Tow Car of the Year 2012

Tow Car of the Year 2011
Credits: Alan Bond/John Colley
7 Oct, 2011 3:12pm

We team up with experts at the Caravan Club to pick best buys for towing, then name our Tow Car of the Year

Caravans are hugely popular, but you won’t be hitching up and exploring anywhere if you don’t have a car with the necessary pulling power. So Auto Express has teamed up with the experts at the Caravan Club to name the best tow cars money can buy.

Our team of judges set out to find the top buys in three price categories: £25,000 and under, £25,000-£32,000 and over £32,000. We also considered the best four-wheel-drive tow cars weighing under and over 1,800kg.

In total, 30 models were tested, but only one could take the Tow Car of the Year title…

How we did it

Millbrook Proving Ground near Bedford hosted three days of intensive testing using a fleet of Bailey caravans. Before we drove each car, the caravan was ballasted to 85 per cent of the model’s kerbweight and the noseweights were set to the recommended limits (five to seven per cent of the caravan’s running weight or the maximum stipulated weight for the coupling head – whichever was lowest).

Our tests included laps around the two-mile high-speed bowl, so our judges could rate stability at speed and the effect of crosswinds on the combination.

Next, an emergency stop from 50mph in a straight line highlighted the extra distance required to come to a halt when towing. And the final element of the process involved a twisty hill route. It featured inclines of 21 and 14 per cent, and tested handbrakes on hill starts. We then rated each car’s ‘caravanability’ by seeing how easily they swallowed a predetermined camping kit list including everything from water carriers to folding chairs.