Best SUVs for Towing for 2023
The best SUVs for towing are determined based on analyzing all vehicle models and their maximum towing capacities.
The best subcompact SUV for towing is the Jeep Compass (2,000 lbs max towing capacity), with the Audi Q3 being the best luxury subcompact SUV for towing (4,400 lbs max towing capacity). The Jeep Cherokee ranks #1 for the best small and compact SUVs for towing (4,000 lbs max towing capacity).
The best luxury small and compact SUV for towing is the Land Rover Defender (8,201 lbs max towing capacity) and the best midsize SUV for towing is the Dodge Durango (8,700 lbs max towing capacity). Topping the list for the best luxury midsize SUVs for towing is the Land Rover Discovery (8,200 lbs max towing capacity), while the Ford Expedition ranks first for the best large SUVs for towing (9,300 lbs max towing capacity).
The best luxury large SUV for towing is the Lincoln Navigator (8,700 lbs max towing capacity), with the Dodge Durango being the best crossover SUV for towing (8,700 lbs max towing capacity). The Land Rover Discovery ranks #1 for the best luxury crossover SUVs for towing (8,200 lbs max towing capacity).
The best three-row SUV for towing is the Ford Expedition (9,300 lbs max towing capacity) and the best luxury three-row SUV for towing is the Lincoln Navigator (8,700 lbs max towing capacity). Topping the list for the best hybrid SUVs for towing is the Toyota Sequoia (hybrid) (9,520 lbs max towing capacity), while the Porsche Cayenne (Plug-in Hybrid) ranks first for the best luxury hybrid SUVs for towing (7,700 lbs max towing capacity).
The best plug-in hybrid SUV for towing (PHEV) is the Jeep Grand Cherokee (Plug-in Hybrid) (6,000 lbs max towing capacity), with the Porsche Cayenne (Plug-in Hybrid) being the best luxury plug-in hybrid SUVs for towing (PHEV) (7,700 lbs max towing capacity). The Rivian R1S ranks #1 for the best electric SUVs for towing (7,700 lbs max towing capacity).
The best luxury electric SUV for towing is the Rivian R1S (7,700 lbs max towing capacity) and the best 7-seater SUV for towing is the Ford Expedition (9,300 lbs max towing capacity). Topping the list for the best hybrid 7-seater SUVs for towing is the Toyota Sequoia (hybrid) (9,520 lbs max towing capacity), while the Lincoln Navigator ranks first for the best luxury 7-seater SUVs for towing (8,700 lbs max towing capacity).
The best electric luxury 7-seater SUV for towing is the Rivian R1S (7,700 lbs max towing capacity), which is also the best electric luxury 7-seater SUV for towing.
When it comes to vehicles with heavy hauling capabilities, pickup trucks usually come to mind. However, there are many SUVs that, when properly equipped, can tow nearly as much or more than compact pickup trucks. That means if you need a vehicle for going off road and towing a boat or camper, but don’t require a pickup truck for day-to-day payload hauling, an SUV with a four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive system may suit your needs.
Full-size SUVs with a body-on-frame chassis, like the Chevrolet Suburban and its GMC Yukon XL stablemate, will offer the highest tow weight ratings. These large SUVs offer more than just a third-row of seating. They can be equipped with a max trailering package that includes a larger radiator, a tow hitch, and a trailer brake controller. Most large three-row SUVs, including the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, and the Toyota Sequoia, offer similar upgrades to better manage trailer weight.
It’s important to note that for a vehicle to achieve max towing capability, you will likely need to opt for some form of heavy-duty trailer tow package installed by the factory or dealership at the time of purchase. These tow packages include not only a trailer hitch, trailer sway control, and other safety features, but also wiring and special equipment that help ensure your vehicle can handle the added stress of towing. This can include powertrain enhancements like transmission coolers and a higher capacity alternator, plus cameras to improve visibility when hooking a trailer up, such as Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist.
While large SUVs tow the maximum weight, smaller SUVs can deliver surprising towing and hauling capabilities and offer superior fuel efficiency. Automotive technology has created twin-turbo V6 and gasoline V8 engines with horsepower and fuel economy figures previously reserved for large turbo-diesel engines.
Best Towing Features
While cars and minivans can be equipped with a tow hitch, and may technically have trailer weight ratings and towing ability, only trucks and SUVs are likely to have the most helpful towing features and technology. Some key features to look for when buying a vehicle for towing include:
Electronic Trailer-Sway Control: Similar to stability control for cars, trailer-sway control can sense when a trailer is sliding sideways (maybe during a sudden evasive maneuver) and counter it by adjusting the brake and throttle of the tow vehicle
Four- and Seven-Pin Trailer Connector: You need to hook up taillights and brake lights to your trailer, which use either a four- or seven-pin wiring harness; having both connectors on a tow vehicle means you’re covered for every trailer type
Integrated Trailer Brake Controller: Coordinates the tow vehicle’s brake system with the trailer’s brake system, and lets drivers adjust them to ensure the two systems work together for balanced braking between both vehicles
Tow/Haul Mode: This changes the programming for a tow vehicle’s automatic transmission settings, altering when upshifts and downshifts occur to reduce strain on the engine, transmission and brake system
Trailer Hitch Camera: Hooking up a trailer is pretty straightforward when you can see both the trailer and the hitch; some new models offer advanced guidance systems that make aligning the hitch and trailer very easy
Calculating Your GVWR When Towing
Once you’ve confirmed your towing needs consider which vehicle categories can serve them and browse the rankings below. In addition to each vehicle’s maximum towing capacity we’ve included (when available) the maximum payload, the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and the curb weight for all models.
With these figures you can calculate how much total weight you can add to your vehicle, which is essentially the difference between its curb weight and GVWR. You should never exceed the GVWR, which includes the curb weight plus the weight of all passengers, cargo, and the tongue weight of your trailer. Tongue weight is approximately 10 percent of the trailer’s total weight, and it must also not push a vehicle's total weight past its GVWR.
How We Rank These Cars
The best towing vehicle lists rank vehicles by their maximum towing capacity.
The maximum towing capacity is the highest towing rating across all trim levels for a given vehicle model. In the event there is a tie, we use iSeeCars proprietary rating of the overall quality of the car (iSeeCars Score) to break the tie.
The overall iSeeCars Score is an analysis of three factors: reliability, resale value and safety. It is calculated based on the latest research and analysis by our data science team. The data analysis comes from over 12 million new and used vehicles in our Longest-Lasting Cars and 5-Year Depreciation Studies, combined with NHTSA and IIHS Safety Ratings.
Vehicles are scored in three categories:
Reliability | 33.3%
The reliability score represents an analysis of iSeeCars' proprietary research on the longest-lasting vehicles.
Value Retention | 33.3%
The value retention score is based on our data science team's statistical analysis and prediction of 5-year depreciation from MSRP to determine which cars hold their value best, using US Bureau of Labor Statistics data to adjust for inflation.
Safety | 33.3%
The safety score is calculated based on the last five years of crash test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and incorporates the latest Top Safety Pick information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).