Choosing a personal tow vehicle

If your towing your own trailer, you will want to find a good vehicle for the job.  In that case you should check out “Boat Trailers and Tow Vehicles a User’s Guide” by Steve Henkel for recommendations.   Below is an excerpt from his book discussing tow vehicles:

A good tow vehicle is one that can pull a loaded trailer
without strain either on the vehicle or its driver,
Most car and truck manufacturers specify the maximum towing capacity for
each of their vehicles. But how are these ratings figured? Is it just a matter of
engine displacement and maybe vehicle weight, or is it more complicated?
Itt’s more complicated-a lot more complicated- than that. A quick glance
at some of the vehicle towing capacity ratings in Appendix 2 will show that neither the curb weight of the vehicle nor its engine size is the main determinant of towing capacity. Nor is the primary factor in rating towing capacity the car’s
horsepower, or whether it has front-wheel rather than rear-wheel drive.
In fact, a vehicle’s capacity to tow a trailer depends on a combination of more
than a dozen different elements. The following is a list of these rating factors-
variables the car makers think about before assigning ratings for a vehicle’s maximum towing capacity.
Car Weight
The weight of the tow vehicle affects steering as well as load-carrying capacity.
The rule of thumb used to be: Don’t tow a loaded trailer heavier than your car.
Weight is still a factor in determining towing capacity, but not as pronounced as
it was a few years ago. For example, some cars listed in Appendix 2 have trailer
weight limits as small as 25% of curb weight (weight of the car with full fuel tank
but no occupants or luggage) or even less, while others are rated to tow significantly more than their own weight.


Rear Suspension Strength
Overload springs, load levelers, heavy-duty shock absorbers, and other such
additions help a tow car accept bigger loads, (usually offered as optional extras rather than as standard features)
Trailer Towing Package Options
Adding a factory installed trailer towing package specifically designed by the manufacturer to improve the vehicles towing capability can improve maximum
towing capacity no end. In fact, these package options often can be the biggest
single influence on rated tow-vehicle capacity. Take for example the little Volvo
240, weighing in at 2,985 pounds. With no trailer towing package, it’s rated to
tow 2,000 pounds. Add the optional tow package, consisting mainly of an automatic transmission fluid (ATF) cooler, and the tow-capacity rating rises to 3,300 pounds-more than the vehicle weight itself. What’s in a towing package? The specific items vary from make to make, but
an unusually complete trailer towing package might include the following components:
Heavy-duty radiator
Heavy-duty transmission or transaxle oil cooler
Heavy-duty turn signals
Special trailer towing suspension, front and rear
Dual exhaust system to boost horsepower
Factory-installed frame hitch
Heavy-duty signal flasher
Auxiliary power steering fluid cooler
Heavy-duty engine oil cooler
Higher-ratio axle gearing
Heavy-duty front brakes
Heavy-duty wide tires
Larger Ujoint
High-amp alternator
Heavy-duty battery
Factory-installed trailer wiring harness, including take-outs and relays
tor trailer lights, battery recharging (for house trailers), electric trailer
brakes, and both halves of a weatherproof connector plug with pigtails
to hook up to a trailer.

Factory-packaged systems can be extensive but at a typical cost of $300 to
$500, not expensive, considering what you get.
On the other hand, retrofitting an existing vehicle with the same equipment
can set you back several thousand dollars, especially if you pay a mechanic to do the job rather than do it yourself. And most retrofit jobs aren’t easy. Oil coolers transmission fluid coolers, supplemental engine coolant radiators, heavy-duty
suspension, higher-ratio axle gearing all are available as “kits” in the auto
aftermarket. If you install only one or two components to correct a specific problem such as overheating in hilly terrain the cost may be justifiable. But usually the best economic choice is to trade up to a vehicle already equipped to do the job.