Top 10 Tow Vehicles of 2016

Philip Lord — 27 September 2016

Every year, we published a list of our top tow vehicles - check out the top tow vehicles of 2015 and 2014!

We have broadened the scope for this year’s list to include any vehicle we’ve tow-tested and that is still on sale in 2016, provided it has not undergone any significant upgrade since tested.

The Top 10 have been benchmarked against their ability to tow in city stop-start driving, freeway cruising, hill climbing and descending and on rough secondary roads. Ride smoothness, performance, stability and fuel economy are all considerations. Mirror design is assessed for suitability with the same mirror-mounted towing mirrors. Coupling up the caravan, the ease of such an operation is assessed, including how accessible the towball, trailer electrical connector and shackle eyelets are.

Just because your vehicle isn’t on this list, it doesn’t mean it’s not a good tow vehicle. It’s just not one of the best, in our view.

1. RAM Laramie 2500

The RAM is the stand-out of our ‘Top 10’ because it makes every other tow vehicle we’ve tested seem like toys. It can tow up to 6989kg behind it, but you’ll need a pintle hook to do it. With a 50mm towball, it’s ‘only’ a 3500kg maximum. It towed a 2900kg caravan like it wasn’t even there.

The RAM was a rock-solid towing platform and although the front end pitched up and down on rough roads, it wasn’t too obvious. Hills didn’t slow the RAM and with its exhaust brakes, going downhill at a set speed without needing the brakes was easy. It might be more of a truck than some would want with its rough-riding ways, but if you wanted the ultimate tow vehicle, this is it.

Check out the full review of the RAM Laramie 2500.


Engine 6.7L inline six-cylinder turbodiesel

Transmission Six-speed automatic

Towing capacity 3500kg (4500kg with 70mm towball; 6989kg with pintle)

Towball (max) 350kg

2. Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series

The LandCruiser 200 Series might’ve been pushed down the ladder to number two by the RAM, but it’s still one hell of a good tow vehicle. We’ve saddled the LandCruiser 200 with all sorts of caravans over the years in all sorts of conditions and never found one situation where the LandCruiser felt anything but rock-solid.

Strong performance and a lush ride when towing are other pluses. The negatives are that it is becoming dated (although it did receive a mild 2016 refresh) and the 4.5L V8 twin-turbodiesel engine is almost as thirsty as the petrol model when towing.

Check out our full review of the Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series.


Engine Twin turbo-charged V8 diesel

Transmission Six-speed automatic

Towing capacity 3500kg

Towball (max) 350kg

3. Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6

Based on the 2004 Discovery 3, the Discovery 4 is now in its twilight years – the Discovery 5 will be on sale in Australia in 2017 – but the current Disco is a worthy member of the ‘Top 10’ club, even in its dotage. A hefty 2700kg-plus kerb weight helps keep any caravan from shoving it around and the air spring suspension provides a contained, comfortable ride with a van behind.

The sequential twin-turbo 2.7L diesel does not lack for power, either. The only downside to the Discovery is that Land Rover doesn’t support the use of a weight distribution hitch for the Disco 4.

Check out the full review of the Land Rover Discovery 4.


Engine 2.7L twin-turbo diesel

Transmission Eight-speed auto

Towing capacity3500kg

Towball (max) 350kg

4. Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD

The WK2 Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the few 4WDs that has the maximum 3500kg towing capacity and reasonably svelte dimensions to make it an acceptable city vehicle. The Jeep is very solid with a van behind – it’s very stable and predictable in its response to wind buffeting and road surface changes.

The 3.0L turbodiesel V6 copes well with the additional weight of a caravan – its mid-range response is very strong and the engine doesn’t chew through as much diesel as you might expect it to. The eight-speed automatic is a smooth, willing companion to the engine and has a good spread of ratios.


Engine 3.0L turbodiesel V6

Transmission Eight-speed automatic

Towing capacity 3500kg

Towball (max) 350kg 

5. Ford Ranger/Mazda BT-50

These are the only utes (except the RAM) to reach the ‘Top 10’ list because they are stand-out tow tugs against their peers. The Ranger and BT-50 were co-developed and despite a slight parting of ways in their latest 2015 update, they are still basically the same under the skin.

These utes have great stability, barely moving at all with a van behind, benefitting greatly from their lanky wheelbase and short rear-axle-to-towball measurement. The Ranger and BT-50 have equal best-in-class performance when towing, able to steam up hills that leave the rest of their competitor utes floundering.

Engine braking is also very good and the six-speed auto is very easy to use in manual mode to hold gears on descents.


Engine Five-cylinder diesel

Transmission Six-speed auto

Towing capacity 3500kg

Towball (max) 350kg

Check out the full review of the Ford Ranger.

6. Toyota LandCruiser 76 Series

There is no doubt that this old-school LandCruiser wagon was born with the ability to tow large, heavy loads. With its basic, live axles and all-coil suspension bolted to a separate chassis, its chest-thumping V8 turbo-diesel and short gearing, the Cruiser has all it takes to tow very well.

The Cruiser barely flinches with a van on the back, and is a stable towing rig. Its engine seems well capable of taking on the extra weight of a heavy van but once you get up to touring speed the turbo-diesel V8 does struggle on steeper hills.

Check out the full review of the Toyota LandCruiser 76 Series.


Engine 1VD-FTE V8 turbodiesel engine

Transmission Five-speed manual

Towing capacity 3500kg

Towball (max) 350kg

7. Isuzu MU-X

The MU-X is a bit of a dark horse really — you wouldn’t think that this would be a Top 10 tow vehicle but it most certainly is. The MU-X is a natural with a caravan behind; it’ll take on the weight of a tandem-axle full-size caravan with no hint of instability. It just feels planted. Engine braking is very good, while performance up hills is better than the torque and power figures would suggest. Fuel consumption is better than most, too. On rough roads, the MU-X does get some front-end pitching happening, but it’s still one of the best mid-size towing platforms out there.


Engine 3L intercooled turbodiesel

Transmission Five-speed automatic

Towing capacity 3000kg

Towball (max) 300kg

8. Toyota Prado

The Prado is a good tow hauler; it feels solid on the road with a van hooked up, with no yawing. The Prado is prone to some pitching up front, but it’s pretty benign and overall provides a plush ride. Despite the transition to a new engine in 2016 (down from 3.0-litres to 2.8-litres) promising 40Nm more torque and 3kW more power, you don’t really notice the difference. In any case, for all but the steepest climbs, it’ll maintain its touring speed. Engine braking is pretty good, pegging speed on all but the steepest descents and fuel consumption while towing isn’t bad, either.

Check out the full review of the Toyota Prado.


Engine 2.8L four-cylinder turbodiesel

Transmission Six-speed automatic

Towing capacity 2500kg

Towball (max) 200kg

9. Mitsubishi Pajero

The Pajero is a bit of an old warhorse but it is still capable of shaking a few trees. Performance is exceptionally good with the Pajero not much affected by having two tonnes towed behind it. On the open road there is a plentiful reserve of power, although the Pajero does like a drink when it’s towing. Engine braking is not bad, either. The Pajero is a very stable towing platform, although it does tend to sit on its haunches at the back if reaching towards its maximum 250kg ball load. A WDH or air helper springs sorts that out.

The downsides are that the Pajero’s 3000kg towing capacity is a joke because from 2501kg to 3000kg, maximum TBM is just 180kg (it’s 250kg up to 2500kg) and the spare wheel placement makes it near impossible to open the tailgate when hitched up, for some even with the spare wheel ‘lift kit’.

Check out the full review of the Mitsubishi Pajero.


Engine 3.2L turbocharged four-cylinder diesel

Transmission Five-speed auto

Towing capacity 2500/3000kg

Towball (max) 250/180kg 

10. Holden Commodore SV6 Sportwagon

The Commodore Sportwagon is an excellent tow vehicle, with a plenty of power and torque from its V6 engine to keep 100km/h on the speedo out on the highway up hill and down dale. The rear springs are on the soft side when a coupling is dropped onto the Commodore’s towbar, so it’s best to follow Holden’s recommendation to use a WDH when towing.

With a WDH fitted, the Holden doesn’t put a foot wrong, with only a very slight yawing when large trucks pass on the freeway. It’s a very comfortable, stable towing experience with the power to stay out of trouble.




Towing capacity 2100kg

Towball (max) 210kg

Check out our previous list and see what has changed!



tow vehicles Toyota LandCruiser RAM Land Rover Discovery Jeep Ford Ranger Mazda Isuzu MU-X Mitsubishi Pajero Prado Holden Sportwagon