Toyota RAV4 and Jeep Wrangler Stand Out on This List of Compact SUVs by Towing Capacity

If you need a powerful towing workhorse, a full-size or heavy-duty pickup truck is your best bet. Still, several compact SUVs can tow upwards of 3,000 pounds or more. Some of them are more reliable in comparison to their rivals, such as the Toyota RAV4.

The Jeep Wrangler also stands out from the competition for its fantastic off-roading abilities and unconventional design. According to TrueCar, both are cheaper than many SUVs with high towing capacities. In addition to relative affordability, what makes these two so valuable?

The price of higher towing capacities

A silver 2021 Toyota RAV4 driving on a highway next to the ocean.
2021 Toyota RAV4 | 2021 Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Most of the vehicles on TrueCar’s list are luxury SUVs with understandably higher price tags. The Jaguar F-Pace can tow up to 5,291 pounds with a base MSRP of $49,995. The Land Rover Discovery Sport is relatively cheaper and more skilled at off-roading, but it can only tow 4,409 pounds.

The sporty Porsche Macan offers the same strength, but its tight passenger and cargo space makes it less functional. The Cadillac XT4 retails for $35,795, with a slightly smaller towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. The Volvo XC60 and Mercedes-Benz GLC can pull the same amount of weight, albeit with higher MSRPs.

Is the 2021 Toyota RAV4 a good deal?

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 starts at just $26,250 but can only tow 1,500 pounds. You’ll need to buy either the Adventure or TRD Off-Road model to unlock its true towing potential of 3,500 pounds. The Adventure trim has an MSRP of $33,355, and the TRD Off-Road starts at $35,980. The latter is just a hair more expensive than similar luxury models, plus you get extra features.

All RAV4 models come with a four-cylinder engine that makes 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and FWD, with enhanced torque-vectoring AWD on the TRD Off-Road and Adventure models. Car and Driver say this SUV provides a comfortable ride with solid handling. However, some drivers might get tired of the whines from the engine at higher speeds.

Car and Driver also appreciated the RAV4’s spacious interior, which can house five adult riders comfortably. In the cargo area, there are nearly 38 cubic feet of space with every seat in use. The second row is easy to fold flat, bringing its total cargo capacity to almost 70 cubic feet.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 also comes equipped with lots of convenience tech, including Wi-Fi and smartphone integration. The two brawniest trims can be optioned with additional niceties like a premium JBL audio system and heated seats. Every RAV4 has a large safety suite with the latest crash-prevention technology.

What about the 2021 Jeep Wrangler?

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler starts at $28,900 with a minimum towing capacity of 2,000 pounds. All four-door Wranglers can tow up to 3,500 pounds, and the base Sport retails for $32,400. With a 285-hp V6, it’s both cheaper and more powerful than the Toyota RAV4. It also comes with 4WD, a two-speed transfer case for off-roading, and a six-speed manual transmission.

The four-door Jeep Wrangler Sport can also have an EcoDiesel engine that gets better efficiency and acceleration. It earns 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, five points more than the base engine during highway drives. As you’d expect from a Jeep, ride quality suffers when you’re driving on civilized roads.

The Jeep Wrangler still offers an impressive amount of stretch-out space for passengers and intuitive infotainment technology. The four-door Wranglers have an impressive amount of luggage space, more than 72 cubic feet of space. It is obviously a great choice.

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