Tow vehicles suited for 2.5 tonne offroad caravan.

Submitted: Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016 at 23:06
ThreadID: 132187 Views:6995 Replies:11 FollowUps:8
This Thread has been Archived
We have a 2.5 tonne ATM (when loaded) 2002 20' Coromal Pioneer offroad caravan currently towed by a 2007 Auto Nissan Navara D40 twin cab ute that loaded rates at about 2.4 tonne. The Navara and caravan GVM is about 4.9 tonne and driven by a diesal 2.5 litre engine, with auto transmission, with no mods. We love the ute because of its good ride, handling and comfort.
Our Navara D40 4x4 struggles a bit for power on decent hills and we get about 20 litres per 100km consumption on towing trips.

We are looking at upgrading to something with more guts, and better fuel consumption and have narrowed it down to only a Ford Ranger, BT50, or Holden Colorado 4X4 twin cab utility, because I want 3.5 tonne towing capacity.

I am interested in getting the advice and experiences of members who currently tow a similar size, and weight caravan as us, and who tow it with any of the 4x4 twin cab vehicles I have mentioned above. The final decision will probably also be determined by the overall purchase cost of the ute as well.
Cheers to all
Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Notso - Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 08:55

Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 08:55
I've got a BT50 auto that I use for towing a similar sized van (with the aerodynamics of a house brick). Does it easy, average fuel consumption would be around 16 Litres/100ks.

Not totally in love with the vehicle but it's done nothing wrong.

AnswerID: 598918

Follow Up By: Member - Ken&Rob - Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 21:22

Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 21:22
Thanks for the reply Notso.
What are the major points of your BT50 you are not happy with?
FollowupID: 868161

Follow Up By: Notso - Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 21:39

Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 21:39
It's a bit hard to describe really, just don't like the way it handles and feels on the road. It's got heaps of power and the auto is fine. I have priors for falling in love with my vehicles, but not this one! Mind you I know a lot who do love them.
FollowupID: 868165

Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 09:27

Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 09:27
We have a BT50 dual cab towing 2.2 tonne ATM offroad hybrid (Kimberley Karavan). Like Notso above, haven't fallen in love with it yet but it's very competent. Gave it a 4x4 workout recently in the Gardens of Stone Nat Pk. It performed creditably, would have been heaps better if I had been prepared to bend the factory sidesteps.

It's been built up a bit an had a tradie canopy fitted with a touring storage system, GVM upgrade, replacement long rang tank so it's heavy. Fuel consumption with the fairly aerodynamic van behind is 14s on the highway, 12s if touring without the van which I sometimes do if the navigator doesn't want to come along.


Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 598920

Reply By: Member - tazbaz - Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 14:54

Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 14:54
Just completed a 5,500 k trip with a 2014 3.2 litre ford ranger (diesel) towing a 2.1 ton van. Fuel consumption averages 18 litre per 100 k's. We did a 13000k trip last year with the same average fuel consumption. We don't exceed 90 kph.
I think a lot of caravaners overstate the fuel efficiency of their vehicles. On the trip last year we travelled with another couple for ten days - they had a similar sized van and a DMax - exactly the same fuel consumption as us!
AnswerID: 598938

Follow Up By: Notso - Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 16:19

Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 16:19
This is one caravanner who doesn't overstate (or understate) his fuel economy. The worst I've ever got is 22 litres/100ks into a raging headwind, the best I've ever got is 11.2 with a not so raging tail wind.
FollowupID: 868132

Reply By: Geoff K4 - Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 17:50

Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 17:50
We have a D-Max 3.0L diesel towing a 2.2T van and often get around 16LP/100.
I'm a bit like the others, not in love with it, it does a job but struggles in the hills. I often think about buying a 100 series Toyota with reasonable Kms as I hear good things about them, good on fuel, easy to fix and a good tow vehicle. But I might as well commit suicide as the financial planner wouldn't be impressed if I bought one.
just my 2 bobs worth.
AnswerID: 598948

Reply By: Gronk - Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 19:33

Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 19:33
You are getting replies from people who have a dual cab and are towing similar caravans, but your topic heading was what was suited to tow a 2.5T caravan ?

Your Navara isn't much different to a Colorado or Izuzu twin cab power wise, so the best suited ( if you want/need a ute ) is the Ranger ( or Mazda ).

Don't be fooled by the 3.5T towing capacity......none of the dual cabs will "comfortably" tow 3.5T.
AnswerID: 598956

Follow Up By: Geoff K4 - Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 20:43

Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 20:43
That's why I suggested the 100 series!
FollowupID: 868154

Follow Up By: Member - Ken&Rob - Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 21:20

Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 21:20
Thanks Gronk,
Yes I am well aware that they all flog a similar message about 3.5t towing capacity but I want to comfortably tow about 2.5t without being dragged down to 60-70 km per hour on trips like from inland to Brisbane across through Toowoomba.

Many so called motoring experts flog the latest 2.8 litr CDI 6 speed auto Colorado and it's towing power because of the 500NM of torque, and the Ranger 3.2l and BT50 3.2l 6 speed autos are about 470NM, not that far behind.
Sorry but that is a long way ahead of my 2.5 litre 4 speed auto Navara D40 that you suggested isnt much different to a Colorado????

FollowupID: 868160

Reply By: Whirlwinder - Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 20:52

Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 20:52
I think you need at least a 4.5 l turbo diesel V8 to pull it safely.
Common sense says to reduce your tow weight a lot if going off road.
Just because they can MOVE 3.5 tonnes doesn't mean they can TOW 3.5 tonnes.
AnswerID: 598963

Follow Up By: skulldug - Friday, Apr 22, 2016 at 08:11

Friday, Apr 22, 2016 at 08:11

Toyota isn't in the same class as modern diesels. Very poor fuel consumption, lack of payload capacity, high purchase price, non existent customer service.

As with all vehicles, you need to work out if it actually fits your purpose. Anyone who wants a bullbar, winch, drawers and a tinny on board can't (legally) go for a 200 series.

Most of the modern Utes will do this provided you don't attempt to to 3.5 ton at the same time.

With the Toyota, you don't have the choice to balance payload with trailer weight. You are simply stuck with an inadequate GVM.

FollowupID: 868188

Follow Up By: Sigmund - Friday, Apr 22, 2016 at 13:27

Friday, Apr 22, 2016 at 13:27
Robert Pepper, consistent with Land Rover's advice, advocates going offroad with no more than a third of the max ATM stipulated for the vehicle.
FollowupID: 868203

Reply By: Member - Ken&Rob - Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 21:29

Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 21:29
I would really like to hear from Colorado, BT50 and Ranger owners towing vans about my caravan's weight, more particularly about their likes and dislikes of their 4x4 dual cab utility tow vehicles.

Comfort, handling, power, suspension and off road?? Value for money???

Thanks all.
AnswerID: 598967

Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 22:22

Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 22:22
To expand on my earlier reply
With my BT50 dual cab I find weight distribution to be an issue.Check out my thread about effect of towball weight on rear axle load. Add to that the effect of all the stuff you put in your ute behind the rear axle - that's the only place you can put it unless you utilise rear seat space. Load behind the axle will have the same effect as ball weight, but to a lesser degree.

Cabin comfort and appointment is good for us in our XTR. Nice seats. Lumbar support good for both of us with bad backs, better than the previous Prado. Comfort is affected by suspension. We did a GVM upgrade to 3500kg which means pretty stiff rear springs (Lovells kit). Ride is ok in suburbia, but harsh on rough roads without a full load. But it was designed to tour with a heavy load, so it's all about compromise.

See my previous Reply/ Follow-up. Fabuous when not towing. With 2200kg behind it is adequate. There is what many call turbo lag off the mark. It is not turbo lag, it is built-in delayed throttle response to prevent black diesel smoke on acceleration. We've installed a Torquit accelerator chip which improves it but does not eliminate the problem. The guy I bought the Torquit from had his vehicle remapped and says that fixed it.

See comfort.

Off Road
If you mean corrugated dirt roads, not truly tested in touring configuration, ie heavy with van behind. Have taken it heavy with no van on very steep tracks and trails and found it exceeds my ability to drive it. I'm not timid but I need to get some instruction. Every trip with mates reveals new abilities in both me and the BT. Even with 2200kg behind, engine braking in low 1st is excellent. You can top that off with down hill assist, also excellent, which uses ABS and trailer brakes and is controllable through the cruise contol down to a slow walking pace.

Value for money
Excellent for me. When I bought mine Mazda were chasing sales. I saved $12k over an equivalent Ranger for basically the same vehicle. Regardless of comparison with the Ranger, at $46.5k it is still excellent value. The $12k went toward a tradie canopy, touring fitout, suspension etc (plus a fair bit of my own cash) Very happy.

Just watch the weight and weight distribution.


Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

FollowupID: 868171

Reply By: 671 - Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 21:44

Thursday, Apr 21, 2016 at 21:44
If you want to tow it with ease with the maximum possible level of safety and more carrying capacity than you will ever need then read through this link.Isuzu truck

All of the small utes will be working hard with big vans in off road conditions. When you get out onto good sealed roads at highway speeds, they then have the problem of keeping the van under control. They are not as big heavy and long in the wheel base as they could be in those conditions

If you do stay with small utes then check with the manufacturer for any restrictions on the off road towing capacity. Don't be surprised if they tell you the maximum advertised towing capacity is for good sealed roads only and must be reduced off road.

I know Land Rover brings the 3500 kg towing capacity for their Defender down to 500 kg to 1500 kg depending on the type of brakes on the trailer.
AnswerID: 598968

Reply By: Supersi - Friday, Apr 22, 2016 at 22:18

Friday, Apr 22, 2016 at 22:18
Lots of good comments above. My previous vehicle was a 2013 PX Ranger dual cab (Wildtrak) and now I have a 2015 BT 50 base model supercab. Both 3.2 ltr, both for towing heavy trailers. Engine is good, standard suspension (handling) is poor. Went with the BT50 solely on price. In my mind engine and auto trans the same - comparing PX 1 ranger, as I know there have been some tweeks with the PX 2. More info on my BT50 here

AnswerID: 599037

Reply By: 9900Eagle - Saturday, Apr 23, 2016 at 05:39

Saturday, Apr 23, 2016 at 05:39
I have towed a 2.5t van for over 50000K with a PX1 Ranger and it has been excellent with no problems at all so far. Plenty of power and very capable off road.

I replaced the suspension with a 50mm lift and a 300kg heavier spring rating which has stood up to the weight in the back and on the ball.

If you did by buy a BT50 or Ranger I would suggest fitting a front mounted auto trans cooler, as the standard one in summer doesn't keep the temps under control enough.

AnswerID: 599046

Reply By: Member - Ken&Rob - Monday, Apr 25, 2016 at 21:07

Monday, Apr 25, 2016 at 21:07
I would like to thank everyone for their replies.
AnswerID: 599165

Sponsored Links