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4 Best SUVs to Pull Your Travel Camper

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I will admit that I am still researching the pros and cons of going the full-time RV route. I truly want to do it for a few years at least. Travel the country and see everything that I can. So, I am researching the best SUVs to pull your travel camper.

With that said, I will freely admit that I have never hauled anything in my life.  The biggest car I ever owned was my first car in 1991 and that was a ’79 Pontiac Phoenix.  That thing was a boat!  I also drove a Chevy Traverse for a month in 2010. I’ve never hauled a trailer or boat, let alone a camper.  But I am willing to give it the ole college try!  So I started researching the best SUVs to pull a travel camper with. I’m only looking to purchase a 19′ to 22′ one. So, nothing huge.

When I asked others who have campers, one pointed out something I hadn’t thought of.  When researching the haul weights for SUVs, you need to take into account the “load” room.  While your camper may be 4100 lbs, your SUV rated to haul 5200. That gives you 1100 lbs to play with.  This is your dishes, clothing, health, and beauty, etc. When I was told that, I hadn’t even thought about the weight all my stuff would actually bring to the already weighted camper.  So, if you’re looking into the RV lifestyle, make sure you ask questions. Do your research.  It’s really not that easy to get up and go.

During my research, I did the “what if” game. So, what if I got the brand new Winnebago Winnie Drop.  This is approximately 20′. Its dry weight is 2800 lbs. It’s total Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is 3800 lbs.  They have other ones that the weight is lower, but one of my requirements for an RV is to have a full bathroom. So, with those weights in mind, the four best SUVs that would be perfect for me is:

2016 Toyota Highlander XLE

The 2016 Toyota Highlander XLE offers the bigger jump where the standard engine is also a V6 but it includes a towing package. The towing package consists of a heavy-duty radiator with engine oil cooler, a 200-watt fan coupling, a 150 amp alternator and supplemental transmission oil cooler. The combination of the V6 engine and towing package gives the 2016 Toyota Highlander a 5000 lbs. towing capacity. That is a little over three times the towing capacity of the most basic level. The most basic Highlander only has the towing capacity of 1500 lbs.

Best SUVs to pull your travel camper

2015 Nissan Armada

The eight-passenger Nissan Armada has a 5.6-liter V-8 engine. This gives a trailer towing capacity of 9000 lbs if you get the SUV with its available towing package. However, even the entry-level model without the towing package, it has a towing capacity of 6000 lbs.

2015 Chevy Equinox

The Equinox is a smaller but still a useful choice for anyone looking for an SUV for towing a trailer. The Chevrolet Equinox is a compact five passenger SUV that’s available with either a four-cylinder or a V-6 engine. If you plan on hauling a smaller travel trailer, you’re going to want to opt for the 3.6 liters six cylinder motor. The V-6 more than doubles the Equinox’s tow rating, giving it the ability to lug around as much as 3,500 lbs of trailer weight.  This gives less room for maneuvering the load weight. If I went with a much smaller camper that didn’t have a full bathroom, the Equinox would be perfect.

2016 Honda Pilot

The 2016 Honda Pilot All Wheel Drive with its 3.5-liter V-6 engine offers a towing capacity of 5000 lbs. The two wheel drive has a towing capacity of 3500 lbs. Most cars are lighter than the 5000 lbs, so you could even tow a second vehicle with the Pilot.

In theory, I know that I am most likely not going to be able to afford the newest models out there. But, it’s always good to look at your options. See what is out there if you were able to go with the best case scenario.  I’ll be doing another more realistic post on what I’d actually be able to afford next year. Until then, I’ll keep dreaming and researching the best SUVs to pull your travel camper!

If you pull a travel trailer, what vehicle do you use?  How does it work for you?

32 Comments

  1. candy

    Sounds wonderful to just take off and go RVing for a year or so and you are smart to do your homework. Not only on the RV but on what kind of car or truck you want to handle pulling the load. Good luck on your adventure.

    Reply
  2. Chrissy

    We have a Chevy Equinox and I have no idea it had the power to pull a camper, awesome!

    Reply
  3. Mitch

    This is a huge help because you certainly want a car strong enough to pull a camper without having strength issues! Thanks for this!
    Mitch recently posted…Giveaways – $25 World Market Gift Card For The New Year!My Profile

    Reply
  4. Bill S

    Playing the what if game is so much fun!! These are great suvs for hauling a camper of this size.

    Reply
  5. Robin Masshole Mommy

    I never even realized it made much of a difference, but then again, I don’t camp. This is super helpful for camping families.

    Reply
  6. Destany

    I don’t personally haul a camper, but my brother and his wife are avid campers. They have a big truck that they use to pull theirs.
    Destany recently posted…NEW! Jesse’s Girl Highlight & Contour kitMy Profile

    Reply
  7. Emerald

    I was shocked to see some of the types of vehicles that had the power to pull a camper. Thank for sharing and I love the snow falling on your site! Happy Holidays!

    Reply
  8. Rebecca Swenor

    These are all great choices for hauling your travel camper. I personally like the 2016 Toyota Highlander XLE which I have heard good things about. Thanks for sharing these awesome SUVS.

    Reply
  9. Chubskulit Rose

    We have a Honda CRV but we want the new Honda Pilot since they have changed the old design. We also want a travel camper in the future.

    Reply
  10. Sara

    Great post! I am partial to Chevys, so the Equinox is my favorite one on this list.

    Reply
  11. Dana

    You are definitely doing some great research when it comes to choosing how and if you’re going to go to full-time RVing! I can see how it is very important to find the right truck (SUV) to trail your RV!

    Reply
  12. Eloise

    I would love these to jump into and take off on an adventure… I could really use a vacation right now! what a great option: )
    Eloise recently posted…Are You Losing Your Memory? (Quiz!)My Profile

    Reply
  13. Dawn Gibson-Thigpen

    oh i love this post. so informative. i love all 4 of the suvs you listed. i have been dying to drive the Highlander…

    Reply
  14. Agnes

    This is very helpful for camping fans. Cant go wring with Toyota, they are very reliable and have some longevity.

    Reply
  15. rika

    Great info for camper!. I love Toyota Highlander, it’s a big SUV and looks very strong!

    Reply
  16. uprunforlife

    My parents had a 4wd Chevy Suburban. They only hauled a pop up tent. Then they had a GMC Siera.

    I bet the Tahoo would work too. Or even the Toyota Tundra or 4 Runner.
    uprunforlife recently posted…Learn How Walking Can Help Ease Knee Pain NaturallyMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jacqui (Post author)

      Thanks! I have never driven a truck and was looking into SUVs so I could still be somewhat comfortable hauling an RV!

      Reply
  17. Marysa

    We have talked about getting a trailer for so long! I’d love to have a vehicle that could do some towing.

    Reply
  18. Candy

    I have watched tv shows about living this life style. Sounds amazing but I know it isn’t for me. For those that do like this kind of living go for it

    Reply
  19. Terri Beavers

    I’ve been wanting a travel camper since becoming a SAHM. I didn’t even think about the fact that I’d need a different vehicle to pull it. Thanks for this informative and eye-opening post.
    Terri Beavers recently posted…Shark Makes Mopping Fun #springcleaningMy Profile

    Reply
  20. Bites for Foodies

    We don’t go on many road trips so our car is simple yet functional. These are some brands to remember in the future.

    Reply
  21. Donna Ward

    My hubby does not like hauling at all! lol But we do have vehicles that could do the job – Loved each of your choices – great cars – I do think I liked the Chevy – I have a Subaru (mountains snow here) 🙂

    Reply
  22. Emma Spellman

    I totally want an RV when I get older and my husband retires. We love to travel already and I think this would be so much fun!

    Reply
  23. Jennifer Van Huss

    We own a Honda Pilot! It is the greatest car ever! So much power and great towing capacity!! Now all I need is a trailer!!

    Reply
  24. Doria

    I have a friend that LOVES their 2016 Honda Pilot as well! We’re an SUV loving family and while we don’t have a camper right now, I’m definitely interested in a couple of these because we’ll be car shopping soon!

    Reply
  25. danik

    I wish I had a SUV right now for road trips 🙁
    danik recently posted…Checking out the Sex and The City TourMy Profile

    Reply
  26. Jeanine

    These are all great. We don’t have an SUV or a travel camper but I would love to have both someday so this is great info to have!

    Reply
  27. Kathy Myers

    Awesome we are looking for a new SUV. I am leaning toward the Toyota Highlander, this helps!!

    Reply
  28. ashley

    We are looking into a travel camper that can be pulled with our minivan! It’s not as easy as I’d like it to be!

    Reply
  29. rika

    Travel camper sounds pretty cool! I just bought a brand new SUV , perfect for my road trips.

    Reply
  30. Diana Ajih

    Me and my friends have been talking about camping for spring break. This post couldn’t have come at a better time.

    Reply
  31. Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen

    I didn’t realize that you need a big car to pull up the RV camper. It’s really a good thing to do research first before diving into a decision.

    Reply

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