Friday, December 1, 2023


Truck & Towing Trends: SUVs that haul… sorta

Ford’s Bronco already made a big splash when it hit the market. While towing might not be it’s strong suit, being towed is something that is possible since Ford announced that the Bronco line can be flat towed. 

But it may have relevance in another area for us enthusiasts of the outdoors and that’s overlanding. 

The all-new Bronco family includes a Bronco two-door, a first-ever Bronco four-door model and an all-new rugged, small SUV, Bronco Sport – the only domestic brand of SUVs with standard 4×4.

As part of the launch, Ford also inaugurated the “Built Wild” brand. It features accessories you can get from the dealership to modify the various Bronco models. Think of it as sort of Ford’s off-road version of Mopar. 

Recently, Ford let the Bronco Riptide project out of the stable.

Based on the 2021 Bronco four-door with Sasquatch Package for even more Built Wild capability, the Bronco Riptide vehicle features 35-inch mud-terrain tires mounted to 17-inch factory wheels with optional Ford Performance beadlock rings, Dana AdvanTEK® electronic-locking front and rear axles, a high-clearance suspension system with Bilstein® position-sensitive long-travel shock absorbers, plus exclusive Bronco Terrain Management System with seven G.O.A.T. Modes designed to help ensure Bronco goes over any type of terrain.

The vehicle showcases many Ford accessories available to retail customers at their dealer at time of purchase. Bronco customers can add the cost of factory- and dealer-installed accessories to their financing and roll it into their monthly payment. Accessories used on Bronco Riptide include a Bestop® mesh Bimini top, a Yakima® bike rack with Santa Cruz mountain bikes, and a RIGID® LED lightbar and mirror-mounted off-road lights. In addition, a unique prototype front steel bumper gives the Bronco Riptide project vehicle added Built Wild durability and capability.

I can only imagine that roof-top tents are coming. They’re available already from a number of aftermarket companies, so the Bronco will likely be a great overlanding vehicle with the right accessories. Hey, Ford. Wanna let an RV reviewer loose with a Bronco and your Built Wild catalog? 

Can you tow a trailer without a pickup?

I dare you to go post a picture of an SUV towing a travel trailer. Go ahead. See just how angry the posts are from the towing police on antisocial media. But the truth is, there are some SUVs that are reasonably adept at towing some trailers. 

Now, I know the keyboard warriors are already blowing a gasket just over that statement. Let me first advise anybody who is looking to tow anything with any vehicle that you should have a good comprehension of the numbers. 

You could almost completely ignore the “tow rating” of any vehicle if you pay close attention to the Cargo Carrying Capacity and Gross Combined Weight Rating. You should also know what the weight of the people and their stuff is in the tow vehicle. Also, you need to know what the pin weight or tongue weight (depending on configuration) is of the trailer you’re towing. 

SUV towing

But before you consider an SUV, there are two vans that might be worth considering. 

Nissan NV 

Even though Nissan has announced the demise of the Nissan NV and NV passenger vans, you might still find one out there that suits your needs. The NV is essentially based on the Nissan Titan XD pickup. It shares that model’s 5.6L V8 engine and seven-speed automatic transmission in the proper configuration. 

Properly equipped, the NV 3500 is rated to carry up to 3,720 pounds. That means that four people plus the tongue weight of a mid-size trailer may be well within the capability of these. Better yet, the NV has a long wheelbase. That does help with towing, and the seven-speed automatic is well suited to this task. 

I like the cockpit of the Nissan NV quite a bit. It’s the least van-like of the vans I’ve driven. But you’d better troll the used market or call around quickly if you want one. 

Chevrolet Express/GMC Savannah

The Chevrolet Express and identical GMC Savannah are also well-suited to towing. Like many domestic trucks, there are an almost mind-boggling number of configurations. But the sweet situation is the 6.6L V8 and Allison transmission. 

Choosing the right combination of options and packages can get you up to 4,334 pounds of cargo carrying capacity. Also, like the Nissan, the wheelbase on these vans is long. 

However, unlike the NV, the driver’s cockpit on these is probably the worst design in any current vehicle of any type. The seat doesn’t go back very far, the steering wheel is almost vertical, and the dashboard is quite 1990s. Unfortunately, good capabilities and a solid chassis have been ruined by abhorrent ergonomics. 

SUVs that can tow

If you do want to tow with an SUV, there are a few that aren’t bad. 

Ford Expedition

Of all the full-sized SUVs, the Ford Expedition has the highest tow rating of them all. Not surprising, as Ford’s towing numbers are almost always the highest, at least as promised by the company. Ford claims a maximum towing capability of 9,300 pounds in the short wheelbase Expedition with Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package. 

Ford also has their Pro Trailer Backup Assist available. 

Nissan Armada

Sharing the engine and transmission with the NV van, the Armada has a max towing capacity of 8,500 pounds. The Armada also comes standard with the towing package featuring a 5.6 liter V8 engine. 

GMC Yukon and Chevrolet Tahoe

The GMC Yukon is rated to tow 8,400 pounds with the two-wheel-drive model and the smaller of the two available V8 engines. Add four-wheel-drive and you drop that figure by 200 pounds, which also happens if you get the bigger V8. Weird. 

Go diesel and you’re down to 8,100 pounds (7,800 with four-wheel-drive). 

If you want something bigger, the Suburban is another option from Chevrolet. The max rating is 8,300 pounds with two-wheel drive and the 5.3-liter V8. The 6.2-liter V8 can tow 8,200 pounds, while the diesel will tow 8,000 pounds. Knock 200 pounds off those capacities for 4×4 models. And to get those numbers, you need the Max Trailering Package ($465). 

Should you?

As nice as pickup trucks are today, the question remains: Should you haul a travel trailer with an SUV? As always, it comes down to remaining well within capacity, including cargo carrying capacity. Being aware of what your vehicle can safely tow, and what your insurance company will say if something goes wrong, is part of being an informed and fully covered RV Traveler. 

Lincoln Navigator

Wednesday, Lincoln announced their new Navigator. There is plenty of language about luxury and features and such. But there wasn’t any specific information about towing in the release. However, this copy did include some information about towing:

Lincoln engineers target everything from sight, sound, touch and feel through Navigator steering, suspension, powertrain and torque delivery, tailoring ride and handling for all weather conditions and ensuring clients have an effortless, first-class experience. The 2022 Navigator boasts a responsive powertrain and impressive handling capabilities with an advanced 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine that offers a blend of power and refinement with an impressive 440 horsepower and 510 lb.-ft. of torque.

Also new to the Lincoln Navigator suite of intuitive features is Adaptive Suspension with Road Preview that works to ensure a smooth ride. Body movements and vehicle motion, as well as steering, acceleration, and braking activities, are constantly monitored by 12 sensors – including a forward-facing camera – that read the road 500 times per second and automatically prompt adjustments up to 100 times per second to mitigate any unpleasant impacts.

The Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package

The Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package now adds Trailer Reverse Guidance, which uses high-resolution cameras to provide multiple views along with steering guidance graphics to assist in backing up and maneuvering a trailer. The technology works with Pro-Trailer Backup Assist to make backing up a trailer or boat as effortless as turning a dial.

Navigator has the most standard and available driver-assist technologies in its class, and Lincoln continues to build on its comprehensive, standard suite – Lincoln Co-Pilot360 2.0 – to provide clients with additional ways to customize their vehicle. New standard features include:

      • Intersection Assist: Navigator can alert a driver attempting to turn left by applying the brakes when camera and radar technology detects oncoming traffic
      • Active Park Assist 2.0: The latest iteration of park-assist technologies – Active Park Assist 2.0 offers Park Out Assist with side-sensing capability so drivers can confidently navigate out of a spot when someone is parked too close

Additional standard features include Forward Collision Warning, Post Collision Braking, Distance Alert, Dynamic Brake Support, Pedestrian Detection, Auto Hold, hill start assist, automatic headlamps, Voice-Activated Touchscreen Navigation and Phone As A Key.

The new Navigator will be built at Kentucky Truck Plant and arrives in dealerships early next year.


Tony Barthel has been a life-long RV enthusiast and travels part-time with his wife where they also produce a podcast, write about RVs and love the RV lifestyle.



0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Serenity (@guest_139215)
2 years ago

I tow a 24’ Northwoods Nash with a ‘98 Ford Econoline E150, 5.4l Tritón V8. The tow and weight capacities are within range and I’ve actually hauled heavier than what I have now. I have a HD tow package (including upgrading the springs, shocks, etc.) and the only thing I would add if the van was less on mileage would be a transmission cooler. I rest after a heavy uphill haul anyway, but it would be nice for more accurate reference.

When it’s time to replace my vehicle I’m thinking of upgrading to an E250 just for that extra bit of strength and stability (brakes, shocks, etc.), but overall I love towing with my van because I actually live in the van part time (drop the trailer in a safe location & just take the van on trips to go visit friends).

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.