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 23, 2021

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.

How come? Electric cars are already very heavy, so 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.

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. If you had to stop every hour and a half to charge up your car on a caravanning holiday, would you bother going at all? Possibly not.

Putting all that to one side, there are a handful 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. Jaguar I-Pace

Used deals from £40,001
Monthly finance from £535*
Maximum towing weight 750kg

The Jaguar I-Pace arrived on the scene in 2018, and immediately shone as one of the best driving electric SUVs you could get. Fast forward to the present day and that reputation still holds true, with few electric cars of this size capable of holding a candle to the I-Pace in terms of driving pleasure.

A 90kWh battery pack gives the I-Pace a theoretical range of 298 miles - without a caravan, attached, that is - although in real-world conditions somewhere just above 200 miles is more likely. Acceleration is astounding, with a dual-motor system providing 394hp and enabling the car to hit 62mph from a standstill in 4.6 seconds. For context, most hot hatches can't get anywhere near that turn of speed.

As a five-seater, the I-Pace will comfortably hold four adults (the middle seat in the back is a bit of a squeeze), while the 656-litre boot will easily swallow a number of suitcases. This will be very handy while towing a caravan, although it’ll have to be a lightweight one as the I-Pace can only tow up to 750kg.

On BuyaCar, the most affordable examples of the Jaguar I-Pace are now available from less than £50,000. That's a big reduction on the car’s starting price of around £65,000, though you can expect the entry price for the I-Pace to continue to drop quickly as three, four and five-year-old versions become available.

JAGUAR I-PACE BUYERS’ GUIDE

2. Audi e-tron

Used deals from £41,995
Monthly finance from £537*
Maximum towing weight 1,800kg

If you need to tow a caravan that’s a bit heavier than the I-Pace’s low 750kg limit, then the Audi e-tron electric SUV provides much more flexibility with its towing limit of 1,800kg. The car was launched in 2019, and on BuyaCar’s listings around £50,000 could get you into a 2020 example with only a few thousand miles on the clock. As with the I-Pace above, this entry price will continue to drop quickly as this still pretty new car gets older.

It may be electric, but the e-tron delivers a familiar upmarket feel so common in Audis. The interior is very plush indeed, with virtually all of the car’s functions controlled via two screens in the centre of the dashboard. A third digital display behind the steering wheel acts as the instrument cluster and integrates a live map for easy navigation on the move.

A pair of electric motors give the e-tron 408hp (available using a boost function which lasts eight seconds), which is enough for 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds. However, you have to remember that the e-tron weighs two-and-a-half tonnes, which makes it very inefficient in electric car terms; the 95kWh battery in the top-spec e-tron 55 offers 249 miles of range on a single charge, similar to what the Nissan Leaf e+ can achieve with a battery that’s 35% smaller. In the e-tron, a full top-up at home should cost less than £15, so fuelling this big Audi should still be far cheaper than topping up a petrol or diesel equivalent.

AUDI E-TRON BUYERS’ GUIDE

3. Mercedes EQC

Mercedes-Benz EQC side

Used deals from £52,834
Monthly finance from £743*
Maximum towing weight 1,800kg

The Mercedes EQC is another big electric SUV with towing ability, achieving the same maximum towing weight as the e-tron at 1,800kg. Hitting 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds, the EQC is marginally slower than the top-spec versions of both the Audi e-tron and the Jaguar I-Pace, although you’d be unlikely to notice the difference if you drove one after the other. While the acceleration provided by the car’s 408hp is impressive, the EQC is more geared toward comfort; there’s very little noise from the motors or the tyres, making this one of the quietest cars money can buy.

Using an 80kWh battery the EQC gets an official range of 248-252 miles, though in the real world 200 miles is a more realistic level. The car’s charging rate is capped at 110kW, so if you can find a public charger that can provide that kind of speed you’re looking at top-up times (when charging to 80%) of just over half an hour. There’s enough space inside for five adults, while the 500-litre boot is a very good size with no load-lip to make life difficult.

£60,000 will get you a barely used Mercedes EQC on BuyaCar, although you won’t find many much cheaper at this stage in the car’s life cycle. Having launched in 2019, it’s still relatively new and as with all recent cars, the entry price will drop quickly as it gets older.

MERCEDES EQC BUYERS’ GUIDE

4. Tesla Model X

Used deals Limited stock
Maximum towing weight 2,250kg

When it comes to towing a caravan with an electric car, the Tesla Model X SUV is by far and away the best available option on the market right now. Its towing limit of 2,250kg is the highest of any battery-electric vehicle on sale at the time of writing, and it even comes with a towing mode to adjust the car’s behaviour when you’ve hitched something onto the back.

Performance is nothing short of extraordinary. The slowest version - the Model X Long Range - can cover 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds, while the Performance edition reduces that to a seriously rapid 2.6 seconds. How fast the Model X will go with a caravan in tow isn’t clear, although we’re not sure you’d want to find out if you have fragile crockery stashed away.

With the back seats folded flat the Model X can take 2,492 litres worth of stuff - making it as big in the back asall but the very biggest people carriers, and some cars come with the optional seven seats for large families. Access is easy (and somewhat entertaining) thanks to the gullwing doors that open upwards, but sadly there’s no awning attachment to go with them.

Prices for a new Model X range from around £82,000 to £110,000, so you’ll be lucky to get even one of the earliest models for less than £70,000. As with the other cars in our list, though, expect used versions to quickly become more affordable over the coming years.

TESLA MODEL X BUYERS’ GUIDE

5. Tesla Model 3

Used deals Limited stock
Maximum towing weight 1,000kg

The Tesla Model 3 is the other car in the American company’s lineup that’s rated for towing, although it’s limited to 1,000kg. Drivers who pick up this car new have to pay £1,000 for the privilege as well (it can’t be fitted retrospectively), so not every used Model 3 on sale will be caravan-holiday ready. That means that if you're looking at used models you'll want to double check that any specific cars you're considering have had this fitted.

The Model 3 is available in three guises in the UK. The cheapest is the Standard Range Plus, which has the smallest battery and offers 267 miles of range per charge as well as two-wheel drive. Next up is the Long Range AWD, which boosts range to a whopping 360 miles and offers all-wheel drive. The top-spec model is the Performance version, which can cover 253 miles on a single charge but unlocks incredible speed from the motors; 0-60mph takes just 3.1 seconds.

Driving a Tesla also gives you exclusive access to the Tesla Supercharger network, which is the most abundant network of public rapid charging stations in the UK. Find one of these and you could be charging at rates of up to 250kW, resulting in an 80% battery top-up in just 22 minutes.

As the Model 3 is so new, there aren’t many used examples available yet, but you can expect more and more second-hand models to start appearing as the months go by.

Best PHEVs for towing a caravan

1. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Used deals from £11,058
Monthly finance from £217*
Maximum towing weight 1,500kg

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.

On BuyaCar, the most affordable six-year old models are available for around £12,000 to £14,000, and those through to models sold in the latter stages of 2018 combined a 2.0-litre petrol engine with a 12kWh battery. A facelift 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 nowhere near as restrictive as that of the Jaguar I-Pace, 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

Used deals from £14,450
Monthly finance from £182*
Maximum towing weight 1,600kg

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 an 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.

£16,000 will get you an immaculate, 2015 version Golf GTE with relatively few miles on it, but if you’re prepared to pay a bit more, 2017 models benefit from a facelift that saw a range of new technologies added.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTE BUYERS’ GUIDE

3. Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine

Used deals from £29,900
Monthly finance from £455*
Maximum towing weight 2,100kg

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 T8 and it’s 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. Both are pretty fast as family cars go.

Charging the 11.8kWh 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.

Early examples of the XC60 T8 can be found on BuyaCar for around £35,000 or just over £500* per month on PCP finance. One of our only complaints is that the car is an expensive proposition when new, so getting one at a much reduced price can only be good news.

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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