What is the Best Small SUV for Towing?

With the small SUV market becoming increasingly more competitive, manufactures are rushing to produce more effective SUVs. The majority of SUV buyers want a vehicle that can perform off-road, offers enough cargo space, and also be able to tow a considerable amount of lading. If you are a fan of camping, boating, surfing, and other activities that would require you to carry lots of items with your small vehicle, you will need an SUV which can be able to tow.

What is the Best Small SUV for Towing?

While the “best” of course depends on your particular set of needs, after comparing 10 of the most popular small SUVs we’ve singled out the Jeep Cherokee as the best. Below summarizes the features of both the Cherokee and other popular options so you can decide what the right SUV is for you.

2019 Jeep Cherokee

Like I said, we think that the Jeep Cherokee is the best small SUV for towing, so you may be surprised to find out that it actually tows very little when equipped with the base 2.4-liter four-cylinder, which only delivers 180 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque. The Cherokee with this powertrain offers a maximum towing capacity of 2,000 pounds.

However, if you upgrade to the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine (more on this later), you’ll get 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. This will allow your Jeep Cherokee totow up to 4,000 pounds!

Top-end models are powered by a 3.2-liter V-6 engine that produces 271 hp and 239 lb-ft of torque. Jeep Cherokee models with this engine can tow a maximum of 4,500 pounds, which is enough to tow a good size boat.

The 2020 Kia Sorento

The Kia Sorento is our second recommendation, after the Cherokee. The Sorento is available with two powertrains. The base is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that offers 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. This powertrain is paired with a six-speed automatic and can to a maximum of 3,500 pounds.

But the Sorento can even tow more when equipped with the available 3.3-liter V-6 paired with a nine-speed automatic to deliver 290 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque. The AWD Sorento SXL can carry a maximum of 5,000 pounds, which is a ton for such a small SUV.

The Kia Sorento is also available with a trailer wiring harness that allows you to connect the trailer lights to your vehicle. Kia also offers a towing package that includes a hitch receiver and trailer sway control.

The 2019 Chevrolet Equinox

The Chevrolet Equinox is one of the best small SUVs for towing. The Chevrolet Equinox is available with two powertrains under the hood. The base models get a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that is connected to a six-speed automatic transmission.

The 1.5-liter delivers 170 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque. ModeLs with this powertrain, such as the L and LS models, can not be considered the best in towing since they can only pull 1,500 pounds of cargo.

The Lt and Premium models are equipped with a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine paired to a nine-speed automatic. This powertrain delivers 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque and can tow up to 3,500 pounds of cargo. The premium models are also equipped with a 360-degree camera that helps the driver view the trailer when driving.

The 2019 Ford Escape

The Ford Escape should be your third-best choice if you want to set a camp or go for boating. The Escape top models are equipped with heavy-duty suspension and axles for towing and hauling. It comes with three engine options.

The base is a 2.5-liter inline-four that delivers 168 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. This powertrain offers a maximum towing capacity of 1500 pounds. Next is a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which produces 179 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque and can tow a maximum of 2000 pounds.

Top models are equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, producing 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. Ford Escape equipped with this powertrain can tow a maximum of 3500 pounds. Ford Escape also offers a towing package that includes a hitch receiver and a trailer wiring harness. This system allows the connection of trailer lights to the vehicle.

The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander

The Outlander is a three-row compact SUV that is very suitable to take your whole family camping. The Outlander is available with two powertrains. The base models get a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated engine that delivers 166 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque.

The Outlander, with this powertrain, tows up to 1500 pounds. If you need more towing, you can opt for a more powerful V-6 engine that delivers 224 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque. With this powertrain, the Outlander can tow 3,500 pounds.

The 2019 GMC Terrain

The GMC terrain is surprisingly one of the best small SUVs for towing. The GMC Terrain is equipped with a robust tow hitch and three powerful engine options enabling it to tow 3,500 pounds. 

The base engine is a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 170 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque. The Terrain with this engine can tow up to 2,000 pounds. The SLE and SLT models with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine that delivers 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque can tow up to 3500 pounds.

The 2019 Jeep Wrangler

The amount of cargo the Jeep Wrangler can tow will depend on its configuration and the engine under the hood. A 2-door Wrangler, equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, can tow a maximum of 2,000 lbs. Four-door Wranglers with the 3.6-liter V-6 engine produce 285 hp and 260 lb-ft. They can tow a maximum of 3,500 lbs.

The 2020 Ford Edge

The Ford Edge ST and SEL models offer the best towing capabilities. They are powered by a 2.7-liter V-6 that delivers 335 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. The ST and SEL models with this powertrain can tow up to 3,500 pounds. The Ford Edge is available with Trailer Tow Package that is only available in AWD models. The Trailer sway control also helps in braking and handling the vehicle when the trailer is swaying.

2020 Hyundai Tucson

Hyundai Tucson is one of the efficient subcompact SUVs available in the market. The Tucson is equipped standard with a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated inline-four engine that delivers 181 hp. 

The Tucson has a maximum towing capacity of 2,000 lbs. But AWD models can tow up to 2,500 pounds of cargo.

The Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 comes at the bottom of our best small SUV towing capacity. The RAV4 is powered standard by a 2.4 naturally aspirated four-cylinder paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. 

This powertrain delivers 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. RAV4 offers a maximum towing capacity of 1,500 pounds.

How Can I Increase My SUV’s Towing Capacity?

There are various ways of improving your vehicle’s towing capacity.

Upgrading Your Axles

Replacing your axles with heavy-duty ones increases the number of loads they can support. Get a bit of professional advice before doing this.

Upgrade Your Cold Air Intake and Exhaust system

Upgrading your cold air intake with high-performance aftermarket intakes increases the engine’s efficiency, thereby producing more power. The performance-oriented exhaust system also increases power output, therefore increasing towing capacity.

Upgrading your Suspension

Replacing your OEM suspension with aftermarket Heavy-duty suspension would improve the amount of load and stresses your vehicle can support. This increases your vehicle’s towing capacity.

Installing a Larger Radiator

Your engine produces more heat when it tows or carries more cargo. Installing a larger radiator improves the engine’s efficiency. Ensure you also install a larger radiator after upgrading the aforementioned parts.


Most people tend to overlook the towing capacity when they are purchasing a new SUV. Then they realize later they can not pull anything with what they have. Towing is a very crucial factor, especially if you are a big fan of camping and boating. Always know how capable an SUV is before paying for it.

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