What to look for when shopping for a top towing vehicle
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As we head into summer, weekend traffic is starting to swell with an array of boats, jetskis and caravans as people head away on trips to their favourite holiday spots.
For buyers wanting a new tow vehicle, it’s important to take their time. Although they may be after a vehicle that’ll tow their trailer or boat, many people also need a practical choice that performs well on everyday errands.
Buyers should always keep the weight of items that will be towed at the front of mind. Towing weight is unlikely to change dramatically, but extra luggage and additional passengers can make a difference. Choosing a vehicle with a specified towing capacity of about 1600kg braked to tow a boat of about 1500kg may sound a good option, but add passengers and gear and these could exceed the vehicle’s gross combination mass (GCM). This is the combined mass of the passengers, cargo and the trailer with its cargo.
Exceeding the recommended ratings is unsafe. Additionally, choosing to operate a vehicle at its limits for an extended period can cause premature wear to a vehicle’s components, particularly the clutch and transmission.
AA recommends buyers factor in surplus weight on top of the weight of the item they intend to tow when searching for a vehicle.
Cost v convenience
Buying a vehicle with the tow bar and wiring already fitted is more convenient but it can sometimes push up the cost. It’s worth investigating the same vehicle that’s not fitted with a tow bar and researching how much it would cost to have one fitted. It may mean waiting a little longer before the vehicle can tow, but it could save some cash in the process, or even find a more desired model.
Comfort v practicality
Modern double-cab utes appear to be a popular choice. As of October 2019, these made up the year’s top-five bestselling new car models. This type of vehicle won’t be everyone’s taste, so fortunately there are many capable comfy medium-sized SUVs worth looking at, particularly for lighter loads.
AA advises buyers to test drive the vehicle they are looking to purchase, while towing the trailer or boat they are looking to tow. The towing weight may meet the requirements, the price may be right and the vehicle may drive well on its own, but it might not perform as well when towing. If possible take passengers along for the test drive.
Balancing practical, everyday needs with towing requirements may mean buying a towing vehicle will not be as straightforward as purchasing a regular family car.
If towing is the primary need for this vehicle, buyers should focus on the likely towing weight. If towing is secondary to everyday needs, then an equal value should be placed on comfort and practicality.