Data Sheet

#23 Choosing a tow car - Which Fuel?

#23 #23 Choosing a tow car - Which Fuel?

Diesel, petrol and hybrid engines all have their advantages for towing. Benefit from free tow-matching when you join the Club.

Fuel filling stationDiesel cars have become the most popular type in Britain, accounting for just over half of all new cars sold. For towing in particular, the strong mid-range pull and fuel economy of a diesel engine makes it the obvious choice for caravanners and camping trailer owners.

However, there are signs of petrol power making a comeback. Several manufacturers have introduced highly efficient turbocharged petrol engines, which promise stronger performance than non-turbo engines and miles-per-gallon figures that narrow the gap on diesel cars. What is more, the environmental credentials of diesel engines have come under scrutiny from politicians and the media alike. Although diesels generally emit less carbon dioxide (one of the gases linked to climate change) than petrol ones, they produce more local pollutants (such as NOx and particulate matter) which worsen air quality, in turn leading to health problems.

While petrol and diesel engines remain the most common choices for powering tow cars, they aren’t the only options. Hybrid technology – where a traditional combustion engine is combined with an electric motor - has been gaining ground, with improvements in battery technology continuing apace. With more and more hybrid cars approved for towing, these make an increasingly appealing alternative for pulling a caravan or trailer tent.

LPG doesn’t grab the headlines in the way it once did, but it is still a viable alternative, especially if you have a petrol-powered 4x4 and want to keep a lid on running costs. Other technologies, such as hydrogen-powered fuel cells, will challenge the established engine types in the near future.

So, diesel or petrol, hybrid or an LPG conversion: which is best for towing?