Saturday, September 23, 2023


Need to tow? Options abound instead of pickup trucks

The 2022 Outback Onyx Edition XT starts at $36,270. The 2022 Lincoln Navigator has a beginning price of $78,400. The vehicles don’t have much in common, particularly considering the more than $40,000 sticker price difference.

But the versatile machines belong to a niche fraternity.

The 2022 Subaru Outback is an alternative to a pickup truck for light towing.
The 2022 Subaru Outback is an alternative to a pickup truck for light towing.

According to a new report on, the Subaru and Lincoln are among the 15 top alternatives for buyers who need a towing option but don’t want a pickup truck.

Of course, there’s great variance in towing styles.

Like the 2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country, the Subaru has a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds.

MotorTrend shares a near-unanimous opinion of the Subaru, saying it’s a perennial favorite. It writes: “The 2022 Outback comes with Subaru’s classic AWD system and a suite of safety tech like Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering and Pre-Collision Braking—not to mention its five-star crash-safety rating—as standard.”

The 2002 Lincoln Navigator also gets praise. MotorTrend writes:

“The 2022 Lincoln Navigator is the most expensive car on this list. But it might also be the most luxurious. Standard with Lincoln’s industry-leading 10-way power-adjustable front seats, fancy ambient interior lighting, and a 10.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, among a plethora of other features, the Navigator is the most premium American SUV on sale today.”

As the most expensive among pickup truck alternatives, the Navigator has a towing capacity of 8,700 pounds.

Here are the top-15 towing alternatives to pickup trucks in reverse order of their listed towing capacities:

  • 2022 Subaru Outback XT (3,500 pounds)
  • 2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country (3,500 pounds)
  • 2022 Chrysler Pacifica (3,600 pounds)
  • 2022 Mercedes-Benz Metris (5,000 pounds)
  • 2022 BMW X7 (7,500 pounds)
  • 2022 Mercedes-Benz GLE (7,700 pounds)
  • 2022 Porsche Cayenne (7,716 pounds)
  • 2022 Land Rover Discovery (8,201 pounds)
  • 2022 Chevrolet Suburban (8,300 pounds)
  • 2022 Chevrolet Tahoe (8,400 pounds)
  • 2022 Nissan Armada (8,500 pounds)
  • 2022 Infiniti QX80 (8,500 pounds)
  • 2022 Dodge Durango (8,700 pounds)
  • 2022 Lincoln Navigator (8,700 pounds)
  • 2022 Ford Expedition (9,300 pounds)

James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, He can be reached via email:



  1. I have nothing against these vehicles or pulling with them, but too many people try to pull too big of a trailer. These vehicles are questionable when controlling a too big trailer in the wind and in heavy traffic. You seldom see a trailer that has overturned or Jack-knifed being pulled by a truck. But you do see it with too small of cars. Just keep that in mind

    • I mostly agree with you with some additional thoughts. The Expedition, Navigator, Tahoe, and Suburban are practically 1/2-ton trucks with permanent caps and a few more convenience features. The QX80/Armada is pretty similar to the Titan as well. Surprised the Nissan Pathfinder isn’t on the list. It comes at Outback/Pacifica prices and has 6000 lbs. of towing capacity. It pulls a small single-axle 4000lbs. travel trailer like a champ. None of the first 4 on the list would be able to do that and they are all more expensive.

  2. We have towed several trailers with Toyota products. 2 Highlanders, a Tacoma, and now a Land Cruiser. Great products especially the Land Cruiser. We currently tow a 23 Airstream Globe Trotter with the Land Cruiser. Perfect set up for us!

  3. I am surprised that Toyota Highlander is not on this list. The all wheel drive Highlanders tow 5000 lbs and are very comfortable rides. Alas, the six cylinder hybrids only tow 3500.

  4. Towing capacity is not the critical number. It’s the cargo capacity listed on the door sticker that matters!

    A trailer weighing 3600lb has a tongue weight of 360 to 540 lbs. so about 450lbs
    Weight distributing hitch = 100 lbs
    Two adults = 360lbs or more
    Two kids = 200 lbs
    Ice chest = 50 lbs
    That’s 1160lbs of cargo.

    The first vehicle listed above is the Subaru Outback XL which has a cargo capacity of 1141lbs before any added options added to the base vehicle.
    Your numbers will vary but it’s very easy to get above the cargo capacity of your vehicle.

  5. These vehicles maybe able to tow that weight, but can they stop it safely? And carry a reasonable payload? Being able to pull something is not the only qualification for a good tow vehicle. I towed 2100 pounds with an old Transam.. going was fine, stopping not so much…

    • Exactly right, McTroy. Given enough time, you could probably tow a large trailer with a Honda Civic, but you would be hard-pressed to stop. Stopping ability is an often overlooked capability for any tow vehicle/

      • True, although trailer brakes help a lot. Without brakes, there is no way a half-ton pick-up truck would stop safely with an 8000-lbs trailer attached either.

        • While I didn’t know at first, all two-axle trailers HAVE to have brakes, or so I was told by the trailer dealer I bought my 14′ enclosed trailer from. Since we installed disc brakes on our travel trailer, stopping is almost a fun experience. It’s the best money we have spent on our trailer (and we’ve spent boatloads of money on it!!!).


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