If you are wondering about the possibility of towing with a hybrid vehicle, you have come to the right place. After all, with more hybrids on the market today than ever before, including many crossover models, it should be easier than ever to find a real "do-it-all" vehicle - one that can tow a travel trailer on the weekends and transport you and your family comfortably and efficiently around town throughout the week. To answer the question, we have scoured the interwebs for the tow ratings of all current hybrid vehicles.
There are many hybrid models on the market today that are capable of towing a travel trailer. Some will be severely limited to only the smallest tent trailers and teardrop-type trailers, while others can handle over 7,000 lbs.
Stay with us as we discuss these vehicles in more detail, including the tow capacities and fuel efficiency of each model. Consider this your guide to finding the perfect hybrid tow vehicle.
What Can Hybrid Vehicles Tow?
Luckily, you really can have your cake and eat it, too, when it comes to efficiency and towing these days. There are a plethora of towing-capable vehicles that also use a combination of electrification and gas power to achieve impressive MPG ratings.
Of course, those ratings will plummet any time you are pulling a trailer, but it's nice to have the flexibility. As you will see, there is often an inverse relationship between fuel efficiency and tow rating. That's because towing heavy loads requires a more substantial, more massive vehicle with more power - and weight and strength are the enemies of efficiency.
Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Tow Rating: 3,500 lbs
MPG Rating (highway/city): 28/30 (LE trim) or 27/29 (XLE and Limited trims)
As long as you don't need to tow a huge trailer, the Highlander Hybrid is a very appealing option. Its city MPG ratings are much higher than any competitors, and it has plenty of room for the whole family.
Toyota Rav4 Hybrid
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Tow Rating: 1,750 lbs
MPG Rating (highway/city): 38/41
If you don't need all the space of a 3-row crossover, the RAV4 Hybrid offers stellar fuel efficiency - 40 combined is phenomenal for an AWD crossover! Because this is a smallish crossover SUV with a 4-cylinder engine, the tow rating is not so incredible. At 1,750 lbs, you will be limited to tiny trailers.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Plug-In Hybrid
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Tow Rating: 1,500 lbs
MPG Rating (combined - gas only/combined - gas +electric): 25/74
Mitsubishi doesn't make very many models these days, but what they do make is unique. The Outlander PHEV is the only non-luxury plug-in hybrid SUV. That means you can charge the vehicle with a cord and get up to 22 miles of all-electric range. After that charge runs out, it operates just like any normal hybrid, with an electric motor chipping in to help the gas engine. The 1,500-lb tow capacity is quite small, however, so finding a suitable trailer will be a challenge.
Tow Rating: 1,500 lbs
MPG Rating (highway/city): 33/30
Up next, we have another 1,500-lb rated vehicle. The small Lexus NX300h uses a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to an electric engine, similar to the setup in the Rav4. With additional luxury goodies onboard, however, the NX weighs in at roughly 400 lbs more than the Toyota, and that extra weight means the tow rating is 250 lbs less.
Lexus RX 450h
Tow Rating: 3,500 lbs
MPG Rating (highway/city): 28/31
Those desiring the styling and reliability of a Lexus can also consider the RX - in hybrid guise, this model can tow up to 3,500 lbs. With a V6 engine instead of a 4-cylinder, the RX450h puts out 308 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque. That's a lot more than the NX, and the MPG rating is not a lot lower. Plus, there is more room inside of the RX, so it is a great option for families who need some light towing capabilities.
2018 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid
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Tow Rating: 7,716 lbs
MPG Rating (combined - gas only/combined - gas +electric): 22/47
Porsche also makes a hybrid SUV that can tow - the Cayenne. As you would guess, it comes with a lofty price tag, but anyone wealthy enough to purchase one will be rewarded with a 7,700-lbs tow rating. The previous generation, last made as a 2018 model, was rated at 22 combined MPG in hybrid mode or 47 MPGe in the plug-in model. Official ratings have not yet been released for the new 2019 and 2020 models, however.
Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD
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Tow Rating: 5,000 lbs
MPG Rating (highway/city): 26/30
Volvo offers two hybrid SUVs that can tow. As the larger option, the XC90 can tow more - an impressive 5,000 lbs. That makes this one of the most capable vehicles on our list. The surprising thing here, however, is the fuel economy. This big SUV is even more frugal than the smaller XC60, with a rating of 26 highway and 30 in the city.
Volvo XC60 T8 eAWD
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Tow Rating: 3,500 lbs
MPG Rating (highway/city): 26/28
If you crave that clean Scandinavian design in a smaller package, Volvo offers the XC60. The towing capacity is a still-respectable 3,500 lbs, while the MPG rating is a respectable 26 on the highway and 28 in the city. That's not quite as good as the Lexus RX, however, so this may turn off shoppers who prioritize efficiency above all else.
2019 Nissan Rogue Hybrid
Tow Rating: 1,100 lbs
MPG Rating (highway/city): 33/35 (FWD) 31/34 (AWD)
Discontinued for the 2020 model year, the Nissan Rogue is one additional hybrid model to consider for towing. Though, after seeing its paltry 1,100-lb towing capacity, you might want to reconsider or be limited to the very smallest trailers on the market. Click here for our comprehensive Nissan Rogue towing guide.
Can You Tow With an Electric Car?
If you would instead jump right into the future and tow with a full-electric vehicle, the good news is that it is possible! However, the current crop of electric vehicles that can also tow is very small. Right now, there is just one electric model rated to tow any significant amount.
Tesla Model X
Tow Rating: 5,000 lbs
Range: 305 to 328 miles
Note that the listed range was not calculated while pulling a trailer, so expect a much lower figure once any significant weight is attached to the hitch.
Now, some electric vehicles have been promised to come onto the market shortly that could be considered for towing as well.
This includes two models; a pickup truck and an SUV, from American company Rivian. The manufacturer claims that the R1T, the pickup model, will be able to tow up to 11,000 lbs. The SUV model deemed the R1S, meanwhile, will be able to tow up to 7,700 pounds.
Another American manufacturer - Ford - is also planning on building an electric pickup truck. This model will be produced as another trim of the F150 platform, and while few details have been released, Ford has given us a marketing video showing the truck pull 1 million pounds of train cars (on a train track). Not that this has any real-world implications, but it is still a fun video to watch:
How Much Towing Capacity Do I need for a Travel Trailer?
To answer this question, it all depends on what you need and even what you consider to be a "travel trailer." The myPod from Little Guy Trailers, for example, is just 630 lbs dry. But it lacks some features that many trailer owners are after, such as a kitchen, bathroom, and even walking space as the entire trailer is taken up by a full-sized bed.
If you want a more traditional trailer with the standard amenities we think of; there are a couple of models under 2,000 lbs. Bumping your limit up to 2,500 pounds opens up the possibilities to many more trailers, however. And you will want to load the trailer up with food, water, bedding, camping gear, and whatever else you like to bring along, so plan on increasing the listed dry weight by several hundred pounds. That means a 3,500-lb tow rating is most likely the minimum capacity you will want to pull these light trailers.
For a detailed list of some of the lightest travel trailers (that have a bathroom and kitchen) on the market, check out this article.
Tow Efficiently, Tow Safely!
We hope you enjoy your search for an efficient tow vehicle. Gone are the days when you must drive a 12-mpg truck-based vehicle to tow a trailer. Today's hybrid vehicles are more substantial and capable, just like their non-hybrid competitors. Just be sure to buy a vehicle that is capable of handling your trailer - check the tow rating, payload, and tongue weight capacities before setting off. After all, the only thing better than being efficient is being safe!