What Can I Tow with 3500 lbs Capacity? (With Examples)

3500 lbs of towing capacity is more than enough for most people. If you don't have specific needs to tow more, this option offers a perfect balance between towing capacity and efficiency.

Most popular mid-sized SUVs, like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, have a 3500-pound towing capacity. Of course, larger SUVs and trucks with a special towing package can pull much more. But they also consume more fuel and serve different purposes, such as off-roading or heavy-duty tasks.

If you don't plan on pulling large fifth-wheel trailers or hauling heavy cargo, there's no need to invest in large, expensive trucks. A regular mid-sized SUV with a 3500 lbs towing capacity should be perfect for outdoor activities and hobbies.

However, it's essential to understand that this max towing capacity provides only a general idea of your vehicle's strength. Realistically, you'll be able to pull only about 80% of 3500 lbs without risking damage to the vehicle.

Towing is extremely demanding for your car. It exerts tremendous strain on the frame, engine, and transmission. Regular passenger vehicles aren't specifically designed for frequent towing; thus, even when you tow within the limits, it accelerates wear and tear.


Things You Can Tow with 3500 lbs Towing Capacity

A 3500 lbs towing capacity provides many choices, albeit limited. Your vehicle won't be able to pull anything too extravagant or large, but most enjoyable items weigh under 3000 lbs.

One crucial consideration is that some items require a specialized platform for safe transport, such as a trailer for a car dolly. This equipment secures the cargo and ensures you maintain full control while towing.

However, such towing accessories also have weight, potentially bringing your total dangerously close to the maximum towing capacity.

Utility Trailers

A utility trailer can be invaluable if you have a spacious home or live on a farm. With it, you can haul garden supplies, moderately heavy loads you wouldn't want to carry by hand, and even certain equipment. They're also handy for moving.

An average utility trailer weighs around 700 pounds. Such trailers can range from 300 to 1100 pounds, depending on size and construction. Fortunately, there's no need for additional mounting as they come equipped with wheels. Even the largest and heaviest fully-equipped utility trailer should be light enough to be towed by a vehicle with a 3500 lbs towing limit.

Horse Trailers

Towing a horse trailer with only 3500 lbs of towing capacity is challenging but not impossible. Since you'll be transporting a horse and its equipment, determine the cargo weight first and then subtract it from your towing capacity.

An average adult horse can weigh over 1000 lbs, consuming a significant portion of your towing capacity. Once you ascertain how much weight you can still tow, choose a lightweight horse trailer.

Regrettably, horse trailers themselves are hefty, starting at around 1300 lbs. The lightest horse trailers are made of fiberglass, a material that balances lightness and durability, making it ideal for vehicles with limited towing capacity.

Average Compact Car

Typically, an average compact car weighs between 2500-3000 pounds. And, like smaller vehicles, SUVs with 3500 lbs of towing capacity can even tow smaller cars.

However, this isn't advisable as it pushes your vehicle near its full capacity. Furthermore, towing other vehicles can strain your SUV excessively.

But, if approached cautiously, it's feasible. Remove any unnecessary items from the towed vehicle and ensure it's securely fastened. Safety and control should always be priorities.

Small to Mid-Sized Trailers

Unlike smaller cars that can only pull tiny teardrop trailers, vehicles with a towing capacity of 3500 lbs can tow a variety of different RVs. You will be pleasantly surprised with the options available to you.

Many pop-ups, larger and more comfortable teardrop trailers, and even some compact travel trailers can be towed with a 3500 lbs capacity.

For example, the extremely popular pop-up trailers have a dry weight of about 2000-2400 lbs. They can accommodate another 1000 lbs of equipment and cargo, bringing the total weight to 3000-3400 lbs.

If you choose wisely and pack lightly, you can easily select a comfortable, spacious pop-up trailer for your camping trips with friends and family. It's not luxurious, but a 3500 lbs capacity is impressive, right?

Jet Ski on a Trailer

Great news for fans of water sports: since the average jet ski weighs only about 300-1000 pounds, you can easily tow more than one.

The only thing you should always remember is that you'll need a trailer to do this. Jet skis cannot be towed by themselves and require a special platform for safe transportation. Trailers do add weight, but they typically don't exceed 300 pounds, so you should be within limits.



Boats come in various shapes and sizes, and many lightweight options are available. With a 3500 lbs towing capacity, you can effortlessly tow sailboats, skiffs, and aluminum and fiberglass fishing boats.

Remember to factor in the weight of the trailer. Additionally, consider the engine, fuel, and essential equipment you'll need for your journey. All these elements contribute to the overall weight, so don't overlook them.

Light Boats to Tow with 3500 lbs Towing Capacity

Type of Boat

Weight Range

Aluminum Fishing Boats  

300 – 500 pounds  

Fiberglass Fishing Boats

1500 to 2500 pounds  

Sailboats (14 to 20 feet)

400 to 800 pounds


300 to 900 pounds  

Motorcycle or ATV

ATVs and motorcycles are also easy to tow with this kind of capacity. On average, they weigh under 1000 lbs each and can easily be mounted on a 300 lbs trailer. Towing small vehicles like these is no problem at all.

Cargo Trailer

Cargo trailers can be of great help when you need to transport a lot of items, like when you are moving or delivering goods.

Small cargo trailers can weigh from 300 lbs to 1000 lbs. I would not recommend getting anything larger because, with only a 3500-pound towing capacity, you won't be able to safely pull that much when the cargo trailer is loaded.

Canoe or Kayak

Kayaks and canoes are pretty lightweight. They are made with durable yet feather-light materials like plastic, aluminum, and fiberglass. Whatever kayak model you pick, it will weigh less than the trailer you want to mount it on.

Towing this equipment is super easy. The only concerns with them are their length and how securely they are attached to the trailer.


Snowmobiles themselves weigh only 500-650 lbs, which is hardly a problem for a 3500 lbs limit. Add another 300 lbs for a trailer, and you still have enough weight left before you reach the maximum.

Small Garden Tractor

This little helper can change your life if you have a large garden. And you don’t even need a heavy-duty pickup truck to tow it.

A vehicle with a 3500 lbs towing capacity can tow a small garden tractor with ease. They usually weigh around 1300-1600 lbs and can easily be towed wherever you need them.

80/20 Rule for Towing With 3500 lbs Capacity

People often rely on mnemonic devices or straightforward rules to recall information. The 80/20 principle offers a simple way of staying within a 3,500 lbs towing limit. To ensure safety, it's best if you tow only up to 80% of your total capacity. For a 3,500 lbs capacity, this means towing up to 2,800 lbs is acceptable, leaving the remaining 20% untouched.

Towing beyond 80% of the total capacity can be taxing on the vehicle. Bear in mind that the 3,500 lbs towing capacity is like an ideal scenario created by the engineers, not a law. In reality, there will always be obstacles that make it hard to estimate the weight correctly, or the road conditions might be more challenging, and so on.

Many in the RV community swear by this rule to prevent overburdening their vehicles. Even those seasoned in the art of towing are familiar with it. This elementary guideline can play a pivotal role in saving money on maintenance and repairs.

What Vehicles have 3500 lbs Towing Capacity?

Larger vehicles like SUVs and some crossovers boast a 3500 lbs towing capacity. Here, we've assembled some of the most popular vehicles featuring this exact towing capacity, but keep in mind that model year and even trim matter.

Throughout the years, the same car model can go through several changes in engine design, performance, frame durability, transmission design, and engine output. All these factors influence the total towing capacity a car is capable of handling. So, if you need more information about an exact model year, look it up and be aware of the differences between trim levels.

9 Vehicles With 3500 lbs Towing Capacity


Towing Capacity

Toyota RAV4

Up to 3,500 lbs

Honda CR-V

Approaching 3,500 lbs

Ford Escape

Around 3,500 lbs

Chevrolet Equinox

3,500 lbs

Nissan Rogue

3,500 lbs

Jeep Cherokee

Around 3,500 lbs

Mazda CX-5

3,500 lbs

Hyundai Santa Fe

Approaching 3,500 lbs

Kia Sorento

Up to 3,500 lbs

What Does Towing Capacity Depend On?

How much a vehicle can tow strongly depends on its engine output and durability. The two most important specifications are your vehicle's weight and how much torque your engine can produce. But there's more to it than that.

As for the engine, its power and torque play a significant role. The more horsepower and torque it produces, the more your vehicle can tow.

But all that doesn't matter if the transmission and other parts of the vehicle can't keep up. Towing is very challenging, and much depends on how well your transmission can cool down. Overheating is one of the major issues for people who tow frequently. Try to pull more than your vehicle's limit, and you run a significant risk of overheating it and causing damage.

The weight of your vehicle also affects how much it can pull. That's why your vehicle's weight and the gross vehicle weight rating, or GVWR, are used to determine towing capacity.

The suspension, braking system, and tire rating all contribute to safety and control while you are towing. All these essential parts help make the process easier on your vehicle and more manageable for you.


How Much Over 3500 lbs Towing Capacity is Safe?

No more than 3500 lbs is safe to tow with your vehicle if that's your maximum towing capacity. In fact, even towing at full capacity is not safe at all. This number is not something you should take lightly. It represents the absolute best your vehicle can handle under perfect conditions.

Unfortunately, real-life conditions are rarely perfect. You probably don't have large commercial scales to accurately measure how much you're towing. The vehicle deteriorates over time. The weight of cargo inside the car itself influences how much you can tow. Plus, there can be obstacles on the road, such as hills, sand, potholes, and even high temperatures can pose challenges.

That's why there are rules of safe towing that advise you to never exceed 80% of your total towing capacity, which is no more than 2800 lbs for a maximum towing capacity of 3500 lbs.

Does Towing Shorten the Life of a Vehicle?

Yes, towing can reduce your car's life expectancy. Towing is extremely hard on any vehicle, regardless of the engine and other crucial parts of its design.

The effort required to pull extra weight puts significant strain on the vehicle. It can lead to various issues, like accelerated wear and tear. That's why vehicles that tow regularly require additional care and maintenance to remain efficient.

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