Top Five SUVs Under 25K That Can Tow a Motorcycle and Haul Your Gear

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Top Five SUVs Under 25K That Can Tow and Haul

2014 Ford Escape
2014 Ford Escape


2014 Ford Escape
2014 Ford Escape rear door


2014 Ford Escape
Ford Escape


2014 Ford Escape
2014 Ford Escape seats


2014 Ford Escape
2014 Ford Escape interior


2014 Ford Escape
2014 Ford Escape shift lever


  • roma258

    I haven’t really cared about the car market ever since I started riding…so about 8 years now. But wifey and I might be in market next year. Are there any interesting station wagons out there that can tow (just can’t see owning an SUV)? Maybe something along the lines of the old school Saab 9-5 wagons. Or maybe a tdi.

    • Justin McClintock

      VW Jetta TDI probably has a decent tow rating, and it’ll get great mileage. Or there’s always Subaru.

      • Brian

        I work at a VW dealer and while the Jetta TDi is capable, it is technically not rated for towing in the US Marketplace. The much better vehicle in their product line which is not in the US market place is the Amorok 2.0TDi for this and many other purposes. Once it comes to the US market, I will immediately trade in my Subaru Baja Turbo for one in a heartbeat!!! Until then, my Subaru does quite well at doing the towing I need when I need it.

        • Jason

          VW UK rates the Golf Estate 2.0 TDI (our Jetta Sportwagen) to tow 1600 kg (3520 lbs) with trailer brakes. The biggest problem is finding a hitch. Europeans use a different style hitch that isn’t compatible with ours and the USA hitch manufacturers only make class I hitches.

          • Brian

            VW USA underrates their vehicles on purpose. For legal reasons due to sheer stupidity of the American consumer to not understand towing ratings and important things like “tongue weight”. Someone hooking up their Jetski trailer to their vehicle is reasonable. In almost the same breath, you’ll see some jacka** towing a 1600lb personal water craft with no accounting for the trailer weight and load balance and then hit the mountains trying to keep driving at full highway speeds with traffic. Then they wonder why VW denys their warranty claim for a new transmission or the repair of the rear under carriage due to poor weight balance damage. This is just a small touch of the reasoning why VW does not specifically rate the Jetta/Golf/Passat for any kind of towing, and underrate the towing capability of the Tiguan and Touareg.

            • Justin McClintock

              VW isn’t the only one to do that. Our Mazda 3 is rated to tow 2200 lbs. (in the UK) with trailer brakes. Mazda USA says it isn’t rated to tow at all. To be fair, many Americans are very, very stupid and have very greedy lawyers.

              • Brian

                We are in agreement of the greedy lawyers whom have driven the need to protect the public from themselves when it comes to a lack of common sense and personal responsibility paired with massive stupidity in replacement of those.

              • Jason

                I think the difference is also a matter of culture. In Europe I see cars pulling trailers all the time and trucks are very rare for personal use. Europeans would never stand for a car manufacturer saying their car can’t tow a trailer.

                In the USA, we are simply told cars can’t tow and to buy a truck. Gas is cheap and full size trucks are commonly used for routine commuting by people that never haul, tow, or go off-road.

    • Csorin

      300 dollar U-Haul tow hitch. Done. I have a 98 Volvo, and like Roma, I’ve no interest in flashy cars since I started riding 5 years ago. When the Volvo dies (it’s AC just broke, I live in Texas), it’s getting replaced by a used truck.

      But truly, if your entire objective is to just tow a bike, go to your nearest U-Haul and they’ll put a tow hitch onto anything. Absolutely no need to buy an entire new car.

      See the following. Guy is towing his bike to the track in the first 30 seconds of the vid with a 2 door economy car:

      • roma258

        Yeah, I get that, my buddy used his GTI as his tow vehicle. He’s since moved on to a Tundra. At some point, if you load it up enough, it gets pretty squirrely. So I guess I’m looking for something of a middle ground.

  • Justin McClintock

    What, no Mazda CX-5? It has a towing capacity of 2000 lbs. (better than most of these), gets better fuel economy than any of these, handles better than most of these, is available with a manual transmission (for those that care), and costs less than any of these (even if you opt for an auto). That and just about every auto rag likes it more than ANY of these due in no small part ot the reasons I just mentioned. Anybody can throw a list like this together just scanning the internet…which it seems is exactly what the author did.

  • hairpinz

    Would rather pickup the KIA Sportage vx. KIA Sorrento. Looks better. Cheaper. Base model tows more – 2000 lb.

  • Versys Jake

    I just bought a used 02 v8 explorer with towing package for under $5,000. Tows 7000 pounds. I used it to tow a 14′ toy hauler. Sure it gets poor fuel mileage (10 towing 15 around town), but that’s why they are selling so cheap. If you don’t need it for a daily driver the economics are sound. Ride you streetbike on nice days and you’ll more than make up for the fuel cost.

    • Piglet2010

      “U-Haul has chosen not to rent behind this tow vehicle
      based on our history of excessive costs in defending lawsuits involving
      Ford Explorer towing combinations. This policy is not related to safety
      issues. This is an unusual circumstance for U-Haul – we have built our
      success for over 60 years by saying ‘yes’ to our customers. We apologize
      for any inconvenience this may cause and are committed to working with
      our customers to find alternative options to help with their move”

      • Phil Mills

        Spend a couple of bucks on EBay and re-badge it as a Mercury Mountaineer. Same vehicle, differing only in interior trim and badging, but UHaul apparently has no problem with renting a trailer to you.

        Source: my frustrated Explorer-owning friend.

        The root of this ban is directly related to bad behavior (read: firey death) on the original Bridgestone/Firestone tires. UHaul doesn’t care if you’ve got a completely different vehicle (ex: Explorer SportTrac) or completely different tires – they just won’t deal with Explorer anything if it’s 2011 or older.

      • Versys Jake

        Yeah 2002 is the newer model with irs suspension, doesn’t have the same handling problems as the old explorer. Plus it comes with the 4.6L V8 and 5 spd auto transmission.

  • John Ranalletta

    Tow a BMW GS on 2-wheel, steel trailer with my ’12 WRX easily. Gas mileage sucks but performance is a non issue.

    • Ryan Deckard

      Yeah, I’ve towed 3 bikes on a flat trailer with my slammed 08 forester sports xt. No biggie.

  • Bryan Woody Wood

    I just don’t know why people opt for towing a trailer with a bike on it with an SUV over owning a small pick up truck. And I really don’t understand stuff like this (see picture) when I see it (taken right from Chevy). If I’m buying an actual pick up truck, why would I be towing 2 dirt bike on a trailer behind it?

    Just grin & bear it, if you do a lot of track days, or ride a dirt bike, you ought to own a van or a small truck. The Ford Transit Connect is just a bit too short for most bikes, but the new one will have a long wheel base version, and its like $20k. The small pick up trucks are so much bigger now you can put actual people in the back of an extended cab and they mostly drive like cars (bonus RWD).

    If you hardly ever need to trailer your bike you likely don’t own a trailer, so if you are going to U-haul anyway to rent, just rent a truck or van instead. If you are somewhere in the middle, just get a custom hitch mounted to whatever POS you or your girlfriend daily drive. U-haul sells hitches, and has tow ratings on their web site for stuff the manufacturer never bothered to rate.

    • RyYYZ

      Because some people prefer to drive cars rather than more utilitarian vehicles?
      Because pick-ups (especially the new ones) have very high bed heights that are difficult to get a bike (especially large, heavy ones with poor ground clearance) up into on a ramp?
      Also, the pickup in your picture, the bed probably isn’t long enough to hold those bikes, even with the tailgate down.

      I’m wondering if one of the reason why the European tow ratings on a lot of vehicles is so much better is that most Euro vehicles are sold with manual transmissions, while most vehicles in north America are sold with automatics, and many models don’t even offer the option of a manual here. Automatic transmissions don’t handle towing as well. With a stick you might wear your clutch out towing a trailer, but clutches are relatively cheap to repair/replace compared to auto trannies.

      • Bryan Woody Wood

        Answer to #1 – Just grin & bear it, if you do a lot of track days, or ride a dirt bike, you ought to own a van or a small truck.

        Answer to #2 – Avoid 4 x 4′s & full sized trucks. To me the hassle of towing a trailer and all its maneuverability and parking issues are easily worth the small hassle of pushing a bike up a ramp.

        Answer to #3 – My point exactly. Why choose to try to sell the worse truck in your fleet to someone looking to use it to haul bikes? (but in all honesty, those dirt bikes would fit in there with the tailgate down just fine, and modern tailgates are much tougher than the ones from 20 years ago)

        The tow rating on most trucks is higher with an automatic than with the manual.

        • RyYYZ

          I’m not sure that the automatics in most cars are tougher than their manual equivalents, though. They might be, because in many Japanese cars you can get the 4 cylinder with a manual or automatic, but only an automatic on the V6 – and it’s the same auto trans for both.

          I agree, though – if I was into dirt riding or doing a lot of track days, I’d probably rather have a truck. But for someone who only occasionally needs to haul their bike, driving a truck the rest of the time may not be what they want.

          Funny, my dad hauled a small travel trailer (a hard-shell Trillium), which was probably not too light, through the Rockies on vacation, and all the way across Canada, with a Volvo 144 sedan that probably had less power than average subcompact car these days has. It did need a new clutch after the summer vacation that involved hauling the trailer around in the Rockies, though.

        • Piglet2010

          A 2WD truck is nearly useless in the snow. Loading a 600-pound motorcycle into a utility trailer is easy to do solo. Loading a 350 pound bike up a ramp solo is not.

        • di0genes

          new 2X4 pickups are just as jacked up stupid as the 4X4 ones, and nobody makes a “small” truck anymore. My last truck was an 02 Ranger, bed way higher than it needed it to be and gas mileage worse than my equally unnecessarily jacked up RWD 95 F150 and with a smaller fuel tank to boot. Neither had a bed long enough to hold even a dirt bike without leaving the tail gate down. My kid just bought a RWD Tacoma and it is no better than the Ranger as far as overall size and box height and length. It may be possible to buy a truck with decent gas mileage and a long enough box for bikes in theory but you won’t find one sitting at your dealers or for sale used unless it is a trashed regular cab company truck or over 30 years old. I now have Jeep Patriot that gets acceptable gas mileage and a trailer I can load a bike in without help. IMHO well worth the additional parking and maneuvering hassle.

      • BigHank53

        European towing limits are higher because nearly anything with a trailer behind it is limited to 90 km/hr or 100 km/hr, depending on the road.

    • Justin McClintock

      I’ve got a wife, two young kids, and two dogs. We have a CX-5 and a folding trailer from Harbor Freight. I can carry any bike I want with that combo, and it gets over 30 mpg on the interstate when I’m not towing. And I spent under $25K on the CX-5 and the trailer combined. To get a truck I could use as well for a daily driver and still carry the bikes in the bed, I’d be looking at full sized crew cab that would cost over $35K and I’d be lucky if it ever got north of 20 mpg. Not to mention taxes and insurance would be higher.
      Or I could go out and buy another entire vehicle. Then things would get REALLY expensive.
      I know I’m not the only one who fits that bill.
      Meanwhile, you just posted a picture of a truck that costs more than my car, gets worse fuel economy, and still won’t carry a bike in its short bed. Who would want that?

      • Bryan Woody Wood

        I’m not going to mention the point of the picture again. My wife has a 15 year old 4runner, I have a regular cab, regular bed Chevy Colorado with a bench seat, that will seat 3 in a pinch, gets about 20mpg in town and 25 on the high way, and will hold just about any bike that isn’t a cruiser with both wheels in the bed and the tailgate in the 1/2 way position (which Chevy was thoughtful enough to provide). I will gladly tow a trailer with my Lemons car on it hundreds of miles, but the minor hassle of loading a bike into the bed of a truck is worth the convenience of not having to tow a trailer, or store a trailer.

        Snow? Really? If you can’t drive a 2wd RWD vehicle in the snow you aren’t a very good driver. What did people do from the 1900s till the 1970s when 4wd truck became readily available and everything was RWD?

        But I will agree that for some reason ALL trucks seem to have a sky high ride height. I blame it on the macho attitude of most truck buyers these days. My truck however came lowered from the factory and with a sport package on it. Its not as low as my old VW Rabbit truck, but the bead height is about 18″ or so. An easy trick I learned is to pull out of the driveway until the rear wheels are in the gutter, then the tailgate is only about 8-12″ above the level of the driveway.

        • Justin McClintock

          My wife drops the kids off at daycare. I pick them up. Our youngest is in a rearward facing child seat. Nothing this side of a full sized pickup will accommodate one of those as well as a small SUV will. 4 door compact trucks simply don’t have enough leg/knee room to allow for a rearward facing child seat in the back behind an adult in the front. Nevermind that any 4 door truck sold in the US is more expensive to buy, more expensive to insure, and provides poorer fuel economy than a comparably equipped compact SUV. When you start viewing it that way, unless you need to tow a boat or simply do not have room for a trailer at all (and you don’t need much with a folding trailer), the argument for a truck over a compact SUV and a trailer simply doesn’t make any sense. It’s thousands of dollars you’ll spend on the “convenience” of not having to deal with a trailer. Nevermind the fact that the load height on my trailer is less than 18″ and it’ll carry more volume than any 4 door truck bed this side of a 3/4 ton.

  • Gonfern

    FYI, a motorcycle and small trailer together add up to around 800lbs….any CAR can tow that. it equates to you and your 3 fat friends going out for cheese steaks. Get yourself a cheap 800lb axle trailer on craigslist, throw a tow bar on whatever POS you already force yourself to drive when its too cold/wet/lazy to ride and call it a day.

    • Piglet2010

      My 4×8 utility trailer is easy to hook up, since I can lift the tongue and pull the empty trailer around with one hand. I would tow a normal size sport or AT bike on it with pretty much any car sold on the US market (assuming a hitch can be mounted).

    • labradog

      Right on.
      My Legacy Outback wagon pulls my R100S on a utility trailer just fine.
      I’m looking to downsize to the Impreza Outback wagon, which will also pull the bike.
      I only very occasionally tow the bike, but also pull home improvement materials or garden manure.

  • Mitchel Durnell

    My towing setup. Gets me some astonished looks. :)

    • Justin McClintock

      Looks a lot like mine. We’ve got a CX-5 and a Mazda3. Both have hitches on them.

    • Gonfern

      That’s exactly what I was talking about. There’s a guy that i run into at a few trackdays per year that towes a similar 4×8 trailer with a Fiat 500…proving that you DO NOT need a truck..big or small.