Can a Toyota RAV4 Pull a Trailer? [Towing Capacity and more]

Can a Toyota Rav4 pull a trailer? You thought you saw one headed down the highway pulling a trailer full of lawn equipment the other day. And maybe you've been looking for something that will work as both a family vehicle and a tow vehicle. If the Rav4 can do both, you want to know.

Good news! The Toyota Rav4 can pull a trailer. This crossover SUV is not as heavy-duty as a truck, so won't work for things like large campers, heavy equipment, or horse trailers, but it's an excellent choice for small work trailers and recreational equipment like small boats, jet skis, or towing dirt bikes to a race.

Collage of a Toyota RAV4 compact SUV and a blue teardrop camping trailer, Can a Toyota Rav4 Pull a Trailer? [Towing Capacity and more]

Let's take a look at some of the ways folks use their Rav4's and how much the various models can tow weight-wise.

Towing With A Toyota Rav4

With each successive generation of the Toyota Rav4, they've added towing capacity, styling, and features that make this crossover SUV perfect for commuting to the office then heading out to the lake on the weekend. Whether you want to pull a small boat, jet skis, your kids' dirt bikes, or a small popup camper, it's possible with this fun vehicle.

What Weight Can A Toyota Rav4 Tow?

A standard base model Toyota Rav4 can haul up to 1500 pounds. Upgrade to a Hybrid Rav4, and your towing capacity jumps up 250 pounds to 1750 pounds in total. Some newer models can haul 3500 lbs, but if you're looking for a used Rav4, this 1500-1750 range is where you'll be. If you are buying used and know that you plan on towing, be sure and try to find a v6 engine model to have the power you need when pulling. Later models, starting in 2018, come equipped with greater tow capacity.

Does Rav4 Have A Towing Package?

If you upgrade from a base model Rav4 to the Adventure package, there is a standard tow package available. With this trim and tow package introduced in 2018, you can get a whopping 3500 pounds of towing capacity. Things like an upgraded radiator, supplemental engine oil cooler, and a transmission fluid cooler gives this model an advantage when it comes to towing. For older Rav4 models, you'll need to get a tow hitch installed.

A Reese hitch like this bolts to the bottom of your vehicle and allows you to buy a separate tongue and ball to fit your specific trailer. These hitches are known for being of the highest quality and are a real standard in the industry.

Click here for this hitch on Amazon.

How Big Of A Trailer Can A Rav4 Pull?

Of course, this depends on which model Rav4 you own, but you can safely tow boats, jet skis, even some travel campers behind a Rav4. If you have the base model Rav4 engine, then you can most likely pull a popup camper or a teardrop camper but nothing larger. If you have the Adventure package, then you may be able to pull a small Airstream or mini travel trailer.

The Sylvan Sport Go pop up camper is perfect for pulling behind any model of Rav4 as it only weighs in at 840 lbs.

As for boats, a typical small pontoon boat weighs around 3000 lbs, so it would be possible to tow one with an Adventure model. For the basic models of the Rav4, you can pull smaller sailboats like lasers or jet skis and aluminum fishing boats.

You can also use your Rav4 to tow things like lawn equipment, yard trash, or to move pieces of furniture, which makes it versatile as a family workhorse.

Factoring Total Weight

For whatever you want to tow with your Toyota Rav4, you're going to need to factor the total weight. Most trailers will have a sticker on them that specify the weight and also the GVWR, which is the maximum amount you can safely pull on the trailer. For large trailers, it's best to take them to a weigh station or somewhere that has a certified scale. But for most trailers and recreational vehicles you would pull with a Rav4, you can use a tongue weight scale.

This hitch includes a built-in scale so you can get an accurate reading of what your trailer and load weigh on the ball of your hitch. This should not exceed the stated towing capacity for your vehicle. Click here for this on Amazon.

For something a bit simpler and less costly, a simple stand-alone tongue weight scale like this will weigh up to 5000 lbs.

Click here to see this on Amazon.

Which Toyota Rav4 Can Tow 3500 Lbs?

If you're looking for maximum towing capacity in a midsize SUV, then the Toyota Rav4 Adventure Trim with Tow Package is what you want to buy.

This 5th generation of the Rav4 is masculine, rugged, and more than the old description of "half car/half SUV." This model comes standard with a sturdy AWD system that will make clambering over tough terrain a breeze and a tow prep package. This package comes standard in the RAV4 Adventure and includes an upgraded radiator, supplemental engine oil cooler, and transmission fluid cooler that allows the vehicle to haul heavier items with ease.

How Do You Increase Towing Capacity?

One thing to consider before increasing your tow capacity beyond what is recommended by Toyota, is will your insurance cover the cost if you're in an accident and towing beyond capacity? If you're looking to tow at maximum capacity, there are a few things you can do to optimize your vehicle.

First, you might consider getting a transmission oil cooler. This cooler is designed to lower the temperature of the transmission fluid as it runs through your engine, thus making it easier on the internal parts of your transmission.

These transmission coolers are recommended any time you're towing a vehicle that hits close to your weight limit.

Click here for this one on Amazon.

A brake controller inside the Rav4 to control the trailer's brakes is a good idea, too. This will reduce the wear and tear on the Rav4's brakes and transfer the power to the trailer's brakes.

Click here for this brake controller on Amazon.

Finally, you might consider rear airbags to help level out the rear of the vehicle, making it easier to tow with, although some folks find these a pain to install.

Other considerations would be to find the lightest weight trailer in the category you need, and perhaps transferring as much of the actual trailer load as you can into your vehicle if you're running close to the maximum limit.

We are looking forward to seeing what else the Rav4 will offer to us in the years ahead. It's already attractive in its styling and super versatile in its usefulness. Now with up to a 3500 lb tow capacity, fewer people will need lightweight trucks for simple weekend towing jobs. If you're looking for the best of both worlds, this just might be your vehicle.

If you enjoyed this post here at, then please check out these others which we think may interest you below:

How to Use Tow/Haul Mode

Can I Tow a Travel Trailer with a Hybrid Car?

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