The best caravan tow vehicles are also the most expensive. We’ve therefore put together our list of the best tow vehicles under $60,000. The criteria that these vehicles were benchmarked against included their towing ability (power, economy, and stability), their day-to-day livability (such as on-road performance, ease of parking, and comfort) and their value for money (relative technical and comfort features for the price).
We have not included on-road costs because the final price differs according to user and location, and we acknowledge that some of these vehicles might cost slightly more than $60k once on-road costs are included.
Note: just because a vehicle has a 3500kg towing capacity and 350kg towball mass does not necessarily mean it’s a great tow vehicle. Indeed, some of these vehicles have less capacity, but the lowest here is 2300kg/230kg, which is still sufficient for many caravans.
Ford Ranger Double Cab 3.2D 4WD
Price: from $48,090
Towing capacity: 3500kg
Towball mass: 350kg
In Wildtrak form, the Ranger was on our list of price-is-no-barrier top five tow vehicles. But you can get into this excellent tow vehicle for much less. While it’s very close between the Ranger and the near-identical Mazda BT-50, the Ranger’s more accomplished suspension tune makes it the better vehicle, and it’s the best of all the one-tonne utes.
The Ranger has a competent powertrain augmented by a comfortable, car-like cabin, refined suspension (for a ute, at least) and it is a fantastic tow vehicle. It is very stable, barely moving at all with a van behind, and performance is very strong. There won’t be many hills where you’ll lose speed towing with the Ranger. Engine braking is also very good and the six-speed auto is very easy to use in manual mode to hold gears on descents.
On the downside, the low-slung Ford factory towbar has the trailer plug attached underneath, where it is very hard to access.
Toyota Prado GXL 2.8D 4WD
Price: from $52,990
Towing capacity: 2500kg
Towball mass: 250kg
The Prado is a very good all-rounder – it ticks off family hauling, touring and towing duties in an accomplished fashion. The Prado doesn’t have any issues towing a caravan; its performance is blunted a little when hill climbing with a heavy van behind, while engine braking is good, pegging speed on all but the steepest of hills.
Stability is not affected by adding a caravan: the Prado does not yaw (side-to-side movement) and only pitches (up and down movement) on some undulating roads. The Prado, with its big side mirrors, is one of the few tow vehicles that, with narrower vans, may not require extension mirrors.
Isuzu MU-X 3.0D 4WD
Price: from $45,600
Towing capacity: 3000kg
Towball mass: 300kg
This is a relatively compact 4WD wagon that still offers seven seats, good specification levels and excellent towing performance.
On paper, the MU-X shouldn’t be a particularly good tow vehicle. Its power and torque figures aren’t great, and you’d think the vehicle should be heavier in order to be more ‘planted’ with a heavy van behind. It’s therefore surprising just how well it actually takes on a full-size caravan close to its maximum capacity with no hint of instability.
Engine braking is very good, while touring speed up most hills is rarely blunted. Steep inclines do shave off some speed, but on the freeway cruising at 100km/h you’ll rarely lose more than 5km/h uphill. Off the mark, yes, you’ll not get up to speed as quickly as more powerful tow tugs, but then caravanning shouldn’t be about drag-racing.
The suspension is a bit soft, so when towing on rough roads the front end pitches somewhat. But that doesn’t change its safe towing dynamics, and you could buy the top-spec MU-X LS-T and still have change from $60k. That’s enough to buy an aftermarket suspension kit – then you’d have an even better tow vehicle.
Mitsiubishi Pajero 3.2 4WD
Price: from $53,990
Towing capacity: 3000kg
Towball mass: 180-250kg
The Pajero is becoming one of the old-timers in its class, and aside from cosmetic and model-spec changes, it hasn’t changed in years. It still tows beautifully though, and while you might not have one of the latest with the Pajero you’ll have one of the greatest. The Pajero pitches a little up front but it moves along really smoothly, without any hint of yawing.
Towing performance is exceptionally good, though it experiences momentary turbo lag at low speed and low revs, but on the open road there is a plentiful reserve of power. Engine braking is not bad, although a dab of the brakes is necessary even when holding gear down hills.
A common problem with the Pajero, however, is that once hitched up, the tailgate doesn’t open very far, as it fouls against the ball coupling. Many Pajero owners therefore swap to a low profile coupling.
The Pajero also has a restricted towball mass. When the total weight of the van exceeds 2500kg, the permissible towball download is reduced from 250kg to 180kg.
Ford Territory TDCi 2.7D AWD
Price: from $46,740
Towing Capacity: 2300kg
Towball Mass: 230kg
If you want a new Territory, you’d better get in soon. Ford shuts down production of this excellent SUV in October. Not only is the Territory one of the best handling, comfortable and practical family vehicles, it is also a very good tow vehicle.
The Ford has excellent performance with a caravan behind, powering up hills easily and comfortably at the speed limit. Engine braking on declines is also excellent.
When ordered with the heavy-duty tow package, the Territory comes with a load levelling kit, but we’ve tested the Ford without it. Aside from hunkering down a little on its rear suspension and some fore-aft pitching, the Territory is as solid as a rock on the road.
That the Ford could be ordered in top Titanium spec and still just nudge over $60K in on-road costs is yet another attraction for the ‘blue oval’ tow tug.
Want to know our top five list of tow vehicles over 60K? Here is our official list: Top 5 Tow Vehicles For 2016