Reader help: I need a towcar for a big trailer and a lot of short trips
The “what sort of towcar should I buy?” is a common question, but at least this time the reader hasn’t already bought the car…
HI PRACTICAL MOTORING, my wife and I are planning to get an AOR Quantum+ camper and we’re wondering what vehicle we’ll need to buy to tow it off-road and into remote areas. On the AOR website it says the ball weight empty is 10.6% of 1850kg tare, the rear tank full reduces ball weight to 8.6% of 1990kg, and adding front tank full, the ball weight becomes 9.4% of 2130kg. This leaves 270kg for all your gear. AOR just told me the ATM is 2500kg. So, should we go for a Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series? A Nissan Patrol? Or something else that we haven’t thought of? Also, this vehicle will be the town car at home, so lots of short trips when at home. So is diesel or petrol the way to go and why, please? I’m concerned that lots of short trips will be bad news for a diesel.
LOTS OF SHORT TRIPS are bad for both petrol and diesel vehicles as neither really gets a chance to warm up, so the car is always running cold. Idling before you drive off doesn’t help either. The main problem with diesels is the DPF (diesel particulate filter) which fills up on short trips and doesn’t burn off. However, that’s easily solved as long as you drive for at least half an hour occasionally, and in any case the LC200 actually has a button to manually clear it.
So I’d recommend for you to go for a diesel for range. And the reason being that because you’re towing a heavy caravan into remote areas you’ll need a lot of fuel on board. Diesels use less than petrols and especially so when working hard. However, for many other owners the extra cost of a diesel isn’t worth it, and many don’t need the extra range.
Now for the size of vehicle you will need. The ATM (total weight of trailer) is nominally 2500kg. I don’t know about AOR in particular, but I do know that many caravans end up above their ATM. A payload of 270kg can disappear pretty quickly with bags, food, tools, gas and other gear. Regardless, you definitely need to look at a tow vehicle with a braked rated towing capacity well above 2500kg, so, no Toyota Prado or Nissan GU Patrol, I’d definitely be looking at something rated 3000kg plus. The LC200 would be excellent – I’ve just finished a tow test with one – and the Discovery would do the job too. Pajero Sport is a possibility at 3100kg, and some of the higher-rated utes could work too. Some versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee are also 350okg rated.
Aside from an electric brake controller, also budget for a suspension upgrade and light-truck construction tyres, both of which will be invaluable out in remote areas.