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What are the best cars to flat tow? We review some options

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By Nanci Dixon
I have been looking for a new flat towable car for the last couple of years and I’ve read every RV article that mentions them. Yes, I can practically hear everyone chirping: “Jeep, Jeep, Jeep!” Been there, done that.

Volkswagen Cabriolet

I loved our 2001 Volkswagen Cabriolet convertible until the driver’s seat kept falling back, the transmission and emergency brake wouldn’t hold on a hill anymore, the clutch went out, the hubs went out and parts were getting hard to get. We even had it custom-painted to match our motorhome! It was manual transmission too.

2016 Kia Soul basic

We currently have the basic manual 2016 Kia Soul. My husband does all of the motorhome driving, which makes me the designated destination driver when we stop. I am so tired of shifting!

My wants are simple (or so I think…). I want an automatic transmission, flat towable, relatively light tow weight, convertible or hatchback, backup sensors, backup camera, side passing lane sensors, a great sound system, panoramic sunroof, automatic door locks, and cruise control. And it would be nice if it parked itself. The basic Kia does not have cruise control or auto door locks. Who makes a car without cruise control or automatic door locks?

While it has been a reliable, fuel-efficient vehicle, after three years of limited technology I want all the bells and whistles available. If it could fly, I would want that too. And it needs to look a little unusual, or as my husband says, “odd.” I did think about a Fiat or Mini Cooper, but it would still be a manual transmission. Nope.

The KIA GT Soul, Ford Escape Hybrid, 2021 Chevy Trailblazer AWD and the 2021 Ford Bronco have caught my eye. I am still waiting to actually see the new Ford Bronco. Unlike some of the more adventurous people that laid down money and pre-ordered the Bronco, I need to test drive it first.

Kia Soul GT Turbo

2021 Kia Soul
2021 Soul

NOTE- the KIA advertises flat towable but tow bars may not be available. The flat towable KIA GT Soul Turbo has lots of bells and whistles. Mood lighting combined with the speakers, 10.25 HD touchscreen, rear camera, wireless charging, forward collision avoidance, blind-spot collision warning, lane-keeping assistant… It even has a pop-up screen so I could actually see the turn signals. It has lots of room for hauling stuff with a 60/40 split rear seat and amazingly roomy passenger seats in the front and back. The sunroof was a bit small but better than none.

The 201-hp 1.6 liter turbo-4 zips around. I was up the ramp and on the interstate in seconds. I did notice that the young car salesman next to me was hanging on to the door handle. Was he thinking of exiting? Guess he didn’t know “Grandma” would actually punch it if there was any power.

I like boxy cars, so this fits the bill. I had a Honda Element. I have a Kia Soul. The only real issue with it is that the exterior looks exactly like the one we have, except for the taillights and the KIA is not AWD (all-wheel drive)… yet.

The GT turbo is the only Soul that is flat towable. It has to have a 7-speed DCT (dual-clutch transmission). While that transmission allows it to be flat towed, the reviews have mentioned that it can be slow in low gears. It weighs in at a light 2,844 lbs. Note that the dealership did not know that they can be flat towed. They needed to look up the service bulletin. The starting MSRP on the Turbo is $27,550.

Ford Escape Hybrid Titanium

Ford Escape 20210
2021 Ford Escape

The next one I test drove was the Ford Escape Titanium Hybrid FWD. I loved the interior! It features everything I could want: heated front seats, panoramic roof, co-pilot assist, Bang & Olufsen 10-speaker audio system, remote start, a spare tire… It’s amazing to me that a spare tire is usually an extra addition (and cost). It was a little slower on the uptake than the Kia Turbo, but acceptable. The hybrid would take a bit getting used to when it is running on battery instead of gas. The only issue was that it looks, um, normal. At $36,805 MSRP, it does cost much more than the Kia Soul, but it does have all the extra bells and whistles.

Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer

Now I am also considering the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD, also flat towable. The new 2021 model was released in June and Blue Ox started making a towing base plate for it. It weighs between 3226 lbs. and 3275 lbs., depending on engine size. It has my techno fix with lane change alert, rear cross-traffic alert, climate control, power panoramic sunroof, 8″ touchscreen, Bose 7-speaker audio system, cruise control, rear camera and, yes, it can park itself. It sits at $32,390 MSRP.

Reviews have been favorable and the turbo fares well for a 3-cylinder 1.2 or 1.3 Liter engine. Three cylinders! I am old enough to remember when 6 cylinders were considered wimpy and 4 cylinders a sewing machine! In tests, it struggled a bit on hills. I haven’t test driven it yet, but I will soon.

Ford Bronco

2021 Ford bronco
2021 Ford Bronco

The Ford Bronco is Ford’s answer to the Jeep. The automatic models are the Outer Banks (starting MSRP $38,955), Wildtrak (starting MSRP $46,980), and First Edition (starting MSRP $57,410). Those are all two-door models. The four-door models have a slightly higher MSRP. They weigh in from 3,467 lbs. to 3,707 lbs. They don’t have as many bells and whistles but they do have a great sound system, 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen, and Ford’s co-pilot package. The co-pilot package includes a lane-keeping system, automatic emergency braking, rear camera, forward sensing and adaptive cruise control. It doesn’t have a sunroof, but heck, the top comes off!

I am still waiting, waiting, waiting. I have been calling Ford dealerships across the country for five months and no luck finding one in stock yet. I have found the Ford Bronco Sport in stock but, unfortunately, it is not flat towable. I’m not sure that I would want the Bronco but I would certainly like to see it. I remember them from the 1970s, so they are nostalgic to me. A bit of nostalgia is a good thing now.

What automatic vehicle do you tow? What do you like about it and why? Are you towing any of the ones I am thinking about? I would love to hear your recommendations or warnings. Please leave a comment below. Thanks!

Always check with the sales people, service manager and the vehicle manual before purchasing a vehicle for flat towing. Models and ability to flat tow change change from year to year and model to model.

##RVT979

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John Boy
7 months ago

Nanci,
I have a 2021 TrailBlazer 3Cyl Turbo with 9 speed Auto. I am very impressed with the power it has. There is a sport mode button that I use when I’m in mountain and winding roads. I live in Colorado and this puppy has no issues going up the passes. Very capable in the snow when in AWD AND, just FWD. I get an average 31+ MPG

I used all Roadmaster parts including the Awesome Invisbrake. It tows great behind our Jayco Seneca. I towed it back to our home state of NY (western NY) which was over 3800 miles round trip. It was then driven over 1600 miles in NY. Many of our friends and family are amazed how roomy and comfy the TB is.
JB

Glen Cowgill
7 months ago

Nanci, we tow a 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4×4 which I love. Easy to set up and tows nice. Hope you find what you are looking for.

Michael Galvin, PhD
7 months ago

Smart car is great. Can’t flat tow models after about 2017, though.

Jeff Signorini
7 months ago

Per Kia your info on the GT Turbo and the Dual Clutch Transmission being flat towable is wrong! We were looking at the Kia Soul Turbo recently based on FMCA including it in it’s flat towable list for 2022. When we went to the dealer we were told that Kia DID NOT make an automatic transmission that could be flat towed and that the DCT could never be towed except on a trailer. I’ve been told wrong info by dealers before on flat towing and asked to see the owners manual. It plainly stated that No Kia could be flat towed except with a manual transmission and that the DCT could not be flat towed. So as the salesman jokingly said at the time, “We’ll be happy to sell you one. But you can’t flat tow it, you’ll destroy the transmission and there’ll be no warranty.” This idea that Kia and the DCT can be flat towed keeps getting passed around in RV industry media but according to Kia is completely false.

Marc Rodstein
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Signorini

The dealer told you wrong. i have a freind that tows a Kia Forte with DCT and has no issues at all.

Larry Margolis
7 months ago

I flat tow a 2019 Honda Civic, hatchback, manual shift. Moderately priced, fun car to drive, plenty of extra room with the back seats down.

Ed Mattas
7 months ago

You might look at the new Ford Maverick Pickup. The hybrid model is flat tow-able and if you were to get the Lariet package it would have the bells and whistles you’re looking for.
I’m still waiting for mine (ordered in 2021 but I haven’t recieved notice of it build date).

Joe
7 months ago

It’s the gosh darn constant velocity transmissions (CVT) in many of the newer lighter vehicles that cannot be flat towed. Hopefully I can always buy a manual transmission as I believe most can be towed without a lot of issues. Otherwise I will be rebuilding the Jeep Patriot to the end of my motorhome adventures!

Joe
7 months ago

For us it’s a 2017 Jeep Patriot, 2 wheel drive, crank windows, no-door remote, AC, AM/FM, non locking steering, the famous 5 point millennial theft deterrent system (5speed transmission), odometer does not rack up miles while towing, no disconnecting or removing of fuses, no charging of battery when in tow. Extremely easy to flat tow and weighs in just under 3,000 pounds. Since buying it to only use with the motorhome we have 63,000 miles on the odometer plus about 40,000 while being towed behind. Knock on wood no issues other than regular maintenance

Debra
7 months ago

We tow a 2019 GMC Acadia. It is very simple to set up for towing. Just depress a lever by the shifter and put into neutral. No fuses to pull. It is a V6 and well equipped with the features you mentioned. We don’t have a sun roof but I believe it is available. It is very comfortable to drive. I’m not sure if later model years are flat towable.

Paul Bostwick
7 months ago

I drive a Ford Explorer 2018, and have been towing Explorers since we bought the motor home in 2007. Sorry to say the new models 2021 and newer now cannot be towed 4 flat.
So for me it will be a Jeep Grand Cherokee or a Ford Bronco. Since I usually order my cars with all the bells and whistles it will be probably a year away.

PAT DONALDSON
7 months ago

A year ago, I moved from a 2008 Jeep Wrangler to a 2021 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk. It is trail rated like the Wrangler so we can get in the mud when we want to. The ride is much more comfortable and it has all the driver helps like lane assist and cross traffic warning.

BillyBogey
7 months ago

HRH is a “Granny” & she knows how to “Punch” it!!
I hold on & just “Smile”!! & Do Not Ask!!
Smart Man!!

Pam LoCoco
7 months ago
Reply to  BillyBogey

Ok, educate me. What is HRH?

Joe
7 months ago
Reply to  Pam LoCoco

It’s a Chevy 5 door, 5 passenger vehicle. I think they were last produced around 2010-2012

Glen Cowgill
7 months ago
Reply to  BillyBogey

And I thought HRH stood for “Her Royal Highness”

JAY SOUTHWARD
7 months ago

We started flat towing our 2008 Mini Cooper Clubman 6 speed transmission 4 years ago. We bought it because I was a car hauler for BMW and hauled alot of these mini Coopers back in the early 2000’s. Fun to drive and it’s a Cooper S as in turbo. Has hill assist and all the bells and whistles. Man in Nebraska sold it to us and my wife loves it peppy turbo. Psst… she has a lead foot . Under the 3000 lb threshold for auxiliary braking so dont know its there behind our class C. RV THERE YET?

Donald N Wright
7 months ago

Ms. Dixon, I do not tow a car or truck. I have wondered, is it more or less expensive just to rent a car at your destination rather than buy a car and tow it everywhere. Thank You.

Ken
7 months ago

2010 – 2017 inclusive……Chevy Equinox or GMC Terrains are flat towable, and there’s tons of them out there as daily drivers.
Neat thing is the choices of these vehicles…..

4 cylinder OR 6 cylinder (1500 lb. OR 3500 lb. towing capacity if you need it)

FWD OR AWD

Total flexibility for your needs when you’re not actually using it as a toad.

https://www.cars.com/research/chevrolet-equinox/

Thomas McFadden
7 months ago
Reply to  Ken

I needed a flat tow quickly. Dodge, Ford chevy only had some or few available. Dodge dealer found a Equanox, 2020 with 25k. Does not have some things I would like, but the gas milage is great.

Joe Allen
7 months ago

Not sure who came up with this list, but our Chevy Equinox is a great towing machine. It does have to have the battery ability to be charged while towing, but other than that, 37mpg and a pretty good riding car for it’s shorter wheelbase. We have been using this now for almost 4 years and have looked at Jeep, but the ride just turns us off. Hope this helps someone out there looking for an easy to set up tow vehicle. Oh, 4 door as well and a fairly large truck area with the back seats folded down

John E. Mosman
7 months ago

After towing our Honda Accord on a tow dolly (and all that hassle), we traded in for a 2013 Honda Pilot. The system is easy to use, hook-up simple and the Pilot a nice car to zip around visiting the sites, etc.

Don
7 months ago

You missed my all-time favorite – the Fiat 500. In the manual tranny version, this thing is not only super simple to set up (tow bar connected, lights plugged in, brakes off and go) but at 2,300 lb you’ll never even know it’s there. And if you’re so inclined, you can probably ignore toad brakes, as most states only require them on toads over 3,000 lb.

Pat
7 months ago

We towed my husband’s 2006 Dodge Ram 150 but we were looking for something lighter. We ran across a 2003 Honda Element from a gentleman who had moved back to Iowa from Florida. Nanci, it won’t fit your need for fancy, but it might work for unusual. 🙂 It’s been a great toad for us.

Ran
7 months ago

Always read the owners manual in the glove box (or get from salesman) and read the proper towing abilities. There are towable list out there, but make sure before purchase. Another item I wanted is COMFORT! Many towables are not that comfortable to drive day to day. I also had a Jeep Cherokee and got rid of it (too many problems), instead I got a 2018 Chevy Colorado 4wd, with the larger V6 engine, crew cab 4dr,. Flat towable and under 5000lbs. This is my every day vehicle as well. Haven’t had any problems with it since I bought it new. Just my input! Good luck!

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