The Best CUVs Less Than $50K for Towing



Not everyone wants or needs a full-size, heavy-duty truck for their towing needs. Many CUVs can handle the task with ease.

Not everyone wants or needs a full-size, heavy-duty truck for their towing needs. Many CUVs can handle the task with ease. (Kevan Ray/)

An ATV or UTV stuck at home isn’t much good to anyone, and most states still don’t licence them for highway use. For most, using a toy to its full potential means a lot of trailering. But for the majority of us, traditional SUVs and pickups are unwieldy in daily use and they suck down gas like a bathtub drain. While crossovers may be the punchline of enough jokes to keep Good Humor in popsicle sticks for the next century, they may be the answer if you need a tow rig that doubles as a livable daily driver.

We’ve assembled a list of comfortable, stylish CUVs that can hold their own when pulling a trailer. We set the price limit for this list at $50,000 and ruled out anything that can’t handle a standard trailer and the average ATV or UTV. We should also note that some of the rigs listed here only have the stated tow capacity in certain trim levels, and we have pointed that out where appropriate.

Related: The Basics of Buying a Trailer for Your New UTV

The 2021 Acura MDX can tow 5,000 pounds when properly equipped.

The 2021 Acura MDX can tow 5,000 pounds when properly equipped. (Acura/)

Acura MDX

Maximum towing capacity: 5,000 lb. (when equipped w/ SH-AWD)

Base MSRP: $47,200

Seating capacity: 7

Fuel economy: 19/25/21 city/highway/combined

What you need to know: The Acura MDX is a quiet player in the luxury game, with excellent reliability and overlooked interior accoutrements and driving dynamics. Its towing capacity of 5,000 pounds is considerable, and it’s a very good vehicle overall.

The 2021 Chevrolet Traverse can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

The 2021 Chevrolet Traverse can tow up to 5,000 pounds. (Chevrolet/)

Chevrolet Traverse

Maximum towing capacity: 5,000 lb.

Base MSRP: $29,800

Seating capacity: 8

Fuel economy: 18/27 city/highway

What you need to know: If you need to carry a lot of people and an equal amount of gear, or tow a sizable trailer, the Traverse is a decent option. Just don’t expect opulence.

The 2021 Ford Explorer can tow up to 5,600 pounds.

The 2021 Ford Explorer can tow up to 5,600 pounds. (Ford/)

Ford Explorer

Maximum towing capacity: 5,600 lb.

Base MSRP: $32,925

Seating capacity: 7

Fuel economy: 27/29 city/highway

What you need to know: Finally back to being built on rear-wheel-drive architecture after a long hiatus in front-drive land, the newest Explorer trades machismo for cost-cutting. Still, 5,600 pounds is a commendable towing capacity and we’re excited for the upcoming Timberline off-road trim.

The 2021 Honda Passport can tow up 5,000 to pounds.

The 2021 Honda Passport can tow up 5,000 to pounds. (Honda/)

Honda Passport

Maximum towing capacity: 5,000 lb. (when equipped w/ AWD)

Base MSRP: $32,790

Seating capacity: 5

Fuel economy: 20/25 city/highway

What you need to know: Honda shortened the Pilot and lifted it slightly to create the Passport. It’s a fantastic package that we really like, and we love its 5,000-pound towing capacity. Also of note is the upcoming Trailsport trim that promises more off-road capability with minimal detriment to the Pilot’s excellent on-road manners.

The 2021 Honda Pilot can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

The 2021 Honda Pilot can tow up to 5,000 pounds. (Honda/)

Honda Pilot

Maximum towing capacity: 5,000 lb. (when equipped w/ AWD)

Base MSRP: $39,060

Seating capacity: 8

Fuel economy: 20/27 city/highway

What you need to know: If the Passport isn’t big enough for you, the Pilot is a stalwart of the seven- and eight-seater market. It does just about everything well and can tow what amounts to a full trailer’s worth of fun Honda ATVs or UTVs.

The 2021 Hyundai Palisade can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

The 2021 Hyundai Palisade can tow up to 5,000 pounds. (Hyundai/)

Hyundai Palisade

Maximum towing capacity: 5,000 lb.

Base MSRP: $32,675

Seating capacity: 8

Fuel economy: 19/26/22 city/highway/combined

What you need to know: Along with its Kia Telluride platform-mate, the Palisade has taken the CUV/SUV world by storm, and for good reason. It’s well equipped, genuinely nice inside, and has real road presence. A good choice all around.

Related: No Truck? No Problem. Off-Road Heroes Huck Rigs With Hatchbacks

The 2021 Jeep Cherokee can tow up to 4,500 pounds.

The 2021 Jeep Cherokee can tow up to 4,500 pounds. (Jeep/)

Jeep Cherokee

Maximum towing capacity: 4,500 lb.

Base MSRP: $28,135

Seating capacity: 5

Fuel economy: 23/31 city/highway

What you need to know: Unlike many wannabe-wheelers, the Jeep Cherokee offers some real-deal off-road capability. And with 4,500 pounds of towing capacity, it can bring your toys to hard-to-reach trailheads.

The 2021 Kia Telluride can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

The 2021 Kia Telluride can tow up to 5,000 pounds. (Kia/)

Kia Telluride

Maximum towing capacity: 5,000 lb.

Base MSRP: $32,790

Seating capacity: 8

Fuel economy: 19/26/22 city/highway/combined

What you need to know: The sweetheart of every recent comparison test and review, Kia’s Telluride is an excellent vehicle with upscale interior styling and materials along with a standout exterior design that punches above its weight. And with 5,000 pounds of towing capacity, we’d be happy to spend time in the Telluride while pulling a trailer.

The 2021 Nissan Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds.

The 2021 Nissan Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds. (Nissan/)

Nissan Pathfinder

Maximum towing capacity: 6,000 lb.

Base MSRP: $33,410

Seating capacity: 7

Fuel economy: 21/27 city/highway

What you need to know: Nissan completely revamped the Pathfinder’s styling for its fifth generation, working to create a much more off-road-minded design and a package that is in line with class leaders like the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade. Its 6,000-pound towing capacity is unchanged from the last generation, and it still leads the pack on this front.

The 2021 Subaru Ascent can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

The 2021 Subaru Ascent can tow up to 5,000 pounds. (Subaru/)

Subaru Ascent

Maximum towing capacity: 5,000 lb.

Base MSRP: $32,395

Seating capacity: 8

Fuel economy: 21/27 city/highway

What you need to know: Ever the safe bet in its field, Subaru represents with a middle-of-the-road offering that boasts the brand’s famous all-wheel-drive system and the safety the company made its name on. The Ascent is rated to tow 5,000 pounds.

The 2021 Toyota Highlander can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

The 2021 Toyota Highlander can tow up to 5,000 pounds. (Toyota/)

Toyota Highlander

Maximum towing capacity: 5,000 lb.

Base MSRP: $35,085

Seating capacity: 8

Fuel economy: 21/29 city/highway

What you need to know: The Toyota Highlander is a competent all-around vehicle that’s more street-oriented than others presented here, but it will fare just fine if tasked with weekend warrior trailer duty.

The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas can tow up to 5,000 pounds. (Volkswagen/)

Volkswagen Atlas

Maximum towing capacity: 5,000 lbs

Base MSRP: $31,555

Seating capacity: 7

Fuel economy: 21/24 city/highway

What you need to know: The VW Atlas is very much akin to the Subaru Ascent in that it displays competence across the board but doesn’t excel at any single task. We’re not huge fans of the Atlas, but it’s a well-rounded vehicle that does a good job of hauling people and cargo with ease.

Disclaimer: Keep in mind that “can tow” is different from “can tow comfortably, easily, and well.” The maximum towing rating listed above reflects what the vehicle’s chassis, engine, and brakes can manage according to the manufacturer. Always refer to a user manual for best hauling practices, and never exceed the maximum tongue or trailer weight.



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