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The Great Towing Debate Continued!


tjambarker
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I have just taken the plunge with a 4x4 and was reflecting on the car/caravan combinations I have used. Over the last 5 years I have towed 3 caravans with 6 different cars that I have owned or borrowed and I thought I would share my reflections with others and hope people might get something out of my ramblings!

 

 

MTPLM Kerbweight Ratio Engine Stabiliser Comment

 

1000kg 1200kg 83% 1. 8 petrol Leaf Handling twitchy, poor engine performance

 

1000kg 1360kg 74% 2. 0 petrol Leaf Much better handling, reasonable engine

performance

 

1000kg 1485kg 67% 2. 4 petrol Leaf Excellent handling, brilliant engine

performance

 

1000kg 1495kg 67% 2. 0 diesel Leaf Excellent handling, brilliant engine

performance

 

 

1300kg 1495kg 87% 2. 0 diesel aks1300 V. Good handling, very good engine

performance

 

1300kg 2150kg 60% 2. 5 diesel aks1300 Good handling, good engine performance

 

 

1340kg 1495kg 90% 2. 0 diesel aks2400 Twitchy handling, very good engine

performance

 

1340kg 1619kg 83% 2. 0 diesel aks2400 Very good handling, very good engine

performance

 

The six cars are/were:

 

1998 1. 8 gdi Mitsubishi Carisma (124bhp)

1999 2. 0 Peugeot 406 Saloon (137bhp)

1999 2. 4 V70 Volvo (170bhp)

2001 2. 0 Ford Mondeo Hatch TDDi (115bhp)

1996 2. 5 Landrover Discovery (???bhp)

2003 2. 0 Landrover Freelander (110bhp)

 

These are the observations that I have made.

 

Stability

 

Looking at the 1000kg Caravan (ABI Marauder) as the ratio went down the handling definitely got better. This weight ratio and handling point is further re-enforced when I used the same car to tow a further two different caravans 1300kg (Elddis Typhoon) and 1340kg (Abbey Aventura). The difference in handling between the vans was significant! As the weight of the caravans increased then the handling tailed off. Some might say that this could be a function all sorts of other dynamics of the caravans and that is an undeniable fact. Nevertheless, my confidence in the towing of the Abbey has now been restored by the use of the 1619kg Freelander as a tow vehicle. One point that I would include here is the one of nose weight. The optimum nose weight for the Abbey is 94kg, the Elddis was 91kg and the Marauder was 70kg. The nose weight limit on the Mondeo is 75kg and the Freelander is 140kg. Clearly when I used the Mondeo to tow the Abbey it was nearly 20kg below the optimum nose weight capacity and the handling got very twitchy. Now using the Freelander I can load to the optimum nose weight figure and the Abbey tows superbly as a result. I think the nose weight clearly influences the towing characteristics and I certainly now believe this factor should not be underestimated when deciding on the tow vehicle.

 

 

Do I think the stabiliser had any effect on the stability? Not significantly. I’m sure they help, but if the rig is fundamentally flawed then I personally don’t think they are going to make an awful lot of difference. As can be seen from the table above I’ve used 3 different stabiliser types and every time the rig was less than optimally configured the stability was compromised.

 

Engine/Fuels

 

The engine/fuel question, I think, is much more clear cut. If you want to tow with a petrol engine then it has to be at least 2ltr for a caravan of any size and personally I wouldn’t consider any petrol engine below 2. 4/2. 5ltr. I have to concede that, for me, diesel would be the engine of choice for caravan owners. The difference in towing performance over the smaller petrol engines is vast and comparable, in towing terms, with the larger ones. Where, in my opinion, the diesel engines might lose an argument is in their solo performance. Nevertheless, the modern diesel is so good these days I’m not sure, other than speed freak type performance, that they really lose out on this argument; my Mondeo was superb.

 

Conclusion

 

Am I saying everyone who tows should drive massive 6 cylinder diesel 4x4’s? No! I thought the early Discovery I used was a dreadful vehicle; although it towed OK it handled so badly solo I wouldn’t entertain one of this vintage. What I am saying is that everything is a question of compromise. At the end of the day individuals need to decide what parameter they are prepared to compromise on. As can be seen I’ve tried numerous combinations now and I can confidently say that as long as the weight ratio and nose weight are within reasonable limits then you’ll have a stable outfit. The Mondeo hatch worked well both solo and towing about 1300kgs. The petrol Volvo was likewise a very good towcar and a delight solo.

 

What I did

 

The main problem for me personally in my recent quest for a new vehicle was finding a vehicle with a high enough nose weight and kerbweight capacity to suit my current 1340kg Abbey. I decided that a large capacity petrol was out (and I really did fancy a Jaguar X-Type). What was left? I could have tried the TDCi Mondeo estate, but I did have a bad experience with mechanical breakdowns with mine so didn’t fancy another. I tried to find a Diesel V70 or BMW 320d, but couldn’t find one with sensible miles on for the money I could afford and besides the nose weight capacity wasn’t that great. Every time I considered a car I came back to a 4x4 despite not really liking them – and yes I did consider a people carrier briefly! So for me the TD4 ticked all the boxes. I know they’ve got their own reputation and quirks, but I’ve lived with mine for a week now and I’ve started too really like it. Solo it’s not in the same league as the Mondeo, but it isn’t that bad. The Freelander does, however, tow the caravan brilliantly and that ultimately is the main thing the vehicle must do for me.

Edited by tjambarker
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Well you certainly thought about it before taking the plunge!

 

I am looking forward to starting to use my TD4 Freelander, which is currently going idle in my garage until my company car goes back. Really keen to start towing with it to see how well it performs. Next plan is to get it chipped for a few extra horses and improved MPG.

 

Mines got a steptronic auto box in it to, so I'm hoping that should make for effort free driving. Only disadvantage is the smallish boot. But I have got a roof box to make up for the lack of space inside, so it shouldnt be a problem.

 

Found a few Freelander owner clubs on the internet as well for more information on them.

 

Well done, and keep us all informed as to how your 'hippo' is going. ...

 

Gaz.

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Well you certainly thought about it before taking the plunge!

 

I am looking forward to starting to use my TD4 Freelander, which is currently going idle in my garage until my company car goes back. Really keen to start towing with it to see how well it performs. Next plan is to get it chipped for a few extra horses and improved MPG.

 

Mines got a steptronic auto box in it to, so I'm hoping that should make for effort free driving. Only disadvantage is the smallish boot. But I have got a roof box to make up for the lack of space inside, so it shouldnt be a problem.

 

Found a few Freelander owner clubs on the internet as well for more information on them.

 

Well done, and keep us all informed as to how your 'hippo' is going. ...

 

Gaz.

 

Hi Gaz

 

I agree about the limitations of the boot and that was, for me, one of the minus points for it. I like you miss the Mondy's solo performance and will consider "chipping" in the future - I've got a 12mth Landrover warranty on mine so don't want to compromise that. Have you checked Roverron's site out? He does seem to know what he's talking about when it comes to chipping.

Edited by tjambarker
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Not seriously looked in to chipping as yet, as I havent really driven the car. Only drove it for the test drive before we bought it.

 

I think the problem I will have is going from a 163bhp 8. 1seconds to 60 car, to one with just over 100bhp and 0-60 somewhere short of hell freezing over (nearly 15seconds!).

 

Ho-hum. ...

 

Regards, Gaz

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