What vehicle do I
need to tow with?
Do I Choose the Right Tow Vehicle?
What vehicle do you need to tow with?
Diesel? Petrol? Gas? Manual? Automatic?
What vehicle do I
need to tow with?
vehicle - Lets make sure we ‘put the horse before the
It is very important to choose the best tow vehicle for
your caravan or RV.
When considering what type and
size of RV you need, some thought
must be given to your tow vehicle. Will the vehicle you
own tow a
fifth wheeler or
trailer? Vehicle manufacturers will
have towing recommendations set out in the Owner’s
Manual and it is important to not exceed that limit.
If your vehicle will not be able to tow the RV you
choose it will likely affect your overall budget as you
will either have to compromise or purchase a larger tow
vehicle. You don’t want to be in a situation
owning a lovely new RV and be unable to tow it safely.
A number of
websites as well as car and 4WD magazines conduct reviews on the
latest vehicles, their towing capacity and fuel economy.
The following is a guide only and you should make
enquires with the manufacturer of your tow vehicle
and/or check the Owner’s Manual:-
Toyota Camry Grande 4 cyl – (Max Torque 218Nm @ 4000
rpm) tow capacity 1200 kg braked & 500 kg unbraked.
Holden Commodore Executive Wagon VZ 3.6 litre V6 – (Max
Torque 320Nm @ 2800 rpm) – 1200kg, 1600 kg & 2100 kg
towing equipment available.
Subaru Outback 2.0 Diesel Premium – (Max Torque
350Nm @ 1600-2800 rpm) tow capacity
1700 kg braked 750kg unbraked.
Titanium AWD 2.7L V6 Diesel – (Max Torque 440Nm @
1900 rpm) –
standard towpack 1600 braked, heavy duty towpack
braked and 750 kg unbraked.
Mitsubishi Pajero 3.2 TD Exceed
(automatic) – (Max Torque
441Nm @ 2,000 rpm) tow capacity
3000kg braked 750 kg unbraked.
Toyota Prado GXL TD – (Max Torque 410Nm @ 1600 rpm) tow
capacity 2500 kg braked 750 kg unbraked.
Toyota Prado SX/ZR TD 3 Door – (Max
Torque 410Nm @ 1600rpm) tow capacity 3,000 kg braked 750
Toyota Landcruiser GXL TD (automatic) – (Max Torque
430Nm @ 1400 rpm) tow capacity 3500 kg braked 750g
Toyota LandCruiser 200 – (Max Torque 410 Nm @ 3400 rpm)
tow capacity 3500 kg braked 750 kg unbraked.
LC200 GXL TD does not come standard with KDSS. KDSS
uses linked hydraulic cylinders on both stabilizer bars
to counteract body roll when cornering. If you are
upgrading the LC200 suspension for towing it may be wise
to not have KDSS. We know of two caravan owners who own
off-road vans around 3 ton weight who found the KDSS
‘worked against’ the upgraded suspension making towing
the caravan unstable. So, ensure you make enquiries
whether any proposed suspension upgrade is compatible
with the KDSS).
Ford F-250 Super Cab Pick-Up XLT – (Max Torque 475Nm @
2500 rpm) – conventional towing capacity 3500 kg.
manufacturers recommend you do not tow a trailer with a
new vehicle or a vehicle with a new power train
component (transmission, differential, engine, wheel
bearing etc.) for about the first 800 km (500 miles).
Your vehicle will also most likely require more frequent
maintenance if you tow regularly.
Most larger modern cars make
excellent tow vehicles but you may want to take your RV
off the beaten track so you will need to consider a 4WD
or the mid-size recreational (SUV) tow vehicle.
reasons the tow vehicle should be one that is heavier
than the (loaded) caravan, 5th wheeler or
camper trailer it tows. Larger 4WD vehicles are often
better suited for heavy caravans.
If buying a second hand vehicle
with a tow bar attached you will need to ensure that the
tow bar and tow ball are adequate rated for what you intend
towing. The vehicle tow bar and the tow ball may only
be rated to tow a small box trailer. See related article
Towbars & Towballs
For fifth wheelers, a tray back,
utility/pick-up truck type vehicle is necessary to
accommodate the hitch. See related
Compliance Plates and Trailer Weights
Towbars & Towballs
exactly is a tow bar and tow ball and what type do you need?
Australian Standards explained.
Compliance Plates and
Ball Weight, ATM and GTM mean in reference to your caravan or camper
trailer. Explained in easy to understand diagrams and language.
gas, petrol or petrol/LPG
this is a matter of choice for you. Diesel is said to
be more economical when towing larger heavy caravans or
5th wheelers and is often more readily
available in remote areas of Australia.
If you are driving a dual fuel vehicle
and have it on LPG auto
gas it does not seem to have the power for towing but it
does give you the option to switch over from petrol once
you are at your destination and have unhitched your
trailer. This can then prove economical for
touring around your holiday destination.
driven vehicles generally have more power and response
but usually consume more fuel when towing than a turbo
diesel vehicle. There is another very good
argument for the petrol vehicle - Diesel vehicles can
require a service or at
least a change of oil every 5,000 klms if you are towing
so this additional service cost should be considered.
If you are
looking at using your vehicle in out of the way places
where there may be tall grasses then some consideration
should be given to a diesel fuelled vehicle as diesel
fuel has a lower combustion point. Unless you clear
grasses caught under the vehicle they can catch fire
from the heat of the engine and if you were without a
fire extinguisher it could mean the loss
Automatic or manual transmission
– this also is a matter of
choice although towing an RV can take a lot of
concentration and an automatic transmission simply makes
life easier by enabling you to concentrate more on
driving conditions. An automatic transmission can also
take the guesswork out of when to change gear whilst
towing and the transition between the gear change is
smooth and quick, enabling you to avoid losing speed or
traction during gear changes.
manual transmission, there can be a lot of ‘riding’ of
the clutch whilst reversing particularly with a heavy
weight behind. Reversing into those tight caravan park
sites is also easier with an automatic especially as
just the sight of someone attempting to do so always
seems to create an audience.
interesting point here is the Toyota Owner’s Manual for
GXL TD 100 (2004) states:-
Trailer Towing Tips - ‘In order to maintain engine
braking and electrical charging performance, do not use
fifth gear (manual transmission) or overdrive (automatic
- A turbo
diesel vehicle will provide that extra ‘grunt’ for
towing larger RV units. If you are still not satisfied
you could further consider the addition of a Safari DTronic
which is an aftermarket
. This device fits in
easily behind the glove box neatly out of sight. The
manufacturer claims it can increase torque by 20-30% and
increase the power by 15-20%. The beauty of this
chip is that it can be unplugged and removed if
you want to sell the vehicle or to return the
vehicle to standard power.
There are other brands of diesel
performance chips such as Steinbauer power chips,
Tunit and Roo Systems 4wdchip to
name a few.
To add further performance to the
tow vehicle consider the installation of an
aftermarket exhaust system.
One traveller with a
Toyota Landcruiser LC100 TD, with a Safari
DTronic diesel performance chip already
installed, opted to have the 3 inch stainless
steel Taipan XP Exhaust System fitted by Berrima
astounded by the difference in the vehicle
performance especially when towing a 3 ton
These aftermarket exhaust systems
minimize the resistance of the exhaust gases
flowing from your engine by the constant
diameter of the system. The Taipan XP is a
mandrel bent exhaust system and the process of
mandrel bending is a newer technology whereby
the pipe diameter is not reduced on every bend
made in the exhaust system. One tip is to opt
for a side-exit tailpipe if you have mudflaps on
your tow vehicle or to keep your camper trailer
at Burleigh Heads Qld or other diesel
specialists such as Berrima Diesel NSW or
Beaudesert Diesel Qld can arrange ordering,
fitting, installation and dyno testing.
Another option to get more power out of
diesel fuelled vehicles is to investigate an LPG
injection system. This works with a small amount of LPG
injected under pressure into the engine by way of the
air intake system with the LPG gas acting as an
accelerant to the unburnt diesel fuel to increase
combustion efficiency. Some installers claim a
diesel/LPG injection system will improve the efficiency
rate from the standard diesel engine efficiency rate of
about 75-80% to around 95-98%.