Having all the stuff that you need for your next trip and then some without any restriction on cargo space must be an awesome feeling. There is no better alternative than to use a travel trailer. Sure enough, motorhomes are what come to most people’s minds when we mention RVs, but travel trailers aren’t in any way inferior.
They just suit different owners. If you’ve already got a car, such as one of the SUVs mentioned below, then a travel trailer saves money and adds cargo space (additional cargo space from your car as well).
If you are somebody who already has a travel trailer or fifth wheel (or your family is planning to purchase one), then this article is for you. We will shed light on some of the most popular SUVs for you to choose from, but not based on regular criteria, but on a travel trailer compatibility standpoint.
Ranking these SUVs is a particularly tricky task, so I will just include them all here for you to rank them based on your preferences and further inspection. For that reason, there is no order on this list. Let’s find out which are the best SUVs for towing travel trailers.
First, let’s try to understand why we would recommend an SUV for towing travel trailers. Among all the different types of automobiles that can compete with the SUV in this category, the trucks or pickup trucks definitely are a cut above the rest as the best vehicles for towing campers.
When put on the scale with SUVs, trucks and pickup trucks are superior to SUVs in various aspects: towing capacity, number of towable travel trailer types, types of hitches that are towable.
Even in the face of such adversity, SUVs have emerged as one of the most prominent choices for towing due to their affordability and gas mileage, the towing capacity is no joke either. The SUVs have the added benefit of being smaller (can fit into more parking lots), a more all-purpose type of vehicle which is everything a family can ask for.
Best SUVs for Towing Travel Trailers
What is it that we are looking for in an SUV in order to be one of the best tow vehicles for travel trailers? To sum up, there are the towing capacity, seating comfort, durability, looks, reliability, size (compact, mid-size, full-size) which we have looked into.
1. Audi Q5
First off on our list of best SUVs for towing a camper is Audi Q5. The Audi Q5 is one of the compact SUVs that can effectively tow a small travel trailer. The Audi Q5’s max towing capacity is 4,400 pounds, a rare figure for a car its size. You will probably see a lot of compact SUVs on the roads with caravans hitched to the back of them.
When properly equipped, the base engine variant will perform as mentioned, but the plug-in hybrid can only tow 2000 pounds max, as the battery pack being heavy makes the engine subjected to having a lot more to pull compared to the base variant.
All in all, when you have such weight on board, then there must be a trade off on the towable weight left for the travel trailer. Fifth wheeling is therefore much less recommended for hybrids and plug-in hybrids.
2. Toyota Land Cruiser
The legendary Toyota Land Cruiser is a full-size SUV with all the benefits of a tough, powerful off-roader. This car has a lot of space for you and your family, despite its rough handling, it still is a car to desire due to its legendary reliability and masculinity. Full-size SUVs are generally expected to pull a lot more than the midsize and small-size counterparts, and the Land Cruiser is no exception to this rule.
The 2020 Land Rover can pull up to 8,100 lbs. This car is still going strong after 70 years on the market, still beating out most of its competitors in the off-road category, earning its place as one of the flagship models in every Toyota lineup ever since the first Land Cruisers came to existence.
Despite that, it is also worthy of note that the Land Cruiser is beaten by many other luxury SUVs in terms of on-road experience, and obviously, when it comes to looks.
3. Nissan Armada
The Nissan Armada is another full-size SUV that is very capable in terms of towing capacity. The newest models such as the 2021 Nissan Armada can tow around 8,500 lbs. This model is constantly revamped by Nissan.
The radiator supports are now V-shaped, the 8-inch screen has been replaced by a 12.3-inch screen and better resolution, etc. Even the engine got a slight boost from 390 to 400 hp. Keep in mind that the 8500 lbs figure is only achieved through properly equipping your connection from the car to the fifth wheel.
For the 2021 model, a standard integrated Trailer Brake Controller was added along with tow hitch receivers. With its reputation as an SUV with high towing capacity, you can safely pull most of the travel trailers out there.
4. Jeep Grand Cherokee
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a very powerful SUV, ranking amongst the highest in towing capacity for mid-size SUVs. The only difference between the Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Grand Cherokee is the size, and therefore towing capacity, so don’t be mistaken when you’re trying to identify the Grand Cherokee.
Specifically, only the SRT and the Trackhawk versions of the Grand Cherokee are capable of such feats, due to their 6.4L and 6.2L supercharged V8 engines respectively, granting 645 pound-feet of torque.
Thanks to its incredible power, you can tow pop-up campers, hybrid trailers, teardrop trailers, you name it. Keep in mind the trims and years of your Grand Cherokee to buy the most suitable campers to go with it.
5. Ford Escape
Who says a compact SUV can’t tow anything? Not everyone can afford a full-size SUV just so they can tow a boat. The Ford Escape proves that it can be one of the best SUVs for towing travel trailers. This compact SUV can tow up to 3,500 lbs, of course, with the right equipment.
Keep in mind that only the 2.0L EcoBoost engine can produce such a pulling force. There are also some more powertrains to choose from such as the hybrid or plug-in hybrids, but they won’t give you as much towing force.
The Ford Escape’s interior varies by model types, the base models only come with 4.2-inch radio displays and AM/FM radio, whereas the other higher trim levels give you 8.0-inch touchscreens and above. The Escape is overall very practical and fairly sized.
6. Dodge Durango
The standard Dodge Durango all-wheel-drive which comes with the 6.4L HEMI V8 engine is the man amongst men in the mid-size segment. It is nicely trimmed, spacious with an incredibly hefty towing capacity of 8700lbs, which is what you are here for.
You can even tow two travel trailers at once with this car. Keep in mind that this car is in the mid-size SUV bracket, so it is actually beating every other mid-size SUVs by a wide margin.
Other than that, everything about the Durango is acceptable: the infotainment is easy-to-use, the safety standards, fuel economy, and the maneuverability are nothing outstanding. You might want to take this car with your family on your next boat trip.
7. Land Rover Discovery
Land Rover is an English luxury automobile company and as you might expect, its products are quite well received by the masses. What about their towing capacities? I must say I’m quite surprised and impressed by the Discovery being able to tow 7,700 lbs easily.
Other than being one of the best towing SUVs, the Land Rover Discovery is an excellent off-road vehicle which comes with top-of-the-line interior features and a lot of cargo space.
One other thing that should be noted is the Discovery’s price starting out as rather average within the luxury mid-size range. Overall, one of the best mid-size SUVs for towing a travel trailer that also maintains awesome off-road maneuverability and first-rate interiors.
8. Kia Sportage
Kia Sportage truly shines when towing a braked travel trailer. For a compact crossover SUV, Sportage’s 4400lbs of towing capacity is a force to be reckoned with.
There are several engine choices that come with Kia Sportage: 1.6L/2.0L/2.5L gas, 1.6L/2.0L diesel, also you can choose base, hybrid, or plug-in hybrid.
The Kia Sportage ranks high in many compact crossover SUV rankings due to its spacious cargo hold, easy-to-use infotainment system, and excellent driving experience.
9. Chevrolet Suburban
The Chevrolet Suburban is a large family SUV that is as cutting edge as it looks. Just by taking a quick look at this bad boy, you can surmise the over-the-top cargo capacity, and that is not all.
Coupled with a 5.3L V8 engine (2-wheel-drive) and equipped with the Max Trailering Package, it can pull the heaviest of travel trailers with 8300lbs towing capacity. Not ending there, this Suburban can reach 108mph in speed with its impressive engine, 21 city mpg, 27 highway mpg, excellent safety features, and gives your kids a lot of room to move around even with a lot of cargo.
It might be a little bit tricky to maneuver, however. Recently, Chevrolet has released an option of 6.2L V8 engine to further expand your choices on the road. With its impressive readings, the Suburban proves itself to be one of the best SUVs to tow a travel trailer.
10. Ford Expedition
This one definitely is up there as one of the best-in-class heavy duty travel trailer towers. With a towing capacity of around 9,300 lbs, the Ford Expedition nonchalantly blows every other car out of the water.
This beast of a machine when equipped with the right powertrain and trailering technologies such as the standard Heavy-duty trailer tow package, alongside its 3.5L EcoBoost engine that produces up to 375 hp and 470lb-ft, will certainly deliver the desired performance.
This heavyweight is here to get things done. In particular, the Expedition Platinum will give the best numbers when it comes to towing given the above towing package. If you’re looking for the best SUVs for towing RVs based on performance alone, then the Ford Expedition is all you need and more.
The Lincoln Navigator is actually the luxury sibling of the Ford Expedition which was launched by the Ford’s luxury brand Lincoln. Looking at both of these cars, the Navigator takes after the Expedition in many aspects: the frame size, twin turbocharged 3.5L V-6 engine, 10-speed automatic transmission, equipped with Ford’s Sync 3 multimedia system.
The Ford Expedition is a little below in horsepower and torque, which makes the Navigator the faster of the two, and at the same time, the better at towing (when comparing the base models at least).
The Expedition Platinum mentioned before (9,300 lbs) actually pulls ahead of the Lincoln Navigator (8700lbs) in towing capacity. Definitely one of the best SUVs to pull a camper and the distinction with the Expedition is minimal.
12. GMC Yukon
GMC Yukon is another full-size SUV on this list. 2021 GMC Yukon can tow up to 8,400 lbs, allowing the owner to pull a boat or some of the larger travel trailers. Keep in mind that only with the right equipment, namely the Max Trailering Package, can you tow this much.
General Motors manufactured the Yukon into an almost exactly identical twin of the Chevrolet Tahoe, with only the soft parts such as headlights, bumpers being different.
What sets the Yukon apart from its sister model is the additional Denali trim, which is ostensibly the best bang for your buck among the different GMC Yukon trims.
13. Land Rover Defender
The Land Rover Defender comes off as a high-tech mid-size SUV and even holds a reputation as one of the most outstanding off-road performers in the SUV segment. The only thing bugging owners of this car is the fuel economy.
If you are willing to look past that, then driving the Land Rover Defender will surely bring you joy. Not only is the overall performance of this car the best of its generation, but the Defender’s towing capacity also is surprisingly full-size-SUV caliber. You are in for 7,700 lbs of towing goodness if you opt for the Defender.
There aren’t many cars that can compete with the Defender in style and performance, but you are also advised to mull over the price tag before making the hard choice.
14. Cadillac Escalade
Another luxury coupe that is manufactured by Cadillac to compete with formidable opponents in the full-size segment such as: Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon, or Lincoln Navigator. The newest installment features either a 6.2L V8 or a 3.0 L turbodiesel inline-6 that isn’t very fuel-efficient, but it surely gives a lot of pulling force, in particular 8,200 lbs.
Besides below average mpg, there are few flaws to this beast: The simplified, angular exterior gives off an exquisite vibe, sumptuous interiors, plush seats, ample cargo capacity, excellent maneuverability. You can also purchase the ESV which comes with 390mm extra length compared to the base model.
I will probably even recommend this over the GMC Yukon just for its superior looks and better cargo space.
15. Porsche Cayenne
Porsche is always a little bit more extravagant in both looks and price compared to others of the same category, and Porsche Cayenne proves my point very well. That is not to say this luxury midsize SUV is inferior to other midsize SUVs in capabilities.
The Cayenne S with 434 hp can accelerate from 0-60 mph within 4.9 seconds and can tow about 7,700 lbs, the same as the Land Rover in towing performance. Its inside is sleek, modern, has plush seating, and provides a sports car like driving experience. Even so, this is more like an honorable mention for Porsche worshippers since there aren’t many people who would use a Porsche to tow a fifth wheel.
We went over 15 best of the best SUVs for towing a travel trailer. All in all, SUVs are becoming more and more of a smart, economic choice for anyone willing to take their families on fulfilling weekend trips.
As you can see, ranging from compact, mid-size to full-size, there is a suitable SUV for every fifth wheel lover.
You no longer have to buy a truck just to tow your favorite camper.