When it comes to towing RVs, boats, and other trailers, you need a vehicle that combines power, stability, and versatility. SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicles) have become popular as tow vehicles due to their spacious interiors for passengers and gear, robust engines, and towing capabilities and technologies. In this post, we’re looking at some of the best SUVs for towing in all three classes – large, mid-size, and compact.
- 1) How to Choose the Best SUV for Towing
- 2) Best Full-Size SUVs for Towing
- 3) Best Mid-Size SUVs for Towing
- 4) Best Compact/Crossover SUVs for Towing
- 5) Free RVing Tips, Tricks, Reviews & Giveaways
How to Choose the Best SUV for Towing
In addition to your own needs and desires based on your style of travel, when choosing an SUV for towing, there are a couple of essential pieces of information you need to know, including the weight (both overall and tongue weight) of the loaded RV or trailer you intend to tow and the tow rating of the SUVs you’re considering.
This is essential information because if your travel trailer weighs more than your SUV is capable of towing, you and your family won’t be safe as you’re moving down the road, and neither will those who are traveling around you.
The towing capabilities of the SUV must be able to handle the weight of your loaded trailer/travel trailer. The problem is that this information isn’t always cut and dry. Let’s take a look at a few things that you may need to factor into your decision.
Models May Be Rated Differently
SUV towing capacity needs to be considered for very specific vehicles because not all models of a particular SUV are rated equally. This means that not all models can tow the target weight. This may be especially true for many base models or engine and package options.
Manufacturers tend to hype the maximum tow rating for their vehicles. But, again, you need to be aware that not every model is rated to tow the same weight. A particular model of an SUV may be offered with different engines, tow packages, and cooling abilities.
Take the 2023 Toyota Sequoia as an example. This full-size SUV is rated with a tow capacity of 9520 pounds. However, to be able to tow that maximum weight, you’d need to choose the SR5 model with rear-wheel drive and the tow package.
It’s important to carefully note what each model of the SUV you’re interested in has to offer because you may need to choose an optional engine, suspension, or tow package. A 10-speed automatic transmission may sound super capable, but if can only be paired with the smallest engine option, that may not work for your towing needs.
Most Powerful Engines
Different models of an SUV may have different engines, and this could be the difference between whether or not an SUV is capable of the maximum tow capacity.
For example, the GMC Acadia is a mid-size SUV with a pretty broad towing capacity across its models. The 4-cylinder Acadia models can only tow up to 1,000 pounds, but a V6 model with a specialized tow package can tow 4,000 pounds. That’s a major difference!
The best SUV towing capacity is often based on specific tow packages and engines. If you’re buying an SUV to tow a travel trailer, opting for the factory-installed tow package is generally best. In fact, with some manufacturers, you’ll need a factory-installed hitch to get the maximum tow rating.
Some tow packages include the trailer hitch as well as special wiring. They may also include a transmission cooler or a higher-capacity alternator. Some may even include trailer sway control systems and hitch guides with cameras that help you hitch up the rig. (For much more about trailer hitches, see our posts on proper trailer hitch height, weight distribution hitches, the trailer drop hitch, and hitch extenders.)
These are all important details when you’re shopping for an SUV that you’ll use to tow an RV or any other trailer.
Trailer Braking Systems
You’ll also need to note that tow capacity ratings can also be based on braking capabilities. This refers to the heaviest load a vehicle can tow when the trailer has its own braking system.
Rear-Wheel Drive, All-Wheel Drive, or 4-Wheel Drive
Some manufacturers require rear-wheel, all-wheel, or 4-wheel drive to get the maximum tow rating. There are a lot of options and packages, so it’s important to figure out what you’ll need to tow your particular trailer.
A vehicle’s payload is the maximum weight it can carry. This includes people, cargo, and trailer tongue weight. Keep in mind that maximum payload and towing capacity are not the same thing.
It’s important to know your tow vehicle’s payload because it includes the tongue weight of the trailer. As we noted in our post on the topic, tongue weight refers to the downward force that the tongue of a trailer applies to the hitch ball of the tow vehicle. That force/weight has to be taken into consideration when looking at maximum payload.
Improper tongue weight can make the difference between a safe towing experience and a dangerous one. It should be too much… or too little. In general terms, a trailer’s tongue weight should ideally be about 10-15% of the trailer’s total weight. But of course, that tongue weight can’t cause the towing vehicle’s maximum payload or gross weight to be exceeded.
This means that an SUV towing a 5,000-pound trailer should have roughly 500-750 lbs of tongue weight on the hitch ball. You need to know this information so you’ll know how much payload is left for carrying passengers and cargo. For much more on this topic, see our post What Is Tongue Weight?
Most manufacturers of vehicles that are engineered for towing have factored in a reasonable cushion to carry people and cargo when towing. However, if you plan to carry lots of people and heavy gear, make sure the SUV’s payload rating is up to the challenge.
A trailer tongue scale is a great way to check tongue weight, which can help keep you and your rig safer on the road.
Now, let’s take a look at several of the best towing SUVs in each class.
NOTE: There are many (sometimes confusing) options for engines, trim, transmissions, towing packages, etc. In many cases, vehicles must be specifically configured to achieve maximum towing capacity. And specifications can change, even mid-model-year.
Check with each manufacturer’s website or your local dealer for up-to-date specifics on any vehicle you’re considering for towing your RV. All prices listed are in US dollars.
Best Full-Size SUVs for Towing
There are many full-size SUVs with upgrades for 2024 that are excellent for towing and offer comfortable interiors for traveling. We begin with some of the highest towing capacity SUVs on the market.
The 2023/2024 Jeep Wagoneer is at the top of the large SUV class with an available maximum towing capacity of 10,000 pounds. The Wagoneer offers a smooth ride, lots of room for passengers and luggage/gear, and a comfortable interior.
US News & World Report named the 2023 Jeep Wagoneer the best large SUV, and the 2024 Wagoneer isn’t significantly different from the ’23.
The real highlight may be the Wagoneer L which is 12 inches longer and has a 7-inch longer wheelbase than the standard Wagoneer. Both versions offer similar seating space in all three rows, but the Wagoneer L offers a whopping 44.2 cubic feet of cargo room in the rear. That’s almost 16 cubic feet more than the standard Wagoneer.
The L’s 44.2 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats, 88.8 cubic feet behind the second row, and 130.9 cubic feet behind the front seats are huge. (The standard Wagoneer provides 27.4, 70.8, and 116.7 cubic feet by comparison.)
Prices for the Jeep Wagoneer currently start around $59,000, with the Grand Wagoneer starting at about $89,000.
The 2024 Toyota Sequoia has a maximum towing capacity of 9520 pounds. The Sequoia had a complete makeover for 2023 that carries over to 2024 with a powerful engine, a refined ride, a premium interior, and a great user-friendly infotainment system.
Depending on the orientation of the 3rd-row seats, the Sequoia offers between 11.5 and 22.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. It offers 49 cubic feet with the 3rd-row seats folded and 86.9 cubic feet with all of the rear seats folded down.
In a class of large SUVs powered by V-8 engines, the Sequoia is unique for its standard V-6 hybrid powertrain, a combination that doesn’t sacrifice performance but does offer excellent fuel efficiency. The 437-hp iForce MAX powertrain (also found in the Tundra Hybrid pickup truck) can tow and haul with gusto.
There’s a well-designed tech package and there’s decent room for kids in the back seats. But adults won’t likely be as comfortable, especially in the third row, which is pretty cramped. Cargo space behind the third row is also limited, so compared with its competitors and others in its class, the Sequoia doesn’t measure up in terms of seating capacity and cargo space.
To tow the maximum weight of 9520 pounds, you’ll need the SR5 with rear-wheel drive as well as the tow tech package which includes a trailer backup guide, straight path assist, and other towing assist technologies.
The Toyota Sequoia starts at $62,725.
Ford’s largest SUV, the Expedition, has a max towing capacity of 9,300 pounds.
The 2024 Ford Expedition can carry up to eight people with room left over for luggage and gear. Although it has a blocky, truck-like exterior, the interior is full of high-quality materials and an advanced infotainment system.
Every 2024 Expedition is powered by a twin-turbo V-6, and Platinum models are equipped with Ford’s heavy-duty trailer tow package. The optional max trailering package includes upgraded cooling, a trailer brake controller, and additional trailering tech features.
Passenger volume is 172 ft for the 2024 model year, and cargo space is a maximum of 104 to 121.5 cubic feet, depending on the trim model. It has a seating capacity of up to 8 passengers.
If the 3rd row is folded down, space expands between 57.5 cu ft. to 63.6 cu ft. Total space is 104.6 cu ft. when both the 2nd and 3rd rows are folded down.
The Expedition offers plenty of interior space, a high towing capacity, and a capable V6 powertrain. It starts at about $54,000, with Platinum models starting at over $80,000.
Other full-size SUVs with significant towing capacities include the following:
- 2024 Lincoln Navigator – Towing Capacity: Up to 8,700 lbs
- 2023 Nissan Armada – Up to 8,500 lbs
- 2024 INFINITI QX80 -Up to 8,500 lbs
- 2023 Chevrolet Tahoe – Up to 8,400 lbs
- 2023 GMC Yukon – Up to 8,400 lbs
- 2024 Land Rover Range Rover – Up to 8,200 lbs
- 2023 Cadillac Escalade – Up to 8,200 lbs
- 2023 Lexus LX – Up to 8,000 lbs
Best Mid-Size SUVs for Towing
If a midsize SUV suits your style of travel, there are several great offerings in this class, too.
The maximum available Dodge Durango towing capacity of 8,700 lbs. sets this midsize SUV above all others in its class. It can haul more than any other mid-size SUV.
So if you’re looking for significant towing capacity in a bit smaller package, this is the SUV for you. For a mid-size SUV, it has a pretty roomy interior, with 3 rows of seats and room for 7 people + luggage/gear.
The 2024 Dodge Durango offers impressive cargo space for a midsize SUV: 17.2 cubic feet behind the third row, 43.3 cubic feet with the 3rd row folded flat, and a maximum of 85.1 cubic feet with all of the rear seats folded down.
The SUV with the highest towing capacity in its class, the Dodge Durango equipped with the V6 engine can tow 6,200 pounds. Versions with the 5.7 V8 and rear-wheel drive can tow up to 7,400 pounds. The SRT 392 and Hellcat trims, as well as versions with the 5.7 V8 + max tow package, can tow up to 8,700 pounds, making the Durango SRT Hellcat one of the best midsize SUVs for towing.
Changes from the 2023 Dodge Durango are minimal and include the addition of blind spot monitoring and a new version of a sensor that knows when you’re towing. That prevents it from getting confused by the camper/trailer sitting inches from your rear bumper. The new-for-2024 Citadel trim offers the Tow N Go package, which adds some styling and performance boosts such as an SRT Performance exhaust.
Prices for the Dodge Durango start at a bit over $42,000.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
The 2024 Jeep Grand Cherokee has a towing capacity of up to 7,200 pounds with a gasoline engine. The plug-in hybrid version of the Grand Cherokee, the 4xe, with a combination of combustion engine and electric motors, has a maximum towing capacity of 6,000 pounds.
The standard wheelbase 2-row models of the Jeep Grand Cherokee offer 70.8 cubic feet of cargo room, while the 3-row Grand Cherokee L offers several different seating configurations and up to 84.6 cubic feet of cargo room with the 2nd- and 3rd-row seats folded down.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a versatile SUV well-known for its off-road capabilities, and it’s a great choice for towing in more challenging terrain. The Grand Cherokee also offers a comfortable and upscale interior, along with a variety of trim levels, allowing you to choose the features that suit your needs.
Jeep Grand Cherokee pricing starts a bit over $36,000.
The 2023 Lexus GX460 can tow up to 6,500 pounds when properly equipped. The same is true of the 2022 models. But at the time of this writing, we’re learning that the 2024 Lexus GX 460 towing capacity is 8,000 pounds, a significant upgrade.
The 2024 GX will be offered in six grades and one engine will be available: a 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6 (a change from the V8 engines found in earlier models). The V6 boosts the GX 460’s power to 349 hp, an improvement over the previous generation’s V8 engine with 301 hp.
The 8,000-pound towing capacity will be available in the Premium, Premium +, Overtrail, and Overtrail+ trims. 2024 Luxury models can tow 6,990 pounds and Luxury+ trims can tow 6,780. (There’s a hybrid powertrain expected this coming year, but as we write this post, the towing capacity has yet to be revealed.)
The Lexus GX460 retains its rugged exterior style in 2024, and the interior is reported to be luxurious and full of top-notch infotainment/media features. Premium and Luxury trims offer three rows of seats with space for up to seven with the second-row bench seats, which come standard. A pair of captain’s chairs is optional, reducing the seating capacity to six. Overtrail models all have two rows with seating for up to five.
The 2024 GX is larger, wider, and longer than the previous model, and has a longer wheelbase, too. There’s also more ground clearance available, with the highest clearance offered on the Overtrail model.
As of this writing, prices for the 2024 GX 460 haven’t been announced, but the starting price of the 2023 Lexus GX 460 Base trim is about $56,000.
Other midsize SUVs with considerable towing capacities include:
- 2024 Land Rover Defender – Towing Capacity up to 8,200 lbs
- 2024 Land Rover Discovery – Up to 8,200 lbs
- 2024 Mercedes‑Benz GLE – Up to 7,700 lbs
- 2024 Audi RS Q8 – Up to 7,700 lbs
- 2023 Lincoln Aviator – Up to 6,700 lbs
- 2024 Nissan Pathfinder – Up to 6,000 lbs
- 2024 Genesis GV80 – Up to 6,000 lbs
- 2024 INFINITI QX60 – Up to 6,000 lbs
- 2023 Ford Explorer – Up to 5,600 lbs
- 2024 Kia Telluride – Up to 5,500 lbs
- 2024 Acura MDX – Up to 5,000 lbs
Best Compact/Crossover SUVs for Towing
And finally, we highlight three of the best compact/crossover SUVs for towing.
Land Rover Discovery Sport
The 2024 Land Rover Discovery Sport has a maximum towing capacity of 4,409 pounds. Every Land Rover Discovery Sport has the same P250 powertrain, a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine rated at 246 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel-drive comes standard on every Land Rover Discovery Sport, and output is sent to all four wheels via a 9-speed automatic transmission.
The Discovery Sport is rugged on the outside, full of luxurious premium features on the inside, and packed with high tech. Behind the second row, the Discovery Sport shows off one of the roomiest cargo spaces in its class, with 34.6 cubic feet of space. (The segment average is around 24 cubic feet.)
Fold down the rear seats and you’ve got an impressive 60 cubic feet of space. (If the optional 3rd-row seats are occupied, however, available cargo space drops to a minimal 6.8 cubic feet.)
2024 brings more standard features to the Discovery Sport, including heated front seats and steering wheel, a fixed panoramic roof, an 11.4-inch touchscreen, Meridian audio system, and lots of safety tech, including adaptive cruise control and a 3D surround camera.
The 2024 Land Rover Discovery Sport starts at about $49,000, with the sportier SE Dynamic model starting at just over $53,000.
Although production of the Jeep Cherokee ended after the last 2023 model rolled off the line, the Jeep Cherokee is a popular contender in the compact SUV space. It has a maximum available towing capacity of 4,000 lbs.
The 2023 Jeep Cherokee boasts a maximum towing capacity of up to 4,000 pounds when equipped with the available 2.0L Turbo I4 engine and a class-exclusive low-range with neutral for flat towing. Otherwise, the Jeep Cherokee offers a 2,000-pound maximum towing capacity.
With the rear seats folded down, you’ll find 54.7 cubic feet of cargo space. With the rear seats up, you’ll have up to 25.8 cubic feet of space.
In the 2023 models, the popular Jeep Cherokee offers features such as a class-exclusive standard Uconnect® 4C NAV navigation system featuring an 8.4-inch touchscreen, the largest standard touchscreen in its class. They also offer the option of the Commandview dual-pane panoramic sunroof and Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go. This system automatically adjusts your speed to maintain a pre-selected distance behind the traffic ahead of you. It can even bring you to a complete stop if necessary.
The 2023 Cherokee Altitude LUX 4X4 is offered at a starting price of $37,000 and change, while the 2023 Cherokee Trailhawk 4X4 is offered at a starting price of just over $41,000.
The 2024 Ford Escape has a towing capacity of up to 3,500 lbs when properly equipped with the available Class II Trailer Tow package and 2.0L EcoBoost engine. Engines offered in 2024 Ford Escapes include the 1.5L EcoBoost, 2.0L EcoBoost, and a 2.5L iVCT Atkinson Cycle I-4 Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid. The 1.5L and hybrid models offer between 1,500 and 2,000 lbs. of towing ability.
The 2.0L EcoBoost turbo engine option delivers 250 hp while the 1.5L engine offers 180 hp and the hybrid models offer a total system horsepower of 192.
EcoBoost models offer 37.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the 2nd row, while the Hybrid/PHEV provides 34.4 cubic feet. The maximum cargo capacity behind the 1st row is 65.4 cubic feet on EcoBoost models and 60.8 cubic feet on Hybrid/PHEVs.
The Ford Escape isn’t a luxury SUV but it comes in strong with features like standard wireless Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto, Ford Co-Pilot360 technology, FordPass Connect® with 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot to connect up to 10 devices, selectable drive modes, and second-row sliding seats with 60/40 split-fold down.
The 2024 Ford Escape starts at a price of just over $29,000.
Other compact SUVs with fairly significant towing capacities include:
- 2024 Mercedes‑Benz GL – Towing Capacity: Up to 5,291 lbs
- 2024 Jeep Wrangler – Up to 5,000 lbs
- 2023 Ford Bronco – Up to 4,500 lbs
- 2024 Audi Q5 – Up to 4,400 lbs
- 2024 BMW X3 – Up to 4,400 lbs
- 2024 Jaguar E‑PACE – Up to 3,968 lbs
- 2024 Subaru Crosstrek – Up to 3,500 lbs
- 2024 Volvo XC60 – Up to 3,500 lbs
- 2024 Cadillac XT5 – Up to 3,500 lbs
- 2024 Cadillac XT4 – Up to 3,500 lbs
- 2024 Genesis Electrified GV70 – Up to 3,500 lbs
- 2024 Genesis GV70 – Up to 3,500 lbs
Depending on what size and type of RV, boat, or other trailer you intend to tow, there’s a decent variety of SUVs on the market to suit your needs and your style of travel. Once you have your trailer, you may want to brush up on maneuvering it. Check out our post on how to back up a trailer like a pro. And even though our mirror adjustment video was created specifically for motorhomes, many of the concepts apply to trailers, too.
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