Hi WhichCar - I’m thinking about that Aussie Dream trip of heading from Melbourne to the top of Australia with the wife, the cavoodles and our dual-axle 2800kg Jayco caravan.
I need to update our tow vehicle and I’m going to splash out. I don’t have any bias for or against anything; petrol or diesel, dual-cab or wagon. The short list includes Ford Everest, Nissan Patrol Y62 and diesel Toyota LandCruiser 200 at GX/GXL level. Any thoughts?
Hmm, very good question. It’s a pretty big fan, and you’ll need also consider the weight of everything else you want to take, cavoodles included, so you don’t exceed your gross combined mass (GCM) figure of whichever vehicle you choose. This is the total weight of what you can carry and tow at the same time.
We won’t delve too deeply into exact facts and figures – our mates at 4X4 Australia have explained vehicle loading and GVM here – but let’s quickly assess the three choices.
We’d rule out the Everest first. Assuming you’re looking at the new 2.0-litre turbo diesel, its 3100kg towing limit leaves you a little exposed. The typical weight of an Everest is about 2400kg, and the GCM is 5800kg.
That still leaves you, in round figures, about 600kg for people, bedding, clothes, dogs, surfboards and the like, but this figure reduces as the weight on the towball increases. As well, the 2.0-litre/ten-speed auto combo isn’t, according to the 4x4 blokes, the best combo to tow with.
The Toyota LandCruiser is a well-known entity, and its popularity means that it’s better supported by a larger dealer network. A 6850kg GCM against a 2740kg kerb weight for the diesel GXL leaves about 610kg for gear.
Its big diesel V8 is rated at 9.5L/100km, but this is a pretty optimistic figure in the real world, and it’ll jump considerably with a big trailer on the back.
Finally, the Nissan Patrol is big, comfortable and quiet, has 3500kg towing capacity and a GCM of 7000kg, with a payload of 734kg. That’s a lot more dog food!
However, the caveat here is that the Patrol is only available as a petrol engine, which is rated at more like 14.4L/100km before a trailer is added. Nissan recommends 95 octane fuel as well, though anecdotal evidence from owners suggest the big 5.6.litre will run happily on even 91 octane. We’d expect a drop in performance, but this would open up the Patrol’s operating window.
A straw poll of the 4x4 Australia office saw a variety of opinions returned about the whole petrol versus diesel for towing debate.
“For a big trip like that, a turbo-diesel offers the best option if your concerns are based around fuel consumption (diesel will chew less fuel, towing or not towing) and/or touring range (distance between refills),” says 4x4 Australia’s senior journo Justin Walker. “At the moment, diesel is around 10c to 20c cheaper than 95/98. Diesel is also more widely available in truly remote areas.
“That’s not to say petrol wagons/utes cannot tow - of course they can, and they tow well - but they are generally thirstier doing it. Of course you can always carry extra fuel, and (this is anecdotal, to a degree) petrol engines seem to be a hell of a lot ‘simpler’, i.e. naturally aspirated so no additional plumbing like you have in a turbo/twin-turbocharged diesel, not to mention the additional emissions gear attached to diesel donks these days.”
Justin reckons that shorter trips might make it a different story.
“You would need to also factor in the purchase price,” he reckons. “A new Patrol is around $20k cheaper than an LC200, and that’s a lot of spare change in your pocket for petrol if you do go down that path.”
Meanwhile, the editor of caravan journal ROAM, Brendan Batty, doesn’t think the Patrol is even in the running.
“I’d get the Cruiser - they’re comfy, have a lazy capability and great towing cred,” he says. “However, given that we caravan to sit by fires and drink wine under awnings, not spend months driving on empty highways, the Everest is a more sensible choice, because it will still be good around town when you come back to reality.”
So… what’s our answer? It’s a tough call. All three have their upsides and downsides. The Patrol is beautifully smooth but is arguably less flexible than a diesel-powered car for true long-distance touring if you stick to 95 octane. The Everest is smaller and more nimble and is probably the pick if you’re not towing. The LandCruiser isn’t perfect, but its popularity stands it in good stead in remote areas.
We’d suggest you do the maths on what you can afford fuel-wise; the Patrol will arguably cost more to run than the LandCruiser – though diesels cost more to service – but you’ll be more comfortable and with more money in your pocket as a result.
The boss is telling us we have to pick one... so on price and comfort, we'll go for the Nissan.