Towing a larger van

May 29, 2018
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Hi all. First post here. We are looking at starting out in caravanning but would be looking at a larger van (a good 6 berth). Ones we have seen that suit our needs are around the 1700kg MTPLM. As we are at the point of needing to change our car also, can anyone advise a suitable towcar for a large van. I have driven HGV in a past life so am comfortable with driving what would be a substantial outfit, just need recommendations on suitable car plus, of course, your valuable insights.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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I guess it all depends on your budget but with a caravan at 1700 kg you are looking at cars with a substantial kerbweight. As a guide the UK caravan world advise a ratio of 85% kerbweight to caravan. So something approaching 2000kg kerbweight. As you have an HGV licence this might mean that with your experience a higher ratio could be considered. But towing a caravan isn’t necessarily the same as an HGV. There are members here better able to draw on such experiences. But from my experience I would be looking at a Dicovery, Sorento, Santa Fe, MB, Shogun, Toureg, Ssasyang etc. Although some of the 5 series and E class may be heavy enough.
Also if you are looking to fully utilise the 6 berth van it is surprising how rapidly payload gets used up so a car with ample payload and volume would be a requirement. You can almostvreckon on using nearly 80kg of payload for things like battery, mover, gas bottles, and that’s before you look at aquaroll, waste collector, cable etc
 
May 29, 2018
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That's great. We are looking at some kind of SUV so a Sorento might be a good move up from the Sportage we have currently.

I'm assuming that I'm looking for a kerbweight of 2000kg and upwards. Regardless of previous licenses, I'm still going to do a towing course and want to stick to the 85% rule if possible.
 
Oct 12, 2013
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Hi ste6t9 ,
How many are planning on touring ?
Are you going to be using it as a 6 berth or are you going to be using as a 4 like us and have space ? Are you looking at a single axle or a twin axle ?
 
Oct 12, 2013
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We are the same! Us 2 + 2 Kids and plenty off space ! No dog yet ! Don't plan on using other two beds ! We've got the bunks in ours which are good for the kids which take up to 11 stone , and are comfortble as I was in the bottom one over the weekend for half an hour and it took a little bit more than 11 stone , didn't chance the top one :p

Craig .
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Ste6t9 said:
That's great. We are looking at some kind of SUV so a Sorento might be a good move up from the Sportage we have currently.

I'm assuming that I'm looking for a kerbweight of 2000kg and upwards. Regardless of previous licenses, I'm still going to do a towing course and want to stick to the 85% rule if possible.

Hello Stet,
85% is only guidance, it has no legal standing or implications so its not a rule. However it does give a hint to the nature of caravans as towed vehicles being more challenging so it does pay to be cautious. But a few percent over is not going to make big difference. The only proviso is the towed weight of the trailer must not exceed the towed weight limit of the tow vehicle.

A caravan with a 1700kg MTPLM is going to need a larger than average car, but don't fall into the trap of thinking it has to be a large 4x4. Obviously the choices are more limited as you go up in trailer weight, but there are still some very capable large saloon or estate cars that will manage such a large caravan. If space is what you need there are some People carries that offer space and near car comfort with good towing limits.

On that point i believe the Outlander PHEV is restricted to a towed weight of 1500kg, and I think you will find that most of the current hybrids at the moment have comparatively low towed weight limits so are probably out of the frame.

Just consider the proportion of the time spent towing to normal driving. For most people its small proportion, so why be less comfortable ([strike]uncomfortable[/strike]) for longer than is necessary in a large cumbersome 4x4, that is more costly to run

I am sure that your experience as an HGV will reap benefits as you will be more aware of the bad habits of other drivers, the space and time you will need to plan and complete a manoeuvre. But as Otherclive has suggested, we have had several other HGV drivers make comment that towing a caravan is surprisingly different to managing a large HGV. Especially reversing, where a full size artic responds less dramatically to steering inputs basically becasue their longer effective drawbar, But I am sure as an HGV driver you will quickly develop the necessary skills
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Prof
Most of the “large” 4x4 that have owned have been supremely comfortable but I do agree they are not cheap to run, but neither is a large E class, Volvo or 5 series either.
 
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otherclive said:
Prof
Most of the “large” 4x4 that have owned have been supremely comfortable but I do agree they are not cheap to run, but neither is a large E class, Volvo or 5 series either.

At the minute the way diesel is creeping up , nothing is cheap to run these days! :(
 
May 24, 2014
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But as Otherclive has suggested, we have had several other HGV drivers make comment that towing a caravan is surprisingly different to managing a large HGV. Especially reversing, where a full size artic responds less dramatically to steering inputs basically becasue their longer effective drawbar,

Firstly the tractor unit is designed solely as a towing vehicle, and the point of highest pressure, that of the 5th wheel is above the tractors axles, rather than behind as in a towcar. The trailer is heavier and more stable, with the proviso that it has been loaded correctly, which applies also to caravans, loading is key for stability in my book.

I agree with the quoted statement wholeheartedley. In my working life I have dragged it all, and even after that sort of experience and twenty plus years with caravans, I am still learning on a daily basis. It is a vastly different experience, and one thing that may un-nerve you in the early days is the bow wave effect that you get when passing a slower artic or a larger van passes you at speed. However, if you pay proper care and attention your experience will count for much.

As for a towcar, in recent years I have had two Xtrails, an XC70 and latterly two Shoguns, which is a vehicle I swear by. I refute the suggestion that large 4x4s are uncomfortable, they have some of the best seats in the game. True they arent designed for hurling round corners, at which point you will get a fair bit of lean, but driven properly, they can be a real pleasure. They do of course give you a large kerbweight, greater towing capacity and a lot of carrying room. The Shogun will pull legally 3.5 tonnes, but I wouldnt want a caravan of that weight on the back because of the vagaries of the way caravans tow. I get a kerbweight of around 2300 which is pretty hefty in anyones book.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Craigyoung said:
otherclive said:
Prof
Most of the “large” 4x4 that have owned have been supremely comfortable but I do agree they are not cheap to run, but neither is a large E class, Volvo or 5 series either.

At the minute the way diesel is creeping up , nothing is cheap to run these days! :(

Fuel is not the only extra expense of running a large 4x4.
 
May 24, 2014
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Fuel is not the only extra expense of running a large 4x4.

No different to any other car. For the Shogun, servicing and parts are on a par with Nissan, much cheaper than the Volvo, tyres a similar size to most premium saloons, smaller than some. Insurance for Shogun way below that for the Volvo. Even road tax, at present is bearable in comparison.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Craigyoung said:
otherclive said:
Prof
Most of the “large” 4x4 that have owned have been supremely comfortable but I do agree they are not cheap to run, but neither is a large E class, Volvo or 5 series either.

At the minute the way diesel is creeping up , nothing is cheap to run these days! :(

Craig , the New North Sea, oil and gas exploration is soon to start. There is lost of gas and oil down there. Just in a different area. THE industry has known this for decades. , But I have retired,.
 
May 29, 2018
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Update:
As we have neither van nor the towcar as yet. I have managed to steer the family towards a smaller van. We have test driven an Outlander PHEV and were quite taken with it because, towing aside, we will be able to almost exclusively run it on the plug-in so lots of savings there. This obviously limits our MTPLM to 1500 so looking more at a 4/5 Beth that will do the job.

Still all just theory at the moment of course.

Thanks for all your continued input.... it is always appreciated.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Ste6t9 said:
Update:
As we have neither van nor the towcar as yet. I have managed to steer the family towards a smaller van. We have test driven an Outlander PHEV and were quite taken with it because, towing aside, we will be able to almost exclusively run it on the plug-in so lots of savings there. This obviously limits our MTPLM to 1500 so looking more at a 4/5 Beth that will do the job.

Still all just theory at the moment of course.

Thanks for all your continued input.... it is always appreciated.

I think PC did a review of the Outlander PHEV some time back. Might be worth a trawl through the site.

PS Edit Here it is.
https://www.practicalcaravan.com/reviews/tow-car/31402-mitsubishi-outlander-phev
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Looking at the review for the Outlander I’m not sure that the ‘jury’ even gave it a majority vote! So much would depend on how to drive and where you plan to drive with the outfit. But the key to relaxed driving in s PHEV would seem to be the ability to retain a reserve of battery power.
It’s a relatively low power low torque petrol engine. In Spring 2014 we gave up caravanning and sold the lot. Not requiring a tow car I bought s new 2.0 non turbo 150 HP Subaru Forester. Lovely car to drive. In Autumn 2016 we decided to buy another caravan and bought a Trigano Silver pop top MTPLM 1000kg. It’s roofline sat below that of the Forester. On our first (and only) trip out it was clear that the Forester needed a lot of revs even to pull out on the motorway to overtake at 50-60 mph. On the route from Cardiff to Brecon sections were taken with over 5000rpm and I was acutely aware that for the first time in years I was holding traffic up. We then sold the Trigano and bought our present van 1300 kg MTPLM. On a gentle trip down the A36 to the New Forest it became clear either the Forester had to go, or the caravan would. Yet that Car had a max tow weight of 2000kg, which is based on its ability to restart a specified number of times on a specified slope.
If you plan to caravan to mid or southern France there are some grindingly long hill on the autoroutes.
Unfortunately you don’t get the chance test drive a loaded outfit. One other area you could check out would be the horse community.
There are members on this forum who drive petrol tow cars but these have a higher output than the Outlander and are probably turbo. But that could be an option if you want to avoid diesel.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Totally agree with OC, a few years ago we travelled back up the A75 from Bezier to Clermont Ferrand, with a heavy Coachman 560 and a heavy Santa fe, the temperature was in the mid 30's, wow talk about slow steady driving, so as not o overheat the car. That was my most gruelling drive, I will only do that route if We are lightly loaded, and the temp is below 30 c.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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I have found Towcar.info a Dutch matching site quite accurate over may last three outfits. You can adjust things like noseweight, payload (car and caravan) etc and see the effects on overall suitability. However like all such aides you need to be cautious in accepting the recommendations blindly. But that site seems one of the better ones. Ive looked at the PHEV and there are some useful UK owner reviews alongside the sites own calculations/recommendations.

Here the link.
https://towcar.info/GB/outfitmatch.php

PS you will need to input your specific details of an outfit. You can then adjust by going right down to the bottom where there are individual boxes for weights which are not maker/make specific. There are two owner reviews. One glowing, one "not again". Life can be difficult cant it?
 
May 29, 2018
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Thanks so much for all this help and opinion. Much appreciated. We live across the road (almost) from a huge caravan place so we go quite regularly. So in light of the PHEV test drive (which we all loved) we have cut our cloth accordingly and looked for caravans to suit the car. The latest possibility was a Bailey Pegasus Rimini (2016) which did give a good match on the site you mentioned so that gives us hope that we could successfully tow with the PHEV. Obviously it's still all just thinking about things at the moment but it's nice to know the help and advice is out there.
 
Nov 29, 2017
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Hi I'm glad you have decided on a tow car, I think thats half the battle.
I also was a class 1 HGV driver for many years for BSC I can second the opinion of many that towing a caravan is nothing like driving a truck, I think trucking was easier as it was a much stabiler ride, having said that I really enjoy towing, I have a Volvo XC60 and I find it tows my van an elddis typhoon 20 foot absolutely fine, my van is not new and to be honest with kid's I personally would probably go for an older cheaper van just to make sure you actually like caravaning, not everyone does even though the idea seems appealing.
Also the newer the van and brought from a dealer dragging it off the Lott will lose instant value and we are not talking a couple of pounds, anything you look at check the price it's selling for online privately.
 

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