Video: What Are the Best Compact SUVs for Towing?

CARS.COM — The summer travel season is fast approaching and many families across the country will hit the road with a camper, boat or trailer in tow. A full-size truck or SUV might automatically jump to mind when considering a tow vehicle, but depending on what you need to tow, a smaller compact SUV might do the trick and still be suitable for urban driving. We scoured towing specs for 2017 SUVs and found five compact models that offer significantly more towing capability than the class norm.

Leading all compact SUVs is the 2017 Jeep Cherokee, which can tow up to 4,500 pounds with its optional V-6 engine and Trailer Tow Package. That’s enough towing capacity to pull a small camper or runabout boat.

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Optional V-6 engines are also key to higher trailer ratings for the 2017 Chevrolet Equinox, 2017 GMC Terrain and 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander, which are all rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds with a V-6. By comparison, towing capacity dips to 1,500 pounds when these SUVs are powered by their base four-cylinder engines.

There is one four-cylinder, however, that can match the towing capability offered by the V-6s: The 2017 Ford Escape’s optional turbo 2.0-liter engine boosts the SUV’s towing capacity to 3,500 pounds when fitted with a Trailer Tow Prep Package.

There are many factors to consider when determining how much your vehicle can safely tow, including how many passengers and how far you’re trailering, as well as how much cargo you’ll be carrying in your SUV when towing. It could mean the difference between safely reaching your destination and being stuck on the side of the road.

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