Towed, on the whole

I need a practical beast that will comfortably tow a 1,500kg caravan for about 3,000 miles a year, and carry 4 adults and accommodate 2 Labradors and walking gear in the boot for probably another 4,000. This last bit means that boot floor area rather than volume is highly prized. The other side is that it will do around 30k miles a year in total, much of that with just the driver or with one passenger. This means that fuel consumption is at a premium. I'd like 4WD and high ground clearance for walking and caravanning trips especially in winter but the effect on fuel consumption has always been too much previously. Thus the current car is an 03 reg Volvo V70 D5 that now has 105k miles on it and gives me around 42mpg unless towing. This car does the economy and solo driving bit very well, the boot floor is great and the engine makes mincemeat of the caravan. The rear suspension is a bit soft when towing though and it sometimes struggles with traction and ground clearance, but overall it isn't a bad compromise. I'm thinking of going for the same again, but what else should I think about? My budget is £12k plus the Volvo.

Asked on 20 March 2010 by M.G., via e-mail

Answered by Honest John
Plenty of good 4x4s about: Brit built Land Rover Freelander II 2.2 diesel White and Black editions £19,500. 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 diesel 194bhp 5-seater from £21,500. 2010 KIA Sorento 2.2 diesel 194bhp 7-seater from £22,495. Brit built Honda CR-V petrol or diesel, manual or automatic very comfortable. Ford Kuga handles sharply and rides decently on 17" wheels (not on 19" wheels). Mazda CX-7 also handles well. Toyota RAV-4 2.0i Valvematic CVT lowest CO2 for a 4x4 automatic, but for towing you need the less efficient 2.2 D-4D manual or auto.
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