2017 Nissan Pathfinder towing boat ・ Photo by Nissan
The best towing vehicles that aren’t trucks do share something with today’s powerful pickups: robust body-on-frame construction. It’s the same hardware that lies beneath both trucks and “real” SUVs.
However, if you want the kind of towing capability that approaches what you get in a full-size pickup, you’ll need to get a full-size sport-utility vehicle. But keep in mind that many customers don’t need all that pulling power; for most trailering jobs, a unibody crossover has more than enough trailering capacity. There are even a few cars and minivans that are rated for towing, so we’ve got examples of each.
Regardless of your choice, you can also enjoy many other advantages with these vehicles, including the confidence that comes with top safety ratings.
Leading off our list of the best towing vehicles that aren’t trucks is the 2018 Ford Expedition. Brand-new for 2018, Ford’s three-row body-on-frame SUV now showcases a 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that belts out 400 horsepower and a steep 480 pound-feet of torque. With that mighty mill under the hood, the Expedition can pull up to 9,300 pounds. The Blue Oval makes it easy to hitch up a trailer, too, with an intuitive, console-mounted steering system. It helps you guide the Expedition while you’re in reverse. Ford further claims the segment’s top EPA ratings: 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway/20 mpg combined. To keep passengers happy, you can also order the Expedition with plenty of modern-day safety and connectivity features.
Photo by Ron Sessions
At the other end of the spectrum, we also consider the 2018 Kia Sportage to be one of the best towing vehicles that aren’t trucks. Yes, it has a trailer rating that’s more than three tons lower than for the Expedition. But the Sportage is a lot smaller as well. Indeed, the Sportage is nearly three feet shorter in length than the full-size Ford. This makes the Kia’s 2,000-pound towing limit relatively impressive. In fact, thanks to its peppy four-cylinder engine, the Sportage can handle snowmobiles, personal watercraft and even small popup campers. Additionally, when you’re not pulling trailers, the Sportage can be much easier to live with in daily driving. The Sportage also stands out with a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS.
Photo by Kia
The 2018 Jeep Cherokee is a bit bigger than the Kia Sportage, with dimensions that put it into the heart of the compact crossover segment. When it comes to towing in the class, however, the Cherokee is up among the leaders. Credit for that goes to an available 3.2-liter V6. After all, not only does this engine deliver 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque, it also ensures a maximum towing limit of 4,500 pounds. That, in turn, ensures a place on our list of the best towing vehicles that aren’t trucks. The Cherokee then offers some of Jeep’s toughest hardware. The Trailhawk model sets the pace in that regard, backed by a robust four-wheel-drive system and a suspension that can tackle serious off-road challenges.
Photo by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
You won’t find many EVs when you’re shopping for the best towing vehicles that aren’t trucks. Unsurprisingly, the one exception is the amazing 2018 Tesla Model X. Tesla’s ground-breaking all-electric crossover can pull up to 5,000 pounds in some configurations. That will no doubt affect the vehicle’s range, but remember, you do have access to Tesla’s nationwide network of Superchargers so that you can charge up from coast to coast. As for the vehicle’s unloaded range, the EPA ratings call for up to 295 miles on a single charge. The Model X also boasts cutting-edge technologies such as vertically opening “Falcon Wing” rear doors, a massive 17-inch touchscreen, mobile Wi-Fi and automatic parking you can control from outside the vehicle with your smartphone.
Photo by Tesla
The 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe is another top full-size choice if you’re shopping for the best towing vehicles that aren’t trucks. The Bowtie brand’s big sport-utility packs a standard 5.3-liter V8 that serves up 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. You can count on that engine for a tow rating of 8,600 pounds. Beyond its pulling power, the Tahoe distinguishes itself by what all it can carry on the inside: up to 94.7 cubic feet of cargo or nine total occupants. The Tahoe also brings leading-edge connectivity features—like a standard mobile Wi-Fi hotspot—and high-end safety measures. Examples include forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, blind-zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and a standard rearview camera.
Photo by General Motors
To satisfy minivan customers, we’ve got the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica in our gallery of the best towing vehicles that aren’t trucks. Named the North American Utility Vehicle of the Year in 2017, the Pacifica is a family-friendly wonder that can be ordered with mobile Wi-Fi, a Uconnect Theater setup for rear passengers, an integrated vacuum system, and award-winning safety performance. To prove that point, the Pacifica has been certified with a Top Safety Pick Rating by the IIHS and a 5-Star Overall Safety Score from NHTSA. The Pacifica is also ready to handle big-time family road trips. By leveraging its standard 3.6-liter V6 engine, drivers can rely on 287 horsepower, 262 pound-feet of torque, and a 3,600-pound trailer rating.
Photo by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
If you’re looking for the best towing vehicles that aren’t trucks, and you also want an all-new alternative, the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas might fit the bill. The Atlas is VW’s first three-row SUV designed specifically for the U.S. market. It meets driver expectations with many features, of course, like all-wheel drive, a handsfree tailgate, and panoramic sunroof. But the highlight for our purposes is an available 3.6-liter V6. Capable of producing 276 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, this engine delivers a tow rating of 5,000 pounds. The Atlas can also shoulder the load in terms of occupant protection, complete with a Top Safety Pick recognition from the IIHS and a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating from NHTSA.
Photo by Volkswagen
For a more luxurious approach to the best towing vehicles that aren’t trucks, we prefer the 2018 Land Rover Range Rover. In the range-topping Range Rover, for instance, you can relax with a hot-stone massage in both rows of seating, listen to crystal clear audio with a 29-speaker sound system, and take advantage of a 557-horsepower supercharged V8 beneath the hood. Also, although that high-performance engine is strong enough to tow more than 7,700 pounds, so are the Range Rover’s other engines—a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 and a 3.0-liter, six-cylinder diesel. Nor is the Range Rover afraid to get its tires dirty, offering serious all-wheel-drive hardware such as a two-speed transfer case, an air suspension for increased ground clearance, and low-traction launch control.
Photo by Land Rover
Some of the best towing vehicles that aren’t trucks come from the three-row crossover segment. Here, it’s easy to find a vehicle that can tow two tons or more. Yet three-ton towers are quite as common. For that, you’ll want to check out the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder. The Pathfinder provides a standard 3.5-liter V6 that combines 284 horsepower, 259 pound-feet of torque, and the ability to tow 6,000 pounds. Nor is the Pathfinder particularly thirsty, since it claims the same 23 mpg in combined driving as the V6-powered 2018 Toyota Highlander—which has a trailer limit that’s 1,000 pounds lower than for the Pathfinder. The Pathfinder also welcomes automatic emergency braking as a new standard feature for 2018.
Photo by Nissan
The 2018 Volvo S60 closes out today’s gallery of the best towing vehicles that aren’t trucks. This midsize sedan can tow almost 4,000 pounds, which puts it on par with some two-row crossovers. This unexpected power comes from an unexpected source, too: a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that’s both turbocharged and supercharged. With that engine on board, the S60 also kicks out 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. And the S60 can supply luxuries like real-wood cabin trim, a Harman Kardon audio system, heated leather seating, and a panoramic roof. Reflecting Volvo’s commitment to occupant protection, the S60 has earned a 5-Star Overall Safety Score from NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick Rating from the IIHS.
Photo by Volvo