Tow­ing with­out a hitch

This is Cars­guide’s top 10 for tak­ing the trailer, boat, van, jet-ski — or kitchen sink — around the cor­ner or across the con­ti­nent

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Cover Story - BILL McKIN­NON bill.mckin­non@cars­guide.com.au

YOU’LL only see one petrol model in this top-10 list of tow­ing ve­hi­cles. A diesel is in­fin­itely more suited to drag­ging a load around.

It’s got more of that al­limpor­tant com­mod­ity called torque (oth­er­wise known as ‘‘grunt’’ and mea­sured in New­ton me­tres) and the fuel bills won’t kill you. The ideal tow­ing combo is diesel/ au­to­matic/all-wheel drive.

Al­ways give your­self plenty of lee­way on weight lim­its and keep within the cru­cial Gross Com­bi­na­tion Mass (GCM). This is the all-up weight of your ve­hi­cle, trailer, your gear, fuel and you. Car com­pa­nies will of­ten ar­gue a war­ranty claim that’s a re­sult of tow­ing; the GCM, which you’ll find in the hand­book, is the first fig­ure they’ll use as ev­i­dence.

Here are the top mod­els for tow­ing.

SUBARU FORESTER 2.0D

The Forester’s 2.0-litre turbo diesel is matched only with a six-speed man­ual, geared tall to max­imise fuel ef­fi­ciency, so you’ll have to use the stick early and of­ten. How­ever 350Nm from just 1600rpm is more than enough to haul its max­i­mum rated trailer weight of 1600kg. Con­stant all-wheel drive, self-lev­el­ling rear sus­pen­sion and a hill holder, which works in for­ward and re­verse, are also use­ful. You can have the same drive train, in a big­ger wagon, in the Out­back. It’s rated to pull 1700kg.

SUZUKIGRAND VI­TARA DDIS

This is a rare beast— a fair dinkum 4 WD in a com­pact pack­age— with low-range gear­ing, lock­ing cen­tre diff and a sep­a­rate steel frame chas­sis, so it’s got the hard­ware to tow up to 2000kg through tougher con­di­tions, in­clud­ing rugged off-road coun­try, than any high-range only SUV.

The 1.9-litre turbo diesel has 300Nm at 2000rpm. It’s as slow as Tues­day, and the five-speed man­ual isn’t ex­actly the slick­est shifter around, but you’re tow­ing, so what’s the hurry?

LAN­DROVER FREELANDER2 TD4

There’s the usual qual­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity caveat that comes with any Land Rover test, but the base Freelander2 TD4 is a cracker to drive, with 420Nm of grunt and great fuel econ­omy from its 2.2-litre turbo diesel. It will pull up to 2000kg with ease.

Six-speed man­ual is stan­dard; a six-speed auto adds $2300. Hill de­scent con­trol, ad­justable trac­tion con­trol for var­i­ous sur­faces, a full-size spare and high clear­ance make the Free­lander a much more ver­sa­tile, ca­pa­ble wagon than its poncy Ger­man brand ri­vals.

FORD FAL­CON

Ev­ery man and his un­cle used to tow the van be­hind a Fal­con. If you’re pre­pared to cop the fuel bills, the mighty 4.0-litre petrol six, with 391Nm of grunt, will do the job with­out fuss.

The EcoLPi gas engine pro­duces 409Nm, so it won’t be both­ered by a load ei­ther.

The Fal­con sedan and ute— which has a ro­bust live axle/ leaf spring rear end— will tow up to 2300kg with the op­tional fac­tory load-lev­el­ling kit. The stan­dard fac­tory tow pack gives you up to 1600kg with the sixspeed au­to­matic.

MIT­SUBISHI PA­JERO

If you’re af­ter a big sev­enseater turbo diesel, the Pa­jero is the best value go­ing around. Its 3.2-litre four pro­duces a solid 441Nm at 2000rpm, which is 31Nm more than the Prado’s 3.0-litre, and it works nic with the five-speed au­tom It can run in 2WD or 4W high or low range, and w just about any­where, esp with the op­tional rear dif

The Paj is rated to pul tonnes, but that’s with o 180kg tow­ball down­load you’re pulling 2.5 tonnes less, this in­creases to 250

JEEPGRANDCHEROK

This is great value formo es­pe­cially the $50,000 ba Laredo 3.0-litre V6 turbo

cely matic. WD, will go pe­cially iff lock. ll three only d. If s or 0kg.

KEE

money, base o diesel.

It pro­duces big grunt – 550Nm— and is bolted to a five-speed au­to­matic with a dual-range trans­fer case. OK, it’s a Fiat engine, but they’re a lot more re­li­able than they used to be. So they reckon.

It’s rated to tow up to 3500kg, with a max­i­mum tow­ball down­load of 350kg. So is the 5.7-litre V8. Un­less your name be­gins with ‘‘ Sheikh,’’ take the diesel.

ISUZU D-MAX

The D-Max doesn’t have the high­est tow­ing weight rat­ing in the one-ton­ner ute class, but it’s built like a tank. The Isuzu 3.0-litre four-cylin­der turbo diesel is bul­let­proof, has a lovely re­laxed, ef­fort­less de­liv­ery and good fuel econ­omy; 4WD mod­els will pull up to 3000kg. The 3.0-litre pro­duces 380Nm from 1800rpm and is matched with five-speed man­ual or au­to­matic trans­mis­sions.

Body styles in­clude sin­gle, space and crew-cab chas­sis, plus space and crew-cab pick-up.

MAZDABT50

You could also opt for the BT50’s Ford Ranger twin, but model for model (with­4WD driv­e­trains) the Mazda usu­ally costs less and it has firmer sus­pen­sion, which bet­ter suits its tow­ing brief.

The Ranger XLT dual cab in­cludes a tow­bar, which is op­tional on its Mazda XTR ri­val. The 3.2-litre five-cylin­der turbo diesel, with 470Nm from 1750rpm, works a treat with the op­tional ($2000) six-speed au­to­matic. It’s a slug­ger, and has no prob­lem haul­ing up to 3350kg.

The sta­bil­ity con­trol sys­tem in­cludes trailer sway con­trol.

TOYOTA70 SE­RIES LANDCRUISER

The in­de­struc­tible 70 Se­ries, which emerged from a cave some­where west of Alice Springs about 32 mil­lion years ago, is now avail­able as a dual as well as sin­gle-cab chas­sis, plus the Troopy and five-door wagon.

It will tow up to 3500kg all day, ev­ery day, for as long as you wish. Its 4.5-litre turbo diesel V8 de­liv­ers 430Nm from idle (1200rpm) and doesn’t seem to have the oil con­sump­tion is­sues that some own­ers have com­plained of with its twin-turbo coun­ter­part in the 200 Se­ries ’ Cruiser.

TOYOTA200 SE­RIES LANDCRUISER

Un­til re­cently, Toy­ota wanted a ridicu­lous $10,000 pre­mium for diesel over petrol power in the 200 Se­ries but that’s now come down to $5000 on the 200 Se­ries GXL, VX and Sa­hara.

The twin-turbo 4.5-litre V8/six-speed au­to­matic is the most ef­fort­less tow­ing combo there is, with 650Nm of torque from just 1600rpm. Keep an eye on oil con­sump­tion, though.

If you’re go­ing to pull close to 3500kg, you might want to up­grade the sus­pen­sion, which is pretty soft, es­pe­cially at the rear.

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