Last year’s overall champion is back to defend its class title, and remains our favourite vehicle in the 1700-1899kg weight class.

BMW should be very pleased with this result: it’s not as if the opposition is weak this year. The Volvo V60 Cross Country, in particular, runs the 5 Series very close.

The trouble is, the 520d Touring has no significant weakness. As a tow car, it is exceptionally stable.

Data from the Al-Ko ATC system shows there’s very little movement when slowing down from high speeds, and our test drivers were happy to tow with it at speeds that would be illegal on the motorway.

For most vehicles, the lane-change test is our most challenging manoeuvre. But the 520d drove through the course with no sign of strain
or effort, even on the third and fastest run.

You can buy more powerful versions of the 5 Series Touring, but there’s really little need. We’re perfectly happy with a 30-60mph time of 11 seconds.

The 520d comfortably holds speed on hilly routes, and the eight-speed automatic gearbox almost goes unnoticed, so smooth are the gearchanges.

What’s more, the 5 Series stops as well as it goes: the 30-0mph stopping distance of 9.7 metres is one of the shortest in this year’s tests.

In everyday driving, the 5 Series is a pleasure. However, we’d recommend paying the extra for adaptive suspension damping. It was fitted to the car tested in 2018, but not this year, and it certainly improves ride comfort.

Passengers should be just as content as the driver, because the cabin is roomy and quiet at speed.

There’s plenty of luggage space, too: our practicality judges found room for all but one item from their load of holiday kit.

Self-levelling rear suspension, a trailer stability system and a handy rear-view camera ticked more practicality boxes.

The price makes this a tow car for the well-heeled, but healthy discounts are available and running costs are affordable.

Category Winners
2019 Up to 1400kg

Škoda Octavia

Hatch 1.5 TSI 150PS SE L DSG

2019 1400-1549kg

Seat Ateca

2.0 TSI 190PS FR DSG

2019 1550-1699kg

Volkswagen Arteon

2.0 TDI 150PS Elegance DSG

2019 1700-1899kg

BMW 520d

Touring xDrive M Sport

2019 1900kg+

Land Rover Discovery

3.0 SDV6 HSE

2019 Best Budget 4x4

Dacia Duster

1.5 dCi Ambiance 4x4

2019 Best Plug-In Hybrid

Land Rover Range Rover Sport

P400e HSE Dynamic

2019 Best Ultralight Tow Car

Seat Arona

1.0 TSI 115 FR

2019 Fuel Economy Award

Ford Focus Estate

1.5 EcoBlue 120PS Titanium X

Previous Winners

BMW 520d

Touring xDrive M Sport


Land Rover Discovery

3.0 Td6 HSE*


Skoda Superb Hatch

2.0 TDI 150PS SE Business


Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI BMT 150PS SE Business DSG


Nissan Qashqai

1.6 dCi (130PS) Stop/Start System Acenta Premium

Up to 1424kg

Skoda Octavia

2.0 TDI CR 150PS Elegance


Jaguar XF

2.2D Premium Luxury


Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI 170 Bluemotion Sport


Land Rover Discovery 4

3.0 TDV6 XS


Volvo XC60

D5 SE Geartronic


Ford Mondeo Estate

2.0 TDCi Titanium auto


Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI Sport 4Motion

ContinueWe use cookies to give you the best browsing experience and to provide you with relevant content and advertising.
By continuing to use our website you are accepting our use of cookies as described in our Cookie Policy.