When it comes to towing capability, most car shoppers think they need a pickup truck or large SUV to get the job done. The reality is, if you're not planning to tow more than 3,500 pounds, you don’t need to limit yourself to the larger (and more expensive) vehicles. If you have no use for the extra space, a compact SUV will be a great fit for your needs. Not only will you save on the purchase price of the vehicle, but you'll also save on gas for everyday driving. These 5 compact SUVs give you just enough space in the cabin but are powerful enough to tow your boat or small trailer.
1. 2019 Chevrolet Equinox
The Chevrolet Equinox got a full redesign in 2018 including a whole new platform. The Equinox loses 400 pounds of weight in the redesign, making it better to drive than previous generations as well as more fuel efficient. Even more dramatic improvements are under the hood. The latest generation Equinox gets several engine options including a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque allowing it to tow up to 3,500 lbs. Don't need to tow quite as much? You can opt for the 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque for improved fuel efficiency.
Maximum Towing Capacity: 3,500 lbs
Starting MSRP: $23,800
2. 2019 Ford Escape
If you don't want to wait for the next-gen Escape, the 2019 Ford Escape is still one of the top SUVs in the compact segment for cargo space at 34 cubic feet behind the second row and 68 cubic feet with the back seats folded. For items that won't fit inside (like a boat) the powerful engine options will step in to offer solid towing capacity. There are three engine options for the 2019 Escape including a standard 168-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder for 245 horsepower and the 245-horsepower turbo-four which can be found in the Titanium trims only. Going with the Titanium trim gives you a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 lbs when you opt for the 2.0L EcoBoost Class II Trailer Tow Package. You'll also get trailer sway control tech and auxiliary transmission oil cooler for peace of mind on the road.
Maximum Towing Capacity: 3,500 lbs (with tow package)
Starting MSRP: $24,105
3. 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
The Jeep brand is known for leading in off-road capability with their impressive lineup of SUVs which let you navigate through rocks, mud and even water. In addition to its off-road performance, the compact 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited also helps you tow all the adventure gear that doesn't fit inside. The Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited got a major overhaul in 2018 making it better to drive both on road and off. Two engine options include the base 285-horsepower V6 engine or a 270-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder. If you go with the two-door model, you'll be able to tow up to 2,000 lbs and upgrading to the 4-door Wrangler Unlimited gives you a towing capacity of 3,500 lbs.
Maximum Towing Capacity: 3,500 lbs (Wrangler Unlimited)
Starting MSRP: $28,045
4. 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander
The 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander is an affordable compact SUV for families who like to take weekend adventures and bring along a trailer. Despite its small size, the Outlander features 3 rows of seating to make sure there is enough space for the whole crew. Three engines are offered for the 2019 Outlander including a standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder for 166 horsepower, the Outlander GT which offers a 3.0-liter V6 engine for 224 horsepower and the Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid which is a four-cylinder engine paired with two electric motors offering 197 horsepower. Going with the Outlander GT is the best choice for those that want the most towing capacity since it offers up to 3,500 lbs.
Maximum Towing Capacity: 3,500 lbs (Mitsubishi Outlander GT)
Starting MSRP: $24,695
5. 2019 GMC Terrain
If towing is a high priority but you don't need more passenger space than what a compact crossover offers, the 2019 GMC Terrain should be on your list. GMC exclusively manufactures trucks and SUVs, prioritizing the towing capability even in the smallest vehicle in the lineup. The GMC Terrain was redesigned in 2018 shrinking in size and weight without compromising much as far as cargo space goes. This change comes with the benefit of an improved driving experience and quick acceleration. There are three new engine options to choose from including the base 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder for 170 horsepower, a 2.0-liter turbo-four for 252 horsepower and a turbodiesel powertrain option for 137 horsepower. If you're looking for the highest towing capacity of 3,500 lbs, go with the 2.0-liter turbo-four engine.
Maximum Towing Capacity: 3,500 lbs
Starting MSRP: $25,000