The government classifies SUV's and mini-vans as trucks because they have a flat cargo area. While I refuse to review mini-vans, SUV's can tow trailers, properly equipped. SUV's aren't my first choice as a tow vehicle, but I do understand the economics. Not everyone can afford a truck and a car. a SUV makes sense for handling all the tasks from hauling the kids to hauling the horses.
A popular segment that is declining the last 3 years with higher fuel prices. In many cases folks will end up with just one vehicle and the mid-size to large SUV's can be capable of handling a conventional trailer. Get the biggest and longest is the short answer. The full-size SUV's have similar frames to trucks and a lot of them are boxed frames instead of C-frame, so they are strong. But you've got to get as much wheelbase as you can find. So to pull a trailer similar to a ½ ton truck, (GM, 1500, Dodge 1500, Ford F150, Toyota Tundra,) you need a SUV with a similar weight to a ½ ton truck.
Always look at the vehicles trailer towing limits from the manufacture. Most factory brochures and manufacture web sites will give you the brake down of weight limits and hitch weight limits according to engine size, transmission, and rear axle ratio.
For the highest trailer capacity, usually a weight-distributing hitch is required with a receiver hitch, at least class 3 or higher. This is different from a weight carrying hitch, which is just a drawbar inserted into the receiver hitch. The weight-distributing hitch attaches to the trailer tongue with adjustments usually with chain links to transfer weight forward to the SUV, putting weight on all the axles.
On shorter wheel based tow vehicles, having some steering weight on the SUV's front axle, transferred from the trailer with a weight distributing hitch will give you better control and less work on your part. Once again look for factory towing packages with external auto transmission coolers, class 3 or higher receiver hitch, wiring harness and anti-sway stabilizer bars on the axles of the SUV. The newer SUV's have 4-wheel disc brakes, which can be an advantage slowing down a trailer. And of course you need brakes on the trailer and a brake control in your SUV.
Written by Kent Sundling, aka Mr. Truck