Used Cars in New Jersey

Best Small SUVs for Towing

The versatility of small SUVs make them a perfect choice for both city dwellers and adventure seekers who love the great outdoors. In this guide, we’ll explore Small SUVs with best towing capacity, leading the pack in their class.

This list on small SUVs with best towing capacity ranks small SUVs based on their maximum towing capacity as specified by the manufacturers. 

Small SUV Towing Capacity Chart

Small SUVMaximum Tow Capacity
(2014-2022) Jeep Cherokee4,500 pounds
2024 Ford Escape3,500 pounds
(2018-2020) Chevy Equinox3,500 pounds
2024 Toyota Rav43,500 pounds
2024 Mazda CX-503,500 pounds
2024 Subaru Crosstrek3,500 pounds
2024 Volvo XC403,500 pounds
2024 Subaru Forester3,000 pounds
2024 Kia Sportage2,500 pounds
2024 Ford Bronco Sport2,200 pounds

It’s important to note that not all models within a vehicle range have the same towing capacity. To make things easier for you, we have provided information on the specific configuration that offers the highest towing capacity for each model, along with an estimated cost for that configuration.

While not included in our ranking, there are compact SUVs with a 2,000-pound towing capacity, which is above average for a small crossover. These include the Jeep Compass, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-30, Mazda CX-5, Ford EcoSport, Fiat 500X, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Hyundai Tucson.

1. (2014-2022) Jeep Cherokee – 4500 pounds

Car Key Points

  • Fifth generation (2014-2023)
  • Available 270-hp turbocharged four-cylinder can tow up to 4,000 pounds
  • Available 271-hp 3.2-liter V6 (2014-2022) can tow up to 4,500 pounds
  • Tow package is required to unlock max towing capacity

Overview

The Jeep Cherokee, being the largest among Jeep’s lineup of small-ish crossovers, stands out from its showroom siblings, especially the similarly sized Compass, thanks to its off-road capabilities and impressive towing capacity. In fact, the Cherokee takes the crown for towing the heaviest load on our list.

The base engine has a tow rating of up to 2,000 pounds. But there’s an available 270-hp turbocharged four-cylinder which when paired with the tow package, can tow up to 4,000 pounds.

Now, if you need an even beefier towing capacity, consider going for a Cherokee model equipped with the 271-horsepower 3.2-liter V6 engine. When you add the optional tow package to the mix, you’re looking at an impressive towing capacity of 4,500 pounds.

It’s worth noting that the Jeep Cherokee has remained relatively unchanged since the 2014 model year, so considering a slightly older model could be a smart move if you’re on the lookout for an affordable choice.

Pros

  • Genuine off-road prowess
  • Great Towing capacity
  • Well-controlled ride

Cons

  • Limited cargo space
  • Pricey
  • Outdated

2. 2024 Ford Escape – 3500 pounds

Starting MSRP (maximum towing capacity):  $34,040

Car Key Points

  • Fourth generation model (2020-Present)
  • Can tow up to 3500 pounds
  • Requires upgrade to ST-Line Select or Higher Trims that unlock the 250-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • All-wheel drive
  • Available Class II Trailer Tow Package
  • Base 181-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine can tow up to 2,000 pounds
  • Hybrid Trims can tow up to 2,000 pounds

Overview

Refreshed The Escape offers a diverse range of powertrains, translating into a variety of towing capacities. Let’s begin with the base and Active trims, which exclusively come with a lively 181-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine, allowing you to tow up to 2,000 pounds.

Ford offers two hybrid options, including a plug-in variant, featuring a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors. However, the towing capacity for these hybrids is limited to 1,500 pounds.

For those seeking a compelling upgrade, the 250-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is the way to go. Not only does it deliver a more spirited and seamless performance, but it also significantly enhances the towing capacity. 

The most cost-effective means of accessing this powertrain option is by opting for the ST-Line trim and selecting the coveted select package. The select package equips the vehicle with the 2.0 L Ecoboost engine featuring Auto Start-Stop Technology, all-wheel drive, and sport handling suspensions and tuning.

With this combination, you can unlock the maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, all at an approximate cost of $34,000. To maximize your ability to transport heavy loads, Ford recommends obtaining the available Class II Trailer Tow Package. This package includes various safety and control features, such as trailer sway control and a receiver hitch.

Pros

  • Multitude of powertrain choices
  • Perky turbocharged engine available
  • Sexier Exterior design
  • Roomy cabin

Cons

  • So-so cargo space
  • A nicer interior would have been appreciated

3. (2018-2020) Chevy Equinox – 3500 pounds

Small SUV’s with the best towing capacity - Chevy Equinox

Check used Chevrolet Equinox price

Car Key Points

  • Third generation model (2018-2024)
  • Can Tow up to 3,500 pounds
  • Require selecting the 252-hp 2.0L turbocharged engine (2018-2020) with towing package 
  • Up to 29 MPG (EPA-estimated) on the highway 
  • Amongst the roomies compact crossovers in the class 
  • Suite of advanced driver-assistance systems

Overview

It may seem surprising to see the Equinox on the list, given its ordinary towing capacity of 1,500 pounds for the 2024 model. However, if you’re in the market for a used small SUV with excellent towing capability, the 2020 Chevy Equinox is a solid choice.

While the standard 1.5L Turbocharged Engine offers a towing capacity of 1,500 pounds, the 2020 model also offers the option of a gutsy 2.0L turbocharged engine. When paired with the Chevy Equinox towing package, this combination allows the Equinox to achieve an impressive maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds.

But towing capacity isn’t the only aspect that makes the Equinox a standout choice. Its practical utility factor is also worth mentioning, as the Equinox is one of the most spacious vehicles in its class. With its roomy interior, comfortable seats, and a host of convenient amenities, the Equinox proves to be a reliable choice for long-distance family trips.

Let’s not overlook the 252-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, which delivers exhilarating acceleration that can even make the wheels chirp with excitement. Furthermore, Chevy has equipped the Equinox with an abundance of standard features, including a user-friendly infotainment system and a comprehensive set of driver-assistance systems.

Pros

  • Athletic yet comfortable
  • User-friendly touchscreen featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration
  • Spacious interior with ample room
  • Potent optional 2.0-liter turbo

Cons

  • Some low-rent cabin materials
  • Less cargo space

4. 2024 Toyota RAV4 – 3500 pounds

Starting MSRP (maximum towing capacity): $34,870

Car Key Points

  • Fifth-generation model (2019-Present)
  • Can tow up to 3500 pounds
  • Highest tow rating is reserved to Adventure and TRD Off-Road trims
  • 203-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (28 MPG combined)
  • Available plug-in hybrid can tow up to 2500 pounds
  • Standard trailer sway control system

Overview

The Toyota RAV4 stands out as a practical and fuel-efficient SUV, solidifying its position as one of Toyota’s top-selling vehicles. It offers a 203-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which delivers respectable power, albeit being slightly noisy.

What you might not be aware of is its impressive capability. This small SUV can confidently tow up to 3500 pounds, making it ideal for various towing needs.

However, there’s a small catch. The maximum towing capacity of 3500 pounds is exclusive to the Adventure and TRD Off-Road trims. These models offer a range of features designed to facilitate safer and easier towing. One such feature is the Dynamic Torque All-Wheel Drive, capable of shifting up to half of the vehicle’s weight to the rear axle. Without this package, the towing capability is limited to 1500 pounds.

For those interested in an eco-friendly option, the plug-in hybrid RAV4 Prime showcases an impressive towing capacity of 2500 pounds. The regular hybrid trims, on the other hand, offer a maximum towing capacity of 1750 pounds.

Furthermore, the RAV4 includes a standard trailer sway control system, assisting you in maintaining control over the trailer’s trajectory. It’s important to note that Toyota no longer offers a dedicated towing package. Therefore, you’ll need to separately purchase a hitch kit.

Pros

  • Practical cabin
  • Expected Reliability
  • Good amount of standard features

Cons

  • Noisy engine
  • Boring driving character

5. 2024 Mazda CX-50 – 3500 pounds

Starting MSRP (maximum towing capacity): $38,000

Car Key Points

  • Part of the first CX-50 generation introduced for 2023
  • Can tow up to 3500
  • Requires upgrading to the turbo 2.5-liter four-cylinder (Turbo and higher trims)
  • Makes 227 hp on regular fuel and 256-hp on 93 octane premium
  • Returns EPA-estimated 25 MPG combined
  • Standard all-wheel drive

Overview

Introducing the latest addition to Mazda’s lineup, the Mazda CX-50! Despite its compact size, this SUV packs a punch by sharing its platform with the sporty CX-30 crossover and the stylish Mazda 3 compact car.

With all-wheel drive as standard, every model of the CX-50 boasts a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, but there are two different power options to choose from. For those seeking maximum towing capacity, the turbocharged variant with 256 horsepower is the way to go. The cheapest way to unlock that impressive power is to opt for the Turbo trim, which starts at $38,000.

But here’s the thing—even when you’re not towing stuff, spending a bit more on the CX-50 is totally worth it. Mazda made sure this SUV sticks to the brand’s reputation for impressive driver engagement, especially with the turbo engine. 

Pros

  • Gusty Turbo engine available
  • Class-above interior
  • Driving Athleticism

Cons

  • Average interior space
  • So-so MPG figure
  • Pricey

6. 2024 Subaru Crosstrek – 3500 pounds

Starting MSRP (maximum towing capacity): $32,195

Car Key Points

  • Third generation model (2024)
  • Can tow upto 3500 pounds
  • Max tow rating is exclusive to Wilderness trim
  • 182-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer engine
  • EPA-estimated 27 MPG combined

Overview

Subaru has given a facelift to its popular small crossover SUV, the Crosstrek, for the 2024 model year. Although the changes might not be immediately apparent from the outside, there has been a very notable update. 

The Crosstrek now proudly sports the Wilderness badge, making it the third vehicle in Subaru’s lineup to receive this configuration. And it is the towing capacity that has astonishingly gone up; while standard Crosstrek models still have the 1,500-pound limit, Wilderness models can tow up to 3,500 pounds. 

What sets the Wilderness trims apart are the finely tuned transmission and a revised differential gear ratio, ensuring optimal traction on slippery surfaces. These trims also come equipped with a transmission oil cooler, a significant addition considering the increased load capacity.

Pros:

  • Impressive fuel economy
  • Straightforward and spacious interior
  • Superior off-road capabilities 

Cons:

  • Noticeable interior noise at highway speeds
  • Limited storage and cargo space
  • Tech features fall short 

7. 2024 Volvo XC40 – 3500 pounds

Starting MSRP (maximum towing capacity): $40,100

Car Key Points

  • First generation model (2019- Present)
  • Can tow up to 3500 pounds
  • 247-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine 
  • 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • EPA-estimated 26 MPG combined
  • Standard all-wheel drive

Overview

The Volvo XC40 is one of the top-rated vehicles in its class. It blends Volvo’s safety-first ethos and upscale ambiance with a more youthful character.

Now you might think this luxury compact SUV might be out of your budget. However, the fact is while most other vehicles in the list are from the affordable class with a low starting price, they require you to upgrade to a higher horsepower engine model to get the full benefits of the towing capacity as the base models usually come with a lower towing capacity.

That is not the case with the Volvo XC40. As long as you have the proper towing hitch, which can be installed by a dealer, your Volvo SUV can haul up to 3,500 pounds.

So, the XC40 does not cost much more than the mid-range SUVs that have far lower towing capacities. Not to forget, you get all the luxury that you would usually associate with a Volvo, including an upscale driving experience and a quality interior.

Pros

  • Solid towing capacity even with base powertrain
  • Luxurious and Feature-loaded

Cons

  • No all-wheel drive with the base engine

8. 2024 Subaru Forester – 3000 pounds

Starting MSRP (maximum towing capacity): $34,920

Car Key Points

  • Fifth generation model (2019-Present)
  • Can tow up to 3000 pounds
  • Max tow rating is reserved to Wilderness trim
  • 182-horsepower flat-four engine
  • 8-inch touchscreen display
  • Standard all wheel drive

Overview

The Subaru Forester underwent a slight refresh for the 2022 model year, but its essence as a compact crossover with rugged, outdoorsy appeal remained intact.

If you’re aiming for the Forester’s impressive maximum towing capacity of 3,000 pounds, the Forester Wilderness trim is your ticket. Other Forester trims can handle up to 1,500 pounds of towing weight. Additionally, you have the option to add an accessory Class II hitch receiver.

While the 2024 Subaru Forester boasts a rugged and robust appearance, its true focus lies in utility rather than flashy style. Its boxy design and smart utilization of space contribute to its class-leading cargo capacity of up to 74.2 cubic feet. Both rows offer comfortable seating, and the vehicle excels in crash-test ratings. Not to mention, it comes equipped with a comprehensive suite of advanced driver-assist systems as standard.

Pros

  • Spacious and Practical
  • Standard AWD
  • Plush ride quality

Cons

  • Underwhelming acceleration
  • Below-average expectable reliability

9. 2024 Kia Sportage – 2500 pounds

Starting MSRP (maximum towing capacity): $27,090

Car Key Points

  • Fifth generation model (2023-Present)
  • Can tow up to 2500 pounds
  • 187-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine
  • Available all-wheel drive
  • 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile warranty coverage

Overview

The 2023 model year introduced a new generation of the Kia Sportage, sharing its platform, technology, and powertrains with the redesigned Hyundai Tucson. Notably, the towing capacity has seen a significant improvement over the previous model year, increasing by 500 pounds. This compact crossover can now pull up to 2,500 pounds, provided the trailer has a braking system. 

While there isn’t a dedicated towing package for the Kia Sportage, there are various towing accessories available to enhance your towing experience. Some notable options include a tow hitch with a harness, a towbar wiring kit, a 13-pole and 7-pole socket, a retractable tow bar, fixed tow bar, and a bike carrier for the towbar.

Setting itself apart from the crowd of compact crossovers, the 2023 Kia Sportage boasts eye-catching, extroverted styling. The bold bodywork is also larger in dimensions, resulting in increased cargo space and a more spacious interior.

Step inside, and you’ll be greeted by an attractive cabin loaded with tech. The Sportage also rides on a new platform with an extended wheelbase compared to its predecessor, translating to improved ride comfort.

Pros

  • Desirable starting price
  • Solid 10-year warranty
  • Spacious cabin

Cons

  • Polarizing design
  • Plain driving dynamics

10. 2024 Ford Bronco Sport – 2,200 pounds

Starting MSRP (maximum towing capacity): $38,390

Car Key Points

  • First generation model (2021-Present)
  • Can tow up to 2,200 pounds
  • Requires upgrading to the 250-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and opting the Class II Trailer Tow package 
  • Perkier engine reserved to Badland trim
  • Upgraded 4WD system with special rear differential
  • Ford Terrain Management System 
  • Off-road-optimized suspension and all-terrain tires
  • EPA-estimated 23 MPG combined

Overview

The 2024 Ford Bronco is based on the Ford Escape but is hardly like anything usual. Designed to tackle any terrain, the small crossover from Ford carries a unique off-road style and a similarly highly-functional style on the inside.

The 2024 Ford Bronco takes inspiration from the Ford Escape, but it’s far from your typical crossover. Engineered to conquer diverse terrains, this compact crossover from Ford boasts a distinctive off-road flair and an equally functional interior.

Much like its counterpart, the Escape, the Ford Bronco Sport relies on its available 250-horsepower 4-cylinder engine to achieve its maximum tow rating. This capability is enhanced by the inclusion of a Class II Trailer Tow Package.

However, it’s important to note that the Bronco Sport commands a higher starting price for a compact SUV. Despite its prowess, it faces challenges in areas where competitors have long excelled, such as ride comfort, confident road manners, as well as rear passenger space.

Pros:

  • Exceptional off-road performance.
  • Distinctive and boxy styling sets it apart.

Cons:

  • Below-average fuel efficiency.
  • Higher price point.
  • Falls short in upscale features compared to leading compact SUVs.

Choosing the Right Small SUV for Towing

Knowing the weight of what you plan to tow is crucial. Ensure that the loaded trailer weight remains within the specified towing capacity. Exceeding this limit increases the risk of accidents. 

Additionally, it’s crucial to consider the necessity of a towing package. While selecting a more robust engine may enhance towing capability in certain instances, manufacturers often mandate opting for a factory-equipped tow package to attain the maximum tow rating.