Best cars for towing a 1500kg caravan

The best tow cars should also double as comfortable family cruisers. Tow 1,500kg in style with one of these eight models

Lawrence Allan
Feb 28, 2022

Choosing the right car for towing a caravan can be a minefield, particularly when the caravan in question is on the larger side. Many people choose the safety of a big off-roader by default, but there are smaller and more affordable models that can be just as capable at towing your home from home.

Manufacturers usually quote a maximum towing capacity for their cars, but this isn’t the best indicator for the weight of a caravan it can safely tow. Caravan organisations instead say you should never tow a caravan that is heavier than the quoted kerbweight of your vehicle (which shows how much it weighs, including all necessary fluids and a tank of fuel), and ideally you’d want the caravan to weigh no more than 90% of that figure. So, for example, a Ford Focus 2.0-litre diesel can officially tow up to 1,500kg, but as the car itself only weighs 1,400kg, we can’t recommend it for towing a 1,500kg caravan.

Many people also assume that a decent tow car must have four-wheel drive, but that’s not true. Sure, it’s a bonus for added weight and better traction on slippery surfaces, but it’s not essential providing the right car is chosen. We do recommend getting an automatic, however it’s not absolutely vital, but it does make it easier to pull away when weighed down, and the clutch of a manual car would slip and wear out more easily.

When choosing our top eight cars for towing a 1,500kg caravan we have selected a mix of bodystyles, from the smallest possible to the largest, most capable tow car from a variety of brands. Diesel is the preferred choice for heavy loads - as diesel engines provide greater muscle from low engine speeds - but we have included some cars with petrol options, too.

Best cars that can tow a 1,500kg caravan

1. Skoda Octavia Estate

Our pick Skoda Octavia Estate 2.0 TDI
Used deals from £10,990
Monthly finance from £487*

The majority of smaller family hatchback models are not ideally suited to towing a 1,500kg caravan because they’re not heavy enough. However, opting for the bulkier estate bodystyle is a better bet, and mid-sized estates don’t come much more complete than the Skoda Octavia.

Known for being affordable, practical and dependable, the Octavia is one of those cars that ticks all the boxes. There’s loads of room in the cabin for adults and a bigger boot than you might think, while it’s decent to drive and comfortable over long distances. Most versions offer excellent efficiency, too.

The Octavia Estate only just scrapes into the 1,500kg minimum weight limit in higher-spec trim levels and with the heavier 2.0-litre ‘TDI’ diesel engine. To maximise weight and stability, you should opt for a four-wheel-drive version with the ‘DSG’ automatic gearbox, and the Octavia Scout is the best bet. It also comes with rugged styling add-ons and a raised ride height to make it capable off the beaten track.

2013-2020 SKODA OCTAVIA ESTATE BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport

Our pick Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport 2.0 Turbo D
Used deals from £6,590
Monthly finance from £190*

Often overlooked in favour of cars with more upmarket badges, the Vauxhall Insignia is an excellent used buy and a capable tow car, particularly in 2.0-litre diesel form.

Available in ‘Grand Sport’ hatchback or ‘Sports Tourer’ estate bodystyles, whichever Insignia you go for will offer a smart design, a strong tally of standard equipment and an extremely comfortable ride. Neither are particularly exciting to drive, granted, but few cars in this list are and the Vauxhall is composed, stable and grippy.

Like the Skoda, entry-level versions of the Insignia fall below the minimum 1,500kg kerbweight requirement. As a result, you should opt for a higher trim level with more equipment loaded in, plus either the strong 2.0-litre petrol or diesel engine options. Some trims could be had in four-wheel-drive form, too, which again adds weight and stability.

VAUXHALL INSIGNIA GRAND SPORT BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Volkswagen Passat Saloon

Our pick Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI
Used deals from £7,490
Monthly finance from £266*

If you like the idea of a four-door saloon with a separate boot but still need to tow a caravan, there are plenty of choices around. As an all-round combination of price, space, comfort and quality, however, the VW Passat is hard to beat.

It’s smart but business-like styling is echoed in the cabin, which isn’t the most exciting place to sit but feels extremely well put together. The Passat is very well laid-out, too, making features easier to use on the move, while all-round space is plentiful. An estate version is also available, as is an Alltrack version which offers a raised ride height and rugged body cladding.

Again, like the Skoda and Vauxhall, you’ll encounter problems towing a 1,500kg caravan with all but higher-end versions of the Passat. The obvious choice is the 190hp 2.0-litre diesel, which can be had in ‘4MOTION’ four-wheel-drive form and offers strong performance, but there is also the option of a petrol plug-in hybrid model called the GTE. Combining petrol and electric power through the front wheels, the GTE is fast yet efficient - provided you charge the batteries regularly - while it’s by far the heaviest Passat. It is the most expensive to buy, however.

VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Mazda CX-5

Our pick Mazda CX-5 2.2 Skyactiv-D AWD
Used deals from £9,000
Monthly finance from £330*

The Mazda CX-5 has been frequently recognised by caravan experts as being an excellent tow car, and that has continued for several years. But the Japanese mid-sized SUV has more strings to its bow than just that one.

Its attractive design inside and out has won plenty of fans, as has its driving experience. While the ride is a little bit firmer than some rivals, its handing stands out, with the CX-5’s roadholding having more in common with an estate car than a typical tall SUV.

The 2.2-litre diesel engine is also an excellent fit for the car whether you’re towing or not, with punchy performance plus decent refinement and efficiency. Every version can safely tow 1500kg, too. The petrol engine, on the other hand, is not turbocharged, meaning it lacks the low down muscle to be an effortless towing companion.

2012-2017 MAZDA CX-5 BUYERS' GUIDE
2017-PRESENT MAZDA CX-5 BUYERS' GUIDE

5. BMW 5 Series Touring

Our pick BMW 520d Touring xDrive
Used deals from £27,390
Monthly finance from £0*

As luck would have it, one of the best all-round cars at any price point is also pretty adept at towing a caravan. The BMW 5 Series in ‘Touring’ estate form offers something to suit every need, all wrapped up in a luxurious package.

Even the most low-powered 5 Series offers a peerless driving experience, with a brilliant blend of comfort and driver appeal. Refinement is top-notch, too, while the cabin is beautifully built and loaded with clever tech, yet everything is easy to operate. There’s also plenty of room for four - or even five - large adults to get comfortable, and while the saloon’s boot is roomy enough, the Touring model has loads of luggage space.

Every 5 Series is weighty and powerful enough to deal with a 1,500kg caravan. However, the most effortless performer would be the 530d diesel, with its super-smooth six-cylinder engine and mighty low-engine-speed punch making towing a breeze. The 2.0-litre 520d should prove more efficient in day-to-day driving, though.

BMW 5 SERIES TOURING BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Volvo XC60

Our pick Volvo XC60 D4 (B4D in later versions) AWD
Used deals from £23,740
Monthly finance from £391*

Volvo has always built spacious, dependable and sensible cars, but in the last few years it’s also managed to turn up the style. The XC60 is one of the smartest-looking cars in its class, with a cool, minimalist interior adding to the classy Scandinavian vibe.

The XC60 also majors on comfort and refinement, as long as you can sacrifice a bit of style and avoid the largest wheel options - which reduce the amount of rubber between you and the road. It’s not much roomier than the Mazda CX-5, but is more upmarket, and has plenty of engine choice.

Even the lowest-powered XC60 has a maximum towing capacity of 2,100kg, so a 1,500kg caravan should be no problem. The petrol or diesel B5 models would be our choice for all-round performance, but there’s the seriously fast yet potentially frugal T8 plug-in hybrid to consider, if you can afford it.

VOLVO XC60 BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Land Rover Discovery

Our pick Land Rover Discovery TD6
Used deals from £18,795
Monthly finance from £794*

For decades the Land Rover Discovery has been a firm favourite with people after a car to tow heavy loads. For starters, it’s extremely heavy, with punchy engines and four-wheel drive able to tow pretty much anything. It has easily the largest maximum towing capacity here, with even the cheapest versions able to lug along 3,000kg.

But there’s more to the Discovery than just towing, as it's an extremely practical and capable large SUV. There are few better off-roaders at any price, while the latest Discovery 5 is also pretty well-mannered on the road. Yes, you’ll notice its weight in the bends (and at the pumps - as the heavier a car is, the more energy is needed to move it) but it’s secure and stable, and its high driving position and excellent refinement make it a great long-distance companion. What’s more, there’s room for seven adults to sit in luxury, and loads of equipment.

Although every Discovery has an excellent towing capacity, we’d recommend going for the larger 3.0-litre 'TD6' diesel engine, which is smoother and doesn’t have to work as hard as the four-cylinder engines.

LAND ROVER DISCOVERY BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Ford Galaxy

Our pick Ford Galaxy 2.0 EcoBlue
Used deals from £7,790
Monthly finance from £357*

Large MPVs might be falling out of favour as buyers flood to SUVs, but they’re still great buys if you’re after the maximum amount of cabin space possible. And the long-established Ford Galaxy remains the best of the bunch.

Although it lacks the rugged looks and high driving position of a big SUV like the Land Rover Discovery, the lighter and less imposing Galaxy offers a more car-like driving experience. In terms of ride and handling it’s much like the Mondeo upon which it’s based, which is a good thing, while it’ll certainly burn less fuel than your average seven-seat SUV. All versions come loaded with kit, while flexible seating means room for seven adults or a van-like loadspace.

The vast majority of Galaxys available for sale are 2.0-litre diesels, and that’s great as it's the engine best suited to towing. A powerful hybrid petrol version has recently been added if you’re dead set against diesel, however.

FORD GALAXY 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.

 

Latest best cars & vans

  1. Best vans for towing

  2. Best cars for short journeys

  3. Best premium cars