Last Updated on January 31, 2022
SUVs often make driving much more enjoyable with comfortable seats, plenty of space, and as modern technology allows – towing capabilities. Whether you are traveling across country or within state, towing with SUVs offers both convenience and ease. If you own or are seeking ownership of an SUV, you may be asking an important question. What are the best SUVs for towing in 2021?
When selecting an SUV for towing, there are a few details to research. First, find out the gross trailer weight (GTW) of the load you plan to tow (or the heaviest GTW if you plan on towing multiple loads). Secondly, determine the towing capacity, also called the gross trailer weight rating (GTWR), of the SUV you are considering. The GTWR should be greater than the GTW or else the truck will struggle to tow the load. Lastly, bear in mind that not all model variations of an SUV have the same towing capacity. When manufacturer’s boast about their SUV’s GTWR, they are choosing the version of the model with the highest GTWR. However, when they post prices the listing usually reflects a base model, which probably doesn’t have the same GTWR as the other versions.
There are ways to increase SUV towing capacity. This includes using engine upgrades, four-wheel or all-wheel drive (as opposed to front-wheel drive), tires that provide a greater payload, and a towing package. If you can keep these details in mind, you’re one step closer to figuring out the best SUVs for towing in 2021. And thankfully, we’ve already compiled a list to get you started.
Best SUVs listed by towing capacity
Here are the top eight SUVs for towing based on maximum towing capacity:
1. Ford Expedition
Standard 4×4 models of this truck can tow just 6,500 pounds. However, upgrading this Ford vehicle to the company’s heavy-duty trailering package increases towing capacity. How much? The amount rises to 9,300 pounds. The heavy-duty trailering package includes a larger radiator, an integrated brake controller, and pro trailer backup assist. The Expedition features a 10-speed automatic, twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine capable of providing 470 lb-ft of torque.
2. Lincoln Navigator
This SUV is the luxury counterpart to the Ford Expedition. The Navigator has a towing capacity of 8,700 pounds if equipped with the company’s Heavy Duty Trailer Tow package. and the vehicle is configured with rear-wheel drive. Included in the vehicle is 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine that produces up to 510 lb-ft of torque. Like the Expedition, the vehicle’s extended version decreases towing capacity by 300 pounds. The four-wheel drive version decreases towing capacity by another 200 pounds.
3. Dodge Durango
The midsize SUV can tow 8,700 pounds when equipped with either the 710-horsepower supercharged Hellcat (SRT 392 Durango) or the 360-horsepower V8 engine (Durango R/T) with the company’s Tow n’ Go package. Built for being driven on roads, this car can accelerate like a muscle car (from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds). The vehicle’s size makes city driving comfortable and easy even when seating seven people.
4. Nissan Armada
The Nissan Armada has been redesigned for 2021. Featured in the vehicle is a 400-horsepower, 5.6-liter V8 engine with 413 lb-ft of torque, This SUV offers the highest standard towing capacity—8,500 pounds; the Class 4 tow hitch, the pre-wiring for the brake controller, and a 7-pin wiring harness come standard. The company’s SV-and-higher models also come equipped with a standard integrated brake controller wired right into the dash.
5. Infiniti QX80
The QX80 is the luxury counterpart to the Nissan Armada. The SUV offers the same 400-hp and 413 lb-ft torque from the same 5.6-liter V8 engine as the Nissan Armada. Also the same is the 8,500 pounds of towing capacity. Towing technology on the QX80 includes an integrated Class IV tow hitch and a seven-PIN wiring harness with cover, trailer sway Control, hill start assist, and tow mode.
6. GMC Yukon
Another truck with an 8,500-pound towing capacity is the nine-seat GMC Yukon. In order to achieve the maximum rating, however, you need the company’s Max Trailering Package. Additionally, you will have to upgrade to 355-hp, 383-lb-ft torque, and 5.3-liter V8 engine with rear-wheel drive. For a smoother and easier trailering experience, the SUV comes equipped with a multi-height load-leveling air suspension.
7. Chevy Tahoe
Built on the same platform as the GMC Yukon and redesigned for 2021 with an all-new chassis featuring four-wheel independent suspension, the Tahoe achieves 8,500 pounds towing capacity. The Max Trailering Package needed to achieve that rating includes an enhanced cooling radiator, a two-speed transfer case, a hitch view guidance system, and more. Advanced packages offer a trailer blind zone alert system and an in-vehicle trailering app for trailer tire pressure monitoring.
8. Cadillac Escalade
The Cadillac Escalade is the luxury corporate cousin to the Tahoe and Yukon. It provides a maximum towing capacity of 8,300 pounds on the two-wheel drive version, and 8,100 pounds on the four-wheel drive option. The SUV features a standard 6.2-liter V8 engine and offers 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. Premium models include rear Vision Trailer Camera, an auxiliary trailer camera, a trailer tire pressure monitoring system, and trailering assist guidelines.
Top SUV towing capacities
This SUV towing capacity chart shows the towing capacity for the 20 SUVs with the highest towing capacity.
Ford Expedition – 9,300 pounds
Lincoln Navigator – 8,700 pounds
Dodge Durango – 8,700 pounds
Nissan Armada – 8,500 pounds
Infinity QX80 – 8,500 pounds
GMC Yukon – 8,500 pounds
Chevy Tahoe – 8,500 pounds
Cadillac Escalade – 8,300 pounds
Land Rover Discovery – 8,200 pounds
GMC Suburban – 8,100 pounds
Toyota Land Cruiser – 8,100 pounds
Bentley Bentayga – 7,716 pounds
Ford Range Rover – 7,716 pounds
Land Rover Defender – 7,716 pounds
Porsche Cayenne – 7,716 pounds
Audi Q8 -7,700 pounds
Audi Q7 – 7,700 pounds
Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class – 7,700 pounds
Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class – 7,700 pounds
BMW X7 – 7,500 pounds
Don’t penalize the Payload!
Remember between 10 and 15 percent of the trailer weight will transfer onto the truck (called the tongue weight). Therefore a 9,300-pound gross trailer weight will add up to 1,395 pounds onto the truck. That eats up a lot of the truck’s payload capacity, which, on the Ford Expedition, is only 1,700 pounds. This means the tongue weight can take up 82 percent of the truck’s payload.
What are the best used SUVs for towing?
Buying a new model SUV for towing may not be the smartest decision for your budget or lifestyle. This is okay because the best used SUVs for towing tend to be the same models as the best new SUVs for towing. Towing capacities have changed little over the last decade, so when determining the best used SUV for towing, how the vehicle lasts over the years becomes an important factor.
The best SUV for towing is often the one with a towing capacity slightly more than the weight of the largest load you plan to tow. Once you have a firm idea of what needs towing, you can make the necessary step toward getting the best SUV. This way, you’re not buying more truck than you need, and you save on capital and maintenance costs.
So what are you waiting for? The best SUV for your towing needs is out there and waiting for you to claim it.