Traveling in a roomy RV is ideal for long trips, but what if you want to explore scenic drives or go grocery shopping? Many RVers choose to bring along an extra set of wheels, often in the form of a little SUV or subcompact car, which makes it so much easier to get around and park and is also fuel economical. Not any car is suitable for such a setup, and there are certain vehicles that make the best cars to tow behind RV.
Having an extra compact vehicle on camping trips is very convenient, that’s why it is not uncommon to see big RVs pulling smaller vehicles behind them. In order to make the right investment on such a vehicle, there are certain things you need to know before shopping around.
Worry not, as we have consulted the reviews of experts and full-time RVers to pick out the best options on the current market. Read on to learn the basics of towing something behind an RV, the criteria for the towed vehicle, and a 2020-updated list of the best cars to tow behind RV.
Table of Contents
- How A Vehicle Can Be Towed
- So What Can You Tow?
- Best Cars to Tow Behind RV: SUV
- Best Cars to Tow Behind RV: Sedan
- Best Cars to Tow Behind RV: Trucks
- Best Cars to Tow Behind RV: Compact & Subcompact
How A Vehicle Can Be Towed
There are two ways in which a vehicle can be towed. The first option is a two- or four-wheeled tow dolly. Almost any vehicle can be towed on a two-wheeled dolly or four-wheeled trailer, provided that the weight of the car or truck and whatever is being used to facilitate the tow doesn’t exceed the motorhome’s recommended towing capacity.
However, it isn’t all that popular though, for good reason. First, these are large and expensive pieces of equipment that add cost and weight to your setup. In addition, it is also not cheap to maintain a trailer or tow dolly. Then there’s the storage space at home and at the campsite that those conveyances require when not in use, as well as the extra work needed to get the towed vehicle on and off them.
The alternative is flat towing, also called “four-down towing” or “dinghy towing.” It involves attaching a tow bar to a car and letting it roll along behind the RV with their four wheels on the asphalt, thus the name “four-down”. It’s also often called dinghy towing because the towed vehicle resembles a small dinghy being pulled along behind a large yacht.
With the second option, flat-towing, you don’t need a dolly, as all four wheels are on the ground. Such simplicity makes it much more popular among RVers, however, it’s important to note that not all cars can be flat-towed.
So What Can You Tow?
Some years ago, the market offered many models that are suitable for flat towing. Most cars and trucks with manual transmissions as well as most four-wheel-drive SUVs with manual transfer cases could be towed four-down.
However, the quest of finding cars that can be flat towed is not that easy anymore. Today, the increasingly common electronic transmissions, front-wheel-drive as well as full-time and part-time four-wheel-drive systems means you need to do a bit of research and planning when selecting flat-towed vehicles.
The general rule of thumb is any car with a manual transmission can be flat-towed. But if a vehicle has an automatic transmission, which is increasingly popular, flat-towing is not always an option. For your information, you can check for this information in a vehicle’s owner’s manual.
In addition, typically, if a vehicle is equipped with rear-wheel drive and a manual transmission, or with four-wheel drive and a manual transfer case that has the option of putting it in neutral, then it can most likely be flat-towed. For instance, Fiat Chrysler’s Jeeps and Ram pickups are popular flat-towed vehicles.
Be aware that just because one model year of a vehicle can be flat-towed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the other models will be. In 2013, the Ford Escape was redesigned and could no longer be flat-towed despite its previous popularity for this.
If you are firm on opting for a vehicle with automatic transmission or if you are already owning a passenger vehicle with automatic transmission, there are ways to make it possible to flat-tow the vehicle. Most RV dealers are capable of installing the necessary equipment to make your vehicle ready to flat-tow, including driveshaft decouplers and lubrication pumps.
However, the devices can be expensive and complicated to install and maintain. And if they’re not used correctly, the engine or drivetrain components can be damaged while a vehicle is being towed. That can leave owners with warranty problems.
Therefore, choosing a factory-ready towable vehicle is always the best option.
Best Cars to Tow Behind RV: SUV
Jeep Wrangler (1997-2018)
The Jeep Wrangler always takes one of the top spots in any list of the best cars to tow behind RV among experts and full-time RVers, and definitely the most popular SUV for lat-towing to date. Its popularity has spanned over two decades and multiple vehicle generations and will continue its legend, all for good reasons.
With its fender flares, an iconic seven-slot grille and removable doors and top, the Wrangler is stylishly capable and fun to drive. For an upscale premium look, you can even choose the available body-color hardtop option. Inside, you’ll enjoy ample storage space and thoughtfully designed ergonomics, which are essentials for off-road exploration trips.
The Wrangler lends a sense of adventure to your travels regarding both aesthetics and performance, and has an easy flat tow setup process. A big plus is both manual and automatic transmission models can be safely towed behind RVs.
Thanks to its modest size, the Wrangler is a great option to pull behind both Class A and Class C motorhomes. In addition, the Wrangler has no speed or distance restrictions when being flat towed. So whatever Wrangler model suits your wallet and needs, you can’t go wrong when looking for the best flat-towable vehicle.
Jeep Grand Cherokee (2011-2018)
When you think of a Jeep, it’s likely that the rough-and-tumble Wrangler comes to mind, but it’s actually the Grand Cherokee that carries the weight of the famed off-road brand.
After the Wrangler, the 2011-2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee is the next most popular SUV to flat tow. Only 4WD models with Quadra-Trac II/Quadra-Drive II can be flat towed, but there are no distance or speed limitations.
Jeep Grand Cherokee is the ultimate luxury SUV. It is loved for its striking and functional designs, regarding both exterior and interior. In addition, it is equipped with over 70 standard and available safety and security features, plus new standard and available ProTech Packages.
Despite its success, the Grand Cherokee is the only Jeep model that hasn’t seen a complete overhaul in recent years. The good news is, Jeep fans have something to get excited about: the 2021 redesign. The Grand Cherokee will be all-new for the 2021 model year, marking the start of the fifth generation of the semi-luxury Jeep nameplate.
It will go on sale early next year and the overhaul is intended to keep its reputation for on-road refinement intact.
Jeep Cherokee (2014-2019)
If you’re a big Jeep fan and are looking for the best cars to tow behind RV, the Cherokee is another great option. It should be noted that only 4WD models with a 2-speed power transfer unit can be flat towed.
The Cherokee’s notable advantage is its roomy cabin and cargo space, which allows you to bring along the whole family and all your gear. Crafted to provide the comfort, room and style you want, Cherokee is perfect for any daily drive or off-road trip.
There are no distance or speed restrictions when flat towing the Cherokee, but a flat-tow wiring kit will need to be purchased from your local Mopar dealer and installed before flat towing 2014-2018 models. The kit is not required for 2019 models.
Honda CR-V (2007-2014)
If you’re looking to pick up a solid older-model vehicle, a great option is the compact Honda CR-V. This smaller, very reliable SUV is ideal for towing behind both Class A and Class C motorhomes.
The CR-V has a car-like comfortable ride, outstanding fuel economy, good legroom, a long list of standard tech features, above-average reliability and respectable safety scores. It is often reviewed as the best compact SUV for the money by experts and drivers alike.
This SUV was often among the best-selling compact crossovers in recent years, leaving major competitors such as the Ford Escape and the Chevrolet Equinox in the dust. Thanks to its usual mix of practicality, efficiency, and rich feature set, the CR-V is a top choice for those with small families.
The CR-V does have a speed limit of 65 mph when being flat towed. Additionally, if the CR-V is flat towed for longer than 8 hours, the vehicle should be taken out of tow mode, allowed to run for a few minutes, and placed back into tow mode.
Chevrolet HHR (2006-2011)
Another option for a solid used vehicle is the 2006-2011 Crossover SUV Chevrolet HHR. The HHR has a curb weight of around 3,200 pounds, making it a great choice to tow behind either a Class A or Class C motorhome.
Both the manual and automatic models can be flat towed, and both have an easy setup process. There are no distance limitations, but the owner’s manual states that a maximum speed of 65 mph should not be exceeded while towing the vehicle.
Best Cars to Tow Behind RV: Sedan
Jeep Liberty (2002-2011)
The Jeep Liberty has a size and shape that might convince you it’s a city-friendly crossover, but it is mostly a truck and offers real off-road capability.
The 2002-2011 Jeep Liberty is a great compact SUV ideal for flat towing. Despite the models being pretty dated, this Jeep can be easily flat towed behind either a Class A or Class B motorhomes.
The seating configuration and the cabin in general in the Jeep Liberty feels airy and well laid-out. There’s a lot of headroom and legroom in front and enough in back for most for comfort on camping trips.
For years 2002-2008, only 4WD models can be flat towed. For years 2009-2011, 2WD models may also be flat towed if the driveshaft is removed. With its most recent refresh, Jeep amped up the macho-man appeal and made the Liberty look the off-road part a bit more.
For all model years, the transfer case must be placed in Neutral.
Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain (2010-2017)
GM filled a much-needed niche in their lineup by designing a flat-towable family compact SUV line with an automatic transmission. The Equinox and Terrain are built on the same platform, so the flat towing setup is similar for both vehicles.
The Chevrolet Equinox features a spacious interior and flexible rear seats that make it a great choice for families. The ride itself is comfortable and quiet, and the Equinox receives some of the highest predicted reliability and safety scores in the class.
Both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models can be flat towed. The owner’s manuals note that the SUVs should be run for 5 minutes at the beginning of the day and each time you stop to fuel up the motorhome. Additionally, you’ll want to keep travel speeds under 65 mph.
Ford Fusion (Hybrid and Hybrid Energi)
A mid-sized family sedan seems to be just the right choice for a family vacation. It is often rated among the best used cars to tow behind motorhome not only because of the generous interior space but also for the impressive safety ratings and excellent gas mileage. In fact, the second generation of the gasoline-electric hybrid powered version offers up to 42 mpg for combined city/highway driving, which everyone on a long trip will appreciate.
The Ford Fusion is known for its safety features. The Ford Fusion line-up was included in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 2010 “Top Safety Picks” rating for the mid-size hybrid category.
You can flat-tow the hybrid version as well as the plug-in hybrid Energi models behind a camper, while all Fusion FWD models can only be towed on a dolly and all AWD models (non-hybrid) must be towed on a trailer.
Toyota Corolla (2016-2019)
The family sedan enjoys enduring popularity spanning for decades. The Toyota Corolla is known as a dependable, safe and reliable car all around. Introduced in 1966, the Corolla was the best-selling car worldwide by 1974 and has been one of the best-selling cars in the world since then.
The highly reliable car looks attractive and offers excellent fuel economy. Its cabin provides ample seating space for adults in both rows. The Corolla also rates slightly above average for reliability. It is undoubtedly a top choice as a towable and regular transportation car. The series has undergone several major redesigns over twelve generations.
If you’re looking for the best cars to tow behind RV for the money that is also an all-around daily family vehicle, the Toyota Corolla will not disappoint. Do note that only the manual version is towable but sporty and upscale Corolla S also offers this setup.
Buick Regal GS (2013-2017)
Regal GS is the one if you want a towable vehicle that looks sporty, easier to handle, and is packed with comfort features. In fact, the model is one of the few luxury sports sedans that you can haul behind an RV, except for the 2011 and 2012 models. This is the car to spend your money on if you want to feel great and comfortable when running errands.
The Buick Regal possesses a European chassis with American styling and luxury features, making it one of the more special offerings in the midsize-sedan market. The highly flexible Regal offers engines, drivetrains and options to satisfy a wide variety of needs and tastes. Performance and styling aside, where the Regal really shines is its technological offerings that include 4G LTE connectivity, Siri Eyes Free, CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility plus a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot.
In its simplest form, it’s a stylish and fuel-efficient family sedan with a bit more flair and individuality than a Toyota Camry. Add all-wheel drive to the mix, and the Regal compares well against the Ford Fusion. In GS form, the 2017 Buick Regal offers the power and performance to challenge the likes of such luxury makes as the Lexus IS 250, Audi A4 and Acura TLX.
Best Cars to Tow Behind RV: Trucks
Ram 1500 (2010-2018)
For Ram fans, the 2010-2018 Ram 1500 is a popular flat-towable pickup. It often ranks near the top of the full-size pickup truck class because of its well-rounded driving dynamics, engaging handling and comfortable ride, fuel-efficient turbo diesel engine, an upscale interior, roomy and comfortable seats, and a solid predicted reliability rating.
The unique rear coil springs on these pickups offer a softer ride than other half-ton trucks, making it a great daily driver. In short, it is one of the best cars to tow behind RV in the truck category, and has a lot to like, whether you’re after a work vehicle or a solid truck for camping trips.
Do note the only 4WD models can be flat towed. There are no speed or distance limitations, so the truck is ready to tag along on any adventure.
Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 2500/3500 (2015-2018)
If you need a heavy duty truck for hauling gear or towing a trailer, but you still want to tow the truck behind your motorhome, the 2015-2018 Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500 and the GMC Sierra 2500/3500 are popular options. These pickups boast a heavy curb weight of typically 6,000-7,000 lbs., so they are better suited to being towed behind larger Class A motorhomes.
It has potent V6 and V8 engines, a quiet and comfortable interior, and above-average towing and payload ratings, while being more affordable than its rivals.
Much like other GM models, these trucks do not have distance or speed limitations, but they will need to be 4WD, have a Neutral position on a 2-speed transfer case, and have a 4-Wheel Drive Low setting.
Ford F-150 (2009-2018)
When you need a vehicle that allows you to do it all, the 2009-2018 Ford F-150 has you covered. Whether at home or the campsite, this full-size truck is perfect for carrying bikes, towing a boat, or hauling your gear. Despite its power, the F-150 is on the smaller end of the truck spectrum, so it’s relatively easy to pull behind a Class A motorhome. This Ford is often listed among the best cars to tow behind RV reviews.
Only 4WD F-150s can be flat towed. Trucks prior to the 2012 model year must also have a manual-shift transfer case, as no recreational towing is permitted with vehicles with electronic-shift transfer cases. There are no distance or speed limitations when towing the F-150.
Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon (2015-2018)
If you need the benefits of a truck but prefer to tow a mid-size vehicle, the 2015-2018 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are very popular options. These mid-size trucks are family-friendly and tow well behind both Class A and Class C motorhomes.
Its stable handling, comfortable ride and tremendously fuel-efficient engines also make it a great daily commuter. Whether you’re in the market for a pickup with class-leading towing abilities or a comfortable, easy to maneuver vehicle to bring along to long camping trips behind your RV, the Colorado’s got you covered.
You should only flat tow 4WD models with a 2-speed transfer case that have a Neutral position and 4WD Low setting. There are no speed or distance restrictions to flat towing the Colorado or Canyon, making either truck a great option even on your longest trips.
Best Cars to Tow Behind RV: Compact & Subcompact
Ford Focus (2016-2018)
If you’re looking for a more compact vehicle that is also suitable for daily city-driving, the 2016-2018 Ford Focus is a great option. It has pretty decent fuel economy: 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highways. With a curb weight on the lighter side of around 3,000 lbs., the Focus is ideal for towing behind any motorhome.
This compact sport car is small enough to easily drive and park, but it still has plenty of storage for groceries and any gear you need. Other strengths include excellent handling, comfortable ride even over broken pavement and strong available engines.
After the redesign in 2015, the Focus gained refreshed interior and exterior styling, a standard rearview camera, and more available features, including blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and a heated steering wheel.
Important notes: Any Ford Focus model should not be towed at speeds exceeding 70 mph.
In addition, some models, including the Focus Electric, Focus ST, Focus RS, 1.0L EcoBoost®, and I5 2.0L Automatic, should not be flat towed.
If you want a lightweight subcompact car, the Chevrolet Spark is one of the lightest and the best cars to tow behind RV available, given that you’re looking at the manual-transmission version. It’s a hatchback, so you’ll have room to bring what you need for a day at the beach or going on a picnic somewhere special.
Regarding everyday driving, city dwellers will appreciate how little effort it takes to navigate through crowded lanes and into tight parking spots. The Spark’s low base price and generous list of standard features make it a great value.
When you don’t want to be completely off the grid, Blue Ox tells us that this car has a built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. It also gets great gas mileage, making it perfect for longer trips away from the RV.
The Smart Fortwo could be the best option when you have a small camper. The lightweight car weighs around 1,800 lbs and is less than 9 feet in length. The electric drive versions are not flat towable but flat-towing is possible for standard models with no distance or speed restrictions. The car is suitable for solo travelers or couples who like to travel light.