Big 3.5t caravan Towing

Towing that big 3.5t caravan

Towing that big 3.5t caravan

These days nearly all the Ute manufacturers offer 3.5t (3500kg) towing with their vehicles. But how close can we get to that realistically?

Let’s look at just few:

Vehicle Year Tow ATM TBM Kerb Mass GVM GCM
Ford Ranger 2.0L 20 3500 350 2197 3200 6000
Ford Ranger 3.2L 20 3500 350 2230 3200 6000
Holden Colorado 20 3500 350 2163 3150 6000
Isuzu D Max 20 3500 350 2130 3100 5950
Mazda BT50 20 3500 350 2174 3200 6000
Mitsubishi Triton 20 3100 310 1990 2900 5885
Nissan Navara 20 3500 350 2186 2910 5910
VW Amarok V6 20 3500 300 2147 3080 6000
Toyota Hilux 20 3200 320 2045 3000 5650

The big hitters:

Toyota 70 series V8 Diesel Ute 20 3500 350 2175 3300 6800
RAM V8 Petrol 20 4500 450 2650 3450 7237
RAM Eco Diesel 20 3500 350 2715 3450 6692

RAM V8 Petrol quotes different GCM figures based on the Diff axle ratio. With the 3.2 Diff axle ratio fitted GCM is 6261kg, but if fitted with the Diff axle ratio of 3.92 than GCM is increased to 7237kg. Also, to tow 4.5t the tow ball size must be increased from 50mm to 70mm.

So, lets look at those figures in more detail. Let’s look at the Ford Ranger first. To tow 3.5t we have a maximum GCM of 6t that then means that the maximum the vehicle can weigh is 2.5t.

Isuzu D Max again to tow 3.5t the vehicle must weigh a maximum of 2.45t.

VW Amarok to tow 3.5t must be under 2.5t as well but maximum TBM (Tow Ball Mass) is only 300kg.

Now when we look at the Kerb Mass of the Ford Ranger being 2230kg for the 3.2L that leaves only 270kg of payload.

Kerb Mass is measured with a full tank of fuel and the driver. Kerb Mass does not include anyone else in the car, the towbar, luggage or any other accessories that you may fit on the car like bull bars, canopies etc.

Now I’m not picking on the Ford Ranger here as they are all in the same boat.

The Nissan Navara would have a maximum payload of 224kg.

The Isuzu D Max would have a maximum payload of 320kg.

The Mazda BT50 would have a maximum payload of 326kg.

The Mitsubishi Triton and Toyota Hilux are being much more realistic here. The Triton can tow 3.1t and still have a payload of 795kg. The Toyota Hilux can tow 3.2t and that gives a payload of 405kg. As an example, if we look at the 2017 VW Amarok that has a maximum allowable tow weight of 3t this gives a whopping 853kg of payload.

So, as you can see from these results, they would all be much better suited to towing a maximum of 3t.

But I hear you say my caravan is 3.5t.

Let’s look at the heavy hitters. If you are happy to change gears manually and you don’t mind the 1980’s look and feel on both the inside and outside of the Toyota Landcruiser 70 series V8 Diesel then this is a genuine 3.5t tow vehicle. Now this can tow 3.5t and still leave you with a massive payload in the vehicle of 1,125kg. This car at its maximum GVM can still tow 3.5t to its maximum GCM of 6800kg. Canopy on the back and a bull bar up front will reduce that figure.

The Dodge RAM – the Ute we have been waiting for…. well almost. That depends on a few things. Firstly, what engine you choose. The Eco Diesel for example has a maximum tow weight of 3.5t which after looking at the hefty Kerb Mass will only give you a maximum payload in the vehicle of 477kg… not too bad. But if you choose the V8 Petrol with the 3.92 Diff ratio then whilst towing 3.5t you will have the maximum GVM payload in the vehicle of 800kg. If you choose the V8 with the Diff ratio of 3.2 (for economy) then the available payload in the vehicle drops to 111kg, not so good… so choose wisely.

If your caravan is 3.5t and you have to have a Ute then the pickings are slim. The choices improve if we start to look at Wagons, as that opens up a whole different selection of vehicles to choose from. Their GCM weights are sometimes higher and their power in the form of Nm can be much better as well.

To name a few:

Vehicle Year Tow ATM TBM Kerb / Tare GVM GCM
Audi Q7 V8 Diesel 20 3500 350 2240 T 2940 6740
Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0 Diesel 20 3500 350 2327 T 2949 6099
Land Rover DiscoveryD6 Diesel 20 3500 350 2236 T 3050 6550
Range Rover DV8 20 3500 350 2658 T 3340 6740
Lexus LX570 20 3500 350 2740 K 3350 6850
Toyota Landcruiser 200 V8 Diesel 20 3500 350 2740 K 3350 6850

Let’s look closer at a few:

Audi Q7 V8 Diesel – we can still carry maximum payload whilst towing 3.5t. We also don’t see too many with lots of aftermarket accessories like bull bars etc.… towbar is about it on these.

Land Rover Discovery D6 Diesel – once again maximum allowable payload up to GVM while towing 3.5t.

Toyota Landcruiser 200 V8 Diesel – up to maximum GVM available while towing 3.5t. The problem here is so many Landcruiser’s are fitted with a load of aftermarket accessories like bull bars, roof bars, draw systems, fridges, 2nd batteries just to name a few. This greatly reduces the cars ability to tow that magic 3.5t tow weight so many are looking to do.

The downside of Wagons are their prices as they are significantly more expensive.

Hopefully this doesn’t scare you away from towing a big caravan but rather gives you some information and knowledge so you can get it right. Remember if you don’t get your weights right you could receive an infringement notice and demerit points, or worst still be involved in an accident.

Book a weigh with us today, fully loaded ready to go and have the confidence to do it safely and legally.

Safe travels


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