Off the road, the Wrangler is the king of the jungle. It’s got a flexible suspension system, impressive powertrain, and catchy looks. How good is it at towing, though? Can you rely on it to pull an average-size trailer? Will it be able to do that without any extra equipment/accessories? Or is it too weak to handle even a small camper? That’s what we’re here to find out!
While the Wrangler is, indeed, quite impressive on rough terrain, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best Jeep in terms of hauling/pulling. So, in this guide, we’ll check out its exact towing might. Next, we’ll take a look at what one can do with that kind of capacity. Finally, I’ll introduce you to the most effective upgrades and some worthy alternatives. Let’s begin!
What’s the Wrangler’s Towing Capacity?
The first thing to keep in mind is that four-door Wranglers are significantly better at towing than the two-door models. Plus, older generations aren’t on par with the latest editions. Say, a 2005 two-door Jeep Wrangler can tow up to 2K pounds, while a 2019 four-door beast easily hauls up to 3.5K lbs. And as long as whatever you’re trying to tow doesn’t weigh more than 2 or 3.5K pounds, you can stop worrying about the Jeep’s capabilities.
How much do Campers Weigh?
Now that we know how much the Wrangler can pull, let’s take a quick look at the average camper weight. Well, it depends on the exact make and model, of course, but, on average, large flatbed trailers weigh +/- 3K pounds. A “classic” 20-feet trailer comes in at 2.5-3K pounds, depending on the configuration. A fishing boat trailer, in contrast, is extremely lightweight – 600 pounds – with a large boat trailer reaching 2.2K lbs.
The so-called “teardrop” trailers usually don’t go over the 1.7K limit. As for small travel trailers, they “hang” in the 2.5-3K range. So, can a Jeep Wrangler pull a camper, or not? Well, the Wrangler’s 3.5K-pounds capacity is quite alright. It won’t be able to handle a large trailer, of course (up to 7K pounds). A Class A motorhome/camper van (15K pounds), will also be way too heavy for it.
But, in all fairness, you can rely on the Wrangler on your next camping trip if you’ve got an average-size RV.
Dry vs. Gross Vehicle Weight
Remember: most manufacturers indicate the so-called “dry” weight. However, the “wet” weight is usually significantly higher. I’m talking about water, fuel, and supplies for you and the passengers. An aftermarket engine will probably also be heavier than the stock motor. That’s why it’s very important to know the actual GVW (gross vehicle weight) of the camper, not just what it says in the specifications.
On the bright side, most trailers include info on how much fuel, water, or supplies they can carry. So, just use that information to figure out the final weight. In my experience, if you add 1500 pounds to the trailer’s dry weight, that will pretty much cover all the extras. Here’s how you can find the exact dry weight of your trailer: remove all the accessories (batteries, tanks, and whatnot) and drive to the nearest weighing station.
And, to make sure your vehicle is up to the task, do the same, but this time around, with the camper fully loaded. Oh, don’t forget to extract the Wrangler’s total weight to get accurate results!
Boosting the Jeep Wrangler Towing Capacity
What happens when you exceed the towing capacity? Nothing good! Over-the-top weight puts unnecessary pressure on the engine, suspension, tires, and the entire SUV. If you do this often (pulling a camper that’s way over the Jeep’s capacity), eventually, that will lead to a breakdown, leaving you with expensive repairs. Besides, you don’t want to get stuck in the middle of the road because the motor just gave up, right?
The question is – what can you do to increase the Wrangler’s towing capability? Is there even a way to do that? Yes, there are some tried-and-true techniques. Apart from the obvious things like installing a stronger engine, I would recommend updating the trailer hitch. This can have a pretty big positive effect. Upgrading the exhaust system and air intake system, in turn, will help maximize the SUV’s power output.
Maybe get a Cherokee or a Gladiator Instead?
Unless you’re the biggest Wrangler fan and want to stick with it no matter what, you could look at some alternatives. Jeep’s line-up includes SUVs and even a truck that is significantly stronger than the Wrangler in terms of towing capacity. For example, the Cherokee can pull anything up to 4.5K pounds. The Grand Cherokee, in turn, is even more powerful and easily handles 6.2K lbs.
And if you upgrade to the premium trim level – SRT – the max towing capacity will reach 7.2K pounds. The Gladiator (officially revived in 2019) is currently the most impressive four-wheeled Jeep in this regard. As a rough-tough mid-size pickup truck, it’s capable of towing 7650 pounds. As we learned earlier, that’s a full-size trailer. Keep this in mind and consider swapping your precious Wrangler for one of the “elder brothers”!