Off-Road and Towing Capabilities - RAV4 or Grand Vitara

Submitted: Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 13:41
ThreadID: 106782 Views:5643 Replies:7 FollowUps:2
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Hi all,

We are first time campers/4WDers and need your advice as we are overwhelmed with all the reviews and info available!

Basically we would like to purchase a 4WD and a camper trailer.

I would like a RAV4 but not sure of it's off-road and towing capability.

I'm also looking at a Grand Vitara as a 2nd option having the dual range.

So just wanted to know if the RAV4 would be suitable for towing a camper? The camper would be about 750kg unloaded.

We'd like to go to Fraser and realise that the RAV4 probably wouldn't cope on sand towing a camper. Would the Grand Vitara be able to handle this?

I've heard alot of great camping spots in QLD can only be accessed by 4WD so wanted to know if the RAV4 could tow a camper, would we be missing out on some great camping spots in QLD by not having a 'real' 4WD?

Would love something more substaintial but only have a budget of around $15K for the 4WD.

Any advice would be much appreciated!
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Reply By: Member - Chris_K - Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 16:00

Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 16:00
Hi Anthea

At 750kg I'd suggest that the Suzuki would be the best bet as they have low range. Both are pretty low in terms of clearance - but at least you have a better chance with the Suzuki on sand. If you reduce tyre pressures on the sand accordingly and make sure you watch the tides - the Suzuki should do well.


AnswerID: 528614

Reply By: Member - Craig F (WA) - Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 18:10

Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 18:10
Both are capable of towing a trailer as per your requirements on road. Off road both would not be suitable. On hard compacted sand or a well graded track they are ok but if the sand gets soft or you hit a rut you would be beyond the capabilities of both. Getting to the barge for example. I have a 4.2TDI GU and would not be comfortable towing any more than 1 ton on the beach.

AnswerID: 528622

Reply By: The Bantam - Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 22:40

Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 22:40
The RAV is fabulous family car, particularly when the main driver is female (they are just so well targeted to women) an extraordinary road car, a very good fast dirt road car but only a very modest thing off road.

They are reported to be pretty good on hard sand.

We have both a RAV and a 4wd hilux.

The RAV has a pretty fair on road towing capacity.

The draw Back of the RAV is the lack of low range combined with low idle & high gearing......I still snuff ours on take off from time to time....partricularly when I step out of my diesel.

Going off road, particularly realy need a low range.

Get into some soft sand and you will be in low 1 or 2 giving it plenty of berries.

Some of the milder tracks, I would get the RAV over them.... but it would require care and craft.....the hilux would just drive straight up them with little or no concern.

Of the two soon as you say "off road"...the Vitara is the only option...and not a shabby one.

If you intend to tow a trailer with a vitara off road it better be light and well sorted.

I know of a bloke who tows a trailer up the beach with a Siera...because with his wife and 2 kids inside there is not much room for anything else....but they travel realy light..and he CAN drive.

AnswerID: 528639

Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 at 01:18

Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 at 01:18
Yep, what the Bantam has said. We also have a RAV4 that the good lady wife mainly drives and a Landcruiser for towing the van and serious off road stuff. So far the RAV has been all we wanted but as it has only just had it's first service at 6000 k's not long term proven.
Also as said no low range would be a drawback off road especially towing. We didn't buy it for that, but would have more than likely gone for the Suzy for what you are proposing if we were to buy a vehicle in that category.
Having said that I am not sure I would choose either if towing off road.

FollowupID: 811242

Follow Up By: Member - Chris_K - Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 at 09:56

Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 at 09:56
Some good advice above - and addition - if you chose either for towing on sand, I'd also travel with someone else. It's an uncomfortable feeling watching the tide come in as you try to recover a vehicle from the sand! If you travel to Fraser Island, the Rainbow Beach hotel has quite a photo collection on the back wall of people, cars, and tides....the tide always wins.

FollowupID: 811250

Reply By: Member - evaredy - Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 at 13:36

Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 at 13:36
I know you mentioned you only have a 15k budget for a vehicle. What is the budget for the camper, is it an off road camper and is it new or second hand?

Are you able to cut back on the price of the camper and put the difference towards a decent second hand 4x4?

AnswerID: 528670

Reply By: GHThommo - Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 at 16:55

Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 at 16:55
Hi Anthea,

We have a 2005 Grand Vitara and tow a CUB camper trailer with the transcontinental pack This makes it somewhere between an on road and an off road camper. Have not had any troubles with the suzi towing but have never been on sand. Have done over 40000Kms towing but mainly on sealed and hard dirt tracks. Corrugations are not a problem.

Be aware that our model suzi has a very low tow ball weight of 85 kg. This may be different with the newer models but it means that ours is incapable of legally towing a heavy camper even though it has an 1850kg towing capacity.

Also the tow bar is situated so low that you can scrape it coming out of a drive way.

Having said the above we are still very happy with the Suzi.

Gary Thomson
AnswerID: 528683

Reply By: fisherPete - Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 at 20:28

Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 at 20:28
I work for a rental Co so get to drive everything from Yaris to 16 ton Pantecs. For a road 4wd a xtrail is so much more refined then a rav4, and slightly better off road.
I have tried a Rav4 on easy tracks and discovered it could not go where my Jackaroo went easy in 2wd due to very poor suspension travel.
If serious about going offroad look at a Pajero or a jackaroo. Their are still a few good ones left.
You will use more fuel , but at least they will tow a camper easy on and off road.
Cheers Pete
AnswerID: 528695

Reply By: Sigmund - Friday, Mar 21, 2014 at 15:15

Friday, Mar 21, 2014 at 15:15
On Fraser Is. clearance will be a prob with both. Even a manual Forester, which is pretty capable, won't cope with the tracks there.

Keep in mind ball weight and total weight. 750 kg tare will easily turn into 950 kg gross with two people's gear.
AnswerID: 528802

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