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.