Best car to tow boat

We are about ready to buy a 3,000 lb boat that will need to be towed, and current 4 x 4 truck in death spiral. The next car we get will also double as our city commuter as well, so looking for something on the smaller size that can handle a boat. Suggestions?

thanks in advance.

Towing a boat with a vehicle just doesn’t mean getting it from point A to point B safely, but it also means the vehicle must be able to launch and recover the boat from the landing without difficulty

If I were buying a 3,000 lb boat? And needed a new tow vehicle? I’d look at the new F150.

They took almost 800 lbs out of the body alone by using a military grade aluminum alloy and not comprising the strength of the body. Yet it’s still a full frame truck.

That saves gas.

And just because you haul a boat doesn’t mean you need a 4X4 truck.

A two wheel drive truck is capable of pulling a trailer/boat up a landing.


Nothing “smaller” will handle that type of boat, unless you are only towing a few blocks in low gear.

Seriously, that type and size of boat could be towed by a Ford Crown Victoria with a towing package. I cannot think of any present CAR that can be so equipped, except perhaps a Chrysler 300. That’s hardly an economical commuter.

There are 4 guys on my street with trailers and they respectively have a Chevy Suburban, a Nissan Titan truck, a GMC truck, and a Honda Pilot equipped for towing. The guy with the Honda has a small tent trailer but burned out the transmission on his Honda minivan.

A reliable tow vehicle for a 3000 lb trailer and an economical commuter car are mutually exclusive.

A friend across town has a camper trailer and keeps and old Ford F150 to tow it and commutes in his Honda Accord.

“Smaller size” also means smaller brakes as well.

P.S. You don’t need a 4x4 truck to tow a trailer. Two wheel drive will do.

I’d get the accurate boat weight, add the accurate trailer weight, and add 25% at least, so you’re looking at needing a minimum 5000 lbs towing capacity. The Chevy Colorado has 7000 lbs, a Highlander 5,000 lbs. But I wouldn’t want to push it, depending on how often you’ll be towing, on what kind of roads.

I don’t think what you’re looking for exists. Mid-size passenger cars aren’t designed to tow their weight again in the form of a boat trailer. You need an SUV.

Depending on the boat ramps you use 4WD may or may not be needed. A FWD car is definitely out. I’ve seen many a boat launch where a RWD pickup was unable to tow the boat and trailer out of the water.

My family had good luck pulling our old boat with a 72 Delta 88, 455 cid, automatic.

A 3000 pound boat is a challenge at every turn. And a 4x4 pickup is likely the best choice. Even with positraction my old 2 wheel drive F150 had a tough time pulling a pontoon boat out of the water.

Say “TOY BOAT” three times as fast as you can.


when we had 2 boats, life was good with a ford ranger, 1 boat died a transom death, 1966 15’ sea ray with 100 hp motor. Decided on a towing vehicle rather than another boat. Pickup truck did no suit traveling with 2 dogs and 2 cats. the most common vehicle on the road during our drive back from the cabins towing a boat that was not a pickup was a trailblazer, so I bought one, never regretted it. No longer produced, but rebranded as something else. 5000 lb towing, or 7000 depending on specs, 4wd auto, only kicks in as needed, 2wd fine for 99% of the time. 18/24 mpg with a 6, all the power you need.

You don’t need a single vehicle, you need two. An economical car and a pickup truck. An older truck and a newer car.

I have a 3000 lbs boat, and the trailer adds 1500 to 2000 lbs more. So my boat with the trailer is 5000 lbs. I’d be looking at a vehicle rated to tow 6000 lbs or more if I were you.

best car to tow boat? Your buddy’s car or truck towing his boat. Hands down better than owning your own boat!

A boat is much more enjoyable when it is waiting for you when you get to the lake. I kept a pontoon in a slip for 10 summers, only bringing it home during the winter. A covered slip at the time was quite reasonable here.

I had a bad experience with pulling a boat out of the water once, with a RWD Ranger. So I’d opt for a 4X4 .

I Launched my 14ft aluminum row boat with a 20Hp out board with no problems. When I proceeded to pull the boat out, I almost slid backwards right into the water, because the algae made the launch ramp so slick.
My truck had at least 700lbs in back with all my gear for work, and the tires were in pretty good shape yet. I think the steepness of the launch and the algae were the problem.

I never wanted to get into that situation again, and I reworked the trailer so that you can pull two pins on the tongue and the tongue will telescope to add 8ft to the tongue length while you launch or pull the boat out. This made it so my truck tires are never in the water where the algae can grow.


@Yosemite I had a rwd ranger also, trouble on a pea gravel launch, luckily next to a bar and 6 guys hopped in the back of the truck and out we went. was the 18’ galaxy I think. Yup 4wd trailblazer now though I put it in auto, sand launce usually does not kick in 4wd. Left it in 4wd low once, after I first got it, like wth I can’t go over 50 mph, dope slap.

Yep @barkydog, been there done that.

My problem was the launch was so steep and with a standard tranny and RWD I needed a third foot.


Years ago I had an old Bronco with a 302 and manual transmission that I often drove to the lake and friends would have me pull their boats up the ramp at dusk. In 4 wheel low it would crawl up the hill dragging most anything without a problem. Sometimes others saw how easy it was and I would pull 5 or 6 out before I could get away. But it was impossible for the old Bronco to pull a boat on the highway. It would wander all over the road and stopping was a problem with non power drums on all 4 wheels.