Best electric cars for towing a caravan

Want to go electric but wondering whether you'll be able to hitch up the caravan? You’ll need deep pockets but there are options

Joe Holding
Mar 11, 2022

With electric cars becoming an ever more common feature on our roads, it’s easy to see the appeal of using one to tow a caravan. Especially as electric cars don't have gears to worry about and offer seamless power at all speeds. The idea of gliding through the countryside in near silence with a caravan in tow sounds like the makings of a very relaxing holiday.

However, there are only a handful of electric cars that are legally able to tow a caravan so far. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one is to do with ‘type approval’; when car manufacturers create a new model, it must be type approved before it can go on sale. During this process, car makers can decide if they want their new car to be approved for towing, but sometimes decide against it.

Because electric cars are already very heavy, adding the weight of a caravan or trailer into the equation could put a car’s brakes under a strain they’re unable to cope with. Regenerative braking - the technology electric cars use to recycle energy otherwise lost when slowing down - is another factor, with systems usually only calibrated to account for the weight of the vehicle and not the extra weight of a caravan or tailer.

Then there’s the range to consider. Most electric cars will only travel a couple of hundred miles on a single charge of their battery, and this would be reduced further by towing a heavy caravan.

There is an increasing number of electric cars that can tow a caravan. Plus, the next best things are plug-in hybrid cars, which have both an internal combustion engine and at least one electric motor. So if you want a vehicle with some zero-emission range but with a normal engine for long-distance trips, this could be your best bet.

Just remember that you'll need to charge the battery regularly to get the best economy with a plug-in hybrid. Fail to do so and it's likely to be barely any more efficient than an ordinary petrol or diesel equivalent. A full charge with most plug-in hybrids gives you up to around 30 miles or so on electric power. Add in the weight of a caravan, however, and you can expect this to drop dramatically, meaning less distance travelled on electricity and more fuel burnt.

Best electric cars for towing a caravan

1. BMW iX

Towing capacity 2,500kg
Used deals Limited stock

Topping the charts as the electric car with the highest permissible towing weight is the BMW iX - one of BMW’s many SUVs, similar in size to the X5. It’s not a particularly cheap electric car with a starting price of around £70,000, but there are already used deals on BuyaCar available for delivery within 14 days.

All versions are rated to tow 2,500kg, including 40e, 50e and M60 models. The slowest manages a 0-62mph time of 6.1 seconds, fast enough to rival most hot hatches, while the 540hp M60 version does it in a breathtaking 3.8 seconds.

Don’t expect to come near the maximum estimated range of 348 miles when towing anything particularly heavy, but charging speeds of up to 200kW can add as many as 370 miles per hour, depending on the model and whether you can find a fast enough point.

READ MORE ABOUT THE BMW IX

2. Tesla Model X

Towing capacity 2,250kg
Used deals Limited stock

Tesla’s biggest and most expensive electric car is capable of towing an impressive 2,250kg making it a bit of a heavyweight champ compared to the Model 3, which is only rated to tow up to 1,000kg.

The American automaker has recently updated its Model X and Model S ranges. The slowest now manages 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds thanks to a pair of motors producing 671hp, and when you run out of juice you have Tesla’s expansive charging network to rely on.

Older versions are less powerful, and have a large portrait-orientated touchscreen media display inside. The newer models are best recognised by their landscape-orientated displays, however all versions get free over-the-air updates to keep things like the ‘Autopilot’ part self-driving system up to date.

TESLA MODEL X BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Mercedes EQC

Towing capacity 1,800kg
Used deals from £54,980
Monthly finance from £1,024*

Mercedes introduced the EQC in 2019 as an electric companion to the slightly shorter GLC SUV, and it has since spurred on a whole family of electric cars including the smaller EQA crossover, the van-like EQV MPV and EQS saloon.

Like many of these highly-rated electric tow cars, the EQC isn’t short on power. There’s also plenty of space for rear-seat passengers, and a decent 500-litre boot which is similar in size to that of the GLC.

All versions come with keyless entry, a power tailgate, bright LED headlights and self-levelling rear suspension that can be particularly useful when towing.

MERCEDES EQC BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Audi e-tron

Towing capacity 1,800kg
Used deals from £45,000
Monthly finance from £745*

A direct rival for the EQC above, the e-tron offers an identical 1,800kg towing limit. Buyers have the choice of regular e-tron models and sporty-looking e-tron Sportback models (pictured above) with a sloping roofline, as well as performance-orientated ’S’ versions of both.

Like-for-like prices are similar for the e-tron and EQC, however Audi does offer a less powerful 313hp version for almost £10,000 less. Both ’50’ and ’55’ versions of the e-tron are rated to tow 1,800kg, so there’s little need to pay for the extra power if towing is your priority.

Don’t confuse the e-tron with the similarly named e-tron GT sports car and Q4 e-tron crossover, neither of which are suitable for towing.

AUDI E-TRON BUYERS' GUIDE
AUDI E-TRON SPORTBACK BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Volvo XC40 Electric

Towing capacity 1,800kg (Twin Motor), 1,500kg (Single Motor)
Used deals Limited stock

Volvo has long had a reputation for building safe cars and the stylish XC40 crossover lives up to expectations with a five-star Euro NCAP rating under its belt.

Powerful ‘Twin Motor’ models can tow up to 1,800kg, however cheaper ‘Single Motor’ models are only rated to tow 1,600kg. Note that plug-in hybrid XC40s can also tow 1,800kg while offering the backup of a petrol engine for extended range, and certain mild hybrid models can exceed two tonnes.

Drivers looking for a coupe-like SUV could consider the electric C40, which offers equal towing capacities in electric form. All versions are well-equipped with a large, portrait touchscreen media system with voice control, LED lights and parking sensors.

VOLVO XC40 BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Tesla Model Y

Towing capacity 1,600kg (Long Range)

Deliveries of the Model Y in the UK began early in 2022, several months after the car arrived in America. It’s based on the popular Model 3, though this crossover benefits from a large hatchback-style boot opening unlike its saloon counterpart, making it a far more practical option for families.

At the time of writing, there is a pair of ‘Dual Motor’ models with four-wheel drive. It’s only the cheaper ‘Long Range’ model that’s rated to tow up to 1,600kg; ‘Performance’ models are not suitable for towing despite their breathtaking power figures. Drivers of the Model 3 are limited to 1,000kg in all but ‘Performance’ models, including the rear-wheel-drive model.

The minimalist interior centres around a large, landscape touchscreen that houses everything from media to climate control and even the speedometer - there is no second screen or set of dials behind the wheel. All cars come with ‘Autopilot’ which consists of adaptive cruise control and limited self-steering capabilities, though drivers can upgrade to ‘Enhanced Autopilot’ and ‘Full Self-Driving’ packages for several thousand pounds, either at the time of purchase and later on in the car’s life.

7. Kia EV6

Towing capacity 1,600kg
Used deals Limited stock

This relatively new electric car sits somewhere between a hatchback and a crossover, rivalling EVs like the Volkswagen ID.3, Mercedes EQA and sister company Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 - which is also rated to tow 1,600kg in ‘Long Range’ format.

The 77.4kWh battery offers well over 300 miles of range in the best conditions, however expect this to drop when the weather is cold, and when towing. When you’re not towing, the EV6 is one of the most economical electric cars, managing around 3.8 mi/kWh in rear-wheel-drive format.

One of the EV6’s key selling points is its ‘Vehicle-to-Load’ charging capabilities. As well as AC charging at speed of up to 11kW, and rapid charging at up to 233kW if you can find a fast enough charger, the EV6 can output 3.6kW allowing drivers to power external things, such as charging an electric bike on a camping trip.

8. Polestar 2

Towing capacity 1,500kg
Used deals Limited stock

Polestar has been tuning Volvos for many years, offering high-performance engines and plug-in hybrid models, but it is now a standalone brand offering its own electric vehicle: a saloon similar in size to the Tesla Model 3.

It shares many of its parts with the Volvo XC40 above, including the 408hp ‘Twin Motor’ setup. This, and the slower ‘Twin Motor’ version, can tow 1,500kg which is less than the best XC40.

Like Tesla, Polestar offers free over-the-air updates to improve existing features and add new ones, and it has already delivered several updates proving that it’s up to the task unlike other EV makers.

Best PHEVs for towing a caravan

1. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Towing capacity 1,500kg
Used deals from £14,790
Monthly finance from £0*

Given that you’ll almost certainly have to pay tens of thousands of pounds for an electric car that’s capable of towing a caravan - or face steep PCP finance monthly payments - you might be better off looking at plug-in hybrid alternatives instead. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is one of the most popular plug-in hybrids of the last few years, and as a reasonably large SUV it’s perfectly suited to family trips away.

Early models feature a 12kWh battery, but an update in 2019 introduced a raft of changes, including a new 2.4-litre petrol engine and a larger, 13.8kWh battery which on paper allows the car to cover 31 miles on a full charge with the engine switched off.

The towing capacity of 1,500kg is similar to many popular electric cars, and you could travel long-distance under petrol power and reserve the electric range for short journeys once you’ve set up camp. Any caravan neighbours will be grateful of the silent running provided by the electric motor, especially late at night.

MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER PHEV BUYERS’ GUIDE

2. Volkswagen Golf GTE

Towing capacity 1,600kg
Used deals from £16,800
Monthly finance from £0*

The Volkswagen Golf GTE is another terrific plug-in hybrid option when it comes to towing a caravan. It’s been around since 2015, although sales were halted towards the end of 2018 because VW couldn’t make them quickly enough. A new Golf GTE was launched at the end of 2020, but the old model still has a lot to offer.

Rated for towing up to 1,600kg, the GTE is a typical Golf in that it can handle anything you can throw at it; it’s practical, performance is good and the spacious interior feels like it’s built to last. There’s a small 8.8kWh battery that’s good for up to 30 miles of electric-only range on a full charge, and if you make full use of this with regular charging, VW claims you could achieve 166mpg.

Topping up the battery via the cable should take less than four hours using a domestic three-pin socket, or just over two hours using a dedicated home charging unit. Like most plug-in hybrids, you can’t rapid-charge the Golf GTE, so there’s no chance of getting a rapid top-up at a public charging station.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTE BUYERS’ GUIDE

3. Volvo XC60 Twin Engine/Recharge

Towing capacity 2,100kg
Used deals from £25,800
Monthly finance from £879*

If the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Volkswagen Golf GTE don’t cut it for you in terms of towing capacity, then perhaps the Volvo XC60 and its ceiling of 2,100kg will do the trick. The plug-in hybrid variant of the Swedish SUV has an enormous 598-litre boot for all of your clobber, while the inside is very spacious and finished with a cool, minimalist design that’s sure to make every journey feel a little bit special.

Thanks to a 2.0-litre petrol engine working in tandem with an electric motor, the XC60 T8 develops a grand total of 395hp. A special-edition T8 Polestar Engineered version goes even further, all the way up to 411hp. This model will do 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds, while the standard version takes just half a second longer. The lesser-powered T6 plug-in hybrid is also rated to tow 2,100kg, and should be cheaper to buy compared to like-for-like T8 models.

Charging the 11.6kWh battery shouldn’t take much more than three hours using a home charger, but with the charging rate capped at 3.7kW there’s no chance of cutting this figure down.

VOLVO XC60 BUYERS’ GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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