when towing a heavy load. Look out for cars with traction control and hill start assist, which make driving with a trailer or caravan much easier. Four wheel drive or all-wheel drive models can help with tackling difficult terrain.
Remember once you've chosen your vehicle and hitched up for the journey that you need to change your mindset from car to large and heavy vehicle. You are basically a truck driver now! Take it slowly and allow a greater distance for stopping. Be mindful of weather conditions that may impede safe driving and if you need to pull over, make sure it is safe for you, your passengers, your horse, and other road users.
Here are some suggestions of the best cars for towing caravans and horse boxes. We asked for recommendations from some of our customers and their stories are here below. All vehicles are available from our dealerships in Kent and Sussex.
The Kia Sorento was chosen as the best car for pulling horse trailers by Nicky, our Marketing Manager, who events with 2 horses in her leisure time. Not only does the Kia Sorento take 2 saddles, 3 bridles and a full eventing kit in the boot space, with the rear seats down; it also tows up to 3.5 tonnes and boasts trailer stability assist and a fixed tow bar as useful accessories.
Nicky says, "There's so much to like about my Sorento. It has good fuel efficiency for a big towing car. It's comfortable to drive; the technology is easy to use. There are different driving modes for different terrains. My tow bar is fixed but you can get retractable ones.
The boot space is E-N-O-R-M-O-U-S, and even bigger if you put the seats down - stacks of room! A really useful feature for reversing and manoeuvring is hazard perception. So, if you indicate right for example, it shows anything or anyone in your blind spot and beeps a warning. The Sorento tows beautifully - it can pull 2 horses in a horse box with no problem. It looks really nice and I've received loads of compliments about it."
This large SUV has won What Car? Large SUV of the Year 2021. It's available as a hybrid and as a 7 seat version. Sorento has all-wheel drive ensuring excellent traction on rough, loose or slippery ground and helps improve lateral stability when cornering. It has snow, mud and sand terrain modes. It has an attractive 7 year warranty too.
The Volkswagen Tiguan is recommended as the best car for towing caravans by our customers from JCB Medway, Jenny & Derek Turner, who are keen caravanners. They are currently on their second Tiguan and it's a firm favourite. Jenny says, " We chose the Tiguan, not only because it has the towing capacity we needed, but because it looked nice and the higher seating position was useful when towing. Our Tiguan is easy to handle and copes with things like campsite terrain. It really does the job, and when we are not towing the caravan, it's a really nice drive too and easy to handle - we both drive it."
The Turners had a fixed tow bar fitted by our recommended expert fitter. Electric retractable tow bars are another option. It's important to have a tow bar properly fitted so that the electrics controlling the indicators and brake lights on the caravan work in synch with the car.
"We now tow a 2 berth caravan, but we previously had a larger, 4 berth one and the Tiguan towed it with no problem."
Golf and Passat GTE took wins at the What Car? Tow Car Awards in respective 1,400-1,549kg and 1,700-1899kg award categories, while Arteon Shooting Brake won its 1,400-1,500 kg trailer weight class at the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s Towcar of the Year Competition, alongside a second victory for Golf, this time in the 1,200-1,300 trailer bracket.
The Golf 2.0-litre TDI 150PS DSG was crowned the best category tow car at both the What Car? Tow Car Awards and the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s ceremony, with judges at both competitions impressed by the model’s flexible and responsive engine, towing stability and controlled-yet-comfortable suspension.
The Caravan and Motorhome Club judges said the Golf “has proved itself again to be a really competent tow car – great to drive and tows really well at speeds. Sure-footed and confident.”
Meanwhile, the Passat GTE was also a winner at the What Car? ceremony with judges praising its high towing capacity, reassuring driving characteristics and superior practicality and running costs with the plug-in hybrid powertrain.
Arteon Shooting Brake impressed judges with its 2.0-litre TDI 200PS DSG engine, with its potent power output noted for its suitability for towing by the Caravan and Motorhome Club.
The judges said: “The 200PS 2.0-litre TDI engine is brilliant, and it’ll take anything you throw at it, with smoothly-delivered acceleration getting the car up to cruising speed within seconds.”
Sarah Cox, Head of Marketing at Volkswagen UK, said: “The Volkswagen range is no stranger to an award, including accolades which celebrate towing abilities. But to receive four towing-related awards in just two days is something else – further proving the all-round appeal of the Volkswagen range, and showing that it doesn’t necessarily take an SUV to be a tow car hero.”
Contact our Volkswagen branches.
Newly re-styled the SsangYong Rexton is a large SUV with plenty of strength, and is one of the most economical 4x4s for towing horse trailers. It's 5th generation version has updated the interior, exterior and drivetrain. Stability is assured. The interior is luxurious and comfortable with heated seats and steering wheel. Fully digital and connected, the interior screen also houses the rear view reversing camera. Loadspace is huge, especially when all passenger seats are down. The Rexton can tow up to 3.5 tonnes with ease. A new feature is trailer sway control - which automatically detects and corrects any sway from the caravan or trailer. You can switch from 2 to 4 wheel-drive too. The SsangYong Rexton has won 4x4 magazine's Best Value 4x4 for 2021 for the fourth year running. It also has a 7 year, 150,000 mile warranty. Watch the video walkround of the New Rexton on this page to see it in action.
Caravan & Motorhome Club Offer - Free towbar on all retail deals, fixed towbar and electrics for caravan, must have been a member for at least 6 months - contact us to find out more!
The ŠKODA Kodiaq is undergoing an upgrade and the new version is available to order now, with test drives available from September. With 7 seats as standard there is plenty of room for everyone. Since its introduction 4 years ago, the ŠKODA Kodiaq has introduced an SUV with ample space, simply clever ŠKODA features and excellent value for money to the ŠKODA range. The new version of the Kodiaq has lighter, more efficient engines with more power and better driving performance. Equipped with cruise control and speed limiter, hill start assist, autonomous emergency braking, hill hold control and tyre pressure monitoring - all of which help with towing heavy loads. An electronically folding tow bar is an optional extra accessory, download the accessory brochure here. Speak to us about tow bar preparation to get exactly the right trim. Download the latest brochure for gross vehicle weights, towing weights, kerbweight and nose weight.
The SEAT Leon Estate has been named the overall Towcar of the Year at the Caravan and Motorhome Club Towcar of the Year Awards 2022.
The model, that was fitted with a 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine and seven-speed DSG gearbox, also took victory in the 1,100kg – 1,200kg caravan weight category.
To determine the winners, each entrant was put through its paces in a variety of driving environments at Millbrook Proving Ground while hitched to a caravan ballasted to 85 per cent of the car’s kerb weight.
Capable of towing up to 1,700kg (max braked trailer weight), the Leon estate can be specified with a retractable towing hook. The judges complimented the car’s powertrain, comfortable interior and boot space.
Complementing this trophy, SEAT models also claimed gold at the What Car? towcar awards 2021, where the Leon and Ateca came out on top in the sub-1,400kg and the 1,500kg – 1,699kg weight categories, respectively.
Contact our SEAT branches.
Thank you for reading our Blog. We hope it has helped with considerations and advice on choosing the best car for towing a caravan or horse box. Our dealerships in Kent and Sussex stock all of the models we have featured. We can also service large SUVs and 4x4s and our Van Centres are able to service motorhomes due to the larger ramp sizes. Please contact us with your requirements and we would be happy to help.