The best 2021 crossover SUVs for towing are true family haulers

Towing is no longer a job only for pickup trucks. There are plenty of SUVs up for the task of towing the boat or any of the family toys in more comfort than a truck. Even though pickup trucks keep making inroads into family vehicle territory, the SUVs listed here can tow more than 5,000 pounds and still fit in the garage.  

If you envision the family toys growing alongside the family and expect to tow more than the small pop-up camper, fishing boat, or dirt bikes, then you’ll need a vehicle that can exceed that towing benchmark of 5,000 pounds. 

Full-size SUVs ranging from the Ford Expedition and Chevy Suburban to the Cadillac Escalade and Infiniti QX80 are the most capable because they’re based on trucks. Those beasts can tow anywhere from 8,000 pounds up to 9,300 pounds. We’ve narrowed our list to SUVs that are less obvious, ranging from fully capable mid-size SUVs to luxury beasts of burden. 

Always check with the manufacturer or hitch installer for weights and capacities, which should also be listed in the owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s plate on the driver’s door sill. Don’t tempt towing the max amount; variable road conditions, inclement weather, or steep grades may demand more from your engine, which is why many people follow the 80/20 rule of towing 80 percent of the listed towing capacity. (Some people favor 85%, but we’ll err on the side of caution.)

Included below is towing capacity, which is the maximum amount your vehicle can tow with a trailer, and payload, which is the weight of the passengers, cargo—luggage, coolers, and gear— and tongue weight. You’ll learn the towing language before you haul, but the short version is towing capacity is what these vehicles can pull, and payload capacity is what they can carry. 

2021 Ford Explorer 

2021 Ford Explorer ST

Redesigned for 2020, the three-row SUV is available with a Class III trailer tow package that includes an engine oil cooler, frame-mounted hitch, and trailer connectors. That gear is standard on ST and Platinum trims.  

Payload: At least 1,400 lbs., depending on trim level

Towing capacity: Up to 5,600 lbs.

Tow package price: $710

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Base models of the Jeep Grand Cherokee can tow up to 6,200 pounds and have a payload of 1,180 pounds that increases to 1,410 pounds with four-wheel drive and the 5.7-liter V-8 engine. The available 5.7-liter V-8 bumps towing capacity to 7,200 pounds, but the pricey performance variants take the five-seat SUV to the top of the towing hill. 

Payload: Up to 1,410 lbs.

Towing capacity: Up to 7,200 lbs.

Tow package price: $995 

2021 BMW X5/X7 

2020 BMW X5

The five-seat crossover SUV known more for sport than utility has both off-road and towing packages on the xDrive40i model. The 3.0-liter turbo-6 with an 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive makes 335 hp and 330 lb-ft. 

The new 2020 BMW X7 three-row SUV has a 7,500-pound towing capacity. 

Payload: Up to 882 lbs (X5), 1,190 (X7) depending on trim level; about 1,600 on X7

Towing capacity: Up to 7,200 lbs. (X5),7,500 lbs. (X7)

Tow package price: $550

2021 Audi Q7/Q8

2020 Audi Q7

The 2020 Audi Q7 three-row crossover can tow 4,400 pounds with the base 2.0-liter turbo-4, but the 3.0-liter turbo-6 is the engine for towing heavier loads. With an 8-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive, it produces 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The upgraded engine is an extra $6,000 and is available on the base Premium trim at $60,400. The five-seat Q8 has the same capacity, and comes standard with the uprated engine for $68,200 in base Premium trim. Both the Q7 and Q8 can be had in S form with a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 producing 500 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque, but the extra power will cost about $30,000 over a base model with no extra towing capability.

Payload: estimated at 1,397 lbs.

Towing capacity: Up to 7,700 lbs.

Tow package price: $750 

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Class 

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class

Believe it or not, the GLE can out-haul the G Wagen, which tops out at 7,000 pounds. The five-seater with the optional third row uses a small 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine that puts out big torque, up to 273 pound-feet. Hard to believe that the engine has the same tow rating as the 362-hp 3.0-liter turbo-6 with all-wheel drive that makes 369 lb-ft. 

Payload: 1,623 lbs.

Towing capacity: Up to 7,700 lbs.

Tow package price: $575

2021 Porsche Cayenne

2019 Porsche Cayenne

Towing and Porsche goes together like peanut butter and pickles; it doesn’t sound good but some folks swear by it. The largest Porsche has impressive performance from its 335-hp 3.0-liter turbo V-6 and an 8-speed automatic transmission that makes 332 lb-ft of torque in all-wheel drive.    

Payload: Up to 1,657 lbs. 

Towing capacity: Up to 7,700 lbs.

Tow package price: $660, tow ball not included

2021 Land Rover Range Rover and Sport

2021 Land Rover Range Rover Fifty

The Land Rover Range Rover family benefits from torque-rich diesel engines. The 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 with 8-speed automatic transmission makes 254 hp and a whopping 443 lb-ft of torque. It’s only $800 more than the base D360 gas engine, but it’s still just a shade under $100,000. 

Payload: 1,653 lbs.

Towing capacity: 7,716 lbs.

Tow package price: $1,085 

2021 Land Rover Discovery 

2021 Land Rover Discovery

Unlike the TD6 diesel that provides all that towing grunt in the Range Rover, the five-seat Disco uses a supercharged gas engine in its base model. The 335-hp 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 with an 8-speed automatic transmission makes 332 lb-ft to top the towing charts for the luxury class.  

Payload: Up to 1,857 lbs.

Towing capacity: Up to 8,201 lbs.

Tow hitch receiver: $665

2020 Dodge Durango

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

The penchant for Dodge to perform crazy engineering feats under the hood applies to the three-row Durango SUV, as well. In base form with the 3.6-liter V-6, it can tow 6,200 pounds, which is pretty good. Ratchet it up all the way to the 6.4-liter V-8 or supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 that make 475 hp and 470 lb-ft or 710 hp and 645 lb-ft of torque respectively, and the Durango SRTs with standard all-wheel drive reign as king of the towing hill.

Payload: Up to 1,590 lbs.

Towing capacity: Up to 8,700 lbs.

Tow package price: $1,195

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