The 9 Best Toad Vehicles To Tow Behind Your RV

March 14, 2024
One of the best toad vehicles being towed behind an RV

We’re sure you’ve seen a car being towed by a motorhome or RV at some point. These are called towed vehicles or “toads”, if you want to know the cute nickname. But what you may not know, is that not every car can easily be towed behind an RV. 

In addition to listing the best toad vehicles to tow behind an RV, we’ll define flat towing, the traits of a good tow vehicle, the pros and cons of flat towing, and other options if your car can’t be flat towed.

What Is Flat Towing?

Flat towing, also called 4-down towing or dinghy towing, means that the toad vehicle (car, SUV, or truck) is being towed behind the RV with all four tires on the ground. Having a toad vehicle while RVing (especially with a bigger rig) is popular because it allows you to leave the campsite in something other than a huge motorhome.

This gives you freedom away from the campsite in a vehicle that is much more fuel efficient and maneuverable than a big RV. Having a toad vehicle to take on the road for day trips makes everything a whole lot easier.

Traits Of A Good Vehicle To Tow Behind Your RV

It’s very important to know the traits a vehicle must have if you want to flat tow it behind your RV. If you’re not familiar with this, then you can do serious damage to your car (specifically its transmission).

The specific traits to look for in a toad vehicle is a car that has a transmission disconnect option (which essentially disengages the transmission) and a steering wheel lockout override to allow the car to move with the RV instead of pulling against in a different direction.

Typically, most manual rear-wheel drive vehicles are able to be flat towed. Additionally, 4WD vehicles WITH a manual transfer case that has the option of being placed in neutral are usually safe to be towed 4-down.

Important Note: You may notice our careful wording. We say “most” or “usually” because not all cars fitting these descriptions may be safe to tow. The only place you will find 100% accurate information regarding your chosen vehicle’s ability to be towed is in the owner’s manual. Look in the “towing” or “recreational towing” sections.

Things You Need In Order To Tow Your Vehicle

At a high level, there are four basic things you’ll need to buy and have installed on your chosen RV toad vehicle. They are:

1. Connecter Baseplate and Tow Bar: The baseplate is fitted to the toad vehicle and is the point of connection that will link the toad and the RV via the tow bar.

Base plate for towing
Base plate

Baseplates are vehicle specific, so be sure to buy the correct model. The towbar attaches to the RV, usually to the hitch. BlueOx and Roadmaster are two reliable and trusted brands to consider when shopping around.

A tow bar for your toad vehicle
Tow Bar

2. Auxiliary Braking System: A braking system is what allows the toad’s brakes to activate when you break in the RV. It’s required in a lot of states and makes a big difference when it comes to safety. Even if your state doesn’t require them, we definitely recommend setting this up.

3. Wiring for Light Integration: Integrating the lights on the toad vehicle will activate the toad’s brake lights and turn signal lights when you use them in the RV. Again, this is necessary for additional safety so the cars behind you know what you’re doing.

4. Emergency Breakaway: This system should be installed should your toad vehicle ever disconnect from the RV. Hopefully this never happens, but this ensures that the toad vehicle’s brakes will activate if it does.

The Best Toad Vehicles

Ok, let’s get into it! We’ve researched and created a list of the best toad vehicles to consider, and feel very happy with the options we’ve selected.

Important Note: Always be aware that just because a specific make and model made the list, doesn’t necessarily mean other years are able to be towed! Do your homework and double check everything during the buying process.

1. Jeep Wranglers

One of the best vehicles to tow behind an RV

The Wrangler is definitely the most popular toad vehicle you see, because almost every trim after 1997 can be flat towed! That gives you a ton of options to choose from (both new and used).

RVers consider the Jeep Wrangler one of the best toad vehicles because it’s a great off-road, rugged, and small SUV with a high ground clearance and relatively low total weight.

We suggest the Wrangler if you like to camp off the grid in places with harsher terrain. It’s also a good choice if you don’t plan on doing too much extra driving in your toad vehicle; these cars don’t get the best gas mileage and aren’t the most reliable over long distances.

2. Ford F-150

A Ford F-150

Consider the Ford F-150 if you want to tow a larger vehicle, but remember that only the trims with 4 wheel drive can be towed 4-down. The F-150 is able to handle roads that are off the beaten path and provide a lot of extra storage without becoming a big headache to tow behind you.

If you do a lot of additional recreational activities while RVing such as biking or water sports, the truck bed can come in handy. And it’s quite manageable to drive in and park around town.

Quick Note: If you’re interested in the F-150 Raptor, be sure to read over the specific Raptor guide for details on how to tow this trim 4-down.

3. Honda CRV

We love how reliable and safe Hondas are, but sadly only CRVs made before 2015 can be towed 4 down. But if you currently own one that fits this criteria or locate a good deal on a used one, this car will last a long time.

According to the CRV owner’s manual, this toad cannot be towed faster than 65 mph.

4. Jeep Cherokee

The Jeep Cherokee is another popular option, though the towable trims are limited to the 4×4 models with 2-speed power transfer units only. They are fairly versatile cars that will give you a decent amount of storage space when you go on day trips away from the campsite.

5. Fiat 500

We’re talking specifically about the 2019 (or earlier) Fiat 500 with a manual transmission. This cute, sporty car is ideal if you are comfortable driving a manual car and want something nice and compact. With a curb weight of roughly 2,350 pounds, any motorhome can easily pull this car. We also love that it gets a combined gas mileage of around 30 miles/gallon.

Here’s an example of why it’s so important to read the owner’s manual before commiting to a toad vehicle! Per the Fiat manual, the Fiat 500 manual transmission car can be flat towed, but only to a maximum speed of 65 mph and the car must be placed in neutral.

6. Ford Bronco

A new Bronco which is one of the best toad vehicles on the market

All Ford Broncos 2021 and newer can be flat towed; any trim, any model regardless if it has a manual or automatic transmission.

When researching, we found that the Bronco’s owner’s manual is very detailed when it comes to information on recreational towing. This is great for someone who has never flat towed before.

7. Jeep Gladiator

A Jeep Gladiator

Another toad option from Jeep is the Jeep Gladiator 4WD trims. As long as you make sure everything is tied down, the Gladiator has a truck bed that can be used as extra storage when you’re out and about. And just like the Wrangler, it has a high ground clearance which makes it a good choice for off-road adventures.

It’s also worth pointing out that the Jeep Gladiator gets about 5 mpg more than the Jeep Wrangler.

9. Chevrolet Equinox

The Equinox is an affordable midsize SUV that many people use as their toad vehicle. It’s fairly light and easy to tow, so you can typically make it work with a variety of rigs. You typically see this used by families who need seats for the kids without towing something too large.

10. Ford Maverick

While none of the gasoline Mavericks can be flat towed, their hybrid version can! The Maverick is Ford’s smallest truck so you get great gas mileage when actually driving the truck, and your RV won’t burn through a ton of extra fuel when towing it.

How To Select The Right Toad For You

There are two major things to consider when deciding on the best toad for your RV: what do you and your family need from a toad vehicle, and what is the towing capacity of your RV.

Ask yourself what you want to be able to do in your RV toad vehicle. Will it just be used to run errands or take small day trips? Will you be taking it off road frequently? Do you need to haul anything while camping? Do you need extra storage? How important is gas mileage? How many people will you be taking on your camping trips?

This consideration is all about your life and preferences. Obviously you want a vehicle that will do what you need while RVing, but you’ll likely also use this car when you’re not traveling. Be sure to think about all of this!

When selecting the best toad car for you, the second important item is knowing how much your RV can tow. Depending on the size of your RV or motorhome, you may have a huge ceiling or you may lack much wiggle room. You will want to know both the towing capacity of your RV and the capacity of your hitch. Do not exceed the amount of weight your hitch can handle, even if your RV has a greater towing capacity. The hitch itself should be labeled with the maximum pounds it can handle.

Advantages Of Towing A Car Behind Your RV

Towing a car behind your RV gives you freedom away from the campsite in a vehicle that is much more fuel efficient and maneuverable than an RV. Having a toad vehicle to take on the road while you’re at a campsite makes parking for day trips a much nicer experience.

Toad vehicles can also be handy if your RV breaks down on a trip. This gives you another vehicle to get where you need to go while the RV is being fixed. If you need to pack extra things, the toad vehicle can be used for storage (though keep weight in mind).

Once everything is installed to flat tow, it’s the easiest and quickest way to hook up your car and go. Because all of the towing implements are either connected to the RV or the toad, there is very little to stow when it’s not in use.

Disadvantages of Towing A Car Behind Your RV

There are pros and cons to everything, and flat towing is no exception. While it is extremely handy, flat towing comes with some drawbacks.

Like we discussed earlier, not all cars can be flat towed. In fact, the number of cars (especially new) on the market that can be flat towed is decreasing. If you do have a car that can be flat towed, you will be spending anywhere from $2,000 – $4,000 for parts and installation.

Flat towing also puts wear and tear on your toad vehicle. All car tires will experience the same use and general depreciation from towing as normal driving. Some cars will even count the towed miles on the toad’s odometer even if the engine is off.

What To Do If Your Car Can’t Be Flat Towed?

If you either already have a car or want to buy one that just can’t be flat towed, don’t worry, there are other options! Consider these options if you don’t want to fork over more money to get a new car, or if you just have your heart set on a specific trim that doesn’t fit the bill.

Trailer Or Car Hauler

If your toad vehicle can’t be towed flat, you can still tow it behind your RV on a trailer or car hauler. In this case, your toad will be completely off the ground and sit in the trailer, which will be towed by the RV. This option is great because it keeps your toad vehicle much safer and avoids the additional wear and tear a toad can acquire if its tires are touching the ground.

Trailer towing can also accommodate almost any car (weight is a factor of course) which opens up so many more toad options that if you choose to flat tow. This means that you may not have to compromise on car make/model and allows you to focus on what fits your family’s needs.

On the flip side, towing your toad on a trailer requires that you bring an additional large item that has to be stowed at the campsite. Trailers also cost money upfront (the trailer itself, ramps, ratchet straps) and throughout its lifetime due to maintenance. You also must consider the extra weight this puts on your RV’s tongue weight capacity.

Front Wheel Dolly

A third towing option is using a front wheel dolly. Towing with a dolly opens up a significantly larger number of toad options than flat towing, however it is more restrictive than towing with a trailer.

Tow dollies are much lighter and cheaper than car haulers so they put less weight on your RV. Dollies are best for cars with front wheel drive transmissions.

Wrapping Up

Having a toad vehicle while on the road can be super handy. And now you know all about what flat towing is, what traits a toad vehicle needs to be flat towed safely behind your RV, some popular toad vehicles, and the pros and cons.

As always, make sure you thoroughly do your research before committing to buying a toad vehicle and remember that just because one model year works, doesn’t mean others will!

Happy towing!

* All images have been sourced from the company websites listed above and full image credit is attributed to them.

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