Got something to tow but nothing to tow it with? Here we’ve compiled a list of eight great used tow vehicles available today for under $15,000. While the best tow vehicles are all likely heavy-duty pickups, a massive truck isn’t for everyone, so we’ve included recommendations for everything from heavy-duty trucks to vehicles that are easier to live with on a day-to-day basis, but still offer surprisingly good tow ratings for their size.
Each vehicle’s maximum towing capacity is listed in the description below. If you’re going to be pulling a trailer consistently, it’s recommended to stay below 75 percent of that overall capacity. That is, if you know you’ll be towing a 7,500-lb trailer fairly often, opt for a vehicle with a towing capacity of 10,000 pounds or more.
1999-2003; 2008-2010 Ford Super Duty Diesel
No list of great tow vehicles would be complete without heavy-duty trucks, and there’s no better place to start than with the Ford Super Duty line of pickups. The 6.0-liter diesel offered on Ford Super Duty trucks from 2003-2007 is known for being a bit unreliable, so we recommend avoiding it in favor of either a 1999-2003 model, which was offered with a 7.3-liter diesel and can tow up to 13,900 pounds, or a newer 2008-2010 model, which came with a 6.4-liter diesel and could tow up to 15,000 pounds. As diesel-powered trucks tend to hold their values better than gas-powered trucks, newer models will be more difficult to come by at the $15,000 price point, and you may have to settle for something with high mileage if a newer truck is your main priority. Right now there are 700 1999-2003 and 160 2008-2010 diesel-powered Ford F-Series Super Duty trucks for sale on Autotrader for under $15,000.
2000-2007 Silverado HD Diesel
Introduced in 2000, the Chevrolet Silverado HD was GM’s answer to the Ford Super Duty lineup that was introduced in 1998. Like the heavy-duty trucks offered by its American competitors, the Silverado HD has been offered with a potent diesel engine option since its introduction. A first-generation model would fit the bill at $15,000. First-gen Silverado HDs were offered with a 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V8, making up to 360 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, and the 2000-2007 models are highly sought after. Unlike their counterparts from Ford and Dodge, these trucks offered an independent front suspension, which allowed for a better ride and up to 20 miles per gallon overall, while also being able to tow up to 13,000 pounds. There are currently over 400 2000-2007 Silverado HD diesels for sale on Autotrader.
2003-2007 Ram Heavy Duty Diesel
Rounding out the trio of heavy-duty American-made pickups is the Dodge Ram Heavy Duty. Unlike the diesel trucks offered by Ford and GM, Ram diesels make due with a Cummins inline 6-cylinder engine instead of a V8. The 2003-2007 models are the best, as they brought significant improvements over the previous generation of trucks in terms of power and noise, not to mention the fact that the Ram was all-new for 2003. Later models made up to 325 hp and 610 lb-ft of torque from their 5.9-liter diesel engines, allowing them to tow up to 16,400 pounds. There are currently around 350 2003-2007 diesel-powered Ram Heavy Duties listed for sale on Autotrader.
2009-2014 Ford F-150 5.4-Liter V8
Equipped with the torque-rich 5.4-liter V8 and known as the "Coyote V8," the twelfth-generation F-Series, built from the 2009-2014 model years, is capable of pulling up to 11,200 pounds in 4×4 supercab configuration when properly equipped. Given that most buyers are looking for the larger 6.2-liter V8 or EcoBoost V6 engines, a great deal is easy to come by on an F-150 equipped with the 5.4-liter V8, which makes 320 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. Right now there are close to 1,000 V8-powered 2009-2014 Ford F-150s listed on Autotrader for $15,000 or less.
2007-2013 Toyota Tundra
The Tundra offers full-size truck capability mated with Toyota quality. Outfitted with a 5.7-liter V8, the Tundra offers a towing capacity of up to 10,800 pounds, on par with that of the pickups offered by Ford, GM and Dodge. The 5.7-liter V8 puts out 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque and is known for its reliability. The 2007-2013 Tundra was available in a number of cabin and bed-length configurations. While Tundras hold their value especially well, there are currently over 400 of them for under $15,000 listed for sale on Autotrader.
2014-2016 Jeep Cherokee V6
Thanks to its stout power plant, the V6 Jeep Cherokee models are capable of pulling up to 4,500 pounds when equipped with the factory tow package. This is more than enough to tote around a small boat, a tow-behind camper or a dirt-bike trailer. The Cherokee’s V6 engine is a 3.2-liter mill churning out 271 hp and 239 lb-ft of torque while still managing around 21 mpg combined. If you really want to go off-road, opt for a Trailhawk model, which offers a great mix of towing capacity, fuel economy and off-road ability. Right now there are 170 V6 Cherokees listed on Autotrader for under $15,000.
2009-2013 Audi Q5
The first-generation Audi Q5, sold from 2009 until 2017, was offered with three different engines: a 2.0-liter turbo making 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, a 3.2-liter V6 making 266 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque, and a supercharged 3.0-liter making 268 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, along with a 3.0-liter diesel making 240 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque. Regardless of its engine, every Q5 is rated to tow up to 4,400 pounds, giving the Q5 the highest towing capacity out of any compact luxury SUV on the market. First-gen Q5s up to about the 2013 model year have by now depreciated into the $15,000 range, and there are currently over 300 such examples listed for sale on Autotrader.
2007-2014 Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon
A full-size truck-like SUV, the Chevrolet Tahoe and its GMC Yukon twin will get the job done when it comes to towing thanks to a range of potent V8 engines that allow the pair to tow up to 8,200 pounds or, if you’re willing to tolerate 2-wheel drive, 8,500 pounds. Their big siblings, the longer Suburban and Yukon XL, increase those figures to 9,400 pounds and 9,600 pounds in 4- and 2-wheel-drive configurations, respectively. In addition to towing capacity, you’ll get excellent passenger and cargo capacity from any of these big SUVs, with seating for up to eight and, in the massive Suburban or Yukon XL, an additional 46 cu ft. of cargo room behind the third-row seat. For $15,000 or less and spanning the 2007-2014 model years, there are currently 1,300 Tahoes, 800 Suburbans, 700 Yukons and 500 Yukon XLs listed for sale on Autotrader.