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 Post subject: Experiences Towing
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 6:01 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:27 am
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I know there have been a few posts on towing caravans on the forum, but thought I would start a new thread.

I have a 2015 PHEV that I have owned for just over 2.5 years and have been generally really happy with it. My only issue is caravan towing which I have been doing for most of time I have owned the vehicle.

Obviously it is never going to be the perfect tow car, but I know from the forum that many of you get on very well. I tow a caravan just over 1300kg so well under the limit. I have towed about 5000 caravan miles all over the UK and France and it has been a mixed bag. On average I have achieved 20mpg but this has varied significantly. If running in parallel mode it really is a joy to tow, powerful and achieving around 23mpg – which is not much less than I would expect from a standard 2 litre diesel vehicle. The problem is that you can invariably only run for around 100 miles (at 60mph) before the battery becomes fully depleted (even when always running on charge) and the PHEV then cycles between serial and parallel with horrendous impact on mpg. This obviously is worse if the terrain is hilly.

Last weekend I did 400 miles from northern France back to the UK midlands and the wind was particularly adverse. The battery depleted more quickly than usual and the engine had to work harder the whole journey. I ended up at 17 mpg, but given at around 150 miles in I was at 23mpg, I must have dropped to around 15mpg for the second half of the journey.

Now I only tow the caravan around 6 times a year and when not towing the car suits perfectly, but after that journey it has got me thinking about alternatives – particularly given I would like to stretch my caravanning legs over the next couple of years to Spain and Italy. The issues is really compounded by the small fuel tank – at 15mpg you are going to want to be stopping for fuel every 110 miles – particularly as this is made worse by the PHEV telling you to fill up when there is over 2 gallons left.

The PCP on my PHEV runs about March next year so what do I do:

1) Go for a new MY19 PHEV – it doesn’t solve the fuel tank issue but I am intrigued to understand whether the new 2.4 litre makes any difference to economy – in theory the slightly higher torque and more efficient serial running (in Atkinson) should help
2) Go for a different PHEV – but what? The XC60 would seem to be the perfect vehicle but realistically out of my budget
3) Go back to the dreaded diesel or petrol engine – something I really don’t want to do

Apologies for the long post, but any thoughts any of the above would be really appreciated :)

PS – I only need 1 car so duel vehicles is not the answer.


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 Post subject: Re: Experiences Towing
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:59 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2016 3:57 am
Posts: 29
I can really relate to your post - have towed our 1300kg twin axle from the north of England to central France a couple of times and the MPG was . . gulp! 900 miles one way and 17.8 mpg or an eye watering 228 litres of fuel! Overall, I was happy with the performance, although some of those hills between Abbeville and Rouen were a bit touch and go. And, yes, having to fill up every 2.5 - 3 hours is frustrating.

However, the PHEV replaced a '97 plate Mitsubishi Shogun - a 3 litre beast that just took everything in its stride, as long as you weren't in a rush. Towing the same caravan, I averaged the same 17mpg with the Shogun. Difference was, when I wasn't towing, only got 23mpg from the Shogun!

So, my experience is that 17mpg - 20mpg, whilst painful, has been the norm. But, the small fuel tank is a real pain for serious towing. The Shogun had an 80 litre tank so you could go longer without refilling, but still used the same amount of fuel, of course. For me, the saving grace of the PHEV is that, once on site with an electric hook-up you can then charge up overnight and start to recoup some of that cost of getting there that you wouldn't with a 100% fossil car. By comparison, I drove back from France this weekend without the caravan returned just under 50 mpg for the trip.

I suppose with the PHEV, you have to think a little differently on the journey planning. Trying to get somewhere quickly with a heavy caravan on the back is going to hit the MPG. But, taking an extra day, say, and being able to charge on sites overnight helps to lower costs a bit. Also, for Spain, it may be more cost / time effective to take the ferry rather than driving through France at 17mpg and tolls?

Personally, I would never go back to a fossil. I take the view that the occasional hit on a tow is more than recovered on the non-towing days.

If it was me, I would give serious consideration to a new MY19 model.


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 Post subject: Re: Experiences Towing
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 3:27 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:27 am
Posts: 2
Thanks for your response - nice to know my experience isn’t unique!

As you say, for a the number of times the car tows you can live with the MPG, particularly when this is comparable to many fossil motors anyway - it is the tank size which is the real frustration.

Yes - I am going to look at the ferry option, but as my wife wants to look at the med you still end up with a long drive on top of an expensive ferry. Need to look at the costings and weigh it up.

I have still got another 6-7 months to consider options - there may even be new options on the market next year.

Would be good to hear from anyone who has seen a discernible economy improvement moving from an older model into a MY19?


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