Choosing the right car for towing is essential - a powerful car with a sports suspension set up will send your cargo swerving with every bump in the road - whilst a lower powered petrol engine will struggle over long distances and ruin your economy.
The best towing cars use torque-y diesel engines with huge pulling potential, cruising easily over long distances and towing anything from caravans and small boats to horseboxes and traditional trailers.
The ideal pre-owned towing vehicles are also tourers with exceptional ride comfort and balance which make them easy to keep in a straight line - whilst the diesel engines keep fuel costs down. By their nature, most of these vehicles are also extremely practical, offering huge storage space for extra equipment such as camping gear or horse accessories.
We've compiled the very best in towing vehicles, so ensure you make the right choice by looking at our top 5 pre-owned towing cars:
The Mercedes C-Class - 1450Kg
The C-Class is the only Saloon choice in our line-up, which boasts practical features as standard whilst also being a competent towing car for most weights and cargos. The compact executive sector is popular with well-fitting diesel engines, and the C-Class is no exception.
The basic engine in the C-Class range is a 2.2 litre 147bhp engine, but there is also a 170bhp 2.7 litre diesel which will provide the extra pulling power essential for towing. However, the choice pick of the range is the 2.2 C220 CDi diesel, which provides excellent economy with enough performance for most tasks. A more-than-adequate 400Nm of torque makes it ideal for cross-country journeys.
When not being used as a tow vehicle, the C-Class is incredibly refined and an effortless cruiser which makes it a comfortable everyday car too. A quiet cabin even at high speeds, and a smooth ride despite agile and accurate steering means towing any cargo is a breeze and should be kept well under control.
The SE comes with most equipment as standard, such as air conditioning and electric windows. Diesel engines are fairly economical, too, and match up with the class best at around 45mpg.
Honda CR-V 1500Kg
The CR-V is a dependable stalwart in the SUV market, and has been on sale since 1995. It has enough grunt to tow most caravans and trailers, and also comes with high levels of kit as standard; including climate control; alloy wheels; cruise control and heated door mirrors.
Part of what makes a great tow car is a well-equipped spec list and good driving qualities which keep both vehicle and cargo planted on the road. The Honda satisfies in both these areas, and is a comfortable road cruiser over either short or long journeys. The SUV has been praised by outlets such as Auto Express for its ability to soak up potholes and bumps, ensuring a stable journey for your cargo.
The CR-V has a strong selection of diesel engines available, all which make good contenders for towing. The pick of the range is the 2.2 iDTEC diesel engine, which offers an extremely capable 350Nm of torque whilst offering impressive class economy figures in 50.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 149g/km. A smooth and assured power delivery combined with precise gear changing makes long rides seem like minutes.
The Honda also scores high on practicality, with a 589 litre boot which expands to a spacious 1,648 litres when the back seats are taken down.
The Jaguar XF Sportbrake - 1850Kg
The Jaguar XF Sportbrake is one of the best-looking cars available today, but is also a more than competent cruiser. It is extremely modest about its pulling power, but it must be doing something right as the XF estate has won the 1700-1899kg class at the tow car awards for three years running. It's capable of towing an impressive 1850kg which is enough for all but the largest of caravans and trailers.
The choice pick of the range is the 3 litre V6 diesel, which offers enough diesel grunt for a mighty 600Nm of torque, and with 271bhp is certainly no slouch. There are other impressive numbers, too, such as a 0-60 time of just 6.6 seconds - but what really makes the Sportbrake a class winner is unrivalled refinement.
The engine makes very little noise, even when towing heavy cargo down the motorway, and ensures you arrive at your destination unshaken and unstirred. This is in nosmall part thanks to the self-levelling suspension which comes as standard on all estate models.
Importantly, your trailer will be fine too because the XF offers fantastic ride comfort no matter what trim level you pick. The Diesel S model also offers driving assists such as adaptive dampers and a Dynamic mode which offer light and accurate steering as well as great throttle response.
BMW X5 - 2700Kg
The largest BMW Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) is also amongst the most practical. A towing capacity of 2700kg ensures that most cargo can be transported safely and efficiently, including horseboxes and larger caravans. Practicality is also at the forefront of the X5, which also comes in a 7-seat variation and houses a 650 litre boot at minimum capacity.
The X5 is all about style and driving pleasure, and is one of the most agile and responsive chassis from an SAV. Its worldwide popularity since its release in 2000 is a testament to being a real driver's car.
Now in its fourth iteration, Practical Caravan described the BMW as 'simply imperious' when it comes to stability and comfort on long journeys, with any towing object following obediently with little swerve. Optional extras such as Adaptive Dynamic suspension help to eliminate issues such as body roll which can occur with taller vehicles.
There is one petrol engine on offer, but most of the range offered are diesel. The best mix of economy and performance comes from the 3.0 litre SE, which has an impressive 520Nm of torque to easily propel any cargo. In fact, with a caravan attached the X5 takes only 12.4 seconds to reach 60mph from 30mph.
Land Rover Discovery - 3500Kg
The Discovery really is a heavyweight - both in terms of a huge towing capacity and legendary status - which makes this THE ideal car for towing just about anything. Large caravans; speedboats; and even other vehicles are dealt with easily, all whilst leaving passengers in the comfort of a luxury saloon.
The Discovery has a strong pedigree in the Tow Car awards. The current model has been in production for 6 years but still managed to win two categories outright, including the best AWD model over 1,800kg. With a new Discovery set for release next year, the current model really does make an ideal used vehicle which has all the features you could want and then some.
Being a Land Rover ensures that quality and comfort come as standard. Interiors are a cut above the competitors, whilst ride comfort is simply unparalleled, remaining an extremely stable towing platform thanks to air-suspension. The main engine is a 3.0 litre V6 diesel producing 252bhp - ensuring that the Discovery is quick off the mark. Matching the XF Sportbrake, the Rover produces an impressive 600Nm of torque.
It's also important to remember the off-road ability of the Discovery, which is simply fantastic. The four-wheel drive makes light work of boggy campsites, grip-less sandy beaches and muddy paddocks. The Discovery really lives up to its name: you can set up your caravan anywhere.
Bonus: MINI Cowley - 750Kg
Believe it or not, the MINI Cooper also made our list. Traditionally, MINIs aren't renowned for towing trailers, let alone caravans or horseboxes. However, last year the Mini 'Cowley' concept was released, and showcased that the MINI made a more than able motorhome with a small attachment. The Cowley is a form of mini-caravan (or teardrop caravan) designed exclusively to sit behind a MINI.
If it ever became a reality we could see it becoming a hit with models such as a clubman, which provide go-anywhere ability and the compact nature of a supermini. Add a motorhome in to the mix and it becomes a perfect weekend camping tool for two.
Weighing in at just under 300kg, the Cowley has a two-burner gas stove, and a solar module which charges an on-board battery to power the fridge, TV and various audio equipment. The two-berth unit even includes a water tank with pump and sink. With this kind of attachment, a MINI cooper easily becomes one of the best tow cars available, and stocks plenty of power to boot.