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

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

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!

##RVT979

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Pierre Schexneider
26 days ago

I tow a 2016 Jeep Trailhawk, 4WD, had to install a module to activate the electronic steering in order to prevent death wobble, and also add a charge line to keep the battery charged, but that was simple and inexpensive. Love how it tows and it is also my daily driver.

Linda Sauer
2 months ago

Why won’t Honda bring back a transmission that is RV flat towable. The CR-V was the tow vehicle of choice until they changed transmissions.

dave
8 months ago

I tow a 2018 Equinox. Like the vehicle a lot. Downers are auto engine shutdown while sitting at a light. (Thought it stalled the first few times it did it) . And electric assist steering. It causes battery problems because you can’t shut the ignition off. From what I heard, most GMs have it so remember to put a charge line in your towing package.

David Bracey
9 months ago

You can flat tow the Lincoln MKZ hybrid (it has a special tow mode). Plus all the features you want including self park, cruise, and lane keeping. I have a 2014 that I might sell.

Charlie
9 months ago

Nanci, Thanks for the info however I just looked at the 2021 Ford Bronco and the sales and maintenance department of the dealership said “IT IS NOT FLAT TOWABLE”

I was ready to put my check in their hands for a new one,

Maria K
9 months ago

I am also looking for a flat tow vehicle. I am leaning heavily towards the Ford Escape Hybrid.

Samuel J White
9 months ago

we have been towing a 2012 Chevy Malibu 4 cyl auto for three years with no problems.

Ron H.
9 months ago

We retired in 2007 and bought a Class “A” motorhome and a 2006 Honda CR-V to tow. It’s an automatic front-wheel drive with 170,000 mi. on it and we’re still towing it. It’s also our daily driver when not RVing. Only problem we ever had was a worn out tailgate latch. The manual advises to always tow under 65 mph. That means we’re usually the slowest vehicle on the highway which is fine with us. We like to cruise at a slower pace for reasons of gas mileage, less stress and relaxed scenery viewing. CR-Vs from about 2015 and newer can’t be towed, but check out the older ones. Very reliable and affordable.

Rick H
9 months ago

Suggest a 2007-2011 Honda CRV. Not the newest models out there but these are the best designed and built automobiles I have ever worked on. Also fairly light & roomy.

Been towing our 2007 CRV for over 2 1/2+ years now – crossing the country twice, traveling to all 4 corners. (Towed by our 2005 Winnebago Adventurer – gas Workhorse chassis) We bought this car new and it has been just incredible. Quiet and smooth, and with 111,000 miles on it it still feels like new. When I installed the Blue OX tow baseplate on it I got to see intimately how well this vehicle was designed and built. I have worked on many vehicles over my life – and this Honda just blew me away with it’s quality.

I have always done all its required maintenance, and no accidents, and it just runs great. We have also followed Honda’s towing process to the letter. And in our travels all over the US you see these models everywhere, so there should be plenty available used, at prices far below new.

Karl Heymann
9 months ago

looking forward to towing a Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, auto. 4wd, all the bells and whistles, 200 lbs. lighter than the JK unlimited.

Billy Vitro
9 months ago

I recently got the new RAM 1500 diesel 4wd, and got it set up to tow behind my MH. Works great, and I love having a truck for the utility of it.

Neal Davis
9 months ago

Towing a 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited. The color kinda matches one of the colors of our RV. Likes: totalled 4-down with very short conversion time, the blind-spot warning, and 4-wheel drive. Dislikes: radio automatically “on” and the fuel-economizing-shut-off-the-engine-while-stopped feature that is automatically “on.”

No, sorry, have not test-driven anything on your list. 🙁

Neal Davis
9 months ago
Reply to  Neal Davis

Towed, not totalled. 🙁 Stupid auto-correct.

Norb Dusyn
9 months ago

I’ve been towing my 2005 Honda Pilot for 15 years and it’s never let me down. Factory certified for flat towing and tracks very well. Admittedly, it doesn’t have all the latest warning features, but I can’t beat the low cost of insurance and taxes with a current solution. I do have another new vehicle for everyday use when I’m not traveling in the motorhome.

Burns R
9 months ago

We tow a 2012 Subaru Impreza, 5 speed manual. Hook up, turn key to unlock steering, place in neutral, release brake and go.
From 2014 on to present, Subaru now says no towing but any Subaru prior to 2014 with a manual transmission can be towed, with the exception of the BRZ sports car.
Before I bought our Subie, I wrote the company to confirm it was towable 4 wheels down. Still have the written response from Subaru confirming it was ok.

Deb Nevins
9 months ago

We have the new trailblazer and so far love it! It’s zippy enough for everything we need to do when traveling and it is an easy toad. We got the RS model, it’s stylish and comfortable and spacious and unique enough to make it a super fun drive.

David Jordan
9 months ago

I love my 2003 Mini Cooper S R53. I tow it behind our Diesel Pusher, I don’t even know it’s there. Yes it’s a 6 speed and a blast to drive. Blue Ox front plate and tow bar. Great set up.

Cheryl
9 months ago

We tow a 2015 MKZ Lincoln hybrid. Flat tow easily done and undone. It is hard to let a hybrid go.

Tom
9 months ago

2020 & 2021 Honda HR-V is flat towable and will do everything you ask of it. Only towable Honda left. It is based on the Fit platform.
I love my Fit (2010).

Linda Sauer
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom

As I understand, the newer CR-Vs are only today towable with manual transmission.

Toni
9 months ago

We love, love our 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL. I call it our geriatric Jeep..4 dr, comfortable ride, heated seats, pop out roof panels, fold down back seats for carrying loads. Its automatic but has 4wd manual drive if needed. It is a snap to hook up to tow w our Falcon Road Master tow kit. Has made our RV experience w our class A so easy..having had a dolly to tow for 4 yrs..never again..

MikeJ
9 months ago

We Just picked up a 2012 Cadillac SRX for $14,000 with 75,000 miles, that is flat towable with the push of a button (located under the shift boot). SRX up to 2016 are flat towable, have automatic transmission, heated seats, AWD, Bose speakers and extremely comfortable. They use regular gas. We upgraded from a 1998 Saturn so are thrilled with comfort as we age.

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