When towing heavy loads, having the right SUV can make all the difference. Whether planning a weekend getaway with a travel trailer or needing to haul equipment for work, finding the best SUV for towing is essential.
In this article, we’ll explore the top contenders in the market, the factors that affect towing capacity, and some important considerations for safe towing adventures.
Table of Contents
What Is the Best Crossover SUV for Towing?
Regarding towing capacity, crossover SUVs may not be as powerful as their truck-based counterparts, but they still offer a good balance of utility and comfort. One standout in this category is the Subaru Outback.
With a towing capacity of up to 3,500 pounds, you don’t need a truck-sized SUV to handle light towing tasks.
The Outback also boasts a spacious interior, all-wheel drive capability, and impressive fuel efficiency, making it a great choice for outdoor enthusiasts and families.
3 Factors Affecting an SUV’s Towing Capability
When it comes to an SUV’s towing capability, several factors come into play that can affect how much weight it can safely tow. Understanding these factors is essential when choosing the best SUV for your towing needs.
Let’s take a closer look at three key factors that influence an SUV’s towing capability:
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is the maximum weight that an SUV can safely carry, including its weight, passengers, cargo, and the tongue weight of a trailer. The manufacturer determines it and is an important indicator of the vehicle’s overall strength and capacity.
Exceeding the GVWR can strain the SUV’s suspension, brakes, and engine excessively, compromising safety and potentially causing mechanical failures. When considering an SUV for towing, it’s crucial to ensure that its GVWR is sufficient to accommodate both the vehicle and the expected weight of the loaded trailer.
Engine Power and Torque
The SUV’s engine plays a vital role in its towing capabilities. The engine’s power and torque output determine how effectively it can pull heavy loads. SUVs with larger, more powerful engines tend to have higher towing capacities.
Engines with higher torque ratings provide better low-end pulling power, allowing the SUV to handle steeper inclines and start from a standstill more easily when towing. Considering the engine specifications, such as horsepower and torque, is important when evaluating an SUV’s towing capability.
Opting for an SUV with a robust engine can ensure a smoother towing experience, especially when tackling challenging terrains or towing heavier trailers.
Frame Construction and Suspension
The construction of an SUV’s frame and the design of its suspension system play significant roles in its towing capability. SUVs built on truck-based platforms typically offer higher towing capacities than car-based ones.
Body-on-frame construction provides greater rigidity and strength, allowing the SUV to handle heavier loads without compromising stability. Additionally, a well-designed suspension system, including heavy-duty shocks, springs, and stabilizer bars, helps to distribute the weight evenly and maintain control while towing.
Consider an SUV with a sturdy frame and a robust suspension system to ensure a secure and capable towing experience.
Why Do Hybrids Have Lower Towing Capacity?
Hybrid SUVs have become increasingly popular due to their fuel efficiency and environmental benefits. However, one trade-off for their eco-friendly features is a lower towing capacity. There are a few reasons behind this limitation. Firstly, hybrid vehicles have additional components like batteries, which add weight to the vehicle.
This extra weight reduces the overall payload capacity, affecting the ability to tow heavy loads. Secondly, hybrid powertrains are typically designed to prioritize fuel efficiency rather than sheer towing strength.
The electric motors and smaller combustion engines used in hybrids may not deliver the same torque and power as traditional engines.
What Is the Best Hybrid SUV With High Towing Capacity?
While hybrid SUVs may have lower towing capacities than non-hybrid models, options are still available for those wanting a greener, more fuel-efficient towing experience. One example is the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.
With a towing capacity of up to 3,500 pounds, it balances efficiency and towing capability well.
The Highlander Hybrid also provides a comfortable and spacious interior, advanced safety features, and a smooth ride, making it a great choice for families who need a versatile vehicle for both daily commuting and occasional towing needs.
Is There an SUV That Can Pull a Horse Trailer?
Pulling a horse trailer requires a significantly higher towing capacity due to the weight and size of the trailer. If you’re in the market for an SUV that can handle this task, the Ford Expedition is a top contender.
The Expedition has a strong body-on-frame build and offers powerful engine options, enabling it to tow up to 9,300 pounds with the right equipment. It also offers a spacious interior, ample cargo space, and various towing features, such as trailer sway control, making it a reliable choice for equestrians or anyone who needs to transport large, heavy trailers.
Is It Safe to Tow a Travel Trailer With an SUV?
Towing a travel trailer with an SUV can be safe but requires careful consideration and adherence to certain guidelines. First and foremost, it’s crucial to ensure that the SUV’s towing capacity matches or exceeds the loaded trailer’s weight.
Exceeding the towing capacity can strain the vehicle’s engine, transmission, and brakes, compromising safety and potentially causing mechanical failures. Additionally, it’s essential to distribute the weight in the trailer properly, ensuring it is balanced and not overloaded on one side.
Properly inflated tires, functioning trailer brakes, and appropriate towing equipment, such as weight distribution hitches and sway control systems, are also vital for safe towing. Lastly, drivers should be aware of the increased braking distances and reduced maneuverability when towing a trailer, allowing for more time to stop and making wider turns when necessary.
How Can I Increase My Towing Capacity?
The towing capacity of an SUV is determined by various factors, including the vehicle’s design, engine power, suspension, and braking system. Trying to increase the towing capacity beyond the manufacturer’s specifications is not recommended, as doing so can put excessive strain on the vehicle and compromise safety.
However, there are ways to optimize your towing setup within the established limits. One important aspect is ensuring you have the appropriate towing equipment, such as a trailer hitch rated for your vehicle’s towing capacity.
Additionally, weight distribution hitches and sway control systems can help distribute the trailer’s weight more evenly and improve towing stability. Consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual and work with a trusted towing professional to ensure you use the correct equipment and techniques for safe and efficient towing.
Is It Okay to Exceed Towing Capacity?
Exceeding the towing capacity of your SUV is never advisable. The manufacturer’s specified towing capacity is determined based on extensive engineering and testing to ensure the vehicle can handle the specified loads safely.
Exceeding the towing capacity can lead to severe mechanical failures, such as engine overheating, transmission damage, or brake failure, jeopardizing your safety on the road. It can also void the warranty and insurance coverage for any damages due to exceeding the limits.
To avoid these risks, always respect the manufacturer’s towing capacity guidelines and choose a vehicle that can handle the loads you intend to tow.
What Is the Max Tow Package?
The “Max Tow Package” or “Tow Package” is an optional package offered by some SUV manufacturers that enhances the vehicle’s towing capabilities. This package typically includes upgrades to the cooling system, suspension, transmission, and sometimes the engine.
These enhancements allow the vehicle to handle heavier loads more effectively, improving towing performance and overall safety.
The Max Tow Package may include additional features like trailer sway control, integrated brake controllers, and upgraded towing mirrors for enhanced visibility. If you plan to do much towing, investing in a vehicle with a Max Tow Package can provide you with extra capability and peace of mind.
Does Towing Capacity Include the Truck?
When referring to an SUV’s towing capacity, it specifically refers to the vehicle’s ability to tow a load behind it. The towing capacity does not include the weight of the truck itself. It is essential to calculate the loaded trailer’s weight and ensure that it falls within the specified towing capacity of the SUV.
Neglecting to account for the trailer’s weight can lead to exceeding the vehicle’s capabilities, potentially causing safety hazards and damage to the SUV.
Does Lifting a Truck Reduce Towing Capacity?
Lifting a truck, whether an SUV or a pickup truck, can impact its towing capacity. Lifting a truck alters the suspension geometry and changes the vehicle’s center of gravity.
These modifications can reduce the stability and towing capabilities of the vehicle. Lifting a truck can also add extra weight to the vehicle, affecting its payload capacity and towing abilities.
It is important to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines and work with reputable suspension specialists to ensure that any lifting modifications are compatible with your towing needs. Striking the right balance between aesthetics and functionality is crucial to maintain a safe and capable towing vehicle.
Choosing the best SUV for towing requires careful consideration of factors such as towing capacity, vehicle capabilities, and specific towing needs. While crossover SUVs like the Subaru Outback offer a good balance of towing capacity and versatility, hybrid SUVs like the Toyota Highlander Hybrid provide a greener towing option.
For heavier towing tasks, the Ford Expedition is a reliable choice. Always stay within the vehicle’s towing capacity, properly distribute weight, and use appropriate equipment for a safe and enjoyable towing experience. You can confidently embark on your towing adventures by selecting the right SUV and following best practices.