Best SUVs For Towing: 4x4, Diesel, Luxury and More

Best SUVs For Towing: 4x4, Diesel, Luxury and More

Summer is almost here, bringing with it the promise of a much-needed vacation. If you plan to go boating or caravaning this year, you’ll need a car that’s tough enough to lug your cargo through steep country passes. That doesn’t mean you need to get a pickup, however. 

You might be surprised to learn that SUVs are also capable of towing heavy loads, with the 2021 Ford Explorer rated up to 5,600lbs. That’s 2,100lbs more than the base 2021 Ford Ranger. Large SUVs are even more capable, with the latest-generation 2021 Chevrolet Suburban touting a max towing weight of 8,300lbs. 

There are a few reasons for this, but they all stem from recent advancements in automotive technology. Put simply, chassis and powertrain technology have matured to a point where SUVs are able to haul more weight than previously possible. It also helps that many SUVs are based on existing pick-up trucks, and vice versa. Modern Chevrolet Suburban models, for example, are based on the Silverado. 

But what is the best SUV for towing? The answer depends on your own personal preferences. Do you favor diesel over gasoline? Do you want something that runs cheaply, or are you more interested in a vehicle luxury touches? Whatever you want, there’s a powerful SUV for everyone.

Towing tips for beginners

You might be a seasoned professional when it comes to towing. Hauling boats and motorhomes through narrow country passes may be familiar territory to you. Or you may be a total newcomer, in which case, there are a few things you need to know. 

  • Weight matters. Before you embark on your journey, make sure you’re not pulling more than the gross vehicle weight and combined weight for both the SUV and the trailer. 
  • It’s also important to check your brakes are working. The way you do this differs depending on whether your trailer has electric brakes, electric-over-hydraulic brakes, or surge brakes. For more information, check your trailer’s handbook. 
  • Driving will feel different. Since your SUV is carrying extra weight, acceleration and braking times will be affected. Take this into account while driving, and leave plenty of space between your car and others. 
  • Maneuvering is also impacted by that extra weight, and you should avoid making sharp turns. As a general rule, the trailer will always turn sharper than the vehicle pulling it, and if you’re not careful, you can find yourself colliding with the curb or other cars.

The Best SUVs for Towing

The Best 4x4 for Towing

The Best 4x4 for Towing

Enter the 2019 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro (from $51,000). This beast of an SUV boasts a 5,000 lbs maximum towing capacity, putting it ahead of some entry-level pickup trucks. This is more than enough to lug a small two-berth camper trailer, or a small recreational boat. 

In addition, the 4Runner is fully loaded with everything you need for a long drive, including an intuitive touchscreen navigation system, cruise control, satellite radio, and heated front seats.

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The Best 4x4 for Towing

Enter the 2019 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro (from $51,000). This beast of an SUV boasts a 5,000 lbs maximum towing capacity, putting it ahead of some entry-level pickup trucks. This is more than enough to lug a small two-berth camper trailer, or a small recreational boat. 

In addition, the 4Runner is fully loaded with everything you need for a long drive, including an intuitive touchscreen navigation system, cruise control, satellite radio, and heated front seats.

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The Best Diesel SUV for Towing

The Best Diesel SUV for Towing

The affordable 2015 Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTec (from $23,000) is affordable, certainly. But that doesn’t mean it can’t pull its weight. With a rated maximum towing capacity of 7,500lbs, the GL 350 is capable of pulling some of the larger four-berth camper trailers on the market.

Besides that, you get all the finer touches you’d expect from a Benz, including heated leather seats, inbuilt navigation, parking assistance, and a sophisticated entertainment system.

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The Best Diesel SUV for Towing

The affordable 2015 Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTec (from $23,000) is affordable, certainly. But that doesn’t mean it can’t pull its weight. With a rated maximum towing capacity of 7,500lbs, the GL 350 is capable of pulling some of the larger four-berth camper trailers on the market.

Besides that, you get all the finer touches you’d expect from a Benz, including heated leather seats, inbuilt navigation, parking assistance, and a sophisticated entertainment system.

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The Best Luxury SUV for Towing

The Best Luxury SUV for Towing

No surprises here. The Land Rover brand was founded to create rugged vehicles capable of pulling heavy loads and thriving in the most challenging of environments. You can see that heritage in the Land Rover’s 2018 Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic HSE (from $59,000). With a maximum towing capacity of 5,512lbs, this luxurious SUV can handle heavy loads.

And you won’t be uncomfortable. The heated seats and steering wheel guarantee you’ll stay toasty on cold nighttime drives, while the built-in Wi-Fi hotspot and hard disk media storage will keep your passengers entertained on even the longest of trips.

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The Best Luxury SUV for Towing

No surprises here. The Land Rover brand was founded to create rugged vehicles capable of pulling heavy loads and thriving in the most challenging of environments. You can see that heritage in the Land Rover’s 2018 Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic HSE (from $59,000). With a maximum towing capacity of 5,512lbs, this luxurious SUV can handle heavy loads.

And you won’t be uncomfortable. The heated seats and steering wheel guarantee you’ll stay toasty on cold nighttime drives, while the built-in Wi-Fi hotspot and hard disk media storage will keep your passengers entertained on even the longest of trips.

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The Best Economical SUV for Towing

The Best Economical SUV for Towing

As a general rule, the more fuel-efficient the car, the less weight it can pull. This is apparent when we look at cars like the 2017 Mini Countryman, which tops out at 750lbs, or the 2017 Nissan Murano, with a maximum rating of 1,500lbs. 

But you know what they say about rules? They’re made to be broken. Enter the formidable 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan S (from $20,000), which can happily pull over 5,000lbs, and yet enjoys typical mileage of 21MPG in the city and 27MPG on the highway. 

And while it’s not the most well-equipped or luxurious car we’ve listed (when it comes to interior trims, leather seats beat cloth), there are still some handy bells and whistles, including a reversing camera, cruise control, and USB-in. 

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The Best Economical SUV for Towing

As a general rule, the more fuel-efficient the car, the less weight it can pull. This is apparent when we look at cars like the 2017 Mini Countryman, which tops out at 750lbs, or the 2017 Nissan Murano, with a maximum rating of 1,500lbs. 

But you know what they say about rules? They’re made to be broken. Enter the formidable 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan S (from $20,000), which can happily pull over 5,000lbs, and yet enjoys typical mileage of 21MPG in the city and 27MPG on the highway. 

And while it’s not the most well-equipped or luxurious car we’ve listed (when it comes to interior trims, leather seats beat cloth), there are still some handy bells and whistles, including a reversing camera, cruise control, and USB-in. 

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Happy Driving

From 4x4 powerhouses to luxury motors, we’ve covered four of the best SUVs for towing. And when you buy with Shift, you can rest assured that your new ride won’t break down on your next trip. All our vehicles are backed with a seven-day returns period and a 150-point pre-sale inspection by a qualified mechanic, and our certified vehicles come with a free 30-day warranty. 

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Author
Shift Editorial Team