Even if you mostly do off-roading or competitive racing, it’s always nice to know exactly how much weight your Jeep can carry. Boats, trailers, fellow driver’s SUV/truck – there are lots of things that you might need to tow around. Now, Wrangler Unlimited is one of the most capable Jeeps out there. It’s got a strong engine, transmission, and suspension.
Plus, it is much larger compared to the standard edition and has four doors instead of two. So, what is the actual Jeep Wrangler Unlimited towing capacity? Is it on par with the rivals, or not? Can you use it to tow a medium-sized trailer to a camping site? And should you check the specs for towing or payload capacity? You’ll find all the answers right here!
Towing vs. Payload Capacity
These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are quite different. Towing capacity refers to the number of pounds the vehicle can pull. It can be pretty much anything that’s NOT carried in a truck’s bed or an SUV’s trunk/cargo area. In contrast, payload capacity indicates how much cargo (again, in pounds) you can put in the Jeep and still be able to drive around hassle-free.
Always make sure to check the specifications to know the exact capabilities of your vehicle. If you neglect the official recommendations and exceed the payload capacity limit, that will put the powertrain and the suspension system at great risk. And, most likely, the tires will blow out (if you keep doing this for a long time). Over-the-top towing can be even more dangerous!
How Much Can Wrangler Unlimited Tow?
This won’t be a Jeep TJ vs. YJ comparison or anything like that. Instead, we’ll focus on the towing capacity of the Wrangler Unlimited model. The brand-new 2020 edition has a pretty standard capacity: 3.5K pounds. The same is true for the 2019 and the 2018 editions. Compared to the regular Wrangler, this is quite a big boost, though (the two-door Jeeps can only tow up to 2K pounds). Again, we’re talking about the entry-level trims.
If you want to increase your Jeep’s towing strength, invest in a premium-quality hitch. Upgrading the brakes and the axles will also help in boosting the towing capacity. I would also recommend switching to an aftermarket exhaust and air intake systems. They will maximize the engine’s power output, which will affect towing as well.
As for the payload capacity, it’s in the 880-1000 range. A quick note: manufacturers always indicate the towing capacity at, let’s say, ideal conditions. That means the vehicle needs to be empty, with no extra weight. And, there can only be one person in the cabin – the driver (who weighs +/- 150 pounds).
Will it be enough for the Average Driver?
So, now that we know Wrangler U’s towing capabilities, let’s answer the most important question: how much is enough? If you don’t know the first thing about towing capacity, it will be almost impossible to get this right. As mentioned in the intro, people usually use their mighty vehicles to tow trailers, boats, and other trucks or SUVs. Planes can also be towed, along with heavy-duty equipment and tools.
Here’s a quick breakdown of some numbers for you: a medium-sized trailer (+/- 20-feet long) weighs 2500 pounds, give or take. A bigger camper will be closer to 3.5-5K. Boats, in turn, are lightweight, compared to trailers. The 3.5K towing capacity of the Jeep will be more than enough for a couple of sailboats or motorboats. So, yes, I’d say that’s enough. By the way, the Wrangler Unlimited SUV weighs 3.9-4.4K pounds (depending on the configuration).
What are the Alternatives?
Still not happy with the Wrangler’s towing capacity? Well, let’s take a look at the other options on the table. Cherokee, a distant cousin, can tow anything up to 4.5K pounds. Grand Cherokee, the big brother, has an even higher capacity – 6.2K pounds (7.2K if you buy the SRT edition). Ford’s Explorer is good for 5.3K pounds, while the Highlander (by Toyota) sits right in the middle with 5.000 lbs.