Help choosing tow car

Mar 17, 2021
14
4
15
Visit site
Hello. Very new to this and have sat at computer for 3 days trying to work out what tow car I can purchase to tow a caravan like the Xplore 586 (MTPLM 1370kg) or even an Avante 868 (MTPLM 1724kg). I'm just getting more confused and after reading loads of things I would appreciate some help from more experienced people.

e.g if I look at a Land Rover Discover Sport from 2017 it states on AutoTrader the minimum kerbweight is 1775kg. From what I've read taking that I need the caravan MTPLM to be a max of 85% of that then the only caravans I can pull are those that have a max MTPLM of 1,508kg. But when I google "land rover discovery sport towing capacity" it comes up stating that this car has a towing capacity of between 1,800 to 2,200 kg . I just do not understand what this means in relation to the minimum kerbweight as stated above. Can I pull a caravan that is heavier like the Avante 868 with the 'Land Rover Discover Sport from 2017'. I've had a drivers licence since 1991 if that helps.

Any other recommendations of vehicles that have at least a combined MPG values over 50mpg would also be appreciated.

Thanks.
 
Jun 16, 2020
4,928
2,008
6,935
Visit site
Hello. Very new to this and have sat at computer for 3 days trying to work out what tow car I can purchase to tow a caravan like the Xplore 586 (MTPLM 1370kg) or even an Avante 868 (MTPLM 1724kg). I'm just getting more confused and after reading loads of things I would appreciate some help from more experienced people.

e.g if I look at a Land Rover Discover Sport from 2017 it states on AutoTrader the minimum kerbweight is 1775kg. From what I've read taking that I need the caravan MTPLM to be a max of 85% of that then the only caravans I can pull are those that have a max MTPLM of 1,508kg. But when I google "land rover discovery sport towing capacity" it comes up stating that this car has a towing capacity of between 1,800 to 2,200 kg . I just do not understand what this means in relation to the minimum kerbweight as stated above. Can I pull a caravan that is heavier like the Avante 868 with the 'Land Rover Discover Sport from 2017'. I've had a drivers licence since 1991 if that helps.

Any other recommendations of vehicles that have at least a combined MPG values over 50mpg would also be appreciated.

Thanks.

Welcome to the forum

The car manufacturers towing capacity is just a figure which they think the power train can cope with and has nothing to do with what is logical or safe.

The 85% figure is just a recommended figure particularly for the inexperienced NOT to exceed. There are plenty who go to 100% and beyond. Personally I think that 85% is sensible.

It therefore follows that a discovery sport is more than able to tow the 1370 kg you require.

In my opinion, choosing a tow car is going to come down to a compromise. Yes, you need something that is capable and safe with a good pedigree. but you also need to consider what would be suitable for you and your family needs for the 95% of the time you are not towing.

EG My Volvo V70 was chosen to fit my mobility scooter, and to handle a 1500 kg van. Which it does admirably. Many would say that at 130 bhp it is underpowered. But it copes just fine. I could have got a more powerful model but that would have been more expensive in fuel, tax and insurance.

Just to complicate things further. It is possible to get a car which is good on paper but lousy in reality. My last car, a Peugeot 4007 should have been ideal. But to get it to behave took new wheels and tyres and upgrading the rear suspension.

John
 
Last edited:
Mar 14, 2005
17,926
3,297
50,935
Visit site
Thank you for adding when you passed your driving test. Pre Jan 1997 means you will have entitlement "Be " which you do need if towing with almost any version of a a Land Roveras the combined MAM of the landrover and most caravans will exceed 3500kg.

As JCloughie has written, the 85% is only a recommendation from the UK caravan industry, it has no basis in law. But it does adhere to concept of minimising the trailers weight relative to the tow vehicle. rs

Land Rovers are very capable tow vehicles. However having a 4X4 is not obligatory, and there are other brands that can do an equally good job on the size of caravan your considering. I totally support view you should choose the vehicle for your daily drive ab be slightly compromised for towing, rather than the other way round. Obviously the vehicle must be capable of towing the caravan, but you may not need a heavy and expensive 4x4.
 
Nov 6, 2005
7,577
2,230
30,935
Visit site
Towing limits include all types of trailers, not just caravans - full-size SUVs have towing limits of 3500 kg, way in excess of their kerbweight, never mind 85% of kerbweight - it's nice to have a big reserve.
 
  • Like
Reactions: perrywalk
May 2, 2020
260
97
4,735
Visit site
Hi welcome to the forum as has already been added the car does depend on the usual use not just for your caravan, many seem to be under the illusion that if you have a caravan you need a 4x4, there are cars capable of towing the weights of caravan you are considering, we have a mondeo estate titanium x tdci and tow our van with a MTLM of 1499 without any problems and the estate car suits our everyday needs
This link may be useful
 
  • Like
Reactions: perrywalk
Nov 11, 2009
21,151
6,687
50,935
Visit site
Hi welcome to the forum as has already been added the car does depend on the usual use not just for your caravan, many seem to be under the illusion that if you have a caravan you need a 4x4, there are cars capable of towing the weights of caravan you are considering, we have a mondeo estate titanium x tdci and tow our van with a MTLM of 1499 without any problems and the estate car suits our everyday needs
This link may be useful
The only times I’ve been unable to exit a wet mown grass or muddy pitch was with three different 4WD tow cars on various tyres including AT, one of which was a full on 4Wd with all the bells and whistles for capable off roading. My two Mondeos were excellent tow cars and enjoyable daily drives.
 
  • Like
Reactions: perrywalk
Mar 17, 2021
14
4
15
Visit site
Welcome to the forum

The car manufacturers towing capacity is just a figure which they think the power train can cope with and has nothing to do with what is logical or safe.

The 85% figure is just a recommended figure particularly for the inexperienced NOT to exceed. There are plenty who go to 100% and beyond. Personally I think that 85% is sensible.

It therefore follows that a discovery sport is more than able to tow the 1370 kg you require.

In my opinion, choosing a tow car is going to come down to a compromise. Yes, you need something that is capable and safe with a good pedigree. but you also need to consider what would be suitable for you and your family needs for the 95% of the time you are not towing.

EG My Volvo V70 was chosen to fit my mobility scooter, and to handle a 1500 kg van. Which it does admirably. Many would say that at 130 bhp it is underpowered. But it copes just fine. I could have got a more powerful model but that would have been more expensive in fuel, tax and insurance.

Just to complicate things further. It is possible to get a car which is good on paper but lousy in reality. My last car, a Peugeot 4007 should have been ideal. But to get it to behave took new wheels and tyres and upgrading the rear suspension.

John

Thanks for that, this really makes sense. The Volvo V70 looks a good option actually. Looks like I definitely need to stick to the 85% recommendation being new to caravan towing. Some really good info thanks again.
 
Jul 18, 2017
13,136
3,747
40,935
Visit site
I doubt very much if you would get a suitable towing vehicle for an Avante that will give you 50mpg. You will be lucky to see 40mpg when not towing.
 
Mar 14, 2005
17,926
3,297
50,935
Visit site
Thanks for that, this really makes sense. The Volvo V70 looks a good option actually. Looks like I definitely need to stick to the 85% recommendation being new to caravan towing. Some really good info thanks again.

The 85% is only a recommendation, and its origins are shrouded in mystery, but it does represent a reasonable area for the towing ratio. But don't worry if your a couple of percent different - its not a legal requirement.

The most important thing is have an outfit that you can control safely:-
Look up the guidance on how to load your caravan to maximise stability.
Make sure your car and caravan are mechanically in good condition, especially check suspension and tyres.
You will need more time and a longer distance to pull out into traffic.
Give plenty of clearance to other vehicles and road users ,
And most of all remember there are lower speed limits when you are towing, and the limits are limits not targets.

Instability is always worse the faster you go, so if you do encounter the onset of any instability - slow down.
 
May 7, 2012
8,598
1,816
30,935
Visit site
I do agree with J C Cloughie in what he says.
The 85% figure is based on some simple work carried out by Bath University for the Caravan Club many years ago. Since then there have been major improvements in the road holding and suspension of both cars and caravans and I think the figure is probably well out of date but without more research cannot be sure. What is indisputable though is that the tow car has to have enough weight to control the caravan so common sense says the more the car weighs in relation to the caravan the better.
What is also true is that the towing capability of cars vary and Range Rover models are always up there with the best. I would not advise a newcomer to go well beyond the 85% figure but see no problem with 90% given the tow car involved.
The towing capacity is based on restarting the trailer five times in succession on a 12% hill not on what it can safely tow on the motorway. The problem with caravans is that they tend to have large flat sides which are susceptible to side winds so more weight may be needed to control them than smaller trailers.
You might want to take your car unladen to a weighbridge to check its unladen weight as these can vary considerably from the base figure makers quote and add 75 kg for the driver and some luggage to get the figure used to calculate the towing ratio. At the end of the day though I think the Avante 868 will be too heavy for you.
 
  • Like
Reactions: perrywalk
Mar 14, 2005
17,926
3,297
50,935
Visit site
The 85% figure is based on some simple work carried out by Bath University for the Caravan Club many years ago.

Ray I have researched this subject quite extensively, and I have not found any evidence that Bath or any other university undertook work for the Caravan Club to derive the industry advice. To suggest it was scientifically derived gives the advice an unjustified air of authority which as far as I can determine is false.
I would be very interested indeed if you have verifiable information to the contrary.

The University of Bath undertook a research study on behalf of Bailey caravans to try and understand the issues of stability as frequently referenced by the video of the model car and caravan on a rolling road, but that study was not looking to define an industry standard weight ratio, nor could it as it only looked at one model of caravan and one tow car. The major point to rise from the study was the importance of Yaw Inertia.It will be missleading to find it missleading

All the research I have done has been totally inconclusive about who or how the 85% figure was derived. No organisation will admit to me or in public about what evidence was used to inform on the idealised advice.

I should stress that whilst the advice may have an undefined verification, practical experience does point to the advantages of keeping the tow car heavier than the caravan (or indeed any trailer), but that needs to be in conjunction with loading and the vehicles being in good condition.

I totally agree the current 85% advice does have some concerning short comings, It uses criteria which are not legally defined, so the inputs to the equation can vary depending on manufacturers interpretations, and it doesn't take into account the specific limitations and capabilities of vehicles in their specifications

It does raise the question of if 85% should be the suggested advice or perhaps it should be a lower figure to make it an even safer piece of advice.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: perrywalk
Nov 11, 2009
21,151
6,687
50,935
Visit site
Ray I have researched this subject quite extensively, and I have not found any evidence that Bath or any other university undertook work for the Caravan Club to derive the industry advice. To suggest it was scientifically derived gives the advice an unjustified air of authority which as far as I can determine is false.
I would be very interested indeed if you have verifiable information to the contrary.

The University of Bath undertook a research study on behalf of Bailey caravans to try and understand the issues of stability as frequently referenced by the video of the model car and caravan on a rolling road, but that study was not looking to define an industry standard weight ratio, nor could it as it only looked at one model of caravan and one tow car. The major point to rise from the study was the importance of Yaw Inertia.It will be missleading to find it missleading

All the research I have done has been totally inconclusive about who or how the 85% figure was derived. No organisation will admit to me or in public about what evidence was used to inform on the idealised advice.

I should stress that whilst the advice may have an undefined verification, practical experience does point to the advantages of keeping the tow car heavier than the caravan (or indeed any trailer), but that needs to be in conjunction with loading and the vehicles being in good condition.

I totally agree the current 85% advice does have some concerning short comings, It uses criteria which are not legally defined, so the inputs to the equation can vary depending on manufacturers interpretations, and it doesn't take into account the specific limitations and capabilities of vehicles in their specifications

It does raise the question of if 85% should be the suggested advice or perhaps it should be a lower figure to make it an even safer piece of advice.
Being Devils Advocate and given the undoubted improvements in car suspension, ride and handling, combined with trailer control systems on car and caravan perhaps a starting point of 90% may be appropriate. Answers in less than 500 words and 20 minutes 😱
 
Nov 6, 2005
7,577
2,230
30,935
Visit site
Ray I have researched this subject quite extensively, and I have not found any evidence that Bath or any other university undertook work for the Caravan Club to derive the industry advice. To suggest it was scientifically derived gives the advice an unjustified air of authority which as far as I can determine is false.
I would be very interested indeed if you have verifiable information to the contrary.

The University of Bath undertook a research study on behalf of Bailey caravans to try and understand the issues of stability as frequently referenced by the video of the model car and caravan on a rolling road, but that study was not looking to define an industry standard weight ratio, nor could it as it only looked at one model of caravan and one tow car. The major point to rise from the study was the importance of Yaw Inertia.It will be missleading to find it missleading

All the research I have done has been totally inconclusive about who or how the 85% figure was derived. No organisation will admit to me or in public about what evidence was used to inform on the idealised advice.

I should stress that whilst the advice may have an undefined verification, practical experience does point to the advantages of keeping the tow car heavier than the caravan (or indeed any trailer), but that needs to be in conjunction with loading and the vehicles being in good condition.

I totally agree the current 85% advice does have some concerning short comings, It uses criteria which are not legally defined, so the inputs to the equation can vary depending on manufacturers interpretations, and it doesn't take into account the specific limitations and capabilities of vehicles in their specifications

It does raise the question of if 85% should be the suggested advice or perhaps it should be a lower figure to make it an even safer piece of advice.

The guidance on towing ratios pre-dates Bath University's research by a long way, going back to the 60s when it was originally 80% but revised upwards to reflect more modern towcars.

I think 85% is a safe place for beginners to start - and as they get more experienced, they can make their own mind up whether to go higher and by how much.
 
  • Like
Reactions: perrywalk
Jun 16, 2020
4,928
2,008
6,935
Visit site
Ray I have researched this subject quite extensively, and I have not found any evidence that Bath or any other university undertook work for the Caravan Club

The research was carried out on behalf of Bailey AND the Caravan Club.

While research was being conducted, around 1991. I was in discussions with the CC regarding an unstable brand new caravan I had purchased. I had this tested by the ministry of transport who declared that is should not be on the road. But that they had no powers to do anything about it. (which surprised me). Both the manufacturer, and the Club had no interest in resolving the situation. The best the manufacturer could manage was to add 10kg of weight behind false walls the added to the front of the van. Then they reported they could find nothing wrong!

See here 2nd para

John
 
Mar 14, 2005
17,926
3,297
50,935
Visit site
The research was carried out on behalf of Bailey AND the Caravan Club.

While research was being conducted, around 1991. I was in discussions with the CC regarding an unstable brand new caravan I had purchased. I had this tested by the ministry of transport who declared that is should not be on the road. But that they had no powers to do anything about it. (which surprised me). Both the manufacturer, and the Club had no interest in resolving the situation. The best the manufacturer could manage was to add 10kg of weight behind false walls the added to the front of the van. Then they reported they could find nothing wrong!

See here 2nd para

John
Hello John.

You have failed to include my qualifying point "to derive the industry advice. "

The industry towing ratio advice predates 1991 when you were having problems.

The University of Bath has had a long working relationship with Bailey Caravan of Bristol, and there have been a number of collaborative projects and studies principally to assist Bailey's interests rather than industry wide studies.

There was a study carried out by the University called
"An experimental investigation of car–trailer high-speed stability" published in 2009. This was published in the Journal of Institute of Mechanical Engineers in April 2009.


In a very revealing abstract from the report, the authors state:-
"It is interesting to see that the trailer mass alone does not dramatically affect the high-speed stability, as this runs contrary to current guidelines relating to limits on the relative mass of the car and trailer. "

This is entirely contrary to the suggestion made by Ray, that the Uof B advised the CC about the towing ratio.

You can find the full UofB report here:-


If you dig a little deeper you will discover that the studiesauthors have along history of research into vehicle dynamics, and have carried out research in other institutions prior to coming to Bath.

As for Bailey's and the CC's involvement: The only mention of "Bailey" comes in the model of caravan used, and it it is fair to assume Bailey provided the caravan , and the Caravan Club is only listed as providing figures for the estimate of caravans in use..

Consequently both organisations also appear in the

"ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors would like to thank The Caravan Club and Bailey Caravans for their support of this project."

It is unsafe to assume the project was initiated for or on behalf of either of these organisations.
 
Last edited:
Jun 16, 2020
4,928
2,008
6,935
Visit site
Hello John.

The industry towing ratio advice predates 1991 when you were having problems.

It is unsafe to assume the project was initiated for or on behalf of either of these organisations.

I never suggested that the ratio did not predate my issues at that time, but it was at that time that the CC representatives who investigated my issues (to no avail), told me that the club were working with Bath university ( which is not quite the same as saying they commissioned the research).

But, in the link I gave previously, the wording is research done FOR CC and Baileys.

Seems therefore clear to me.

John
 
May 7, 2012
8,598
1,816
30,935
Visit site
I think that possibly who paid what is irrelevant, the University investigated the problem and published their findings and his is the only research results available. They are now so old that things have moved on, but we have no updated information so have to use our own judgement.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jcloughie
Nov 6, 2005
7,577
2,230
30,935
Visit site
I think that possibly who paid what is irrelevant, the University investigated the problem and published their findings and his is the only research results available. They are now so old that things have moved on, but we have no updated information so have to use our own judgement.
Cars and caravans have inevitably changed but the principles of the research remain.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jcloughie
Mar 17, 2021
14
4
15
Visit site
Hi welcome to the forum as has already been added the car does depend on the usual use not just for your caravan, many seem to be under the illusion that if you have a caravan you need a 4x4, there are cars capable of towing the weights of caravan you are considering, we have a mondeo estate titanium x tdci and tow our van with a MTLM of 1499 without any problems and the estate car suits our everyday needs
This link may be useful
Hi , thanks for the info and that link. Re the calculation they talk about it suggests the maximum recommended towing weight is 1200kg for our existing car the Nissan Qashqai +2 1.5dci. The numbers from the sticker inside door are;
A - 2170 kg
B - 3370 kg
C - 1175 kg
D - 1215 kg

We've decided to go for an Elddis Xplore 586 with an MTPLM of 1370 kg & an unlaiden weight of 1175kg .

Towcar.info matching calculation says "The towing limit is exceeded by 170kg. It is not allowed to drive with this Xplore". It gives it a matching rating though of 3 stars out of 5 and says "The conclusion is, if the Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dci and the Xplore 586 with a laden weight of 1370kg, would not be legally too heavy that it is a moderate match, only for experienced (caravan) drivers."

It seems to say that it's over a legally allowed weight and then says it's not legally too heavy. Does that not contradict ?

I'd really like to avoid having the expense to change car at this time & the towcar.info result shows a match of 82% difference between the laiden weight of the car & caravan so a possibility but the manufacturer maximum recommended towing weight being 1200kg does that then make it illegal for me to use my Qashqai with the xplore 586 once I've loaded things in it up to its MTPLM of 1370kg ?
 
Nov 11, 2009
21,151
6,687
50,935
Visit site
Hi , thanks for the info and that link. Re the calculation they talk about it suggests the maximum recommended towing weight is 1200kg for our existing car the Nissan Qashqai +2 1.5dci. The numbers from the sticker inside door are;
A - 2170 kg
B - 3370 kg
C - 1175 kg
D - 1215 kg

We've decided to go for an Elddis Xplore 586 with an MTPLM of 1370 kg & an unlaiden weight of 1175kg .

Towcar.info matching calculation says "The towing limit is exceeded by 170kg. It is not allowed to drive with this Xplore". It gives it a matching rating though of 3 stars out of 5 and says "The conclusion is, if the Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dci and the Xplore 586 with a laden weight of 1370kg, would not be legally too heavy that it is a moderate match, only for experienced (caravan) drivers."

It seems to say that it's over a legally allowed weight and then says it's not legally too heavy. Does that not contradict ?

I'd really like to avoid having the expense to change car at this time & the towcar.info result shows a match of 82% difference between the laiden weight of the car & caravan so a possibility but the manufacturer maximum recommended towing weight being 1200kg does that then make it illegal for me to use my Qashqai with the xplore 586 once I've loaded things in it up to its MTPLM of 1370kg ?
The legal limits are those on your cars plate.

If your cars limit us 1200 kg your chosen caravan is too heavy. Even it’s MIRO unladen is close to the legal limit and the simple act of installing the battery could just put you over.

Towcar info is admittedly contradictory but you have to be guided by the cars plated limits.
 
Mar 17, 2021
14
4
15
Visit site
The legal limits are those on your cars plate.

If your cars limit us 1200 kg your chosen caravan is too heavy. Even it’s MIRO unladen is close to the legal limit and the simple act of installing the battery could just put you over.

Towcar info is admittedly contradictory but you have to be guided by the cars plated limits.
Thanks, I see. So just for clarification that makes it illegal in actual law terms for me to pull heavier than 1200kg with the Qashqai? If for example I was involved in an accident, could I then be prosecuted for it & therefore rendering the insurance invalid because I've gone over the manufacturer recommended max?
 
Nov 11, 2009
21,151
6,687
50,935
Visit site
Thanks, I see. So just for clarification that makes it illegal in actual law terms for me to pull heavier than 1200kg with the Qashqai? If for example I was involved in an accident, could I then be prosecuted for it & therefore rendering the insurance invalid because I've gone over the manufacturer recommended max?
Simple answer has to be “ yes”.
Plus towing a caravan heavier than specified by Nissan would place additional strain on your powertrain and brakes over and above what Nissan designed the car for.
 
Mar 17, 2021
14
4
15
Visit site
Simple answer has to be “ yes”.
Plus towing a caravan heavier than specified by Nissan would place additional strain on your powertrain and brakes over and above what Nissan designed the car for.
Ok thanks for helping. Looks like I need to change car. Looking at the Ford Kugar that seems to be a good match and with very good mpg.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JezzerB
Mar 17, 2021
14
4
15
Visit site
I doubt very much if you would get a suitable towing vehicle for an Avante that will give you 50mpg. You will be lucky to see 40mpg when not towing.

Yeah definitely doesn't look possible for those heavy caravan. Now we've gone for the lighter xplore 586 it looks possible. The Ford Kuga is showing a towing match & quotes an mpg over 60 combined. Obviously I appreciate that's not whilst towing.
 

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts