10 Best Mid-Size SUVs for Towing A Travel Trailer

Mid-size SUVs are some of the most popular vehicles on the road. They offer the sporty performance of a car, with the utility hold a fair amount of gear, and more than a fair amount of towing power.

So, it’s little wonder why so many people want to use their daily driver SUV to tow an RV trailer. 

If this sounds like what you are gearing up for, and you’re in the market for an upgrade, then you might be wonder what is the best mid-size SUV for towing a trailer.

Right off the bat, the Ford Explorer and the Dodge Durango stand atop the list as one of the best mid-size SUVs that can tow up over 5,000 lbs. with ease.

Though it certainly has some stiff competition both in the foreign and domestic market.

Not to mention a fair amount of competitor models that have special features meant to cater to niche interests.

To help you find the best SUV to tow a camper you already have or are thinking about buying, we decided to roll our sleeves up and look at some of the most popular and most powerful mid-size SUVs with best towing capacity.

This included things like a reputation for material build quality, towing capabilities, and the statistics that matter most when towing anything. 

How Much Can A Mid-Size SUV Tow?

How Much Can A Mid-Size SUV Tow?

The maximum towing capacity for the highest trim level of some of the best mid-size SUVs can tow more than 7,000-pounds.

A more reasonable average figure for most mid-size SUVs is in the neighborhood of 3,500 to 5,000-pounds. 

It’s also worth bearing in mind that the prevailing wisdom is to never tow more than 80% of any vehicle’s rated maximum towing capacity.

This leaves you power in reserve for tackling loose surfaces, accelerating to highway speeds, and pulling the trailer up a steep incline.

Of course, staying at 80% or less of the maximum towing capacity also reduces your risk of developing a dangerous trailer sway. 

How Much Does An Average Trailer Weigh?

Travel trailers and “Campers” can be broken down into different categories, each with it’s own average weight range. 

  • Popup Campers – Also known as “Expandable Campers” popup campers have an average dry weight of right around 2,000-pounds
  • Teardrop Campers – They an vary from as low as 500-pounds to a dry weight of up to 3,200-pounds. 
  • Lightweight Travel Trailers – Most of the best lightweight travel trailers will have a dry weight of 5,000 to 6,000-pounds. Though there are certainly travel trailers that weight much more than that, and even a few that weigh less. This puts lightweight travel trailers in range for some of the more robust mid-size SUV to tow. 

The 10 Best 2021 Midsize SUVs For Towing Travel Trailers

Keep in mind that a lot of automotive manufacturers like to advertise what is the highest-rated towing capacity for their vehicles, which is often the highest trim level for that make and model.

These mid-size SUVs typically have a much higher price tag than the middle of their range.

Though when you step down to the middle of their range the towing capacity can be significantly less. 

To cover your options thoroughly, whenever possible, we tried to include a trim level in the middle range as well as the top end for each make and model.

Some manufacturers list their towing capacity based on trim level, while others list their towing capacity based on the engine size of the SUV. 

Here are 10 of the best mid-size SUVs for towing camper trailers:

  • 2021 Dodge Durango
  • 2021 Ford Explorer
  • 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • 2021 Land Rover Discovery
  • 2021 Chevy Traverse
  • 2021 Nissan Pathfinder
  • 2021 Lincoln Aviator
  • 2021 Lexus GX 460
  • 2021 Toyota 4 Runner
  • 2021 BMW X5

1. The 2021 Dodge Durango

The 2021 Dodge Durango

The 2021 Dodge Durango is one of the most powerful domestic midsize SUVs. It has multiple trim levels with an available towing package.

Best of all, it’s roomy and has plenty of room for stowing the family camping equipment on the weekend, while still being a great daily driver on Monday thru Friday. 

Trim LevelTowing Capacity
SRT® Hellcat AWD // Supercharged 6.2L V8,
SRT® 392 // 6.4L V8 // AWD,

R/T + Tow N Go Pkg // 5.7L V8 // AWD
8,700 lbs.
R/T and Citadel // 5.7L V8 // AWD7,200 lbs.
R/T and Citadel // 5.7L V8 // RWD7,400 lbs.

Pros & Cons of the 2021 Dodge Durango

Pros

  • Great acceleration for merging onto the highway or towing up a steep incline.
  • Superior towing capacity for a mid-size SUV.
  • Tons of storage space.
  • All but one trim level comes with all-wheel drive.

Cons

  • Fuel consumption is poor
  • The initial purchase price is high
  • All-wheel drive goes through the tread on all four tires faster

Trailers That Can Be Towed By The 2021 Dodge Durango

With it’s impressive towing power the Dodge Durango can tow a lot of trailers. Though two leap to the top of the list.

2. The 2021 Ford Explorer

The 2021 Ford Explorer

The 2021 Ford Explorer is one of the most popular domestic midsize SUVs.

It has multiple trim levels and engine sizes, with optional upgraded towing packages that can influence the maximum towing capacity.

So, it’s important to pay attention to the engine size of the trim level you are interested in, and then also inquire about whether that particular trim level has the optional Class III Trailer Tow Package installed. 

Engine Size Towing Capacity
2.3L EcoBoost® 4-Cylinder 5,300 lbs.
3.0L EcoBoost® V6 5,600 lbs.
3.3L Hybrid 5,000 lbs.

Pros & Cons of the 2021 Ford Explorer

Pros

  • Good handling on and off-road.
  • A comfortable ride with minimal road noise.
  • Good for towing & as a daily driver.
  • Good cargo space.

Cons

  • Third-row seating is small.
  • Fuel consumption isn’t optimal when towing.
  • Interior styling feels like corners were cut.

Trailers That Can Be Towed By The 2021 Ford Explorer

With the towing package professionally installed the 2021 Ford Explorer can tow most popup and teardrop campers with ease.

There are even a few smaller travel trailers that are within range for the higher trim levels of the Ford Explorer. 

3. The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a powerful and very popular domestic midsize SUV. It has multiple trim levels with a towing package included.

It has a reputation for being room, which you need for packing out a family’s camping gear, while still having superior handling in daily traffic.

While Jeep likes to talk about the maximum towing capabilities of their highest trim level, it is also a much more costly machine.

The mid-trim levels tend to have a lower price tag, as well as a more modest maximum towing capacity 

Trim Level Towing Capacity
LAREDO E 4X2SRT®, FREEDOM 4X2, LAREDO X 4X2, LIMITED 4X2, 80TH ANNIVERSARY 4X2, LIMITED X 4X2, OVERLAND 4X2, SUMMIT 4X2 3,500 lbs.
GRAND CHEROKEE TRAILHAWK® 4X4, HIGH ALTITUDE 4X2 6,200 lbs.
GRAND CHEROKEE SRT® 4X4, GRAND CHEROKEE TRACKHAWK® 4X4 7,200 lbs.

Pros

  • Plenty of power.
  • Nimble handling & ride comfort.
  • Superior material build quality throughout.

Cons

  • Higher trim levels are expensive.
  • Modest trim levels only have 3,500 lbs. towing capacity..

The Best Trailers That Can Be Towed By A Jeep Grand Cherokee

With a significant difference between the mid trim levels and the top trim levels of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, you have to be mindful of the weight of the trailer you want to pair it with. 

  • The Heartland Mallard M26 with a 5,995-pound dry weight can be towed by the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT and the TrackHawk, but not the lower trim levels. 
  • The Forest River Flagstaff E-Pro only has a dry weight of 1,763-pounds, which can be towed by the mid trim levels of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. 

4. The 2021 Land Rover Discovery

The 2021 Land Rover Discovery

The 2021 Land Rover Discovery is a foreign make and model that has garnered international appeal for its power, styling, and comfort. Its presence in the United States marketplace has continued to grow to make it more accessible than ever.

The 2021 Land Rover Discovery’s 8-speed automatic transmission does a great job of putting the power down.

It’s comfortable as a versatile daily driver as well as a very capable tow vehicle for pulling a camper on the weekends. 

Engine Towing Capacity
2.0L TURBOCHARGED I4 3,500 lbs.
3.0L TURBOCHARGED I6 MHEV 6,200 lbs.

Pros

  • Plenty of power.
  • Great off-road capabilities.
  • Superior towing power.
  • Tons of special features & creature comforts are available. 

Cons

  • The initial purchase price is high.
  • Can be hard to find licensed dealers when traveling.
  • The depreciation curve is unclear. 
  • Not a true “Luxury” SUV.

The Best Trailers That Can Be Towed By the 2021 Land Rover Discovery

With robust towing statistics the 2021 Land Rover Discovery can tow pretty much all popup and teardrop campers, as well as a fair number of lightweight travel trailers.

Though there are a few that standout as a good pairing for this powerful foreign mid-size SUV. 

5. The 2021 Chevy Traverse

The 2021 Chevy Traverse

The 2021 Chevy Traverse is one of the most popular domestic mid-size SUVs with families and commuters.

So, it’s no wonder why so many Traverse owners are interested in seeing if their model can tow a camper or modest-size travel trailer.

While Chevy loves to tout the top trim level’s 5,000-pound maximum towing capacity, the lower trim levels can have as little as 1,500-pounds. It’s definitely a vehicle where the devil is truly in the details. 

Engine & TrimTowing Capacity
3.6 L V6 with Trim LS, RT, RS, and Premier 1,500 lbs.
3.6 L V6 LT & Premier with towing package 5,000 lbs.

Pros

  • Comfortable and designed for families.
  • Creature comforts interior.
  • Easy to find licensed dealers if you have a problem traveling. 

Cons

  • Only the highest trim level has a 5,000-pound towing capacity.
  • Also needs to have an optional towing package installed.
  • Might be low on power at altitude.

The Best Trailers That Can Be Towed By The 2021 Chevy Traverse

The lower trim levels of the Chevy Traverse are meant more for towing lightweight popup campers.

Though the more robust LT and Premier trim levels of the Chevy Traverse with a 5,000-pound maximum towing capacity can tow a wide range of tear drop campers, with power to spare. 

  • The 13’ Scamp with a 2,200-pound gross vehicle weight rating.
  • The iCamp Elite with a gross vehicle weight rating of 2,366-pounds. 

6. The 2021 Nissan Pathfinder

2021 Nissan Pathfinder

The Nissan Pathfinder is another very popular mid-size SUV in the US domestic market.

Nissan has done a great job over the years of making their parts and certified dealerships readily available and easy to access, which is great if you ever have a problem while traveling.

Though it’s worth noting that while the Nissan Pathfinder is powerful, you need to have the towing package installed, which isn’t necessarily standard with all models and trim levels. 

Engine & TrimTowing Capacity
S, SV, SV Rock Creek™, SL, SL Rock Creek Edition™, Platinum 6,000 lbs.

Pros

  • Loaded with safety features.
  • Good storage capacity.
  • Comfortable ride.
  • Plenty of power for a mid-size SUV

Cons

  • Soft handling at slow speeds.
  • Larger than average blind spots, which can be a challenge reversing a trailer.

The Best Traiers That Can Be Towed By The 2021 Nissan Pathfinder

One of the nice things about the 2021 Nissan Pathfinder is that all the various trim levels all have the same 6,000-pound maximum towing capacity.

This leaves the door open for it to tow most popup campers and teardrop campers as well as a few lightweight travel trailers. 

7. The 2021 Lincoln Aviator

2021 Lincoln Aviator

Lincoln is known for being a luxury US automotive brand that falls under Ford Motor Company’s large umbrella.

The Aviator represents a luxury mid-size SUV that is comfortable enough to be a daily driver, or an executive car on the weekdays, with more than enough power and towing capability to pull a trailer on the weekends.

While there are a lot of different trim levels with various creature comfort and luxury features, most of the trim levels of the 2021 Lincoln Aviator either have a 6,700-pound maximum towing capacity or a 5,600-pound maximum towing capacity. 

Engine & TrimTowing Capacity
4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 10A)
Reserve 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl 10A)
Standard 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 10A)
Reserve 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 10A)
Black Label 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 10A)
4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 10A)
4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 10A)
Reserve 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 10A)
Reserve 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 10A)
Black Label 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 10A)
6,700 lbs.
Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 10A)
Black Label Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 10A)
5,600 lbs.

Pros

  • A true luxury SUV at every trim level.
  • Smooth, comfortable ride.
  • Superior power for a mid-size SUV.

Cons

  • The initial purchase price is high.
  • The overall cost of ownership is high.
  • Not particularly rugged. 

The Best Trailers For A 2021 Lincoln Aviator

The 2021 Lincoln Aviator has robust towing characteristics, with the highest trim levels being able to pull up to 6,700-pounds.

This puts a lot of teardrop campers and popup campers easily in play, as well as a fair number of lightweight travel trailers.

8. The 2021 Lexus GX 460

The 2021 Lexus GX 460

The 2021 Lexus GX 460 is another foreign-produced SUV that has a strong presence in the US domestic marketplace.

Its presence in the ranks of mid-size SUVs has grown significantly in recent years, it also has a reputation for comfort and performance.

This has made it an increasingly popular option for families who want a commuter vehicle that can also do a little towing on weekend vacations.

With the Lexus towing package professionally installed, all three trim levels can tow up to 6,500-pounds. 

Engine & TrimTowing Capacity
Lexus GX 460
Lexus GX 460
PremiumLexus GX 460 Luxury
6,700 lbs.

Pros

  • Every trim level offers impressive comfort.
  • Smooth, ride with minimal road noise.
  • Superior power for a mid-size SUV with an 8-cylinder engine.

Cons

  • Cargo space is a little bit lacking.
  • Fuel consumption is high.
  • The cost of ownership is a little high.

The Best Trailers To Pair with a Lexus GX460

All three of the most popular trim levels of the Lexus GX460 come with a robust 6,700-pounds maximum towing capacity.

While this puts pretty much all popup and teardrop campers in bounds, it also opens the door for a fair number of lightweight travel trailers that can appeal to small families, who need a little more interior living space. 

9. The 2021 Toyota 4 Runner

The 2021 Toyota 4 Runner

The 2021 Toyota 4 Runner is one of the most popular mid-size SUVs on the American road.

It offers a 4.0L engine that generates 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque.

This makes it peppy and powerful as a commuter vehicle, while also giving it the power to tow trailers and campers on the weekend.

Best of all, it comes with Toyota’s reputation for reliability. It’s also worth noting that all the trim levels of the Toyota 4 Runner will boast a robust 5,000-pounds maximum towing capacity with the optional SAE J2807- rated tow package installed.

This is better than most of its apples-to-apples competitors in its segment. 

Trim Towing Capacity
SR5, Trail Special Edition, SR5 Premium. TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, Venture Special Edition, Limited, Nightshade Special Edition, TRD Pro. 5,000 lbs.

Pros

  • Toyota reliability.
  • More powerful than competitors in its segment.
  • All trim levels have a 5,000-pound towing capacity

Cons

  • Sub-par fuel economy for 6 cylinder engine.
  • Minimal rear cargo space.

The Best Trailers For A 2021 Toyota 4 Runner

With the tow package professionally installed the Toyota 4 Runner boasts an impressive 5,000-pounds maximum towing capacity throughout the spectrum of trim levels.

It gives you the ability to tow most popup and teardrop campers, as well as a few of the lighter weight travel trailers on the market. 

10. The 2021 BMW X5

The 2021 BMW X5

The 2021 BMW X5 boasts some significant power and towing capacity in a vehicle that was originally designed to be a comfortable commuter SUV.

Even without a tow package installed this mid-size SUV has a maximum towing capacity of 6,200-pounds.

Though when you select the optional upgrade to the class 3 towing package, and you select the highest trim level of the BMW X5 you see an impressive 7,200-pound maximum towing capacity. 

Engine & Trim Towing Capacity
BMW X5 xDrive40i 3.0L Twin-Turbo V6 engine 6,600 lbs.
BMW X5 sDrive40i 3.0L Twin-Turbo V6 engine 7,200 lbs.
BMW X5 M50i 4.4L TwinPower Turbo V8 engine 7,200 lbs

Pros

  • Powerful engine.
  • Visually stunning interior and exterior styling.
  • Highly responsive steering

Cons

  • Small third-row seating and limited rear storage
  • V8 model is heavy and thirsty.
  • The initial purchase price is high.

The Best Trailers For A BMW X5

As a powerful mid-size SUV the BMW X5’s highest trim levels can tow up to 7,200-pounds, which is more than enough to pull pretty much all teardrop campers as well as all popup, expandable campers, Not to mention a fair number of lightweight travel trailer. 


How Much Can I Safely Tow With A Mid-Size SUV?

The prevailing wisdom is to only tow up to 80% or less of the maximum towing capacity of any given vehicle.

For example, the 2021 Lexus GX 460 with a 7,200-pound maximum towing capacity can safely tow up to 5,760-pounds of a trailer.

This will leave you 20% or more in reserve to do things like tow a trailer up a steep incline or over a loose surface. 

Should I Get A Foreign Or Domestic Mid-Size SUV?

Domestic SUVs have made some major engineering improvements over the course of the last decade making them on-par with the efficiency and power offered by foreign mid-size SUVs.

What it sometimes comes down to, is the availability of dealers and affiliated mechanics.

If you do happen to have a problem when you are traveling, the last thing you want is for the nearest dealer service center to be 300-miles away.

So, if you are going to invest in a foreign mid-size SUV, make sure it is one of the long-established manufacturers like Toyota, Nissan, or BMW.

If you are interested in a less-popular foreign SUV, do some searching around to make sure you are aware of certified dealers and mechanics. 

Conclusion

Mid-size SUVs have seen a renaissance in recent years, as they have departed from the antiquated mid-size truck chassis that used to support them to become true sports-utility vehicles.

This wave of innovation in engineering and material build quality has also translated into superior towing capabilities. 

If you are interested in a domestic model with a lot of power and storage space, then the 2021 Dodge Durango might be the best mid-size SUV to tow a trailer.

With a maximum towing capacity of up to 8,700-pounds, it can tow a wide range of teardrop campers and small travel trailers. 

If you are looking for a powerful foreign-made model with a reputation for superior engineering, then the 2021 BMW X5 might be the best mid-size SUV for towing a trailer.

With a maximum towing capacity of up to 7,200-pounds, it can certainly tow a wide range of popup campers, teardrop campers, and small travel trailers.

Last Updated on by Aaron Richardson

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