Best Trailer Hitches: Turn Your Vehicle into a Workhorse
Pull a trailer with these aftermarket hitch options
The Review Team
How We Decided
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.Read more.
PUBLISHED ON June 27, 2019
It's hard to overestimate the usefulness of pulling a trailer. From RV campers to UHauls, a trailer hitch opens up a lot of doors for any vehicle with the towing capacity needed to handle the extra weight. If your vehicle 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 available today.
- Best OverallDraw-Tite Class III HitchSummarySummaryInnogear makes the best car diffuser available with this colorfully designed USB plug-in aromatherapy device.ProsProsThis ultrasonic car diffuser has seven different LED lighting options and can last up to six hours. It easily fits in your vehicle's cup holder.ConsConsThe Innogear diffuser does not come with essential oils, is larger than other options, and can spill if you're not careful.
- Best ValueCurt Class 3 HitchSummarySummaryThis set of stylish travel diffusers uses essential oils to refresh your car's interior.ProsProsRoyAroma vent clips are small, do not need to be plugged in, and last up to a week. They are much less expensive than other options.ConsConsThis diffuser set does not come with essential oils and requires the heat or AC to run for the best results.
- Honorable MentionReese Towpower Class III HitchSummarySummaryVyaime makes a uniquely designed essential oil diffuser and humidifier for your car's powerpoint plug.ProsProsThis car diffuser aromatherapy device is small, refillable, and easy to use. It allows you to charge your devices with two USB ports while it is plugged in.ConsConsThis travel fragrance diffuser only lasts two hours and is more expensive than other longer-lasting options.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product 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 small 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-three 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-one hitches, for example, are rated for up to 2,000 pounds. Class five, 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 2019
Best Overall: Draw-Tite Class III Hitch
Designed for larger vehicles like trucks, vans, and SUVs, this class-three 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.
Best Value: Curt Class 3 Hitch
Curt does a good job of creating custom-fit hitch solutions for a wide variety of modern vehicles. The company's class-three 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 400/4,000 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 paint coat also fights off rust and dirt fairly well, although the coating is prone to minor scratches if something scrapes or knocks up against the surface. This has been known to happen during shipping.
The only knock against the hitch is the varied results of the installation process. Like other aftermarket hitches, the ease of the process really depends on the particular vehicle. It is fairly straightforward to add this hitch onto some vehicles that have flat undercarriages. If the bumper is low, the tailpipe is too close, or a tiedown-hook is in the way, modification to the undercarriage or the hitch itself may be required.
Honorable Mention: Reese Towpower Class III Hitch
The Reese Towpower Class-Three 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-three 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 is 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.
- 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.
What is your favorite trailer hitch and setup? Give us your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.