A SUV for towing a travel trailer

Best SUV for Towing a Travel Trailer (by Weight Class)

If you’re in the market for an SUV — one that can tow a travel trailer, this is the article for you. I’m going to help you narrow down your search using what they can tow as a helpful guide.

Types of SUVs

Before we begin, let’s define the 7 types of SUVs available on the market today.

This will help you get a sense of what we mean by a particular type.

TYPE OF SUVEXAMPLES
Subcompact CrossoversChevy Trax, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, Nissan Juke
Compact CrossoversChevy Equinox, Ford C-Max, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V
Mid-size CrossoversDodge Journey, Ford Edge, GMC Acadia, GMC Terrain
Full-size Crossovers & MinivansChevy Traverse, Dodge Grand Caravan, Ford Explorer, Ford Flex
Compact SUVsJeep Wrangler, Kia Sportage
Mid-Size SUVsJeep Grand Cherokee, Kia Sorento, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Land Cruiser
Full-Size SUVsChevy Suburban, Chevy Tahoe, Dodge Durango, Ford Expedition
SOURCE: Types of SUVs @ vehiclecharts.com

What Type of SUV Can Tow an RV — by Travel Trailer Weight Class

A SUV towing an RV

1.) Subcompact SUVs

The subcompact SUV is more than the “Pregnant Rollerskates” of yesteryear.

They’re safer because they stand taller in traffic and have better crash ratings. There’s also more shoulder room and pep under the hood. In addition, this class of SUV usually has some type of electric motor technology.

But make no mistake, they’re essentially a car with a towing capacity of around 1,500 lbs.

Suitable Campers for a Subcompact SUV

Jax GoodsExplorerSylvanSport GODroplet TrailerEarth TravelerT250 LX
Length10.17 ft.8 ft.13.5 ft.11 ft.
UVW950 lbs.840 lbs.950 lbs.250 lbs.
CCC1,550 lbs.960 lbs.1,550 lbs.1,750 lbs.
GAWR2,500 lbs.1,800 lbs.2,500 lbs.2,000 lbs.
Sleep22-422

Jax Goods Jumping Jack Explorer Tent Trailer

If you’re feeling nostalgic, why not consider a tent trailer?

The tent in a utility trailer dates back to The Antique Era (1910-1945).

The 2,500 pounds of gross axle weight for your gear fits well for outdoor adventurers.

Hitching up to the Mini Cooper Countryman with a 3,789 towing capacity allows you to put your weight calculator away.

Jumping Jack Tent Trailer (Video)

SylvanSport GO

If you want to enjoy the Golden Age of the Pop-Up (The Classic Era 1971-1989), check out the GO.

The Hyundai Venue gives you 1,780 pounds of towing capacity to take advantage of the GO’s utility features.

In travel mode, you can strap your non-motorized toys above and below the tent pod.

The vinyl pop-up camper has twin beds on each extension or lower the movable table for 4 sleeping bags.

Droplet Trailer

The 950-pound (UVW) Droplet Trailer will remind you of when teardrops became popular again during The Neo-Classic Era (1990-2007).

It’s a teardrop trailer for tall people, a wheelchair-friendly RV, and the company has its own peer-to-peer RV rental program. 

Its wide side doors, torsion axle suspension, removable battery pack, and portable fridge make it versatile for on and off-grid.

It’ll pair nicely with your Nissan Kicks subcompact SUV, giving you 2,000 pounds of towing capacity.

Droplet Trailer (Video)

Earth Traveler T250 LX

The Honda HR-V ranks 5th on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Subcompact SUVs for 2021, but its low 1,000-pound towing capacity is perfect for the 250-pound carbon fiber T250 LX.

The expanding roof allows you to stand up, but everything is extra if you want more than basic shelter and some LED night lights.

This tiny teardrop is best suited for those who wish to explore the frontier with the smallest carbon footprint possible.

2.) Compact SUVs

A compact SUV is still more car-like, but the truck features are more pronounced.

They come in FWD, AWD or can switch back-and-forth.

Compact SUVs come standard for on-road purposes and tow up to 2,000 pounds.

Optional equipment will make compact SUVs off-road-ready since they have traction control and other internal factory components already wired up.

Suitable Campers for a Compact SUV

Standard TAGTAG BoondockTAG XLTAG XL Boondock
Length13.7 ft.13.7 ft.13.7 ft.13.7 ft.
UVW1,284 lbs.1,415 lbs.1,388 lbs.1,505 lbs.
CCC916 lbs.785 lbs.812 lbs.695 lbs.
GVWR2,200 lbs.2,200 lbs.2,200 lbs.2,200 lbs.
Sleep2222

nuCamp TAG and TAG XL

The difference between the TAG and TAG XL boils down to the additional foot width the XL provides.

The extra 104 pounds of dry weight gives owners more shoulder room in the sleeping cabin.

If you’re using a compact SUV like the Ford Escape, choose the 2.0L EcoBoost engine that tows an incredible 3,500 pounds versus the 1.5L that keeps to the typical compact SUV strength of 2,000 lbs.

nuCamp Tag XL RV (Video)

 On-Road Versus Off-Road

The 2,000 pound RV weight classification keeps you within the teardrop campers, but if you’re looking to do some remote camping, your gross vehicle weight will be a factor.

Either version of the TAG has a GVWR of 2,200 lbs.

When you include passenger weight (350 lbs.) for 2 people and some horsepower weight for driving (50 lbs.), that’s 400 pounds, roughly estimating.

Using the TAG with the Boondock off-road package and our assumed passenger/driving weight above (1,415 +400), that’s 1,815 pounds.

The Escape’s beefy engine lets you focus on bringing the gear you want, not only the essential accessories.

Also, the AWD Disconnect System does the FWD to AWD switching automatically, optimizing fuel economy and power when needed.  

3.) Midsize Crossover SUVs

Car and Driver categorize this level as a midsize crossover. It can have a 4 or 6 cylinder engine and take on some low-level off-roading.

The crossovers are bigger than compact SUVs but not quite midsize SUVs.

The 3,500-pound weight level opens the doors to the different types of travel trailers, letting you choose your RV adventure.

Suitable Campers for a Midsize Crossover SUV

CasitaSpiritChalet ClassicFlagstaff Tent MACGulf Stream Trailmaster Super Lite
Model #STD or DLXArrowhead425M16RE
Length17 ft.15.6 ft.23.9 ft. open/ 19.1 ft. closed15.10 ft.
UVW2,210-2,480 lbs.1,585 lbs.2,654 lbs.2,860 ft.
CCC1,020-1,290 lbs.1,415 lbs.641 lbs.1,007 ft.
GVWR3,500 lbs. 3,000 lbs.3,295 lbs.3867 lbs.
Sleep3-534-72-3

Casita Spirit Fiberglass Trailer

Hitching up a dye-molded fiberglass travel trailer to a Subaru Outback is the perfect pairing for longevity.

Both passenger and recreational vehicles have reputations for longevity.

Like all double-hulled fiberglass trailers, people order them direct from the factory, starting with a tour of a local owner’s trailer.

These trailer companies allow you to customize virtually every feature.

Chalet Classic Arrowhead A-Frame Pop-Up Camper

The Volvo V90 Cross Country can pull your Chalet Arrowhead to your favorite campground or that quiet remote camping destination you found at the National Forest a few hours away.

On a cool fall evening, the insulated fiberglass panel walls will keep the built-in furnace’s heat inside as you sleep soundly on the jackknife sofa.

When it’s time to leave, in less than a minute, your camper’s folded up, and you’re ready to go.

Chalet Arrowhead (Video)

Flagstaff Tent 425M Soft Shell Pop-Up Camper

The Hyundai Santa Fe Inline 4-cylinder gives you 3,500 pounds of towing, but the optional V6 AWD gives you an upgraded 5,000 lbs.

Part-timers will like the Flagstaff 425M luxury pop-up camper since its features pair well with the trim levels of the SUV.

You’ll have storage galore, a slideout dinette for more space, a huge external storage bay, cassette commode, queen-size beds, and an L-shaped sofa.

Gulf Stream Trailmaster Ultra-Lite 16RE

If you’re ready for a travel trailer, you’ll want to look at the rear entry Trailmaster Super-Lite 16RE by Gulf Stream.

The AWD Honda Pilot has a 5,000 pound towing capacity rather than the FWD’s 3,500 lbs.

The 16RE gives you a full-size bed, dry bathroom, dinette, kitchen, full-length fridge, and actual walking space.

4.) 2-Row Midsize SUVs

The truck-like SUVs come with a muscular V6 starting in the 2-row mid-size versions.

Adjustable driving method functions, change the Eco FWD urban family car into the towing AWD trailer towing animal that lives for the open road.

The 5,000-pound level lets you choose the floor plan that best fits your RV camping experience.

Suitable Campers for a 2 Row Midsize SUV

AirstreamBambiKeystoneBullet CrossfireJaycoJay Feather MicroKZSportsmen Classic
Model #16RB1850RB171BH180TH
Length16.1 ft.22.4 ft.20.2 ft.21.8 ft.
UVW3,000 lbs.4,024 lbs.3,930 lbs.3,260 lbs.
CCC500 lbs.676 lbs.1,065 lbs.1,740 lbs.
GVWR3,500 lbs.4,700 lbs.4,995 lbs.5,000 lbs.
Sleep2-42-44-52-5

Airstream Bambi 16RB

There are Airstreams under 5,000 pounds that’ll look good with your Chevrolet Blazer.

The Bambi 16 RB has a full-size rear bed and a front, convertible dinette for additional sleeping.

The mid-coach wet bath comes with everything, including waterproof storage.

If you’re a fan of blue, check out the Ocean Interior Decor. After your initial walk-through, you’ll see why Airstreams are worth the price.

Airstream Bambi 16RB (Video)

Keystone Bullet Crossfire 1850RB

The Kia Telluride does its best towing work with lightweight travel trailers, so the Bullet Crossfire is a great match.

Couples will find the 1850 RB very spacious with the deployed sofa slideout.

Keystone did a great job with maximizing storage and surface space.

There’s even a laundry chute that feeds directly to the exterior bay. All 2022 Keystones come standard with solar systems.

Jayco Jay Feather Micro 171BH

One of the best family travel trailers under 25 feet is the Jay Feather Micro 171BH.

The Feather Micros replaced the Hummingbird Series to compete against the Rockwood Geo Pro/Flagstaff E-Pro.

The RV queen and twin-size bunks perfectly fit in the best small travel trailers without slides.

You’ll even find the 4 seater dinette and shower big enough for everyone.

Jayco Jay Feather Micro 171BH (Video)

KZ Sportsmen Classic 180TH

SUVs can tow a toy hauler without a problem as long as it’s not a fifth wheel and the loaded-up RV stays within the SUV’s weight limit.

The Sportsmen Classic 180TH gives you 2 full-size bunks for 4 people and a garage big enough to fit your motorized adventure toy.

We recommend using the Ford Explorer since it has an extra 600 pounds of towing capacity.

5.) 3-Row Midsize SUVs

Luxury 3 row midsize SUVs are a tricky subclass.

They can be fuel-efficient with city and highway numbers that stay in the 20s or act like slim full-size SUVs with MPGs in the teens.

Some European and Asian luxury models remain on the right side of the line and pull between 6,000- 8,000 lbs. 

Suitable Campers for a 3 Row Midsize SUV

Escape TrailerCoachmenCatalina LegacyCrossRoads RVSunset Trail
Model #21C243RBSSS222RB
Length21.4 ft.28.9 ft.26.11 ft.
UVW3,465 lbs.5,692 lbs.5,213 lbs.
CCC1,535 lbs.1,908 lbs.2,659 lbs.
GVWR5,000 lbs.7,600 lbs.7,812 lbs.
Sleep2-42-42-5

Escape 21C- Reasonably Minimalist

You can’t call the Escape 21C a genuinely minimalist lifestyle RV, but when you compare this molded fiberglass travel trailer to traditional coaches, the interior living experience is quite different.

There is a permanent bed, U-shaped dinette, wet bath, and full kitchen with stylish decor.

Generally, fiberglass travel trailer lifestyles won’t give you a residential-like experience due to size limitations. 

Escape 21C- Reasonably Minimalist (Video)

Coachmen Catalina Legacy Edition 243RBS- Comfort Camper

Empty-nesters will want to hitch up the Catalina Legacy Edition 243RBS to their Audi Q7.

Now that the kids are in school or on their own, the plush features and spacious layout will make your RV experience as relaxing as possible.

As a comfort camper, you can use the extra storage for those things you pick up along the way. 

CrossRoads Sunset Trail Super Lite SS222 RB- Glamping

If your empty-nester plans include hitting the best restaurants, shows, and other events that require a glamping lifestyle, the Sunset Trail has everything you need.

The CCC has the weight tolerance you want, and the front pantry can become your dream walk-in closet.

Your Bichon Frise, Lady Elizabeth, even has her pet station below the king-size bed.

CrossRoads Sunset Trail Super Lite SS222 RB (Video)

6.) Mid-Size Monsters (SUVs With Power Over Fuel Economy)

The midsize monsters choose power over fuel economy. The towing capacity allows you to shop for mid-length travel trailers over 25-feet.

The Ford Expedition has owned the most powerful full-size SUV title for most of its existence since its heavy tow package can defeat 9,300 pounds. 

Examples of Mid-Size Monsters (SUVs)

Dodge DurangoGrand CherokeeLand Rover DiscoveryDurangoSRT Hellcat
MPG  (city/hwy)18/2519/2618/2412/17
EnginePentastar 3.6L V66.2L V83.0L Inline 6HEMI 6.2L V8
HP @ Torque285 hp @ 260 lb./ft.707 hp @ 645 lb./ft.355 hp @ 369 lb./ft.710 hp @ 645 lb./ft.
MHEVYesNot currentlyYesYes
Tow Capacity6,200 lbs.7,200 lbs.8,200 lbs.8,700 lbs.

Dodge wanted a title, so they installed a HEMI engine in the Durango, giving it an 8,700-pound towing limit. Due to low sales and high gas prices, the last SRT Hellcat came off the line on June 2021.

The Durango’s half-sibling, the Grand Cherokee (shares the chassis and other components), will gain hybrid technology in the 2022 4xe version, keeping Jeep’s “1 EV in Every Category” announcement.

On the European side, the Land Rover Discovery now offers mild hybrid technology (MHEV) on its V6 gas and diesel engines. The company said that adding the MHEV motors decreases the SUV’s emissions by 20%.

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Final Thoughts

We are now living in a time where small is the new big. The brushless electric motor is taking over for the combustion engine, and 15-25 foot RVs are seen in more driveways than the full-length 40-footers.

In addition, the Great Resignation is making work-from-home/road more commonplace, and the full-timer lifestyle doubled in less than 2 years.

Become an RV Trooper by bookmarking the RV Troop Website and check in often. We’re constantly adding new articles on the rapidly changing RV World. Whether you’re a first-timer, seasoned veteran, or multi-generation legacy RVer, there’s always something to learn. 

Welcome to the RV Troop lifestyle!

QUOTE:
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide

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