Which tow vehicle should I buy?
Anwen bought her 2013 Toyota HiLux to tow her large horse and float.
Now she also has a baby, a Dalmatian and another baby on the way, so a replacement is needed. Essentially, she just wants another capable, reliable tow vehicle/off-roader but with added practicality. Her husband wants a new Volkswagen Multivan but she’d prefer a near-new Toyota LandCruiser. Which would we choose?
The Multivan has its attractions but its towing abilities aren’t exceptional and, despite the availability of all-wheel-drive, it’s not really a true off-roader. And while no car can offer a reliability guarantee, we’d put our money on Toyota over a Volkswagen any day of the week.
So we’d be siding with Anwen in choosing the LandCruiser over the Multivan for this job.
There is, however, another Volkswagen that raises a much more compelling – if still ultimately compromised – counter-argument. There’s another Toyota, too, that might just be a better pick for her in this budget range.
2015-on Toyota LandCruiser 200-Series diesel, from $57,300*
This Toyota’s 3500kg maximum capacity, 350kg towball limit and stump-pulling V8 turbodiesel drivetrain make for a seriously capable tow vehicle.
It’s similarly effective in the off-road role and one of the great long-distance options with its quiet, cushioned ride and huge 138-litre fuel tank. While reliability niggles with later LandCruisers aren’t unheard of, it’s still something of a model citizen in this respect.
Its cabin has a vast supply of space and seats (five or eight), and if you get a second-tier GXL trinkets such as sat-nav and reversing camera are included.
Only the topline Sahara, however, gets truly modern safety tech such as auto emergency braking, and pinning down a tidy example for this money will be tough.
It’s a big, hulking beast through the bends, a handful in urban spaces and asks for more regular servicing than some alternatives (six-monthly/10,000km).
Read Drive’s Toyota LandCruiser reviews:
Road test: Toyota LandCruiser GXL
Outback road test: Toyota LandCruiser Sahara
2018 Drive Commercial Car of the Year – Best 4WD Finalist: Toyota LandCruiser VX 200-Series
Toyota LandCruiser Prado auto, from $56,490
This Toyota’s towing numbers aren’t as formidable as those of the 200-Series (3000kg maximum, 300kg towball limit) and its 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel drivetrain isn’t as strong.
It’s merely roomy rather than massive inside and has fewer seats (up to seven). It’s also a ponderous beast to drive that ties you into six-monthly/10,000km servicing.
But the Prado outguns her current car’s towing numbers and its engine is stronger, too. It’s also likely to be more than roomy and practical enough.
It, too, is renowned for its off-road nous and dependability but it uses less fuel than a 200-Series (8.0L/100km versus 9.5L/100km) and, with its 150-litre fuel tank, can go even further between fills.
Where a 200 with all the latest safety gear is unlikely for this money, it comes with auto emergency braking across the range. It also offers the chance to tap into all of Toyota’s three-year warranty/fixed-price servicing deal (versus little or none).
Read Drive’s Toyota LandCruiser Prado reviews:
The sweet spot: Toyota LandCruiser Prado
Road-test comparison: Luxury 4x4s
2018 Drive Commercial Car of the Year – Best 4WD Winner: Toyota LandCruiser Prado VX
2015-on Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDI/V8 TDI, from $45,600*
This Volkswagen beats its Multivan sibling for towing with its 3500kg maximum (versus 2500kg) and 280kg towball limit (versus 100kg). Its V6 and V8 turbodiesel drivetrains (versus four-cylinder) are also much stronger.
It tickles the emotions more than the Toyotas with its slick presentation and upmarket cabin. Its drivetrains are thriftier (7.4L/100km and 9.2L/100km respectively), its handling is more car-like and these air-suspended models are quite handy off-road. Auto emergency braking is part of its repertoire.
It asks for only yearly/15,000km servicing and many used examples in this budget range have plenty of life to run on their six-year fixed-price servicing deal (five from 2017).
But the Touareg has this group’s tightest cabin, fewest seats (five only) and those classy trims mightn’t stand up so well to dog duties. It has this group’s weakest towing numbers, highest service costs and only space-saver spare.
Read Drive’s Volkswagen Touareg reviews:
Quick spin: Volkswagen Touareg 180 TDI
Review: Volkswagen Touareg Wolfsburg Edition
If Anwen must keep the marital peace, a Touareg would work better than a Multivan. But there are still question marks that that stop it from challenging the Toyotas for victory against her particular criteria.
Splitting the two LandCruisers is tough. The 200-Series is unquestionably a more capable tow vehicle but the Prado is a better buy, cheaper to run and offers more toys and safety tech for the cash. Given it still represents a step-up in towing ability over her current car, it would be our first choice.
* Values are estimates provided by Redbook based on an example averaging up to 20,000km per annum and in a well-maintained condition relevant to its age.