Tow Car Awards 2021: How we decided the winners

If you’re looking for a great tow car that will also be enjoyable to drive solo, you need one of our 2021 Tow Car Awards winners. Here's what we put them through...

Tow Car Awards 2021 - cars ready to test

Welcome to the What Car? Tow Car Awards 2021. Last year we named the best used tow cars, but this year we've returned to new models, with everything from family hatchbacks to luxurious SUVs tested.

And while we've once again partnered with the towing and caravanning experts at The Camping and Caravanning Club, this time we have a new technical partner, Adria, who supplied us with a fleet of its latest caravans for our test week.

There's no doubt that electrification has been the biggest motoring trend of recent years, and that's reflected in the record numbers of hybrids and fully electric cars among the 40 models assessed in 2021.

Tow Car Awards 2021 - hill test

Whatever the car, though, we've put it through the same series of tests, including an emergency lane-change, 30-60mph acceleration, and 30-0mph braking. We also conduct a hill start on a 1-in-6 slope and a high-speed stability test.

Experts from The Camping and Caravanning check over each car's towing gear, while assessing the ease with which towing mirrors can be fitted and the suitability of the puncture repair provision for use while towing. Boot space is also checked with a typical load of camping luggage. These tests give us each car's practicality score.

Tow Car Awards 2021 - brake test

Because most tow car drivers will spend far more time in everyday driving than towing, each model is also rated as a solo drive. And we factor in value, safety, equipment levels and running costs.

The 40 contenders are divided into five classes by weight, so it's easy to find a car to match your caravan or trailer. The heaviest weight class has been further divided by price, with a £50,000 cut-off separating mainstream models from luxury SUVs. And we've also included separate classes for pick-up trucks and electric cars.

Tow Car Awards 2021 team

Thanks to Al-Ko for its assistance in preparing the caravans, and Witter Towbar Systems for help in checking each car's towing gear.

We're also grateful to Milenco for supplying its latest Milenco Grand Aero Platinum mirrors as well as noseweight gauges, and to the Coventry Scale Company for the loan of the weight pads used in preparing the caravan loading plans.

Finally, our biggest thanks must go to the small army of Camping and Caravanning Club volunteers who give up their time to make the event possible.

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See the Tow Car Awards 2021 winners >>