What is the Best SUV for Towing a Horse Trailer?


We’ve all seen the typical picture of a cowboy driving his rusty truck with his horses in tow. However, it’s a more unusual sight to see a modern SUV with a horse trailer in tow. It is possible, but it is important to know which SUVs have the ability to tow a horse trailer.

The best SUVs for towing a horse trailer are the Ford Expedition and the Dodge Durango. These SUVs have the towing power to pull the trailer, gear, and horses which is between 7000-8000 lbs. Factors that are important for consideration are the GVWR, GCWR, GVW, and GTWR.

We will discuss all of the factors that play a part in SUVs towing horse trailers, especially taking into consideration the horses and the overall weight of the horse trailers.

Weight of Horses

The most important thing to consider is your horse; that is your priority. Making sure that you give them a comfortable and safe ride in a suitable trailer will be crucial to making it a worthwhile journey for them.

It is important to consider the breed of horse you have. If you are going to tow a Shetland pony vs. a palomino, you’ll have to factor in wildly different weight ranges. A Shetland pony weighs from 400-450 lbs, whereas a palomino weighs anywhere from 1000-1200 lbs. This is going to significantly influence the type of trailer and towing power necessary for the SUV to handle.

Calculating the horses’ weight is the first step to figuring out what type of SUV you need. You also need to consider how much force your horse is able to exert. If you’re transporting an animal that moves around a lot and disrupts the trailer’s torque, you may need to get an SUV that has a higher towing capacity. For example, if your trailer weighs 4,000 lbs total, which includes the gear and horse, it would be wise to find an SUV that can tow at least 5,000 lbs. This will help to account for the extra force that the horse can apply.

Weight of Trailers

The next thing to take into consideration is the trailer that you are going to use for your horses. You want to make sure that is something that fits them comfortably. Once you have found that, you need to assess what the GVW and GTWR are. The GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) accounts for the weight of the empty trailer. The GTWR (Gross Trailer Weight Rating) accounts for the total mass of the trailer. This includes all of the equipment you are going to use, the horses, and the weight of the empty trailer.

To give an example of this, the average GVW of an empty trailer is between 2,300-3,900 lbs. Once the equipment and the horse(s) have been loaded, the GVWR increases significantly ranging from 7,000-8,000 lbs. Of course, these numbers are going to differ according to the amount of gear you are hauling and if you are towing one or multiple horses.

Towing Capacity of SUV

After these two outside, but crucial, factors have been considered, you can start to figure out what SUV you want to buy. You need to consider the towing capacity and the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating). These ratings are essential because they indicate the value that is considered to be the maximum load the car is able to haul. Once you know what this rating is, you need to combine that number with the GTWR. This will become the Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating (GCVWR).

It is important that you find a trailer and an SUV that does not exceed the amount of weight you need to haul. If you do not take this factor into consideration, this can lead to stress on the engine, transmission, and brakes. When this occurs, it can make any car difficult (and dangerous) to drive.

Specific SUVs for Horse Trailer Towing

One of the SUVs mentioned above, the Ford Expedition has a high towing capacity. A normal Ford Expedition can tow between 6,600-7,200 lbs, which applies to most models made in the 2000s. There are options to buy a heavy-duty trailer package that has been added in recent years. This allows the towing capacity to maxed out at 9,300 lbs and 9,200 lbs in 4WD.

The Dodge Durango SRT, R/T model also has a decent towing capacity. The towing capacity of these models ranges from 6,200-7,400 lbs. This model of car is also smaller to the Ford Expedition, which may appeal to those who don’t want a big vehicle. A heavy-duty trailer package can also be added to this model which has a maximum of 8,700 lbs.

Although not mentioned above, the Lincoln Navigator has a significant amount of towing capacity as well. The towing capacity without a heavy-duty tow package ranges from 6,200-6,600 lbs of weight. With the package installed, this car’s towing capacity increases to 8,700 lbs and 8,300 lbs for cars in 4WD.

The Nissan Armada is unique to the other models mentioned above because its towing capacity is consistent for all lines. There are no heavy-duty towing packages. The towing capacity of this vehicle model makes begins at 6,000 lbs and maxes out at 8,500 lbs. These towing capacities remain consistent whether the car is in RWD or 4WD.

Disadvantage to SUVs

Perhaps the biggest argument as to why a truck is still the classic choice for towing a horse trailer is the difference between the make. A truck has a chassis design, which is a much more rigid structure. The ladder-like form of the back of the truck helps to provide more stability to the horse trailer being towed. In comparison, the SUV is built with a more body-like form. When traveling, this means that there will be more air pressure hitting the trailer.

Most trucks are rear-wheel drive. This means that the power is generated from the back of the wheels, which is a more effective use of force when pulling a horse trailer. An SUV typically functions in forward drive, which does give it more traction in the rain and snow. However, this limits the control of the trailer because the force reaching the trailer is weaker.

Will Turner

Will has an absolute passion for 4x4s and loves discovering all of the small details about each model. Will joined the Four Wheel Trends team in early 2021 and has been a valuable contributor ever since!

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