Which mid-size SUV car should I buy for towing?
We have a caravan rated at 1920kg. We tow it with a Commodore as we are not off-roaders but we like to drive to scenic or tourist spots, which are often reached by unmade roads suitable for a sedan but not a caravan. It is time to upgrade and we are looking at an SUV (not a big 4WD) which could tow such a van but with perhaps a 200kg-300kg safety margin. Most SUVs seem to have a maximum towing capacity of 2000kg. which does not suit. We have read extensively re SUVs but can't find a suitable replacement. Any ideas please?
You'll have to aim higher to get a vehicle that will comfortably tow your caravan. The demise of large sedans means there are few passenger cars capable of handling what will be a two-tonne-plus caravan once you put a few essentials in it. The same problem will confront you with small and mid-sized SUVs, with the majority rated at a maximum of two tonnes and often with an allowed towball weight well below the recommended 10 per cent threshold. Look at some of these.
Volkswagen Tiguan 132TSI from $46,100-$47,000 drive-away
The 2.0-litre turbo sends 167kW/350Nm to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch auto. Claimed fuel use is 8.1L/100km. The mid-size SUV is rated to tow 2500kg but the towball download is 200kg. It's the most car-like of the SUVs listed here. Three-year warranty and space-saver spare are negatives but the active safety software (autonomous emergency braking and lane-departure warning) is a positive.
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GLX from $44,990 drive-away
It's based on the Triton workhorse, meaning a ladder chassis and beam rear suspension. The 2.4-litre turbo diesel (133kW/430Nm) is rated to tow 3100kg but the towball load is between 5 and 10 per cent of that, so it could be about 150kg. Claimed thirst with the eight-speed auto is 8.0L/100km. Advanced active safety is restricted to the top-spec (and $12,000 dearer) Exceed. As it stands, AEB and adaptive cruise control are as hi-tech as it gets. Worth noting: the spare is under the body, making access tricky when towing.
Toyota Fortuner GX from $48,700-$50,000 drive-away
It hasn't hit the heights of the petrol Kluger but will tow 2800kg to the Kluger's 2000kg. Power comes from a 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel (130kW/450Nm) paired with a six-speed auto. Seven seats are standard, so you may be buying pews you won't use but they can always be stowed to liberate more space. As with the VW, the warranty is three years. Based on the HiLux, the Fortuner misses out on active safety aids but there is trailer sway control. It drives well off-road, less impressively on the bitumen.
Holden Commodore RS V6 from $42,490 drive-away
You need a Commodore with the 3.6-litre V6 (210kW/350Nm) to achieve a 2100kg braked towing capacity. That's on a par with the outgoing rear-drive model. I'm not comfortable with the slim margin but if it has worked for you up until now, this one should perform as well, particularly as the ZB Commodore comes with all-wheel drive. The Commodore's nine-speed automatic should help with fuel economy (the claim is 8.9L/100km). Active safety includes AEB, blind spot and lane-departure assist. It has a five-year warranty but comes only with a space-saver spare. The drive-away price is valid until the end of August.
Check the Tiguan for its size, refinement and towing ability without worrying about the towball limit. The diesel option adds $2000. If you're happy with your Commodore, the new one should do equally well. Drive them both, then decide.