When shopping for a new SUV, it's important to consider all the ways you'll put it to use. Planning to do some off-roading? Make sure you go with AWD or 4WD. Road trip often? Look for the most comfortable SUVs for long drives. If towing travel trailers or outdoor gear is a priority, you need to make sure the SUV you choose can handle the load. Many midsize and large SUVs are available with factory tow package options which add substantial towing capacity and make pulling a trailer safer and easier. See what a factory tow package typically includes, whether or not you should add one to your new SUV, and our picks for the top SUVs with an optional tow package.
What Does a Factory Tow Package Include?
Tow packages vary between automakers and vehicle models. Some packages offer a tow hitch without many enhancements to the vehicle itself, while others will include electrical connections, plus upgrades to the vehicle's suspension, brakes, transmission, and drivetrain.
According to It Still Runs, a factory trailer hitch alone isn't the same thing as a comprehensive towing package. For example, some packages add electrical wiring which allows you to connect the lighting of your vehicle to the trailer. This adds brake lights, turn signals, and in some cases, can power the trailer's braking system. Suspension tweaks like heavier springs and enhanced shocks, along with brake upgrades also make heavy-duty towing safer.
Surprisingly, the SUV's transmission takes the brunt of the towing abuse because it generates much more heat under the pressure of towing. One of the most important features of a factory tow package is a larger heat exchanger in the radiator to balance the impact of heavy-duty loads.
Do You Need a Tow Package for Your SUV?
Not everyone who needs to tow will require a factory tow package. For most light towing purposes, an aftermarket tow hitch is sufficient. There are benefits to simply using a hitch instead of adding a tow package including cost savings and fuel efficiency.
An aftermarket tow hitch starts as low as $150, while a factory tow package can set you back hundreds or thousands of dollars. Many of the upgrades to increase towing capacity in an SUV will also hurt the vehicle's fuel economy, so it's best to skip the tow package if you will only be doing light-duty towing like small boats or trailers.
On the other hand, if you plan to tow a heavier load like a large 5th wheel, a factory tow package will not only increase your vehicle's towing capacity but will also give you more confidence on the road. The following five SUVs offer an optional tow package to suit a wide variety of towing demands.
1. Kia Telluride
The Kia Telluride is one of our favorite 3-row SUVs thanks to its adventurous spirit. It balances rugged style, comfort, and even mild off-road prowess for families that like to go off the beaten path. To make the Telluride even more capable, Kia offers a tow package that increases the SUV's towing capacity to 5,000 lbs. Available on the EX trim and higher, the towing package includes a self-leveling rear suspension and a Class IV towing hitch. The cost of adding the towing package is $795 MSRP, or shoppers can opt for a towing hitch only for $475.
2. Chevrolet Suburban/Chevrolet Tahoe
These sibling vehicles are both redesigned for the 2021 model year with more space and improved performance. In addition to upgrades including a new independent rear suspension and a new optional Duramax 3.0L V6 turbo-diesel engine, the supersized SUVs offer class-leading cargo and passenger space. For all the gear that can't fit inside, the Tahoe and Suburban are also very capable for trailering.
A Max Trailering Package allows the Suburban to tow up to 7,800 lbs, while the Tahoe can tow up to 7,900 lbs. The package is available for both vehicles with a $465 MSRP and includes a high-capacity radiator and cooling fan, integrated trailer brake controller, Hitch Guidance with Hitch View feature, and the Chevrolet trailering app.
3. Dodge Durango
A muscle car in family SUV guise, the Dodge Durango is quick, spacious, and can tow anything from outdoor toys to travel trailers. Even lower trims offer an impressive 6,200-lb towing capacity, but moving up the lineup will provide even more muscle. Dodge's standard Trailer Tow package ($1,195 MSRP) includes a Class IV receiver hitch, full-size spare tire, heavy-duty engine cooling, and rear load-leveling suspension.
The top Durango SRT trim can tow up to 8,700 lbs, and the R/T model can now match that number thanks to Dodge's new Tow N Go package. For an MSRP of $4,995, the package outfits the R/T AWD with styling and towing upgrades like Brembo brakes, Active Damping High-Performance Suspension, Electronic Limited Slip Rear Axle, Class IV Trailer Hitch, and Integrated Trailer Brake Controller.
4. Ford Expedition
Unlike the plethora of crossovers on the market, the Ford Expedition is one of the last remaining body-on-frame SUVs offering both comfort and capability. Ford's largest SUV pulls its weight when it comes to family adventures and there's no shortage of space in the Expedition for passengers and all their gear.
When the adventure involves heavy duty towing jobs like an airstream, the Expedition delivers. The Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package gives the Expedition a best-in-class 9,300 lbs of towing capacity thanks to a heavy-duty radiator, enhanced electronic limited-slip differential, integrated trailer brake controller, and two-speed automatic 4WD. The tow package comes at an additional $1,570 MSRP.
5. Jeep Grand Cherokee
Jeep may be more famous for its off-road chops than its towing prowess, but that doesn't mean you can't get both. The Jeep Grand Cherokee offers something for nearly every use case and budget from a competent V6 base engine, to an optional V8 and luxury appointments in higher trims like the Trackhawk for added style and brawn.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee offers a maximum towing capacity of 7,200 lbs with the help of a Trailer Tow Group IV package that includes features like a Class IV receiver hitch, compact spare tire, trailer tow wiring harness, and heavy-duty engine cooling. The package ranges from $895 to $995 MSRP depending on trim level.