One of the most important things for a buyer when researching AWD SUVs for towing is the amount of weight the vehicle can handle. If the vehicle cannot pull as much weight as the trailer or camper you intend to tow weighs, you obviously will need a different vehicle. One of the reasons this may become confusing is that automakers will advertise that an SUV in its lineup can tow over 8,000 pounds, but only one version of the model can do that. The other ones with the downgraded engine or rear-wheel drive will not be able to tow the same amount as the most expensive version of the model.
Automakers tend to leave out that information when researching online, so that buyers think even the lowest price 4-cylinder SUV can tow as much as the $30,000 more expensive V8 SUV. A tow package may also be excluded from the standard version of a vehicle, which would cost more money to add. Keep in mind that when a vehicle’s maximum towing weight is 10,000, that includes whatever is being towed and everything inside the vehicle. Passengers are part of the weight and so is everything in the trunk. That means if the trailer you’re towing weighs 10,000 pounds, this SUV can’t tow it. Here are some of the best AWD SUVs for towing more than 5,000 pounds.
Best full-size SUVs for towing
2021 Ford Expedition – Towing capacity: 9,300 pounds
The Ford Expedition leads the full-size class of SUVs with its tow rating. These big SUVs come with a twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 creating 470 lb-ft of torque. That makes the Expedition the perfect vehicle for towing small to medium trailers, typically weighing anywhere between 1,000 to 5,000 pounds. The heavy-duty trailering package is required for the Expedition to have this tow rating. The standard version can only tow 6,500 which is a significant dropoff.
The heavy-duty trailering package also adds more hardware, a larger radiator, an integrated brake controller, and pro trailer backup assist. Pro trailer backup assist adds a knob on the dash so that the driver can steer the trailer in whichever direction they want it to go. This can be extremely helpful when navigating in reverse as opposed to using the method of steering in the opposite direction as most people would.
2021 Nissan Armada – Towing capacity: 8,500 pounds
The largest benefit the Armada offers is this towing capacity is standard. Buyers will not need to add a towing package, a larger engine, or anything else. Simply buy a new 2021 Nissan Armada and you can tow 8,500 pounds. A receiver ball does not come standard on the vehicle so that will need to be purchased separately. If you upgrade to the SL or Platinum trim levels, the Armada receives trailer sway control, which helps prevent unwanted trailer movement. The 5.6-liter V8 engine capable of producing 400 horsepower also comes standard in every Armada.
2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon – Towing capacity: 8,400 pounds
These vehicles vary in ways as far as style, interior, and many of the features but they are based on the same platform. Basically, if all you’re worried about is towing capacity, these are the same SUV. The 5.3-liter V8 2WD Tahoe and Yukon can tow 8,400 pounds. If either vehicle is 4WD, the towing capacity drops down to 8,200 pounds. If you were to opt for the larger 6.2-liter V8 it actually drops even more to 8,100 pounds. The 3.0-liter turbodiesel 4WD model of these two SUVs lowers the towing capacity even more to 8,000 pounds.
These aren’t significant changes and the lowest capacity is only 400 pounds lower than the highest. If there is a specific number you’re looking for this could be important but if not, just get whichever powertrain and engine best fits your needs. Be sure to add the essential Max Trailering package which adds an enhanced cooling radiator, 2-speed transfer case, a hitch view guidance system, and more. None of these tow-ratings apply to a Tahoe or Yukon without this package.
2021 Toyota Land Cruiser – Towing capacity: 8,100 pounds
The 5.7-liter V8 Land Cruiser comes standard with almost everything available for the vehicle. That means any 2021 Land Cruiser you buy will have 4WD, the trailer towing package, and more. It can pull more than the Sequoia but is in its final year of production in the United States. The reliability you’d expect from a Toyota with one of the highest tow capacities in its class.
Best mid-size SUVs for towing
2021 Dodge Durango – Towing capacity: 8,700 pounds
The Durango is easily the best in its class for towing a lot of weight. Though you will be required to purchase the most expensive high-performance versions to get the maximum towing capacity. The V6 2WD model can only tow 6,200 pounds which is still quite serviceable, though far less than 8,700. The Durango models that can tow 8,700 are the SRT 392, Hellcat, and the R/T if it’s equipped with the Tow n’ Go package. The Durango is a great midsize option for towing a hefty amount of weight.
2021 Land Rover Defender – Towing capacity: 8,201 pounds
In order to achieve 8,201 pounds of towing capacity, you’ll need the V6 engine. There is a model of the Defender with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that will still tow 7,716 at a much cheaper price. If 8,000 pounds isn’t your magic number the 4-cylinder Defender may be worth a look. The towing capability is standard for each engine in the Defender. Though buyers may want to add the towing package which adds all-terrain progress control, Terrain Response 2, advanced tow assist, and a tow hitch receiver.
2021 Lincoln Aviator – Towing capacity: 6,700 pounds
This three-row SUV can tow an impressive 6,700 pounds with the trailer tow package equipped. A surprisingly large amount, given how luxurious the Aviator is on the interior. The trailer tow package costs only $500 and will give you the Class IV hitch, 4- and 7-pin connectors, blind-spot alert, cross-traffic alert with trailer coverage, trailer sway control, and more. A pretty good price for some important features and equipment for anyone looking to tow a small to medium size trailer. The plug-in hybrid model of the Aviator is only capable of towing 5,600 pounds, which isn’t bad but is more than 1,000 pounds less than its fully gas-powered sibling.
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee – Towing capacity: 7,200 pounds
The massive 7,200-pound tow capacity applies only to a Jeep Grand Cherokee equipped with a 5.7-liter V8 engine and four-wheel drive. The 3.6-liter V6 can only tow up to 6,200 pounds, which still isn’t bad for the midsize SUV class. The rather expensive off-road adventure II package includes a Class IV hitch, enhanced engine cooling, a rear load-leveling suspension, full-size spare tire, 7- and 4-pin wiring harnesses, an adjustable air suspension, an electronic limited-slip differential for the rear axle, and a few extra pieces of towing hardware. For an additional $2,495 all that is included in whichever model of the Grand Cherokee you purchase.
These are some of the best SUVs in their respective categories for towing a lot of weight. If you are looking to tow even more than these vehicles will offer, a truck might be more in your wheelhouse. If any of these SUVs meet your towing needs, they also have the ability to comfortably fit an entire family, so you really can’t go wrong. All of these vehicles and more were recommended by the experts at Kelley Blue Book.