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MH Olson

How to find towing capacity of used SUV?

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Hello! I'm about to purchase a used travel trailer (roughly 3800 GVW, 23') and will need to trade in my compact car for a used SUV that can easily tow the TT. Research has led me to consider these two mid-sized SUVs: Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee, with factory-installed tow packages.

Here's my question. How do you find the tow capacity of a specific model and year? I've done many internet searches, but can't find anything definitive. A few searches suggest 6,200 pounds for a car I'm really interested in--a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4...but there have been search results that point to a much lower tow capacity for a gas engine. HELP!

Here's the sticker from Carfax to give you the particulars. If anyone can point me to a really good, reliable reference, I'd be so grateful! https://www.carfax.com/phoenix/sticker/v3/JEEP/TVkD-WngX2mdnlO1hljcZfEsmxH81avwFMjYKW1G8BA.cfx

(Sorry if this is a dumb question, but I'm a recently-retired widow making her first RV-and-TV purchase, and I'm trying to cover all the bases!)

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This:  e-trailer is about the best I could find.  When looking at a camper, make sure of the max, or loaded weight of the camper.  Tire dates/conditions, etc.  Old or worn tires will make for a very bad day.  Good camper brakes are a must also.  Have you thought of a class c and a toad, possibly your compact you have now depending on it's set-up?  Probably get a decent used one for about the same ballpark and have more room?  Good luck on your search.

Edited by NDBirdman

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18 minutes ago, NDBirdman said:

This:  e-trailer is about the best I could find.  When looking at a camper, make sure of the max, or loaded weight of the camper.  Tire dates/conditions, etc.  Old or worn tires will make for a very bad day.  Good camper brakes are a must also.  Have you thought of a class c and a toad, possibly your compact you have now depending on it's set-up?  Probably get a decent used one for about the same ballpark and have more room?  Good luck on your search.

The link you provided was enormously helpful--thank you! And I appreciate your suggestion about considering a Class C and making my compact (a Hyundai Elantra @ 2,661 pounds) the toad. I guess I'm a little nervous about towing an actual car (LOL)...since my only towing experience was towing a Jayco pop-up with our Ford Explorer back in the day. I rented a Class C last summer and found it easy to drive, with minimal set-up at the campground. I'll do some research on Class C's within my combined SUV-and-TT budget and see if there's something that'll tow my compact without difficulty.

I've read a bit about the different ways to tow a toad and the pros and cons of each, but I'll want to revisit that. The biggest worry I had was about backing it into the campsite...but of course I'd detach the toad first and *then* back the RV in. Easy peasy, right?

Thanks so much for your response to my question, and happy RVing!

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Glad to help.  I know nothing about your current car, can it be flat towed?  Is it a stick shift or automatic?  Someone posted a link on here a while back on how to see if a vehicle can be towed or not.  It's over my head.... LOL  Yup, you can disconnect your toad to back in but most camping locations have pull through sites, I use those as often as possible.

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28 minutes ago, NDBirdman said:

Glad to help.  I know nothing about your current car, can it be flat towed?  Is it a stick shift or automatic?  Someone posted a link on here a while back on how to see if a vehicle can be towed or not.  It's over my head.... LOL  Yup, you can disconnect your toad to back in but most camping locations have pull through sites, I use those as often as possible.

It's a 4-cyl automatic, front wheel drive. And I like your suggestion re: pull-through sites, but they're not always available. And are sometimes more expensive. I'll do a search of the Forums for advice re: towing a toad. Thanks again for your help!

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22 minutes ago, Dutch_12078 said:

Use the lookup tool on the left side of the site below to see if your car is 4-down towable.

http://www.remcotowing.com/Towing/Store.php

Thanks, Dutch. It says it must be towed on a dolly. I imagine that's a little tricky, but I've towed a tent trailer before so it should be manageable. I really appreciate your sharing this link!

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I was not able to find specific information on the 2014 Jeep but it looks to be somewhere around 4000 to 5000 pounds. You can find specific information on it in the owner's manual and it should also be on a sticker in the driver's door frame. I highly doubt that you will find any travel trailers of 23' in length that weigh as little as 3800# when loaded. I have a 19' trailer that is an ultra lite and that is what it has for a GVWR. I would expect that a 23' trailer will be very close to 5000# or more. It is not generally that pleasant to drive if you tow at the maximum rated weight but you would be wiser to try and keep it at 80% or so of the maximum rating. You would probably be better served do go to something like the GM, Suburban or the Ford Explorer to tow with, but if you can find specific information on that Jeep it could possibly be used. What ever you do, don't go by advice of any salesperson.

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The towing capacity of every vehicle is stated in the owners manual, if there is no towing capacity listed, it is not designed to tow anything.

When the towing capacity is defined, that is not the whole story. The total weight of the vehicle when fully-loaded affects towing capacity.

This towing calculator may help explain.

Almost any vehicle's owners manual should be available for download on the net.

Edited by Ray,IN

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Some of the articles I saw had a lot of ppl complaining about the transmission on that jeep being problematic.  Not sure it would be dependable with weight on the bumper.

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1 hour ago, NDBirdman said:

Some of the articles I saw had a lot of ppl complaining about the transmission on that jeep being problematic.  Not sure it would be dependable with weight on the bumper.

I didn't know that. I'll definitely do some online research before I settle on anything. Thanks!

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16 hours ago, Ray,IN said:

When the towing capacity is defined, that is not the whole story. The total weight of the vehicle when fully-loaded affects towing capacity.

Pay attention to Ray.  And rather than towing capacity, look for the GCVWR, or Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating.  That's the tow vehicle, full of fuel, all passengers and gear, plus loaded trailer.  If you can't find that value for a tow candidate, it fails.  Don't forget to add ALL weights, like water, propane, clothes, food, pets, etc.  You'd be amazed how fast little things like canned goods add up.

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On 1/5/2020 at 7:22 PM, Kirk W said:

I was not able to find specific information on the 2014 Jeep but it looks to be somewhere around 4000 to 5000 pounds. You can find specific information on it in the owner's manual and it should also be on a sticker in the driver's door frame. I highly doubt that you will find any travel trailers of 23' in length that weigh as little as 3800# when loaded. I have a 19' trailer that is an ultra lite and that is what it has for a GVWR. I would expect that a 23' trailer will be very close to 5000# or more. It is not generally that pleasant to drive if you tow at the maximum rated weight but you would be wiser to try and keep it at 80% or so of the maximum rating. You would probably be better served do go to something like the GM, Suburban or the Ford Explorer to tow with, but if you can find specific information on that Jeep it could possibly be used. What ever you do, don't go by advice of any salesperson.

Great advice, Kirk. Thanks.

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On 1/5/2020 at 9:47 PM, Ray,IN said:

The towing capacity of every vehicle is stated in the owners manual, if there is no towing capacity listed, it is not designed to tow anything.

When the towing capacity is defined, that is not the whole story. The total weight of the vehicle when fully-loaded affects towing capacity.

This towing calculator may help explain.

Almost any vehicle's owners manual should be available for download on the net.

This link is enormously helpful; thanks. Right now I'm in touch with several area car dealers who have SUVs that might fit the bill. All have 8-cyl engines, and I'm having them check whether or not they have the factory tow package. I'll ask to see the sticker or that door-panel label before I trust what they tell me. No point driving 50 miles to be disappointed! I'll check Carfax before buying, as well. (Also reading articles on Consumer Reports; as you can see, I'm a research-aholic!)

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On 1/6/2020 at 2:24 PM, rickeieio said:

Pay attention to Ray.  And rather than towing capacity, look for the GCVWR, or Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating.  That's the tow vehicle, full of fuel, all passengers and gear, plus loaded trailer.  If you can't find that value for a tow candidate, it fails.  Don't forget to add ALL weights, like water, propane, clothes, food, pets, etc.  You'd be amazed how fast little things like canned goods add up.

Great info; thanks. A new friend in my local Escapees chapter suggested I add another 2/3 to the GVW of the trailer to estimate its weight fully loaded. How does that sound to you?

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57 minutes ago, MH Olson said:

Great info; thanks. A new friend in my local Escapees chapter suggested I add another 2/3 to the GVW of the trailer to estimate its weight fully loaded. How does that sound to you?

Not for me, we camp for the weekend, we don't bring much stuff at all. 

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If you are looking at the GVWR of a vehicle, that is the maximum weight that it should ever weight when fully loaded, so I see no reason why you would need to add weight. If you are looking that the dry weight, that really doesn't tell you anything useful because that is the weight with nothing at all in the RV and most people will add at least 100# per person for even a weekend and if fulltime or extended travel is planned, consider that you need more in the order of 1000 to 2000# per person and you don't want to exceed the GVWR, or gross vehicle weight rating. 

On the tow vehicle search, if you have a Car Max in your area, they are one of the easiest sellers to deal with because they do not play the games with price that dealers do. They give you a price that they will pay for your present vehicle and a price to buy the one you are considering and the two deals are completely separate as they should be. 

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Ever see the ad where the bulldog is pulling a Mack semi with the rope? Can be done, but also consider stopping it when you buy. Short wheelbase/light TV is a death wish. 

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Thanks, ARGO. There are so many considerations! I've decided to go with a used 2017 or 2018 with relatively low mileage, and am using Consumer Reports and this article https://autowise.com/best-suv-for-towing/ as a guide. I'm inclined to buy something with far more tow capacity than I need, both for safety and in case I decide to up-size the trailer in a year or two. I'm definitely keeping in mind all the great feedback I've received from this forum!

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I can give you the figures for the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and I don’t think they’ve changed since then.  It was 6200 lbs/620 tongue weight for a V6 4x4, 200 more for a 2WD.  The V8 and diesel were both 1000 lbs more (7200/720 tongue).  Cargo capacity was 1050 lbs, which is really limiting when you add 600+ lbs for the tongue weight. 

What type of camping are you planning on doing?  Are you going to go full-time?  Watch out for the dry weight vs. GVWR for the trailer - most manufacturers quote a dry weight of the trailer without much in them.  Look at the GVWR for them instead.  

My first TV was a V6 JGC, and I towed a 21’ overall (16 1/2’ box), 5500 trailer (GVWR, usually loaded between 4900-5300 lbs) for over 2 years with it, probably around 30,000 miles.  I only had 1 battery, a portable solar panel and no generator - usually camped with at least power.  I planned my routes partly based on how steep the grades were - anything over 8% grade was really pushing it.  That meant that Wolf Creek Pass (6+% grade) and Powder River Pass (can’t remember now, some stretches might have been 8%) weren’t much of an issue with a little careful driving.  

But what really got to me was cross-winds.  One trip from Tucumcari to Albuquerque was very white-knuckled.  It convinced me that I would never want to tow a longer trailer with that sized SUV.  It also convinced me that I needed to watch the weather for wind more and plan on sitting out days that were going to be windy.

I might still be towing (carefully) with that JGC - one of the best vehicles I’ve owned.  I never had an issue with the 10 speed transmission, liked the paddle shifters for choosing gears for grades if needed (no unique to Jeep), and only once felt underpowered (going up over Towne Pass into Death Valley).  But I had to work pretty hard at keeping the rig under weight for the Jeep - do I take the grille or the solar panel or the sat antenna - I could only take one.

Then someone asked me if I wanted to convoy to Alaska with them, a trip with lots of dry camping.  That meant a second battery, more solar and a generator.  Where do you carry a gas can and a generator that’s not in an occupied space when you have an SUV?  I bought an F150.

 

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Hi and thanks so much for your post. My head is spinning with all the things I ought to consider, as well as all the options available for a TV. I hadn't considered the wind factor so much since it's not generally an issue where I currently live (WA), but I will definitely be driving the SW within the next 6 months or so, so need to think about it. I'm inclined to go with a mid-size SUV with tow capacity of 6-7,000 since it's cheaper than a bigger TV, will get better MPG (probably), and will fit more easily in my garage (!). I'm paying close attention to all the weight and capacity statistics of the trailer, and won't exceed 80% of the tow capacity of the TV, fully loaded. If/when I buy a bigger rig, I'll go with one of the full-size SUVs, I think I'll trade the mid-size one for a Toyota Sequoia, Chevy Tahoe, etc.

I really appreciate how everyone contributed to my education!

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This was my resource and list's all makes.  I am in a similar situation - just purchased Chevy Tahoe 2016 with Max Trailering Package.  I can say from spending months looking, SUV's look beefy on the outside but most have no guts.  As you narrow your search, go to the chosen mfg. websites - look up the year and model you are interested in and see what 'options' it had for towing - then look for that model with that package.  In my experience I would find 50 Tahoe's and only one with the trailering package - so it takes time and lots of looking.  And be ready to buy, they disappear fast.  I also got suckered into looking at vehicles 'that have what you need' only to find out because it had a hitch the salesman thought it had the package (these people are vastly under educated on towing).  I got to where I would ask them to send me a window sticker to see what was actually installed - these can be found on line too if you have the VIN number.  Good LUCK!

https://axleadvisor.com/

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Just wanted to let everyone know that--thanks to your great advice and links--I just bought a 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland V-8 4x4 with tow package, which tows 7400 pounds. (I came close to buying a 2018 Chevy Tahoe V-8, but the cost with the same mileage was $10K higher. Ack!) With the weight distribution option for my trailer, I think I'll be all set. 

Cheers, and I hope to run into you at my first-ever Escapade! 

Madeline

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12 hours ago, MH Olson said:

Cheers, and I hope to run into you at my first-ever Escapade! 

Madeline

We will be there when you arrive, since I'm part of the advance team. I'll look forward to greeting you! Have you considered coming early and attending RVer's Boot Camp?

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