By Nanci Dixon
Last week I reviewed a few cars for flat towing and it was wonderful to read such helpful comments from so many of you. If you read the article, you know I’m in the market for a new car, so your comments helped me find a few more options to look at.
We had a 1993 Jeep Wrangler that we flat towed for several years. As fun as it was to scoot around town, long-distance highway driving was uncomfortable. Living in Minnesota, it was hard to get warm in the winter too. When I-70 to Colorado shook the wiring loose and required a 187-mile tow from White Sands National Park, we had it repaired and then sold it. Yes, I know there have been many advances since 1993, and since so many people like their Jeeps, I decided to take a second look at some new, popular models for flat towing.
POPULAR FOR FLAT TOWING
Some of the things that make Jeep vehicles so popular for towing behind an RV is that so many of the automatic and manual transmission models can be flat towed and there are no speed or distance restrictions when towing. Set up is easy, and there are a variety of towing and base mounting plates on the market. Jeep models range from a curb weight of 3,970 to a hefty 6,500 pounds. Always check your RV manual for rated towing capacity, taking into account the loaded GVW of the rig.
All Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator models are flat towable. Select models of the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee can be flat towed if they have the Active Drive II® or Quadra Track II® system.
RENEGADE AND COMPASS – NO, NO, NO
I loved the look of the Jeep Renegade and Compass but, alas, they are not flat towable. I even called Jeep headquarters to double-check on the Renegade and, just to be sure, I called the dealer yesterday too.
The ever-popular 4×4 Jeep Wrangler is available in 12, yes, 12, different trims with a wide variety of packages available. The trims range from the Sport two- or four-door with a starting MSRP of $29,710, up to the top-of-the-line High Altitude that, with all the packages and accessories available (except the smoker’s package), added up to an MSRP of $57,575. The curb weight for the Wranglers ranges from 3,970 to 4,263. Most are offered in 2- and 4-door models. Although manual transmissions are falling from favor, Jeep still offers manual transmission models for their die-hard enthusiasts and off-roaders.
All the Wranglers have a 6-cylinder, 3.6 Liter engine, 285-hp @ 6,400 RPM. Gas mileage is 25 mpg highway and 17 mpg city. But, if towing, the gas mileage of the tow vehicle may not be as important as the mileage of the RV!
The Gladiator, the Jeep truck offering, looks a bit like the Wrangler on steroids. It combines the passenger room of a 4-door Wrangler with the utility of a truck bed. It is available in 5 trims, all with manual or automatic transmissions. All models of the Gladiator can be easily flat towed. The trims range from the Sport at a starting MSRP of $33,566, to the highest level trim of the Overland edition starting at $44,140. Adding all the available packages, upgraded audio, safety features, adaptive cruise control, collision warning, auxiliary switches, and, yes, park assist, the MSRP came to $59,775. The engine is V-6 285-hp. Fuel economy is 23 highway and 16 city.
The Cherokee has 8 trim levels, with the Trailhawk being the popular 4WD option with RVers. The Trailhawk is automatic and flat towable with the 9-speed 948TE 4WD Automatic Active Drive II transmission. It does have a lot of the bells and whistles with its optional packages: automatic high-beam headlamp control, 8.4-inch navigation display, hot-spot, Sirus XM®, Alpine speaker system, hands-free liftgate, panoramic sunroof, cruise control, security alarm, side distance warning and, again, yes, it can park itself!
It has a 3.2L V-6 engine that provides 271-hp @ 6,500 RPM, and weighs in at 4,250 pounds. Gas mileage comes in at 24 highway and 18 city. The starting MSRP is $35,595. By the time I finished building my dream Cherokee it was up to around $39,331 with employee matched pricing.
The Grand Cherokee is just that – Grand! It has upped the size of the vehicle and along with size, curb weight goes up to 5,004 pounds. Both the Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4 and the Trailhawk Grand Cherokee come with the Quadra-Trac II 4×4 system making it flat towable. Check with the dealer for other trims that have the Quadra-Trac II 4×4 system as a flat towing option.
The Grand Cherokee Trailhawk is a popular trim model and several of our readers mentioned that they really like it. Gas mileage is 24 highway and 18 city. It seats five and has an adequate amount of cargo area at 54.7 cubic feet. There are lots of package options and upgrades for the Trailhawk including a panoramic sunroof, rain-sensitive windshield wipers, leather trim seats, rear entertainment system, adaptive cruise control, brake assist, lane departure warning, a navigation system and park assist. Those bring the MSRP to $49,313 employee priced.
The Grand Cherokee Limited base MSRP is $39,122 and with packages that include heated second-row seats, leather trim, ventilated front seats, rain-sensitive windshield wipers, brake assist, adaptive cruise control, forward and lane departure warning, auto headlight control, 9 speakers, panoramic sunroof, entertainment system, off-road adventure and tow package and full-size tire, it brought it to $50,166 employee pricing.
I found the Jeep website rather confusing and organization inconsistent. After several hours I gave up on some of the information and just called the dealer. What was most helpful, though, was actually test driving the Jeeps to get a feel of fit and comfort.
Before you purchase any vehicle intended for flat towing, double-check with the dealer and the owner’s manual that it indeed is 4-wheel down, flat towable. Sometimes the dealer needs to go beyond the owner’s manual and check service bulletins too.
I tow a 4 wheel drive Chevy suburban
We have a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited, same as Trailhawk, with a Hemi engine,110,000 miles and going strong. We geocache off road and have jumped rocks and been in sand. Gets 15 mpg in town and 21-22 mpg hiway. We take good care of her and carry extended insurance, only used it to repair the ac once. Tow package and brakes easy to get, install and maintain. It’s a keeper. BTW a friend with a 2018 Trailhawk rolled while off road and pushed it back on its wheels and drove it back to the blacktop to get a tow.
All this talk about Jeeps and they have yet to build a model that can last past five years! Cannot believe that no-one talks about the Buick Envision. Front wheel, light, very easy to set up to tow, and will LAST.
Nanci – You and I talked on the phone a year ago or so about the KIA Soul turbo GT being towable or not. I finally was able to verify that it was and I purchased a 202l model. However, I had to wait several months before I could find a base plate to fit the new model. I love the car because it is loaded with options, is very powerful with the turbo charged engine, is fun to drive, isn’t that expensive comparatively and is easy to put into towing mode. KIA also offers a 10 year drive train warranty which is the longest in the industry!!!! As you can tell by my comments, I think this is a neat little car and recommend it highly.
Is this Kia Soul a automatic or manual transmission? Other Kia Souls you needed a manual transmission.
If the time comes I plan on rebuilding our Jeep Patriot, 5 speed, 2 wheel dive, no locking steering wheel, no special buttons to push or fuses to pull and odometer does not add miles while towing. Ours tips the scale just under 3,000 pounds with a 1/4 tank of gas and is very comfortable to drive
Nanci, wranglers now have 4 cycl turbos and diesel options. We love our little turbo 4 two door.
I have a 2020 4 cylinder turbo 4 door Sahara. It’s an automatic (couldn’t get it with a manual and now glad I couldn’t). It’s 8 speed and gets up and going in all gears nicely. It also shifts smoothly and often imperceptibly. It’s easy to hook up and tows nicely. Love the large backup screen, blind spot monitoring and anti-collision safety items.
Can you flat tow an old CJ Jeep?
Those usually had manual transmissions and manual locking hubs from 1971-1982 (a friend had a 77 model in high school back in the 80’s) so that should be flat towable in neutral with the front hubs disengaged (similar to the old Geo Storm and Suzuki Samurai). They were also pretty lightweight, compared to current models.
Don’t know how old you mean but I flat towed my 84 Scrambler(CJ-8) behind my 5th wheel. It is an automatic with the Dana 300 transfer case. Just Google how to flat tow a cj, you’ll get lots of replies.
Can anyone verify that the Jeep Wrangler 4xE can be flat towed? Would love to hear from someone that has one versus hearing from a salesman like @Neil Davis.
I can not confirm it, but, every relatively new Jeep model’s owner’s manual has very detailed instructions and cautions. Model manuals are available online if this is a car you are just considering.
I looked at the online manual and “towing behind Motorhomes” gives full descriptions. I was not able to post screen shot.
Wranglers are available with an Intercooled Turbo Diesel V-6 3.0 L/182.
Just bought a 2021 today.
I’m currently towing a 2016 Jeep Compass, manual transmission. When one looks for a minimal weight 4 WD that can still be flat-towed, the options pretty much come down to the Compass. It unfortunately does not have a transfer case with compound gears and instead is all wheel drive on which the axles can be locked. Adequate for my needs, and towing minimally more weight than my prior Kia Soul.
The reason we choose a 2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk was its wt with full tank of gas was 4280 (dealer filled tank full & let us take it to weigh station before buying), we wanted to stay around 4000 for towing with gas MH. Another reason was family driving car, yes can only have 4 passengers or 2 passengers & 3 dogs, but stayed in our wt range. Wife would have loved 2dr Wrangle for fun, but not a long drive. I would have like the room of the Grand Cherokee, but too much wt. We were looking Chevy, Buick, & Jeep, but when wife saw panoramic sun roof on our trailkawk, close match to some strips on our MH, that was it.
We tow our 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit and absolutely love it. It tows easily and tracks well. It is a dream to drive and very comfortable and has almost every modern feature. The one open question is reliability but we won’t know that for a while. This is one of my favorite vehicles of all time and I’ve owned a lot since 1968.
Jeep wrangler also has a 4 cylinder turbo.
We came very close to purchasing a Cherokee Limited. The salesman assured me that it could be flat-towed. However, just before we began price negotiations, I demanded to see the owner’s manual. Of course it was only on-line. I quickly found the necessary information concerning transmissions. Comparing the manual with the specs revealed it could NOT be flat-towed. We later found a Grand Cherokee with the desired options and color (to match our RV) and bought it. Very pleased with it beyond the fuel economizing feature that cannot be permanently disabled (instead I do it each time I start the car) and the radio that begins playing each time I start the car (I aso disable it at least until I am safely in traffic).
We really wanted to tow a Renegade and were highly disappointed that we could not. We had rented one while travelling and enjoyed it immensely.
No Cherokee Limited is towable?
WOW, kinda hard to understand why anyone would write an article & not mention why most people buy jeeps. Maybe I’m confused (easily done) I do know that the objective was about flat towing! however Jeep has proven for more that 60 years that they are hard to beat in off road performance. I know a bit about them, have owned them for over 50 years. Let me tell you they’ve come a loooong way as far as comfort goes! Most people I know buy them for their off road performance. Yes they are great for flat towing, actually I believe the Jeep Wrangler is the most over all popular for RVers for flat towing. I for sure appreciated your article for all the information on the different models, though it did sound like a Jeep advertisement!
Thanks for the article
There is an error for the 2021 Grand Cherokee. The curb weight is 4,513 lbs. The Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is 6500 lbs.
Thank you! I just changed to the 5,004 pounds listed on the website for the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk. Curb weights do vary on the Grand Cherokees but I had definitely listed the GVWR as curb weight. Thanks for the alert.