We help choose the ideal car for your needs and your budget: this time, an SUV/crossover capable of towing a caravan and carrying a family of four...

Age: 45
Budget: R200 000
Status: Parent in a family of four
Vehicle type: SUV/crossover capable of towing a caravan

Requirements

Our motorist needs a car to tow their caravan that weighs just more than a tonne. Preferring the comfort of a crossover with all-wheel drive for better traction, it mustn’t drink too much fuel, either.

The vehicle

A few years back, our sister magazine, Leisure Wheels, held a Towcar Of The Year competition that focused on crossovers. These three vehicles were the most adept at pulling a trailer.

Our choice: Subaru Outback 2,0D

0 to 100 km/h: 10,13 seconds 
Top speed: 198 km/h 
Power: 110 kW
Torque: 350 N.m 
CO2: 168 g/km 
CAR fuel index: 7,8 L/100 km

Subaru Outback

Aside from the permanent four-wheel-drive layout, this Subaru also offers excellent rear legroom for your growing children and comfortable seating all-round. And then there is the diesel flat-four powerplant that will save you a lot of cash at the pumps. Even though the index of 7,8 L/100 km – a figure significantly better than the other two vehicles here – is going to be tough to replicate during real-world towing, it will still be more frugal than the competition. Remember to use low-sulphur fuel, as this vehicle has a diesel particulate filter.

While many diesels have a level of vibration, this flat-four is particularly smooth and comes with a six-speed manual gearbox (petrol versions are available with the option of a CVT automatic). These petrol options are a 2,5-litre flat-four and 3,6-litre flat-six, and they are both thirsty. There are more petrol than diesel models for sale in the classifieds, so you will have to sift through them to find the derivative you want.

Rear suspension is self-levelling and the tow capacity is 1 700 kg. For peace of mind on long towing trips, you have a full-size, steel spare wheel. When we tested this diesel in January 2011, the new price was R400 000, so for less than half the new price, you are buying a competent car.

Space: 5 seats, 368/1 376 L
Safety and aids: 7 airbags, ESP, ABS with EBD and BAS
Cost of 4 tyres: R9 180
Road test: January 2011

Kia Sorento 2,2 CRDi AT

0 to 100 km/h: 9,56 seconds
Top speed: 185 km/h
Power: 147 kW
Torque: 436 N.m 
CO2: 233 g/km 
CAR fuel index: 8,9 L/100 km

Kia Sorento

The second-generation Kia Sorento arrived in 2010 and we had one in our long-term test fleet for 12 months, with the wrap-up report appearing in our July 2011 issue.

With its 2,2-litre turbodiesel mated with a conventional torque-converter automatic transmission, the Sorento performs and tows well. During our 20 000 km test, we achieved a palatable average of 9,59 L/100 km.

The AWD system sends oomph to the front wheels until slip is detected, thereafter channelling grip to the rear, although it can also be locked in a 50:50-split at lower speeds. If you don’t necessarily require all-wheel drive, the 4x2 versions offer better fuel consumption. 

We noticed that second-hand prices are still pretty robust, with not many bargains out there, but you do get four-wheel drive and seven seats in what is a fully fledged family tow car. Many new-car purchasers settled for the less expensive front-wheel-drive models, so you are going to have to hunt round for the 4x4 if you prefer the security of extra grip.

There’s the alternative of a powerful 3,6-litre V6 petrol, but it’s thirsty and, with a fuel-index estimate close to 14,0 L/100 km, this will put off many potential buyers.

Space: 7 seats, 408/1 520 L
Safety and aids: 6 airbags, ABS with EBD and BAS
Cost of 4 tyres: R9 324
Road test: March 2010

Volkswagen Tiguan 2,0 TDI DSG

0 to 100 km/h: 10,70 seconds
Top speed: 182 km/h
Power: 103 kW
Torque: 320 N.m 
CO2: 172 g/km 
CAR fuel index: 9,0 L/100 km

Volkswagen Tiguan

This choice might seem out of kilter for towing, but the members of that Towcar Of The Year test team all agreed that this VW soft-roader performed surprisingly well.

What’s more, the Tiguan displayed the sportiest characteristics of all the vehicles and the permanent four-wheel-drive system, called 4Motion, provided good grip, with the vehicle’s stability control programme complementing the permanent all-wheel drive. Normally, 90% of the drive goes to the front wheels, but switches to the rear if up-front grip is lost; this can occur when towing a caravan uphill with the weight distribution shifting to the rear.

Inside, you get typical VW class-leading finish and comfort, and the rear seats can slide to swap legroom for extra luggage space. The seats also fold flat for better loading. Do note that the boot is the smallest here, so clever packing is needed on a family holiday for four. As noted in the Leisure Wheels competition, a 1 200 kg caravan was at the limit for this compact SUV.

As with the Sorento, most Tiguans on the market are the front-wheel-drivetrain variety, so you will have to scour the classifieds. The prices are also consistently higher than the other two – always an indication of popularity – and a facelifted model was introduced in 2011.

Space: 5 seats, 240-336/1 152 L
Safety and aids: 6 airbags, stability control, ABS/EBD
Cost of 4 tyres: R7 480
Road test: June 2008

Second hand cars for sale