Best used tow cars

With prices starting at just £10,000, buying a great used tow car doesn't need to break the budget

Nov 21, 2018

Whether for a week of hard work, or a weekend of fun and games, hundreds of thousands of Brits use their car to tow.

If you’re one of them and are considering changing models, or are ready to join the crowd and want to buy your first tow car, then getting the best value for money means choosing used.

But with so much choice, you could probably do with some help finding out which are the best used cars for towing.

We’ve rounded up the best models spanning most shapes and sizes, and a wide range of prices. From saloons to estates, to big SUVs, there’s a hard-working hauler to suit your practical needs.

And with prices starting at less than £10,000 and going up to more than £20,000, this hand-picked selection caters for a wide range of budgets.

Best used tow cars for under £10,000

Best used tow cars for £10,000 - £15,000  

Best used tow cars from £15,000 - £20,000

Best used tow cars from £20,000 or more

Best new tow cars for under £10,000

1) Ford Mondeo Estate

Our pick for towing Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi auto Titanium estate 
Kerbweight 1592kg Towball limit 90kg
Max towing weight (unbraked/braked) 750/2000kg

Latest Ford Mondeo deals from £7,870
Finance from £148 per month

The Mondeo’s reputation as a competent high-mileage motorway cruiser is well deserved you’re spoilt for choice with used models.

It also has pedigree as a tow car, winning the 2008 Tow Car Awards overall. Anyone looking for a good value, middleweight tow car should start their search with the Mondeo.

The 2-litre diesel versions of the last generation Mondeo (sold between 2007 and 2015) represent the best tow cars, with the estate’s practicality making it the body shape of choice. If you can, hunt down any models with the Powershift automatic gearbox and aim for the plush Titanium trim.

2) Skoda Octavia

Our pick Skoda Octavia 2.0TDI estate
Kerbweight 1395kg Towball limit 75kg
Max towing weight (unbraked/braked) 650/1400kg

Latest Skoda Octavia deals from £8,300
Finance from £134 per month

The no-nonsense Octavia is an ideal companion for anyone towing on a tight budget, because it uses most of the best bits from the Volkswagen group, but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to buy.

For this budget you’ll just about be able to squeeze into a 2014 model. We’d recommend the 2.0 TDI diesel engine which is frugal and has strong pulling power.

Plenty of interior space and hard-wearing materials make it easily capable of swallowing all the kit you need for your caravanning travels or family activities too.
Skoda Octavia buying guide

3) Kia Cee'd Sportswagon 

Our pick Kia Cee'd Sportswagon ‘2’ 1.6 CRDi 134bhp (6-speed manual)
Kerbweight 1389kg Towball limit 75kg
Max towing weight (unbraked/braked) 650/1500kg

Latest Kia Cee'd Sportswagon deals from £7,495
Finance from £132 per month

It may not be the most glamorous car on our list, but the Kia Cee’d Sportswagon makes a frugal, stable tow car that also happens to offer great practicality - including a 1,642-litre boot when the rear seats are folded down.

The fuel economy proves impressive, even when hauling a touring caravan of 85% of the car’s kerbweight, with more than 30mpg achievable.

And remember, Kia offers a seven-year warranty on all its new cars. So if you buy a four-year-old model you still have three years warranty left.
Kia Cee'd buying guide

4) Citroen C4 Cactus

Citroen C4 Cactus with airbumps

Our pick Citroen C4 Cactus Rip Curl BlueHDi 100
Kerbweight 1068kg Towball limit 55kg
Max towing weight (unbraked/braked) 570/825kg

Latest Citroen C4 Cactus deals from £6,750
Finance from £104 per month

Its funky looks, with protective plastic panels on the doors and bumpers – called Airbumps - may divide opinion but for a small car the Cactus makes a solid tow mate.

Opt for the 1.6-litre diesel engine and you’ll get a car that’s powerful enough to pull a trailer tent or lightweight caravan. It’s very economical when driven solo, too, with a claimed combined figure of 80.7mpg.

Look out for models with Grip Control, such as the Rip Curl. Grip Control acts as an adjustable traction system designed to improve the car’s grip when driving on slippery surfaces.
Citroen C4 Cactus buying guide

Best used tow cars for £10,000 - £15,000  

1) Skoda Superb

Our pick Skoda Superb Hatchback SE 2.0 TDI 150PS
Kerbweight 1410kg Towball limit 90kg
Max towing weight (unbraked/braked) 750/2000kg

Latest Skoda Superb deals from £11,990
Finance from £161 per month

Another Skoda? We make no apologies for including the big brother to the Octavia, because the second-generation Superb hatchback is a seriously accomplished – and comfortable – tow car.

Its interior belies the car’s price tag: it oozes quality, and the dashboard touchscreen is really easy to use. The driving position is first-rate, offering great visibility all round - crucial when you’re towing. And the amount of space for passengers is better than any contemporary car.

Because it’s a comparatively large car with a big footprint, it feels stable when towing and the ride comfort deals well with Britain’s broken roads. Pick the 2-litre TDI engine and it will pull like a trooper all day long.
Skoda Superb buying guide

2) Ford S-Max

Our pick Ford S-Max 2.0 TDCi 150 Titanium 6-speed manual
Kerbweight 1824kg Towball limit 90kg
Max towing weight (unbraked/braked) 750/2000kg

Latest Ford S-Max deals from £11,695
Finance from £199 per month

Some people carriers with seven seats look no more appealing than a minibus, but the Ford S-Max has a low roof and swept-back look that gives it just enough style to ensure nobody will snigger at this family car when it drops the kids off on the school run.

All seven-seats are large enough for adults, and fold down the third row and the boot is big enough for a picnic. Later versions of the first generation S-Max came packed with all the creature comforts, connectivity and safety aids a family could wish for.

It’s heavy too, which makes it stable. The 2-litre TDCI engine is a willing performer, with plenty of thrust low in the rev range to ensure you make smooth progress when hauling a heavy load.
Ford S-Max buying guide

3) Seat Alhambra

Our pick Seat Alhambra 2.0 TDI 184
Kerbweight 1841kg Towball limit 100kg
Max towing weight (unbraked/braked) 750/2400kg

Latest Seat Alhambra deals from £14,965
Finance from £230 per month

The Alhambra has sliding doors, seven proper seats, a usefully large boot (even when all the chairs are in use) and the flat floor makes it easy to move around inside.

Throw into the mix good ventilation – with controls for the back seat passengers – and more cup holders than a cinema auditorium and it makes light work of travelling.

It also makes light work of towing. Pick the 184hp diesel version with the automatic gearbox and you’ll get enough pulling power to haul even the heaviest family caravans.
Seat Alhambra buying guide

Best used tow cars for £15,000 - £20,000 

1) Volkswagen Passat Alltrack

Our pick Volkswagen Passat Alltrack 2.0 TDI 4Motion
Kerbweight 1485kg Towball limit 90kg
Max towing weight (unbraked/braked) 750/2200kg

This is a cross between an estate car and a four-wheel drive SUV, and is aimed at the sort of drivers who don’t want a tall, relatively heavy SUV but still want sure-footedness and space.

Used examples in this price range are the current generation model – more than £36,000 when new - which is a seriously slick looking car with a stylish interior that’s got one of the most intuitive entertainment touchscreen systems going. It’s also more than capable of seating a family of five in comfort.

With four-wheel drive, the Alltrack is ready to tow in places where front-wheel drive cars might falter, from wet grassy fields to slippery slipways. Opt for the 190bhp diesel engine and the automatic gearbox if your budget allows.

2) Jaguar XF

Our pick Jaguar XF Portfolio 2.0d (180) manual
Kerbweight 1585kg Towball limit 100kg
Max towing weight (braked) 1800kg

Latest Jaguar XF deals from £17,500
Finance from £238 per month

The second-generation XF has put in multiple award-winning performances as a tow car and the good news is that used examples are plentiful for less than £20,000.

It’s available with a 2-litre diesel engine or a 3-litre V6, and its eight-speed automatic gearbox means it delivers both swift acceleration and leisurely, fuel-efficient cruising. What’s more, it is impressively stable at speed and the suspension soaks up bumps, all plus points for anyone towing.

And, when there’s nothing hitched on the back, you get to enjoy one of the most responsive sports saloons on the road with one of the most soothing interiors.
Jaguar XF buying guide.

Best new tow cars for £20,000 or more 

1) Land Rover Discovery

Our pick Land Rover Discovery 
3.0 SDV6 Graphite Kerbweight 2622kg Towball limit 150kg
Max towing weight (braked) 3500kg

Latest Land Rover Discovery deals from £23,899
Finance from £376 per month

The previous generation Discovery is one of those cars that leaves owners swearing they’ll never buy anything else again.

It’s one of the most accomplished tow cars to date, thanks in no small part to its massive kerbweight and strong 3-litre V6 diesel engine. You can haul heavy duty caravans or trailers with another car aboard without breaking a sweat. The Discovery copes with all terrains, isn’t affected by crosswinds and slows with confidence.

There’s also that supremely spacious and versatile interior, with ‘stadium’ seating that means each row of seats is higher than the one in front, helping give a view of the road ahead.
Land Rover Discovery buying guide

2) BMW X5

Our pick BMW X5 xDrive30d SE Kerbweight 2145kg Towball limit 140kg
Max towing weight (braked) 3500kg

Latest BMW X5 deals from £24,990
Finance from £338 per month

BMW’s X5 might be big and practical, but it delivers luxury aplenty. Its interior is stylishly designed, packed with connectivity and the iDrive system remains one of the best entertainment setups to date.

There’s loads of room inside to comfortably transport large families and their caravanning kit, while the driver will love the X5’s sharp and agile feel in corners. The diesel engines are quiet and surprisingly frugal, and in xDrive30d SE guise give you a useful amount of pulling power.

The high maximum towing limit also increases your choice of caravans to include most of those available in the UK.
BMW X5 buying guide

      

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