Live the RV Lifestyle With Your 4-Cylinder SUV

Live the RV Lifestyle With Your 4-Cylinder SUV – Great Travel Trailer Examples

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In today’s fuel-conscious world, people don’t realize how much access to the RV lifestyle they really have. Many believe their small SUV prevents them from towing a travel trailer that fits their lifestyle. We’re going to show you travel trailers for 4-cylinder SUVs that will confound that idea.

Why 4-Cylinder SUVs Are Popular

Children of the 1980s remember RV trips with their parent’s Ford Bronco with the 5.8L V8 that had 210 horsepower and a 4-speed automatic transmission. Starting in 2021, those children will take their kids in the new Bronco with a 2.3L 4-cylinder that gets the same horsepower and an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Today’s American families prefer the advantages of smaller SUVs for their daily lives. It’s so significant, the RV industry has created a whole category of small travel trailers, expandables, and teardrop campers specifically designed for this class of vehicle.


Family on the road trip using an affordable SUV-for-towing

Small four-cylinders are the most affordable SUVs. The average selling price for non-luxury SUVs ranges between $25,000 to $33,000. The luxury versions will see prices around $35,000 to $40,000.

Mid-size and full-size SUVs will see prices in the $50,000 to $70,000 before looking at the luxury brands that Lincoln or Cadillac offer. This level of SUV has much more pulling power for travel trailers, but even with extended monthly payment plans, it can be cost-prohibitive to many.


According to economists, we now live in a time where fuel prices are the least expensive to the average American. Many websites level all the prices throughout the years to show what they would be in today’s market.

Yet not many can afford a gas tank that takes over $100 a week to fill. Today’s 4-cylinders are the best fuel-efficient SUVs. If you plan it correctly, a $50 fill-up can last you up to two weeks.

Off-Road Capable

The best off-road SUVs are “4 bangers.” The horsepower to torque ratio they deliver gives you the ability to tackle any terrain out there. In some situations, their lighter weight is an asset if they get stuck and they need to be winched out.

Best Small SUVs For Towing

Many excellent small SUVs have the capability of towing RVs. Common features include engines that are at least 2.0 liter, tow at least 3,500 pounds, and come with factory-installed tow packages. 4×4 and/or off-road features are also good indicators. Here is a shortlist of popular 4-cylinder models:

Company Model Engine Tow Capacity
Land Rover Discovery 2.0L 4,409 lbs
Jeep Wrangler 2.0L Turbo 3,500 lbs
Toyota RAV-4 Off-Road 2.5L AWD 3,500 lbs
Ford Bronco 2.3L Turbo 3,500 lbs
Chevy Equinox 2.0L 3,500 lbs
Subaru Outback 2.5L 3,500 lbs
Volvo XC40 2.0L Turbo 3,500 lbs
Land Rover Discovery 2.0L 4,409 lbs
Jeep Wrangler 2.0L Turbo 3,500 lbs
Toyota RAV-4 Off-Road 2.5L AWD 3,500 lbs
Ford Bronco 2.3L Turbo 3,500 lbs
Chevy Equinox 2.0L 3,500 lbs
Subaru Outback 2.5L 3,500 lbs
Volvo XC40 2.0L Turbo 3,500 lbs

For a complete list, U.S. News and World Report’s article shows you the best 4-cylinder SUVs for 2020. They show you on-road, off-road, and luxury models.

Best Flat Tow Vehicles for 2020

For those that are looking to flat tow one of these SUVs, there are some characteristics you want to look for. 4×4 SUVs are the ideal candidate since they have special transmission selectors that can set all four wheels to neutral.

Doing this allows all the wheels to roll free without activating any of the other internal parts. Rear-wheel drives set to neutral on the regular transmission work as well, but you have to turn them on every 200 miles. During transport, the driveshaft and transmission gears still spin. Turning the vehicle on allows the fluids to cycle to lubricate and cool things down.

Best Travel Trailers For Small SUVs

Here are some great examples of lightweight travel trailers under 3,500 lbs. Your 4-cylinder SUV won’t have a problem towing them as long as you keep the gross vehicle weight (total weight) of your RV under the maximum weight rating (GVWR). Allow yourself some extra weight for passenger and driving horsepower. Maxing out puts a lot of strain on your vehicle.

Rockwood Geo-Pro 12RK

  • Dry Weight: 1,252 pounds
  • GVWR: 1,962 pounds
  • Length: 11.4 feet
  • Sleep: 2 people

The Geo Pro by Rockwood is a teardrop camper that can go where you go. With its 26 gallon freshwater and 6-gallon grey water tank, you can find the perfect off-road campsite. For electric power, you can either plug in your solar panels or use the shore power cord to connect your generator.

The optional off-road package lifts the suspension and adds 15 inch Mud Rover Radial tires to keep the trailer from losing its grip. The roof rack will secure your kayak, bikes, or other adventure toys. At the end of the day, you can relax inside and watch your recorded footage on the TV using the wifi ranger as a connection.

The rear kitchen won’t limit you to sandwiches and cereal. You’ll have a gas griddle, microwave, refrigerator, and plenty of counter space to work with. Preparing your favorite meal won’t be a problem with all of these appliances.

Forest River R-Pod RP-171

  • Dry Weight: 2,504 pounds
  • GVWR: 3,252 pounds
  • Length: 18.4 feet
  • Sleep: 4 people

If you’re looking for a more traditional travel trailer configuration, the Forest River R-Pod should be at the top of your list. It’s designed specifically for small SUVs. The RP-171 is narrow enough where you won’t need special side mirrors to see around it.

One of the first features that many veteran RVers find amazing is the central vacuum system built into the coach. These systems are normally reserved for full-size travel trailers and fifth wheels that are double the size.

Other features include a queen-size bed, fold-down four-seater dinette for extra sleeping space, and a wet bathroom. This particular model doesn’t have a slideout, yet Forest River does a great job keeping the trailer spacious inside.

Scamp 13

  • Dry Weight: 1,200 pounds
  • GVWR: 2,200 pounds
  • Length: 13 feet
  • Sleep: 2-4 people

The Scamp 13 is a fiberglass travel trailer that you won’t find at any RV dealer or tradeshow. They are built per customer order. Unlike the aluminum-framed RVs you see, the fiberglass serves as the frame and shell, making them ultra-lightweight.

When you order your Scamp, you can choose whether you want it to include a wet bath or not. The version that doesn’t have the bathroom uses the space as a daytime sofa that converts to a bunk bed for extra sleeping space.

There are many add-on features you can choose from to make your Scamp travel trailer uniquely yours. Things like off-road suspensions, exterior lighting, air conditioners, and interior design features are just a few. Scamp owners enjoy their RVs so much, they usually keep them longer than most other RV owners.

Opus Camper Lite

  • Dry Weight: 2,380 pounds
  • GVWR: 3,527 pounds
  • Length: 17.2 feet
  • Sleep: 4 people

The popularity of Opus pop up Campers is well deserved. This Australian company created an off-road pop-up camper that sets up in 90 seconds due to their air chamber supports. The features and amenities rival most full-size travel trailers and fifth wheels.

For the summer of 2020, Opus is coming out with a new Lite version. It has a two sleeper bed and U-shaped dinette in the interior that folds out for two guests. It still has all of the great quality and features of the OP 4 model but is designed specifically for small SUVs.

The exterior pull out kitchen has a four-burner propane stove, sink, and plenty of storage for your cookware. The chest-style fridge has a freezer side to keep your meat and other frozen things at the right temperature. The onboard water heater gives the external shower and sink all the hot water you need.

Airstream Basecamp 16 & 16X

  • Dry Weight: 2,650 and 2,700 pounds
  • GVWR: 3,500 pounds
  • Length: 16.3 feet
  • Sleep: 2 people

For decades if you had your heart set on an Airstream, you needed a big tow vehicle to haul one of these icons due to their weight. When Airstream launched their Basecamp, it changed everything. You’ll now see their number one seller towed by Ford Escapes or Subaru Outbacks.

The Basecamp 16 comes in two different trim levels. The “X” level has an off-road package for those seeking their own road. This raises the RV about three inches. Otherwise, they are completely the same as far as quality, high-quality features, and that legendary “Silver Bullet” look Airstream is known for.

The rear half of the RV is a multi-use dinette with seating for five. It converts to a near king size bed. To save space, Airstream combines the grey and black tank into a 24-gallon holding tank, giving you plenty of dry camping tank storage. A popular feature is the optional roof solar panel system many RV dealers request to have pre-installed when they order their inventory.

KZ Sportsmen Classic SE 180BHSE

  • Dry Weight: 2,580 pounds
  • GVWR: 3,500 pounds
  • Length: 20.9 feet
  • Sleep: 5 people

If you’re looking for a bunkhouse travel trailer under 3,500 lbs, the Sportsmen Classic SE 180BHSE is a good choice. As long as you keep your total weight under the 3,500-pound gross vehicle weight maximum, your 4-cylinder SUV won’t have much of a problem towing this family-friendly RV.

Your children will enjoy having their own space with the rear twin-size bunk beds, while you and your partner sleep comfortably on the front queen-size bed. A fifth person will rest easy on the fold-down dinette. For its size, there’s plenty of counter space in the kitchen area for meal prep.

The kitchen sink doubles as the bathroom sink. This space-saving technique is a trade-off for the bunk beds, spacious center aisle, and all of the storage available throughout the RV.