Q: I need a 4x4 to tow a medium-sized boat. My budget is £12,000 for a 3-4-year-old vehicle with around 30,000 miles on the clock. I have looked at the Mitsubishi Shogun, Land Rover Freelander and Jeep Cherokee. I need something reliable, economical and with good towing ability. What can you recommend? John Gallagher
A: Without knowing the laden weight of the trailer you intend to tow, it is difficult to suggest cars for your consideration. Ideally, you should aim to tow a trailer whose weight does not exceed 85% of the kerbweight of the towing vehicle. Additionally, the heavier the car, the more stable it should be when towing.
Not all the cars you mention may be up to the task of hauling a medium-sized boat with ease. Remember that towing can markedly alter the ride and handling characteristics of a car.
A Shogun 3.2 DI-D returns in the region of 30mpg, but don’t forget that fuel consumption will increase when towing. The maximum weight of a braked trailer that can be towed by this car is 2800kg; with a 115kg tow hitch weight (also known as noseweight). Its kerbweight is in the region of 2100kg, depending on which model you choose.
The Shogun has a depth of ability off-road; however, body roll, understeer and vague steering mar its on-road performance. On the positive side, the interior is spacious and well equipped – cruise control, air-conditioning, twin airbags and remote locking are available.
While the Land Rover Freelander boasts competitive fuel consumption, the build quality and reliability have come under question. It scored just one star in the JD Power Customer Satisfaction Index rating and will tow a braked trailer of up to 2000kg. Its kerbweight is around 1800kg, again depending on the exact model.
The Jeep Cherokee 2.8 CRD in its latest guise is criticised for its lack of sound-proofing and its coarse engine. Ride suffers from thudding over undulating surfaces and the combined fuel consumption is 27.4mpg. A braked trailer weighing 2400kg is the maximum that this car can tow, while its kerbweight is approximately 2100kg, depending on the model.
Alternatively, you could consider a V-reg Series II Land Rover Discovery 2.5 TD5, which has a suggested used value of £11,675. However, for this money expect it to have done around 59,000 miles. Combined fuel consumption is 30mpg. This 4x4 should cope perfectly towing a medium-sized boat, and has a good reputation both on- and off-road.
For more information on towing visit: http://www.practicalcaravan.com/features/caravanlaw.html