Jeep Cherokees are can be pretty nice cars that look like sleek SUVs on the outside, but can handle quite a bit from the inside. The sturdiness of a Jeep Cherokee can tow a camper usually without problems, but it does have its limits when it comes to towing capacity.
A Jeep Cherokee can tow anywhere between 2,000-5,000 pounds. This includes pop-up trailers, hybrid trailers, Airstreams, and Teardrop trailers.
There’s a lot that a Jeep Cherokee can handle when towing. Allow me to share with you some more information.
What is Maximum Towing Capacity
Maximum towing capacity is simply the weight limit that any given vehicle can handle. For Jeep Cherokees, this number is 2,000-5,000 pounds, so they can actually handle quite a bit of weight if you want to tow one of the smaller campers.
One thing to keep in mind about the towing capacity is that the weight you’ll be towing includes not only the base weight of the camper but also the weight of all that is inside of the camper.
However, there are some ways that you can increase the towing capacity by getting just a few upgrades for your Jeep Cherokee, but we’ll get into that later.
Something to keep in mind, though, is that the towing capacity for your Jeep Cherokee can vary depending on the make of your jeep. You can always find more specific information about your jeep’s limits in the owner’s manual.
Don’t Forget to Check the Manual
When in doubt about any sorts of limits and required towing equipment for your Jeep Cherokee, you should always check your owner’s manual.
This includes checking on just how much your specific Jeep Cherokee can handle as far as weight goes. No matter the year of the car, the manual will typically be able to tell you the exact limits of the jeep as well as more specifics on towing.
If you find that you don’t have a physical copy of the owner’s manual for your Jeep Cherokee, a simple google search of the year, make, and model for the owner’s manual should typically bring you to a PDF version of the owner’s manual that you can find for your specific Jeep Cherokee. Or you can try checking the online jeep forums or asking a fellow jeep owner.
You also might be able to find your jeep’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, or the maximum weight your vehicle can weigh, on the inside of the driver’s side door frame.
This won’t exactly tell you the maximum towing capacity of your Jeep Cherokee, but it will at least give you an idea and a place to start. The weight of the camper that you are towing should never exceed that number for the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.
Another useful site that can help you to find and understand the towing capacity of your jeep, or any other vehicle, is rv.campingworld.com. This site will give you a little breakdown about finding the towing capacity of your vehicle as well as the option to put in the year, make, and model of your vehicle; and they will even find some RVs for sale that your vehicle can tow.
So What Exactly Can You Tow?
Typically, a Jeep Cherokee should be able to tow the small to mid-range sized pop-up trailers, hybrid trailers, teardrop trailers, and Airstreams. I provided a little cheat sheet below to give you an idea of just how much each of those campers can weigh on average. Keep in mind that the table only includes their dry weight, meaning completely empty.
As you can see in the table above, the campers that I have listed all fit within the towing capacity range of 2,000 to 5,000 pounds for the Jeep Cherokee, no matter what size of camper you decide to go with.
As that is, those weights do not include the additional weight from any gear or anything else you might have inside of the camper. That additional weight is also important to consider when seeing if the camper fits within the towing capacity for your Jeep Cherokee, but we will get into that next.
Now, there are some people out there who might have towed larger campers with their Jeep Cherokees before, which is fine, it just requires a lot of experience and a willingness to take chances.
All of the different campers that I just listed fit the weight class allowed in the towing capacity of the Jeep Cherokee just fine, but going outside of the towing capacity could potentially mean having a bit more difficulty towing the camper and having complete control of your Jeep Cherokee. As well as the potential of your brakes not being strong enough to handle a load of such a heavy camper when you need to stop.
You could also potentially run into problems like your transmission overheating because it has to overwork a bit with towing the heavy load.
Not that I recommend it, but if you do end up taking a slightly heavier load than the recommended campers that fit within the maximum towing capacity, you should probably consider taking your jeep and camper out for a test-drive before the actual trip to make sure that both you and your Jeep Cherokee can really handle towing around the extra load.
In fact, whether you exceed the maximum towing capacity or not with your camper, I highly recommend going out for a test-drive, especially if this is your first time towing anything with your Jeep Cherokee, just to see how things go.
Weight Matters When Towing
As I mentioned before, even with knowing the maximum towing capacity of your Jeep Cherokee, it is important to consider the total weight of the camper that you plan to tow.
Yes, a Jeep Cherokee can typically handle towing pop-up trailers, hybrid trailers, teardrop trailers, and Airstreams just because those specific ones fall below the maximum towing capacity, but that is only with their dry weight.
If you want to figure out if your other campers and RVs fit within your Jeep Cherokee’s towing capacity, you’ll just have to do a little bit of math.
Once you have the dry weight of the camper, you can add the weight of cargo and/or liquids inside the camper in order to get the total weight of your camper. Be sure to note that this total weight of your camper should not exceed the maximum towing capacity of your Jeep Cherokee.
Another factor to consider when deciding which campers your Jeep Cherokee can handle towing is the frontal area. This is basically the total area of the vehicle of camper that can be exposed to air resistance. This will also affect the towing capacity.
You can find the frontal area of your camper by multiplying the maximum height by the maximum width. Once again, the frontal area of your camper should not exceed the maximum frontal area of your Jeep Cherokee.
You will also be able to find the maximum frontal area for your Jeep Cherokee in the owner’s manual, but a good average for the Jeep Cherokee is a rough 32 square feet.
Exceeding this limit could cause your jeep to sway or worse as your camper sways and gets buffeted in the wind. I can promise you that that is not a risk you want to take.
The Engine Size Also Matters
Now, there are limits as to how much you are able to tow with your Jeep Cherokee just based on the maximum towing capacity listed by the manufacturers, but this limit can vary depending on the type of engine you have within your Jeep Cherokee.
Some of the newer Jeep Cherokees, especially, have options for different engine classes to choose from or upgrade to, and the different engine can increase your towing capacity.
For example, the 2019 Jeep Cherokee has the option for the 2.4L Tigershark engine that can have a simple 2,000-pound maximum towing capacity, but if you upgrade to the 2.0L four-cylinder engine can handle as much as 4,000 pounds. So much difference just from going from one engine to another.
How to Maximize Your Towing Capacity
Just as looking into the different options for engines for your Jeep Cherokee and where you might have room to upgrade, there are other upgrades that you can get for your Jeep Cherokee to increase your towing capacity.
Upgrade the Brakes
One place to start is the brakes. This won’t necessarily increase the towing capacity, but it will certainly increase the ease of towing. Unfortunately, Jeep Cherokees haven’t always had the best track record when it comes to the brakes, but upgrading the brakes can ensure easier braking and stopping, especially with the heavier load of a camper included.
An upgrade on the brakes will also ensure more safety for you when towing the heavy load of a camper.
Another option, concerning the brakes, if upgrading the brakes on your Jeep Cherokee might be a bit too expensive, is to simply get breaks on the camper as well. This will also make it a lot easier to stop rather than putting all of the weight on those poor brakes in your Jeep Cherokee.
If you do choose to go with adding brakes to your camper, be sure to upgrade the electrical connections as well to ensure that the two braking systems are connected instead of having the brakes on the camper try to take over and stop unnecessarily.
Upgrade the Transmission
Did you know that an automatic transmission can easily overheat when towing a large load with any vehicle? This can cause a lot of problems when towing at the maximum towing capacity and maybe even make it uncomfortable to tow at the maximum towing capacity.
Sure, some of the Jeep Cherokees out there are built to deal with that, but it’s always something to consider. Upgrading the transmission in your Jeep Cherokee can potentially ease the towing experience for you and your jeep, but it could also potentially increase the maximum towing capacity just because the upgrade should make it to where the transmission doesn’t overheat so much.
One option to consider for an upgrade to the transmission is switching over to a manual transmission. As I said, automatic transmissions can overheat pretty easily just because they tend to produce a lot of heat naturally, and pulling a heavier load can cause quite the abuse to your poor automatic transmission. Manual transmissions will likely have fewer problems when it comes to overheating.
Now, I’m not saying that automatic transmissions are completely terrible and the only way to upgrade the transmission is by switching over to manual. There are options for upgrades and keeping with the automatic transmission. That upgrade will simply include a larger heat exchanger in the radiator to make sure the transmission stays cool without overheating.
You can also consider adding an external cooler to either an automatic or manual transmission to absolutely ensure that it doesn’t overheat and can handle the heavy load of the camper that you’ll be towing.
Tow Prep Package
Another thing to consider is the Tow Prep Package. I know, to a lot of you Jeep Cherokee veterans out there with your 1995 Jeep Cherokees, you’re probably thinking that this is for the newer jeep snobs out there, but it really is a decent upgrade for your Jeep Cherokee if you want to increase the towing capacity.
It’s honestly pretty great just because it includes all of the possible upgrades for maximizing the towing capacity for your Jeep Cherokee in one go rather than having to do each upgrade individually.
Basically, the Tow Prep Package means that your Jeep Cherokee gets an upgrade to be fully prepared for any towing situations. All of these upgrades together can usually increase your towing capacity as much as 2,000 more pounds or more.
The typical tow prep package includes upgrades in a tow hitch, electrical connections that allow your vehicle to connect to the lighting system of your camper, suspension and brakes, a heavy-duty transmission, and, sometimes, even more depending on where you get the two prep package from and what they offer in the package.