Favorite flat-towables as voted by MotorHome’s readers
Which dinghy is the best? If you ask MotorHome fans, chances are they’ll mention one of the vehicles listed below. According to our annual Readers’ Choice Awards, the following are the most popular dinghy vehicles from the last 5 years in order of ranking:
#1 Jeep Wrangler
#2 Honda CR-V
#3 Jeep Grand Cherokee
#4 Jeep Liberty
#5 Jeep Cherokee
#6 Saturn VUE
#7 Chevrolet Equinox
#8 Honda FIT
#9 Ford Edge
#10 Chevrolet Colorado
Can you say staying power? The Wrangler was manufacturer-approved for recreational towing from 1990-95, then again from 1997-present. With a blend of high-tech entertainment features and rugged Trail Rated performance, the 2018 Wrangler JK/Wrangler JK Unlimited are available in soft- or hard-top configurations with removable doors to enjoy the weather. A reversible cargo mat protects carpet in the storage area, while a sub-floor bin adds storage options. MSRP $23,995-$39,145.
The CR-V was manufacturer-approved for recreational towing from 1998-2014. So, how is it that a vehicle that hasn’t been towable for more than 4 years made it to our #2 spot? Probably because these model years are still being sought out on the used market by motorhome owners. The CR-V is a great mid-size SUV with a 60/40 rear seat and rear swing-out hatch that holds a lot of gear and up to 5 passengers in more than 100 cubic feet of cargo space. The CR-V is also equipped with vehicle stability assist with traction control, as well as Brake Assist to help with emergency braking.
MSRP (in 2014) $22,945-$30,445. https://automobiles.honda.com
Jeep Grand Cherokee
A popular choice for its handling and luxurious interior, the Grand Cherokee has been manufacturer-approved for recreational towing since 1993. The 4WD allows owners to travel off the beaten path through snow, ice, mud and sand using a traction-management system. The Cherokee features best-in-class ground clearance, and its Quadra-Lift air suspension can lower from 1.6 inches (for easy loading) up to 20 inches for water crossings, at the touch of a button. Traction control is top-notch, and the signature leather interior and upgraded sound system allow touring in comfort. MSRP $39,540-$53,340.
The Liberty was manufacturer-approved for recreational towing from 2002-2012. It comes in at #4 on our list due in part to its Trail Rated off-road capabilities, full-open sunroof and multiple enhanced safety features — plus a class-leading 5,000-pound towing capacity and trailer-sway control. An impressive cargo capacity of up to 64.2 cubic feet (with rear seat folded) makes it great for bringing along extras. Outside, 20-inch aluminum wheels and black headlight bezels help the Liberty set apart from the crowd. MSRP $24,975-$28,560.
Jeep continues its popularity in our Top 10 list with its fourth entry: the Cherokee, which has been manufacturer-approved for recreational towing since 2014. Boasting Jeep’s Trail Rated banner and best-in-class 4WD capabilities, the Cherokee is equipped with the Selec-Terrain Traction Management System, which also includes throttle control traction control and Electronic Stability Control. The 7-inch multi-view control display makes at-a-glance navigation, performance, alerts and fuel economy easy to monitor. UConnect control includes entertainment options and GPS, while 60/40 split second-row seating and a large cargo area help with storing bulky items. MSRP $25,990-$33,935. www.jeep.com/cherokee
Nearly a full decade after it was last towable, the 2009 VUE retains its popularity as a top dinghy vehicle. Why, you ask? Perhaps it’s the 19 mpg city/26 mpg fuel economy on the FWD — or the 25 mpg city/32 mpg highway on the hybrid model. It could be the versatility of the crossover SUV’s folding rear seats and 56.4 cubic feet of storage area. How about the StabiliTrak control and ABS, plus the five-star crash safety rating? Maybe it’s the integrated GPS and satellite radio capabilities in an affordable compact SUV? Whatever the reason, the VUE’s inclusion on our list 10 years later is no small feat.
MSRP (2009) $22,770-$28,095. www.gm.com/owner-assistance/saturn/astra
The Equinox has been dinghy-towable since 2008, and the 2018 crossover SUV marked an all-new design that Chevy says is “the perfect balance between design and technology.” The Equinox sports a chrome-accented grille, chrome dual-outlet exhaust, high-intensity LED lighting and an aerodynamic shape. With 39.7 inches of rear-seat legroom, the Equinox can accommodate five passengers with ease. The Equinox is compatible with the latest gadgets inside, including Apple CarPlay, OnStar satellite with Wi-Fi, GPS and even an app suggesting improved driving habits. Available advanced safety technology includes collision alert, blind-spot monitoring, rear vision camera and rear park assist.
MSRP $24,575-$38,225. www.chevrolet.com/previous-year/equinox
A vehicle that manages 29 city/36 highway fuel economy will always garner attention. One that can achieve such numbers and be towed four-wheels down behind a motorhome? That comes in at #7 on our list of favorites. The subcompact FIT retails for less than $20,000 (which is why it made our list of 8 Affordable Dinghy Vehicles), weighs less than 2,600 lbs, is only about 5 feet tall — and is still able to seat up to five in relative comfort. With 16.6 cubic feet of cargo room, packing may have to get creative, but the FIT as a daily driver passenger car is tough to beat. Hip accessories include blue LED interior illumination, rear cargo organizer, rear seat cover and all-season floormats.
MSRP $16,190-$18,160. https://automobiles.honda.com/2018/fit
The Edge burst onto the crossover SUV scene in 2007 and has been dinghy-towable ever since. And though it retains the versatility of that first model, the 2018 Edge represents more than a decade of refinement and improvement. Drivers enjoy the SYNC3 system that includes voice-activated navigation, Apple and Android compatibility, wireless calls and Sirius XM satellite radio. The Edge’s 60/40 split rear seat and 73.4 cubic feet of cargo space are not to be overlooked, nor are the integrated safety features from forward collision warning to Lane-Keeping System to Blind Spot Information System to enhanced parking assistance. The four-wheel independent suspension, torque control and power disc brakes with ABS help with the drive, while the rear spoiler, LED tail lamps and privacy glass up the cool factor. MSRP $29,220-$40,675. www.ford.com/suvs-crossovers/edge/2018
Truck lovers, rejoice! Rounding out our Top 10 list, the Chevy Colorado has been dinghy towable since 2004 (with the exception of 2014). Using a pickup as a dinghy vehicle opens up a new level of versatility. In addition to using the bed for additional storage, driving a pickup enables owners to transport large items (like bicycles, inflatable boats or kayaks) with relative ease. But this ain’t your daddy’s truck: the smooth styling, cargo step, bed tie-down system and 17-inch wheels of the all-new Colorado ZR2 all exude modern pickup, while the riding 2 inches taller than a standard Colorado 4WD and tracks 3 inches wider up front. Front and rear locking differentials, enhanced shock absorbers and modified front bumper with skid plate make the Colorado a backcountry explorer.
MSRP $29,840-$44,855. www.chevrolet.com/trucks/colorado
For more information — including specific configurations and special instructions for towing the vehicles — go to www.motorhome.com/download-dinghy-guides.
And, before you go, we’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below on your favorite dinghy vehicle.