What is the Best Midsize SUV for Towing 5,000 Pounds? [Ask TFL]

Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee fail IIHS Small Passenger Frontal Overlap Test
2018 Ford Explorer [Photo: Ford]

They’re practical on their own, but when you run out of space, which one is the best midsize SUV for towing?

TFLcar viewer Jedironin380 recently reached out to us with a great SUV question:

“I currently have an older Dodge pickup truck and a Subaru Crosstrek. I’m strongly considering going back to 1 vehicle and getting a trailer to haul my UTV and other hauling duties. What are the best mid-size SUVs with good 4×4 systems that can carry 4 people and “stuff” and can haul 5,000 lbs.?”

There are plenty of options out there right now for those who are looking to tow with a midsize SUV. However, we should preface our recommendation with a quick note that you should not push the limits of your car. While an SUV may be technically capable of towing 5,000 pounds, it’s not necessarily wise to do so, as long periods of towing that much weight may put excessive strain on the powertrain and brakes. We also advise installing a brake controller if you plan on towing more than 3,000 pounds.

What options are there?

That out of the way, here are the current midsize choices for towing around 5,000 pounds or more:

Make/Model Engine Transmission Max. Towing Capacity Starting Price (excl. destination charges)
Acura MDX 3.5L V6 9-speed auto 5,000 lbs. $46,300 (SH-AWD)
Audi Q7 3.0L Turbo V6 8-speed auto 7,700 lbs. $56,400 (Premium)
BMW X5 3.0L Turbo I6 8-speed auto ~6,000 lbs. $58,195 (xDrive35i)
Buick Enclave 3.6L V6 9-speed auto 5,000 lbs. $47,295 (Essence AWD)
Chevrolet Traverse 3.6L V6 9-speed auto 5,000 lbs. $34,600 (LS AWD)
Dodge Durango 3.6L V6 8-speed auto 6,200 lbs. and up $32,595 (SXT)
Ford Explorer 3.5L N/A or Turbo V6 6-speed auto 5,000 lbs. $32,140 (Base)
Honda Pilot 3.5.L V6 6-speed auto (LX, EX and EX-L)

9-speed auto (Touring, Elite)

5,000 lbs. $32,800 (LX AWD)
Hyundai Santa Fe 3.3L V6 6-speed auto 5,000 lbs. $32,600 (SE AWD)
Infiniti QX60 3.5L V6 CVT 5,000 lbs. $45,100 (AWD)
Jeep Cherokee 3.2L V6 9-speed auto 4,500 lbs. $27,240 (Latitude 4×4)
Jeep Grand Cherokee 6.4L V8 8-speed auto 7,200 lbs. $67,495 (SRT)
2019 Kia Sorento 3.3L V6 8-speed auto 5,000 lbs. $33,090 (LX V6 AWD)
Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class 3.5L V6 7-speed auto 7,200 lbs. $54,700 (GLE 350 4MATIC)
Nissan Pathfinder 3.5L V6 CVT 6,000 lbs. $32,730 (S 4×4)
2019 Porsche Cayenne 3.0L Turbo V6 8-speed auto 7,700 lbs. $65,700 (Cayenne)
Range Rover Sport 3.0L S/C V6 8-speed auto 7,716 lbs. $66,750 (SE)
Subaru Ascent 2.4L Turbo H4 CVT 5,000 lbs. $34,195 (Premium)
Toyota Highlander 3.5L V6 8-speed auto 5,000 lbs. $35,135 (LE V6 AWD)
Volkswagen Atlas 3.6L V6 8-speed auto 5,000 lbs. $33,950 (S w/ 4MOTION)
Volvo XC90 2.0L Turbo I4 8-speed auto 5,000 lbs. $49,100 (T5 Momentum AWD)

Of course, there’s a wide range of options here. Really, from a towing perspective, they’ll all tow around 5,000 pounds. The exception is the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which came up a bit short at 4,500 pounds. Weirdly, the larger Grand Cherokee, with the larger 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, is only rated to tow 3,500 pounds. To better define the “good” part of “what makes a good midsize SUV for towing”, it partially depends on price. This list includes economical and luxury options, and fuel economy varies depending on the car.


This list offers a comprehensive view of all the midsize SUVs out there – unless we accidentally missed one. Since there is such a wide field, we’d like to make three recommendations based on price. We’ll offer an entry-level, mid-range, and luxury recommendation, depending on how far you want to stretch your budget.

2019 Jeep Cherokee Overland
[Photo: FCA]

Entry-level: Jeep Cherokee

The 2019 Jeep Cherokee offers a fresh face and a lot of towing ability for the money. Even the base Latitude model will tow up to 4,500 pounds when equipped with the 3.2-liter Pentastar V6. Being a Jeep, its four-wheel drive system is also quite capable. The Pentastar engine has a pretty good reputation for reliability. More to the point, Fiat-Chrysler seems to have dialed out a lot of the earlier issues with the nine-speed automatic transmission. The engine pulls well and the transmission is smooth, even if it’s a bit slow to shift when you want it to.

Best Midsize SUV for towing 5,000 Pounds
[Photo: Hyundai]

Mid-range: Hyundai Santa Fe

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe is a comfortable, three-row SUV that provides a lot of value for money. It drives pretty well, even if its six-speed automatic is a bit archaic in today’s 8-speed dominated world. Fuel economy is the big stumbling block here, but other than that, the Santa Fe is a good all-rounder. The Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and 2019 Kia Sorento are also good options in this range.

2018 Audi Q7 - Best Midsize SUV for Towing 5,000 pounds
[Photo: Audi]

Luxury: Audi Q7

If you have the budget, the Audi Q7 is hard to fault as an all-around family hauler. It has fairly conservative styling, but it also has a top-notch interior and solid feel on the road. It’s also capable of towing up to 7,700 pounds, so it won’t even break a sweat under a light load. It is pricey, but among the luxury options, it actually comes out as one of the cheapest (at least for the base Premium model).

There are plenty of other great options on the list. Which would you recommend makes the best midsize SUV for towing, TFL community? Let Jedironin380 and the community know which midsize SUV you’d use for towing in the comments below! Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow for more news, views and real-world reviews.

Update: Added 2018 Acura MDX to the list.