The Toyota LandCruiser Sahara Turbodiesel, which has a 3500kg maximum towing capacity and costs $116,990 before on road costs, was declared the outright winner in a four-way battle of premium, heavy-duty turbodiesel tow vehicles conducted by Caravan World.
The four luxury SUVs were put through their paces in the Blue Mountains, towing a 2450kg caravan. The other three vehicles were a Nissan Patrol TI 3.0TD (2500kg tow capacity, $72,690 plus ORC), Range Rover Sport Luxury TDV6 (3500kg, $112,900), and Mitsubishi Pajero Exceed DI-D (3000kg, $76,790).
Caravan World editor Max Taylor said the test team had put money to one side to determine the best of the best of the current crop of luxury tow vehicles.
"We wanted to stick our necks out, to put four heroes of the 4WD scene to work with a van in tow in order to find the best," he said. "In the end it was about one simple question: if money was no object, which 4WD would we buy as a tow vehicle?
"And that’s where the Cruiser wins – with a substantial 2450kg van in tow, it was just effortless. As our chief tester Philip Lord said, no vehicle should be able to pull a heavy van as easily as this."
Runner-up, and the second most expensive vehicle tested, was the Range Rover Sport, which according to Lord, "towed our van as if it wasn’t there". While very capable as a tow vehicle, the Range Rover was criticized as the only one of the vehicles tested that couldn’t be used with load levelers when towing a large van.
In third place was the range-topping Pajero. Although described as "a very good tow vehicle, stability and mid-range power its key assets", it too had its limitations.
"Not so great is the now-awkward towball position, thanks to the re-positioned spare wheel," Lord explained. "The maximum towing capacity (3000kg) is a bit deceptive too. From 2501kg the ball load drops from 250kg to 180kg, not ideal for many large vans – in fact this renders the Pajero useless for towing some of them....”
The now aging GU Patrol was commended for its ability to "take a heavy van hitched behind with such a lack of fuss". But Lord summed up the off-road hero and the worst tow tug of the bunch as "not a good heavy-duty tow vehicle… best for lighter tandems or single-axle vans of less than 2000kg".
While the magazine limited its ‘Ultimate 4x4 Shootout’ to just four vehicles, it did provide a comprehensive ‘Buyers’ Guide’, listing the specifications of other tow vehicles with a 1500kg-plus towing capacity and at least 10 per cent maximum towball download.
Check out the June 2011 (#490) issue of Caravan World, for the full story.