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What you need to know to buy a car to launch the boat with

Most Kiwi boaties launch their vessels with their SUVs, utes or cars. Dry stacking and mooring are expensive and a tractor is impractical in most circumstances, so using the car is by far the best option.

But what kind of vehicle is best for launching the boat? What features does it need and how much power should it have under the hood?

How big is your boat and where are you launching from?

Before you buy a vehicle to launch the boat with, you need to know the weight of your boat full of equipment, including any outboard motors.

This is important because you need to make sure that the vehicle you purchase is rated to tow that weight. If you’re buying a new car, the tow rating should be presented to you during the purchase, and if you’re buying used, you should be able to Google the model number to find it.

You should also think about where you’re launching. If you use a well maintained boat ramp with a gradual slope, you might get away with using a smaller vehicle such as a compact SUV or even a large sedan (depending on the size of your boat of course). If you’re launching on a steep or slippery ramp or at the beach, you’re going to need a powerful 4X4.

It’s important that the car you choose is powerful enough to launch your boat. 

Diesel or petrol?

In most cases, diesel is the best option for towing. That’s because diesel engines often have more torque and are rated to tow more weight than their petrol counterparts.

They provide more low-end power which will make accelerating off the boat ramp or towing your vehicle over long distances far easier. If you prefer a petrol engine that’s fine, just make sure you get something with a little extra oomph.

What are my options? 

If you’ve got a larger boat and you want to be able to launch it anywhere in almost any conditions, you’re going to want a large SUV or ute with 4X4 and plenty of power. We reckon these are your best options:

Nissan Pathfinder: The ideal option if you want to be able to launch a large vessel in challenging conditions without sacrificing luxury, comfort and cool techy features.

Holden Colorado: A beast of a truck, rated to tow up to 3.5 tonnes with 500 Nm of torque on the Z71 edition. Ideal as a workhorse and to launch most boats.

Mazda BT-50: One of the most powerful and capable utes on the market here in NZ. Its engine packs a huge 470 Nm of torque and 147 kW of power, so you’ll never have to worry about getting the boat in the water.

If you’ve got a smaller lighter boat a more compact SUV may do the trick. 

As brilliant as these vehicles are, some boaties may not need all that extra size and power. A compact SUV will do just fine launching a smaller vessel and it may be better for commuting and everyday driving. These are a couple great options if you want something smaller:

Mazda CX-5 AWD: Packs a decent 252 Nm of torque and is rated to tow 2,000 if you buy the diesel model. This car is also a comfortable and fuel efficient commuter.

Suzuki Jimny: This is one of the world’s most fun and capable little SUVs. While it’s not heavy or powerful enough to tow or launch anything over 950 kg, it’ll do the trick for a small tinny or dinghy. Its small size and efficient engine also makes it a great city car and commuter.

Still not sure what car is right for you and your vessel? Drop into your nearest Nicholson Auto dealership and we’ll sort you out!

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