Best vans for towing
How much your van can tow depends both on its towing capacity and the power it has available. Here we tell you what you need to know before towing with your van, and name the best towing options...
Towing a trailer attached to a van is often necessary, but not all vans are equal when it comes to pulling something. Chances are, though, that if you want to tow something really heavy you’re going to need a big van.
But first, there are two main things you need to consider when towing a van. The first is the towing capacity of the van. Each van has a specific towing rating that will range from a standard 750kg trailer up to a 3500kg braked trailer. The second aspect of towing is the power and torque of the van you are using to tow. While almost any van is capable of towing, using an underpowered van to pull a heavy trailer will likely cause unnecessary strain on your engine, gearbox and clutch which could result in some pretty expensive repair bills.
What sort of van should I use for towing?
Because you’re looking for the best vans for towing, we’ll assume you want to move a big trailer. Before you start towing, though, you’ll need to make sure that your vehicle has a tow bar. This is usually a ball mount with a pin clip. You’ll also need a wiring harness to make sure that the electrics – including the brake lights – are working on the towed unit, and you’ll need a spare number plate for the vehicle you are towing to display on the trailer.
Large vans generally have a towing capacity in excess of 3000kg. This is to enable them to tow all manner of trailers, from vehicle or machinery transportation to food and drink stands. While you might buy what you think is a big van, though, even among the different versions of the same model there can be a big variation in the towing capacity.
Other things to consider are that your van will have a gross train weight or gross combination weight (GTW/GCW). This is the maximum weight your van plus any load, plus the trailer and its load can be. Therefore, if you have a 3.5 tonne van that has a towing capacity of 3000kg you will have to have a GTW of 6.5 tonnes in order to use both fully laden. If it is less, and the chances are it will be, you’ll have to adjust one of them or both accordingly.
The best vans for towing
The popular Mercedes Sprinter only has a towing capacity of two tonnes, but as with most Sprinter vans there is an option for everything, and a special reinforced trailer coupling can be specified to transform the maximum into 3500kg, which makes it far more versatile.
Volkswagen Crafter & MAN TGE
This German power couple have a range of options for their towing capacities. Smaller front-wheel-drive vans have a 2500kg towing capacity, while 3.5-tonne vans have a 3000kg towing capacity. The 3.5-tonne rear-wheel-drive version of the MAN TGE can tow 3500kg at its limit, but if you want the same in a Crafter you’ll have to get a 5-tonne version to get the maximum 3500kg towing capacity. One big advantage of them both, though, is the option of Trailer Assist, which can automatically manoeuvre the vehicle to position the trailer where you want it. It uses the electric wing mirror adjustment dial and is the easiest way imaginable to reverse a trailer.
The best-selling Ford Transit unsurprisingly has a top-notch towing capacity, but only if you opt for the most powerful 168bhp and 182bhp versions. These both have a 3500kg towing capacity when specified with rear-wheel-drive.
It takes a heavy-duty van to do a heavy-duty job, and they don’t come much more heavy-duty than the IVECO Daily. It’s built on truck underpinnings, and has been engineered to have versions weighing as much as 7.2 tonnes. Naturally, a van as capable as that has a 3500kg towing capacity.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here
Best sports cars 2022
If you want ultimate driving thrills, a sports car should be at the top of your shortlist, but the best can do more than simply go fast
Volkswagen Transporter Kombi long-term test review
The Volkswagen Transporter Kombi medium-sized van promises car-like equipment and refinement. Our senior photographer is living with one to see if it delivers