In order to transport a horse in a trailer, your car should offer a high towing capacity and also space in the boot for your tack, riding equipment and feed. The following article runs through the best 4x4 cars to pull a horse trailer.
When towing a horse trailer, it is recommended that your tow car has:
• A pulling force of at least 2.2 tons
• Four Wheel Drive (4x4) all-wheel drive option
Whether you are using a pick-up, van or SUV for pulling your horse trailer, the towing of horses places special demands on a vehicle. Horse trailers are heavy - they often have a gross vehicle weight of up to 2.7 tons. As such the towing capacity of the tow car must be correspondingly high. In addition, having enough space to store things like riding utensils, saddles and bridles alongt with other accessories like clothing, blankets, medicines or food is also important.
There are only certain cars that meet these requirements. Standard pickups such as the Toyota Hilux, the Mitsubishi L200 or the VW Amarok always spring to mind as being excellent towing vehicles. Usually their towing capacity is between 2.7 and 3.5 tons and (at least in connection with a hardtop) a huge storage space is available. Because of their rustic appearance they are not for everyone. And because of their size, they are often a hindrance, especially in everyday urban life.
In addition, minibuses such as the VW T6, the Peugeot Traveler or the Vauxhall Zafira Life often offer a huge interior and high trailer loads (up to 2.5 tons). However, many drivers also do not like the "construction site look" of the minibuses. We have therefore put together our Top 11 cars that have a high towing capacity, a boot space of at least 360 litres and a traditional car look. In addition, all presented cars have at least an option for all-wheel drive.
Audi Q7: High driving comfort, complicated operating system
With the Q7, Audi jumped on the SUV bandwagon in 2005. After ten years of construction - an eternity in today's automotive industry - the second generation rolled out to dealers in mid-2015. Even if optically not that much has happened, technically it is a big step.
In terms of driver assistance and electronics, the Ingolstadt-based company shows what is currently possible. Audi has also put a lot of effort into reducing weight. Compared to its predecessor, the current model is around 300 kg lighter, but still weighs almost 2.2 tons. With the 218 hp basic diesel under the hood, the all-wheel drive vehicle offers remarkably good driving performance with justifiable consumption.
The Audi Q7 not only scores with its harmonious drive unit, the high level of driving comfort is also impressive thanks to the optional air suspension and the quiet interior. The generous space offered by the excellently finished body and the high level of safety are also impeccable.
One point of criticism is the operating system, which takes some getting used to, including the digital instrument cluster (optional), which only becomes apparent after a longer period of getting used to it. All in all, Audi has put a very convincing vehicle on the road. With a towing capacity of up to 3.5 tons, the Q7 can tow even the heaviest trailers.
Positive: Very good workmanship, high level of driving comfort, very high level of safety, powerful engines available, large luggage compartment
Negative: Operation that takes some getting used to, moderate all-round visibility, expensive to buy
BMW X5: comfort and good workmanship
The BMW X5 was BMW's first SUV in 1999. The fourth generation has been with dealers since the end of 2018. Like the three previous models, it is manufactured in the US plant in Spartanburg. Visually, the Munich-based company has changed the large SUV only cautiously, the most striking are the narrow taillights with LED technology.
Much more has happened in the interior. The central touchscreen is no longer enthroned on the dashboard, but is more elegantly integrated into it. The new X5 has made noticeable progress in terms of build quality. In particular, the materials used in the elegant-looking interior now appear more valuable. Here, the Munich player is now back on par with the competition.
Under the hood are mostly powerful six-cylinder engines. The well-known three-liter diesel, which impresses with its exemplary smoothness, motorizes the X5 confidently and harmonises perfectly with the automatic transmission, is the ideal choice for a towing vehicle. In view of the mass, size and driving performance, the consumption is not too high.
The optional air spring chassis convinces with good comfort. But you have to invest around 70,000 euros for a new X5. The maintenance is also expensive. Even used, the X5 is expensive. After all, the X5 compensates with extensive comfort and safety equipment.
Positive: High processing quality, good standard equipment, powerful and sophisticated drives, up to 3.5t trailer load
Negative: Poor all-round visibility, expensive to buy and maintain
Jaguar F-Pace: Dynamic forms, classy flair
For a long time, the Jaguar brand stood exclusively for elegant sedans and sporty coupés, until the British ventured into an SUV for the first time with the F-Pace. Visually, the F-Pace is successful and the tested 180 hp diesel ensures good driving performance. One of the powerful six-cylinder engines is the better choice for frequent trailer operation - after all, 2.4 tons may be taken on the hook. When it comes to chassis, the F-Pace is only average. The suspension comfort suffers somewhat from the brittle response.
It looks better with the security and connectivity equipment, here the Briton is always state-of-the-art. The interior certainly exudes classy flair, but on closer inspection the quality of the materials is disappointing in some places for a premium car.
Positive: Extensive safety equipment, good connectivity
Negative: Cumbersome operation, sometimes disappointing material quality, rustic four-cylinder diesel
Jeep Grand Cherokee: Massive and yet sporty
He has an impressive stature, the Jeep Grand Cherokee. He doesn't think much of understatement, which has increased since his last facelift. The front in particular has become more distinctive and sporty. Visually, it is on par with Audi, BMW and Co., but not in terms of workmanship, where you can see a clear respectable distance to the premium competition.
The six-cylinder diesel drives the heavy car forward powerfully, runs robustly but with little vibration. Unfortunately, he disappoints with a high consumption. Nevertheless, the diesel is the ideal engine for frequent use as a towing vehicle. The engine copes well with trailers weighing up to 3.5t.
The very rich basic equipment of the Summit variant, which also includes important assistance systems in addition to luxury, is pleasing. With this basic equipment, the jeep costs more than 65,000 euros as a new car. In everyday life you can also count on immense maintenance costs.
Positive: Good seats, generous space in the rear, up to 3.5 tons trailer load
Negative: High consumption, relatively small trunk, very high maintenance costs
Jeep Wrangler: nostalgic and convertible feeling
The Jeep Wrangler is something special: an American icon that stands for automotive freedom and whose roots go back to the 1950s. In terms of design, it borrows numerous classic features: the windscreen that can be folded forward, the external door hinges, the bonnet with clip fasteners – that was also the case with the ancestor. For this you have to accept limitations in everyday life. The top can be opened completely and it would be difficult to find a convertible with comparable space - but you need a lot of time, patience and skill to open and close it. Off-road, the Jeep can impress, going places most other cars can't.
The current generation (JL, since 2018) even makes a surprisingly good impression on the road. The classic is available with a diesel (200 hp) or petrol engine (272 hp). The drainage openings in the interior prove to be particularly practical. So you can wash the interior with water. If you want to pull your horse trailer with a convertible and have a sense of nostalgia, the Jeep Wrangler is the ideal companion for you.
Positive: Excellent off-road capabilities, available as a convertible, several body styles, washable interior
Negative: Cumbersome top (convertible), high fuel consumption, large turning circle
Subaru Forester e-Boxer: Best Horse trailer towing vehicle for off road
With the Forester e-Boxer, a Subaru was included in the horse trailer towing vehicle test at Mit-Pferden-reisen.de for the fifth time. In contrast to the 2015 diesel model, it was introduced in spring 2022 as a "mild hybrid" with a 2-liter four-cylinder petrol engine, 110 kW (150 hp) plus 16 hp electric motor, all-wheel drive and the Subaru-typical Lineartronic automatic. With a trailer load of 1,870 to 2,070 kg, it is suitable for lighter trailers with two horses.
Isuzu D-Max Double Cab V-Cross: Best Pickup To Tow A Horse Trailer
The formerly "off-road" pickup has clearly improved in terms of appearance and comfort: Even in the 7th generation, it is still the powerful workhorse, but as a V-Cross it is as comfortable as a sedan and is equipped with the most modern driver assistants.
The engine is a little smaller from 2.5 to a 2-liter diesel, but still has an output of 120 kW (163 hp), has automatic and switchable all-wheel drive and pulls 3.5 tons. The large loading space with a volume of around 2,250 litres and a payload of 1,025 kg is sufficient for extensive luggage or large quantities of feed.
KIA Sportage 1.6 T GDI DCT Black Edition: Best Budget / Cheap Car To Tow A Horse trailer
Compact size, dynamic and powerful charisma and extremely easy to use: That's how we felt about the current SUV model KIA Sportage with 2-liter common rail diesel, 185 hp and all-wheel drive, which covered around 1500 km and 900 of them with trailer in the horse trailer towing vehicle test across Germany rolled.
Depending on the situation, it is light-footed and lively, on long-distance you roll along comfortably. A very decent vehicle for the fair price of 43,220 euros, in which even an automatic, all driver assistants and a seven-year guarantee are "all inclusive". The trailer load of the automatic test car was 1.9 tons, 2,250 kg with manual transmission.
Toyota Hilux 2.4 l D Executive: Most Reliable All Round Vehicle
It was already the second Toyota Hilux to enter the horse trailer towing vehicle test in the double cab and luxury executive configuration. While the displacement and hp have shrunk from 3 l to 2.4 l and 171 to 150 hp, respectively, the torque has grown to 400 Nm and the towing capacity from 2.5 to 3.2 tons. The payload - a decisive factor especially for self-sufficient equestrian sports - is now a proud 1,105 kg.
Citroën Spacetourer M Business with Dangel Traction Control: Best Off-road minibus towing a horse trailer
The Citroën Spacetourer M Blue HDI 150 4×4 minibus is almost 5 meters long and offers a lot of space, pulls trailers weighing up to 2.3 tons with its 2-liter diesel and 150 hp and gets around thanks to Dangel 4×4 "Traction Control" four-wheel drive equipment copes well even in difficult terrain.
Mazda CX-60: Best plug-in hybrid electric car for towing a horse trailer
With the all-new CX-60 crossover, Mazda is offering a model with plug-in hybrid technology for the first time – the so-called PHEV drive. Particularly interesting for equestrians with larger horse trailers: the trailer load is a proud 2.5 tons.
The Mazda CX-60 PHEV is an important part of Mazda's multi-solution strategy. The sustainable mobility concept follows the principle of the right drive solution for different applications. The Mazda CX-60 will later be joined by the Mazda CX-80, which will have three rows of seats and seven seats. The 4,745 mm long crossover is located above the successful Mazda CX-5 model and combines an elegant interpretation of the Kodo design language with a high-quality, reduced to the essential aesthetics in the interior.
What Is The Smallest Vehicle That Can Tow A Horse Trailer?The answer depends largely on the size of your horse trailer and the weight of the horse or pony you are towing. Horse trailers can vary in size and therefore weight significantly. From a smaller single-horse trailer like the Ifor Williams 401 Horse Trailer which only carries one horse. In this example the the trailer weighs approx 770kg and a small shetland pony could weigh around 200kg. Therefore any car or vehicle with a 1ton (1000kg) towing capacity would be ok.
At the other end of the scale we have certain horse trailers that can carry up to four horses - Such as the CHEVAL LIBERTE MAXI 4. This trailer itself weighs around 1450kg and has a load capacity of 2050kg. In this situation you would need a car that can pull 3.5ton (3500kg) to be safe and legal.
How to tow a horse trailerHere are a few tips for towing a horse trailer:
1. Make sure your vehicle is rated for towing: Check your vehicle's owner's manual to determine its towing capacity and ensure that it is capable of safely towing your horse trailer.
2. Use a weight-distributing hitch: A weight-distributing hitch can help distribute the weight of the trailer more evenly across your vehicle's axles, improving stability and handling.
3. Use a brake controller: If your trailer is equipped with brakes, be sure to install a brake controller in your vehicle to ensure that the brakes on the trailer are activated when you apply the brakes in your vehicle.
4. Practice driving: Before you hit the road with your trailer, practice driving in a safe, empty parking lot to get a feel for the added weight and length of the trailer.
5. Take extra care when turning: Because your vehicle and trailer will be longer when towing, you'll need to take wider turns and allow more space when turning.
6. Use caution when passing: When passing other vehicles, allow extra space and time to complete the pass safely.
7. Check your lights: Make sure all of your lights are working properly, including the brake lights, turn signals, and tail lights on both your vehicle and the trailer.
8. Plan your route: Consider the terrain and conditions of the roads you'll be traveling on, and plan your route accordingly. Avoid steep grades and sharp turns if possible.
9. Follow the speed limit: Make sure to follow the speed limit, especially when towing a trailer. Remember that it will take longer to slow down or stop when towing a trailer.
Tips for beginners towing a horse trailerHere are some additional tips for towing horses:
1. Plan your route carefully: Consider the terrain and conditions of the roads you'll be traveling on, and plan your route accordingly. Avoid steep grades and sharp turns if possible.
Check the weather: Make sure the weather conditions are safe for towing a trailer. Avoid driving in extreme heat or cold, and be prepared for unexpected weather changes.
Take breaks: Plan for frequent breaks to check on your horses and give them a chance to rest.
Pack essentials: Bring plenty of water, food, and hay for your horses, as well as any necessary medical supplies.
Use a trailer tie: Use a trailer tie to secure your horse while it is in the trailer. This will help prevent it from shifting or falling while you are driving.
Follow safe loading practices: Make sure to load your horses in the trailer in a way that allows them to stand comfortably and securely. Avoid overloading the trailer, and make sure the weight is evenly distributed.
Keep the trailer clean: Regularly clean out the trailer to keep it in good condition and prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria or parasites.
Check the trailer before and after each trip: Make sure the trailer is in good condition before each trip, and perform a thorough inspection after each trip to ensure that it is safe for future use.
Use a trailer hitch lock: Use a trailer hitch lock to secure the trailer to your vehicle and prevent it from being stolen.
Consider hiring a professional: If you are new to towing a horse trailer or if you are not comfortable doing it on your own, consider hiring a professional to transport your horses.