SUVs are one of the most popular vehicle types available on the market today. They are very capable, which makes them great for hauling and towing. In this article, we have researched and asked the experts what SUVs are rated to tow at least 3,500 lbs; and we will show you down below what we have found.
The following SUVs that can tow 3,500 lbs are sorted by class:
- Ford Expedition
- Toyota Land Cruiser
- Chevy Tahoe
- GMC Yukon
- Jeep Grand Cherokee
- Lexus GX 460
- Land Rover Defender
- Jeep Cherokee
- Land Rover Discovery Sport
- Audi Q5
Interested to learn more details about each car? Stick around as we discuss their towing capabilities and other related questions such as: can an SUV pull a camper, how to increase your SUV's towing capacity, can a hybrid SUV pull a trailer, and many more. We will also recommend some of our previous articles related to the topic to help you choose which SUV is the best for you.
What SUVs can tow 3,500 lbs?
The list below is grouped in segments per class as each is very different from one another. The full-size will have incomparable advantages compared to the mid-size and compact as they are equipped with bigger and stronger engines.
The Expedition is the flagship full-size SUV of Ford, and for good reasons. With its class-leading 9,300 lbs towing capacity, it can easily tow 3,500 lbs worth of payload behind it. Equipped with a torquey twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 that produces a 470 lb-ft of torque (480 lb-ft on Platinum trim models) and a four-wheel drive, the Expedition is truly a powerful vehicle that could haul and tow your trailer or boat.
Plus, the added option of a towing package that gives you an upgraded electronic limited-slip differential with a 3.73 axle ratio improves torque for towing and off-roading applications.
Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon
Of course, General Motors would not be left out with their classic full-size vehicles, the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon. They might have different interiors and trims, but both vehicles are built over the same platform and have the same 8,400 lb max towing capacity coming from a 5.3-liter two-wheel-drive engine.
With those numbers, towing a 3,500 lb object would be a piece of cake for these vehicles.
Toyota Land Cruiser
Although Toyota has decided to discontinue the ever so iconic Land Cruiser in North America for its new 300 series, the LC 200 is still one of the best full-size towing SUVs on the market. With a tow rating of 8,100 lbs, towing a 3,500 lb object behind would be a walk in the park equipped with: a 381-horsepower in a 5.7-liter that produces 401 lb-ft of torque through an 8-speed automatic.
The main advantage though of LCs over any other SUV is their durability. Land Cruisers throughout the years have had the reputation of being overbuilt and indestructible.
Land Rover Defender
Moving over to the mid-size department is the Land Rover Defender. With its new design after more than two decades, the defender bolsters a 296-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with a towing capacity of 7,716 lbs -for both the two-door 90 and the four-door 110.
You can also upgrade to the 395-horsepower P400 6-cylinder towing package engine that would give you an additional 500 lbs giving you a total of 8,201 lbs of towing.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Another solid towing SUV is the Jeep Grand Cherokee, with a 3.6-liter V6 that can tow 6,200 lbs. Another option is the 5.7-liter V8 with a bigger rear axle, and 390 lb-ft of torque with four-wheel drive gives the engine an additional thousand pounds towing capacity weighing in at 7,200 pounds. This makes the Grand Cherokee more than enough for a 3,500 lb towing vehicle.
Lexus GX 460
The Lexus GX460 is the more luxurious brother of the Land Cruiser as Lexus is the luxury branch for Toyota. Equipped with Lexus' ever so reliable 4.6-liter V8, which generates 329 lb-ft of torque, the GX 460 comes standard with a capable full-time four-wheel-drive that adds up to an excellent 6,500 lb towing capacity.
The little brother of the Grand Cherokee, the Jeep Cherokee, is packed with a 270-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that can pull 4,000 lbs. The 271-horsepower 3.2-liter V6 for the Latitude Lux, Limited, and Trailhawk trims can tow 4,500 lbs, making it the best towing compact SUV on the list. And since it is a Jeep, it can certainly go off-road as well.
Land Rover Discovery Sport
The Disco Sport -known colloquially- is paired with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces over 180 horsepower and is rated to tow 4,409 lbs regardless of engine choice, making it still very much capable of towing 3,500 lbs.
The only German car brand on this list, the Audi Q5 is one of the best available compact SUVs in the market today. The Q5 45 model with the 262-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and the 349-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 SQ5 variants are all rated to tow at 4,400 lbs.
What is the safe tow rating for pulling 3,500 lbs?
The general rule of thumb for calculating if you can tow the object is if it is still within the rated towing capacity of your vehicle. If your vehicle is rated at 3,500 lbs, then you can still pull the said weight.
Although there are implications with hauling a load at your maximum towing capacity, this can add heavy stress to your engine and easily cause it to overheat, especially if your car already has some miles on it.
Experts recommend avoiding maxing out your towing capacity, more so if you plan to tow it for long trips, as this could result in unrepairable damage to your vehicle. It is best to know the actual weight of what you will be towing first to avoid any hassle and expensive repair down the road.
It would be better to use a car with a couple of hundred pounds higher-rated towing than the weight of the load to be towed for safety reasons.
Can a hybrid SUV pull a camper or trailer?
Yes, some hybrid SUVs like the plug-in hybrid Land Rover Defender can pull a camper or trailer as it has a rated towing capacity of 7,100 lbs, considering that the average weight of a camper is 5,000 lbs. But hybrid vehicles are not designed for such use and usually lack the power to tow such heavy objects.
Towing tends to easily drain the batteries of hybrid vehicles, so this is only recommended when the vehicle is still using its gas tank. But this defeats the main purpose of hybrids, which is to give you a longer driving range. Towing heavy objects not only quickly drains your battery but also hogs a lot of your gas, as pulling something heavy requires more fuel consumption.
Which is better for towing an SUV or a pick-up truck?
A truck will always be better for towing as this is one of the main aspects of their design. In body build alone, you cannot tow a gooseneck trailer or a camper if you are driving an SUV as there is no bed to attach the gooseneck. And this type of towing is the most efficient for heavy-duty pulling.
The limited towing capacity of most SUVs is the main reason that makes it a less superior tow vehicle than pick-up trucks. In comparison, the top-rated towing SUV is the Ford Expedition -coming in at 9,300 lbs.
While the F-150, which is only a half-ton truck, has a max rating of 13,000 lbs, which is comparably minute as heavy-duty pick-up trucks like the big Ford F-350 can tow over 30,000 lbs!
Another design feature that pick-ups have that SUVs don't is that they can come in a dually, meaning two pairs of wheels at the rear, making it a six-wheel vehicle. This would make them better at handling the heavyweight put on their beds, whether from payload or towing.
How do I increase the towing capacity of my SUV?
Technically speaking, you cannot change the towing capacity of your vehicle as this has to do with its engine, suspension, and overall design. You can upgrade your suspension, you can modify your design, but you cannot do anything with your engine unless you swap it out.
Overall, the 3,500 lb weight for towing objects is still very much attainable for SUVs, as multiple models and brands offer a higher tow capacity for their cars. So if you are planning to tow something with your SUV, confirm the manufacturer's towing capacity to ensure it is capable. Be wary of going over your car's capacity, which can cause unnecessary stress to your engine that can potentially break it.
Some related articles:
What’s The Best SUV For Towing A Travel Trailer?
SUV Vs. Pickup Truck For RV Towing: Which To Choose?