Travel Australia towing vehicle recommendations

Submitted: Thursday, May 19, 2022 at 22:04
ThreadID: 143738 Views:1926 Replies:11 FollowUps:26
Hi I'm just looking for some suggestions re towing vehicles for a family of three, we're looking for a car and caravan as this will be our first time travelling on the road. I'm mainly concerned with fuel economy and having enough power to pull a fully enclosed family sized caravan and gardening equipment (I'll be running my gardening buisness for a little bit of income)

I'm also concerned with the rising cost of disel which is over $2 per litre here in WA,
Thank you, and I greatly appreciate any advice, we've definitely got a lot to learn!
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, May 19, 2022 at 22:13

Thursday, May 19, 2022 at 22:13
Choose your caravan first and establish ACCURATELY what it will weigh when fully loaded with everything.
Then establish what will be carried in the vehicle and its weight. Everything!
Only then can you start to establish what you will need to tow with.
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
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Reply By: Member - John - Friday, May 20, 2022 at 07:26

Friday, May 20, 2022 at 07:26
Jamie, the idea of taking gardening gear with you puts a different slant on what you will need to buy. Is the gardening gear going to be in the tow vehicle or are you looking at "toy haulers" and carrying it in the van? If worried about fuel consumption, the lighter the better, maybe consider leaving the gardening equipment behind. and pick up work as you travel. As was said in another post, work out weights etc, then look for a suitable tow vehicle. Good luck
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Follow Up By: Jamie P7 - Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 21:00

Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 21:00
Gardening gear in the tow vehicle yes, I'm thinking of a landcruiser with seats folded down. Gear needs to be locked up and dual cab utes dont have enough space In the tray. It's my own established gardening buisness, and has the potential to earn more $ than random jobs on the road.
Thanks for your input appreciate it :)
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Sunday, May 22, 2022 at 09:11

Sunday, May 22, 2022 at 09:11
Jamie,

A 79 Series Dual Cab with canopy should allow enough room in the tray for long handle shovels, crow bars etc. 1,900 mm long tray.
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Reply By: Erad - Friday, May 20, 2022 at 09:41

Friday, May 20, 2022 at 09:41
If you tow a full height caravan, you can expect fuel consumption to be on the high side. It all depends then on what you tow it with. If it is a diesel, you can expect as a rule of thumb to get consumptions of 16 - 18 L/100 km at speeds around 90 km/h. If you 100 or more, expect over 20/.100 km. Add 50% more if you tow with petrol. Any full height caravan has the aerodynamics of a brick, and it doesn't matter that much what you tow it with - you still have to push a lot of air out of the way.

If you get a camper van (the one which the roof winds up and the beds pull out at each end), consumption will be probably 60-70% of a full height caravan. HOWEVER - a wind-up camper is not as habitable for long-term use. In cold or hot weather they are not as comfortable, but even a full height caravan in the heat is often unbearable as well. Seriously consider an air conditioner if you are going to live in the van long-term. Of course, you need 240 V power then as well...

A pop-top caravan is a compromise between the full height and the wind-up versions. Fuel consumption will be probably 70 - 80% of the full height version consumption, but you have the disadvantages of the wind-up camper climatewise. We have a single axle poptop caravan which is about 100 mm higher than our 4WD. It also has a very short drawbar, and the 4WD acts as a fairly good nosecone for the caravan aerodynamics. There is virtually zero airflow between the back of the tug and the caravan, but we still have the after-effects at the tail end of the rig. We get around 12L/100 km @ 90 km/h, 13.5 l/100 @ 100km/h and about 15.5 L/100 km @ 110 km/h, towing with a Pajero diesel. That is very good economy and you would be lucky to get that with a regular rig.

I note you are in WA. IF you intend heading North into cyclone prone areas, you should consider attaching some tie-down facilities to the van.
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Follow Up By: Jamie P7 - Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 21:11

Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 21:11
This is great information, thanks so much for your time. I originally wanted a pop top for better fuel efficiency but I'm a little bit concerned with security, privacy and temperature control in cold/hot weather. Hmm decisions decisions.
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Reply By: Gbc.. - Friday, May 20, 2022 at 10:05

Friday, May 20, 2022 at 10:05
“Mainly concerned with fuel economy” towing a full sized van will have you looking at land rover discovery, GMC Sierra, F150 and other cars that cost a fair chunk of coin to start with. All 3 will use less fuel than a land cruiser towing a big van. (200 v8 diesel - I don’t know how the new 300 v6 goes on economy)
Step down to a twin cab ute and they will be somewhere between the cruiser and the disco for fuel use. The sierra and the F150 will still also use less than a Thai twin cab when towing - in general terms.
This topic is subjective as hell so I’ve kept it deliberately vague because you’ll get all sorts of individual ‘economy’ figures from all sorts of owners and drivers, half of which you can trust.
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Reply By: Michael H9 - Friday, May 20, 2022 at 10:12

Friday, May 20, 2022 at 10:12
What's your budget? Consider some sort of all-in-one van like an Iveco Daily that's towing a normal trailer with your gardening gear and any extra gear that won't fit easily in the living quarters. Probably the most fuel efficient solution, but do the sums. I can't see you fitting much gardening gear easily in a caravan.
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Follow Up By: Jamie P7 - Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 21:07

Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 21:07
Thanks, a van towing a trailer wold suit me perfectly, unfortunately I don't think the Mrs or my daughter will cope with the small living quarters for very long. My budget is around $50 - 60k for a car and caravan if possible.
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Friday, May 20, 2022 at 10:56

Friday, May 20, 2022 at 10:56
Alternatively, consider a light forward control Japanese light truck with a caravan on the tray (without wheels etc).
Fuel consumption will be lower than towing a caravan and the weight and space problems will dissapear.
The compromise is that the accomodation goes to work each day if you are not parked next to it (which will be common).
If you are working along the way, travel km will be lower and fuel costs are tax deductable.
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
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Follow Up By: Jamie P7 - Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 21:15

Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 21:15
That's a great point regarding fuel costs being tax deductable as I'm registered as a sole trader, its something I didn't even consider. A light truck would mean I need a truck license but it could be worth it, the only problem is not having a 4wd to go to off road locations, beaches etc along the way.
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Sunday, May 22, 2022 at 09:05

Sunday, May 22, 2022 at 09:05
https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-automotive/mitsubishi+canter+4x4/k0c9299
Cheers,
Peter
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Reply By: 2517. - Friday, May 20, 2022 at 10:59

Friday, May 20, 2022 at 10:59
Realistic I think you need to expect to use around 20 L per 100K (diesel).
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Follow Up By: Member - reggy 2 (VIC) - Friday, May 20, 2022 at 14:21

Friday, May 20, 2022 at 14:21
Ditto to that.
I just came back from 5250 k trip fuel cost was very high some places were $2-25 a lt = 500k=$200 dollars plus this was 2 weeks ago traveled via vic,nsw,sa. toy 200 v/8 21lt to 100ks.
Hope this helps a bit with cost,Cheers
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Friday, May 20, 2022 at 16:26

Friday, May 20, 2022 at 16:26
Fuel consumption depends largely on how fast you drive.
20kph is likely if you are in a hurry.
A single vehicle (instead of towing) can be quite a bit less if you slow down.
I can get our 6.5T OKA down to 14L/100km at 70kph, 18L/100L at 85kph, 20+L/100@100kph. And it is not exactly aerodynamic.... :)
It is not a race out there.
Cheers,
Peter
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Reply By: Member - rocco2010 - Friday, May 20, 2022 at 18:17

Friday, May 20, 2022 at 18:17
Fuel cost has long been front of mind for many travellers.

$2 a litre for diesel may be with us for a while. Likely forever.

Travelling in rural WA and a bit beyond in the last two weeks had me wondering whether there will be as many caravanners on the road this year. Places I visited were charging around $1.35 a litre a year ago, now around $2.10.

That's a big hit in any budget.

Good luck with your choice.

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Reply By: Member - Soft-Roader - Friday, May 20, 2022 at 18:30

Friday, May 20, 2022 at 18:30
Mate, need a budget.

A lot will suggest diesel and decry petrol. But having come from a LC200 V8 diesel to a Y62 V8 Petrol the difference in towing is no where near as much as what people will suggest. And that's when I owned both while petrol was more expensive than diesel. So - if you have $80K for a vehicle - suggest the patrol. It is so much easier to drive, overtake, go up hills.... and the difference is very minimal. My LC200 averaged around 13.8L/100 set up for touring. My Y62 set up exactly the same (bar, racks, larger tyres, max GVM for both of them) was around 16.5L/100. Do the maths... if you look at percentage that's a decent difference. If you look at cost, it's not so much. Especially when you consider the additional power to overtake, not have to do 80km/h up a hill, and the like. So for me, after 30 years of diesel, I've converted to petrol. An added bonus is that diesel is now far more expensive than petrol. Further - the naysayers that decry the availability of petrol in the outback are wrong. I went with a 140L standard Y62 patrol with two 20L fuel tanks on board and never found a track that I needed the additional tanks.

So - for me, go petrol. Cheaper to maintain, cheaper to buy, and with those two, it's actually cheaper to own. You will love the overtaking ability when needed, and love the fact (eg, on the Y62) you don't have turbos, AdBlue issues, injector issues (why I sold by LC200) and the like.

Peeps that demand diesel in this arena don't have the experience, or if they do it's from old petrols that drank >25L/100km while touring.

But we need your budget. If it's low, don't go for an older petrol. Go for diesel. But modern petrol's are brilliant.
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Follow Up By: Member - nickb boab - Friday, May 20, 2022 at 19:33

Friday, May 20, 2022 at 19:33
And the money saved on buying a you could drive around Australia twice??
Cheers Nick b

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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 09:39

Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 09:39
Hi Lachlan,

Just a couple of points if I may, I would be very surprised if you could get a Y62 Patrol for $80,000 anywhere in Australia, certainly not new, and probably not secondhand unless very high kms. Also, I think the Nissan is fuel injected, so injector problems may still be an issue. 200 Series Landcruisers also don’t use AdBlue.

Fuel economy is very subjective, and has a lot to do with the right foot, weather and road conditions, but agree that from the few towing comparisons I have read, there is very little difference between the two vehicles, with the Y62 coming out just ahead of the 200 Series Landcruiser.

Of the two engine choices, regardless of the vehicle, for towing, a Diesel has more low end torque. They are also the engine of choice for heavy machinery.

Macca.
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Follow Up By: Member - Soft-Roader - Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 12:26

Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 12:26
Hi Macca,

The injector issues are specific to the LC200 V8 TTD. I've lived it. $1000 each to replace. So that was a specific issue with respect to the engine.

Y62 are $82K drive-away now, but like everything you will have to wait. A far cry from the $68K I paid (when they were meant to be $81K D/A) in 2018.

Agree with the fuel consumption being driver-specific. That's why I put my figures in, being the same driver, with the same kit fitted to both, doing the same driving. I don't think you will get a better comparison than the same driver doing the same driving with the same kit in the LC200 (over four years/ 130,000km) and the Y62 over two years (66,000km) using a fuel app - not the dial.

Of the two engine choices - I disagree. The argument that heavy machinery uses it is old and is irrelevant. So they produce more torque at lower revs. My LR Defender maxes out at 360Nm of torque, but the Patrol at 560Nm. Yep, it's higher in the rev range - but two things... Firstly, you have 400Nm in the Y62 from around 1300 - 1500 revs (so more already than the Defender). Secondly - who cares about a higher Rev count? If the gearing is right, there's no issue.

I hear a lot about this "low end torque" furphy. It doesn't matter - what matters is "how much torque is in the low end" and, the Y62 has more than the Defender, and more than the 70-series of "low end torque". And low range. And the fuel figures from me, and from independent articles, supports this.

I lived and breathed not only diesel, but Toyota for many, many years. The modern petrol engine smashes diesel in almost every way. I just think it takes the olds and bolds some time to adjust. They have memories of the early 2000's or late 1990's where petrol engines were shockingly fuel guzzling, didn't really provide much torque at all, and diesel did the slow and steady reliability that doesn't really exist anymore.

One place where diesel sh*ts over the petrol is distance-per-km though. But with a LR Tank fitted, who's to say 200L of petrol won't be sufficient? My last car I went back to diesel, and it was great for this. But in December last year it was stolen and again, I went back to petrol because I just missed it's simplicity.
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Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 13:07

Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 13:07
To clarify, are your figures above done with something like a 2.5 tonne caravan in tow? If not, the fuel economy diffence between petrol and diesel may be more substantial. After all, most things that tow use diesel for a reason.
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Follow Up By: Member - Soft-Roader - Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 13:22

Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 13:22
The figures are not with anything in tow. My original comment indicated that independent reviews show that with something in tow actually bring the difference in economy closer together.

An if we're using "but most use diesel" arguments - I would suggest you look at the fact that every 4x4 Ute in Australia is a diesel, except the Gladiator petrol ute from Jeep. So it kind of defeats the argument.

Not caring too much. I have made my bed simply based on real, lived experience of both classes of vehicle and types of fuel. That is, not listening to the BS that goes around that Diesel is best. Like I say - a lived experience. Real figures with the best comparison you could make (driver the same, set up the same, over several years). But hey, the internet forums will suggest I must be missing something. I've put up my fuel data from my fuel app elsewhere on this forum. Not my concern if others choose a slower, more expensive vehicle to do the job a petrol could do with better or same economy, power outputs, torque, reliability and the like.

Go back to 2005, and the argument changes. Diesels were reliable and didn't have the electronic gadgetry that made them equal to (or worse) than a naturally aspirated petrol engine during water crossings. But that's no longer the case.
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Follow Up By: Member - Outback Gazz - Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 13:33

Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 13:33
200 series V Y62 Patrol

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iD001FCCG5c
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Follow Up By: Jamie P7 - Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 21:18

Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 21:18
My budget is around 30k for a vehicle, what would you suggest petrol or disel. I was considering a Toyota 100 series v8 vs disel towing a caravan and equipment, which would be more fuel efficient with the rising cost of disel?
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Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Sunday, May 22, 2022 at 01:35

Sunday, May 22, 2022 at 01:35
Fuel consumption for the Nissan confirmed as better than the Toyota by this review as well -


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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Sunday, May 22, 2022 at 09:22

Sunday, May 22, 2022 at 09:22
Lachlan,

The 200 Series Landcruiser tops out at 650 Nm of torque at 1,600 rpm. Cannot compare the 200 Series with a Landrover Defender, just not in the same league. I only ever had one landrover, and would never have another one. It was a V8 Petrol Discovery.

As for the past, many people, myself included, would not have had a diesel for sand driving, they used to bog down engine rev wise very quickly. My first 4WD’s were petrol, Mitsubishi L300, Ford Maverick and 100 Series Landcruiser, all manual transmissions. The modern common rail diesel is a far superior engine to the diesels of the past, coupled with better automatic transmissions.

Macca.
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Sunday, May 22, 2022 at 14:58

Sunday, May 22, 2022 at 14:58
6+T OKA 4 cylinder diesel Perkins motorhome, 81kW @ 2,800RPM (never get that high) and 354Nm @ 1,500RPM at the flywheel (at least it was 28 years and 580,000km ago), driving up the western side of Big Red and along the top.
You can see where the Toyotas and Nissans et al failed near the top and turned around :)
https://youtu.be/T7y61s_2vP0
https://youtu.be/hX2bqM8VSZE
What would I do with more power, except spin the wheels?
Cheers,
Peter
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Monday, May 23, 2022 at 08:54

Monday, May 23, 2022 at 08:54
Hi Peter,

Yes, it is not always about how much torque you have, but how you use it. Some people have no idea how to drive in sand, it is not about speed, it is about traction.

However, I think we have strayed from the OPs original question.

Macca.
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Follow Up By: Member Kerry W (Qld) - Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at 14:18

Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at 14:18
V8 Petrol Landcruisers will cripple you with fuel consumption - but they are cheap.
Kerry W (Qld)
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Reply By: Member - nickb boab - Friday, May 20, 2022 at 19:42

Friday, May 20, 2022 at 19:42
I was wondering what would be the most fuel efficient.. a max load/ overloaded 4 cylinder turbo diesel type vehicle or half loaded ram type usa pick up ??
Cheers Nick b

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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 09:43

Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 09:43
Hi Nick,

Very few 1,500 Series American pick ups are “half loaded” when towing caravans around the 3.0 Tonne and heavier, particularly with a family of 4. When you look at their actual payload when towing at max towing capacity, it is not that much more than a 200 Series Landcruiser or Y62 Patrol.

Macca.
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Follow Up By: Member - nickb boab - Monday, May 23, 2022 at 07:43

Monday, May 23, 2022 at 07:43
Cheers Macca : have heard this about the vehicles you had mentioned before but I was thinking about 4X4 ute type .. you know those vehicles you see that have everything and the kitchen sink or loaded on them :))
Cheers Nick b

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Reply By: Jamie P7 - Friday, May 27, 2022 at 10:19

Friday, May 27, 2022 at 10:19
Looks like we've got our caravan, 20'6 ft
2050 tare
We're now looking at the holden colarado to tow. It was recommended by our mechanic as a reliable fuel economic vehicle with great towing capacity. Id love any feedback regarding essential upgrades etc. Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Jim S1 - Friday, May 27, 2022 at 15:15

Friday, May 27, 2022 at 15:15
Great to have the caravan , and a nice family size.
Colorados were Isuzu clones for a few years. See plenty about and look a good honest truck.
Recommend an auto if you can get one.

Cheers
Jim

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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Saturday, May 28, 2022 at 09:07

Saturday, May 28, 2022 at 09:07
Hi Jamie,

2050 Tare whilst good to know, isn’t much use when asking about a suitable tow vehicle, the ATM is what you really need to know, that and the TBM. Then you can look at suitable vehicles with that capacity plus the Rear Axle Loading of the vehicle.

Macca.
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Follow Up By: Jamie P7 - Saturday, May 28, 2022 at 12:07

Saturday, May 28, 2022 at 12:07
Sure no worries, the atm is around 2.5t
Do you think the colardo will be up to the task?
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Sunday, May 29, 2022 at 09:37

Sunday, May 29, 2022 at 09:37
Jamie,

The Colorado was a good vehicle in its day, but there are better vehicles out there today. The Isuzu D-Max is a better vehicle, and even a secondhand one with reasonable Kms would be a better choice than the Colorado.

Macca.
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