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Crossover AUV towing AWD va Fwd

Considering purchasing a crossover SUV with 5000 towing capacity. Will be towing boat package with total weight of 3000 lbs. is AWD or Fwd better for towing?

Fwd cars and suv’s are much less safe for towing. Go for the AWD model.


I doubt you can find an FWD SUV with a 5000 tow rating.

I’ve been towing trailers (utility, campers) for over 30 years…and I’d NEVER EVER tow anything over 1000lbs with a FWD vehicle. RWD that can be switched to 4wd is the best setup. Then RWD by itself…then lastly AWD. FWD I don’t even consider a tow vehicle. If towing a trailer and it starts swaying it’s very easy for it to start swinging the rear end of a FWD vehicle. You have no easy way of controlling the rear end.

I own a mid-size AWD SUV that can tow 5000lbs. 2500 is about the limit I’m willing to do. You want to start towing 5000lbs, then get a RWD or 4wd (that’s RWD when in two wheel mode).

The Hyundai Santa Fe, GMC Acadia, and Toyota Highlander Fwd’s are all rated to tow 5000 lbs. My boat and trailer weigh about 2300 lbs. Why would this be an issue?

WRONG… Max towing fwd highlander is 2000 lbs. You need to get AWD for 5000 lb towing capacity.

Can you tell me where you are getting this data - I want to be sure I am properly informed. The Toyota website I am looking at says the 4 cyl fwd is 1500 lbs and the 6 cyl fwd is 5000.

Directly from my owners manual.

Every site I’ve seen says it can be equipped to tow up to 5000 lbs.

OK, thanks. May I ask what year your vehicle is?

The “appropriately equipped” is present on every fwd and AWD 6 cyl engine in the 2016 model year. Every one includes
Heavy-duty radiator with engine oil cooler, 240-watt fan coupling and supplemental transmission oil cooler. So, given that, what is better for towing - AWD or fwd


FWD is never good for towing anything over 2000 lbs. If the trailer ever starts swaying it’s more difficult to get the trailer under control with a FWD vehicle. You have no control of the wheels. They are just being pulled along by the front of the vehicle. AWD gives you control back there.

On the Acura anyway, AWD is FWD until the wheels spin and then the rear drive kicks in. Otherwise it is the same as front wheel drive.

As with most AWD vehicles.

Thanks for your input. Sounds like AWD only helps on slippery docks, wet grass, mud, etc - otherwise no different than fwd. Good point in trailer sway - AWD and fwd not good in that situation. Sounds like tongue load is even more critical for AWD and fwd. I normally tow boat with Yukon XL but will need to use Highlander or Santa Fe occasionally.

I suggest you consider a RWD or 4WD vehicle as @MikeInNH recommends. AWD kicks in when you lose traction on the front wheels. If you are towing, this occurs when the front wheels lift off the ground enough to lose traction. It seems to me that momentary lose of drive wheels is enough of a concern that you would want at least RWD to ensure consistent traction. Making sure the tongue weight is well within specification is desirable too, so that you have consistent control of where the truck goes with the steering wheels. I’d go with RWD to save money over 4WD, but you may have other reasons to want 4 drive wheels at times.

I can’t speak for the Acura line, on AWD Toyotas, the sensors which do more then wait till traction is lost, can call for AWD when the vehicle needs it, long before wheel spin is detected. Just the simple act of climbing a hill, or rear sway, even without wheel spin, can elicit power going to he rear.

It depends upon how much you tow with the vehicle. An AWD vehicle rated for 5000 will be fine for occasional weekend use and moderate to short distances for a weight of 3000 or less. It will not handle heavy weights for frequent use like a truck based drive system.

In that case, you will be fine with an AWD vehicle rated for 5000 and just occasional use. I have a boat just that size. As long as you have power going to the rear when needed, especially for hills, the strength of the motor will be the determining factor for this 2300 lbs weight and your tow rating. The Toyota AWD will do that.

As far as motors are concerned, the new Tacoma is rated for 6400 lbs and has the 3.5 minivan motor. Sure, it’s truck based, but it does show you that AWD, rwd and 4 wd vehicles can all do the job with a decent rating. Fear not.

I have to wonder how Toyota can give the Highlander a 5000# tow rating if it can’t safely tow 2300#. A sway control device is required for trailers over 2000# with this vehicle. I doubt that the rear suspension is so sloppy the sway can easily be induced with a light trailer. When I worked at the Dodge dealers we had customers that pulled boats with Grand Caravans.

Granted it was 8 years ago I bought my trailblazer as I was driving back on a 500 mile trip on the interstate looking for the most common vehicle towing a boat besides a pickup truck, and trailblazer was the most common non truck vehicle. 2wd is all I use for towing, auto 4wd for sand and pebble launches, Trailblazer is no longer made but if I had to buy a new vehicle today for a 5000 lb tow it would be a truck or a suburban.

Where did you get the info that a sway bar is needed for a Toyota Highlander towing 2000 lbs? I want to read the article.

Never said that. AWD is fine for that situation. FWD is NOT.

One other critical piece you’re missing is GVWR. This is the max combined weight of trailer and vehicle.

Where did you get 2300lbs? The Highlander with the 3.5 V6 and AWD can safely tow 5000lbs.

The OP’s trailer is 2300#, some have said the front wheel drive Highlander with tow package is incapable of safely towing this trailer.