With so many choices of tow car out there it can be a minefield of just what to chose. We found ourselves in this very position in November 2017, after ordering our Adria caravan we needed a heavy tow car with a kerb weight over 2100kg and a tow ball limit over 100kg.
As we always say, the best choice to make is the one that meets your needs. We looked at a number of large SUV’s and Pick-Up Trucks and made our decision based on a number of factors, including towing capacity, price, comfort and running costs.
The modern Pick-Up is a far cry from its predecessor, with many feeling more like a family car than a commercial vehicle. So what about the VW Amarok, a well established vehicle from a popular German manufacturer .
The Amarok is a flagship Pick-Up within the market, on paper its one of the most impressive but it is also the most expensive.
For the past week we have been testing the Amarok Highline, with its 3.0 litre engine and huge output what we really want to know is how does it tow, and is it worth the whopping price tag of £46K with the added options.
The Amarok arrived with us to review, fitted with a fixed towbar with an Al-Ko tow ball and 13 pin electrics. The metallic mojave beige paint was an optional extra but looked good against our Adria. We were keen to look round and see what the VW delivered. It’s worth noting the credentials of this vehicle, with a kerb weight of 2178kg (depending on optional extras) and a gross vehicle weight of 3290kg it certainly wont struggle to tow a caravan, up to a maximum of 3100kg. The 3.0 litre diesel engine will deliver 258PS through an 8 speed automatic gear box and reach 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds. Even when towing its amazing pull and pace cant be faulted. It will deliver around 33mpg combined and we got 20-26 mpg when towing on a long run.
At 5.30 metres long you do have to be a little careful in the supermarket car park but the parking sensors and rear reversing camera certainly assist. For such a long and heavy vehicle it turns very well and the power steering is precise. The VW 4Motion means it is a four wheel drive and you notice this when towing as the front never felt light. The exterior offers alloy wheels, this model had upgraded 19” wheels, electric heated wing mirrors and tubular side sills. To look at this it is an attractive Pick-Up.
Inside the Amarok you are treated to an appealing cabin with heated front leather seats, air conditioning, cruise control, optional sat-nav and a well made quality feel. I found for the price there were a few extras I would have wanted and that included electric drivers seat, heated steering wheel and a heated front screen. The interior does not deliver the plush finish of an SUV but this is designed as a commercial vehicle, a work horse with practicality in mind and it certainly achieves this. The driving position is excellent, the view from the cab is very good, and there is plenty of room for five adults to be seated. The cabin is a winner and with cup holders too there is somewhere to put your coffee.
At the rear of the Amarok we find the load area, this test model had an open back but there are plenty of options including roller tops and canopies if you want to make this a family vehicle. We would definitely choose a canopy top as Fudge and his crate would go in the rear, there are tie hooks to secure a dog crate or other load you wish to secure. The load space provides ample room for all you caravan accessories including the awning, tables and chairs, aqua-rolls, you name it. With a payload of 1112kg thats almost double that of some cars. The only issue we found was that if you are shorter in height you will struggle to retrieve anything that has rolled further in to the Amaroks back. The back can also be washed out so you don’t need to worry about dirty dogs or muddy wellies.
The Amarok runs on leaf suspension and, although it rides like a car most of the time, if you go over a bump with no load in the back you will feel the bounce of the leaf springs, however you will certainly feel the benefit of these when towing. Leaf springs are much firmer and carry weight well, with a caravan on the back the bounce of the caravan is not transferred through the body of the Pick-Up, unlike a cars suspension. On this note though, some caravan warranties do cover towing with a commercial vehicle in their small print so do check yours if you are considering a commercial vehicle. The reason for this is leaf springs do not absorb impact like car suspension and that is transferred to the caravan chassis.
So, how does the Amarok tow, well up until this point we will admit that, as nice as the Amarok was, £46K seemed a lot of money to pay for what was on offer. We hitched up using the reversing camera and put on the Milenco Grand Aero towing mirrors and off we went. We towed just over two hours to Devon on country lanes, A-roads and the M5. One thing was very clear, this truck could tow. To say we were actually stunned is an understatement, we did not expect to be as impressed as we were. The Amarok had more power than you could ever need to tow up hill and pulled away like a train, even with the 1750kg Adria on the back. Downhill the brakes and auto-box held the caravan at bay. There was no pull or bounce from the Adria on the tow-ball and to be honest you could barely feel the caravan on the back. The mirrors on the Amarok gave a good view down the side of the caravan and being an 8ft wide van that is important. It’s fair to say that the two hour tow to Devon was one of he most enjoyable towing experiences we have ever had, this vehicle can tow. Karina summed it up well by saying “That is a £46K tow ball” and now we can see what you are paying for.
So, to conclude the Amarok Highline is an amazing all-rounder, family car and tow car. It is a luxury commercial vehicle and because its commercial it may make financial sense as a business purchase or company car. The road tax is currently £250 per year which is a lot less than a private new vehicle costing over £40K.
The Amarok will also tackle most off road situations with its 4Motion and hill decent control. The driving experience when not towing is certainly enjoyable too and we have been left with a big quandary, do we now swop our SUV for a Pick-Up. It’s practically and towing ability would certainly be an advantage with our long term touring, but at £46K its not a purchase we will be making anytime soon. Would we recommend it, absolutely.