The Best Used Trucks and SUVs for Towing

These five vehicles are smart picks for drivers who pull a boat, camper, or utility trailer.


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Searching for a used pickup truck, crossover, or SUV to serve as a tow rig? There’s no shortage of options, which can make deciding on one vehicle feel daunting. We’re here to help.

We narrowed down the list by insisting on certain criteria. All of these best used trucks and SUVs for towing offer at least 5,000 pounds of towing capacity and a factory-installed Class III or IV hitch with wiring for a four- and/or seven-pin trailer connector. They also have trailer sway control, which uses the stability control system to apply the brakes as needed to prevent the trailer from swinging out—something you’ll want when pulling a load at high speeds in inclement weather or windy conditions. We also limited our vehicle choices to the light-duty, for towing small campers, smaller boats, or utility trailers.

We looked across different segments and came up with a mix of well-regarded mid- and full-size picks from the mainstream and luxury markets. Each of our five recommended vehicles provides a respectable combination of value, capability, and features, and each has an X factor—be it a tech feature, a suspension tune, or an appealing powertrain—that makes it stand out in its class.


Mid-Size SUV: 2017-2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

If you need something on the smaller side, consider the Jeep Grand Cherokee. For 2017 and 2018, Jeep offered the two-row SUV with a gas V-6, a diesel V-6, and a few V-8s. Depending on the powertrain and some optional equipment, this mid-sizer can tow up to 7,400 pounds. Your best bet is to target the 5.7-liter V-8 model with the Trailer Tow Group IV package as that configuration sits at the top of the heap when it comes to towing capacity. The package brings additional engine cooling, a Class IV hitch with trailer wiring, and—most compelling of all—a load-leveling suspension that keeps the Jeep balanced with a trailer attached.


Full-Size Pickup Truck: 2016-2018 Ram 1500

From the base Tradesman to the off-road-oriented Rebel to the plush Limited, the Ram 1500 can handle substantial trailer loads, with towing capacities between 4,210 and 10,640 pounds, depending on the truck’s configuration and powertrain. The top trim level provides a remarkably upscale cabin and gives this workhorse some stealth luxury. A coil-spring rear suspension helps the truck ride smoothly when it's unloaded, and several towing features—such as trailer sway control, a trailer brake controller, and a Class IV hitch—are in the cards. Ram equips every 1500 with wiring for the trailer harness. We recommend the six-cylinder EcoDiesel engine. It's a reliable and efficient choice, boasting better fuel economy and more torque than the Ram’s V-8, plus a strong tow rating of up to 9,210 pounds, making it a clear choice for one of the best used trucks for towing.


Luxury Full-Size SUV: 2018 Lincoln Navigator

For 2018, Lincoln redesigned the Navigator with fantastic styling inside and out and a long list of high-end features to make it competitive with other premium family-haulers. With its twin-turbocharged EcoBoost engine producing a whopping 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque, it's no surprise that this full-size luxury SUV can tow up to 8,700 pounds. (The long-wheelbase L model tops out at 8,400 pounds.)

Find a model with the Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow package and you’ll benefit from not only a trailer brake controller and extra engine cooling, but also the Pro Trailer Backup Assist. This feature makes reversing your tow rig easy by taking the guesswork out of it. The driver, operating the accelerator and brakes, simply turns a dash-mounted knob to direct the trailer to the desired heading and the Navigator will steer to follow that arc.


Full-Size SUV: 2016-2018 Toyota Sequoia

The Sequoia isn't the newest SUV design out there, but this three-row people mover combines Toyota reliability with the Tundra pickup's stout chassis. A reasonably affordable choice, the Sequoia can pull up to 7,400 pounds and comes standard with a heavy-duty alternator, four- and seven-pin trailer connectors, a Class IV hitch, and extra cooling for the transmission. The real draw of the Toyota, however, is its 381-hp, 401-lb-ft V-8. And when equipped with four-wheel drive, the Sequoia gains a Torsen locking center differential, which comes in handy on the boat ramp. With all it packs, it's easy to call it one of the best SUVs for towing.


Mid-Size SUV: 2016-2018 Ford Explorer

Compared with body-on-frame vehicles like the Sequoia, the unibody Ford Explorer provides a more car-like driving experience, but don’t let that fool you. It’s up for the task of towing. You'll want to skip the four-cylinder model, which offers only a Class II hitch, and set your sights on an Explorer with the twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 and the Class III Trailer Tow package's 5,000-pound tow rating, transmission cooler, trailer wiring, and anti-sway stability-control feature. Ford’s EcoBoost V-6 is one of the most impressive engines in the mid-size SUV class, providing 365 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque. For serious towing, it's well worth the premium over the non-turbo V-6.

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Benjamin Hunting
Benjamin Hunting is a writer and podcast host who contributes to a number of newspapers, automotive magazines, and online publications. More than a decade into his career, he enjoys keeping the shiny side up during track days and always has one too many classic vehicle projects partially disassembled in his garage at any given time. Remember, if it's not leaking, it's probably empty.