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What's the Best 2017 Compact SUV for Towing?

1462832335 1433441795706 jpg illustration by Paul Dolan

CARS.COM — The summer travel season is fast approaching and many families will soon be hitting 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 commuting.

Related: Best Sedans for Towing

We scoured towing specs for model-year 2017 SUVs and found five compact models that offer significantly more towing capability than the class norm. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

2017 Chevrolet Equinox

img 856169850 1495556235454 jpg 2017 Chevrolet Equinox | Manufacturer image

The Equinox’s standard engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, but choosing the optional 301-horsepower V-6 raises the SUV’s maximum towing capacity from 1,500 pounds to 3,500 pounds.

2017 Ford Escape

img 608539839 1495556080675 jpg 2017 Ford Escape | photo by Joe Bruzek

Unlike other SUVs in this list, which rely on V-6 power for their higher tow ratings, the 2017 Escape uses a high-output turbocharged four-cylinder engine to boost its towing capacity. The optional turbo 2.0-liter engine makes 245 hp and boosts the vehicle’s towing capacity to 3,500 pounds on models that also have the Tow Prep Package.

2017 GMC Terrain

img 1535264570 1495556352331 jpg 2016 GMC Terrain | Manufacturer image

The Terrain shares its platform and powertrains with the Chevrolet Equinox but wears different styling. It also has the same 3,500-pound maximum towing capacity as the Equinox when fitted with its optional V-6 engine.

2017 Jeep Cherokee

img 2083524547 1495556136270 jpg 2017 Jeep Cherokee | photo by Angela Conners

The 2017 Jeep Cherokee has the highest towing capacity in the compact SUV class; this compact Jeep is rated to tow up to 4,500 pounds when equipped with the optional 271-hp V-6 and Trailer Tow Package. The package provides the vehicle with extra engine and transmission cooling and different final-drive gearing, among other things.

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander

img432281370 1495556482564 jpg 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander | Manufacturer image

Most Outlander trim levels use a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, but the top-of-the-line GT SUV gets a 224-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 that bumps the Outlander’s towing capacity to 3,500 pounds.

There are many things to consider when figuring out how much your vehicle can safely tow, including how many passengers and how much gear you’re carrying in the cargo area as well as how far and where you’re traveling. If you’re not sure your vehicle is up to the task, take the time to find out rather than winging it. It could mean the difference between safely reaching your destination and having your vehicle break down on the side of the road.

Photo of Mike Hanley
Mike Hanley has more than 20 years of experience reporting on the auto industry. His primary focus is new vehicles, and he's currently a Senior Road Test Editor overseeing expert car reviews and comparison tests. He previously managed Editorial content in the Research section. Email Mike Hanley

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