The best cars for RV towing

Best Cars for RV Towing

RV camping trips are fantastic, but constantly setting up and tearing down camp to drive your motorhome to visit local attractions or run to the grocery store is stressful.

The solution to this problem is to tow a “toad,” “dingy,” or “runabout” behind your motorhome.

To explain RV towing details and help you find the best cars to pull behind RV motorhomes, check out my guide below, which includes the 13 best towable vehicles to take camping with you.

When you tow a vehicle behind your RV, you’ll have more freedom of movement once you hit your campsite, which will make all your camping trips more enjoyable!

Can You Tow Any Cars Behind an RV?

In all my years of RV travel, I’ve seen just about every type of toad, from compact cars to full-size trucks, but most people choose to tow a smaller SUV or sedan.

There are two ways to pull a toad behind a camper: flat towing or by using a tow dolly.

FLAT TOWING

An RV dolly towing

Not every car can be flat towed behind a motorhome.

Flat-towing is pulling a car while it sits on all four wheels, which eliminates the need to buy and deal with hooking up, removing, and storing a dolly at your campsite during trips.

You can flat-tow any car that has a manual transmission and rear-wheel drive.

You can flat-tow a four-wheel-drive vehicle if it has a manual transfer case with the option to put it in neutral, but most cars with automatic transmissions are not capable.

If a vehicle has either a rear-wheel drive and a manual transmission or four-wheel drive and a manual transfer case that has the option of putting it in neutral, then it can most likely be flat-towed.

Always check the vehicle’s owner’s manual for the towing recommendation to not ruin the transmission.

If you plan to flat-tow a toad over long distances, you may want to invest in some extra components for around $1,000 that can help extend the lifespan of your vehicle.

The two main parts of this add-on are a lubrication pump, so the transmission fluid keeps flowing so the engine won’t overheat and the driveshaft won’t dry out, and a driveshaft decoupler so the rear wheels can spin freely.

You do need to find an RV dealer and service center with experience installing these parts on your vehicle, as most auto repair shops won’t do this work.

To safely flat-tow a vehicle, you’ll need to fit a high-quality tow bar, like those by Blue Ox, to your motorhome’s rear. The tow bar uses steel tubing in a wishbone shape that hitches the single end to the back of the RV and the two spread points to the dingy or toad.

Don’t skimp on a tow bar purchase, as this is the lifeline between your RV and the car. If the bar breaks, expect a disaster.

DOLLY TOWING

A dolly towing by the RV

You can use a two or four-wheel tow dolly to transport a car behind your RV. However, most RVers find a two-wheel version the best option, as campsites are tight and trying to park a large dolly and the toad is difficult.

Opting for a two-wheel tow dolly provides more benefits over flat-towing.

The first benefit is it increases the number of car types you can tow behind your Class A motorcoach or Class C motorhome (Class B campervan owners prefer to bypass a toad and use the camper to get around.)

Using a tow dolly also reduces the mileage that flat-towing adds to your car.

Flat-towing requires cutting into the front bumper of your toad to install the tow bar system, which lowers its value.

The tow bar system for flat-towing is also car-specific, so you won’t be able to reuse it if you change toads to another make or model.

A two-wheel tow dolly is easier to store at the campsite. Many RVs are tall enough to roll it underneath and out of the way, or you can set them upright, so it takes up little space.

What Cars are Compatible with a Tow Dolly?

Each tow dolly manufacturer will state how much weight it can safely tow, and you must read the fine print to ensure you invest in the right one for your needs.

Most are around 5000 pounds of curb weight and are for front-wheel-drive cars.

Aside from getting the proper size tow dolly, you also need to verify your motorhome’s towing capacity by reading the owner’s manual. Luckily, most Class A and Class C RVs have impressive tow ratings, so if you stick with a smaller toad, you shouldn’t have any issues.

I recommend looking into the Car Tow Dolly brand or the Roadmaster Inc. Universal tow dolly, which both get high ratings from customers.

Motorhome Tow Package

A mechanic fixing a hook before towing

Before you tow any vehicle behind your RV, you must ensure it has an appropriate tow package for safety.

Most US states require electronic braking systems on any recreational vehicle towing a car, or truck, so the two vehicles work as a unit to stop the weight.

If your dinghy relies on the motorhome to stop forward momentum, the car can quickly fishtail out of control or even cause the motorhome’s brakes to fail, causing an accident.

You can purchase an aftermarket braking system to install on your toad or dinghy if it doesn’t have it. But, please, never tow without an EBS for the safety of others, your RV, and your passengers.

All US states require certified DOT lights on your toad so that other drivers can see turn signals, brake lights, running lights, and reverse lights.

Always check before leaving home or a campsite that all aspects of the car’s light system work properly.

Buying a new car for use as a runabout vehicle allows you to order a tow package, so it comes ready-to-go to hook up to your motorhome. You may need some small components to finalize safe connections depending on if you plan to flat tow or use a tow dolly.

Best Cars and Trucks for RV Towing

A black car for RV towing

Below are favorite vehicles RVers use as a toad while camping. What most models have in common is their smaller and lighter chassis and framing, so you aren’t stressing your RV’s transmission.

1. Honda Fit

Tow Option: Flat or Dolly

The Honda Fit is a top choice for an RV toad for its compact design and excellent 34 MPG, yet ample interior space that can seat five for local jaunts while RVing.

Honda appears to have discontinued the Fit for 2021, but you can still pick up an older 2018 model for around $18,000

2. Mini Cooper

Tow Option: Flat or Dolly

The Mini Cooper is another compact car popular with RVers as a toad. The 2021 models start at $23,900 for the four door version for $29,900 for the electric model.

RVers love zipping around in this powerful little car and like how the back seat easily accommodates the family pet.

3. Toyota Prius

Tow Option: Dolly

The Toyota Prius gets high marks from RVers for the astonishing gas mileage of over 50 MPG, which helps alleviate the fuel cost hit of driving a large motorhome to your camping destinations.

The 2021 Prius LXE starts at $24,525.

4. Jeep Wrangler

Tow Option: Flat or Dolly

Jeep Wranglers are the toad of choice for RVers who love to go off-grid and prefer a more rugged vehicle to get around. There are no speed-limit restrictions for flat towing the Wrangler, and it can be towable with both the manual and automatic transmission, which is a massive plus for owners.

The Wrangler starts at $28,900 and can get pricey with additional options, but it provides plenty of passenger space and power for any camping adventure.

5. Kia Soul

Tow Option: Flat or Dolly

The Kia Soul has a solid RV toad following as the interior rear folding seats and more boxy shape allow you to load the vehicle quickly with all types of camping gear. You can still use the hatchback cargo hold for equipment and comfortably seat five for trips into town.

The Kia Soul starts at a more affordable $17,590 and gets a respectable 27 MPG average for highway and city driving.

6. Honda Civic

Tow Option: Dolly

The Honda Civic has a sporty, low-profile design that amps up the gas mileage to around 40 MPG, so you can check out all the local attractions without busting your camping budget.

The four doors and the hatchback give you room to pack supplies yet allow a small family easy in and out without having to crawl over each other.

The 2021 Civic starts at $22,200.

7. Toyota Camry

Tow Option: Dolly

The Toyota Camry makes a great car to tow behind your motorhome because it averages over 30 MPG and has luxury amenities and spacious seating for up to five passengers so you can travel from your campsite in style.

The 2021 Camry LE starts at $25,045.

8. Chevrolet Spark

Tow Option: Dolly

The Chevy Spark is a favorite for solo or couple RVers who don’t need a ton of extra seating and love having one of the lightest toads to pull.

With the compact car starting at $13,400 for 2021 models, you can save money on the purchase and fuel as the car averages 34 MPG.

9. Chevrolet Colorado

Tow Option: Flat or Dolly

If you want the flexibility of towing a truck behind your RV, the Chevrolet Colorado is a great mid-size truck that has no speed or distance restrictions for towing behind a Class C or Class A motorhome. With a powerful engine and off-road appeal, you can toss your kayaks in the back and find the perfect river to explore near your RV campsite.

The 2021 Chevy Colorado starts at $25,200.

10. GMC Canyon

Tow Option: Flat or Dolly

The GMC Canyon 4×4 is a flat-towable truck that RVers love to use as a toad while camping. The seating is enough to fit a family, while the bed can hold extra camping gear.

The overall size of the truck is smaller, which makes it easier to fit onto your campsite.

The 4WD version starts at $38,400 if you want to flat tow, but you can save by getting the 2WD model for $26,800 if you don’t mind using a tow dolly.

11. Toyota RAV4

Tow Option: Dolly

The Toyota RAV4 is a larger vehicle that is still lightweight enough to work well as an RV toad. With an average of 31 MPG, you don’t have to stress over fuel costs, and with seating for five, you can pack extra gear or bring along the kids and pets with ease.

Comments from owners say they like the available options for all-wheel drive and multi-terrain select so they can tackle everything from snow to sand at any camping destination.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 LE starts at $26,250.

12. Chevrolet Silverado HD 2500/3500 4WD

Tow Option: Flat or Dolly

If you want a full-size pickup truck and have a motorcoach with a tow rating that can handle a curb weight of around 6,850 pounds, you need to get the Chevrolet Silverado 4WD. You need to check with the manual for which models can handle flat-towing versus dolly towing.

The cost of this truck quickly rises when adding in options, and the 19 MPG average isn’t the best, but if you want a big truck for camping excursions, this is a good choice.

The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado HD starts at $35,300.

13. Chevrolet Malibu

Tow Option: Flat or Dolly

If you want a mid-size sedan for sightseeing tours, you should look into the Chevy Malibu that offers a light curb weight that most tow dollies can handle with ease.

The Malibu has a 31 MPG average, which is excellent for a sedan perfect for larger camping families. In addition, the cargo space is adequate for stocking up on groceries to bring back to your campsite or to fill with gear to head out for a day at the beach.

The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu starts at $22,140.

Final Thoughts

There’s nothing like that sense of relief after you finally park your RV and get your campsite situation under control.

You certainly don’t want to pack up then and drive your large RV every time you want to go out to eat, hit the grocery store, or visit a museum. That’s why RVers find bringing along a toad to be a blessing, especially if there aren’t safe bicycle or walking paths to access local businesses.

If you’re ready to try towing a toad, I hope you check out the best cars and trucks above and see for yourself how much easier your camping trips can be!

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How to Flat Tow Behind an RV (Video)

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