Smallest vehicle that can tow

I’ve been driving a Saab 9-5 wagon, which I occasionally use to tow a small utility trailer–lawn mower to shop, dead deer, a few bales of hay, stuff like that. I’m starting to shop for a new vehicle, and want the most efficient vehicle that can still pull a trailer. The VW diesel Jetta isn’t rated for towing. Neither is the Ford Escape hybrid. I like the Subaru Outback. What do you think?

Towing with a 4 cyl vehicle is always somewhat limited…If you MUST tow, be sure the vehicle you are considering even has a tow-hitch available to fit it…

Many people have switch over to pick-up trucks (both large and small) to get a more versatile vehicle…

How often do you tow stuff? If, as you say, it’s “occasionally” then rent a truck when you need one. Why buy and drive a vehicle for towing if you are not doing it every day?


Any vehicle can tow if the load is light enough, and your demands aren’t even considered real towing. Any of the one’s you mentioned as not rated, will do 500 lbs without any trouble. If you like the Outback, it will give the best towing capacity and the safest drive train if you ever were tempted to approach heavier weights of 1000 lbs plus. It’s also the most reliable regardless of awd. Compared to your other choices, it will be the best towing choice but the others can still meet your needs.

Caddyman–I really don’t want a truck–not enough seats and poor mileage. Plus, I would need to rent one for 6 weeks during bowhunting season. I’ve always thought a BMW Z4 would look good with a nice buck strapped over the fender, though. In terms of hitches, I’d need at least a 1.5" one to accommodate a rear-mount bike rack–another outdoor obsession I have. Ideally, somebody would make a solid mid-size wagon with a turbo-diesel. Ford should consider that with their Fusion, I think. The Outback with a diesel would be great if they’d finally make one, but I’d like to buy American. What do people who don’t own a truck or trailer do when they need a sheet of plywood?

What do people who don’t own a truck or trailer do when they need a sheet of plywood?
I have always strapped it to the top of my car, but last time I did that I let it drop to hard on the roof and it cracked my front window. A 4’ by 8’ is pretty heavy with just one person lifting it and trying to not to let is touch the side of the car. The wife wasn’t to happy with me that day. Needless to say I need a better way of moving ply so I think your question is excellent!

Actually they make a diesel Outback, it’s just not sold in North America. They won’t sell it here, because it would be a bit pricier, and since fuel is cheap here and they already offer a gas H6 that has over 100 more HP and the same amount of torque as the Euro-spec diesel.

Also the Hybrid Escape is rated to tow 1000 pounds. Not much, but it may be okay for your needs.

Since you tow often , you must compromise.
For example ; the hybrid Escape may not tow but the v6 will.
Other brands will have similar possibilities.
The small vehicle with it’s big engine option.

My dad wanted to tow with a midsize pickup. So he got the Dodge Dakota but with it’s v8 option. It effortlessly towed his 30ft travel trailer all over the country.
I compromise towing for highway cruising with my 79 chevy pickup. It’s thm350 transmission has shifted through all it’s gears by 45 mph and the rmps are screaming by 65. So you haul, tow, and pull with it, but don’t expect to cruise down the highway at 75.

Here 'tis:

A Toyota Corolla is rated at 1500 lbs for towing, and gives good gas mileage and has good interior space. If you want some inside space for those bales of hay, buy a Toyota Matrix, which is very spacious with the seats down; the front passsenger seat folds down as well.

That is a very small tow vehicle, and fuel efficient too!

I like it!

What do people who don’t own a truck or trailer do when they need a sheet of plywood?

I guess you haven’t been reading my post; they tow with small cars and utility trailers. Watch the weight and you can do it !!!
With your demands, you don’t need a “diesel”, you can tow every day if you want, it’s not a problem ! Get a hitch that fits and go to it.

towing =/= good mileage. You’ll need to compromise somewhere.
Get 2 vehicles, 1 to tow and one to drive around normally. Find an old 80s-90s pickup that hasn’t rusted out yet for cheap and up the insurance on it when you’ll need it for deer season(i.e. from liability to comprehensive) and get a newer 4cyl vehicle for your daily use like a Civic or Focus.

Uhual will put a hitch on anything, The loads you are talking about I think will not be a problem.

How small is this utility trailer?

A Mazda Miata isn’t rated for towing, either (the owner’s manual specifically says “towing is not recommended”), but I’ve seen pics of a custom lightweight trailer a guy used for hauling his racing gear to the track (tires, tools). That’s just a couple hundred pounds, though.

If it’s like made of aluminum, with small wheels and you never load it up very much, any vehicle should be fine.

If it’s heavier, believe it or not the previous generation Hyundai Elantra was rated for towing over 3000 pounds (with the right options). Not sure about the new ones. But just about any Subaru should be good for a ton.

Oh, I just remembered…there’s a towing kit made for the new Mini.

Then of course there is the VW Beetle camper:

Have you stopped by the local bookstore and looked at the Consumer Reports New Car Buyers’ Guide? That’ll provide a ready comparison of everything available.

By the way, I think station wagons might be coming back. One of those might be the perfect solution.

If this is stuff that won’t fit inside the car, it won’t be any better than a sedan. The new crop of wagons aren’t body-on-frame like the old ones. There’s less of a guarantee that they can tow.

On Toyota?s UK website, the Yaris is credited with a towing capacity of 1050kg/2315lbs.
It’s not body on frame either. It’s the great American anti towing conspiracy to get everyone to buy an SUV/truck. I feel it has as much to do with the liability of misusing and over burdening FWD cars that don’t tow as safely…but all can tow within reason and comparable models of CRV is rated for 4ooo lbs; without a body on frame.
We don’t believe in single payer healthcare like the rest of the “world” or towing with cars…for some reason ?

I’m betting that’s for the turbo diesel model. The gas versions don’t have as much low end torque, so they will struggle mightily while towing a trailer. It should be pointed out that although it may be rated to tow 2300+ pounds. The vehicle’s performance while towing will be abysmal.

Since you are buying new you might ask if the presence of an after market hitch would void the warranty.