KIA Insider

What mid-size SUV is best for towing?

The question

My wife has a 10-year old Hyundai i30. We are thinking of updating but not sure which car to buy.

We don't want anything too large as she mainly drives in suburban traffic but would like something that might be able to tow something light, such as a camper trailer.

We have cars such as Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage in mind but we understand these cars might struggle towing.

Would something like a RAV4 be a better option or something else? We would prefer petrol to diesel.



A mid-size SUV should have no problem towing a camper trailer, Raymond. It's always better to have a vehicle with a maximum towing limit that comfortably exceeds the weight of your trailer, because it results in less strain on the engine, transmission and suspension. So it might be a good idea to buy your camper first, then your SUV. An all-wheel drive variant, rather than a base model front-wheel drive, is also worth the extra spend if you're towing, because grip, steering, braking and overall handling will be better, especially on dirt and in slippery conditions.


Mazda CX-5 from $34,770.

All-wheel drive CX-5 models open with the Maxx, which runs a 2.5-litre four with 140kW of power and 252 Nm of torque, matched with a six-speed automatic and on demand all-wheel drive. That means the front wheels get most of the engine's torque under normal conditions, but some can be sent to the rear wheels when required. Maximum recommended towing weight is 1800kg (with trailer brakes; 750kg without). Driver assist safety is comprehensive and hill start assist is standard.

Subaru Forester 2.5i from $33,490

The Subaru's 136kW/239Nm 2.5-litre engine, continuously variable transmission and permanent all-wheel set-up will pull a lightweight camper trailer OK, with a maximum limit of 1500kg (braked; 750kg unbraked) specified by the manufacturer.

The CVT transmission has shift paddles that allow you to operate it manually. Forester also has a faux low-range off-road mode, plus hill descent control and hill start assist.

Toyota RAV4 from $34,490

This buys the RAV in GX specification, which is the cheapest of the all-wheel drive models. Bear in mind that this RAV4 will soon be a replaced by a new model, so a bit of arm twisting at the dealer should get a nice result.

RAV's 132kW/233Nm 2.4-litre/six-speed auto/on demand all-wheel drive has a maximum recommended towing capacity of 1500kg.


Kia Sportage from $35,390

Diesel works best for towing, with much stronger performance due to greater torque produced at lower revs, and you get better fuel economy too. Kia Sportage Si has a 2.0-litre turbodiesel with 400Nm of torque - up to 70 per cent more than its petrol rivals above - and 136kW, matched with an eight-speed automatic and on demand all-wheel drive. Maximum towing weight is 1900kg. It's a bargain.


OK Raymond, I know you said you would prefer petrol to diesel, but if you hitch your camper up to the Kia and take a test drive after you've tried the others, you might change your mind. If it's still got to be petrol, the RAV4 has a proven, reliable engine and transmission and servicing costs are low.