If you're looking to purchase an SUV for doing more than just driving around town, then you're probably interested in the SUV towing capacity of different makes and models. While a high towing capacity is useful, it's important to balance it against fuel consumption. If you buy a powerful SUV with high towing capacity, you may find that the vehicle costs too much to drive for commuting or traveling long distances.
Understanding SUV Towing Capacity
The towing capacity of any vehicle is fairly simple on the surface. It is the overall weight that your SUV can tow. Many people just check the manual for towing capacity and assume that if they wanted to, they could weigh down a trailer to the maximum capacity listed in the manual and everything would be fine. There are actually a lot of factors that go into calculating SUV towing capacity, and unless you take the time to understand them, you could risk causing significant damage to your vehicle.
The 6 Factors of Towing Capacity
Towing capacity includes more than just the weight of items on your trailer. It actually includes anything above the overall weight of the car when it is unloaded of all cargo and passengers. Towing capacity usually includes all occupants, everything you've loaded into the trunk or strapped to the top of the car, and it even the weight of the fuel and the weight of the trailer itself. Once you subtract the total weight of all of these items from the listed capacity, what remains is the total weight you could safely tow on the trailer. The following factors affect overall SUV towing capacity:
- The overall power of the engine. More power greatly improves towing capacity, but it also greatly reduces the fuel economy.
- The type and quality of the transmission is a critical part of towing ratings. The transmission takes the brunt of the abuse when you're towing very large loads up and down hills.
- The strength of the axles under your vehicle have a significant role in towing capacity. The rear axles typically play a much larger role in increasing the towing ability of an SUV.
- Larger vehicles with the ability to tow more require stronger and more durable braking systems that can slow down even the largest loads.
- The frame of the vehicle also plays a role in towing functionality. The materials used in the frame, as well as factors like wheelbase, impact how much you can or can't tow.
- The trailer hitch is usually rated from Class I through Class IV, which translates to a 2,000-pound capacity to an impressive 10,000-pound capacity.
Top 5 SUVs for Towing
Now that you know what to look for in a vehicle, are you ready to go out and buy the vehicle with all the best characteristics for towing? To help you decide, the following list includes the top vehicles that typically have the best SUV towing capacity of all, year after year:
- Chevy Suburban - The Suburban 2500 is well recognized across the country as one of the biggest and toughest commercial SUVs in the world. With a towing capacity of almost 10,000 pounds, a 9-passenger cabin, and impressive cargo space, it's easy to see why the Surburban is a favorite for people who pull heavy loads.
- Toyota Sequoia - The Sequoia carries a 4.7-liter V-8 engine that lets it enter the family of vehicles with an SUV towing capacity that also approaches 10,000 pounds.
- Nissan Armada - This vehicle is Nissan's king of the full-sized SUVs and has the ability to carry over 9,000 pounds. All reviewers across the world list the Armada as one of the best workhorses.
- Dodge Durango - If you need a smaller sized SUV that isn't quite as overwhelming on the roads as the largest SUVs on the market, go with the Durango. It's slightly smaller body and engine makes it modest enough for family trips, while the ability to tow almost 9,000 pounds makes it capable of doing the heavy lifting for the family as well.
- Chrysler Aspen - The Aspen is similar to the Durango in size but also in its own ability to carry a load for a family. The Aspen can carry about 8,750 pounds with a 335 horsepower engine.
Other Top Towing SUVs
The list above only scratches the surface of the SUVs on the market that can do all of the heavy lifting for your family. If you'd like other options to compare, make sure the check out the pricey but powerful Cadillac Escalade and the Land Rover Range Rover, both with about 7,700 pounds of capacity. Also consider the the Chevy Tahoe with 8,500 pounds, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class with 5,500 pounds, or the fuel-efficient Chevy Tahoe with 8,500 pounds of SUV towing capacity. All of these choices will certainly serve your needs with power, comfort, and style.