How Trailer Hitches Work

The principle behind trailer hitches is simple. The hitch connects to a receiver mounted under the bumper. The hitch then links to the trailer at the other end. Between the power and capacity in your vehicle and the sturdy connection offered by the hitch, it allows you to tow the connected trailer. Some vehicles have a hidden hitch, so it’s wise to inspect the bumper and consult the owner’s manual for additional details.

Five Trailer Hitch Classes

Most passenger vehicles come with either a 1.25-inch or two-inch receiver. Choosing the right hitch for your car, crossover, SUV, or truck depends on the receiver size and the maximum towing capacity. Five classes of hitches are commonly in use today: 

  • Class 1: Cars and crossovers with 1.25-inch receivers rated up to 2,000 pounds
  • Class 2: Cars, crossovers, and minivans with 1.25-inch receivers rated up to 3,500 pounds
  • Class 3: Crossovers, vans, SUVs, and trucks with two-inch receivers rated up to 8.000 pounds
  • Class 4: SUVs and trucks with two-inch receivers rated up to 10,000 pounds
  • Class 5 Xtra Duty: SUVs and Trucks with two-inch receivers rated up to 17,000 pounds

You’ve probably noticed that Classes 1 and 2 hitches fit 1.25-inch receivers, while Classes 3, 4, and 5 hitches are compatible with two-inch receivers. This gives you the capacity to upgrade to the next size. For example, the Toyota RAV4 uses either a Class 1 or 2 depending on its towing capacity. Some submodels can tow 1,500 pounds, while others can go up to 3,500. 

How To Choose The Right Hitch

Your hitch class determines what you’re able to tow. If you select a Class 1 Toyota Corolla trailer hitch, for instance, you can connect a lightweight utility trailer for a personal watercraft or motorcycle.

You can upgrade your hitch type depending on what you need to tow. The Nissan Rogue can handle up to 1,500 pounds, which would necessitate a Class 1 hitch. However, you may need to move up to a Class 2 Nissan Datsun Rogue trailer hitch if you need to tow a small boat — for instance, a sailboat or a small motorized one- or two-person fishing boat. CURT and DRAW-TITE offer several types of Class 1 and Class 2 hitches for cars and small crossovers like the Corolla and the Rogue.

Hitches For Mid-Sized SUVs

Mid-sized SUVs remain popular consumer vehicle choices. That’s no surprise, given their versatility, cargo room, and towing capabilities above and beyond sedans and crossovers. For instance, the BMW X5 has a towing capacity of up to 6,000 pounds. A Class 3 2004 BMW X5 trailer hitch is perfect, especially for towing medium-sized trailers and boats. CURT, DRAW-TITE, and Reese are some top-rated brands offering Class 3 hitches. 

Selecting the right kind of hitch for your vehicle is the easy part. But where you shop matters just as much as what you buy. Trustworthy auto parts and accessories retailers such as Auto Zone have extensive selections of trailer hitches plus local store pickup and direct shipping options.