Car Buyers' Guide: Towing the line

By Jack Biddle

Tried and true or something new, it could come down to money

Mitsubishi Outlander. Photo / Supplied
Mitsubishi Outlander. Photo / Supplied

The dilemma: Trish and Richard Davison have a 2007 Prado diesel, with 90,000km on it, which they have been using to tow a Jayco Sterling weighing in at about 2500kg.

They have sold the Jayco, and bought another van, a Kiwi built Leisure Line weighing in at about 1500kg.

They own another small vehicle but would like to downsize to one vehicle and are looking for something which will tow their new van, and drive around town with reasonable economy.

The Davisons are prepared to spend around the $30,000 mark, they are fairly open-minded about makes, and currently have Toyota brands.

If this question was solely based around recommending a used vehicle to tow a 1500kg braked caravan, I would have said the Prado. It's the vehicle of choice for many when it comes to towing similar loads. The fact it has towed a much bigger van around the country is testimony to its toughness and ability to handle such conditions. The great thing about the Prado also is it has a gentle side to its personality and is an easy and comfortable vehicle to drive or to be a passenger in, especially on long trips.

Yes, you can downsize to an alternative vehicle with a 1500kg (or slightly higher) braked towing capacity, but be careful you don't put yourself under too much stress towing a load that places the vehicle on the limit of its capabilities.

The Prado should have excellent resale value (I'm assuming the budget is 30K plus the trade-in value), so you should be in a very strong position when negotiating a change-over price.

Just be aware what you are giving up if you do decide to downsize. A later model or new vehicle will certainly have its advantages, but you will be required to make up the dollar difference between the retail and trade-in price. You will need to ask yourselves is it really worth making the change?

Don't forget also to include the cost of a towbar plus fitting, if you do trade-up otherwise you may need to be sitting down if you happen to ask the retail cost after sign up.

The budget: $30,000

The shortlist

Mitsubishi Outlander VR 2.2 4WD Diesel

Current retail price new is $49,990 which may not be out of your reach if using the Prado as a trade. It has

a braked towing capacity of 2000kg which allows for some cushion when towing the caravan. It's fairly new to the market and, as you would expect, very well appointed. Nice touches include a reverse camera and sensors, a third row of seats, fog lights, roof rails and 16-inch alloy wheels. Claimed fuel consumption is 5.8l/100km which will go out the window when towing but around town, it's a very fuel-efficient vehicle.

Kia LX Sorento R 2.2 Diesel

Retail prices start at $50,690 so once again within reach. Apart from the lack of a third row of seats the Kia and the Mitsubishi go blow-for- blow with each other specification wise. The biggest difference between the two is there are Front-Wheel- Drive only and All-Wheel-Drive options with the LX model. You will be asked to pay $3K more for the AWD variant. If you are towing in a variety of different conditions and terrains then AWD will definitely provide that extra peace of mind. Fuel consumption is between 7.1l/100km (FWD) and 7.3l/100km (AWD).

Holden Captiva 5 AWD 2.2 Diesel

The cheapest of all the options listed at $45,990, however the braked towing capacity drops to 1700kg and fuel consumption increases to a claimed 8.2l/100km.

*Note: Prices quoted exclude on-road-costs.


Driven recommends

Check out the Mitsubishi Outlander and the benefits of new car ownership, do the sums and then decide if you really want to give up the Prado.

- NZ Herald

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