If you want to tow large loads, it's probably best to consider a pickup truck. But some drivers need an SUV to haul people and goods. For those drivers, we've listed the best SUVs for towing, as ranked by towing capacity. Hopefully, this will make your search easier as you look for a new vehicle that can tow the boat, carry the family and haul everyone's gear.
Chevrolet Suburban 2500/GMC Yukon XL 2500 -- 9,600 pounds
If you're looking to tow, the best SUVs are undoubtedly the heavy-duty versions of GM's Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL. At around 8,000 pounds, the light-duty models don't make our list. But the heavy-duty versions are workhorses thanks to a 352-horsepower 6.0-liter V8. Pricing starts around $46,000 with shipping, while eight seats are standard. While the Suburban 2500 and Yukon XL 2500 no longer boast 4-wheel steering or the diesel engines from models past, they're still king of the hill when it comes to workhorse SUVs.
Ford Expedition/Lincoln Navigator -- 9,200 pounds
A close second are the Ford Expedition and its luxury model, the Lincoln Navigator. Shoppers interested in long-wheelbase models -- the Expedition EL and Navigator L -- get slightly reduced towing capacity. But for those who pick the regular-length Expedition and Navigator, towing capabilities reach as high as 9,200 pounds. That's mostly due to a standard 5.4-liter V8 that makes 310 hp and a muscular 365 lb-ft of torque. A standard 6-speed automatic also helps move the Expedition and Navigator, even when they're pulling large loads. Pricing starts around $41,500 for the Expedition or $58,800 for the luxury-oriented Navigator.
Nissan Armada -- 9,000 pounds
The Armada may not be the top SUV on our list by towing capacity, but it offers a good combination of towing capabilities and price. It boasts a 9,000-lb capacity -- just a few hundred pounds off the class leaders -- yet offers a starting price of around $37,900. That's much less expensive than many SUVs on our list. And we're impressed with the Armada's powertrain, which is borrowed from Nissan's full-size Titan pickup. It offers 317 hp thanks to a standard 5.6-liter V8.
Infiniti QX56 -- 8,500 pounds
The QX56 is among the best luxury SUVs in this category. The QX56's $61,700 starting MSRP might seem high, but few SUVs blend the SUV's cutting-edge technology and new styling with such a high tow rating. And when you consider rivals, the QX56's base price doesn't sound so bad -- especially compared to the $80,000-plus Lexus LX 570. Maybe the QX56's best feature, however, is its 400-hp 5.6-liter V8. That engine, mated to a standard 7-speed automatic, makes the QX responsive whether moving around town or towing a heavy load on the highway.
Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon -- 8,500 pounds
The full-size Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon SUVs actually tow more than their larger Chevrolet Suburban 1500 and Yukon XL 1500 stablemates. Current versions pull up to 8,500 pounds with the optional trailering package. That's a big figure, and it's made possible by the SUVs' 320-hp 5.3-liter V8 and 6-speed automatic transmission. Look for the Tahoe and Yukon to offer even greater towing capacities when they're redesigned next year. Pricing starts around $42,500 for the Tahoe and $44,000 for the Yukon.
Lexus LX 570/Toyota Land Cruiser - 8,500 pounds
The Lexus LX 570 and Toyota Land Cruiser are the ultimate SUVs in the Lexus and Toyota lineups. That's proven when you look at pricing: The Land Cruiser starts around $79,500 with shipping, while the LX 570 is more than $82,000. Those are big numbers, but the trucks boast all the latest luxury gadgets and equipment. They also use a muscular 5.7-liter V8 that makes 383 hp. Thanks to that engine and the standard 6-speed automatic transmission, the LX 570 and Land Cruiser can pull 8,500 pounds.
Cadillac Escalade -- 8,300 pounds
The luxury-oriented Cadillac Escalade is rated to tow 8,300 pounds, which is slightly less than its GMC Yukon and Chevrolet Tahoe mechanical twins. Shoppers who don't mind losing the towing capacity will get a more luxury-oriented experience, from exterior and interior styling to a longer list of standard equipment. The Escalade also boasts a larger engine that makes 403 hp. Pricing starts around $69,000 for the 2014 Escalade, while a new model is expected this year or sometime in 2014.
What it means to you: As our list shows, several top SUVs for towing offer pickup-rivaling towing capacities plus room for the whole family.