Best SUVs for towing 2020

  • SUVs are the perfect vehicles for towing
  • Stability, weight and towing limits explained
  • Options to suit all budgets and requirements

For those who tow, whether that be a caravan on holiday, a horsebox to the races or a trailer to the tip, having the right tow car is vitally important. That’s because towing ability goes far beyond just getting a towbar fitted – it’s a careful balancing act of weights and measures, trading ability in one area for practicality in others.

There’s no surprise, then, that SUVs are by far and away the most popular choice of tow car. A heavy vehicle with four-wheel drive will take charge of whatever you’re towing, rather than allowing it to take charge of you, improving both stability and safety.

Audi A6 Allroad towbar

Of course, a tow car has to remain usable every day. What’s the point in being able to effortlessly tow if a simple trip to the shops is miserable? That’s why we’ve concentrated this list not just on SUVs that are good at towing, but ones which work well as daily transport – comfortable, efficient and safe cars you’d be pleased to own even if you didn’t need to tow.

We’ve also included SUVs of all shapes and sizes knowing that not everybody has the need of – or the means to buy and run – a vast tow car.

What makes a good tow car?

First of all, there’s the towing limit. This is the number that the car is legally allowed to tow, and it’s gospel - towing more than your car is allowed to is a criminal offence. Some vehicles don’t ever go through the necessary tests to get a tow rating, and so despite having the power and capability to do so can never legally tow a trailer. It’s best to leave a generous margin when considering a towing limit – don’t buy a car that will just barely do the job.

SsangYong Rexton with horse box

The numbers aren’t always the be-all and end-all, though. A good tow car needs to have enough power – or, more accurately, enough torque – to deal with what it’s pulling. After all, who wants to be the archetypal caravanner holding up a vast queue of traffic on a country road? It’s for this reason that the diesel engine, with its low-down pulling power, remains king among those who need to tow.

Stability is important, and heavier vehicles tend to deal better with the weighty task of commanding a trailer. We also appreciate vehicles with clever additions to make towing just that little bit easier, such as camera systems for hooking up or air suspension to save lifting your hitch up.

Have you considered a pickup truck?

If your needs are heavyweight but your budget is small, consider a double-cab pickup instead of a large SUV. These workhorses are great value, especially if they’re purchased as commercial vehicles rather than cars – yet the latest models can almost match their opposition for comfort, safety and drivability.

SsangYong Musso with Alfa

Best of all, almost every pickup on the market today is rated to tow a massive 3,500kg – a figure reserved for the very biggest of tow cars. If you’re interested in a pickup truck, we’ve tested nearly every one right here.

Read on for our pick of the best SUVs for towing, or click the links below to jump to your favourite.

Best small SUVs for towing

Best medium SUVs for towing

Best large SUVs for towing

Dacia Duster 

Dacia Duster

As budget 4x4s go, the Dacia Duster has to be near the top of your list regardless of needs – it’s spacious and good to drive but it’s also unbeatably good value thanks to a list price that undercuts most city cars, let alone crossovers.

For towing, you’ll want the 1.5-litre dCi diesel paired to four-wheel drive. It’s rated to tow up to 1,500kg so the 1,000kg or so of a small caravan should be child’s play. You’re unlikely to see great performance, but the diesel has plenty of low-down pull, plus a very low first gear to make getting away easier.

Price new: From £10,855
Lease this car:
From £193 per month

Suzuki Vitara 

Suzuki Vitara

We rate the Suzuki Vitara very highly as a solo vehicle thanks to its combination of clever design, good practicality and cheap running costs. It also makes a great lightweight tow car.

The Vitara’s rated to tow up to 1,200kg, and if you go for the well-equipped SZ5 model you can pair it with Allgrip four-wheel drive for added traction.

Price new: From £15,954

Honda HR-V 

Honda HR-V

The Honda HR-V is front-wheel drive only, but is an impressively stable tow vehicle with plenty to recommend it. The 1.6-litre diesel engine is very efficient but has enough low-down shove to keep things clipping along, and a maximum towing limit of 1,400kg is competitive.

The HR-V’s also an amazingly practical vehicle with room for the entire family and their luggage. The boot is vast and the genius ‘Magic Seats’ make the load area adaptable to any size or shape of object. It’s a very clever SUV and one well worth considering even on its own merits.

Price new: From £20,645
Lease this car:
From £202 per month

Volkswagen Tiguan 

Volkswagen Tiguan

Volkswagen as a manufacturer has really committed to its customers who tow – as such, the Tiguan is available with the brilliant Trailer Assist, which makes short work of reversing a trailer or caravan.

It’s also capable of towing up to 2,500kg – impressive for what’s still quite a small SUV. Engines ranging from adequate to seriously muscular further aid proceedings, and a practical and beautifully-finished interior make the Tiguan seriously attractive as both a daily driver and a tow car.

Price new: From £24,965
Lease this car:
From £278 per month

SsangYong Korando 

SsangYong Korando

The last Korando, with its low price, high kerbweight and torquey engine, became somewhat of a hit with the caravanning community. With the latest model, SsangYong’s made a Korando specially aimed at those who tow – the ‘Pioneer’ trim level, which includes four-wheel drive, a beefy 1.6-litre diesel engine and 2,000kg towing capacity.

The Korando still feels like a little bit of a workhorse thanks to a clattery engine and some unsophisticated technology, but there’s no denying you get a lot of car for your money here; it’s a practical SUV and is leaps and bounds over its popular predecessor.

Price new: From £19,665

Volvo XC60 

Volvo XC60

With a gorgeous interior and bags of effortless Scandinavian style, the Volvo XC60 feels like quite a special car to travel in. It’s practical and comfortable too – it makes a brilliant daily driver, and with a vast array of standard safety equipment there are few more reassuring ways to transport a family.

It’s reassuring to tow with, too. It’s a heavy car, and a stable one, and its maximum towing capacity of 2,400kg is very generous indeed. Diesel engines and four-wheel drive are both available, and welcomed.

Price new: From £39,430
Lease this car:
From £393 per month

Land Rover Discovery 

Land Rover Discovery

Head to any horse show or (posh) caravan site and you’ll probably see more Land Rover Discoveries than any other kind of car. This workhorse has long been the choice for those who need maximum capability from their tow car – and with a 3,500kg towing limit, seven adult-sized seats and supreme comfort on or off tow, who can blame them?

The Discovery isn’t cheap but if you need a vehicle that can do it all, this could be the tow car for you.

Price new: From £46,465
Lease this car:
From £684 per month

SsangYong Rexton 

SsangYong Rexton

Budget won’t quite stretch to a Discovery? Nobody’s going to mistake budget brand SsangYong for one of its premium rivals any time soon, but ‘the Korean Land Rover’, as it brands itself, has plenty of experience making capable yet wallet-friendly tow cars.

The Rexton will tow up to 3,500kg and has the kerbweight to deal with even a large horsebox or twin-axle caravan. It’s also SsangYong’s most luxurious vehicle to date, loaded with equipment in a surprisingly comfortable, nicely-designed interior.

Price new: From £28,180

Range Rover 

Range Rover

To put it simply, the Range Rover offers all the capability of the Land Rover Discovery (seven seats aside) but wrapped up in a package that’s even more luxurious and premium. This is for when you want to get to the gymkhana in style.

Like its brother, the Range Rover offers ample pulling power and a huge towing limit, plus near-unbeatable off-road ability should you find yourself in a particularly muddy field. Opt for one of the more powerful engines and you’ll barely notice you’re towing at all. If you’ve got the money… we’re quite envious.

Price new: From £82,140
Lease this car:
From £973 per month

Volkswagen Touareg 

Volkswagen Touareg

We finish this list with the current incumbent of the Parkers Tow Car of the Year award. The Touareg is also rated to tow 3,500kg, and any of its engines has the power to do so effortlessly.

The Touareg also bundles all of the assistance tech that its smaller siblings offer – particularly the amazing Trailer Assist which takes the sting out of reversing. Quality, performance, technology and capability – the Touareg has it all, and we still think it’s the tow car to go for.

Price new: From £44,400
Lease this car:
From £486 per month

Further reading

>> Pickup truck group test

>> Parkers best large SUVs

>> Parkers Tow Car of the Year 2020