Jeeps have been around since 1941. The current day Wranglers are rugged, purpose built vehicles that can go almost anywhere. Because of this, many people consider Wranglers one of the worst choices for people who never plan to take it off-road. They have the aerodynamics of a brick, get about 17mpg and don’t have a smooth ride. However, we have found that our Jeep Wrangler has been the perfect vehicle to pull behind a motorhome.
A vehicle towed behind a motorhome on all four wheels is also referred to as a “toad”. There are a limited number of vehicles on the market that can be towed in this fashion without extensive (and expensive) alterations. Since we wanted a vehicle that was built to be towed with all four wheels on the ground and can be taken off-road, we ended up with a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. If you’re considering a tow vehicle, read our Jeep Wrangler Unlimited review to see if it’s the right fit for you.
What We Bought:
2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport Hard Top with Tow Package (includes 3.73 gear ratio)
What We Like:
The Jeep fit all of our criteria for a tow vehicle: 4×4, enough room for our rescue pup Leo, automatic transmission and can be towed without any mechanical modifications.
4×4 capability. This was important because we want to explore the back country while we are traveling and take the Jeep on off-road trails like Broken Arrow in Sedona. We’ve found that the Jeep, even in its stock form, is able to tackle roads and obstacles that most vehicles wouldn’t be able to (we’ve also found trails that do not allow all wheel drive vehicles, only 4×4).
The reason that the Jeep can do this is because of its high ground clearance and 4 wheel drive system with a 4hi and 4lo setting. 4lo setting allows the Jeep to climb obstacles and steep grades without needing to apply much, if any, throttle. There is also a Hill Assist feature which holds the Jeep steady if we stop on a steep incline and release the brake to begin moving forward. This has come in handy many times when on steep streets, not having to worry about rolling into the car behind us. There is also a Hill Decent feature which prevents the Jeep from picking up speed while going down steep dirt trails. Also doesn’t hurt to have a rear mounted full size spare tire so we don’t have to worry about trying to get home on a “donut” (we’ve needed the spare twice now).
Plenty of room for Leo and our cargo. With regards to interior, the rear seats can be folded flat which gives the Jeep an enormous amount of room for Leo and anything else we want to put back there. There is an additional storage area under a flap in the rear bed which includes a place to hold the screws removed when the top is off so they don’t get lost. The interior is designed to get wet so the carpeting in the Jeep is made to be easily removed along with plugs in the floor to let water drain or hose out the interior – this also makes cleaning up much easier. Leo’s favorite spot is the rear bench where he can walk from side to side and put his head out the windows. Watch our video Life with a Siberian Husky.
Automatic transmission was an absolute requirement because when we bought the Jeep, I was using it to drive in gridlock traffic 60 miles every day and Kait’s not very comfortable driving stick. This ruled out many potential tow vehicles which are manual. Fortunately, the Jeep can be towed with either an automatic or manual transmission. Read about how we flat tow the Jeep behind a motorhome.
New bumper for the Jeep. Although we didn’t have to make any mechanical modifications to the Jeep, we did swap out the factory bumper for Rock Hard’s fully integrated bumper in order to connect the Jeep to the tow bar rather than using a base plate, which is the more common option. The process to connect and disconnect the Jeep to the tow bar and put it in and take it out of tow mode is easily an one person job and only takes a few minutes. The ease of disconnecting has been essential for when we are in tight situations where one person has to stay in the RV while the other quickly disconnects the Jeep. We put this to the test when we found ourselves on a very tight road near Moab and had to disconnect on a two lane road without a shoulder in order to turn around. Kait has become much better at doing this than me so she has become our designated tow vehicle specialist and I’m still in charge of dumping.
We also like the fact that the Jeep is very rugged. We did consider other four wheel drive SUVs, but we would have never have wanted to take them down the trails we’ve taken the Jeep. The fear was the vehicle would get scratched and/or dented along the way. Since the Jeep is designed with this type of driving in mind with its plastic fenders, skid plates along the bottom, etc…when we do scratch something, it’s more of a badge of honor. After all it’s a Jeep!
Jeep brings out our adventurous side. When it’s a nice day, we have the option of taking the front portion or the entire roof off AND we can remove the front and rear doors. There isn’t another car currently on the market that allows us to do this. Taking the doors off is a fairly easy process – remove two screws on each door, unclip the electrical connection and remove the door strap (which is used in place of typical door stops). All of the window controls are in the center console so the front doors can be removed and still give the driver control of the rear windows. With the tops off, we’ve had a blast using our Jammock not only at the beach but also in the Rocky Mountain National Park.
Finally, due to the overwhelming support Jeeps have in the aftermarket, there is an unlimited number of things we can do to our Jeep and, as we’ve found, each one becomes a reflection of its owner. At some point we would like to lift the Jeep a bit and set it up for overland adventures and maybe even get a roof mounted tent.
What We Don’t Like:
Terrible gas mileage. We track our MPG on a regular basis and typically get between 16-18 mpg regardless of the style of driving. As we add accessories in the future like a roof rack, larger tires and a lift kit, we can only expect this number to go down. With a 22 gallon gas tank, we typically fill up every 340-360 miles, which is quite often for the amount of driving we do.
Hard top gets extremely hot. When the Jeep is parked in the sun, our black hard top gets very hot. When it’s cool outside, we don’t mind, but when it’s 90 degrees, all we can feel is heat radiating from the roof onto our heads. There almost no insulation with the hardtop, it can get so hot that even with the AC on full blast, we can feel the heat on our heads. Sometimes we have to point all the vents upwards to help cool the roof and our heads.
Road noise. The lack of insulation also means that there is more road noise when we’re driving. It’s almost pointless to use the bluetooth when we are on the highway going 60+.
Limited towing capacity. With the tow package, the Jeep is limited to a 3,500lb towing capacity, standard towing capacity is 2,000lb. This is fine when all we want to tow are a few motorcycles, but it greatly limits the camper trailers we can tow. Our previous Jeep, a Grand Cherokee with the same engine, had a 5,000lb towing capacity which seems more reasonable for a vehicle of this size.
While the Jeep has been made to work well off-road, there are a few other things about it which make on-road driving a bit unenjoyable. For example, the Jeep has solid axles rather than independent suspension so when we hit a bump, we really feel it. The brakes tend to squeak when they are cold but as told by many other Jeep owners, “It’s a Jeep thing”. The speakers in the Jeep are also pretty bad and would need to be upgraded for any audiophile.
The Jeep Wrangler is not for everyone, but it’s the perfect vehicle for us. We can go anywhere and do anything we want to with it. Although we have our dislikes, the only thing we can’t fix using aftermarket parts is the gas mileage – which we can live with. We’ve embraced the saying “It’s a Jeep thing” and have come to find that the Jeep is one of those vehicles that makes you look for the road less traveled, which is what we are all about.
If you want to tow a Jeep? Read our post on How to Flat Tow a Jeep Wrangler.