Best 2014 Trucks and SUVs For Towing and Hauling

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You can’t ride everywhere. Sometimes, you’ve got to drive. That doesn’t mean that your bikes have to stay behind. Choose the right vehicle, and you can efficiently tow or haul your ride behind you.

We’ve identified the best 2014 trucks and SUVs for towing and hauling. This roundup only makes sense when we took a hard look at how we use our trucks. Most of us have to use our vehicles like Swiss Army knives: commuting, family, towing a trailer full of dirt bikes, and the list goes on. We want our vehicles to look good, get good gas mileage and tow a healthy load. In short, we want them to do everything.

We’ve divided this list into categories to help you determine which vehicle checks all your boxes. Like the Swiss Army knife, trucks and SUVs come in many sizes and with a wide range of equipment. Not everybody needs a spoon, a flashlight and a pair of scissors on their pocketknife; similarly, not everybody needs seating for seven or ventilated seats in their hauling vehicle. What all of these vehicles will have in common is a healthy tow/haul rating and a good value for the money.

Best SUV for Motorcycle Towing:

2014 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4×4 V6
MSRP: $36,140
Towing Package: Included (Integrated towing hitch receiver and wiring harness with 4- and 7-pin connectors)
Towing Capacity: 4,700 lbs
Fuel Economy: 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway

The only mid-sized, body-on-frame SUV left on the market, the Toyota 4Runner just had a cosmetic makeover for 2014. Step up to 4WD, and you’ll be able to tow your bike trailer deeper into the dirt, and still get it out again.

Best Truck for Motorcycle Towing and Hauling

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Regular Cab, Long Box 1WT 2WD 5.3L V8
MSRP: $27,925
Towing Package: $770 (hitch platform and 2″ receiver, 7-wire harness, auto-locking rear differential)
Towing Capacity: 7,200 lbs
Payload: 2,007 lbs
Fuel Economy: 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway

All-new for 2014, the Chevy Silverado can be ordered in a basic configuration that’s perfect for motorcycle hauling and towing. With a genuine 8′ box, your bike will be cradled in safety and comfort, and Silverado has enough power to tow an enclosed trailer.

Best SUV for Heavier Towing and Hauling

2014 Chevrolet Tahoe LS 2WD
MSRP: $43,525
Towing Package: $230 Heavy-Duty Trailering Package (external engine oil cooler, aux external transmission oil cooler, power steering cooler, high-output electric fan, heavy-duty radiator); $200 Integrated Trailer Brake Controller
Towing Capacity: 8,500 lbs
Fuel Economy: N/A

Tahoe rides on the venerable GMT900 platform, a very robust body-on-frame setup for a towing machine. With a 5.3-liter V8 under the hood and seven-passenger seating, Tahoe can move motorcycles and riders with ease.

Best Truck for Heavier Towing and Hauling

2014 Ford Super Duty F-350 XL Regular Cab 6.7L Power Stroke Diesel V8 Single Rear Wheels
MSRP: $41,330
Towing Package: Included
Towing Capacity: 12,500 lbs
Payload: 4,080
Fuel Economy: N/A

Let’s not fool around. You want to do a lot of towing and hauling. You’ve got to get a diesel. Ford’s Super Duty trucks are the baddest, toughest tow/haul vehicles you can buy.

Best SUV for Everyday Use and Occasional Towing

2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i
MSRP: $21,995
Towing Package: $499 (for a tow hitch, dealer installed)
Towing Capacity: 1,500 lbs
Fuel Economy: 24 mpg city/32 mpg highway (with CVT)

The new Forester has been collecting well-deserved accolades, with good reason – it’s a solid, fun to drive compact SUV with standard all-wheel drive and great handling.

Best Truck for Everyday Use and Occasional Towing and Hauling

2014 Tacoma PreRunner Double Cab Longbed 4×2 4.0L V6 5-Speed Automatic
MSRP: $27,505
Towing Package: $650 (Class-IV towing receiver hitch, transmission cooler, engine oil cooler, 130-amp alternator, heavy-duty battery, 7-pin connector with converter and Trailer-Sway Control)
Towing Capacity: 5,400 lbs
Payload: 1,330 lbs
Fuel Economy: 17 mpg city/21 mpg highway

Order up a Tacoma with the long bed (73.5″) and Towing Package, and you’ll get an SAE J2807 towing rating-compliant truck with trailer-sway control – perfect for occasional towing of multi-bike trailers.

Best SUV for a Big Family and Occasional Towing

2014 Dodge Durango SXT
MSRP: $29,790
Towing Package: included, with trailer sway control
Towing Capacity: 6,200 lbs
Fuel Economy: 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway

The Durango is all-new for 2014, and this seven-seater may be one of the best all-around SUVs on the market. Load your trailer with multiple ATVs and dirt bikes, and you’ve still got room for gear (and riders) in the Durango.

Best Truck for a Big Family and Occasional Hauling and Towing

2014 Ford F-150 XL SuperCrew 4×2 6.5′ Box 5.0L V8
MSRP: $32,770
Towing Package: $410 (101A Package including tow hitch, wiring and trailer sway control)
Towing Capacity: 7,900 lbs
Payload: 2,620 lbs
Fuel Economy: 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway

SUV levels of comfort can be ordered up in the SuperCrew, and standard trailer sway control helps keep things in line when you’re towing. The EcoBoost engine is getting lots of attention, but the proven 5.0-liter V8 does the job with 360 hp and 380 lb.-ft. of torque on tap (and no upcharge).

Best SUV for Luxury Towing and Hauling

2014 Cadillac Escalade Platinum RWD
MSRP: $81,515
Towing Package: Included Heavy-duty trailering equipment (trailer hitch platform, 7-wire harness, 7-way sealed connector)
Towing Capacity: 8,300 lbs
Fuel Economy: N/A

Don’t hate me because I am beautiful. The Escalade may be a fancy pants luxury vehicle, but it is still underpinned by the very solid GMT900 platform, just like the Chevy Silverado.

Best Truck for Luxury Towing and Hauling

2014 Toyota Tundra Platinum CrewMax 4×2
MSRP: $ 45,756
Towing Package: Included (Hitch receiver, trailer brake controller prewire, TOW/HAUL mode switch, transmission fluid temp gauge, supplemental engine oil cooler, supplemental transmission cooler, heavy-duty battery, 170-amp alternator, 4/7-pin connector)
Towing Capacity: 10,00 lbs
Payload: 1,505 lbs
Fuel Economy: 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway

Premium JBL Audio with navigation; perforated leather, heated and ventilated power seats, power tilt/telescope steering wheel; six cup holders and eight bottle holders – who could ask for anything more? Oh, yeah – and it’s a very capable pickup truck, too.

Related Links:
Towing: Ten Important Common Questions About Towing and Hauling
Review: 2014 Toyota Tundra
Review: 2013 Toyota 4Runner
Review: 2013 Ford F-150 Eco Boost

  • Lee Scuppers

    Where’s the Unimog?

    And the Hilux? Whst if we need to transport nine jihads and an ex-Soviet light machine gun?

    • CruisingTroll

      What about the new Ford Ranger? Better truck than that crunky old Hilux, just in case we need to transport a flat of Foster’s out to the lads having a barbie in the bush.

      • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

        What about the Starship Enterprise? Its tractor beam can haul a small planet.

        Sadly, neither that or the Unimog or the new Ranger are available in this country.

        • http://www.RideApart.com/ Jen Degtjarewsky

          To clarify, the Enterprise can’t tow planets larger than itself.

          • Lawrences

            Enterprise could if it had the 99% right tires!

        • Lee Scuppers

          Starships? Now you’re just being unrealistic.

        • Sebastian Koch

          Nor a proper engines, no idea why almost everybody in North America would think a petrol engine is more suitable for hauling stuff around.

      • JohnnyWaffles

        The actual Hilux isn’t old and is still manufactured for the rest of the world, same with the 3rd Generation Toyota 4Runner, known in other parts of the world as the Surf. I drive one daily in Afghanistan.

        Either way, I’d take a crunky old Hilux over a brand new Ford Ranger any day.

  • Jason Kritter

    “The only mid-sized, body-on-frame SUV left on the market, the Toyota 4Runner”

    I believe the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Nissan Xterra are still available for 2014.

    • CruisingTroll

      FYI: The Grand Cherokee is not body-on-frame anymore. Just changed with either the 2013 or 2014 model. Reviewers thus far are impressed with how well executed it is…

      • http://instagram.com/real_jason_ip Jason Ip

        he said Wrangler not Grand Cherokee…

      • Justin McClintock

        This is nitpicking, but the Grand Cherokee has NEVER been body on frame. It’s been unibody since it’s introduction in 1993.

      • runnermatt

        Grand Cherokee has never been body-on-frame, it has always been unit body. The new 2014 Cherokee is unit body, the original (killed off in 2002) was body on frame. That said the new Cherokee Trailhawk has, according to Jeep, completed the famed Rubicon Trail.

        • CruisingTroll

          ahhh, that’s what it was, the Cherokee. Always preferred those over the GC anyway..

    • Jason Fogelson

      Some debate about whether Xterra and 4-door Wrangler are mid-size or compact — depends on which authority you consult. EPA interior volume makes 4Runner mid-size; Xterra and Wrangler compact. There have been a number of body-on-frame casualties over the last few years, most notably Ford Explorer and Nissan Pathfinder. I’m just glad 4Runner is still around, and still authentic.

      • charlie

        As of 2005 the Xterra is considered mid-size

  • MichaelEhrgott

    I’ll keep my 2000 Tacoma SR5 4×4 with 220,000 miles on it. Best trucks on the planet. :)

    • Piglet2010

      My 2002 Nissan King-Cab Frontier XE 4WD will easily haul a utility trailer with a Bonnie and Ninjette on it (been there, done that), blows through Upper Midwest snow drifts, and at 135K miles, is barely broken in.

    • runnermatt

      Is that the generation that had frames recalled because of rust so bad the frames would fail?

  • Blu E Milew

    Best sporty car for towing?
    CTS-V?
    2005 Pontiac GTO?

    • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

      I threw a hitch on my ’10 WRX Wagon. Handles a little trailer for a sportbike and track day tools just fine.

    • Fresh Mint

      I would LOVE to see an article like this….In this country americans believe you need a F350 super duty dually to pull a 350 lb trailer and 350lb bike.
      Theres tons of cars that are fun to drive and more than capable of towing 1-2 bikes to a track day.

  • Piglet2010

    You guys must not live in snow country – after a good snowfall all of the 2WD vehicles will barely be able to get going up a 3% grade from a dead stop, and will be defeated by any grade more than about 6%.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Driven wheels really have nothing to do with snow ability. It’s 99.9 percent tires.

      • Piglet2010

        I used to drive a 1994 Civic Si, and used Michelin Arctic Alpine tires in winter. While it was much better than with stock Potenza RE92 tires, it would still not be able to deal with deep snow drifts and un-plowed roads – around here I need chains on all 4 wheels of my truck to get down some of the farm-to-market roads.

        For really bad stuff in a 4WD truck and you only have one set of chains, ignore the recommendations and put them on the front – you need the front wheels to be digging you a path, and not pushing up snow, loose dirt, or sand in front of them.

      • Lee Scuppers

        I wonder if you’ve driven a Miata through as many Maine winters as I have. Studded snow tires didn’t work any miracles, even with 100 lb of scrap iron and sand in the trunk.

      • Bram

        Snow tyres are ideal, but it is not 99.9% down to the tyres.

      • Justin McClintock

        Stated like a man who lives someplace that never gets snow. I learned to drive in Cleveland. As in Ohio. As in, the snow belt. Piglet’s right. For fun we used to take my buddy’s 4WD truck out and run it around in 2WD in the snow. When it would inevitably get stuck (which was admittedly sorta the point), we’d throw it in 4WD and motor right on out.

        And the 1976 Pontiac Ventura that we put studded snow tires on would wholeheartedly disagree with your statement that it’s 99.9% tires as well.

      • runnermatt

        Snow ability for cars is 99.9% tires until the snow begins to accumulate beyond an inch or two. Once it is deeper than that having all four wheels driven is ideal as you are essentially trying to crush or climb the snow and any driven wheels are not performing enough work to get it done. That said if you put snow tires on a AWD or 4×4 you will have the ultimate snow package.

        Lastly, if you disagree with Wes’ assertion here is another source that backs him up.

        http://www.caranddriver.com/columns/snow-tires-still-beat-four-wheel-drive

    • http://www.RideApart.com/ Jen Degtjarewsky

      I don’t believe in snow.

      • runnermatt

        Snow is awesome. Last winter I was passing a bunch of slow driving SUV’s in my `09 VW GTI. They were driving slow in the mostly clear right lane and I had to pass them in the 1/2″ to 1″ covered left lane. It was awesome.

    • John Goddard

      Both of the trucks I’ve owned(past 97′ Chevy excab 1500, current ’13 Tacoma DBL cab 5 lug) only had 2WD. They get along just fine in the snow without snow tires. The myth of needing 4WD in the snow is greatly exaggerated. Does it help? Sure! Do you really need it? No! Tires/Driver make the bigger difference.

      • Justin McClintock

        Small snow? Sure. Ice? I’ll take every driven wheel I can get. Deep snow? Same as ice….you need all the driven wheels you can get your hands on.

      • Piglet2010

        My truck has the same tires on all four wheels. In 2WD in the snow, I can barely get moving and getting across an intersection from a stop is an agonizingly slow process. In 4WD I can stomp on the gas and GO. In addition, on snow, ice, and loose gravel the truck is much more directionally stable in 4WD because it no longer wants to swap ends. And of course, I can get off into loose dirt, mud, and sand that would stick a 2WD truck – just the peace of mind is worth the extra fuel consumption, tire wear, and maintenance costs.

        • runnermatt

          The number of driven wheels still doesn’t change the type of contact patch at each tire and that contact patches traction with the ground. You may be able to go with 4WD, but that doesn’t mean you can turn or stop. Experience and skill can compensate for this once moving, but only so much can be done with the available traction. That said I imagine All-terrain truck tires would be better than Mud-terrains or street tires in snow. I haven’t seen snow & ice tires, unless they are studded, for trucks.

          Lastly, here is what Car & Driver had to say on the subject.
          http://www.caranddriver.com/features/winter-traction-test-what-price-traction

          And it has been a while since I saw this but I remember it being fun to watch, Car & Driver Tested: Porsche Ice-Driving Experience
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4g-T4nlL0P4

          • Piglet2010

            But any 4-wheel truck made in the last 80+ years has brakes on all 4 wheels, so driving all 4 just evens things up between acceleration and braking.

            I have Firestone Destination AT tires on my Frontier, and the grip in the snow is almost as good as a dedicated winter tire.

  • Piglet2010

    What about the Tatra 815, for those times you need to retrieve a broken bike, quad ATV or SBS from way out in the back forty, and cannot afford to rent a Chinook.

    http://data3.primeportal.net/trucks/jan_rosecky/tatra_815_6x6_8x8/images/tatra_815_6x6_8x8_16_of_21.jpg

    • Justin McClintock

      I’ll take a deuce and a half, thanks!

  • Dan

    Any chance for a review of trailor options?

    Be nice to lay out the options for 1-3 bike towing, which would cover most casual trackday folks. That’ll probably capture the usual suspects from Uhaul rentals to DIY 4×8 harbor freight folders to Kendon stand-ups to small v-nose enclosed units. Also be good to put a quick primer on hitch ratings (specially tongue weight) to show why flying ‘hitch carriers’ aren’t a great idea for anything heavier than a Dirtbike.

    • http://www.RideApart.com/ Jen Degtjarewsky

      Yes, we can do that!

    • Piglet2010

      I used to carry a F4i on a hitch carrier mounted to a Class III Curt receiver on a 2002 Nissan Frontier King Cab 4WD with no problems (other than running the back wheel off the ramp while unloading the bike in the dark). Combined weight of bike and carrier was about 520 pounds, with the rated tongue capacity higher at 600 pounds.

      Now I mostly use a wood sided 4×8 utility trailer I bought for ~$600 at a local farm supply store. Main problem with pulling it is that it is easy to forget it is back there!

  • drivin98

    This is a bizarre list.

    In what way is the 4-Runner better than the Durango? Has the author driven these two vehicles, or even read reviews from people who have?

    Or, how is the Toyota Tundra Platinum package better than a Ram Laramie? (Hint: in no way.)

    I could go on.

    At least, though, you didn’t put the Nissan Titan on here anywhere.

    • CruisingTroll

      “In what way is the 4-Runner better than the Durango?” Reliability and resale. I’m not saying that I would take one over the other, or even that one is necessarily “better” overall than the other. Just that the 4-Runner has a history of better reliability than a Durango, and when it comes time to sell it so you can take an around the world ride, you’ll get more of your money back out of the Toyota than the Dodge.

    • runnermatt

      I’m pretty sure the 4-runner is a body on frame design. I think the Durango may be a crossover now. I’m not sure about that for either one. That said the Durango has a higher tow rating.

      • drivin98

        The 3rd-gen Durango is not body-on-frame, and that’s a good thing (unless you’re in the 1% who actually wants to do some serious off-roading, in which case, you should just get a Wrangler).

        Better ride, better handling, way better interior, and yes, more towing capacity. This thing drives circles around the 4Runner.

        • runnermatt

          I prefer body on frame for towing, as well as off road. I figured the metal in the frame is generally thicker than the metal in a unit body design. I sure it depends on the design of the unit body and where the tow hitch would mount though.

          • Piglet2010

            Be aware that if you get rear-ended when towing (or even just the hitch in the receiver) with a unit-body vehicle, the whole floor pan can deform which is a very expensive repair.

  • gaudette

    I gotta call BS on this. Who and what is this article intended for? Other than an advertisement for a bunch of trucks, suvs, and a midsize car (that forester is not a towing machine), there is very little insight about anything related to towing. Why are they even called the best? There’s no evaluations to determine vehicle performance.

    A more appropriate title would have been “Here’s a list of vehicles that can haul stuff all mashed together so we can say we cover trucks and stuff.”

    That picture isn’t even a regular cab f350, it’s an extended cab. That nice silverado 1500 hauling a boat is crew cab, you specifically mentioned a regular box 1wt model. A crew cab z71 would cost probably $15k more than the one in the blurb and have very different towing capacities dependent on axle ratios and engine configurations. To not include at least one RAM truck in this list is appalling.

    Have some dignity and send people to pickuptrucks.com to learn more about towing. They actually provide in depth testing and evaluations rather than churning up press releases with stock photos.

    At least you saved face by keeping the ignorance to only one page.

  • motoguru.

    Perfect timing for this as I just did a 2600 mile haul averaging 11 MPG with my stupid 3.0 V6 Ranger. Meh.

    • Justin McClintock

      I didn’t know it was even possibly to get mileage that bad in a 3.0 Ranger! What’d you do, drag an anchor?!

      • motoguru.

        I was towing a 5×8 uhaul trailer about 2/3′s full. That motor is a joke. I didn’t realize how bad the hp and tq number were until I took off and it was working OT just to hit cruising speed. I had to make a detour to dump about 500 lbs so the thing would make it out here.

        It’s fine to toss a bike in the back for a track day, but it the I-4 power with V-8 fuel economy is pretty lame.

        • Piglet2010

          I hauled a 6×12 U-Haul box trailer loaded to about 4,000 pounds and had another 500 pounds or so in the bed of my 2002 Frontier 4WD – would get to about 50 mph at the end of most uphill on-ramps (this was in Minnesota/I-35) and running about 60 mph I averaged 14 mpg over about 450 miles.

          • BigHank53

            Now y’all know why people buy diesels. My 2000 Dodge weighs 6500 lbs (’cause it’s only 2wd) and it’ll deliver 16 mpg pulling a 3000lb RV. At 75 mph. Through West Virginia. On level ground–and without my wife’s lead foot on the throttle–it’ll do over 18 mpg.

            I was real happy with the Nissan pickups I owned back in the 90s.

            • Piglet2010

              I wish Nissan and Toyota would sell their diesel powered compact trucks in the US – would get near 30 mpg in normal driving. A manual transmission would help too, but I could not find a used 4WD Frontier or Tacoma with one locally here in Iowa.

      • CruisingTroll

        oh yea, the V6 Rangers are thirsty lit’l buggers. Durable, but thirsty. There’s a reason Ford retired that motor…

        • Piglet2010

          I took a 2004 Ranger (with V-6, AT, and a topper) that had about 1500 miles on it (fleet vehicle) on a 300-mile round trip that was 95% freeway. Driving at about the 65 mph speed limit (in west-central Illinois), I only averaged 17 mpg.

  • Justin McClintock

    For what it’s worth, I’m going to have to disagree with the Forester. I’d take the CX5 8 days a week over it. Oh wait…I did. Drives better, handles better, and gets the same fuel economy (with the auto…better with the manual). Oh…and it will tow more too.

  • Sebastian Koch

    I throw the 99′ BMW 528i Estate in…towed 2 motorcycles to the south France with no Problem at all :-)

  • brittonx

    While not generally recommended, twice, I towed my CBR500R to NYST using my 2010 Prius. It actually did okay and I got around 27mpg.

    • runnermatt

      What was the combined weight of the trailer and motorcycle? Also, what is the tow weight rating of a your Prius (you should be able to find it in the owner’s manual, but some manufacturers are dumbing those down). That said, when towing, there are things to consider other than the tow vehicle’s power. Brakes are good place to start. Are the tow vehicles brakes able to handle the extra load when you start down from the top of the mountain? I imagine the regenerative braking in the Prius helps quite a bit in this department. Systems other than the brakes? Is the engine cooling system able to handle the additional load? Can the transmission stand up to the additional load requirements (I believe the Prius has a CVT)? If the the combined weight does not exceed the vehicle’s rated payload (passengers, luggage, etc) then you probably okay, the engineer design in a little leeway.

  • runnermatt

    I disagree with several of these choices, but I do think a few are alright.

    First, the “Best Truck for Heavier Towing and Hauling”. I’m not sure why the Ford was picked. You are correct about going with diesel, but if you check out the diesel forums and websites I’m pretty sure you will find it rare that they would pick the Ford over the Cummins engined Ram trucks or a GMC/Chevy with the Duramax/Allison combo. Ford builds their trucks to be the cheapest on the dealers lot. Diesel Power did a review and towing test with the Ford and Chevy a few years ago (the Ram didn’t have a comparable towing rating at the time). Ford wouldn’t supply a truck for the test so Chevy bought a Ford for them to use. To counteract that Diesel Power hired a former Ford test driver to test both. The Ford test driver was impressed with the Chevy and the Chevy beat the Ford in almost every test. Now, for 2013, Ram has a “Max Towing” package and has a tow rating of 30,000 lbs. which does not include the weight of the truck. Once the weight of the truck is included you could tow about 40,000 pounds. Ram 2500/3500 are still the only Heavy Duty trucks available with a manual transmission, although only with the 650 ft/lb. Cummins engine, not with the 850 ft/lb. Cummins engine.

    “Best Truck for a big family and occasional towing and hauling”
    I would go with the new Ram 1500 EcoDiesel with the 8-speed transmission. 420 lb-ft of torque, plus diesel gas mileage. The same truck with the Pentastar V6 gets 25mpg on the highway.

    “Best Truck for everyday use and occasional towing and hauling”
    Good pick. I would prefer the V6 w/ the 6-speed manual transmission, 4×4 and the TRD Off-road package w/ the optional Rear locker.

    • ThruTheDunes

      I was also surprised that the new light-duty Ram (1500) with the diesel option did not get a mention – the attractive thing about diesels for towing is that the mileage drop when towing is less than for the gasoline engines.

  • RHP

    It would take far too much energy to explain why this article is bogus in a proper rebuttal. Stick to talking all things bikes, as your truck knowledge isn’t up to par.