What Mid-Size SUV Has the Highest Towing Capacity?

The mid-size SUV market is one of the largest and most diverse automotive segments. A mid-size SUV is usually an excellent choice for many, from off-road adventures to soccer moms. One thing that virtually all SUV drivers have in common is that the ‘U’ in SUV is important to them. When it comes to utility, towing capacity is one of the most critical considerations.

What Mid-Size SUV Has the Highest Towing Capacity?

Should You Use Four-Wheel Drive When Towing?

When it comes to which SUV has the highest towing capacity, several mid-size options offer massive payloads. The best mid-size SUV’s for towing are: 

Dodge Durango – 8,700-pound towing capacity
Land Rover Defender – 8,201-pound towing capacity
BMW X5 – 7,200-pound towing capacity
Jeep Grand Cherokee – 6,200-pound towing capacity
Nissan Pathfinder – 6,000-pound towing capacity
Ford Explorer – 5,600-pound towing capacity

When it comes to which SUV has the highest towing capacity, several mid-size options offer massive payloads. The best mid-size SUV’s for towing are: 

Read on, and we’ll cover everything you need to know to select the perfect mid-size SUV for you and what you’ll be towing. We’ll also cover some essential tips for ensuring that you make the most of your vehicle’s towing capacity so you can tow your load safely and securely. 

What Is the Best Overall Mid-Size SUV for Towing?

Most mid-size SUVs top out at around 5,000 pounds when it comes to towing capacity. If you needed a higher towing capacity in recent years, your only option was to purchase a gas-chugging full-size SUV. Not only will larger trucks cost you more at the pump, but they’re also usually significantly more expensive at the dealership.

Fortunately, some mid-size SUV makers have dramatically increased the towing bona fides of their popular vehicles, and many now offer towing capacities well north of the 5,000-pound number that’s common with mid-size SUVs. 

The Dodge Durango, in particular, is a towing monster. With its smaller V6 engine, the Durango base model pulls an impressive 6,200-pounds, which is significant for the category. Meanwhile, the larger V8 model and specialty versions like the SRT 392 can tow an incredible 8,700-pounds. Even some full-size SUVs would blush at that towing capacity. 

While the Durango doesn’t offer excellent fuel economy, and its body style is slightly dated (it’s been about ten years since its last reboot), the Durango is hands down the most potent and capable mid-size SUV for towing. 

Checking the Fine Print at the Dealership

One of the most critical things to keep in mind when shopping for a new mid-size SUV with a high towing capacity is that the advertised towing capacity may differ from the real world. 

Manufacturers tend to advertise the maximum towing capacity of the vehicle. What they don’t tell you is that it may differ depending on the trim package and options you select. To use the Dodge Durango as an example, Dodge advertises an 8,700-pound towing capacity, but that only applies to their V8 models. The base Durango tows a smaller but still respectable 6,200-pounds.

When you’re shopping for a new SUV, pay close attention to what engine and options you must select to achieve the maximum towing capacity that the manufacturer advertises. 

Opt for the Tow Package

Most manufacturers offer several different engine configurations, and logic dictates that the larger the engine, the higher the towing capacity. But, sometimes, there’s more at play with towing capacity than the size of the engine. 

Some carmakers even require a factory-installed tow package to hit the vehicle’s maximum towing capacity. Most people erroneously think of a tow package as a hitch and a wiring harness. Still, most vehicle manufacturers provide more upgrades than meet the eye as part of their tow packages. 

It’s common for manufacturers to add components like a high-capacity alternator or transmission cooler as part of their tow packages. Most also include frame upgrades to help the SUV efficiently tow its payload. High-end SUVs even have features like sway controls and camera systems that make it easier to back up and maneuver the trailer.

Avoid Changing Your Wheel or Tire Size

Wheels and tires are one of the most common upgrades for SUVs. Larger rims and tires might make the truck look sharp, but they can put a damper on your towing ability. 

Larger rims and taller tires require more torque from your engine to get moving again from a stop, and they cause the transmission to work harder, as well. 

Not only is it essential to keep your wheels and tires at the factory size, but you’ll want to ensure that when you purchase aftermarket tires, they offer the same load rating as the tires from the factory. 

Even if the tires are the same size, they may have a different load rating. Always purchase new tires that match the load rating of the stock tires the SUV came with, and ensure that they’re inflated to the correct pressure, especially when you’re going to be towing something. 

The Importance of Weight Ratings & Payload Capacity

When you’re preparing to tow a load, you need to be well acquainted with the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), gross vehicle combined weight rating (GCWR), and payload capacity. These numbers dictate how much the truck can tow and how the other cargo and passengers in the vehicle affect towing capacity. 

Payload is the first number you’ll want to familiarize yourself with, and it’s the maximum weight the vehicle can carry. It includes the truck, everything inside the truck, and the weight of the trailer tongue. 

An SUV’s GVWR is the weight of the empty vehicle plus the payload, which indicates the total weight of a loaded vehicle. 

What Mid Size SUV Has the Highest Towing Capacity 1 What Mid-Size SUV Has the Highest Towing Capacity?

The GCWR is the gross vehicle weight rating, plus the maximum weight of a loaded trailer. 

The last figure to familiarize yourself with is the trailer tongue weight. The SUV bears the weight of the trailer tongue, which is the A-shaped portion of the trailer that connects to the hitch and keeps the trailer balanced while towing. The tongue of most trailers weighs about 10-15% of the trailer’s total weight. 

All these numbers are critical because the towing capacity of an SUV doesn’t tell the whole story of what you can safely tow. If you’re traveling with the whole family and 500 pounds of cargo, you’ll need to factor that into your towing capacity to ensure you aren’t putting more stress on your vehicle than it can handle. 

What Happens if I Tow Too Much?

Towing greater loads than your vehicle is rated for is a recipe for disaster. While exceeding the towing capacity by a few hundred pounds doesn’t sound like a big deal on paper, the additional weight can throw off the balance of your trailer and vehicle, increasing the risk of an accident. 

Beyond the safety risks, exceeding your tow capacity puts undue strain on the vehicle. The powertrain and other vehicle systems have to work much harder to tow the weight, resulting in severe damage that can be costly to repair.

The Owner’s Manual Is Your Friend

It’s always a good practice to familiarize yourself with all the information in your owner’s manual, and it’s imperative to do so whenever you’re going to be towing a trailer. Your owner’s manual will provide all the info you need about towing capacity, tire load rating, GVWR, GVCR, payload, and anything else that affects the vehicle when you’re towing cargo. 

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