6 Best Crossover SUVs For Towing An RV In 2021

Crossover SUVs are the newest wave in automotive innovation. They offer both the sports utility of an SUV, though they are built on more of a car-like chassis.

This gives them superior handling as well as the ability to tow the kind of travel trailers, campers, and popup campers that RV enthusiasts enjoy.

Of course, not all crossover SUVs are created the same. There are some that are better suited for towing than other models.

If you have a lightweight trailer, camper, teardrop camper or expandable popup camper, then you might be wondering what is the best crossover SUV for towing?

Right off the bat the Nissan Pathfinder and the Hyundai Kona are two of the top import crossover SUVs on the market.

Domestically the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Dodge Durango are some of the better crossover SUVs for towing lightweight travel trailers and small campers.

Though to truly find the best crossover SUV to meet your towing needs we are going to have to look at some basic terminology as well as key features to look for in any tow vehicle.

What To Look For In A Crossover SUV Tow Vehicle

As you can imagine, the first thing you want to look at with any tow vehicle is the “Towing Capacity.” If this information isn’t printed or stamped into the driver’s side door well, it will be listed in the owner’s manual as “Maximum Towing Capacity.”

These specifications then need to be compared to the characteristics of the travel trailer or camper you intend to tow.

If you already have a travel trailer or you found one you are in love with and you want to pair it with the best possible crossover SUV you will need to keep some of the following terms in mind.

  • GVWR – The “Gross Vehicle Weight Rating” of a trailer is its fully loaded weight. This is the most it can weigh when loaded with all your camping equipment and filled water tanks.  Ideally, this number should be 80% of the crossover SUV’s maximum towing capacity. That way your SUV will still have the available power to safely tow the trailer at highway speeds, or up a steep incline.
  • Dry Weight – This is what a trailer weighs when it is completely empty. Most people don’t travel this way, but it might be something to consider if your crossover SUVs maximum towing capacity is within the 80% rule of the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.
  • Tongue Weight – This is how much of the travel trailer’s weight is placed on the tongue that connects it to the hitch of the tow vehicle. You need to compare this number to the rated “Hitch Weight” of the crossover SUV and make sure that you never go over that amount.
  • Hitch Weight – This is the maximum weight that the hitch of the tow vehicle can safely handle. A trailer with a tongue weight that exceeds the hitch weight of the crossover SUV can be more than just a major safety hazard when towing at highway speeds. It can also potentially cause severe damage to the vehicle’s suspension and the other components of the towing package as well as the vehicle’s frame.
  • Payload Capacity – When it comes to tow vehicles payload capacity is the measure of the rear suspension system’s ability to support weight. It plays a critical role in how much weight you can load in the rear cargo area. In some cases, a crossover SUV might be able to tow a very lightweight fifth-wheel trailer if it has a strong enough payload capacity.

How Big Of A RV Can I Tow With A Crossover SUV?

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The truth is that this is a surprisingly broad category. Some crossover SUVs have a low-end towing capacity of up to just 1,500-pounds, whereas there are some that can tow 6,000-pounds or more.

When you look at it in terms of maximum towing capacity, it’s safe to limit your aspirations to 5,000-pounds or less.

This puts heavy-duty toy haulers and fifth-wheel trailers a little too far out of bounds. Even if you did have the payload and towing capacity to technically handle pulling a fifth-wheel trailer behind some of the more robust crossover SUVs on this list, it’s still not a good idea.

It would require having a special hitch installed on the back of the crossover SUV. Even then the weight placed on the suspension system would cause a severe amount of wear and tear.

What Types Of Campers Can a Crossover SUV Tow?

Due to their fairly low towing capacity crossover SUVs can only tow light campers such as teardrop trailers, stand-up trailers, and pop-up trailers.

Pop-Up Campers

Then generally tend to weigh 2,000-pounds or less. This puts them in range of a lot of mid-size crossover SUV’s towing capabilities.

When you are going down the road a pop-up camper is essentially a compact hard-sided travel trailer that is relatively lightweight and even a little aerodynamic.

When you get to your intended destination they expand or “Pop Up” with a canvas tent section that makes for a lot more sleeping space than you might imagine.

Teardrop Campers

As the name implies, a teardrop camper has a teardrop shape when viewed from the side. This gives them superior aerodynamics.

While they can range in size and weight, most teardrop campers will have a gross vehicle weight rating of 3,500-pounds or less.

Small Travel Trailers 

This is a very broad segment all over the scale. While the giant travel trailers are going to be far beyond the towing capacity of even the most robust crossover SUV, there are a few lightweight travel trailers under 14-feet that might be towable by some of the more robust crossover SUVs.

6 Of The Best Crossover SUVs For Towing A Camper In 2021

There are a lot of crossover SUVs on the market that can tow a trailer. Though most of them don’t have the general power necessary to confidently tow some of the heavier and more popular RV trailers.

So, we tried to look for crossover SUVs that can tow at least 3,000-pounds or more.

1: 2021 Hyundai Kona

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  • Maximum Towing Capacity: 5,000 Lbs.
  • Maximum Payload Capacity: 999 to 1105 Lbs.

There are several trim levels of the 2021 Hyundai Kona, and all of them have a maximum towing capacity of up to 5,000-pounds.

There is also an optional 175-hp turbocharged engine available to give it extra power for towing up hills or passing slow vehicles on the highway.

This is more than enough to tow most teardrop campers and popup campers as well as some of the more popular lightweight travel trailers.

The 2021 Hyundai Kona has a maximum Payload capacity of 999 to 1,105-pounds.

This means you can bring your favorite trailer with you and still have enough cargo capacity to bring most of your essential camping gear with you in the spacious rear cargo hatch.

2: 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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  • Maximum Towing Capacity: 6,200 to 7,200 Lbs.
  • Maximum Payload Capacity: 1,244 to 1,987 Lbs.

The four highest trim levels of the Jeep Grand Cherokee have very impressive towing statistics of 6,200 to 7,200-pounds.

Though they also have an impressively high price tag. The more realistic trim levels of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee have a maximum towing capacity of up to 3,500-pounds and produce around 290 HP from a 3.6-liter V6 engine.

This is enough to tow most popup campers, most teardrop campers, and a few lightweight travel trailers.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee’s various trim levels have a payload capacity of1,244 to 1,987-pounds.

This lets you bring enough camping gear with you to support the entire family, while still having the power to tow a lot of trailers, teardrop campers and popup campers.

3: 2021 Dodge Durango

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  • Maximum Towing Capacity: 6,200 to 8,700 Lbs.
  • Maximum Payload Capacity: 1,390 to 1,924 Lbs.

Here again, the higher trim levels of the 2021 Dodge Durango have a maximum towing capacity of up to 8,700-pounds.

Though most of the lineup carries a maximum towing capacity of around 6,200-pounds. With robust suspension and Dodge’s well-engineered towing package, the 2021 Dodge Durango brings popular lightweight travel trailers into play.

It can commandingly tow even some of the heavier teardrop campers and fully loaded popup campers with gear storage racks.

The payload capacity of the 2021 Dodge Durango ranges between 1,390 to 1,924-pounds.

This is impressive for a crossover SUV, and gives you the ability to bring a lot of camping gear with you, while staying in control of a camper or trailer pulled behind you.

4: 2021 Nissan Pathfinder

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  • Maximum Towing Capacity: 6,000 Lbs.
  • Maximum Payload Capacity: 1,400 to 1,699 Lbs.

The 3.5-Liter V6 engine in the 2021 Nissan Pathfinder produces 284 HP and gives it the ability to tow up to 6,000 pounds.

This is more than enough to tow most popup and teardrop campers as well as a fair number of lightweight travel trailers.

One of the other nice things about the 2021 Nissan Pathfinder is that it also has a payload capacity that can range through the trim levels from around 1,400-pounds up to nearly 1,700-pounds.

This is a great way to bring a lot of camping gear and recreational equipment with you, as you tow a trailer behind.

5: 2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport

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  • Maximum Towing Capacity: 6,614 to 7,716 Lbs.
  • Maximum Payload Capacity: 1,585 Lbs.

The 2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport has a wide range of trim levels.

So, before you fall in love with one that you want to pair with a travel trailer or heavy teardrop camper, you will want to look at the fine print to make sure it has the robust characteristics and suspension to handle the task.

When you set a keen eye the higher levels of the Land Rover Discovery Sport 2.0L TURBOCHARGED I4 with a 6,614-pound towing capacity and the 3.0L TURBOCHARGED I6 MHEV with a 7,716-pound towing capacity have the power to pull a lot of popular lightweight travel trailers.

With a maximum payload capacity of 1,585-pounds the 2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport can haul a lot of camping gear with you, while towing a trailer with confidence

6: 2021 Lincoln Aviator

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  • Maximum Towing Capacity: 6,700 Lbs
  • Maximum Payload Capacity of 1,477 to 1,644 Lbs.

The Lincoln Aviator is a luxury towing crossover SUV with a powerful 3.0-Liter V-6 engine that produces up to 400 HP at 5500 RPMs. With a tow package installed, this translates into an impressive 6,700-pound maximum towing capacity.

This is more than enough to handle pretty much all popup campers and even heavy teardrop campers.

It even keeps a fair number of lightweight travel trailers in range. All while being a very comfortable vehicle to take care of you on your Monday thru Friday commute.

It’s also worth noting that the 2021 Lincoln Aviator has a maximum payload capacity of 1,477 to 1,644-pounds.

With the right adapter hitch installed it could potentially pull a modest number of smaller fifth-wheel trailers.

How Much Can A Crossover SUV Safely Tow?

The prevailing wisdom is that you should never attempt to pull more than 80% of the tow vehicle’s maximum towing capacity.

For example, let’s say your crossover SUV has a maximum towing capacity of 5,000-pounds. Then the highest gross vehicle weight rating you should consider towing is a trailer that weighs up to 4,000-pounds.

This will give the crossover SUV enough available power to be able to pull the trailer up hills and across loose surfaces, as well as reducing the risk of a dangerous trailer sway incident.

How Important Is Hitch Weight& Tongue Weight?

The rated hitch weight of a crossover SUV notes how much weight the rear suspension system and towbar can handle safely.

It factors into the function of the vehicle’s suspension system as well as how it handles going down the road.

The closer the tongue weight of the trailer is to the hitch weight of the crossover SUV tow vehicle, the more likely you are to encounter serious problems like trailer sway or a possible failure in the suspension system.

Is It Safe To Tow A Fifth-Wheel Trailer With Crossover SUVs?

It’s generally not a good idea to try to tow a fifth-wheel trailer or toy hauler with a crossover SUV.

While some of the crossover SUVs on this list might technically capable of towing a small fifth-wheel trailer, it would require a special hitch.

Even then the stress and strain put on the rear suspension of the crossover SUV would be significant and could damage both the vehicle and the trailer.

Conclusion

The world of crossover SUV continues to grow with a lot of attractive models that are suitable for weekday commuter cars as well as weekend tow vehicles.

Though some of them do arguably have lower maximum towing capacities that aren’t capable of safely towing more than all but the lightest of travel trailers.

Fortunately, some crossover SUVs are robust enough to tow a lot of popup campers, teardrop campers, and even some popular lightweight travel trailers.

If you are looking for a crossover SUV to tow a popup camper or a lightweight teardrop camper then the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee or the 2021 Hyundai Kona might be the best crossover SUV for your towing needs.

They certainly have a reputation for being quality, comfortable everyday vehicles that still have the towing capacity to handle a wide range of trailers.

If you have or are in the market for a modest-size travel trailer, or you need to tow a teardrop camper in rough road conditions then the 2021 Dodge Durango and the Lincoln Aviator might be the best crossover SUVs to meet your towing needs.

They have the horsepower as well as the high-end towing capabilities to tackle a lot of popular campers and travel trailers. They also have the creature comforts to serve as luxurious commuter vehicles.

Last Updated on by Aaron Richardson

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