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Old 05-06-2014, 11:57 PM   #1
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Tow Vehicle Tradeoffs

We need a new tow vehicle for an Escape 19 that we are planning to order. Escape Industries advise us that we need a vehicle with a towing capacity of 4500 lbs.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee has a capacity of 6200 lbs. With the factory towing package it comes with a beefed up alternator, cooling system, rear load levelling suspension as well as the Class 4 hitch. It is a very capable towing vehicle.

The competition is a group of highly rated SUVs with a towing capacity of 5000 lbs. A hitch is added by the dealer or third party. This group includes the new Toyota Highlander, the Hyundai Santa Fe XL and others. Although not as capable for towing, these vehicles are cheaper and more reliable.

I want to be assured that I will be driving a safe combination. In the past with our current setup (2005 Highlander and 13 ft Trillium) I have been taken by surprise by long, very steep hills in Utah and Nevada. These are the sorts of areas we like to explore. I want to be confidant I can handle any situation on a paved highway.

I am prepared to compromise on vehicle reliability and price if it means a safer combination. But is the Jeep Grand Cherokee overkill?
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Old 05-07-2014, 12:28 AM   #2
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I'd go with the Highlander. Had both GCs and Toyotas; 19 ft is 2500 lbs dry weight, so you're well within a tow spec of 5000 even with 500-700 pounds of stuff and liquids.

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Old 05-07-2014, 01:41 AM   #3
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I'd go with the Highlander. Had both GCs and Toyotas; 19 ft is 2500 lbs dry weight, so you're well within a tow spec of 5000 even with 500-700 pounds of stuff and liquids.

Charlie Y
So we could tow a 19ft with our 2013 Sahara Wrangler Unlimited (3500 # tow rating) ? I've been looking at the 17 thinking the 19 would be too much for the Jeep. Thank you in advance for your reply.
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Old 05-07-2014, 06:57 AM   #4
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So we could tow a 19ft with our 2013 Sahara Wrangler Unlimited (3500 # tow rating) ? I've been looking at the 17 thinking the 19 would be too much for the Jeep.
This is similar to my situation, with a van rated at 3500 pounds and a current trailer which is the length of an Escape 17' and the width of an Escape 19', weighing 3000 pounds as we have it loaded; I have considered a 19' but the combination is marginal.

I would want to carefully examine all of the limits for this rig, not just the basic trailer weight rating.
  • GCWR [Gross Combination Weight Rating] - total of tug, trailer, load in trailer, load in tug: will you exceed this with the 19' if you have all of your passengers and cargo in the Jeep?
  • GVWR [Gross Vehicle Weight Rating] - total of tug with load in tug including tongue weight of trailer: will you exceed this with all of your passengers and cargo in the Jeep due to the trailer tongue weight?
  • GAWR [Gross Axle Weight Rating] - total carried by each axle tug with load in tug including tongue weight of trailer: will you exceed the limit for the rear axle with all of your passengers and cargo in the Jeep and the trailer tongue weight both adding to it and transferring load from the front to the rear?

The Wrangler might be as capable as the Grand Cherokee in all measures other than the GCWR, since the big advantage of the Grand Cherokee will be primarily in the drivetrain (engine and transmission).
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Old 05-07-2014, 06:59 AM   #5
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I realize that most people equate a high towing limit with safety, but the manufacturer's rated limit is mostly about capacity for the engine and transmission to operate reliably. Offhand, don't know of any reason to expect a Jeep Grand Cherokee to provide any better trailer control - and thus better safety - than other similarly sized vehicles.
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Old 05-07-2014, 07:28 AM   #6
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Hi Dave, there is a table over on the Fiberglass Forum that lists actual weights Trailer Weights in the Real World - Fiberglass RV. It has the 19 as a max total weight of about 3700 with a hitch weight of 450, depending on options and such.
I have no experience with the 19 but do feel you need a decent combo of weight capabilities as Brian points out, as well as enough HP to make it over those passes and braking to stop it on the down side. You also need sufficient cooling for the tranny, which can be an after market add on.
I'm on my 3rd tow vehicle, keep getting bigger, I'm more comfortable on the overkill side.
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Old 05-07-2014, 08:05 AM   #7
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Just to add more variable, tow vehicle weight, design and wheelbase matter. Assuming decent engineering and comparable suspension:

The longer the tow vehicle wheelbase the more stable it is.
The heavier the tow vehicle the more the more stable it is.
The shorter the tow vehicle distance from rear axle to rear bumper the more stable it is.
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Old 05-07-2014, 08:45 AM   #8
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Tow vehicles for 19 or 21

I agree completely about overkill for a tow vehicle. Years ago when much younger and less experience I was able to ruin at least one pair of pants towing. When we ordered our 19 I moved from a Ridgeline to a 2011 Jeep GC. I looked at the large diesel SUVs but they were very pricey and someone recommended the GC at less money and the V8 had almost the performance of the diesels. When we moved up to the 21 after three years of towing the 19, I didn't have to buy another tow vehicle. My GC was designed when MB controlled jeep/chrysler so the under carriage is close to a MB SUV suspension and the engine is the Dodge Hemi V8 with variable cam timing, two plugs per cylinder, 4 cylinders shut down when not needed and the trans is a CV unit from MB. Fiat gets credit now for fit and finish as they own jeep. My experience with the GC is that it is a very dependable vehicle with outstanding numbers for gas mileage, all weight limit numbers and performance in the mountains. We are in Colorado now and will be going over some of the higher passes that we have towed over before. Check the numbers, ours is the 2 wd as we don't do snow anymore.
Jack with 62000 mile GC just returned from Texas, heading to Moab, BC and Oregon.
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Old 05-07-2014, 09:25 AM   #9
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When we ordered our 19 I moved from a Ridgeline to a 2011 Jeep GC...
My GC was designed when MB controlled jeep/chrysler so the under carriage is close to a MB SUV suspension and the engine is the Dodge Hemi V8 with variable cam timing, two plugs per cylinder, 4 cylinders shut down when not needed and the trans is a CV unit from MB.
Does "CV" in this case mean "continuously variable"? If so, that's surprising to me, since I've never heard of a Mercedes CVT, a Chrysler CVT (other than the 2mode hybrid), or a CVT in a heavy-duty or V8 application... let alone a Mercedes-sourced CVT in a V8 Chrysler. I learned today that there are some Jatco CVTs in some of their small SUVs, but that's not the Grand Cherokee.

2011 is the current generation of Grand Cherokee; I believe that the 2011 Hemi has a Chrysler (not Mercedes) 545RFE 5-speed conventional automatic. This is probably a fine transmission - it's just not a CVT or a Mercedes. Chrysler apparently likes to call this a "multi-speed" transmission, apparently not noticing that automatics after the old two-speeds of the six decades ago are all multi-speed. :
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Old 05-07-2014, 09:25 AM   #10
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Dave, You should add a 4runner to your list. We just picked up a 17B and drove back to Boise going over numerable passes and steep grades and we easily able to do the speed limit and over the speed limit if we wanted. The 2014 4runner also has electronic trailer sway control and a built in hitch with a 5000lbs tow capacity. A full frame SUV is going to be more stable.
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Old 05-07-2014, 09:26 AM   #11
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Just to add more variable, tow vehicle weight, design and wheelbase matter. Assuming decent engineering and comparable suspension:

The longer the tow vehicle wheelbase the more stable it is.
The heavier the tow vehicle the more the more stable it is.
The shorter the tow vehicle distance from rear axle to rear bumper the more stable it is.
I agree
The SUVs being considered seem pretty comparable in these aspects, but I think it would be worthwhile to look up actual specs.
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Old 05-07-2014, 09:36 AM   #12
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... there is a table over on the Fiberglass Forum that lists actual weights Trailer Weights in the Real World - Fiberglass RV. It has the 19 as a max total weight of about 3700 with a hitch weight of 450, depending on options and such.
That's a good information source. It does list as-towed weights, so that includes the owners' stuff and fluids, not just the base trailer plus options.

I would avoid calling the highest value in this list a "max" (even though it would literally be the maximum value of a set) because it's not a limit at all - carry more stuff and your trailer will be heavier, and you are allowed (by Escape's ratings) to do that.

Escape 19's in that list range from as little as 3130 pounds to as much as 3980 pounds:

Quote:
ITEM_LENGTH_MAKE_______MODEL_____AXLE__TONGUE__ __TOTAL

61___19_____Escape_____Dual Axle____2670_____460_____3130
62___19_____Escape_____Dual Axle____2920_____220_____3140
98___19_____Escape_____Dual Axle____3305_____450_____3755
99___19_____Escape_____Dual Axle____3440_____360_____3800
101__19_____Escape_____Dual Axle____3620_____240_____3860
106__19_____Escape_____Dual Axle____3740_____240_____3980
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Old 05-07-2014, 09:41 AM   #13
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A full frame SUV is going to be more stable.
Why? The suspension matters, the weight matters, and the wheelbase and track matter, but how does the structural design make the vehicle combination more stable?
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Old 05-07-2014, 10:10 AM   #14
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Thanks for all your comments Brian. You have provided me with some good information and perspectives. Much appreciated!
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Old 05-07-2014, 10:13 AM   #15
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Yes the listed dry weight of a 19 ft is 2500 lbs. that is not the weight that matters. Our 19 loaded for a week is around 3700 lbs. Although I have not weighed it empty, by the time you add propane, batteries, a/c and the storage box if you have one. I susspect the actual weight ( Before ) you add water, food and gear is closer to 3000 lbs. The one item to remember is the mass and length of the tow vehicle have a direct effect on how stable it will be going down the road in heavy winds or when a semi truck or a large bus blows by you in the passing lane.
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Old 05-07-2014, 11:20 AM   #16
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Thanks Dave
As a Escape 19 owner you offer a "real world" perspective. Any comment on the choice of Jeep Grand Cherokee vs Toyota Highlander as a tow vehicle?
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Old 05-07-2014, 12:10 PM   #17
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Have a '13 Highlander pulling a 17B. Just went to Death Valley and Tuolumne in Yosemite. Wouldn't want to pull anything heavier personally.
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Old 05-07-2014, 12:19 PM   #18
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Having to go a little slower, once in a while, isn't a bad thing.
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Old 05-07-2014, 12:24 PM   #19
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Have a '13 Highlander pulling a 17B. Just went to Death Valley and Tuolumne in Yosemite. Wouldn't want to pull anything heavier personally.
Interesting thing - We just went from a 17B to a 21, towing with a Chev Trailblazer I6.
Even though the 21 is ~1000 pounds heavier, I don't notice significant difference in the tow. Gas mileage is down, but starting, accelerating & stopping seem similar so far.
Were traveling over 3 Cascade mountain passes next week, so we'll see if I change my tune after that.
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Old 05-07-2014, 12:58 PM   #20
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It's the downhill Glenn; I was using 3rd gear and downhill control and still was using brakes more than I would like. Acceleration and stability was fine. Maybe its just my nervous system, but I felt at the limit of comfort.
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