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2018 Chevy Tahoe - tow package

15 Best SUVs for Towing

We evaluate the best SUV for towing to suit your needs.

Published November 7, 2018

The SUV has become one of the most popular vehicles on the roadway. They are spacious, comfortable, and feature all the latest innovations, which makes them a great family option. With their powerful engines and truck-based chassis, SUVs are also exceptional for towing. To help you find the vehicle best for you, we evaluate the best SUV for towing. In this list, you’ll see our top 15 best SUVs sorted by class: midsize SUV, full-size SUV, and luxury SUV as well.

Best Midsize SUV for Towing

1. 2018 Dodge Durango SRT (8,700 lbs)

2018 Dodge Durango SRT - right front viewThis new member of the Durango lineup features a powerful 6.4-liter HEMI V8 which produces 475 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. That’s what helps it to achieve an 8,700 maximum tow capacity.

This SUV isn’t going to come cheap but does also feature performance brakes, a limited-slip differential, all-wheel drive, and an adaptive suspension. If you wanted to spend slightly less and didn’t need so much power, you could opt for other models within the Durango lineup. For example, the mid-tier V8 still has a towing capacity of 7,400 pounds. Even the cheaper V6 is equipped with a 6,200 maximum towing capacity.

2. 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel (7,400 lbs)

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel - right front viewThis Jeep Grand Cherokee is fitted with a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 that produces 240 horsepower plus 420 pound-feet of torque. That’s why it’s easily considered the best SUV for towing a boat. What many people love about this SUV is the off-road capability as well.

On top of that, you’ll find that’s there a spacious, upscale cabin with all models. They’ve also included a user-friendly infotainment system which helps to complete the package. There’s a reason the Jeep brand continues to be one of the best-selling American vehicles on the road.

Best Full-Size SUV for Towing

3. 2018 Ford Expedition (9,300 lbs) – Best SUV Towing Capacity

2018 Ford Expedition - passenger side viewThis is the highest tow rating you’ll find in our list, making the Expedition the best SUV for towing anything. It’s twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine sure pulls out all the stops. That’s why it’s more powerful than many of today’s V8 engines and became the highest towing capacity SUV.

If you want this SUV towing capacity, you’ll need to opt for rear-wheel drive. Then, you’ll also need to tack on the optional Heavy Duty Trailer Tow Package which runs about $1,500. This package comes equipped with a heavy-duty radiator, integrated trailer brake controller, Pro Trailer Backup Assist, and an electronic limited-slip differential. The Pro Trailer Backup Assist is a new technology that aids the driver in backing up the trailer.

4. 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe (8,600 lbs)

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe - left rear viewWith the Chevy Tahoe, you receive a stylish vehicle powered by a 5.3-liter V8 engine that produces 355 horsepower. For maximum towing capacity, you have to pair that with the rear-wheel drive version and equip it with the Max Trailering Package. This adds another $580 to your bill.

The downside to this is that you won’t be able to take advantage of the four-wheel drive system with low range if you want to tow at capacity. It’s important to note that choosing the four-wheel drive option only takes 200 pounds off the towing capacity, so it’s still the best SUV for towing a travel trailer. Of course, putting some winter tires on this vehicle would surely help with the ice and snow performance as well, making it ideal for anyone living in the north.

5. 2018 GMC Yukon (8,500 lbs)

2018 GMC Yukon - front viewChevrolet’s sister brand produced the Yukon which is also an adventurous, fun way to tow. Not only is the cabin upscale, but it’s also highly equipped. Many drivers comment that it’s such a comfortable, smooth ride that they forget they’re driving one of the best SUVs for towing.

To get the most out of this best SUV for towing, you need to choose the base model, not the XL Yukon. This comes with a 5.3-liter V8 engine. Then, you’ll add on the HD Trailering Package to add another $580 to your bill.

6. 2018 Nissan Armada (8,500 lbs)

2018 Nissan Armada - drivers side front viewTying the Yukon as the best SUV for towing is the Armada. It comes with a 5.6-liter V8 engine that outputs 390 horsepower. This is paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission with either the rear-wheel drive system or four-wheel drive.

If you want the most towing power, you’ll choose the rear-wheel drive option and add on the Driver Package, which costs another $600. This adds a power-folding third-row seat, a trailer towing hardness connector for the brake controller, power liftgate, and fog lights.

7. 2018 Chevrolet Suburban (8,300 lbs)

2018 Chevrolet Suburban - right front viewWhile you’re going to receive slightly less pulling power with the Suburban than the Tahoe, it’s still considered to be a contender as the best SUV for towing. There’s so much space inside for your gear and people, which is why many drivers choose this over the other option. If you equip it with the front bench seat, you have room for nine people inside. If you prefer cargo space, you’ll achieve 120 cubic feet of room with the rear seats folded down.

Because the Suburban is equipped with a 5.3-liter V8 engine and 355 horsepower, it’s considered to be one of the best RV tow vehicles. If you want to get the maximum towing capacity out of this vehicle, you’ll have to choose the rear-wheel drive system and the $580 Max Trailering Package. This adds an integrated trailer brake controller plus changes the axle ratio.

8. 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser (8,100 lbs)

2018 Toyota Land Cruiser - drivers side viewUp until now, most of the options as the best SUV for towing required that you opt for rear-wheel drive. If you prefer to stick to four-wheel drive but still have decent tow ratings, then you might want to consider a Land Cruiser instead. This large SUV features a 5.7-liter V8 engine that produces 381 horsepower. This means you achieve superior towing while having optimal winter-weather traction as well.

Toyota provides an integrated towing receiver hitch standard for the four and seven-pin connectors. It also comes with a standard trailer sway control that you don’t need to pay any extra to get. This SUV doesn’t cost too much less than its counterpart the Lexus LS, but it can tow more.

9. 2018 Toyota Sequoia (7,400 lbs)

2018 Toyota Sequoia - right rear viewIf you want something larger, the Toyota Sequoia might be right for you. This upgrade goes down slightly in the quality of interior, but there’s a ton more cargo space inside. You’ll receive 120 cubic feet of storage space if you fold down the rear seats.

This best SUV for towing also comes with a 5.7-liter V8 engine that produces 381 horsepower. While the Land Cruiser is capable of hauling about 700 pounds more, the Sequoia comes at a lower price point, making it the best SUV for towing on a budget.

Best Luxury SUV for Towing

10. 2018 Lincoln Navigator (8,700 lbs)

2018 Lincoln Navigator - left front viewLincoln outdid themselves with this SUV for towing. It has the same 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine found in the Expedition. That’s what produces 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque behind this luxury SUV. The only difference is that this vehicle has some different tuning and equipment, so it can’t tow quite as much.

The upgrade comes in the higher-quality interior, user-friendly infotainment system, and comfortable seating. There’s even an option to add on a rear-seat entertainment system which is ideal for long trips on the road with family.

11. 2018 Infiniti QX80 (8,500 lbs)

2018 Infiniti QX80 - right front viewIf you want a taste of luxury, but still need the best SUV for towing, you won’t find much better than this Infiniti option. The QX80 looks like a big beast and offers a standard 5.6-liter V8 engine producing 400 horsepower. This pairs perfectly with a seven-speed automatic transmission.

For the maximum towing capacity, you’ll need the rear-wheel-drive setup. You’ll also need to opt for the Class IV trailer hitch which adds another $370 to your bill.

12. 2018 Cadillac Escalade (8,300 lbs)

best SUV for towingFor those that want a mixture of style, luxury, and towing capacity, the Escalade is a fabulous choice. Look beyond the massive chrome grille and you’ll find a 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. It’s the same engine found under the hood of the Yukon Denali.

What you’ll find with this best SUV for towing is a comfortable drive. That’s because it features an accommodating interior and magnetic ride control. Just make sure you opt for the rear-wheel drive configuration to get the highest tow rating out of this SUV.

13. 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Sport (7,716 lbs)

2018 Land Rover Range Rover Sport - front viewThe Range Rover Sport isn’t just a fine luxury vehicle, but also a great option as the best SUV for towing. It might seem like an odd number for towing capacity, but it works out to 3,500 kg. There’s a lot of flexibility with this SUV over the other ones because you could choose between three different engines and still achieve the same tow rating. Opt for the supercharged V6, supercharged V8, or the turbodiesel engine and receive the same results. You just wouldn’t be able to go with the SVR.

With the Tow Hitch Assist, drivers utilize the reversing camera combined with its sensors to line up the hitch and trailer accurately. You can also get this feature on the bigger Range Rover vehicle.

14. 2018 Audi Q7 (7,700 lbs)

2018 Audi Q7 - drivers side viewYou wouldn’t immediately think of the Q7 when you want the best SUV for towing, but it’s an option. Of course, you can’t get away with the standard four-cylinder, but instead, you’ll need to upgrade to the 3.0-liter V6. This produces 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque for maximum towing capacity. Not only does this upgrade give some additional power, but it also adds $6,500 to the bill.

Then, you’ll need the $550 towing package as well. When all is said and done, what you’re left with is one of the best luxury midsize SUVs to tow with.

15. 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class (7,500 lbs)

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class - drivers side front viewWhat’s great about the Mercedes-Benz GLS is that all of its engines are capable of the 7,500-pound towing ability. This means you could stick with the base twin-turbo V6 if you desired. The only thing you would need to add is the Class IV trailer hitch which attaches $575 to your total. This comes complete with a wiring harness for your brake lights and trailer brakes.

There’s seating for seven in this luxury SUV and it comes standard with trailer stability assist. This offers some additional peace of mind while riding in the upscale, lavish cabin of the GLS.

Picking the Best SUV for Towing

You might have noticed that our list didn’t include the best crossover for towing. That’s because crossovers aren’t built on truck chassis and won’t offer the same tow rating as our SUVs do. With that said, it’s still possible to find the best SUV for towing, no matter what class you’re looking in. You just have to know what to look for.

Here are some guidelines to help you find the vehicle that works best for you. Make sure you evaluate all the best SUVs for towing contenders by these criteria.

1. Tow Capacity

2018 Dodge Durango SRT - towing capacityThe towing capacity refers to the maximum weight that a vehicle can tow. The manufacturer sets this and it should be the first thing you consider before making a purchase. You want your SUV to control the object you plan to tow.

2. Curb Weight

This refers to the weight of a vehicle when the fuel tank is full, but there isn’t any cargo or passengers. Because fuel efficiency has become important, you’ll find that lighter SUVs are still capable of towing trailers these days. While this might be a good option for some, other people feel they have more control towing when they drive a heavier vehicle.

3. Wheelbase

A vehicle’s wheelbase refers to the distance from the front axle to the rear axle. The wheelbase is crucial for stability and control. The longer your wheelbase is the less chance you have for the towed object to weigh down your vehicle and lift the front axle.

4. Drive System

Another consideration to keep in mind is whether you want four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, or rear-wheel drive. You’ll notice in all our options as the best SUV for towing; we specified if one or the other offered better towing ability. Most of the time, to achieve the best tow rating, you’ll want rear-wheel drive. This allows all the power to the axle which bears the most weight. You’ll never want to tow with a front-wheel drive SUV because the chances of losing control are higher.

5. Transmission

Of course, opinions abound about what transmission should be in the best SUV for towing. A manual transmission might cause some distraction while shifting whereas an automatic allows you to focus safely on your driving. The bottom line is that you’ll want a transmission you’re comfortable with. The more confidence you have, the easier towing becomes. If you wouldn’t be comfortable heading down the road without manually shifting, then by all means opt for the manual choice instead.

6. Chassis Design

SUVs and trucks do differ from one another. The body-on-frame design of trucks is not the same as the ladder-like design of an SUV, but both are capable of towing. On a crossover, you have a unibody design instead. This is similar to cars and puts too much stress on the body panels when towing. That’s why it’s only recommended to tow heavy objects with an SUV or truck body. You need the extra strength that these chassis provide.

7. Tow Package

2018 Chevy Tahoe - tow packageYou need more than just a ball hitch to tow effectively. Choosing a tow package is normally well worth the investment. Most times the package offers a better suspension, bigger radiator, better brakes, plus a transmission that sends more power to the drive wheels. All of these components work together to create a more powerful vehicle that can handle heavy loads. In fact, without a tow package, you won’t get the same tow rating capacity as what we’ve listed for most of the vehicles.

Final Thoughts

There’s so much information out there related to the best SUV for towing. You’ll have to put in some research and determine what needs are important to you. Then, it won’t be as difficult trying to make the decision that works in your life. Whether you opt for a mid-size, full size, or luxury SUV, it’s essential that you take the steps necessary to ensure you remain safe on the road.

Just imagine all the places you could go and things you could see with the best SUV for towing. You can spend weekends on the lake with your boat. You could also travel to the national parks throughout the country while pulling your family’s RV behind you. There’s no limit to the fun and adventure waiting for you in the best SUV for towing.

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Brian Jones
About Brian Jones

I am an ASE Certified Master Tech, but spend more time with my awesome family now than I do on cars. In my spare time, you'll still find me playing with tools, cars and many other "manly" gadgets.

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