Volvo XC60 towing

Submitted: Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 11:59
ThreadID: 99829 Views:8102 Replies:5 FollowUps:4
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I have a 2012 XC60 D5 auto Teknik and had a tow bar fitted by my local Volvo dealer some months ago. We are now considering buying a caravan and have started researching as I have never owned or towed a caravan before. I believe that caravans have something called a tow bar mass weight and that my car will also have a maximum tow bar mass weight allowed. After going through specs online I see that the standard tow bar mass weight for an XC60 D5 auto is listed as 150kg. Caravan dealers tell me that based on a 150kg tow bar mass weight limit, I should not go for any caravan with a tow bar mass weight of more than 120kg. This limits what we can look at. My wife and I have 2 boys and will be doing basic touring with no off road camping. I was looking at pop tops (Jayco expanda or Paramount duet) but these seem to be out of our weight range. I might have to settle for a pop up camper like a Jayco Eagle or Flamingo.

I suppose I have a couple of questions. Firstly, am I correct with my understanding of the the weight limit for my XC60 and secondly (not sure if appropriate for this forum) can you get a heavy duty tow bar fitted to the XC60 to give us a higher weight limit? Thanks for any help you can give as I am a first time Volvo owner and a never before caravan owner.

Also, any advice on the vans I was considering? I was looking at a budget of around 30-35k. New or second hand.
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Reply By: DiscoTourer - Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 12:33

Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 12:33
They are a handsome brute.
If manufacturers specs max is 150kgs and 2 tonne....that won't change with a different tow bar.
Based on European specs for trailers generally 5% of trailer gross mass, your specs work fine, but Aussie manufacturers insist on around 10%. If you have ever towed a European trailer side by side with an Aussie one you will enjoy how much more comfortable a European trailer comparison.
120kgs is a good recommendation as load can increase depending on your packing, and it gives you a little safety margin.
You just need to shop within these will find some thing.
Enjoy your ride.
AnswerID: 501837

Follow Up By: macy517 - Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 12:43

Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 12:43
Thanks DT. Any suggestion as to what European ones I could look at? I figured a pop up camper would be necessary as any pop tops suitable to comfortably sleep 4 (preferrably with a bed at each end) were over the 120kg tow ball weight limit.

Have you got any advice on camper caravans. Apart from the time it takes to put it up, any particular pro's and con's.

Thanks again for your help.
FollowupID: 778066

Follow Up By: DiscoTourer - Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 15:04

Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 15:04
I don't know of any particular European brands, and don't know how they handle our less than perfect roads. I just used that as an example due to their lower ball rate and how much nicer they are to tow.....I towed a trailer (not a caravan) made in England with heavy weight and due to the placement of the tandem axle a little further further it made for a much more enjoyable tow. I tow a lot of heavy weight over big distances and it really stood out.
You just need to watch the tow ball weight and search on this basis.
I am sure someone will come up with some ideas, but you need to be looking at less than 1.5 tonne based on who Aussie trailers are engineered.
FollowupID: 778084

Follow Up By: garbage - Monday, Jan 07, 2013 at 15:37

Monday, Jan 07, 2013 at 15:37
Check out Adria caravans - lightweight and within your budget. Although from memory, one of the beds doubles as the dining area.
FollowupID: 778227

Reply By: Patrol GU VI - Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 13:41

Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 13:41
Hi macy517,

There are a few things to check when looking at a total towing set-up.

From a vehicle perspective, ensure that the towbar/ball etc is rated to the weight of what you are towing. Just because your vehicle is rated to tow 2000kg, does not mean that your tow bar is. Dealer may have different options of the towbar weights that they offer (e.g. from memory, Commodores have a 1200, 1600 and 2100kg kits). Check to see if your vehicle is capable of using Weight Distribution Hitches. (Pathfinders void your Warranty if used, and have caused towbars to break away). I would highly recommend Weight Distribution Hitches if you can, as they level the vehicle and caravan out and make handling and more importantly steering response is better as your nose of your car isn't pointing to the sky. I also reduces the load on the rear suspension. Don't forget to install the electric brake controller in the vehicle if the caravan is equipped with electric brakes. In my opinion (some may disagree), electric brakes are much better than the older style over-run brakes that still are out on the market.

Double check your Vehicle/Engine/transmission weights. These can differ between set-ups. Having a quick look at the Volvo website, these range between 1600, 1800 and 2000kg for the current XC60. Be mindful of your GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) for your vehicle. This is the total weight in which your vehicle can carry. This includes people, fuel, luggage etc. For the XC60 D5 Diesel, this is 2505kg, with a Tare Weight of 1805. This leaves you 700kg for Fuel, People etc.

Generally speaking, from a caravan perspective, most manufacturers aim for a Ball weigh of 10% of that of the weight of the Caravan. So assuming that your vehicle has a towball rating of 150kg, you would be looking up to a 1500kg van approx. The smaller Jayco Expandas have a Tare Ball weight of 130kg and 1363kg Tare Weight. Be mindful, when looking at your figures for Caravans, that these are Tare weights of an unloaded van. They will quickly increase when loaded. Jayco states that carrying capacity of 300kg is allowed, taking your weight up to 1663kg, and I am guessing a towball weight of around 160kg. Your Flamingo's are up around the 1200kg Tare weight also.

From a caravan, something that you may (or may not) wish to consider are the off road style camper trailers. I know that you mention that you are not looking at using them for off-road use, but plenty of people buy these and only use them in caravan parks. Some of these are pretty well setup these days, including hard floors, full kitchens etc. Some have both on-road and off-road models. I would recommend going to one of your local Caravan & Camping shows. This will give you plenty of different options to look at and think about. Will also give you a heap of ideas that you have never even thought of. Every time I go, I always find something new.

And finally, before buying one, Hire one for a weekend and decide if it suits. That small outlay may highlight something that may change your mind.

Plenty of generalisations here, but hopefully it is helpful, and hope you enjoy your Caravanning.

AnswerID: 501846

Follow Up By: GEMAC Solar and Power - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2013 at 16:29

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2013 at 16:29
best response so far and that is to go with the off road camper.
A little more setup time but less weight and height.
And maybe more options/bang for you buck as well


FollowupID: 778366

Reply By: macy517 - Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 14:36

Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 14:36
Thanks very much for your help. It is a whole new world for us so any advice is very much appreciated. We had looked at the Jayco eagle or flamingo outback. I just wasnt sure about the whole canvas sides thing. But it looks like we will be restricted to these because of the tow ball weight.

Thanks again. You give me some good thing to think about.
AnswerID: 501853

Reply By: Geepeem - Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 20:10

Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 20:10
Hi Macy,

Have a look at Adria caravans. They are very light weight and can be towed with a car like a Camry. I have no idea how they would last on our rough roads as I think they are a European van. But they have been around for a few years now. Maybe see if an Adria's owners forum exists anywhere to read about owners experiences with them.

Another option is to get a van custom made to your own specifications and weight. In this regard try Gemhunter caravans (Queensland) as they build out of sandwich panel and are also very light weight (but strong)and build any size you require.

AnswerID: 501870

Reply By: macy517 - Saturday, Jan 19, 2013 at 22:23

Saturday, Jan 19, 2013 at 22:23
Thanks for all the advice and tips. We have done a fair bit of hunting around and are limited by our tow ball weight. I was swayed towards some European vans, in particular Adria and Bailey. I wasnt totally sold on the finish of the Adria, the quality of the finish inside seemed a little average.

We have looked at the Bailey and was much more impressed. Not a pop top or expanda type as we were originally considering. However we love the layout and the finish of them. That, coupled with the low tow ball weight seems like the perfect one for us however they were a fair bit over our initial budget. I suppose getting the finish with shower toilet etc adds up. We have been talking to the manager at Canterbury caravans in Bayswater, Vic. A great bloke, very helpful and willing to do a good price.

Any last minute comments or advice before I make my decision? Any help appreciated.
AnswerID: 502986

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