Best used tow cars

Need a car to tow a heavy load, without putting a heavy strain on your wallet? Great tow cars needn't do that from as little as £10,000

BuyaCar team
Jun 30, 2020

Looking for a tough car that works as an everyday car but has the muscle to shrug off towing a heavy load from time to time? Perhaps you regularly tow a small boat or have a trailer permanently hitched to the back of the car. Or maybe you like the idea of hitching a caravan a disappearing to the Lake District for a week.

Well, a car that's capable of towing effortlessly is what you need. So what kind of car is best for the job? And how much will it cost? These are all questions we've answered below, along with compiling a comprehensive list of great cars that represent the best value tow cars available for a variety of budgets.

We’ve rounded up the best used tow cars across a range of car types and prices, and it's safe to say they won't all fit the tow car stereotype if that's what you're after. We've picked cars ranging from saloons to estates, to big SUVs and MPVs. Whatever you're looking for, there’s a hard-working hauler to suit your practical needs.

With prices starting at less than £10,000, you should be able to find something that sits within your budget as well, while those of you with cash to splash will find some more desirable choices waiting for you at over £20,000. Meanwhile, if you don't have that much cash to hand, check out the best finance deals on tow cars below.

Best used tow cars

Best used tow cars for under £10,000

1. Ford Mondeo Estate

Our pick Ford Mondeo Estate 2.0 TDCi Titanium Powershift
Kerbweight 1,592kg
Towball limit 90kg
Max towing weight 750kg unbraked/2,000kg braked
Latest Ford Mondeo Estate deals from £8,995
Monthly finance from £149

The Ford 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 2.0-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.

Ford Mondeo Estate buyers' guide

2. Skoda Octavia

Our pick Skoda Octavia Estate 2.0 TDI 150
Kerbweight 1395kg
Towball limit 75kg
Max towing weight 650kg unbraked/1,400kg braked
Latest Skoda Octavia deals from £7,390
Monthly finance from £136

The no-nonsense Skoda Octavia is an ideal companion for anyone towing on a tight budget, because it uses most of the best bits from the Volkswagen group (Skoda is owned by Volkswagen), 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-litre diesel engine (TDI) 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 buyers' guide

3. Kia Ceed Sportswagon

Our pick Kia Ceed Sportswagon 1.6 CRDi 2
Kerbweight 1389kg
Towball limit 75kg
Max towing weight 650kg unbraked/1,500kg braked
Latest Kia Ceed Sportswagon deals from £8,349
Monthly finance from £150

It may not be the most glamorous car on our list, but the Kia Ceed 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 Ceed buyers' guide

4. Citroen C4 Cactus

Citroen C4 Cactus with airbumps

Our pick Citroen C4 Cactus BlueHDi 100 Rip Curl
Kerbweight 1068kg
Towball limit 55kg
Max towing weight 570kg unbraked/825kg braked
Latest Citroen C4 Cactus deals from £6,000
Monthly finance from £115

Its funky looks, with protective plastic panels on the doors and bumpers – called Airbumps - may divide opinion but for a small car the Citroen C4 Cactus makes a solid towing tool.

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, which could help it to deal with the extra weight of a trailer in campsites or muddy car parks.

Citroen C4 Cactus buyers' guide

Best used tow cars for under £15,000

1. Skoda Superb

Our pick Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI 150 SE
Kerbweight 1410kg
Towball limit 90kg
Max towing weight 750kg unbraked/2,000kg braked
Latest Skoda Superb deals from £8,140
Monthly finance from £155

Another Skoda? We make no apologies for including the big brother to the Octavia, because the second-generation Skoda 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 media system 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 practicality any other vehicle this side of a tour bus.

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 2.0-litre 150hp diesel engine and it will pull like a trooper all day long.

Skoda Superb buyers' guide

2. Ford S-Max

Our pick Ford S-Max 2.0 TDCi 150 Titanium
Kerbweight 1,824kg
Towball limit 90kg
Max towing weight 750kg unbraked/2,000kg braked
Latest Ford S-Max deals from £9,990
Monthly finance from £189

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 when towing. The 2.0-litre diesel engine is a willing performer, with plenty of thrust at low engine speeds to ensure you make smooth progress when hauling a heavy load.

Ford S-Max buyers' guide

3. Seat Alhambra

Our pick Seat Alhambra 2.0 TDI 184 DSG
Kerbweight 1,841kg
Towball limit 100kg
Max towing weight 750kg unbraked/2,400kg braked
Latest Seat Alhambra deals from £13,995
Monthly finance from £207

The Seat Alhambra has sliding doors, seven proper seats, a usefully large boot (even when all the seats 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 a 'DSG' automatic gearbox and you’ll get enough pulling power to haul even the heaviest family caravans.

Seat Alhambra buyers' guide

Best used tow cars for under £20,000

1. Volkswagen Passat Alltrack

Our pick Volkswagen Passat Alltrack 2.0 TDI 190 4Motion DSG
Kerbweight 1,485kg
Towball limit 90kg
Max towing weight 750kg unbraked/2,200kg braked

The Volkswagen Passat Alltrack 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 gets you a seriously slick looking car with a stylish interior that’s got one of the most intuitive touchscreen media 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 two-wheel drive cars might falter and simply spin their wheels, from wet grassy fields to slippery slipways. Opt for the 190hp diesel engine and the automatic gearbox if your budget allows.

Volkswagen Passat Estate buyers' guide

2. Jaguar XF

Our pick Jaguar XF Portfolio 2.0d 180 manual
Kerbweight 1,585kg
Towball limit 100kg
Max towing weight 1,800kg braked
Latest Jaguar XF deals from £12,859
Monthly finance from £201

The second-generation Jaguar 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 2.0-litre diesel engine and a 3.0-litre petrol motor, 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 fun-to-drive sports saloons on the road with one of the most soothing interiors.

Jaguar XF buyers' guide.

Best new tow cars for £20,000 or more

1. Land Rover Discovery

Our pick Land Rover Discovery 3.0 SDV6 Graphite
Kerbweight 2,622kg
Towball limit 150kg
Max towing weight 3,500kg braked
Latest Land Rover Discovery deals from £26,000
Monthly finance from £443

The previous generation Land Rover 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 3.0-litre 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 buyers' guide

2. BMW X5

Our pick BMW X5 xDrive30d SE
Kerbweight 2,145kg
Towball limit 140kg
Max towing weight 3,500kg braked
Latest BMW X5 deals from £19,798
Monthly finance from £351

The BMW X5 might be big and practical, but it delivers luxury aplenty. Its interior is stylishly designed, packed with connectivity and the 'iDrive' media 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 buyers' guide

 

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