Last Updated: 07.07.2021

A Jeep Wrangler is the quintessential adventure vehicle, representing a lifestyle of the outdoors, exploration, and adventure. Sometimes those adventures require towing a trailer. If you’re wondering how much a Jeep Wrangler can tow, then you need to read on.

In case you didn’t know, a Jeep Wrangler is one of the most awesome 4×4 models. It is fun to drive, and it is capable of handling virtually any terrain you may encounter. On the road, it provides car-like handling characteristics, at least when compared to earlier jeeps.

Keep reading to know the ideal towing capacity of a Jeep Wrangler.

Jeep Wrangler Tow Capacity Vs Payload Capacity: What’s the Difference?

jeep wrangler rubicon in a downward slope

What Is Tow Capacity?

Towing capacity is the maximum load that the Jeep Wrangler is engineered to pull. You can find this information in your Jeep’s manual, at your local Jeep Wrangler dealer, or online. It is always best to tow with a Jeep that has a greater towing capacity than what you need. Exceeding your Jeep’s rated towing capacity is not safe and may damage your Jeep’s engine, bearings, brakes, axles, and transmission.

What Is Payload Capacity?

It is the maximum weight you can safely add to your Jeep Wrangler in addition to its curb weight. Payload capacity fights gravity and anything that pushes down on your vehicle (such as cargo weight and hitch weight) may affect payload capacity.

When you are considering the amount of payload or tow capacity you will need, you have to keep in mind that these two factors can affect each other.

Your Jeep’s payload capacity usually includes approximately fifteen to twenty percent of the overall weight of the cargo you are hauling. This is so because of the weight that the cargo (a trailer or a jetski) is bearing down on your Jeep’s hauling hitch.

How Much Can A Jeep Wrangler Tow?

jeep wrangler pulling a small trailer

This towing capacity of a Jeep Wrangler depends on the model. Here is a roundup of how much different Jeep Wrangler models can tow:

Jeep Wrangler YJ

From the manufacturer, the YJ is rated with a 2,000-pound towing capacity. If you go through YJ forums online, you will see different people claiming that they have towed vehicles of up to 2,700 pounds with their YJs because they have a hitch with a high weight rating. It might work a few times, but trust the manufacturer’s rating. 

Can you tow a heavy boat with a YJ? It is probably not a good idea. But you can most certainly haul a dirt bike or a jetski with your YJ.

Jeep Wrangler TJ

The TJ model has a hauling capacity of 2,000 pounds, according to the manufacturer. Some people who have used this model for hauling have talked about the lack of power, the stopping power of the TJ’s brakes, the strength of the frame, as well as the transmission. 

Though the aforementioned concerns may factor into the hauling capacity, the biggest limitation of the TJ as well as the YJ can be considered to be the short wheelbase. Another reason for the limited capacity of the TJ is the bumper-mounted towing hitches. But you could improve its hauling ability with a frame-mounted hitch.

Jeep Wrangler LJ

With a wheelbase of 9.87 feet or 118.43 inches compared to the TJ’s wheelbase of 93.4 inches, the rated hauling capacity of the LJ is 3,500 pounds. As you can see, the LJ’s hauling strength is 1,500 pounds heavier compared to the TJ’s. You shouldn’t be overly excited, though, because many individuals who own the LJ would recommend not to exceed 3,000 pounds, especially when driving down or uphill. You are likely to experience frustratingly slow acceleration when hauling a heavy load. In this case, it is extremely challenging to maintain speed irrespective of the fact that you have a four-liter engine.

Jeep Wrangler JK

With a wheelbase size of 116 inches, the JK Jeep Wrangler with a two-door design can tow up to 2,000 pounds. The four-door model, on the other, can haul up to 3,500 pounds. 

The JK Jeep Wrangler weighs around 4,000 pounds. So, towing a 3,500-pound trailer may be impractical because it increases risks. If you choose to tow such a trailer, then you will have to adjust your driving style. You may have to avoid aggressive lane changes and turns, drive more slowly, leave a considerable space between you and traffic. You would also need enough tongue weight and the trailer you are towing should have surge or electric brakes. If you like hauling on hilly terrain, then we strongly advise you to upgrade your Jk’s axle to 3.73 or above.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Towing Capacity

The JL Unlimited Jeep Wrangler with a four-door configuration has a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, while the two-door model has a maximum towing capacity of 2,000 pounds. As you can see, the unlimited version has the same capacity as any other Jeep Wrangler with a longer wheelbase. The payload capacity of this model ranges from 880 to 1,000 pounds.

Jeep Wrangler 4XE

This sport utility vehicle has had many baffled about what it can do as far as towing capacity is concerned. The 4xe has a 118.4-inch wheelbase and axle ratio of 3.73, which means it can tow up to 3,500 pounds. This vehicle also has an impressive payload capacity of 1,280 pounds and a curb weight range of 5,100 to 5,222 pounds. The 4XE does a great job of towing a standard-size trailer of up to 26 feet tall. The hitch receiver on the 4xe is 2 inches, which is great because it accepts all two-inch accessories. With such a heavy-duty hitch, you can effectively manage the tongue weight as well as the maximum hauling capacity.

What Features Affect the Towing Capacity of a Jeep Wrangler?

The towing capacity of a Jeep Wrangler depends on the vehicle’s bumper-mounted hitch or frame-mounted hitch, the wheelbase length, the axle ratio, and the transmission type. Let’s take a look at these key factors in detail. 

Bumper Hitch Vs Frame Hitch

A bumper-mounted hitch is attached to a Jeep’s rear bumper. It has a two-inch ball-mount receiver and safety chain attachment points. This hitch is mostly recommended for light-duty hauling. It is usually ideal for a Jeep Wrangler with a factory tow capacity rating of 2,000 pounds.

Frame-mounted hitches can be of the type which bolts to two or more points on the frame of your Jeep Wrangler, plus the bumper, or just to several points on the frame. They can also be of the tongue type for Class I towing or of the receiver type for Class II towing. This type of hitch is ideal for a Jeep Wrangler with a higher tow capacity of up to 3,500 pounds.

Wheelbase Length

This refers to the length that stretches from the front to the rear of the axle, which is a very important factor to the stability as well as control of the Jeep Wrangler.

The longer the wheelbase, the higher the towing capacity of the vehicle.

A longer wheelbase reduces any chances of the trailer or jetski weighing down your Jeep’s rear axle, which may otherwise lift the front axle.

Axle Ratio

This refers to the number of revolutions the driveshaft or output shaft of your Jeep has to make to spin the axle. The number is usually stated as a ratio, such as the number of teeth on a ring gear over the number of teeth on a pinion. A Jeep Wrangler with an axial ratio of 3.73 simply means the driveshaft will take 3.73 times to complete a single spin. A Jeep with a higher axial ratio provides superior towing capacity. But the tradeoffs include lower top speeds and decreased fuel economy.

Transmission

Towing could seriously cause damage to your Jeep Wrangler. It could present significant challenges for maneuvering, turning, as well as steering. Between a manual and automatic transmission, most drivers would favor the latter because it allows for easier gear shifting. But a manual transmission is usually the better option when towing off-road.

Final Thoughts

Now you know how much can a Jeep Wrangler tow from one model to another. Earlier models come with a limited tow capacity of 2,000 pounds, while the latest models have a higher tow capacity of up to 3,500 pounds. A few upgrades to an earlier model, however, could significantly increase the towing capacity up to 3,500 pounds.

The towing capacity is related to a few factors. Factory tow ratings are usually based upon the engine, transmission, wheelbase, axial ratio, and overall strength of the vehicle. Even with a big, powerful engine, the wrong choice of axial ratio and/or transmission can result in a low rating. Automatic transmissions usually carry higher tow ratings compared to manual transmissions. Higher axle ratios, on the other hand, increase tow capacity.

The factory tow rating can be higher (such as 3,500 pounds), but it can also have a weight restriction on the hitch of 350 pounds. Most people, especially in online forums, would recommend that you tow about 80% of your Jeep’s rated weight. This is exactly what you should do. If you exceed 80%, you will be eating into the payload capacity of your Jeep as well as the cargo that you are towing. We would also like to mention that the tow rating different Jeep Wranglers come with in the U.S. may differ from the ones in Europe. The European ratings are usually higher.

With that in mind, you should be ready to look for a Jeep Wrangler that will meet your towing requirements.