Does it work? Land Rover’s Advanced Tow Assist tested

Published: 16 March 2018

► LR’s Advanced Tow Assist tested
► Can a noob park like a hero?
► Our review of clever trailer kit

Reverse parking is fraught enough to fill even hardened trailer owners with dread. Backing up with a trailer hitched takes a huge amount of skill and concentration to get right, as steering a trailer in reverse is so thoroughly counter-intuitive.

Land Rover‘s Advanced Tow Assist aims to make reversing a trailer much easier. First launched as an option for the Discovery 5, ATA can now also be specced on your new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. On the Discovery we tested it on it’s a £375 option, but the overall cost will vary depending on whether your car already has some of the other kit that’s essential to ATA, such as the Terrain Response 2 system and 360-degree parking aids.

After you’ve connected the trailer to the ball hitch, and the wiring for the trailer’s lights, you start the car as normal and the ATA system will notice a trailer is hitched. On-screen instructions guide you through the next step, which calibrates the system so it knows your trailer’s dimensions, including details of the axles. You’ll need a measuring tape. And you’ll need to attach the provided three-dot sticker to the correct part of your trailer. This sticker is key to the car’s ability to monitor the trailer’s angle. You’ll then have to drive in a straight line for a bit, so the car can get a feel for your trailer.

Land Rover Tow Assist trailer hitch

Now you’re ready for some reversing. The ‘Advanced’ part of the Tow Assist system is the spookily clever automatic steering system for reverse parking. Come to a stop, engage reverse, pop out the Terrain Response dial and a little orange light showing a trailer and steering wheel will illuminate.

You then have to twist the dial so that the lines on the camera point to your destination. You shouldn’t need to apply any throttle – simply let go of the brake, but be aware that you’ll need to stop the car yourself; the system is essentially a steering aid, not self-driving. Your Land Rover will crawl backwards and automatically steer with uncanny precision to make sure your trailer goes in the right direction at the right time.

You still have to take your time and be aware of your trailer’s length, but we reversed into a couple of tricky bays with impressive accuracy.

Park your trailer like a pro in four steps

Lock and load

Reverse, hitch and plug-in your trailer – don’t forget to check your lights work.

Land Rover Tow Assist sticker

Sticker of truth

System relies on three-dot sticker being precisely positioned on front of trailer according to rear camera target.

Land Rover Tow Assist rear camera

Acquire target

Rear-facing cameras built into door mirrors give reverse view. Lines need pointing at your target, green is for straight back.

Land Rover Tow Assist dial

And… twiddle!

Pop out the Terrain Response dial. Use it, and the on-screen guides, for precision reversing.

Does it work?

Yes. After a bit of fumbling around with the all-important calibration sticker and measuring our test trailer, we were ready to go. For a complete trailer novice, all aspects of towing are still very alien, but the system is spookily clever at its job. The trailer will go exactly where you direct it. All you have to do is keep a close eye on the screen to monitor your surroundings.

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By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches