There’s a lot to unpack in discussing all these worthy SUVs

When it comes to choosing an SUV, there are a number of different factors to consider. We often talk about power, performance, fuel economy, and design like they matter the most, and while it can be argued that they do, items like towing capacity, cargo space, and payload capacity are just as important as any of them. from 2016 that offer the best of these worlds. You might be surprised at what we found out.

No.1 Ford Expedition – 9,200 LBS

2015 Ford Expedition High Resolution Exterior
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The 2016 Ford Expedition is an interesting example of an SUV that has everything you’d want in a model of its size. As far as full-sized SUVs go, the Expedition can tow more than many of its rivals with a towing capacity of 9,200 pounds. The Lincoln Navigator and the Nissan Armada come closest with 9,000 pounds in towing capacity. Interior space is also a strength for the Expedition. The SUV measures 17 feet long, so there’s plenty of room to seat seven or eight people. Even with all that space, cargo room isn’t compromised.

The Expedition boasts 108.3 cubic feet of cargo space, far and away one of the best in its segment. The Chevrolet Suburban is the only rival SUV to boast more with 121.3 cubic feet of cargo space. The Expedition isn’t far behind, though. It has 18.6 cubic feet of space behind the third-row seats and 55 cubic feet of space if you decide to fold the third-row seats. Opt for the Expedition EL — that’s the extended wheelbase version — and you get class-leading cargo space at 130.8 cubic feet, including a staggering 42.6 cubic feet of room and 85.5 cubic feet of space with the third-row seats folded.

In terms of power, the Expedition comes with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that produces 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. Depending on the trim option, all that power is sent to either the two rear wheels or all four wheels courtesy of a standard six-speed transmission. Given everything it has and what it’s capable of, it’s not a surprise that the Expedition also has one of the highest payload ratings with a max capacity of 1,731 pounds. Fuel economy for the SUV is average for its class with 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. Pricing starts at a little over $45,000.

Towing Capacity: 9,200
Cargo Capacity: 108.3
Max Payload: 1,731
Fuel Economy 16-22 mpg

Read our full review on the 2016 Ford Expedition.

No. 2 Lincoln Navigator – 9,000 LBS

2015 Lincoln Navigator High Resolution Exterior
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The 2016 Lincoln Navigator is arguably one of the few full-sized SUVs that can go toe-to-toe with the Ford Expedition in a number of different categories. Just like the Expedition, the Navigator boasts one of the highest towing capacities in its segment at 9,000 pounds. That’s only 200 pounds less than its Ford counterpart, which shouldn’t come as a surprise because both models are built on the same platform. The Navigator has a slight edge in power over the Expedition with 380 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, a product of having a more powerful version of the same 3.5-liter V-6 also offered in the Expedition. Rear-wheel drive comes standard with the 2016 Navigator, though those who want their SUVs in all-wheel drive can also get it.

The Navigator also has ample cargo room inside. There’s 18.1 cubic feet of space behind the third row, 54.4 cubic feet of space when the third row is folded, and 103.3 cubic feet when both rows are folded. Even the extended wheelbase Navigator L is right there with the Expedition EL in terms of space. There’s 42.6 cubic feet behind the third row, 86.3 behind the second row, and 128.2 with both rear rows folded. Max payload is also a strong suit of the Lincoln SUV, even if its numbers — 1,670 pounds — fall somewhere in the middle of the pack as far as this segment is concerned.

Overall, the Navigator gets high marks for having one of the most spacious interiors in its class. It also doesn’t hurt that it has a powerful V-6 engine on its side. Like most SUVs in its class, the Navigator’s fuel economy rates at 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. Buying one is going to cost you, though, as the SUV starts at well over $60,000. If you can get past the higher price tag and some of the cheap materials that Lincoln inexplicably included in the Navigator, then this is as good a full-sized SUV as you’re going to get.

Towing Capacity 9,000
Cargo Capacity 103.3
Max Payload 1,670
Fuel Economy 16-22 mpg

Read our full review on the 2016 Lincoln Navigator.

No. 3 Nissan Armada – 9,000 LBS

2014 Nissan Armada High Resolution Exterior
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It’s not the prettiest-looking SUV in its class, but if you’re looking for an SUV that can haul and tow with the best of them, the Nissan Armada is a great choice. The Armada comes in with a max towing capacity of 9,000 pounds, exactly the same as the Navigator and only 200 pounds short of the Expedition. It is interesting that this SUV can tow 500 pounds more than the Infiniti QX80, regarded as the Armada’s slightly more luxurious doppelgänger.

The Armada also boasts a massive 5.6-liter V-8 engine that produces 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque, competitive numbers for its segment. A new seven-speed automatic transmission comes standard across the model’s entire range. The SUV may look sleepy and sluggish, but that V-8 is more than enough of an engine to get you where you need to go and still have enough in its tank to tow with the best of them.

Interior space is one of the drawbacks of the Armada, and it doesn’t help that cargo space is less now compared to its predecessor. Still, the SUV has 95.4 cubic feet of cargo space. It’s not as much as what other models have, but it can still store a good amount of equipment. Drop the third-row seat, and there’s still 49.9 cubic feet of cargo room, and with all the seats in their upright positions, the SUV has a decent 16.5 cubic feet of space, which is right around the size of a mid-size sedan’s trunk. Despite all that, the Armada proves its worth by having one of the highest payload capacities of any SUV in the segment at 1,742 pounds. If you can accept the Nissan’s shortcomings - fuel economy is paltry at 14 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway - then you should have no problem parting ways with at least $45,000.

Towing Capacity 9,000
Cargo Capacity 97
Max Payload 1,742
Fuel Economy 14-19 mpg

Read our full review on the 2016 Nissan Armada.

No. 4 Chevy Tahoe – 8,600 LBS

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe High Resolution Exterior
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The Chevrolet Tahoe is one of the best large SUVs on the market. Its max towing capacity of 8,600 pounds doesn’t measure up to the three SUVs above it on this list, but it’s still good enough to get the job done. What sets the Tahoe apart from the rest of its rivals is its potent engine, spacious interior, and all-around versatility.

You can be excused for thinking that the Tahoe isn’t up to what the Expedition and Navigator are capable of. But there’s more to the Chevy SUV than meets the eye, too. The Tahoe, for example, has a far superior interior than the Expedition. It also has a good amount of cargo space, though it is obvious that the Expedition reigns supreme in this department between the two models. Still, the Tahoe has a max cargo room of 94.7 cubic feet and 15.3 cubic feet when all the sears are upright. You can opt to do the work yourselves in raising the seats, but some versions of the Tahoe can do it for you. These versions, should you want them, come with a hands-free liftgate, power-release second-row seats, and power-folding third-row seats.

One advantage the Tahoe has over its rivals is its max payload capacity. At 1,745 pounds, it’s the best among all SUVs in this list. Combine that with a potent V-8 engine that produces 383 horsepower and 355 pound-feet of torque, and you have a very capable, large SUV that has one of the smoothest rides of any model in its class. A six-speed automatic transmission comes standard and, depending on the trim; the gearbox can send power to either the two rear wheels or all four wheels. All that power nets it a fuel economy rating of 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway, which is a little above average for its class. Pricing for the Chevrolet Tahoe starts at around $46,000.

Towing Capacity 8,600
Cargo Capacity 94.7
Max Payload 1,745
Fuel Economy 16-23 mpg

Read our full review on the 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe.

No. 5 Infiniti QX80 – 8,500 LBS

2015 Infiniti QX80 High Resolution Exterior
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The Infiniti QX80 is a love-it-or-hate-it SUV, a sentiment you’ll probably realize as soon as you see it. The QX80 doesn’t have the nicest design, but it more than makes up for its grumpy looks by having a comfortable interior, a brawny V-8 engine, a good amount of cargo space, and a maximum towing capacity of 8,500 pounds, a number that puts it squarely in the middle of this list.

The QX80 shares a lot of its SUV-ness with the Nissan Armada. In fact, both models ride on the same platform, same V-8 engine, same transmission, and comparable seating and cargo space. As far as seating goes, the QX80 offers three rows, the first two of which come in the form of captain’s chairs. The seats themselves are comfortable and provide ample head- and legroom for their occupants. The third-row seats, on the other hand, take the form of a bench seat. Adults can still fit in this section, though they’ll probably be uncomfortable doing so. The low seating position and the slim legroom are drawbacks on the QX80, but the good news is that it’s not the only SUV with a similar problem. The good news is that you can eschew the third row entirely and turn the space it occupies into more space for your cargo. Doing so will get you 49.6 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold the second-row and third-row seats, and you open up 95.1 cubic feet of space. Go the opposite direction and have all the seats upright and your cargo space shrinks to just 16.6 cubic feet.

In terms of power, the QX80 features a 5.6-liter V-8 engine with 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque, far and away one of the highest outputs among all of the model’s in this list. You can even choose either a rear-wheel drive version or an all-wheel-drive model. Either way, the QX80 comes with a standard seven-speed automatic transmission. That much power will prove to be useful with the QX80, particularly in times when it’s carrying 1,667 pounds of people and cargo. That figure happens to be the QX80’s max payload capacity. Don’t expect the QX80 to be a fuel-efficient model, though. The model returns just 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway, one of the lowest ratings in its class. Pricing for the Infiniti QX80 starts at $64,750.

Towing Capacity 8,500
Cargo Capacity 95.1
Max Payload 1,667
Fuel Economy 14-20 mpg

Read our full review on the 2016 Infiniti QX80.

No. 6 Cadillac Escalade – 8,300 LBS

2015 Cadillac Escalade High Resolution Exterior
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The Cadillac Escalade is the one SUV in this list that has taken advantage of its history with celebrities, particularly when it became the go-to luxury SUV of actors and musicians in the last decade. That equity has served the Escalade well because if you line it up against other models in this list, it doesn’t fare as well as you expect it to be.

Take its maximum towing capacity, for example. It’s rated at 8,300 pounds, which isn’t a bad number in itself, but it falls short compared to what other models are capable of. The model that has the same towing capacity is the Chevrolet Suburban, though the latter makes up for it by having more cargo room than any other SUV on this list. The Escalade, however, also has the lowest with a max cargo room of just 94.2 cubic feet. The Caddy’s max payload capacity is also the lowest on this list. In fact, all other SUVs here have max payload capacities that fall within 80 pounds of each other. By comparison, the Escalade’s payload capacity of 1,548 pounds is 119 pounds less than the next SUV in this category, the QX80.

Fortunately, not everything is doom and gloom with the Escalade. It’s still one of the best-looking large SUVs in its class. It also has one of the most refined interiors, a sentiment that isn’t lost on anyone who notices all the top-notch materials included in the plush cabin. The Escalade also has the most powerful engine — a 6.2-liter V-8 engine that produces 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission comes standard, and it helps the Caddy deliver excellent acceleration and consistent performance. Even with its size, the Escalade also has one of the best ride qualities among SUVs its size. The SUV’s fuel economy is average for its class, though. In the city, it’s fuel efficiency rating is rated at 15.5 mpg while on the highway, it sits at 22 mpg. Pricing for the Cadillac Escalade starts at $74,700.

Towing Capacity 8,300
Cargo Capacity 94.2
Max Payload 1,548
Fuel Economy 15.5-20 mpg

Read our full review on the 2016 Cadillac Escalade.

No. 7 Chevy Suburban – 8,300 LBS

2015 Chevrolet Suburban High Resolution Exterior
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Don’t be fooled by the Chevrolet Suburban’s place in this list. The Chevy SUV may be tied for dead last in maximum towing capacity with the Cadillac Escalade at just 8,300 pounds, but there’s more to the Suburban than you think. It has one of the best designs of any full-sized SUV. It also has one of the most spacious interiors to go with a powerful V-8 engine. Altogether, the Suburban has great value, especially if you’re a family that likes to go out and about on the open road every chance you get.

Space isn’t a premium inside the Chevy Suburban. There’s a good amount of it, even in the third row. The cabin is also well-appointed to include cloth upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, and seating for eight. You can even avail a front bench seat to help increase seating to nine people. That’s more than what other SUVs are capable of. No matter the configuration in the interior, the Suburban also has the highest max cargo room among all SUVs in this list. At 121.6 cubic foot of total room, it’s head and shoulders above what the Expedition’s 108.3 cubic feet in cargo room has. Forget about comparing the Suburban to other models, too, at least with regards to cargo room. Even if you fold down the second and third-row seats, the Suburban still has 94.7 cubic feet in space, more than the Escalade’s maximum cargo room.

Power isn’t an issue with the Suburban either. It has a 5.3-liter V-8 engine that produces 383 horsepower and 355 pound-feet of torque, more than enough to get it where it needs to go without compromising its performance capabilities. Even with its size, the Suburban still posts fuel economy numbers that are typical for its class, specifically 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Pricing for the Chevrolet Suburban starts at just under $50,000.

Towing Capacity 8,300
Cargo Capacity 121.6
Max Payload 1,714
Fuel Economy 16-23 mpg

Read our full review on the 2016 Chevrolet Suburban.]

What SUV is Best for Me?

When you’re picking from a list that includes a lot of items you like, the choice ends up becoming very difficult. It’s no different here because all these SUVs have something to offer. In the end, though, it’s hard to go against the Ford Expedition, especially if you consider its max towing capacity, cargo room, and max payload capacity. You’re not going to find a lot of models that sit at the top or is at least within shouting distance of the top in all these categories. But the Expedition not only has that distinction, but it also isn’t as expensive as some of the other models in this list. It has its flaws, sure, but like anything else related to the auto industry, you have to take the good with the bad. It just so happens that the Expedition has far more good in it than bad.

Max Towing Capacity (lbs)Max Cargo Room (cu-ft)Max Payload Capacity(lbs)
Ford Expedition 9,200 108.3 1,731
Lincoln Navigator 9,000 103 1,670
Nissan Armada 9,000 97 1,742
Chevy Tahoe 8,600 94.7 1,745
Infiniti QX80 8,500 95.1 1,667
Cadillac Escalade 8,300 94.2 1,548
Chevy Suburban 8,300 121.6 1,714
Towing Capacity: 7 SUVs From 2016 that Can Tow the Most
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Towing Capacity: 7 SUVs From 2016 that Can Tow the Most
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Towing Capacity: 7 SUVs From 2016 that Can Tow the Most
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Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert -
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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