Recommendations - 2.5t Towing Vehicle $35k Budget

Currently have a 2014 BT50 4WD dual cab ute, but it's too large for my wife to drive comfortably. With the height (lift, roof rack, etc) & length, it doesn't fit into the work carpark, shopping centre underground car parks, etc. Looking for something that is better suited to every day use and my wife can drive comfortably when needed.

Looking for an alternate tow vehicle with:
2t-2.5t tow capability
GVM that allows ~400kg payload & 200kg ball weight (so 600kg minimum)
More SUV style, so wife-friendly
Decent power for towing
Length under 5m
AWD or 4WD to handle gravel roads and mud (not rock crawling, winching, etc).

Budget is around $35k, possibly a little higher for the right vehicle.

Options currently seem to be:
Toyota Prado ~2013, but not sure of the towing power
Jeep Grand Cherokee ~2015 in the 3L TD or 5.7L V8 petrol - possibly expensive to maintain
Toyota Kluger - towing capacity is borderline
Mitsubishi Pajero - lots of issues with the Triton utes, not sure of the Pajero durability
Older VW Touareg - servicing/repair costs? reliability of DSG auto box?

Looking for feedback on the options above or your alternate suggestions.


  • +4 votes

    Pajero. They’ve been around a long time with updates along the way. There is a reason they haven’t changed much. Prado comes with ‘Toyota tax’. Jeep has plenty of haters due to reliability although some owners love them. Skip the Kluger if tow capacity is borderline. VW out of warranty? No thanks.


    Prado hands down or an older 200 series if you can find one (very rare at this price point with Corona tax unfortuantely)

  • +2 votes

    Isuzu MU-X


      Of course. How did that not make the list. It’s on my radar for next upgrade of the family wagon

    • +1 vote

      But how did they make it so ugly? Everything except the top-of-the-line D-MAX.


        Agree - they are not the best looking. I wished they stick to utilitarian looks ala Landcruiser 70 / Jimny / G wagon.


    Everything you listed is as bad as what you have.

    The 4motion VW will drive far better.

    Amarok or Second Gen Toureag even a SWB VW 4 motion transporter.


    Touareg doesn't have a dsg, has a normal auto. Drives like a car.

    Mux is another to consider, or an Everest, not sure how much they are though.

  • +1 vote

    Having owned patrol, Landcruiser and pajero I would recommend a used Pajero. They have been a favorite amongst caravanners and grey nomads forever for all the right reasons.

  • +2 votes

    The standard Pajero is bulletproof, aside from some of the early NS models (ie 2008) having DPF issues. Most of the NT and NW didn't have DPFs fitted, so I'd try for one of those rather than a NX. The Pajero is also a monocoque construction and it's handling and steering is very car-like.

    You might even squeeze a Pajero Sport in that budget. They're fairly reliable too. It's a bit smaller than most of those other cars you've listed, which may get you brownie points with the wife. The Exceed model also has a 360 degree camera which might win even more points.


    Thanks for the suggestions - Pajero Sport and MU-X are on the list now.

    The Everest is off the list both for the price and because after having the BT50 I'm very familiar with the transmission issues towing with the auto, and Ford/Mazda's ridiculous "sealed for life" claim on the trans servicing.

    Struggling to find a Prado that doesn't already have 200k kms on it at a decent price, so that may have to be excluded.

    Anyone driven a Pathfinder and have some feedback? I had a 3L GU3 Patrol many years ago and that was reliable right up until the pin started falling out of the hand grenade. Still cursing I didn't just TD42 or Cummins swap it!


      R51 pathfinder is pretty gutless, and the auto is rubbish. Drives ok though, dated interior. R52 I wouldn't touch with a barge pole.

      Everything you are looking at will likely have a "sealed for life" trans. Just change the oil, just because they say not to change it, doesn't mean you can't do it.

  • +1 vote

    We have an R51 pathfinder. They have been superseded by the R52 which is now a soft roadwr and has low tow ability which probably rules it out. I think they stopped the R51 in about 2013 so they are getting on a bit.

    I find the R51 a bit truck like, but it doesn’t feel huge. It has enough power and good stock 4wd capability. Comfortable enough and tows a 1500kg caravan just fine.


    Holden Trailblazer? Seems like a pretty good option.
    Or the Toyota Fortuner.