Currently reading: Top 10 best electric cars for towing
Don't be put off buying an EV if you have a trailer or caravan to tow. These are the best for the job
Autocar
News
8 mins read
21 May 2021

With their instant torque from powerful electric motors, EVs should make perfect tow cars for those who like to couple up a caravan or tack on a trailer.

Yet until recently, many battery-powered models weren’t rated to tow, a combination of their short ranges being rendered almost useless by the efforts of hauling a heavy load and their already hefty kerb weights resulting in a towing limit so low as to be virtually useless.

Improvements in battery and motor technology, however, have meant that adding a tow bar is no longer an issue, with some even matching traditional petrol and diesel machines for pulling power.

Here we rate the 10 most muscular EV tow cars based on their maximum rated capacity for a braked trailer.

=7. Tesla Model 3

Like so many aspects of Tesla cars, the Model 3’s towing capacity has recently been increased courtesy of a software update, taking the maximum figure from 910kg to 1000kg. While that looks like a decent number on paper (and on screen), it’s only really enough to pull the smallest of caravans or a medium-sized trailer, even with the most powerful Performance model.

Also worth noting is the fact that you can only specify a towbar as an official factory-fit item, which weighs in at about £1000. This means there’s no option to add a towbar at a later date, so if you’re buying second-hand and want a towbar, you will need to look for an example that had it fitted when new.

With a relatively low towing limit and such powerful electric motors, the Model 3 will comfortably handle anything you hitch-up, and when you’re not hauling a load, the five-door hatchback remains Tesla's most appealing product, with biddable handling, a decent ride and effortless performance.

=7. Citroën ë-SpacetourerPeugeot e-Traveller and Vauxhall e-Vivaro Life

We’ve cheated a little here in bundling this trio of van-based MPVs together, but that’s because behind the different badges, these Stellantis siblings are essentially the same.

Beneath the near-identical boxy bodywork is a 134bhp electric motor and 50kWh lithium ion battery  (although a 75kWh option is on the way) that offers a WLTP range of 143 miles. Also shared is the 1000kg towing limit, which, as with the Tesla Model 3, means only small trailers and caravans need apply.

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However, unlike the sleek scion of Silicon Valley, these people-carriers can be fitted with a towbar at any time (and at a very reasonable £300 on the Vauxhall).

Elsewhere, the triplets are some of the most practical EVs you can buy, with their cavernous cabins able to seat up to nine, and with their seats removed, there's literally van-like carrying capacity.

On the move, they’re more capable and composed than they need to be, while the Citroën and Peugeot are available with an optional trick traction-control system that could help when pulling a caravan out of a muddy campsite.

=7. Audi Q4 E-tronSkoda Enyaq iV and Volkswagen ID 4 

This Volkswagen Group trio all sit on the same MEB EV platform, which features an outrigger motor driving the rear wheels. The German giant has been a master of spinning different models of the same platform ever since the MK4 Golf of the late-1990s, so despite largely identical underpinnings, these three are distinct enough in their approach and pricing to attract very different customers.

Yet whichever flavour of this battery-powered family crossover you go for, you will get the same 1000kg maximum towing weight, plus the same choice of two motor and battery outputs, which in the most powerful 201bhp and 77kWh combination will give you in excess of 300 miles of range.

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A pop-out towbar is optional on all models and can be factory- or dealer-fitted. Later in the year, more powerful, twin-motor four-wheel versions will become available, each boasting an increased 1200kg towing capacity.

6. Polestar 2

Swedish brand Polestar turned on the style when it launched its first electric car last year, but beneath the bang-on-trend crossover-coupé lines is a seriously capable tow car.

Regardless of whether you opt for the entry-level single motor model or the 402bhp four-wheel drive flagship, the 2 can haul up to 1500kg, which is enough for a six-berth caravan, if that’s your thing. At around £1000 for its purchase and installation, the 2's tow bar isn’t the cheapest, but its ability to haul hefty loads, unlike many EVs, makes this a worthwhile addition.

Crucially, when you’re not hitched up, this distinctive five-door hatchback is actually a remarkably satisfying steer. Avoid the expensive Performance Pack and its rigid riding Öhlins dampers and the 2 strikes a well-judged balance between crisp handling and cosseting comfort. It goes well, too, and its interior is classy and neatly finished.

In Long Range guise, it will travel a useful 335 miles between charges, according to the official WLTP test.

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=4. Hyundai Ioniq 5

The strikingly styled new Ioniq 5 is more than just a pretty face, because beneath its angular exterior lurks some real muscle.

Both rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive models fitted with the larger 73kWh battery are capable of pulling up to 1600kg, which is a similar amount to many ICE rivals. It also has a usefully high nose weight (the figure that can be directly loaded onto the tow ball itself) of 100kg, making it perfect for racks that can carry up to four bicycles.

No prices are available for adding a towbar yet, but all Ioniq 5s are prewired to take this addition (even the entry-level 58kWh car, which has only a 750kg towing limit).

Our early impressions of the Ioniq 5 suggest that while it should be a capable tow car, there’s more to it than lugging power. Crisp handling, a cabin that oozes premium appeal and a healthy dose of character mean that this isn't just a game-changer for Hyundai; it’s also likely to set new standards for ‘affordable’ EVs.

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=4. Kia EV6

Pricier and more powerful than the closely related Hyundai Ioniq 5, the new EV6 has the same 1600kg maximum towing weight. However, with all versions of the slinky coupé-inspired Kia featuring a large 77.4kWh battery, this pulling capacity applies to all models, from the 225bhp rear-wheel-drive base car through to the 577bhp GT (which is due in 2022).

As with all the cars here, towing a large load will make a significant dent in the’s range. But on the plus side, an 800V charging system means that, where they’re available, ultra-rapid-chargers can replenish the EV6's cells from 10-80% in as little as 18 minutes.

We’ve yet to drive the EV6, but experience of the Ioniq 5, which uses the same E-GMP platform, hints at an EV that will be interesting and engaging to drive – especially the GT, with its claimed 3.5sec 0-62mph sprint time and standard limited-slip differential.

=2. Mercedes-Benz EQA

Mercedes’ entry-point into electric motoring delivers an impressive towing capacity that matches its much larger sibling, the EQC.

In entry-level, single-motor EQA 250 guise, the compact SUV can pull 750kg, but upgrade to the twin-motor four-wheel drive EQA 300 4Matic or EQA 350 4Matic and the maximum capacity increases to a very impressive 1800kg. That’s easily enough for a large caravan or even a car-and-trailer combination if you’re planning on hauling a track car to circuits.

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Currently all versions of the EQA are available with a factory-fitted powered towbar (touch a button in the boot and it drops down from behind the rear bumper) for £750, while a Trailer Assist function for the electronic stability programme is also standard.

At speeds above 40mph, this system gently applies individual brakes on the car to reduce any potentially dangerous swaying of the trailer, plus it can reduce motor torque and utilise stronger braking force in extreme situations.

=2. Mercedes-Benz EQC

Despite being at least two steps further up Mercedes’ electric SUV ladder than the EQA, the EQC’s towing limit is capped at the same 1800kg.

That might seem a little odd, given the twin-motor EQC 400 4Matic packs 402bhp and a rippling 561lb ft of torque but, given the towing weight takes into account the overall mass in transit, which includes the car’s kerb weight, the EQC’s 2490kg places it at a significant disadvantage to the 2105kg EQA.

What the larger car does have in its favour, however, is standard self-leveling air springs for the rear suspension, providing a level towing platform that does away with the nose-high-and-arse-on-the-ground attitude of many tow cars. It also benefits from the same stability enhancing Trailer Assist system as its smaller sibling.

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=2. Audi E-tron

Aud is rather proud of the E-tron’s towing capability, using a 402bhp 55 quattro to haul a hefty 1800kg trailer containing a GM EV1 (remember that lead-acid-battery-powered 1990s coupé?) on a publicity drenched 500 mile trip from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Austin, Texas in the US.

Yet while it managed to crack a 60mph average for the trip, this figure didn’t include the time it needed to stop and recharge, because like all our EVs here, hauling a load will take a toll on range. In the case of the Audi SUV, that meant its claimed range of 252 miles was slashed by more than a half to just over 100 miles.

On the plus side, if you’re not doing big distances, the E-tron in all its guises (496bhp S, swoopy Sportback and entry-level 50) all have the same 1800kg capacity, while all-round air suspension keeps everything on the level.

The standard E-tron also has a 660-litre boot for all that caravanning and camping overflow.

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1. Tesla Model X

Resounding victory in the EV trailer towing stakes goes to the Tesla Model X, which can cope with pulling up 2268kg, rivalling many large, diesel-engined SUVs (although it’s still some way short of the Land Rover Discovery’s 3500kg limit).

This impressive figure means that it’s easily possible to hitch up a large twin-axle caravan, even if doing so will likely significantly eat into the Long Range variant's claimed 360-mile range.

That said, with north of 800lb ft of instant torque, this SUV's performance is unlikely to be greatly affected by hauling a heavy load.

Plus, like the Mercedes-Benz EQC and Audi E-tron, the Model X has air springs as standard, making it easier to hitch a trailer or caravan by raising or lowering the ride height as required and keep an even keel while on the move.

A large boot and seven-seat capability further boost its practical tow car credentials. 

Its gullwing rear doors will cause a stir at the campsite, although the patchy build quality and inert driving dynamics mean it’s not without its compromises.

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adrian888 21 May 2021
For the very lucky few caravaners who can afford the prices these cost let’s now connect with the real world. Given the typical EV range (as with mpg) is overstated and from reports from the brave few who have tried towing with their BEV, the towing range is likely to be 100 miles if you are lucky. There are presently no charging points with room for the caravan and so far no caravan sites equipped with charging points. So for my annual jaunt across EUlandia with a caravan i am struggling to work out how many days it will take me to get to my destination. My current tow car will cover at least 250miles between diesel refills (and it is a PHEV) which take all of 5 mins and with the caravan still hitched. And, where can i buy a £10-15k Tesla? This is why BEV is simply not the one size fits all solution politicians are forcing upon us and i am disappointed Autocar and others seem to be rolling over and not making the case for a solution that meets the bandwith of transport and car needs in the UK and beyond.

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