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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a question for all of you out there that might know a thing or two. The Wrangler comes with a 3.6 and has a towing capacity of 3500#. The Grand Cherokee also comes with a 3.6 but has a tow capacity of 5500#. Why is there such a difference in this? I really wanted to be able to pull my camper 3500# dry weight but will not due to this. (Praying for a diesel version in 2016 when my wifes Trailblazer will need to be replaced)

Thank you in advance and I am truly hoping to learn something here about how cars are rated for towing capacity.
 

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From what I've read, it has to do with how the hitch is mounted on the frame. On our Jeeps, the hitch is mounted only to the cross section of the rear frame. Because of that, it's not as structurally strong and, I guess, with too much weight that part if the frame could bend or flex. The Grand Cherokee probably has its hitch mounted to multiple parts of the frame, both across and length-wise.
 

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I have no idea, but im guessing it has something to do with wheel base, if you are talking about a JK
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
JK or JKU. I probably would have purchased a JKU if the tow rating was higher.
 

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The engine and auto tranny in the 2011 and 2012 GC are exactly the same as in the 2012 and 2013 Wrangler (3.6 and WA580). So the engine/tranny combo can pull more than 3500 pounds. The 2012 Dodge Durango has the same engine and tranny, and is rated at 6200 pounds.

However, you have to consider many other factors such as hitch design, wheelbase, brakes, center of gravity, cooling, and maybe even the lack of a roof.

Chrysler lawyers and engineers have deemed the 2 door maxed out at 2000 pounds, and the 4 door at 3500 pounds when properly equipped. Regardless of engine or tranny, those are the maximums you've seen for all Wrangler's since the JK hit production.
 

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I have wondered about this too, the Grand Cherokee weighs 4,600#, the Durango weighs 4,900# and the Wrangler Unlimited weighs 4,100# so in theory the Wrangler should out tow both of them. The wheelbase which is another factor for towing is actually longer than the Grand Cherokee, the Unlimited's is 116" vs 114.8 for the GC. The only thing hurting the Wrangler is the 1,000# payload vs the GC's 1800#.
On paper the Wrangler should tow at least as well as the Grand Cherokee, but it was designed to do other things better. The GC was designed with towing in mind.
 

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A lighter vehicle makes it easier for the payload to push you around under braking. Not exactly an advantage in that sense.
 

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Then there is the removable top thing. That's a show stopper at most Uhaul places. Go in with soft top and see what they say.


Bob K.
 

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A little off topic, but my dad has a Wrangler YJ and my wife has a '13 GC 5.7L V8 Hemi. I was towing with the wife's GC a medium sized trailer loaded down and was following my dad going up a very large steep hill. He had slowed down to around 35mph before I had enough. I floored it. I probably ended up passing him around 60mph... hahaha....
 

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The engine and auto tranny in the 2011 and 2012 GC are exactly the same as in the 2012 and 2013 Wrangler (3.6 and WA580). So the engine/tranny combo can pull more than 3500 pounds. The 2012 Dodge Durango has the same engine and tranny, and is rated at 6200 pounds.

However, you have to consider many other factors such as hitch design, wheelbase, brakes, center of gravity, cooling, and maybe even the lack of a roof.
^ This. And, the Grand Cherokee weighs more and has a much stiffer chassis with it's reinforced unibody structure -- that makes for better suspension stability which is a HUGE factor. It's not how much a vehicle CAN tow, it's really more how the towing vehicle can handle STOPPING and CONTROLLING the weight it's towing. The Grand Cherokee is an amazingly good, solid towing vehicle and my Hemi-powered WK2 is in another world more stable than the JKU based on my personal back-to-back experience.
 

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JKU is a full-frame vehicle, I am sure the frame is more than capable of handling in excess of 3500 lbs and quite possibly more than the GC.

I suspect there are many different reason why the JKU has limited towing capability, but I also suspect there are a few "root causes." For example, perhaps the JKU cooling capacity isn't up to snuff. Well, that may be easy enough to fix, but perhaps it is not plausible to design a suspension with sufficient articulation that can also accommodate a higher tongue weight. So, why upgrade the cooling system? My guess is that the suspension is really the root cause of the low tow rating, and that things like the cooling system, hitch issues, etc. could otherwise be overcome but the towing capacity would still be limited by the suspension.
 

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it's all in the suspension...
This ^^^^ the problem isn't pulling more than 3,500 lbs. The fact that people use their Jeep to pull other Jeep when they get stuck shows that a JK can pull more than 3,500lbs. Being able to handle and stop safely while towing more than 3,500lbs is a different question.

Pulling isn't the same as towing.
 

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JKU is a full-frame vehicle, I am sure the frame is more than capable of handling in excess of 3500 lbs and quite possibly more than the GC.
Been there----it can pull as much but cannot control the weight at speed. The full frame JKU chassis is strong enough, but not stiff enough. I'll let the engineers amongst us go deeper on that topic. Also, don't think hat the unibody of a WK2 isn't strong because it is. Very much so.
 

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Been there----it can pull as much but cannot control the weight at speed. The full frame JKU chassis is strong enough, but not stiff enough. I'll let the engineers amongst us go deeper on that topic. Also, don't think hat the unibody of a WK2 isn't strong because it is. Very much so.
It is one thing to say the chassis is insufficient and another thing to say that the frame is insufficient.
 

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It cannot be the frame or the chassis. Australian and European spec'd Wrangler Unlimiteds can tow 2000 kgs (4400 lbs). As far as I know, there are no frame/chassis differences between the US and EURO/AUS JK's. Not to mention the 2.8 CRD (manual trans) version has a maxed braked tow capacity of 2300 kgs(5000lbs).

I think it is the brakes. The EURO/AUS versions have bigger brake rotors, I believe.
 

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Another thing to consider: The Wrangler is one of the few vehicles that has so many iterations and options. You can go from a Base Sport JK(U) all the way to a fully loaded Rubi/Sahara, with all the versions and special editions in between.

(My Over-Simplified Explanation) When Jeep did their Tow Capacity testing, they probably took a Base Sport version, a Sport S version, and a fully loaded Rubi for testing to encompass the full range of possibilities.

My Simplified Hypothetical Results:

1) Base Sport JKU-Probably performed the best. Lowest center of gravity, small 16" rims, and small tires. Let's say the testing indicated that this JKU could tow 2000 kgs safely.

2) Sport S JKU-Probably performed in the middle. A little higher center of gravity, larger 17" rims and slightly larger tires. Let's say the testing indicated that this JKU could tow 1900 kgs safely.

3) Rubicon JK performed worst. Highest center of gravity, larger 17" rims with Mud Terrain tires(not great for towing/stopping). Let's say the testing indicated that this JKU could tow 1600 kgs safely.

It would be a nightmare to try and differentiate the tow limits on each of the 3 vehicles and put that on a spec sheet for customers to understand. Jeep decided to choose the least common denominator that is well within their safety margin and called it good.

My explanation makes sense to me....:)
 

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^But you forgot the axle ratio's as well....

Basically, I think Jeep is just being conservative and telling us 2000/3500 pounds to be safe.
 

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it's all in the suspension...
I also think this is the limiting factor of the JKU. Wheelbase + Suspension probably being the limiting factors of the JK

IMHO I have a hard time buying that its the frame, hitch mount, engine, transmission, brakes, or cooling.

I have no idea about the removable top but I could see a corporate risk assessment keeping the tow rating low.

I will say that I tow with my JKU fairly often at the 3500 lb limit and its been a very good tow vehicle for that load. No complaints from me. Thankfully I don't have anything in the 5000 lb range to tow so I'm not tempted to just ignore the rating.
 

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I'm only speaking from experience. I've towed 4400lbs and 6200lbs with both a friend's 2012 stock JKUS and my 2011 WK2 the same days on different occasions during trips last year to compare vehicles and end OUR personal debate on this very topic (before I bought my JK). The WK2 is far better at towing due to a more stable chassis. It felt planted whereas the JKU felt like a whale on roller skates at speed with either load.

We did two comparison trips (months apart) with two different boats, taking turns towing with my WK2 Grand Cherokee and then with his JKU on each trip (yes, had trailer brakes both cases). The WK2 was confidence-inspiring controlling the loads while the JKU was laughably subpar with the 6200lb boat; we ended that scary drive after a few minutes. At ~35mph with 4400lb load the JKU was OK but then got white-knuckled scary at higher speeds (did not attempt 30mph+ with the 6200lbs load on the JKU). We stuck with my WK2 as the tow vehicle for the whole trip with the 6200lb boat and the vast majority of the 4400lb boat trip.

No argument --- the JKU can certainly pull a much higher-than-rated mass, but it darn sure does not control it safely/comfortably as well as a WK2. The stock JKU frame, the integral part of the chassis, is strong but it's not stiff enough and because of that the chassis is not stable enough for confident control --- way too much wiggle-waggle. I don't recommend towing beyond mfr rated limits for your own legal protection.
 
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