Buying Guides

2018 5 Best Mid-Size SUVs for Towing

When you need your family vehicle to be a workhorse, too

Wade Thiel, Senior Staff Writer

Midsize SUVs and crossovers are extremely popular vehicles for a reason. They're versatile. You can do almost anything with them, and they're comfortable and spacious. Most drive well on the road, offer good all-weather traction, and some mild off-road capabilities when properly equipped. Towing isn't usually high on their list of priorities. That said, there are some midsize SUVs and crossovers that can get the job done when it comes to towing a trailer. Here are the five best midsizers for drivers who need to tow.

2019 Chevrolet Traverse

 
  • PROS: Towing capacity up to 5,000 lbs, traction mode selection with tow mode, spacious and comfortable interior, masculine-looking exterior, strong V6 engine.
  • CONS: Rear visibility isn’t very good, tough to fit in some garages, drives more truck-like than its competitors.

The Chevrolet Traverse is a smart step up from the Equinox if you ever need to tow. It can tow up to 5,000 lbs when properly equipped, and you still get all of the great features this vehicle has to offer. The Traverse has eight seats, a spacious cargo area, and Chevrolet’s excellent MyLink infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi. There are plenty of driver assist features, including Low-Speed Forward Automatic Braking, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, Following Distance Indicator, Front Pedestrian Detection, and a Surround Vision monitor. The 3.6-liter V6 puts out 310 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. If you want to tow, you’ll need to get it with all-wheel drive, too.

2018 Dodge Durango

 
  • PROS: Can tow up to 8,700 lbs, muscular styling, numerous powerful powertrain options, plenty of room in all three rows of seating, excellent infotainment system.
  • CONS: Can get expensive in upper trim levels, big V8s are thirsty.

The Dodge Durango is a versatile beast. You can get it in its most basic V6 form, which tows up to 6,200 lbs, or you can get it with a couple different V8 engines, the most powerful of which can tow up to a whopping 8,700 lbs. The Durango is the muscle SUV that just happens to be extremely comfy and spacious on the inside. Pair that with FCA’s excellent Uconnect infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and you have one of the best vehicles out there. The model can also be had with plenty of driver assistance tech, including Enhanced Accident Response System, Full-Speed Forward Collision Warning Plus system, Hill Start Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Parksense Park Assist with Stop, Rain Brake Support, and Trailer Sway Damping. All-wheel drive is available should you feel the need for it.

2018 Ford Explorer

 
  • PROS: Can tow up to 5,000 lbs, strong V6 engine, attractive exterior styling, large cargo area.
  • CONS: Competitors have better seats, feels bigger than it is, could do better on fuel.

The Ford Explorer is one of the models that started America’s love affair with SUVs. Today, it’s still a great option for families, especially if you need a midsize SUV or crossover that can tow. While it doesn’t have the highest towing capacity out there, the Explorer’s ability to tow up to 5,000 lbs is no joke. Pair that with the fact that it looks great, comes with Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and is avaliable with a long list of driver assistance features and you have one heck of a good vehicle. Driver assist features include SOS Post-Crash Alert System, Forward Sensing System, Adaptive Cruise Control and Collision Warning with Brake Support, Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert, Active Park Assist, and Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist. If you’re towing, definitely get the 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 engine that makes 290 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque, and don’t forget to buy the all-wheel drive system, too.

2019 Honda Pilot

 
  • PROS: Can tow up to 5,000 lbs, smooth car-like ride, lots of cargo and cabin space, strong and smooth V6 engine.
  • CONS: Infotainment system could be better, uninspiring driving characteristics, boring exterior styling.

If you want a vehicle that’s almost as practical as a minivan, but don’t want to actually buy a minivan and need something that can tow serious loads, the Honda Pilot is probably your best choice. It’s extremely practical and spacious with one of the biggest cargo areas in its class. While the infotainment system leaves something to be desired, otherwise the vehicle is an excellent all-around machine. Its 3.5-liter V6 puts 280 hp and 262 lb-ft torque through a 9-speed automatic transmission to the front or all four wheels. If you want to tow 5,000 lbs, you’d better pony up for the AWD. In addition to the Pilot’s fantastic package, it gets some good driver assistance tech, including Rear Cross Traffic Monitor, Blind Spot Information System, and Multi-Angle Rearview Camera. Every Pilot gets Honda Sensing suite of safety equipment, which includes Collision Mitigation Braking System, Road Departure Mitigation System, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Lane Keeping Assist System.

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

 
  • PROS: Towing capacity of 7,400 lbs, serious off-road capability, several engine options, excellent infotainment system, upscale interior.
  • CONS: Only seats five, predicted reliability not as high as competitors, can get expensive.

Need something that’s trail rated that also has the ability to tow some serious loads? The Jeep Grand Cherokee is an excellent choice as long as you don’t have to pack more than five people in the vehicle. The Grand Cherokee is attractive, tough, and capable. The model can tow up to 7,400 lbs when properly equipped. There’s a 3.6-liter V6 as standard equipment, a 3.0-liter V6 diesel for the true towing community. There’s also two raucous V8s to choose from. A true four-wheel drive system is available for real off-road capability. Inside, you get an upscale interior comfortable for five with FCA’s fantastic Uconnect infotainment system. Driver assistance features include auto-dimming mirrors, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop, Blind-Spot and Cross-Path Detection, Full-Speed Forward Collision Warning-Plus, Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist, LaneSense Lane Departure Warning, Parallel and Perpendicular Park-Assist, Rain Brake Support, and Trailer Sway Damping.

What to look for when you need to tow


    Tow rating of at least 5,000 lbs.

    Plenty of driver assistance technology.

    Strong engine with at least 6 cylinders.

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