best vehicles to tow behind an RV

The 10 Best Vehicles to Tow Behind an RV

Towing another vehicle with your motorhome or RV is a handy way to access remote trails and backcountry roads, especially when you’re living full-time in a big motorhome. Some of the best adventures happen at the end of a dirt track.

Having the extra vehicle gives you flexibility to explore areas where your motorhome simply can’t reach. What cars can be towed behind an RV? Check our list of the best vehicles to tow behind an RV to get a better idea.

Small SUVs, jeeps, and pickup trucks are perennial favorites for “towables,” essentially becoming part of your RV fleet. They’re compact enough to tow easily, rugged enough to handle rough terrain, yet still spacious and comfortable for day trips.

best toad vehicles

Here are some of the best cars to tow behind your RV, depending on your needs and towing capacity.

Jeep Wrangler (SUV)

Jeep Wranglers are one of the best toad vehicles. Flat towing a Jeep Wrangler behind an RV is a popular choice due to its 4WD capabilities and suitability for off-road adventures.

They excel at handling rugged terrain which makes them great for adventure seekers. All models can manage dirt roads, hills, and trails like no other SUV. While still providing a comfortable ride for daily use, these vehicles truly come alive when taken off the beaten path.

There are several ways to tow a Wrangler, depending on the model. Many can be flat towed behind an RV, but dolly and trailer towing options exist as well. 

Before towing your car, check the owner’s manual specific to your model year and transmission. This will ensure towing is allowed and you follow the correct procedures.

The SUVs vary in weight, so how you tow the car depends on its weight class. The newer 2023 versions weigh between 5,000 to 5,400 pounds, while the older two-door Wranglers are considerably lighter at around 3,200 pounds.

Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk (SUV)

Things like good ground clearance, 4WD, and a decent towing package are must-haves for towing behind an RV. It sounds like the Trailhawk delivered on all those fronts for you. If you’re considering the best vehicles to tow behind an RV, Trailhawk is an excellent option. 

The SUV provides good on and off-road performance plus necessary features for RV life. Upgrades and modifications can improve towability and safety if you have a 2015 or older model. However, newer versions don’t need such modifications. 

Honda CRV (Compact SUV)

The Honda CRV is a popular choice for those looking for a compact SUV for towing. For over a decade now, many RVers have chosen this vehicle to pair with their motorhomes.

However, you must pay close attention to the year and model when choosing a CRV. Models after 2014 are not the cars that can be flat towed. It’s because of a transmission change in newer models. 

If you can find one from 2014 or earlier, the CRV makes a great towable vehicle. The reliable SUV weighs in at around 3,400 pounds, which is pretty lightweight.

Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon (Truck)

The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon could make fine companions for your motorhome adventures. They are some of the best vehicles to tow behind an RV if you are looking for mid-sized trucks.

You have to consider a few things to tow one behind your Class A or Class C motorhome. It must be a four-wheel drive model with a transfer case that has a low range setting and can go into neutral. If your Colorado or Canyon has those features, you’ve got reliable RV towable vehicles! 

Both Colorado and Canyon offer useful cargo space and room for the whole crew to tag along. These trucks are also built to go the distance. 

Manufacturers don’t restrict towing speed or mileage, so you’re free to tow however far your next trip may take you. With enough room for your gear and no hassle towing, these capable small pickups could be perfect travel buddies.

Ford F-150 (Truck)

The Ford F-150 pickup truck, especially models from 2009 to 2018, could be among great flat tow vehicles. The F-150 is just the right size, not too big or small. You’ve got enough space for bikes, camping gear, and other things without it being difficult to maneuver.

If you’re planning to flat tow an F-150 behind your motorhome, you’ll want the 4WD model. And if your truck is from before 2012, double check that it has a manual shift transfer case. The electronic shift type won’t work for towing.

Similar to the Jeep Wrangler, there aren’t any strict limits on how far or fast you can tow an F-150 as long as you tow it properly. The truck is built to last, versatile enough to do the job, and one of the best vehicles for towing behind an RV if you ask us. It’s got what it takes to keep up with you on the open road.

Ram 1500 (Full-Size Truck)

The Ram 1500 makes a great tow vehicle for RVers, especially from 2010 to 2018 models. The independent rear suspension makes for a smoother, more comfortable ride than other half-ton trucks.

But remember, only the 4-wheel drive models can be towed behind an RV. Still, that 4WD means you can go off-road during your adventures. Plus, Rams come with lots of nice features that make them good daily drivers.

Another advantage is that you have a truck that can tow a big trailer if you switch up your RV style in the future. Many folks like towing full-size pickups since they can haul motorcycles, ATVs, or other toys. It gives you a vehicle to transport your recreational vehicles when not hitched to an RV.

Towing a 5,000 to 7,000 pound truck plus toys is inefficient for most RVers. But if storage space and hauling capacity matter most to you, a full-size truck clutch may be a good fit.

Chevrolet Spark (Compact Car)

Looking for the lightest cars to flat tow? Go for the Chevrolet Spark. At less than 2,300 pounds, it’s one of the lightest cars to tow behind motorhome. The car is easy to tow and does not put pressure on your RV’s gas mileage. 

Being a hatchback, the Spark gives you enough room for beach gear, picnic supplies, or whatever you need for day trips. And when you want to stay connected, it offers built-in 4G WiFi so you can access the internet on the go.

The best part is the Spark’s fantastic fuel economy.. Small and lightweight yet still functional, the car checks all the boxes for a tow vehicle that won’t weigh you down.

Fiat 500 (Compact Car)

The tiny Fiat 500 makes a peppy tow vehicle for RVers. Weighing in at just 2,300 pounds, most motorhomes can pull it with no trouble at all.

Despite its pocket-sized exterior, the Fiat 500 has a surprisingly spacious back seat. Perfect for solo trips or family outings. You see these zippy little Italian cars getting towed all over campgrounds. Lots of RVers have happily towed their Fiat 500s for years.

The Fiat fits the bill if you want something a tad bigger than a Smart Fortwo, but still light and easy to pull. The feisty 500 adds some fun and flair to any RVing excursion.

Nissan 370Z (Sports Car)

If you want a true sports car tow vehicle, the Nissan 370Z is hard to beat. It delivers raw performance and razor-sharp handling on the road. The 370Z fits the bill if you crave that driving excitement while RVing.

At just 3,300 pounds, the 370Z is light enough to tow with ease. But you do have to be more careful with it. As a low-slung sports car, the 370Z may require special towing equipment to account for its lower ground clearance.

As a sports car, the 370Z is definitely one of the best vehicles to tow behind an RV. Just be sure to take extra precautions with your tow setup. Then sit back and fire up that sweet V6 engine.

Mini Cooper Convertible S (Compact Sports Car)

The Mini Cooper convertible would be a blast for RV trips. It’s tiny and zippy, yet packs a spirited punch. 

Since Mini doesn’t recommend actually towing Coopers behind RVs, a dolly is the way to go here. At around 2,700 pounds, many RVs can easily pull this lightweight roadster in tow.

The Mini feels like a go-kart with the top down. You will enjoy a ride in it when zooming around corners.

Flat Towing Guide

What Makes a Vehicle Suitable For Flat Towing?

When it comes to flat towing, also known as dinghy towing or four-down towing, certain features and characteristics make a car suitable for this towing method.

Here are some factors to consider when determining if a car is suitable for flat towing:

Transmission: The car should have a transmission that can be placed in neutral or has a specific flat-towing mode. This is crucial to prevent damage to the transmission during towing.

Transfer Case (4WD/AWD): If the car is equipped with 4-wheel drive (4WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), it should have a transfer case that can be placed in a neutral position. This is necessary to disengage the wheels from the drivetrain and prevent damage.

Weight: It’s important to consider the weight of the car and ensure that it falls within the towing capacity of the towing vehicle. Exceeding the recommended towing capacity can be unsafe and cause damage to both vehicles.

Manufacturer Approval: Check the owner’s manual or contact the car manufacturer to verify if the vehicle is approved for flat towing. Some manufacturers may specify certain models or provide instructions for flat towing.

Steering: The car should have a steering system that allows for easy and smooth turning while being towed. This typically means the car has power-assisted steering, which remains functional even when the engine is off.

Accessories: Certain cars may require additional equipment or modifications, such as base plates for attaching tow bars, supplemental braking systems, or electrical connections for lights. These additions ensure safety and legal compliance.

It’s crucial to thoroughly research and understand the specific requirements and limitations of both the towing vehicle and the car to be towed. Consulting the owner’s manuals and seeking professional advice from a reputable towing expert or the vehicle manufacturer can help ensure a safe and successful flat towing experience.

Towing a Vehicle Behind an RV: Flat Towing vs Tow Dolly

Flat Towing (Dinghy Towing or Four-Down Towing)

Flat towing involves towing a vehicle with all four wheels on the ground, without the need for a separate trailer or dolly. Here are some details about flat towing:

rv towable vehicle

Suitable Vehicles: Flat towing is typically suitable for vehicles that meet certain criteria, including having a transmission that can be placed in neutral, a transfer case that can be set to a neutral position (in 4WD/AWD vehicles), and manufacturer approval for flat towing.

Tow Bar: A tow bar is used to connect the RV and the towed vehicle. It consists of a rigid bar with couplers at each end. One end attaches to the hitch receiver on the RV, and the other end connects to specific attachment points on the towed vehicle.

Safety Precautions: When flat towing, it’s important to follow safety precautions such as ensuring the tow bar is securely attached, verifying that the towed vehicle’s steering is unlocked, and using supplementary braking systems to assist with braking.

Wiring and Lighting: Proper wiring connections between the RV and the towed vehicle are necessary to ensure the trailer lights on the towed vehicle operate in sync with the RV’s lights. This includes brake lights, turn signals, and taillights.

Advantages: Flat towing offers convenience as it eliminates the need for an additional trailer or dolly. It allows for easy setup and quick disconnection when transitioning from towing to regular driving. Flat towing also provides better maneuverability compared to towing with a dolly.

Tow Dolly

A tow dolly is a small trailer designed to carry the front wheels of a vehicle while the rear wheels roll freely on the ground. Here are some details about using a tow dolly:

tow dolly

Suitable Vehicles: Tow dollies are commonly used for front-wheel-drive vehicles that are not flat-towable due to transmission restrictions or other factors. The front wheels of the towed vehicle are secured onto the dolly, while the rear wheels remain on the ground.

Attachment and Straps: The towed vehicle’s front wheels are attached to the tow dolly using straps or chains to secure them in place. The rear wheels of the towed vehicle roll freely during towing.

Trailer Lights: Since the towed vehicle is loaded onto a trailer, it typically requires separate wiring connections for trailer lights. This ensures that the trailer lights on the dolly operate in sync with the RV’s lights.

Advantages: Using a tow dolly allows for towing front-wheel-drive vehicles that may not be suitable for flat towing. It provides a simple and effective solution for transporting these vehicles without the need for modifications or additional equipment.

Considerations: Tow dollies add extra weight and length to the towing setup, which can affect maneuverability and require additional space for storage when not in use. Additionally, using a tow dolly requires properly aligning and securing the towed vehicle’s front wheels, which can take some time and effort.

It’s important to consider the specific requirements and limitations of both flat towing and using a tow dolly, including vehicle compatibility, manufacturer guidelines, towing capacity, and local regulations. Always refer to the owner’s manuals and seek professional advice to ensure the appropriate towing method is chosen for a safe and efficient towing experience.

How to Flat Tow a Car Behind an RV

Flat towing a car behind an RV, also known as dinghy towing or four-down towing, requires proper setup and adherence to certain procedures to ensure safety and prevent damage. Here’s a general guide on how to flat tow a car behind an RV:

Verify towing compatibility: Check the owner’s manual of the RV and the car you plan to tow to confirm that both are suitable for flat towing. Look for information on towing capacity, transmission requirements, and any specific instructions or restrictions provided by the manufacturers.

Select and install tow bar: Choose a tow bar that is appropriate for your setup and towing needs. Ensure it has the proper weight rating and is compatible with both the RV and the car. Install the tow bar on the RV’s hitch receiver following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Install base plates: Base plates are specific brackets or attachments that connect the towed vehicle to the tow bar. These plates need to be installed on the front frame of the towed vehicle. It’s recommended to have a professional install the base plates to ensure proper alignment and secure attachment.

Connect safety cables: Safety cables provide an additional level of security in case the tow bar or other connections fail. Attach the safety cables between the RV and the towed vehicle, crossing them in an “X” pattern. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation.

Connect wiring: Ensure that the towed vehicle’s lights are synchronized with the RV’s lights for safety and legal compliance. Connect the wiring harness between the RV and the towed vehicle, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Prepare the towed vehicle:

Before flat towing, make sure the towed vehicle is properly prepared. Preparing a vehicle for flat towing can vary depending on the make, model, and year of the vehicle.

While some steps may be similar across different vehicles, there can be variations in the process. For example, certain vehicles may require specific transmission settings, such as putting the transmission in neutral or activating a tow mode. Some vehicles may also have additional steps, such as disconnecting the battery or engaging specific features for towing.

Additionally, the towing capacity and limitations can vary between vehicles. It’s crucial to understand the maximum towing capacity of your specific vehicle and ensure that the weight of the towed vehicle falls within that limit.

Different vehicles may have specific instructions and requirements outlined by the manufacturer. It’s essential to consult the owner’s manual for the specific vehicle you intend to tow to understand the correct procedures and settings.

For example, in the case of the Jeep Wrangler, the outlined steps involve preparing the vehicle for flat towing by following a specific sequence, including these steps:

  • Depress and hold the brake pedal.
  • Set the parking brake.
  • For an automatic transmission, shift into NEUTRAL (N). For a manual transmission, depress the clutch pedal.
  • Shift the transfer case into NEUTRAL (N): Engage the transfer case neutral position as specified in the owner’s manual. This disengages the wheels from the drivetrain and prevents transmission damage.
  • Start the engine.
  • For an automatic transmission, shift into DRIVE (D). For a manual transmission, shift into the appropriate gear.
  • Release the brake pedal and make sure there is no vehicle movement.
  • IMPORTANT: Turn off the engine and place the ignition key into the unlocked OFF position.
  • Shift the automatic transmission into PARK (P).
  • Apply the parking brake.
  • Attach the Jeep to the tow vehicle using a tow bar.
  • Release the parking brake.

At the same time, to flat tow the 2021/2022 Chevy Equinox, the manual will be different. Check out the detailed guideline as follows:

  • Position the Equinox to be towed and securely connect it to the towing vehicle using an appropriate tow bar or towing equipment.
  • Start the Equinox’s engine.
  • If your Equinox is equipped with all-wheel drive, engage the all-wheel drive system and ensure that it is active.
  • Shift the transmission into N (Neutral). Make sure the transmission is securely in neutral.
  • Put the Equinox into ACC/ACCESSORY mode by pressing the ENGINE START/STOP button once without applying the brake pedal. In this mode, an amber light will appear, and a continuous chime will sound for 30 minutes. Leave the transmission in neutral.
  • Turn off all unnecessary accessories, such as lights, wipers, and the radio, to conserve battery power.

Once you have reached your destination and are ready to disconnect the Equinox:

  1. Set the parking brake.
  2. Shift the transmission into P (Park).
  3. Turn off the Equinox’s engine.
  4. Before driving the Equinox, start the engine and let it idle for more than three minutes. This helps ensure proper lubrication and cooling of the engine after towing.

It’s important to note that while flat towing the Chevy Equinox, the battery of the towed vehicle needs to be charged to prevent it from draining. Additionally, it is recommended not to exceed a speed of 65 miles per hour while towing the Equinox.

Hook up and test: With the tow bar, base plates, safety cables, and wiring connected, verify that all connections are secure. Test the lights and signals on the towed vehicle to ensure they are functioning properly.

Towing procedures: Once everything is set up and verified, you can begin towing:

Drive cautiously: Start driving slowly and carefully, gradually increasing speed as you become accustomed to the added length and weight of the towed vehicle.

Avoid sudden maneuvers: Make smooth turns, accelerate and decelerate gradually, and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.

Monitor and take breaks: Regularly check the connections, tire pressure, and temperature of the towed vehicle. Take breaks to rest and inspect the setup during long journeys.

Always refer to the specific instructions provided by the RV and towed vehicle manufacturers for detailed setup and towing procedures. If in doubt, consult a professional or an experienced towing specialist for guidance. Safety should be the top priority throughout the flat towing process.

FAQs About Toad Vehicles

Is it bad to tow an automatic car in neutral?

Towing an automatic car in neutral is generally considered safe for short distances and at low speeds. However, it’s important to note that towing an automatic car for extended periods or at high speeds can potentially cause damage to the transmission.

When an automatic car’s engine is running, the transmission pump circulates transmission fluid, providing lubrication and cooling to various internal components. When the engine is off during towing, there is no fluid circulation, which can lead to inadequate lubrication and increased friction within the transmission.

Towing an automatic car without the engine running can cause heat build-up in the transmission. Without fluid circulation and cooling from the transmission cooler, excessive heat can damage seals, gaskets, and other transmission components.

Some automatic transmissions require the engine to be running for the transmission pump to operate effectively. Without the pump working, there may be insufficient fluid pressure to properly lubricate and protect the transmission’s internal parts.

The suitability of towing an automatic car in neutral can vary depending on the specific transmission design and manufacturer’s guidelines. Some automatic transmissions are specifically designed for towing, while others may have restrictions or require additional measures such as a transmission lube pump or an auxiliary transmission cooler.

To determine the towing suitability of your specific vehicle, it is crucial to consult the owner’s manual or contact the vehicle manufacturer directly. They will provide specific recommendations, limitations, and any additional steps or equipment necessary for safe towing.

Can you tow an electric car behind an RV?

Towing an electric car behind an RV requires careful consideration and adherence to specific guidelines provided by the electric car manufacturer. It is important to note that not all electric cars are designed or approved for flat towing. The unique characteristics of electric vehicles, such as their drivetrain configuration and battery systems, can impact their suitability for towing.

The first step is to consult the owner’s manual or contact the electric car manufacturer directly to determine if flat towing is permitted and to understand any specific requirements or limitations. The manufacturer’s guidelines will provide valuable information on whether the electric car can be safely towed and any precautions that need to be taken.

One of the main considerations is the absence of a traditional transmission in electric cars. Electric vehicles rely on single-speed transmissions or direct-drive systems, which may not be designed to handle the stresses and forces exerted during flat towing. Additionally, regenerative braking systems, which capture energy during deceleration, may not function properly when the vehicle is being towed.

The high-capacity battery pack is another crucial factor to consider. Towing an electric car can affect the battery’s temperature management and may lead to issues with cooling or thermal runaway. Manufacturers may have specific recommendations for maintaining battery health and safety during towing.

It is important to understand that towing an electric car in a manner not approved by the manufacturer can void the vehicle’s warranty. The manufacturer’s guidelines should be followed diligently to ensure the warranty remains valid and to prevent any potential damage to the vehicle.

Does towing a car behind an RV put miles on it?

When towing a car behind an RV, the towed vehicle’s odometer will not accumulate miles as long as its wheels are off the ground or the drivetrain is disengaged. If the towed vehicle’s wheels are lifted off the ground using a trailer or dolly, no mileage will be recorded. This is because the odometer measures the rotations of the vehicle’s wheels, and if the wheels are not in contact with the ground, they will not rotate and therefore not register any distance.

However, it’s important to note that some modern vehicles, especially those equipped with advanced electronic systems, may track mileage based on data from various sensors rather than solely relying on wheel rotations. In such cases, towing the vehicle may still result in some minimal mileage being recorded due to these sensor inputs.

Will flat towing a vehicle behind an RV damage it?

Flat towing can potentially cause damage to a vehicle if not done correctly or if the vehicle is not designed or approved for flat towing.

Improper flat towing can cause damage to a vehicle’s transmission and drivetrain. When the wheels lose connection with the transmission, it creates unnatural movements that can put strain on the drivetrain components. To avoid damage, it is crucial to follow proper flat towing procedures and ensure the wheels remain connected to the transmission throughout the towing process.

It is important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and ensure the vehicle is suitable for flat towing to minimize the risk of damage.

There are plenty of great options for tow vehicles that match your RV lifestyle.

Whether you prefer an SUV for its practicality, a small car for its lightweight maneuverability, or a convertible for the joy of open-air towing, each vehicle type has its pros and cons. Take inspiration from our list of the best vehicles to tow behind an RV.

And most importantly, always follow the manufacturer’s towing recommendations and install the proper hitch and equipment.

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