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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello Everyone,

As promised I have completed a fairly good towing run with a 2014 Summit Hemi and a decently heavy Trailer. Everything is based on my personal experiences and my opinion on the capabilities of the Jeep for the job.

Equipment:
2013 Viewfinder 27RBSS (7180 Loaded at Certified Cat Scales, approximately 800 pounds to the tongue as tested): ViewFinder Signature Aerodynamic V-nose Travel Trailer | V-27RBSS | Cruiser RV | Lightweight Travel Trailers | Lightweight RVs | Lightweight Toy Haulers | Lightweight Campers

Equal-i-zer 10,000lbs: The Engineering Behind the Idea

Tekonsha P3 Electronic Proportional Brake Controller: Brake Controllers - Tekonsha

The Trip was fairly hilly throughout the majority of the drive (75-80%) and never once did I find that the JGC was not exactly in the gear I expected. As a note "Tow Haul" of course does not exist and there is no need. The Transmission generally likes to be in 5th through 7th of its own accord and used 8th on downhill grades. Also I want to point out there was 0, none, nada unusual shift behavior after driving a little over 3 and a half hours then taking the trailer off.

I want to point out that I generally drive moderate to slightly aggressively with the trailer on, I spend a great deal of time trailering and have done so for many years with trailers of all sizes. I am safety conscious however I do tend to try and keep with the general flow of traffic (within reason). Later on seeing the towing and non-towing mileage, just know I think a more relaxed driver would likely have no problems doing better.

The most outstanding experience I had was following someone doing about 5 miles under the speed limit constantly (single lane) for many miles. When I reached a passing lane this "&#$%&@" then decided to pick up the pace about 10 MPH as I attemped to pass going up a decent grade. I put the foot down, the transmission didn't miss a beat, went straight to 3rd from 5th no hesitation no jump to another gear and was able to pass on the incline confidently and safely. To say the least I was impressed having been in similar situations with the Durango and not having that same confidence. Never once did the Jeep get within 1000 RPM of redline, and always fealt like there was power to spare.

In comparison to my towing the same trailer with the 2013 RAM 1500 Hemi 5.7, the mileage was more than 1 Gallon per mile better towing with the JGC (I am using EVIC but I did some checks and the math is close enough to compare) My overall MPG are posted below, please take into consideration I do not drive like my grandfather.

Not only was the transmission a completely wonderful experience but also the Air Suspension. The trailer actually felt a little better behind the JGC than the RAM in medium breezes and passing traffic. I attribute this to two things. The air suspension did a very nice job of dampening the loading to the vehicle better than the RAM. Also the air suspension lowering in Aero mode on the highway changes the loading to the hitch ever so slightly that at higher speeds felt more stable. I was generally more comfortable towing in the JGC then the RAM as I was definitely bounced around a lot less in rougher conditions (I would need to test a RAM with air suspension and the 8 speed to get similar results... the RAM I had was equipped with neither so a slightly biased comparison).

Another key thing with Air Suspension that is really important and the Jeep Engineers totally got this right.... ***It does not load level until you drive***. This is a big deal folks, there were some very dangerous load leveling systems out there that you needed to make sure the vehicle was OFF prior to trailer hook up or it could seriously injure you. So while I was loading up the bars and tongue, as I took the weight off the trailer and onto the Jeep it did nothing. I left it running for a few minutes and even revved the engine and it did not change. This is so amazing because I can now hook up and go without turning off the vehicle to avoid pinch and crush points. The reaction of the vehicle is completely predictable. So as soon as I took it around the block it set itself to within a 1/16th of what it was pre loading (I also included my Hot Rod Jeep after I took the trailer off just for amusement!)

Conclusion:
I got better than expected Mileage based on my prior trips (1 and Change MPG better than the RAM and almost 3MPG better than the Durango with the 5 Speed). The transmission performed better than I expected (I even tried Sport mode a little for more aggressive shift pattern).

I can honestly say this is the least intrusive trailering experience I have had in this weight and size of trailer and keeping the "car ride quality" (I have towed this size with everything from a Duramax to Yukons and Mercedes Diesel). The Mercedes was by far my preferred ride for trailer before but the JGC simply handled the tongue weight better (The ML320 needed to be loaded differently to achieve the 576 Pound tongue limit so the trailer was often lighter marginally as well but still felt very heavy on the rear end).

I don't think I can cover everything in a single post, but it was generally just a wonderful experience so please feel free to post questions. Also I know it doesn't have flipper glass :( but this is the only SUV I have towed with that I can get the gate to open at all with the trailer on. I could even open the gate all the way with the trailer turned sharp. So much easier to load the dogs before going SOLD!!

My trip back without the trailer included approximately 12 miles short cut on some very winding hilly paved roads... Almost entirely in sport and manually shifting with some "spirited" driving (I pretended it was an SRT for a little bit) and I still achieved over 22MPG on the way back.

Picture descriptions.

1 - Trailer on Running not leveled
2 - Trailer after a run around the block (leveled)
3 - Gate open on tight turn, good clearence (no other SUV this has worked for me, they all hit the electric Jack)
4 - MPG with trailer
5 - MPG no trailer (route back)
6 - Hot Rod (jacked rear) Jeep trailer off... lol

Thanks for Reading!
 

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Is the '13 GC rear suspension the same as the '14? I have a '13 with the hemi and tow package and I just installed a Propride WD hitch. My trailer is an 25' Airstream Safari FB weighing 6280#. Using a Shurline scale, I got a tongue weight of 1050#. Adding this to the GVWR and I'm right at the limit. Not sure how much weight will transfer to the front axle.

Your thoughts?..
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That is a serious hitch. Yes the suspension is mostly the same. I was able to look at the wheel articulation on the new system but it doesn matter as long as you set it up right. The Equalizer is adjustale to the amout of pitch forward you do. I set it fairly high but i knew from the Durango.

Do you have air suspension... if so set it up without it auto leveling and just make sure it is not completely squat in the rear end. The first picture is a good guide, you don't want load leveling taking up all the slack or your steering would be wonky.

I am not as familiar with your hitch but I have read lots about them. Cadillac (or Summit) of the industry. My best advice is always to set it up and try it out in good weather. If you can get it up to 70 (interstate) and it feels proper that is usually a good sign. I also like to do my tests when there is a little bit of wind because with a sway control hitch you are going to get some transfer to the TV.
 

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Thanks for the detailed write up (and all the uconnect info too).

22 mpg seems really good not towing but 8.6 seems awful, even with the 7,000# trailer. Did your route include lots of starts and stops? Strong headwind on the towing leg? Your avg speed (if elapsed time means moving time) was only 37 mph towing and 51 not towing.

Also, how do you set up the WDH with the air suspension? Tighten the bars to get the vehicle level-ish then drive to let the computer fine tune the level?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Thanks for the detailed write up (and all the uconnect info too).

22 mpg seems really good not towing but 8.6 seems awful, even with the 7,000# trailer. Did your route include lots of starts and stops? Strong headwind on the towing leg? Your avg speed (if elapsed time means moving time) was only 37 mph towing and 51 not towing.

Also, how do you set up the WDH with the air suspension? Tighten the bars to get the vehicle level-ish then drive to let the computer fine tune the level?
It was rural roadway with starts and stops and some freeway. That is why I put it in comparison with the RAM and the Durango. Simply driving a little slower and being a little less aggressive on the get go would have given better fuel mileage but i tried to keep simlar to what I had driven the previous vehicles to give it comparison. There is some idle time in there parking the trailer too. I can tell you my cruising speed was mostly 65 MPH.

The Equalizer you set the pitch of the hitch downwards. There is no chains or anything, you simply set it based on the manual. The pressure of the bars forces weight to the front wheels. It is a very simple system but it works well.

The best reference I can give you is out of about a dozen gas engines I have tried this was the best fuel economy I had seen with the capacities.
 

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Just absolutely great stuff Willx! I can't remember ever reading posts in any forum that relate so exactly to what I'm looking to do; thanks for taking the time to write this up!

I'm sure ill have lots of questions...here are a couple:

Are you still waiting for the CRD or is your Hemi Summit on order? ;) (22mpg is pretty durn good - I could live with that!)

Did you experience any crosswinds or any "white knuckle" moments (big rig passing you and pulling the trailer off-line, etc)?

Do you know if the air suspension in the RAM is the same as the JGC? Would it be reasonable to assume they'd work the same way?

If you had to guess, how would you expect the 8speed air suspension RAM to stack up? More similar to the JGC or more similar to the 6speed RAM you drove?

I read somewhere that payload capacity of the JGC is ~1290 lbs (CRD specs, prolly HEMI too). Did you come close to this? Would you push this number?

What would the max hitch weight be you'd be comfortable with? Again, the specs say 720 max but I think that's without a WDH?

Finally, I'd be curious to know your thoughts on towing in general...how does trailer length play into the equation? It seems like the JGC is PROVEN now to be a beast, but where would YOU draw the line?

Thanks again, I'm sure there may be questions to follow!
 

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One more question for you (Willx, or anyone else for that matter); what's your take on the max frontal area of square footage of a towed trailer. I think the JGC is 55-64 sq.ft.(??-may be wrong numbers) depending on model. These numbers dont seem to allow for any travel trailer unless im thinking about it the wrong way. How does the factor in to your assessment (if at all)?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It's hard to determine the frontal area on a trailer as more and more units are designed to be aerodynamic. The Airstream is a good example, as is the trailer in Willx's photos.
Agreed, I will answer the other questions here this afternoon. The surface area thing is important when you tow old style utility or car trailer. A big flat surface causes a lot of drag (and transmission load) on the highway. It also causes issues with trailer sway due to turbulence. I went from a 19' that was about 4900lbs to this current unit (stem to stern over 30 feet and 7200lbs). I barely notice a difference in the mileage unless it is a lot of uphill. Andrew at CANAM (airstream forums) has good data on this.

The bigger trailer for me just tows better because the axle placement and weight distribution loaded is just better than my old one. Old one the water tank was in the front, this unit water tank is directly over the trailer axle, that alone is a huge improvement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Just absolutely great stuff Willx! I can't remember ever reading posts in any forum that relate so exactly to what I'm looking to do; thanks for taking the time to write this up!

I'm sure ill have lots of questions...here are a couple:

Are you still waiting for the CRD or is your Hemi Summit on order? ;) (22mpg is pretty durn good - I could live with that!)

Did you experience any crosswinds or any "white knuckle" moments (big rig passing you and pulling the trailer off-line, etc)?

Do you know if the air suspension in the RAM is the same as the JGC? Would it be reasonable to assume they'd work the same way?

If you had to guess, how would you expect the 8speed air suspension RAM to stack up? More similar to the JGC or more similar to the 6speed RAM you drove?

I read somewhere that payload capacity of the JGC is ~1290 lbs (CRD specs, prolly HEMI too). Did you come close to this? Would you push this number?

What would the max hitch weight be you'd be comfortable with? Again, the specs say 720 max but I think that's without a WDH?

Finally, I'd be curious to know your thoughts on towing in general...how does trailer length play into the equation? It seems like the JGC is PROVEN now to be a beast, but where would YOU draw the line?

Thanks again, I'm sure there may be questions to follow!

I will answer as best I can (again my opinion, the tests are not scientific but a smaple of how one man tows.

-I am still waiting for my EcoDiesel, mainly because it is still another 30 Foot pounds of torque and across a much wider band. I have towed the same trailer with the ML320 and easily got 14MPG in the same trip as this with the trailer on and 30MPG without. Again, I could drive slower and do better but I understand the diesel advantages first hand.

-Cross winds were actually moderate during most of the trip, but I wouldn't have noticed unless I watched the trees. The JGC with the air suspension simply felt fantastic. I really liked the JGC and that is why I wanted one but it WELL EXCEEDED my expectations towing a trailer at the weight limit of the truck. I could feel pull in passing large rigs or them passing me incoming however it was always a slight couple of degrees calm adjustment to the steering never the quick adjustments I have felt I needed to make in the Durango.... now this may all be the conditions, the Air suspension doesn't cover up everything, it simply seems to damped the affect, an this may be because of the lower stance at highway speed (Aero) and the slight change in pitch of the trailer in the process.

-The Ram air system is extremely similar and works on the same principals. I believe that if my RAM test was done with air suspension and the 8 Speed that it would have slightly one upped the JGC for towing mileage. Most likely this would be because of the slightly higher torque and horsepower wich under load would help. The only reason I still prefer the JGC is the daily driving would be worse mileage for the same reason.

-According to the data I have the JGC with the Factory Tow Package the tongue weight is up to 1080 pounds with weight distribution. I would never recommend anyone go above GVWR. I am towing max weight so I am pretty careful about vehicle loading and brake setup... If you have a fully loaded vehicle as well watch how your tongue loading ends up. Over loaded suspension can lead to some very poor handling especially in emergencies.

Towing in General...? Every trailer is different. Manufacturers put general limitations on length and other specifications as longer trailers can be problimatic with trailer sway (even with sway control). Every trailer handles differently and trailer axle placement, suspension and tongue loading matter. Really if you can find a trailer place that will allow you to do a test tow or a dealership will allow you to test tow your trailer, this is more helpful. The problem is that because there are so many variables that it is impossible to simply say that a longer or shorter trailer will tow better.
 

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Willx, your experience towing with the JGC mirrors the applause from Australian owners - but just wait until you try with the CRD - they are awesome tow vehicles, and you will be amazed that they only sip fuel, compared to a petrol engine,
Maybe you found out that with the air suspension and rearview camera you can actually reverse under your trailer drawbar head and raise the suspension to hitch up - raises eyebrows in campgrounds!
You will continue to enjoy the vehicle.....
john
 
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The best reference I can give you is out of about a dozen gas engines I have tried this was the best fuel economy I had seen with the capacities.
I tow a 2850 lbs fiberglass egg trailer and get 14 - 16 mpg with my 2007 V6 RAV4. My new JGC has almost same engine specs and of course 8 spd instead of Toyota 5 speed so I'm hoping its no worse, even with 1000# more vehicle weight.
 

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I tow a 2850 lbs fiberglass egg trailer and get 14 - 16 mpg with my 2007 V6 RAV4. My new JGC has almost same engine specs and of course 8 spd instead of Toyota 5 speed so I'm hoping its no worse, even with 1000# more vehicle weight.
IMO it may even be better. As noted people have said I got terrible mileage when towing but it is better than everything else I have driven.
 

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Willx, your experience towing with the JGC mirrors the applause from Australian owners - but just wait until you try with the CRD - they are awesome tow vehicles, and you will be amazed that they only sip fuel, compared to a petrol engine,
Maybe you found out that with the air suspension and rearview camera you can actually reverse under your trailer drawbar head and raise the suspension to hitch up - raises eyebrows in campgrounds!
You will continue to enjoy the vehicle.....
john
I haven't tried the air suspension "pick up" but it is such an awesome idea...

As for the diesel, yes I am familiar. My ML320 was only 210 horse and 400 foot pounds and it pulled like nothing was there. The Jeep has better fuel economy numbers AND is more powerful than my old ML so, just dying to get behind the wheel.
 

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I haven't tried the air suspension "pick up" but it is such an awesome idea...

As for the diesel, yes I am familiar. My ML320 was only 210 horse and 400 foot pounds and it pulled like nothing was there. The Jeep has better fuel economy numbers AND is more powerful than my old ML so, just dying to get behind the wheel.

Willx, thanks again for your efforts,write-up, and taking the time to answer questions! I will check with my RV dealer to try and arrange a test tow when the time comes. The plan is to get the tow vehicle first, put some miles on it to break it in, and then get the new travel trailer. You have convinced me that the JGC is more than capable and I too am dying to get behind the wheel of a CRD JGC (or maybe RAM)!

At least it will (may) be a little easier for me to wait for the CRDs because I'm a federal employee and I'm getting furloughed 20% of my time from now until October so there would be no way I could pull the trigger until I'm back to full time! Oh the joys...(ill end now before I digress any further).
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Small Update...

Since I had a few people comment on the mileage, I decided to do the same test again on the return trip. This time around I reduced my speeds by a few mph and was just generally a little more relaxed driving. I didn't really drop below the speed limit much unless it was a really steep hill, so no I didn't drive granny style. This is just to show that a little lighter foot can get you a lot back and you can still drive your age bracket.

Better than a 15% increase in towing fuel economy from my first run (original run was 8.6MPG).

First picture, run out without trailer.

Second Picture trip back with trailer.

To save people looking up the specs, trailer weighs 7200 loaded but it was probably around 6850 on the way back (less beer, food, water). This does not account for any fuel savings. I did a bunch of testing last year towing without water etc and filling on site. I couldn't find any real difference but driving style certainly does change it!!
 

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Great write up. I wanted to comment and say the Jeep engineers must have changed the load leveling suspension from the earlier models as my 2011 GC behaves differently. Sitting in idle and in park, when I drop the trailer tongue on to my receiver ball the rear end squats. Immediately the air suspension begins to raise the rear the vehicle. Then when I clamp up the load distribution bars shifting some of the trailer weight to the front, the rear end is up too high. Immediately the leveling suspension begins to lower it back down. All of this occurs when the vehicle is in park but running.

Also with my 4200lb trailer I average 9.1mpg therefore I'm not surprised by your 8.6 with a heavier trailer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Great write up. I wanted to comment and say the Jeep engineers must have changed the load leveling suspension from the earlier models as my 2011 GC behaves differently. Sitting in idle and in park, when I drop the trailer tongue on to my receiver ball the rear end squats. Immediately the air suspension begins to raise the rear the vehicle. Then when I clamp up the load distribution bars shifting some of the trailer weight to the front, the rear end is up too high. Immediately the leveling suspension begins to lower it back down. All of this occurs when the vehicle is in park but running.

Also with my 4200lb trailer I average 9.1mpg therefore I'm not surprised by your 8.6 with a heavier trailer.
you should see my later post, I was able to easily adjust my acceleration and get 10MPG and still move at a good pace in the hills.

I was completely surprised at the air suspension response. I think it added a tiny bit of air at idle but it sat for 5 minutes and didn't make any big adjustments until I moved it which was very smart.
 

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Willx did you notice any sort of pushing or body roll around long corners, I have a cargo trailer, 14ft with a V nose maybe 1600lb loaded and if feels like the back of the jeep is getting rocked in the corners it not constant, 2 of my friends noticed it also on a trip from Vermont the South Carolina. I'm looking at buying a 25-29ft camper and this has me a little concerned
 

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Willx did you notice any sort of pushing or body roll around long corners, I have a cargo trailer, 14ft with a V nose maybe 1600lb loaded and if feels like the back of the jeep is getting rocked in the corners it not constant, 2 of my friends noticed it also on a trip from Vermont the South Carolina. I'm looking at buying a 25-29ft camper and this has me a little concerned
Nothing like at at all. Are you using a sway control system? At 14 feet and a little bit higher speeds you could get some stronger sway. It would feel like the rear corners being tugged.
 
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