SUV Towing Capacity

Updated September 21, 2018
black suv towing a boat

If you're looking to purchase an SUV for doing more than just driving around town, then you're probably interested in the SUV towing capacity of different makes and models. While a high towing capacity is useful, it's important to balance it against fuel consumption. If you buy a powerful SUV with high towing capacity, you may find the vehicle costs too much to drive for commuting or travelling long distances.

Understanding SUV Towing Capacity

Learning the towing capacity of any vehicle is complex. While many think it is simply the weight your SUV can tow, there are different factors that give your SUV a certain towing capacity.

Factors of Towing Capacity

Many factors are included in a vehicle's towing capacity.

  • Towing capacity actually includes anything above the overall weight of the SUV when it is unloaded of all cargo and passengers.
  • Towing capacity includes weight of occupants, everything you've loaded into the trunk or strapped to the top of the car, and even the weight of the fuel. This is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.
  • It also includes the Gross Axle Weight Rating, or maximum weight you can place on front and rear axles.

For example, if your SUV has a towing capacity of 5,000 lbs, his means that it can haul cargo and a loaded trailer with a combined weight of 5,000 lbs. Therefore, if you are carrying 1,000 lbs of passengers and luggage, you can tow a loaded trailer with a weight of 4,000 lbs.

Other Considerations

To calculate the SUV towing capacity you must also consider:

  • Overall horsepower of the engine - More power greatly improves towing capacity, but it also greatly reduces fuel economy.
  • Engine torque - Towing requires a lower RPM torque.
  • Type and quality of the transmission - The transmission takes the brunt of the abuse when you're towing very large loads up and down hills.
  • Strength of the axles under your vehicle - The rear axles typically play a much larger role in increasing the towing ability of an SUV.
  • Braking system - Larger vehicles with the ability to tow more require stronger and more durable braking systems that can slow down even the largest loads.
  • Vehicle frame - The materials used in the frame, as well as factors like wheelbase, impact how much you can or can't tow.
  • Trailer hitch rating - The trailer hitch is usually rated from Class I through Class IV, which translates to a 2,000-pound capacity to an impressive 10,000-pound capacity.

Finding Towing Capacity

If you are looking for the towing capacity of your vehicle, you can find it in your owner's manual. However, if you are shopping for a new SUV, then you can look for the towing capacity on the manufacturer's website. For example, Ford commonly offers their manuals and towing capacity information for several models online. It is also important to find the weight of trailer you are hauling. This should be listed on capacity plate or you can find it in the owner's manual. Additionally, you can find a general weight for trailers online through charts, if all else fails.

Top 5 SUVs for Towing

While there are several SUVs that will carry your load. There are a few popular models that include an impressive tow package.

Ford Expedition

The Ford Expedition is a popular model that can fit your family and tow your trailer or RV. This model was ranked among top SUVs with the best towing by U.S. News and World Report. It boasts a maximum towing capacity of 9,300 lbs.

2018 Black Ford Expedition
2018 Ford Expedition

Toyota RAV4 Trail

This popular 2018 model offered an impressive towing capacity of 3,500 lbs. It was featured among Top 2018 Vehicles with Surprising Towing Capacity by The Car Guide.

2018 Toyota RAV4
2018 Toyota RAV4

Audi Q7

Featured among a list in MotorTrend, the Audi Q7 had an impressive towing capacity of 7,700 lbs. And, it was able to do this with a smaller engine size than some competitors.

2018 Audi Q7 on display
2018 Audi Q7

Lincoln Navigator

Also found on the U.S. New's list was the 2018 Lincoln Navigator. This 3.5 liter engine had a towing capacity of 8,700 lbs.

2018 Lincoln Navigator
2018 Lincoln Navigator

Jeep Cherokee

If you are talking about popular vehicles for towing and getting around, you can't forget the Jeep. This model has a 2,000 lb. towing capacity and looks cool doing it. It was also listed fourth among popular SUVs by CarMax.

2019 Jeep Cherokee on display
2019 Jeep Cherokee

Finding Your Towing SUV

The list above only scratches the surface of the SUVs on the market that can do all of the heavy lifting for your family. Regardles of what your style preferences, there's an SUV that can tow your stuff to fit your budget.

SUV Towing Capacity