Editor's Note: Flat-towing capabilities are listed in the spec box of each review. Brett Becker is a contributor to RV and regularly writes about towing at www.onlinetowingguide.com.
We've all seen the guy at the boat ramp with the big, one-ton diesel he's using to tow... a pair of Jet Skis. Or, the Suburban 2500 pulling a tiny Coleman pop-up trailer.
We love the functionality of fullsize trucks and SUVs, but sometimes they're just too much tow vehicle for the job at hand. They are-no other way to put it-overkill. Lots of smaller vehicles are equipped to tow trailers and they do so far more efficiently than any fullsize truck ever could. What's more, they're a much better way to get around town picking up the kids and groceries. You know, what you do with your vehicle most of the time.
We've selected a group of 15 mid- to small-size vehicles that when properly equipped are capable of towing all types of trailers. You might be surprised how much weight some of these daily-drivers can tow.
In truth, as we were doing research for the story, we were, in fact, a bit surprised at some of the capacities. Advances in combustion technology, such as direct injection and variable valve timing, have made it easier for engineers to squeeze impressive horsepower and torque figures from relatively small engines. Transmissions are stronger than ever, so much so that even front-wheel-drive vehicles-once thought too frail to tow-are now able to pull upward of 3,500 pounds worth of trailer.
To make it easier to navigate this story, we've broken the 15 vehicles down into groups of five, arranged according to the weight they can tow. We started with 1,500 pounds because there really isn't much to be towed that weighs less than that. In addition, the vehicles we have highlighted that are capable of pulling 1,500 pounds would not be considered overkill if your trailer only weighs, say, 750 pounds.
We then doubled the capacity to 3,000 pounds and gave you five more vehicles capable of pulling such loads. Some even a bit more, yet none of them too big to squeeze into a compact parking space if you had to.
At the top, we highlight five vehicles that can pull up to 5,000 pounds of trailer-again, some capable of more. By this point, we are talking about midsize SUVs and trucks. But all of them get better than 22 mpg on the highway, and all of them are small enough even for city driving.
Look, fullsize trucks and SUVs rock, but we think it's important for people to look honestly at what they need. Sometimes, an F-150 or a Yukon XL is too much. By looking at the numbers, you can determine how much tow vehicle you really need and avoid overkill.