Going small is big these days. Just scroll through all the tiny-house shows on cable and you’ll see how popular minimalism is. It’s also popular for trailers. Pulling up to a parking spot and having a comfortable, enclosed bed to sleep in is ideal for lots of travelers — especially if they’re using small, lightweight trailers that don’t require a full-size SUV or a heavy-duty pickup truck to pull them along.
There are lots of small trailers now available in the 800- to 4,000-pound range. Dub Box offers several trailers under 1,000 pounds, while the Happier Camper HC1 starts at around 1,100 pounds. Even Airstream has gotten into the small-camper market with the 3,400-pound Nest trailer. Using a small, lightweight trailer opens up a surprisingly wide variety of vehicles that can tow them. With that in mind, here’s a list of some of our favorite cars and crossovers that can take you and your little rig to the campground in style.
It should be noted that while we list the maximum towing capacity of these vehicles, it’s actually best to avoid towing at the maximum capacity — doing so taxes braking and acceleration — and be familiar with the vehicle’s gross combined weight rating. But if you pick the right car-and-trailer combo, you’ll be on the small-is-beautiful path toward your getaway.
2018 CHEVROLET EQUINOX
If you’re looking for a well-rounded crossover, the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox is a smart choice. It comes standard with a long list of tech and creature comforts and is available with three different engines. With the optional 3.6-liter V6, the Equinox can tow just as much as the Odyssey or the RAV4 — 3,500 pounds — making it plenty capable enough for our purposes. Also, the 2019 Chevrolet Equinox is starting to show up at dealerships.
2018 FORD ESCAPE
The 2018 Ford Escape is a sporty and attractive crossover that drives well on curvy roads and is available with Ford’s easy-to-use Sync technology. Those are just a few reasons to consider the Escape for your outdoor excursion, and the maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds is the perfect icing on the cake.
2018 HONDA ODYSSEY
In the ultra-practical minivan world, the 2018 Honda Odyssey is our favorite. It’s spacious and packed with family-friendly features such as a rear-seat monitor and an integrated vacuum cleaner. The Odyssey is also capable of towing up to 3,500 pounds when you select the Touring or Elite trim and opt for the towing package. It’s proof that you don’t need to get a big SUV to have plenty of room for your brood and enough power to tow a decent-size small trailer.
2018 JEEP RENEGADE
While it’s got the lowest tow rating on our list, the 2018 Jeep Renegade is still capable of towing as much as 2,000 pounds with the optional 2.4-liter engine. That should be enough for a lightweight trailer. The Renegade’s small footprint also allows it to be nimble and agile in town, and it has one of the smoother rides you’ll find in the subcompact crossover SUV class.
2018 PORSCHE MACAN
Got more money to spend but still want something small and maneuverable? Check out the 2018 Porsche Macan. With a maximum tow rating of 4,409 pounds, there are few smaller trailers that this Porsche SUV can’t handle. The Macan’s well-built interior and engaging driving dynamics help it pull ahead of the competition.
2018 SUBARU OUTBACK
With a reputation for being rugged and capable off-road, the 2018 Subaru Outback will fit in at any campsite. Hook up a trailer and you’ll feel even more legit. The Outback has a roomy, comfortable interior and lots of modern features. It’s also capable of towing 2,700 pounds with the optional six-cylinder engine. Pair that with Subaru’s standard all-wheel-drive system and you’ve got a crossover that’s tailor-made for a getaway.
2018 TOYOTA RAV4
The 2018 Toyota RAV4 covers all the bases. It’s a good family hauler thanks to its spacious interior and smooth ride. But what you might not expect is that it’s above par when it comes to towing. With the optional Tow Prep package, you get some additional engine-cooling hardware and a maximum tow rating of 3,500 pounds.
2018 VOLVO S60
If you don’t like the idea of a hatchback or a crossover, there’s the 2018 Volvo S60. It has a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, which is on par with most of the crossovers on our list, and it’s a relatively plush sedan. Once you’ve dropped your trailer off at the campsite, the S60 drives well, too.
EDMUNDS SAYS: Full-size SUVs and pickup trucks are massively capable, but there are a lot of cars and crossovers that can tow, too. Take a closer look at the towing capacity of some smaller vehicles; you might not have to get a big rig to pull your small, lightweight trailer.
This story was provided to The Associated Press by the automotive website Edmunds. Travis Langness is a staff writer at Edmunds. Twitter: @travislangness.
— 2018 Honda Odyssey Video Review: https://youtu.be/sRfk3Z4Trwc
— Jeep Renegade Video Review: https://youtu.be/mL2DPbCXih0