LAST UPDATED: June 27, 2019
Best Trailer Hitches: Turn Your Vehicle into a Workhorse
Pull a trailer with these aftermarket hitch options
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON June 27, 2019
It's tough to overestimate the usefulness of pulling a trailer. From RV campers to UHauls, a trailer hitch opens up a ton of doors for any vehicle with the towing capacity needed to handle the extra weight. If your truck lacks a factory-installed hitch, it's time to check out the various aftermarket options available. Here's our guide to the top trailer hitches on the market right now.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Why Buy a Trailer Hitch
- Pull increased loads. All vehicles have certain towing ratings that allow them to pull extra loads like a trailer. While this always varies from vehicle to vehicle, almost any car can benefit from a trailer hitch since it expands the versatility of your driving setup.
- Haul more things. Pickup truck space only goes so far when it comes to carrying different things around. Trailers and other towable rigs offer more surface area and tie-down points so you can haul extra cargo, weekend toys, and other things without having to give up precious space in the vehicle itself.
Types of Trailer Hitches
These hitches automatically come with a vehicle and are installed at the factory. They are custom-made for the vehicle's model and may come as an upgrade or as a standard feature. Most large vehicles like trucks and SUVs come with standard hitches, while smaller vehicles usually have them available on upper trim levels.
If your vehicle doesn't have a hitch that is straight from the factory, you will need to look at aftermarket options. These come from third-party companies that design hitches to be compatible with a variety of different makes and models. Traditionally, these hitches tend to be more simple to install (bolt-on designs) but may lack the towing capacity of factory-installed options.
Top Brands of Trailer Hitches
As a company that has become associated with quality towing products, it's easy to see why CURT is the first company many people check out when searching for a towing hitch. The company offers a good range of traditional hitches, weight distribution hitches, fifth-wheel hitches, gooseneck hitches, and more. For a regular car or truck, the Class 3 Hitch is a great option to consider.
Trailer Hitch Pricing
- $100 and under: Budget hitches tend to be limited in weight capacity. As a result, they are often lightweight in design and better suited for smaller vehicles.
- $100 and above: This is the range to check out if you want anything that is a Class 3 hitch or above. Suited for trucks, SUVs, and other large vehicles, there are also some commercial options in the mix as well.
The main part of a hitch is the receiver that can accept a number of rear-mounted accessories like hitch balls, bike racks, cargo pads, and more. The most common are 1.5- and 2-inch receivers and can be found on a number of small and large vehicles. Typically, smaller vehicles will be limited to 1.5-inch receivers, while 2-inch receivers tend to be more standard and commonplace, especially with trucks and SUVs. Standard 2-inch receivers are also more versatile since they can mount accessories with 2-inch tubing or 1.5-inch tubing with an adapter. Do some research ahead of time to see which receivers you can mount safely on your vehicle.
A hitch's class is a simple classification of its maximum weight capacity. Ranging from one to five, these ratings give you a quick idea of what the hitch can handle in terms of pulling and carrying loads before it will start to fail. Class 1 hitches, for example, are rated for up to 2,000 pounds. Class 5, on the other hand, are rated for 12,000 pounds or 17,000 pounds with a weight distributing hitch.
All hitches have limits in terms of what they can pull and carry. While vehicle capacities differ, the weight capacity of different hitch options varies less. Two terms will help you gauge how much a hitch can take: the gross trailer weight (GTW) and the tongue weight (TW). The GTW is the maximum weight of the trailer and towing vehicle, including all of the cargo included. In combination with the vehicle's weight limit (gross combination weight rating), this will give you a good idea of how much you can actually pull. The TW, on the other hand, is the weight of the trailer bearing down on the hitch, which is usually much less than the GTW.
- Vehicle Model: Aftermarket hitches can be tricky to install since all vehicles have different frames and undercarriages. Bolt-on hitches, in particular, need to be designed to work with a particular model in order to have a quick and easy installation process. So, it is helpful to search for a hitch with your vehicle's make and model in mind. You will save yourself some time, money, and headache by finding the right hitch for your vehicle.
- Installation: The way a hitch attaches to your vehicle will influence how safe and stable it is when towing a trailer. Many factory-installed hitches, for example, come welded or can be bolted onto the vehicle (as an upgrade). While welding is typically stronger, bolts offer a quicker installation process. That is why many aftermarket hitches use bolt-on designs; some that don't even require pre-drilling into a vehicle.
Best Trailer Hitches Reviews & Recommendations 2020
Designed for larger vehicles like trucks, vans, and SUVs, this Class 3 hitch from Draw-Tite offers a simple, no-weld way to add some pulling power to your vehicle if it lacks the usual factory treatment. Rated for 675/4,500 pounds (TW/GTW), the hitch offers a good amount of weight and towing capacity without requiring a complicated installation process. As a result, this is a fairly user-friendly option to choose among aftermarket hitches.
Fitting the hitch to a vehicle is a matter of compatibility. With the correct model, there are just a few bolt holes that need to be filled and tightened with a fastener. For the most part, installation can take around 20 or 30 minutes when doing the task by yourself, but we recommend having some extra help to make the task go faster.
Build quality is good overall, but some parts may need some cleaning ahead of time. The fasteners, for example, can have some encrusted dirt around the threads that prevent them from easily screwing into the bolt holes completely. The design of the hitch also hangs lower than most factory models, which may create the need for an adapter to keep a trailer level.
Curt does a good job of creating custom-fit, vehicle-specific hitch solutions for a wide variety of modern vehicles. The company's Class 3 hitches are no different in offering several bolt pattern designs that line up with pre-existing holes in a vehicle's underside frame. With a 500/5,000 pounds (TW/GTW) of weight capacity, this hitch can also handle a number of trailers and hitch-mounted accessories.
Overall, the hitch is quite capable in its design. With steel construction, the hitch does a good job of resisting too much flex and give that can damage the frame over time. The hitch is comprised of a co-cured durable finish of black powder coat and liquid Bonderite to provide the ultimate resistance to UV damage, chipping, and rust.
Hitch Installation should be relatively easy and straightforward since each Curt Class 3 trailer hitch is made with a vehicle-specific design. It comes equipped with all the necessary hardware to mount the hitch directly to your vehicle’s frame. However, it should be noted that occasionally, the bumper alignment pin may prevent proper installation, so you may need to use a saw to remove that pin from the side bracket to get the hitch to fit properly and securely.
The Reese Towpower Class 3 hitch sits on the upper end of heavy-duty hitches, maxing out the weight capacity without venturing into the territory of commercial hitches. With 500/5,0000 pounds (TW/GTW) of capacity, the hitch offers a higher weight capacity than many options in the Class 3 category. As an added bonus, the hitch also sports a sleeker design that sheds extra bulk, making it easier to install on some vehicles.
While the mounting design differs slightly between tow vehicles, the overall design and construction of the hitch itself are almost identical between the different vehicle models. The receiver hitch is the bulkiest part of the hitch, offering plenty of surface area for the hitch ball to be secured for heavy hauls. The black powder paint coat is also good and durable to protect the underlying steel.
The bolt-on design of the hitch is easy enough to install, but the quality tends to vary with the supplied fasteners. There have been some reports of the bolts arriving in a corroded state or being the wrong size. The shipping box also tends to suffer from a lack of durability, so some touch-up paint may also be required if the hitch comes damaged after shipping.
This Class 3 trailer hitch from APS Assembly is designed for 2003-2018 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup trucks as well as 2003-2013 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks. It features a 2-inch receiver tube and is made of heavy-duty carbon steel that’s powder-coated in glossy black. The hitch features easy bolt-on installation and does not require any drilling or special tools.
The hitch has a gross trailer weight of 6,000 pounds, a tongue weight of 600 pounds, and a weight distribution capacity of 10,000 pounds. It meets SAE J684 safety standards and is tested for reliability. It features a multi-layer finish that’s corrosion-resistant and protects against dirt, chips, and the elements. Mounting hardware is included, and the instructions are easy to use. It's also a good value.
However, the hitch doesn't come with an Allen wrench, which is a little inconvenient. Some users need about an hour to install this hitch, while others set it up in less than 30 minutes. Another downside is that it's only compatible with specific Dodge Ram vehicles.
This Draw-Tite Class 3 receiver hitch features a 2-inch square receiver tube and is compatible with a variety of trucks, vans, and SUVs. The device is custom-built using Computer Aided Design (CAD) to match your vehicle's model for optimum fit and towing performance. It’s rated up to 8,000 pounds and has a gross trailer weight of up to 12,000 pounds.
The hitch is designed to blend in seamlessly with your vehicle's appearance. It features a solid welded construction and an A-Coat base/black powder-coat finish. The simple bolt-on installation does not require any welding, and it comes with the required hardware and instructions. It also comes with a limited lifetime warranty in case you experience any issues. Overall, it's a well-built device.
However, there have been some complaints that it may arrive bent, and it may require some reshaping or alteration to get it to fit properly. Some units are also shipped without the necessary hardware.
This Reese Towpower Class 3 hitch has an all-welded construction and is strong and safe to use. It also meets and exceeds V-5, CSA, and SAE J684 standards and features an anti-corrosive MetalShield protective coating that provides better protection than hitches that have only a powder coating. The hitch has a 500-pound tongue weight and gross towing weight of 5,000 pounds.
These hitches undergo testing for fatigue and stress and are thoroughly checked for quality and workmanship to make sure they can withstand a variety of conditions. Reese designs its products to provide trouble-free towing for life. They fit with a variety of accessories, including the company's InterLock hitch ball and ball mount. Each hitch is custom-made for specific makes and models, so they fit perfectly and are easy to install. Overall, the instructions are clear, the bolts are solid, and the hitch is heavy-duty.
However, it may get scratched during shipping, and on some vehicles it may be challenging to line it up with the appropriate holes. You may also have to round off the corners for a proper fit.
Here’s another class 3 hitch from Reese Towpower. This one features a 2-inch square receiver opening, and it has up to 350 pounds of tongue weight and a gross towing weight of 3,500 pounds. Similar to the previous Reese hitch on this list, it features all-welded construction for added strength and security. It's also made using Computer Aided Design (CAD), and each hitch undergoes fatigue and stress testing.
The hitch meets and exceeds V-5, CSA, and SAE J684 standards and features a three-step finish that includes a rust-inhibiting finish, an E-coat electrostatic coating, and an outer powder-coat finish. These layers make this product more durable and superior compared to those that feature only a powder-coat finish. No cutting or drilling is required during installation. It's a heavy, well-made hitch that’s designed to last for many years.
One downside is that the instructions may not be entirely accurate or may be a little confusing. As a result, you may need to watch online tutorials to figure things out. The hitch may also get chipped during shipping due to poor packaging.
The CURT 13144 Class 3 Trailer Hitch is designed for specific Subaru Forester models. It’s rated for a 3,500-pound gross trailer weight and 525-pound tongue weight. It has a standard 2-by-2-inch hitch receiver, so you can use it in a variety of ways. It works with ball mounts, cargo carriers, bike racks, and more. You can tow campers, utility trailers, snowmobiles, and other cargo.
CURT tests its hitches at its Detroit, Michigan, engineering facility to make sure they meet SAE J684 standards for safety. The hitch has a dual-coat finish (liquid Bonderite and a black powder coat) for rust resistance, chip resistance, UV resistance, and durability. Users report that it's fairly easy to install and is very sturdy. In fact, some say it's overkill for the Forester's towing capacity.
Even though the hitch may be rated for Class 3, the Subaru Forester is not designed to carry such a heavy load. The hitch may also fit very tightly against the vehicle's body and can be tough to get into position.
The CURT 13416 Class 3 trailer hitch is designed for Toyota RAV4 vehicles. It’s rated for a 4,000-pound gross trailer weight, 600-pound tongue weight, 4,000-pound weight-distribution capacity, and 600-pound weight-distribution tongue weight. It has a 2-by-2-inch hitch receiver, so it accommodates a ball mount, bike rack, and more.
For safety, all CURT hitches are tested to meet SAE J684 requirements at the company's Michigan facility. They also feature a dual-coat finish that’s durable and rust-resistant. Together, the liquid Bonderite coat and black powder coat are cured for resistance to chips, rust, and UV rays. Two people can easily install this hitch in 30 to 45 minutes, especially if you consult online tutorials. Users like the quality and fit of this hitch, which doesn't need any modifications to work.
Unfortunately, some units may be shipped without the required bolts and washers. Users have also reported that no instructions are included. Another problem is that the hitch plates may bend during shipping because the item is not always packaged properly.
If you own a Ford F-150, this CURT 13118 Class 3 trailer hitch is a good option. It’s rated for a 6,000-pound gross trailer weight, 900-pound tongue weight, 10,000-pound weight-distribution capacity, and 1,000-pound weight-distribution tongue weight. You can use this hitch to tow an ATV, boat trailer, camper, utility trailer, snowmobile, etc. The hitch has a 2-inch receiver tube and meets the SAE J684 standard for safety.
Like other CURT hitches, it has a co-cured finish featuring a liquid Bonderite coat and a black powder coat to prevent damage from rust, chips, and UV rays. The 13118 hitch in particular is designed for heavy-duty loads, so it's made with high-strength steel and features a strong welded construction. Users report that this hitch is solid and relatively easy to install. Also, the instructions are clear and easy to understand.
Unfortunately, some users have noted that the hitch rusts after a couple years of use. Others have had to drill out the holes a little on the hitch to get the bolts to fit correctly.
- Pay extra attention to the weight capacity limits of your vehicle and any hitch you check out. Exceeding these limits make towing unsafe for you and the people around you.
- You will need a good ball mount or weight distribution hitch to complete your towing setup if you are starting from scratch.
- If you don't have much DIY or automotive experience, have a professional install your aftermarket hitch. Most local auto shops can handle bolt-on hitches.
- Buy a 1.5-inch hitch adapter if you have a 2-inch hitch. This way, you can use hitch-mounted accessories that use the smaller receiver size.
Q. What do I need to find the right hitch for my vehicle?
A. Your vehicle's towing capacity is the most important information to use. This will tell you how much weight it can pull (usually combined with the weight of the vehicle itself and any cargo/people) safely. Also, pay attention to the weight limits of any hitches you consider. When in doubt, search for hitches that are compatible with your vehicle.
Q. Is my car too small to pull a trailer?
A. Generally, most average-sized cars can handle a small trailer. If you drive a sports car or mini-coup, however, you may be limited in the loads you can pull safely. Refer to your car's towing capacity to be sure.
Q. What's the difference between a trailer hitch and a weight distribution hitch?
A. Both are designed to pull a trailer, but basic trailer hitches use just a basic ball to connect to the trailer. This setup can make the towing less stable at high speeds or on rough roads. Weight distribution hitches add some extra bracing to stabilize the load, so they can handle greater loads more safely.
For the top general hitch, you can add to your vehicle, check out the Draw-Tite Class III Hitch. It offers some great towing capabilities and quick installation.
Save some money on a hitch with the Curt Class 3 Hitch instead.