There are moments that sometimes require your SUV to have true versatility. Sometimes you need a work vehicle, or something to haul the crew and all their gear plus a trailer. Maybe you have a large family and a boat. Whatever the situation, if you’re needing high seating capacity and brute force towing capability, you can’t beat these heavy duty SUVs.
The workhorse of the Ford SUV fleet, the Expedition has been delivering huge cargo and towing abilities since the days you were using Netscape Navigator and a 56k modem. It has proven super reliable, commonly hitting 200,000 miles at a rate four times higher than the industry average. The third generation Expedition sold from 2007 to 2017, an impressive amount of time that it stayed relevant. This is most likely due to the successful mix of heavy duty and everyday comfort. The 3.5L EcoBoost V6 is a brute, with 365 horsepower and 420 lb/ft of torque, but it also boosts gas mileage. The six-speed auto, four-wheel drive, and five-link independent rear suspension allow capable off-roading and ground clearance, but also deliver quiet and smooth street driving. Need it to be your work and weekend hauler? With the right towing package, you can pull 9,000 pounds, then unhitch and haul the entire soccer team.
At 209 inches long, the Armada is larger than some naval vessels. It brings serious firepower too, with Nissan’s 5.6L V8 generating 317 horsepower and 385 lb/ft or torque, and driving that force through a five-speed auto to all four wheels. Those numbers are a bit down compared to the completion, as the Armada remained relatively unchanged from release in 2003 until the release of the second generation in 2017. Still, it’s a smartly designed body-on-frame SUV that uses smart ideas to match the competition. It’s also one of the very few vehicles that can use E-85 fuel for cheap and powerful hauling. Best bet on the used market is the 2015+ vehicles with an upgraded interior. While it still has “only” 317 horsepower, you can grab the optional towing gear to pull an impressive 9,000 lbs. If numbers matter to you, get the new 2018+, as it has 390 horsepower.
Sequoias are the tallest trees on Earth, reaching heights of 250 feet. The Toyota Sequoia isn’t quite that big, but it is Toyota’s largest passenger SUV, longer than even the Land Cruiser. Based off the Tundra frame, the Sequoia is a full-size SUV with work truck credentials. Put the rear seats down and there’s over 120 cubic feet of storage back there. The interior is high quality and attractively laid out, and the two-tone look is modern and bold. Unlike most on this list, the Sequoia features double independent wishbone suspension at the rear, delivering a Camry-like ride quality, and a tight turning radius. The beefy 5.7L V8 makes 381 horsepower and 401 lb/ft of torque, meaning the big ‘yota can pull 7,400 lbs with the optional towing package. For reference, that’s three Mazda Miatas and a trailer.
The third generation Dodge Durango commercials cheekily said the vehicle took two years off and “went back to school, and got an advanced degree in technology.” That’s not far from the truth. There’s a huge center screen with UConnect, rear entertainment screens, outlets and USB ports everywhere, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to stay connected. The 3.6L Pentastar that Chrysler stuffs into everything is also present under the hood of the Durango, and that’s good news. With 295 horsepower and 260 lb/ft of torque, the V6 can pull 6,200 lbs with ease. Need more? The 5.7L HEMI V8 borrowed from the Challenger has you covered, with 360 horsepower 390 lb/ft of torque, and the ability to tow 7,400 lbs. Keep your foot out of it, and you can get up to 26 MPG highway. But you probably won’t have a light right foot, since Dodge calls it “America’s fastest 3-row SUV.”
While the Suburban is an ancient nameplate in Chevy’s lineup, the Tahoe is only on its fourth generation. This one is absolutely the best, and we can prove it. The sharp exterior is surprisingly aerodynamic, and combined with a lighter frame than any previous Tahoe, the 2015+ full-size SUV combines power and efficiency in an attractive package. Under the hood is a 5.3L V8 with flex fuel capability, 365 horsepower, and 383 lb/ft of torque. Pushing power through a six-speed auto to the rear wheels, you can get 23 MPG highway, or connect a trailer and tow 8,600 lbs. Four-wheel drive is an option of course, but takes a very slight MPG and towing hit. Inside, you have a spacious family hauler with massive rear leg room, and technology like 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay, and wireless phone charging.
Hello gorgeous. If you want an SUV that will make you smile every time you see it, check out the Land Rover LR4. The interior is nicer than most living rooms, and offers a herd of leather. It’s a stylish place to hang out and sip tea. Outside, there’s that safari-ready British class and rugged good looks, but it’s backed up by true off-road ability. The Brits love superchargers, and the LR4 has one on top of its 3.0L V6, making 340 horsepower, 332 lb/ft of torque, and one awesome snarl. That’s the same engine as the Jaguar F-Type, and in the LR4 it can pull 7,716 lbs. With a heavy duty chassis, full time four-wheel drive, and above average ground clearance, the LR4 is one of the best off-roaders you can buy. Top Gear called it “the best 4×4 of all time.” I believe them.
VW is somewhat of a German GM, trying to offer something to everyone. That’s evident in their Touareg SUV. From 2010 to 2018, the big VW with the funny name delivered cleverness, power, and a solid drive. The base engine is a 3.6L V6 making 280 horsepower and producing 266 lb/ft of torque. A little low, right? VW says nein, and rates it at 7,700 lbs due to the over-built chassis and heavy duty suspension. Despite that capability, it drives well, with a nice heft to the steering. Think of it like a Porsche Cayenne without the expensive badge. There’s also a few diesel engine Touaregs out there, and scoring one of those will get you a 3.0L turbodiesel V6 with 240 horsepower and a whopping 406 lb/ft of torque. Time to buy a bigger boat.