Compiled by Garth W. Cane
The range of RV tow vehicles for 2020 has continued to evolve in terms of power, weight capacity, and technology. This year’s models are stronger, lighter, smarter, and more fuel efficient than ever before.
New technology makes towing easier and safer than ever before. New collision avoidance and lane sensing technology makes trailer towing a safe and enjoyable part of the RV experience… and the overall comfort and ride quality when towing, and when driving “solo” are unsurpassed.
For those who thoroughly enjoy the driving experience, the RV road test teams have spent the past several months checking out the various tow vehicles available in Canada. From pickups and full-size SUVs to family vehicles that can double as trailer towing components of a modern RV rig, there are dozens of models to choose from in the Tow Vehicle Class of 2020.
RV Lifestyle Magazine Tech Editor Garth Cane sat down with the road test teams to pick a selection of the most interesting choices for a wide range of RV applications – please note that you should always consult your RV dealer to be sure that your tow vehicle and trailer are fully compatible, and that the hitch, electrical system, cooling system, brakes, and suspension components are appropriate for the combined rig.
Please note that any vehicle modifications for towing may affect your automotive warranty coverage – consult with your automotive dealer to determine how towing may affect your vehicle warranty – and have the dealer provide written verification that the tow vehicle is suitably equipped and will be covered by warranty when used to tow your trailer. Note that some of the new trucks and SUVs are equipped with dedicated trailer towing systems and components, and these should be specified when ordering a tow vehicle.
Durango’s standard eight-speed automatic transmission is paired with the award-winning 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine rated at up to 295 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, and best-in-class towing capability of 6,200 pounds, the classic 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine that produces a best-in-class 360 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque and class-leading towing capability of 7,400 pounds
Pacifica features 14 new-as-standard safety features, including new LED lights and new Pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking are both offered for the first time in the class as standard equipment – join Blind-spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path detection, Rear Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Full Stop, electronic stability control (ESC), Forward Collision Warning with Full Stop, Lane Departure Warning, eight airbags and more as standard safety features. The Pacifica is rated at 3600 pounds.
With a full lineup of trucks, the Ram 1500, 2500/3500 Heavy Duty, 3500/4500/5500 Chassis Cab, ProMaster and ProMaster City, the Ram brand builds trucks that get the hard work done and families where they need to go. The Ram 1500 features up to 12,750 pounds of towing capability and 2,300 pounds of payload. The eTorque mild hybrid system delivers improved fuel efficiency in both V-6 (standard) and V-8 configurations. For 2020 the Ram 1500 becomes America’s most powerful half-ton diesel pickup with 480 lb.-ft. of torque and most capable light-duty diesel, with towing capability up to 12,560 pounds.
America’s favorite full-size pickup, the 2020 Ford F-150 is the tough, smart and capable partner that suits every need from die-hard work truck to trail bashing pre-runner. The impressive F-150 now provides more engine alternatives for more applications. The standard 3.3L Ti-VCT V6 features dual-direct and port fuel injection. And, the 10-speed transmission is available with the 2.7L EcoBoost, a 5.0L Ti-VCT V8, a 3.0L Turbo Diesel V6, 3.5L EcoBoost and 3.5L EcoBoost H.O. V6 delivering improved acceleration and performance. Tow ratings depend on the choice of engine and drive ratio.
You can carry gear – and lots of it in the new 2020 Ford Ranger. It delivers maximum 1,650-lb. payload and an impressive 7500-pound available towing when equipped with the trailer towing package. It is strong, powerful, and tough enough to help move you out confidently on your next adventure. Towing heavy loads for hours up steep grades at 37.8 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit), it’s more than up to the challenge of taking on your toughest test.
With available Intelligent Four-Wheel Drive and seven selectable drive modes at the driver’s fingertips, the all-new Explorer is designed for whatever life throws your adventure’s way. The drive mode system, controlled by a rotary dial on the center console, lets drivers shift easily between Normal, Slippery, Trail, Deep Snow/Sand, Sport, Tow/Haul and Eco modes. With the 3.3L V6 and trailer towing package it can tow 5000 pounds.
Jeep Grand Cherokee is the most awarded SUV ever and the vehicle that has long defined what a premium SUV should be. Grand Cherokee boasts best-in-class towing of 7,200 pounds and a crawl ratio of 44.1:1. For 2020, the Grand Cherokee lineup continues to offer a variety of models, including the Trackhawk, the most powerful and quickest SUV ever, as well as the most capable factory-produced and most luxurious Grand Cherokee models ever with the Trailhawk and Summit.
The all-new 2020 Jeep Gladiator delivers unmatched capability with best-in-class towing and 4×4 payload capacity, composed on-road driving dynamics and passenger safety. Legendary off-road capability comes courtesy of the Command-Trac and Rock-Trac 4×4 systems, third-generation Dana 44 axles, Tru-Lock electric front- and rear-axle lockers, Trac-Lok limited-slip differential, segment-exclusive sway-bar disconnect and 33-inch off-road tires. With a 4.10 axle ratio, 3.6L V6 engine and 8-speed transmission it can tow 7650 pounds.
The 2020 Nissan Frontier features an all-new, powerful 3.8-litre direct injection V6 engine and all-new 9-speed automatic transmission offers best-in-class horsepower. The new 9-speed automatic transmission improves acceleration and fuel economy. The 310-horsepower direct injection V6 replaces the previous 152-horsepower inline 4-cylinder and 261-horsepower 4.0-litre V6 engine choices. Along with best-in-class horsepower1, torque is rated at 281 lb-ft. The all-new engine is mated with a standard 9-speed automatic transmission, replacing the previous 5-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmissions. The Frontier can tow up o 6500 pounds.
Every 2020 Nissan TITAN is powered by a 5.6-litre Endurance® V8 gasoline engine rated at 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque. Both horsepower and torque ratings are the best in class.
The engine utilizes Nissan’s Variable Valve Event & Lift technology, which combines hydraulic-controlled variable valve timing and electronically controlled variable valve lift on the intake side to provide high performance and crisp response. It also features Direct Injection Gas technology, which provides better wide-open throttle performance and improved fuel economy and emissions performance.
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime will be available in SE and XSE grades, both emphasizing athletic on-road performance and premium comfort and style. With its plug-in hybrid technology advancing, Toyota sees such vehicles as critical to an overall electrification strategy that will also include standard hybrids and battery electric vehicles (BEVs), along with fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) like the second-generation Mirai unveiled in October.
The Toyota Highlander gas models are built around a 295 horsepower, 3.5-litre V6 engine matted to a Direct Shift eight-speed automatic transmission. The combination delivers enhanced fuel efficiency, reduced emissions, and responsive acceleration. The gas model is offered in a choice of front-wheel-drive and four all-wheel-drive configurations and are set up for impressive fun with a factory-fitted towing package enhanced with Trailer Sway Control and a 5,000 lb. towing rating.
Freedom and adventure start with power and performance, and the Tacoma delivers plenty of both. Every model features Toyota’s powerful and proven 3.5L V6 engine, able to generate up to 278 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque. This is mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic super electronically controlled transmission with lock-up torque converter, producing a tow rating of 6000 pounds. The Tacoma features an independent double-wishbone front suspension with stabilizer bar and a multi-leaf spring rear suspension.
The 2020 Tundra works as hard as this rugged full-size pickup ever has. Powered for 2020 exclusively by the 5.7L i-FORCE V8 engine that offers up to 10,200 pounds of towing capacity and a maximum payload of 1,730 pounds, Tundra is ready to tackle the jobsite, a weekend cruise to the lake, or a multi-state family road trip. Toyota Safety Sense-Pedestrian (TSS-P) active safety system is standard on all models and grades and includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection function, Lane Departure Alert, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Automatic High Beams.
The 2021 Tahoe and Suburban are powered by V-8 engines that are among the most advanced in Chevrolet’s history, as well as an all-new Duramax turbo-diesel engine. All are matched with a new 10-speed automatic transmission with electronic shift control. A 5.3L V-8 rated at 355 horsepower is standard on LS, LT, Z71, RST and Premier models; and a 6.2L V-8, rated at 420 horsepower is standard on High Country. The optional Duramax 3.0L inline-six turbo-diesel is available on all models except Z71. The Duramax is rated at 277 horsepower and a strong 460 lb-ft of torque.
2020 Silverado HD
The Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V-8 engine produces 445 hp and 910 lb-ft of torque coupled with an all-new Allison® 10-speed automatic transmission. In addition, every component between the transmission and the wheels has been upgraded to enable an available 52-percent increase in max towing capability now up to 35,500 pounds on Regular Cab, two-wheel drive, DRW, diesel models.The in-vehicle trailering system features an available total of 15 available camera views (requires an installed accessory camera), such as HD Surround Vision and other unique views including a transparent trailer feature to help provide added confidence when towing.
New Land Rover Defender delivers AWD towing capability of up to 8200 pounds with full suite of driver assistance features, including semi-autonomous Advanced Tow Assist technology. The Defender’s strong body architecture helps customers make more of their world, whether they want to tow heavy loads or carry them, with a comprehensive range of roof racks and tow bar systems, and a maximum towing capacity of 8800 pounds. State-of-the-art technologies include Advanced Tow Assist, which takes the stress out of difficult reversing manoeuvres by letting drivers steer trailers with their fingertips using a rotary controller on the central console.