If there’s one thing everyone knows about pickup trucks, they’re powerful. It’s no secret that if you want to maximize your towing prowess, you have plenty of wiggle room between the likes of the Silverado 1500 and Silverado HD models, the latter of which can tow up to 36,000 lbs. This must mean you need a truck if you want to tow anything of significant size, right?
That couldn’t be further from the truth. SUVs may not achieve the same kind of towing performance as your far more cumbersome and pricier heavy-duty trucks, but it’s possible to find used SUVs for sale with more towing prowess than some new-model pickups! If you know you won’t need a few dozen thousand pounds of towing capability, you don’t need a pickup truck, and an SUV will offer you amenities that pickup trucks can’t, like three rows of seating and exceptional interior cargo space.
You’re here because you’re wondering which SUVs are best for towing and which ones prove you don’t need a pickup truck to tow. The following are some of the most capable SUVs, and I’ll explain my criteria for their selection…
Firstly, I considered the towing capacity of each SUV, and I selected a handful of full-size SUVs (those with the highest towing capacity) along with two midsize SUVs—the Chevy Traverse and Jeep Grand Cherokee—if only to mix things up a bit. For full-size SUVs, I’ve curated the specs on the 2023 iterations of the Toyota Sequoia, Ford Expedition, and Chevy Tahoe and Suburban. I would recommend these for drivers like yourself who want a towing-capable SUV.
So, in no particular order, here are the six best SUVs to rival the capabilities of the pickup segment:
2023 Chevy Suburban
The Chevy Suburban isn’t the strongest on this list. (I’ll mention two full-size SUVs with a higher maximum towing capacity.) However, the Suburban still tows more than an entry-level truck like the Chevy Colorado and Ford Ranger, which have a maximum towing capacity of 7,700 lbs and 7,500 lbs, respectively. In comparison, the Suburban can tow up to 8,300 lbs.
There are three powertrains available to the Suburban, including a 5.3L V8 with a towing capacity of 8,300 lbs, a 6.2L V8 that tows 8,200 lbs, and a turbo-diesel 3.0L I-6 with a maximum capacity of 8,000 lbs. What makes the Suburban one of the best SUVs is that you not only get that maximum towing capacity of 8,300 lbs, but the Suburban has up to 144.7 cu.ft. of cargo space, with at least 41.5 cu.ft. always available.
2023 Chevy Tahoe
The Chevy Tahoe has several similarities to the Suburban, but there are a few differences that justify its lower starting price. Something the Tahoe does better than the Suburban is towing, albeit slightly. The Tahoe utilizes the same three powertrains as the Suburban with identical performance with a slight variation in the 6.2L V8 in horsepower and torque output, but towing is its standout distinction.
The 5.3L V8 gets a slight increase to 8,400 lbs with the Tahoe, the 6.2L V8 gets a similar adjustment to 8,300 lbs, and the turbo-diesel I-6 gets the largest increase, with a jump to 8,200 lbs. Something that contributes to the price decrease over the Suburban is a slightly more compact interior: both SUVs are full-size, but the Tahoe has between 25.5 cu.ft. and 122.9 cu.ft. of cargo space. The Tahoe is the better SUV for towing if the slight differences in capabilities matter to you—and don’t worry, the ten-speed automatic transmission from the Suburban is here, too.
2023 Ford Expedition
If you want one of the best towing experiences you can get from an SUV, you should get the Ford Expedition. The Expedition is an extraordinarily performant SUV priced not too dissimilar from the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban. What makes the Ford Expedition a more appealing offer [for those who care mostly about the towing performance of their SUV] is a maximum towing capacity of 9,300 lbs.
Buying the 2023 Ford Expedition means your SUV is powered by one of two variants of a turbocharged 3.5L V6 engine—one with a higher horsepower and torque output. The Expedition pairs its V6 to a ten-speed automatic transmission, and MAX models have 121.5 cu.ft. of cargo space at most, which is quite similar to the Tahoe. However, non-MAX models lower this down to 104.6 cu.ft., which means—against Chevy’s two full-size options—you should buy the Expedition if you want far better towing, but at the cost of other full-size SUV normalcies like extreme cargo space. If you buy the MAX model, you can get the best of both worlds, but at an expected price increase.
2023 Toyota Sequoia
It’s impossible not to mention the Toyota Sequoia in this list because, while it is pricier than the other vehicles I’ve mentioned here, it has the greatest maximum towing capacity of them all, capable of hauling 9,520 lbs. The 2023 Toyota Sequoia is a fascinating beast because it’s a full-size SUV that runs off a hybrid powertrain—but not just any hybrid powertrain…
Empowering the 2023 Sequoia is a turbocharged 3.5L i-FORCE MAX hybrid engine paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission capable of outputting 437 hp and 583 lb-ft of torque. This hybrid powertrain keeps the Sequoia on the road longer than most other full-size SUVs thanks to its ample fuel efficiency compared to its contemporaries.
2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee
I mentioned briefly at the beginning that I wanted to recommend some midsize SUVs to you because not everybody wants a full-size SUV; this could be for a few reasons, including not needing or wanting such an unwieldy vehicle, or you’re looking to save money as full-size SUVs are generally more expensive to own than their smaller counterparts.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is an excellent performer for those who admire an adventurous lifestyle, as off-roading amenities and standard 4WD are complemented by a maximum towing capacity of 6,200 lbs. Jeep fans know all about the Grand Cherokee, but if you’re looking for a midsize towing-capable SUV, this isn’t a bad place to start!
2023 Chevy Traverse
Much like I had mentioned with vehicles like the Suburban, the Chevy Traverse is in a similar situation up against other midsize SUVs like the Grand Cherokee in that it has far superior cargo space at the cost of some towing capacity. (It also has AWD instead of 4WD.) The 2023 Traverse is powered by a 3.6L V6 paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission, which calls for 310 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque.
The towing capacity of this V6 sits at 5,000 lbs; this is still a solid amount and may just as easily serve those accustomed to a vehicle that tows 6,200 lbs, like the Grand Cherokee. However, the 24% increase in towing capacity the Jeep Grand Cherokee has over the Traverse loses its luster against the 28% of cargo space you give up: Jeep’s midsize SUV has 70.8 cu.ft. at most, while Chevy’s midsize SUV has 98.2 cu.ft. The Traverse is simply a better balance of the two.
So Long, Pickup; Hello, SUV!
You don’t need to have previously owned a pickup for this sentence to apply to your future shopping: you don’t need a pickup truck if you want to tow. Again, the pickup class is far more versatile in how it distributes its power, but not everyone needs the elephantine strength of a Silverado HD—or even the fierce might of the Silverado 1500.
If you were in the market for something like a midsize pickup, you could rest assured you can get something more comfortable and practical while getting the same towing capabilities.