You’re everyone’s best friend if you have a truck or sport utility vehicle that can haul a boat to the lake, a camping trailer to the woods, or even lumber from the home supply store. Finding the best SUV for towing or the best truck for towing means researching its capability plus tongue weight and trailer hitch requirements, so we’ve done some of the work for you.
We found vehicles ranked highly by both experts and consumers on Kelley Blue Book (KBB) and Edmunds, grouped them by type and towing capacity, and described the features that might be most important to you. All you have to do is decide what type of adventure you’re seeking.
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Best trucks for towing
We divided the selected trucks into three weight classes, up to 20,000 pounds. There are heavy-duty trucks in the market capable of hauling heftier loads (i.e., fifth-wheel recreational vehicles), but we focused on vehicles capable of hauling lighter campers and boats.
We’ll start with the trucks that can tow up to 7,500 pounds.
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1. 2020 Honda Ridgeline
- 4.4 out of 5
- $33,900 starting MSRP
- 22/19/26 MPG combined/city/highway
The Ridgeline offers a unique combination of a car-like ride with the capabilities of a pickup. While it may not have much in the way of off-road capabilities, it handles runs to the lumber yard and campgrounds with ease.
A lockable in-bed trunk and a two-way tailgate that can drop down or swing out to the side give the Ridgeline some SUV-like features. But because it’s built on a unibody chassis, it doesn’t have as much towing capacity as a truck with steel frame construction like a car.
Every Ridgeline model comes with an integrated Class III trailer hitch and a seven-pin connector. Front-wheel drive is standard on the Sport and RTL models, with all-wheel drive (AWD) as an option (which you’ll need to achieve maximum towing capacity), while AWD is standard on the RTL-E and Black Edition.
Honda has made AWD standard on all 2021 models, but we stuck with the previous year’s model with fewer available reviews.
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2. 2021 Ford Ranger SuperCrew
- 4.2 out of 5
- $27,220 starting MSRP
- 23/21/26 MPG combined/city/highway
The midsize Ranger delivers many of the capabilities of a full-size truck in a more maneuverable and manageable package. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides a lot of torque for its size, just what you need for pulling a family-sized boat or camping trailer.
The XL trim level includes trailer towing provisions like four-pin wiring and trailer sway control, as well as an array of standard driver-assist technologies.
Other technologies, including blind-spot warning and cross-traffic alert for the trailer, bump up to the XLT or Lariat trim levels. The XLT SuperCrew, starting at $31,045, includes the Ford Co-Pilot360 safety assist features package and more tech, including an LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and an 8-inch touch screen.
With the Lariat level, the $35,085 starting price includes luxury touches like leather seating surfaces and LED exterior lighting.
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Up to 13,000 pounds
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3. 2021 Ford F-150
- 4.38 out of 5
- $28,940 starting MSRP
- 21/20/24 MPG combined/city/highway
The F-150 has been one of the best-selling vehicles for years, and it’s no wonder. It’s a workhorse ready for both work and play, with enough comfort for a family grocery run and enough power to go to work.
The hardest part will be configuring its wide variety of bed sizes, cabs, and powertrains, including a hybrid, a diesel and turbocharged, and standard six-cylinder power plants. The price above is for the F-150’s base trim with a regular cab and 6.5-foot bed, but there’s a whole range of towing capacities based on engine size, axle ratio, and option packages.
With the Ecoboost V6 twin-turbo and the Max Trailer Tow Package, for example, you could tow up to 14,000 pounds. Depending on your budget, the higher-cost trim levels offer more technology and upgraded materials for a more luxurious ride: One option is the fully-loaded 4×4 SuperCrew PowerBoost, which could cost nearly $80,000.
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4. 2021 Ram 1500 Crew Cab
- 4.18 out of 5
- $37,440 starting MSRP
- 22/20/25 MPG combined/city/highway
The Ram 1500 has been praised for a pleasant driving experience compared to other trucks in its class. Like other trucks on this list, it offers various cab and bed options to fit your hauling needs.
There are less expensive models starting at $32,795, but to get maximum towing power, you’ll most likely need to upgrade from the standard V6 to a V8 or diesel engine.
Then there are optional packages, including a full trailer tow group, a $1,990 option that includes trailer reverse steering control. Using the 8.4-inch in-dash screen, the driver controls the trailer’s direction with a knob in the center stack, guiding the trailer while the system handles the steering.
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Up to 20,000 pounds
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5. 2021 Chevrolet Silverado Double Cab
- 4.13 out of 5
- $29,300 starting MSRP
- 18/16/21 MPG combined/city/highway
The Silverado has been built with towing in mind, but it won’t come cheap. To get the maximum towing capacity possible, you’ll need to opt for a four-wheel drive, a V8 engine, and the double cab, which raises the starting price to around $40,000 — that’s a significant bump from the base $29,300 MSRP. Engine, bed, and cab configurations are seemingly endless (the Silverado has eight trim levels, four beds, cab combos, and several engine options, including a diesel).
Upper trims may come with trailering packages offering up to eight cameras with 15 different views to make hitching and towing a trailer more manageable, as well as onboard tech like trailer sway control, hill start assist, automatic grade braking, jack-knife alert, trailer length indicator, and a trailer angle indicator.
The Technology package, available only on the LTZ and High Country, offers a 360-degree parking camera, a bed-view camera, and provisions for two trailer cameras for maneuvering in tight spots. Available on all models, the multi-flex tailgate makes it easy to access the cargo bed and move loads in and out.
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6. 2021 Ford F-250 Super Cab
- 4.59 out of 5
- $34,230 starting MSRP
The Super Duty group of F-250, F-350, and F-450 is a perennial favorite for people who need to take their hauling and towing capabilities to the next level but still have a truck suitable to everyday use.
Next-level towing requires leveling up the options — you’ll need 4×4 and a 6.7-liter diesel V8 to get maximum towing capacity on the F-250, which can cost $50,000 and up. Trailer technology is built-in, with backup assist and reverse guidance for all types of trailers.
An optional high-mount camera provides a view of the bed, helpful with a fifth-wheel or gooseneck trailer. The Ultimate Trailer Tow package includes a camera system that offers a view of all sides of the truck. The optional blind spot information system sounds an alert when a vehicle occupies the lane next to the truck or the trailer.
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Best SUVs for towing
SUVs are generally designed for lighter RVs, boats, utility trailers, and similar vehicles. While an SUV won’t handle the same load as a full-size pickup, you should be able to select the best SUV to tow a boat or trailer.
SUVs are a good option when you need room to carry passengers and their gear more often than you’ll need to tow. Like trucks, we divided the SUVs into classes based on towing capacity.
We’ll start with the SUVs that can tow up to 7,200 pounds.
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7. 2020 Nissan Pathfinder
- 3.88 out of 5
- $31,980 starting MSRP
- 23/20/27 MPG combined/city/highway
Unlike the trucks we featured earlier, the Pathfinder’s towing capacity is the same regardless of trim level, so you don’t have to choose between luxury and utility.
However, you will need to add a tow hitch receiver ($250) to the S, SV, and SL trims or upgrade to the Rock Creek Editions of the SL and SV or the Platinum level. The Pathfinder is as at home on rough terrain as it is at the school drop-off run.
The third-row seating means there’s seating for seven passengers, and it’s a little roomier in the second row compared to some of its competitors — plus, the rear passengers can make themselves comfortable with a three-zone climate control system.
While the Pathfinder has some amenities like a hands-free liftgate and rear-seat entertainment systems, it lags behind competitors with some of the latest tech companies like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
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8. 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee
- 4.25 out of 5
- $34,645 starting MSRP
- 21/19/26 MPG combined/city/highway
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is available with two-wheel drive, or you can opt for one of the four available 4×4 systems to keep your adventure rolling after the pavement ends.
It’s available in seven main trim levels, from the mild Laredo to the wild Trackhawk. You’ll need to start with the Trailhawk in the middle of the trim pack to reach the Cherokee’s maximum towing power and opt for one of the more powerful V8 engines, all of which can run up the starting price to around $45,000. Upper trims also deliver leather-wrapped comfort, heated and ventilated front seating, and premium audio options.
Engine options include a 6-cylinder and three different V8 choices, all with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The base Laredo is also well equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert — you can add a trailer package for $995. If you need more passenger room, the just-launched Grand Cherokee L is a three-row model with a starting price of $36,995.
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Up to 8,700 pounds
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9. 2020 Cadillac Escalade
- 3.94 out of 5
- $75,195 starting MSRP
- 17/14/23 MPG combined/city/highway
If you need three-row seating to haul the family while towing toys, the Escalade blends luxury and muscle, with a stout towing capacity of up to 8,300 pounds in the two-wheel-drive models — plus, a towing package is standard on all models.
You’ll also get standard technology and comfort touches: These include adaptive suspension, automatic parallel and perpendicular parking assist, a hands-free liftgate, three-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated power-adjustable front seats, a surround-view parking camera system, a navigation system, and a Bose 16-speaker audio system.
For a few extra add-ons, Edmunds’ experts recommend stepping up to the Premium Luxury trim, which includes adaptive cruise control, a rear entertainment system, and a more advanced collision mitigation system that controls automaking braking in forward and reverse.
For 2021, the Escalade underwent a significant technology upgrade, adding curved OLED displays, advanced driver assistance systems, and redesigned styling cues — however, with fewer available consumer reviews, we went with the previous year’s model.
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10. 2021 Dodge Durango
- 3.96 out of 5
- $32,245 starting MSRP
- 21/19/26 MPG combined/city/highway
The 2021 Durango offers a range of towing capacities — 6,200, 7,400, and 8,700 pounds — for toys, work trailers, and anything that needs a little extra pull. Dodge calls it “a muscle car for people with families,” and the experts at Edmunds think it lives up to that hype.
But to get that maximum towing power, you’ll need at least the mid-tier R/T trim with AWD and the towing package — that brings the starting price to over $48,000.
It handles up to 8,700 pounds, with an integrated adjustable trailer brake controller and a dedicated tow driving mode. It gets its oomph from the standard 5.7-liter Hemi V8 and eight-speed automatic transmission. On the styling side, wide-body flares, black wheels, and other accents help the Durango stand out.
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Ways to finance the best trucks and SUVs for towing
Before you go shopping for a truck or SUV that’s ready to haul what you have in mind, shop around for your auto loan. Check with your bank, credit union, or online lender to receive up to five auto loan offers from lenders, depending on your creditworthiness.
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Tips for finding the best trucks and SUVs for towing
As you can see, it’s unlikely that the base models of most trucks and SUVs we picked will offer the maximum towing capacity, so be prepared to look for higher trim levels.
A tow or trailering package — necessary to take that boat to the lake or that RV to the campground — may be included on every vehicle, part of a trim level upgrade, or an individual upgrade.
The factory tow package usually consists of the receiver hitch, electrical connection for the trailer lights, and, depending on the vehicle, beefed-up suspension, a transmission oil cooler, and other components designed to carry the load.
When you’re shopping for a vehicle, it’s helpful to have a specific load in mind so you can match the weight of the trailer and its contents with the towing capacity of the vehicle.
Before you hitch up that horse trailer or pull a skid loader to the job site, consult the owner’s manual or manufacturer’s towing guide. It’ll provide detailed information, such as the vehicle’s towing capacity, tongue weight, and trailer hitch requirements.
This article originally appeared on LendingTree.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.
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