Best Towing Vehicles For 2022
Hanna Kielar9-minute read
PUBLISHED: March 18, 2022 | UPDATED: December 12, 2022
Whether they need to pull a load to a jobsite or gear to a campsite, drivers across the country are looking for the best towing vehicles. That doesn’t just mean trucks these days, either. Heavy-duty pickup trucks will handle many of the towing duties, but there are plenty of SUVs and even minivans that can easily pull a trailer.
The listed towing capacities will tell you how much weight each of these vehicles can pull behind them. In a few areas, you’ll also notice the term “payload.” That’s a measurement of how much you can safely add to the empty vehicle’s weight. That can be passengers, tools, groceries – really, anything that fits inside the vehicle as opposed to being pulled behind it. If you are hauling 20 bags of sand in the bed of your pickup, for example, that is considered payload.
Also, consider what you plan to tow. A smaller SUV or minivan can handle loads like littler campers and personal watercrafts. If you need to pull another vehicle or a larger camper, you’ll need a heavy-duty truck.
Let’s dive into some of the vehicles you should consider if you’re planning to do some towing.
Best Vehicle For Towing A Camper: Ram 3500
Best for: Heavy payload and spacious interior
Towing capacity: 13,490 – 37,100 lbs
Payload: 3,745 – 4,644 lbs
If you need massive towing power and plenty of options, the Ram 3500 is a solid choice — it offers crew cab, regular cab and Mega Cab options. When you need to go heavy duty, you can select a 6.7-liter Cummins HO engine that generates 1,000 lb-ft of torque and more than 400 hp. That’s enough to tow more than 37,000 pounds.
The Ram 3500 doesn’t skimp on safety and technology features. It has adaptive cruise control, a forward collision warning and LaneSense® and parking assist technology. It’s also available with an onboard entertainment system, navigation system and smartphone connectivity.
Reviewers also noted that the Ram 3500 comes in slightly less expensive than other competitors in its category.
Best Midsize Towing Truck: Toyota Tacoma
Best for: Urban living and resale value
MPG: 19 city | 22 highway
Towing capacity: 3,500 – 6,800 lbs
Payload: 1,050 – 1,685 lbs
Not everyone needs the towing capacity to haul behemoth trailers. Though the Toyota Tacoma leans toward the lower end of the spectrum for towing capacity, drivers will appreciate its easy-driving manners, resale value and fuel economy.
When it’s time to put the towing hitch to work, the Tacoma is perfect for travel trailers. You also won’t have to worry about weather — its locking rear differential and optional four-wheel-drive deliver safe, reliable traction in many road conditions.
In 2021, the Tacoma also got a few key upgrades, including skid plates and a move to 9.4 inches of ground clearance. That’s enough for many off-road challenges. That’s probably why it’s been a best seller for the past 16 years.
Best Compact Pickup For Towing: Honda Ridgeline
Best for: Safe towing and comfort
MPG: 19 city | 26 highway
Towing capacity: 5,000 lbs
Sure, there are other compact pickup trucks that can out-haul the Honda Ridgeline and out-perform it off-road. But there are some other factors that solidify the Ridgeline as a top choice. First, it comes with a generous suite of safety features like adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, forward collision warnings and automatic emergency braking. These can all make the driver’s life easier when towing.
The Ridegeline’s comfortable interior stands out from the rest of the class, too. It can hold five passengers comfortably and offers refined ride quality thanks to a platform the Ridgeline shares with the Honda Pilot and Passport. More recent model years also offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Its comfort comes from unibody construction that has more in common with an SUV than a typical pickup truck.
This all serves to make the Honda Ridgeline greater than the sum of its parts and a top choice as a comfortable, compact pickup for towing.
Best Electric Vehicle For Towing: Ford F-150 Lightning
Best For: Efficiency, torque, acceleration
Efficiency: 2-2.2 miles/kWh
Range: 300 miles
Payload: 2,000 lbs
When the Ford F-150 Lightning starts hitting the roads later this year, it’s sure to be a big hit. Its electric motor will deliver instant torque, which is great for towing. It will also be quick, quiet and efficient, as well as able to drive up to 300 miles on a single charge.
Campers and contractors alike will love the option that transforms this pickup into a generator, whether its for powering tools on a jobsite, lighting up a camp site at night, or powering a home during a blackout. As for performance, it will have approximately 560 hp and 775 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough to go from 0-60 in less than 5 seconds.
The F-150 Lightning will also come with the Ford Mobile Power Cord, which is a charging cable compatible with 110- and 240-volt outlets. This will allow F-150 Lightning owners to charge at home overnight and only rely on public charging stations on rare occasions.
Best Gas Mileage Towing Vehicle: Ford F-150 PowerBoost
Best For: Towing, payload and fuel economy
MPG: 25 city | 26 highway
Towing capacity: 12,700 lbs
Payload: 2,120 lbsThe Ford F-150 PowerBoost hybrid can handle all the tasks of its conventional full-size pickup cousins without sending you to the gas station nearly as often. The 2021 Ford F-150 hybrid pickup truck stands out as the only truly truck of its kind from 2021 and boasts improved fuel economy without any loss in functionality. The hybrid engine is still capable of towing up to 12,700 pounds while offering improved MPG in the city and on the highway. The hybrid engine effectively reduces fuel consumption by about 20% and reduces the cost of ownership over the life of the vehicle.
You can also customize it by choosing three cab configurations and even an optional reclinable sleeper seat. On the more practical side, you can also select a tow technology package, a reverse sensing/guiding system to aid in parking and even a Pro Power Onboard generator option that can power your home.
Best SUV For Towing: Dodge Durango
Best for: Acceleration and cargo space
Towing capacity: 8,700 pounds
MPG: 13-19 city | 19-26 highway
Generally, SUVs aren’t known for quickness. The Dodge Durango, though, can go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds with the available 6.4-liter V8 engine. That power comes in handy when pulling a trailer. It’s also available with a 6-cylinder engine that gets better gas mileage. The Durango has an easy-to-use infotainment system that can make long road trips pass more quickly, especially with the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in more recent model years.
Best Luxury SUVs For Towing
In this category, we had two top picks: the midsize Mercedes-Benz GLE starting at $55,700 and the Lincoln Navigator starting at $76,705. The less-expensive GLE offers a lower price, highly rated handling characteristics, 0 to 60 quickness and the cache of the Mercedes-Benz brand. The Lincoln is a step forward in interior space and has an even posher interior, especially in the reserve trim.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE
Best for: Handling and luxurious interior
Towing capacity: 7,700 pounds
MPG: 17-19 city | 21-26 highway
Mercedes-Benz might not be the first name in towing, but the GLE could change that. If you want the model’s maximum towing capacity, you’ll need the GLE 580 trim, which gets you a twin-turbo V8 featuring 483 hp. It can also go from 0 to 60 in just 4.9 seconds and is available with all-wheel drive.
The GLE also had a redesign in 2020 to update its technology and provide more space for passengers. From onboard infotainment to collision warnings to pedestrian detection, you’ll find all the tech you’d expect from a premium SUV.
2020 Lincoln Navigator
Best for: Horsepower and high-end cabin
Towing capacity: 8,700 pounds
MPG: 16 city | 21 highway
With 450 hp and 5,210 lb-ft of torque, the performance specs almost make the Lincoln Navigator sound like a super-duty work truck. But it’s soft-touch surfaces, wood trim, leather and three roomy rows of seats mark it as a luxurious SUV.
The tri-zone climate control, heated first- and second-row seats and 10-inch touch screen are just a few of the features that give the Navigator a high-end feel. When it’s time to haul a trailer, it also has all the safety features needed to ease the driver’s workload. For infotainment, it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto users covered.
Not only is the Navigator high-end, but it’s also huge inside and out. Fold down the second and third rows, and you’ll have 120.2 cubic feet of cargo space. It’s 17.5 feet long with 9.7 inches of ground clearance.
Best Small SUV For Towing: Subaru Outback XT
Best for: All-weather handling and easy driving
Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds
MPG: 22-26 city | 26-33 highway
The Subaru Outback is a longtime favorite for drivers looking for a happy medium of all-weather capability and cargo space. Its 8.7 inches of ground clearance beats other vehicles in its class, which can make a difference on rough unpaved roads. In 2020, the Outback also got some updates that included a more upscale interior and a turbocharged engine option. It was already a solid safety choice thanks to its EyeSight package that included lane departure warnings and adaptive cruise control.
As for towing, the XT trim comes with a turbocharged engine that will let you pull a teardrop trailer, ATVs or small personal watercraft. It’s also relatively affordable with a starting price less than $39,000. Finally, the Outback XT also offers an easier driving experience and better fuel economy than larger vehicles.
Best Budget SUV For Towing: Hyundai Palisade
Best for: Smaller budgets with a need to tow
Towing capacity: 5,000 pounds
MPG: 19 city | 24 highway
Even though it’s not on the upper end of the price scale, the Hyundai Palisade is packed with safety features and offers one of the largest interiors in the midsize SUV class. It even has a storage compartment below the cargo floor in addition to nearly 87 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats folded down. Three-row seating ensures plenty of space for up to eight passengers.
The interior of upper trims of the Palisade also compare well to more upscale brands. As a relatively new model, the Palisade hasn’t undergone any major changes since its introduction in 2019. It also has solid reliability scores from J.D. Power and Associates.
Best Family Towing Vehicle: Chrysler Pacifica
Best for: Road-tripping families
Towing capacity: 3,600 pounds
MPG: 17-19 city | 25-28 highway
A Chrysler Pacifica equipped with an optional towing package will allow you to tow up to 3,600 pounds. You’ll get more than just towing capacity from the $995 towing package, too. It also includes a 220-amp alternator, "heavy duty" radiator, tow hitch with a 2-inch receiver, brake-actuated trailer sway damping tech and trailer wiring harnesses. The seats also fold flat to maximize cargo space on Pacifica, which has existed in its current iteration as the replacement for the Town & Country minivan since 2017.
You can get all-wheel drive on the Pacifica, and your rear-seat passengers will love the optional entertainment system that supports Amazon Fire TV streaming. If you’re interested in long-term fuel savings, there’s also a hybrid version of the Pacifica.
Best Van For Towing: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
Best for: Endless customizations and versatility
Towing capacity: 5,000 pounds
MPG: 19 city | 23 highway
If you need customization and plenty of interior room, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter could be the towing vehicle for you. Depending on need, the Sprinter can be a luxurious passenger hauler or a purpose-built work van. It’s equally at home being set up for hauling kids to a soccer game or configured to a wide variety of applications.
It can also out-haul most minivans or even other vans in its class, making it a great choice for those who need high-volume interiors along with extra towing capacity. The passenger version also features removable seats and is available with options such as power sliding doors and full air suspension. All the Sprinter vans have a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers 188 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.
The Bottom Line: What Is The Best Towing Vehicle?
There’s no one single best towing vehicle. It’s what’s best for you.
While many drivers gravitate toward the biggest vehicles they can find for towing, you’ll do better by considering your actual needs. If you’re pulling a small camping trailer, a super-duty pickup truck may be overkill. A smaller SUV or even a minivan set up for towing could handle light towing at a reduced cost. If maximum fuel economy is your priority, consider a towing capable hybrid vehicle.
On the other hand, heavier loads like a large boat or RV might push smaller vehicles too far. Think about what vehicle will work for you in most situations and you’ll be well on your way to a choice that fits your needs and your budget.
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