‘Our Hybrid tows the van well, and we’re saving a fortune on petrol’

Published: November 21, 2023

While the widespread use of electric vehicles to take the Big Lap may be a few years off yet, an increasing number of grey nomads are dipping a tentative toe into the Hybrid world.

Peter and Trish Martin are among them. After 13 years and 300,000 kilometres travelling with their trusty Subaru Tribeca, the couple recently bought a Toyota Kluger Hybrid … and they couldn’t be happier.

“We tow a Bailey Pursuit caravan 2016 (430-4) model assembled in Australia,” said Peter. “This has proved easy to tow as it is a lightweight van, but still has room for a full ensuite.”

He says the Tare is 1220kg and the ATM 1520kg.

“We are careful with the weight we add and have it checked at weighbridges,” said Peter. “And we travel at around 90km/h, providing the roads are in good condition.”

The couple recently took a trip from their base in Bendigo up to Yenda in the Riverina to meet friends and to stock up the wine cellar.

“From there we travelled to Hilston (not a good road from Griffith to Hilston) through Cobar, Bourke, Cunnamulla and Charleville,” said Peter. “Towing in this area with the Hybrid was comfortable, and fuel use was around 11 litres per 100 kilometres.”

However, heading back down the coast Peter and Trish experienced some strong headwinds.

“When going up a steep incline into the wind there was a fair amount of noise generated from the petrol and the electric traction engines,” said Peter. “Overall, the Hybrid handled the conditions well and fuel use was much lower than previous trips.”

He says that over the whole trip, which was 7,160km over seven weeks, fuel use was 11.16 litres per 100 kilometres, and that the car dashboard average figure was 10.6L/100km.

On a similar trip in their Subaru, they would have used 16.39L/100 km.

The couple generally stay in caravan parks on powered sites as they do not have much water storage in their van.

“We like to have good amenities in campgrounds,” said Peter. “And we like caravan parks which have larger sites even though our van is more compact than many we see.”

When back in Victoria, the pair love to take trips out to the Grampians and Bright, or along the Murray River. But now that their fuel costs look like they’ll be lower than ever, more trips north to enjoy the winter warmth beckon.

Their favourite destination is Queensland where they say they can still do their favourite things throughout the ‘cooler’ months.

“We enjoy bushwalking and walking along beaches,” said Peter. “We find it therapeutic.”

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Yes, impressive but diesel power is still the way to go. Our new Kia Sportage gtline diesel 8sp towing a Jurgens j1901 Sungazer 200kg heavier at 1725kg ATM achieves 11.5-13.0 L/100km. Not towing 5.5-6.3 L/100km. No batteries to replace. $20,000 cheaper.

Your figures interest me greatly.
I tow an equivalent weight van with my colorado 4×4. Get a calibrated 15-16l/100km. I travel at 100km /hr on good roads so I am not inconveniencing trucks and other users. I carry a lot of gear in the back of the ute and a kayak on the roof.
If I could afford one i would love a hybrid, but the economics don’t add up.. And the changes in travelling lifestyle for me, are just to great.

Kia website says towball download for any model Sportage is 100kg which I would think is at least 50-60 kg under the towball weight of the Jurgens. Unless you have some sort of load assist or you are a very good at packing for load distribution you may well towing illegally.

Not at all. Yes Sportage is 100kg tbw. Jurgens is a lightweight van and in their manual recommend 6-8% percentage (but percentage not legally binding). I’m at 5.8. Friction hitch +ESC. Sungazer tbw 75-140kg on plate. You suggest 150-160kg tbw but that exceeds the Alko drawbar capacity. Lightweight vans are unlike heavier vans that commonly need 10%. Google Adria, Bailey etc and you’ll see ATM/tbw as low as 4%. BTW, not hard for me to get tbw spot on 100kg such is the balance designed into the van to achieve that easily. I’m legal and my weights isn’t the topic but thanks anyway. There’s a good debate on the GN forum about “10% towball weight not for lightweight vans”.

Yes, you are correct in respect of TBW considerations. However, I still consider a diesel Sorento a better ‘match’ for the 1725kg ATM Sungazer (because of its greater mass and platform size) ☺️

Yes, Kia Sorento (or Hyundai Santa Fe) would be better suited and and achieve similar diesel consumption.

Try driving through inland australia and tell me how good it is

No worse (or better) than any other large unitary platform SUV. As long as you stick to formed roads (ie not requiring high clearance/low range 4WD) there is no problem. In fact, AWD SUVs generally display better vehicle dynamics on formed unsealed roads than ladder-framed 4WDs. In this case the limiting factor would be the Pursuit caravan, which is only suitable for very limited travel on unsealed roads.

Terry, I’ll answer you but I really find it annoying that peoples rigs get scrutinised where ever you post. The topic is hybrid SUV towing and my response is about diesel being more than competitive in this era, not my rigs outback capability. I never go off raod, well formed dirt roads yes and the AWD capability was welcomed as that came with the top of the line GTline sportage, a plus also in muddy free camps.The Sportage unlike most others has suspension tuned for Aussie conditions, drive one and you’ll agree, its plush. The all up weight of that Sportage with luggage and passengers is around 2100-2200kg ideal for a ATM of 1725kg for the van. John, I cant argue with the Sorrento but that wasnt the car I wanted. The Sportage got car of the year and has the best dashboard on the market IMO. I’ve just come back from the Great Ocean Road and the rig performed faultlessly. I’m used to a little sway with passing trucks and the like- none here now. Power to burn. A gear for every situation. A retired couple I’d have 2 extra seats in the back not ever required in the Sorrento, even the back seat of the Sportage only sees 2 mini foxies!. It’s personal choice and I couldnt be happier. It’s a Jurgens Caravan Sungazer J1901, not Pursuit. There’s a video of rigorous testing, it’s well up to the job for my purpose which is not what 4X4 is required to do, thats a myth.”You’ll need a 4X4″ is over reaction to made road towing. What isnt a myth is economy half of that of a 4X4 when no towing which is 95% of the time saving us easily $1000-1500 a year.

Last edited 10 days ago by Tony Dawson

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