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Mastering the 2020 Jeep Cherokee Towing Capacity: An Expert Guide

Towing Capacity

As an automotive expert with over 15 years of experience, I frequently get questions about towing capacity – especially when it comes to popular SUVs like the Jeep Cherokee. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll provide an in-depth look at the 2020 Jeep Cherokee’s towing capabilities, best practices, and tips for maximizing your towing experience.

Overview of the 2020 Jeep Cherokee Towing Capacity

The 2020 Jeep Cherokee has a maximum towing capacity of 4,500 lbs when properly equipped with the available 3.2L Pentastar V6 engine and trailer tow package. This robust tow rating beats out competitors like the Ford Escape and Nissan Rogue, making the Cherokee a great choice for outdoor adventurers who need to haul boats, ATVs, snowmobiles, or small campers.

Lower trims with the 2.4L Tigershark 4-cylinder or 2.0L turbocharged engine have reduced towing capacities of just 2,000 lbs. So upgrading to the V6 is key if you plan on regular towing.

Hitting the Max Towing Capacity Safely

While the Cherokee can technically tow up to 4,500 lbs, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should max out that limit regularly. Towing heavy loads puts more stress on your vehicle’s components and requires extra caution to drive safely.

Here are some best practices to follow:

  • Stay below 80% of max capacity – Only tow up to about 3,600 lbs for optimal control and less strain.

  • Consider trailer tongue weight – Limit tongue weight to 10-15% of total trailer weight for stability.

  • Use a weight distribution hitch – This transfers weight to the front axle for better braking and handling.

  • Check payload capacity – Don’t overload your Cherokee with passengers and cargo when towing.

  • Inspect hitch and connectors – Confirm all equipment is rated for your trailer and properly secured.

  • Adjust driving habits – Drive slower, allow extra stopping distance, and take corners wider.

Following these guidelines will help prevent accidents, wear, and excessive drivetrain stress when towing near the max rating. Don’t feel like you need to push the limits to get your money’s worth – stay safe out there!

Trailer Tow Package – A Must-Have for Max Towing!

The trailer tow package is absolutely essential if you want to achieve the full 4,500 lb towing capacity in the 2020 Cherokee. This factory-installed option includes:

  • Class III hitch receiver – Heavy-duty 2″ receiver for large trailers.

  • 4-pin wiring harness – Powers trailer lights.

  • Engine oil cooler – Prevents overheating when towing.

  • Heavy-duty radiator – Improves engine cooling under load.

  • Upgraded rear suspension – Enhances stability and handling.

Without the tow package, towing is limited to just 1,000-2,000 lbs regardless of powertrain. So don’t skip this critical upgrade if heavy towing is a priority.

Towing Features That Make Life Easier

The 2020 Cherokee offers some great advanced features that take the stress out of towing in challenging conditions:

Trailer Sway Control – Uses ABS and stability control to mitigate trailer sway if it begins to occur. This can prevent dangerous fish-tailing or jack-knifing when towing in windy conditions or at high speeds.

Hill Start Assist – Prevents rollback when starting on an incline. It holds the brakes temporarily so you can transition from the brake to the gas pedal smoothly.

ParkView Rear Back Up Camera – Provides a wide-angle view behind your Cherokee to easily hook up trailers and see what’s behind you when in reverse. Helpful when parking with a trailer attached.

ParkSense Rear Park Assist – Senses nearby obstacles when in reverse at low speeds. Audible and visual alerts notify you before a collision occurs.

These advanced driver assistance features take the guesswork and stress out of common tricky towing scenarios.

Proper Wiring is Critical for Lights and Brakes

One of the most important aspects of trailer safety is making sure the electrical connection is solid. The trailer lighting and braking functions need to be wired correctly to work properly.

Here are some wiring tips:

  • Use a 4-pin flat connector – The Cherokee’s wiring harness uses this standard plug. Make sure your trailer has a compatible connector.

  • Check wire gauge – Heavier wire is required for brake controllers to supply sufficient power for electric trailer brakes.

  • Use a circuit tester – Plug in your wiring to test all functions – running lights, brakes, turn signals, brake lights.

  • Secure connections – Bind wires neatly and seal connectors to prevent shorts.

  • Consider a brake controller – This device activates electric trailer brakes and makes hard stops smoother and safer. The Cherokee has pre-wiring for a brake controller connection behind the dash.

Proper wiring only takes a few extra minutes but is critical – don’t ignore it even if you’re only towing a small trailer!

The Ideal Hitch Set Up for Stability

A weight distribution hitch with sway control is ideal for keeping your rig stable and level when towing heavy loads. This special hitch applies leverage to transfer some of the trailer’s tongue weight to the front axle of the Cherokee. The result is a more balanced, controlled towing experience.

Key components may include:

  • Adjustable ball mount – Lets you fine tune the weight distribution.

  • Spring bars – Attach to the trailer tongue and Cherokee frame to distribute weight.

  • Sway control damper – Prevents side-to-side movement of the trailer.

Proper installation and adjustment is critical for these hitches to work correctly. Follow the instructions and get help if needed – the improvement over a basic hitch is well worth the effort.

Towing Tips and Safety Checks

Here are some good habits I recommend before and during every trip towing with your Cherokee:

  • Do a full pre-tow safety check of all equipment. Inspect hitch, wiring, tires, lights, trailer brakes, safety chains, load security.

  • Confirm tongue weight, gross trailer weight, and total payload are within capacity limits.

  • Secure any loose items in the SUV to prevent dangerous projectiles in hard braking.

  • Allow extra following distance for braking compared to solo driving.

  • Take wide turns to allow clearance for trailer swing. Use lower gears for engine braking on downhill grades.

  • Adjust side mirrors to see trailer lanes when changing lanes or passing. Always signal well in advance.

  • Clean rear sensors and cameras pre-trip so driver aids function properly.

  • Regularly check trailer lights and turn brake controller up when on wet roads.

Staying safe out there when towing requires diligence, practice, and making sure your Cherokee SUV and trailer are properly equipped and set up. But the freedom of the open road makes it all worthwhile!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Jeep Cherokee’s towing capacity with the 4-cylinder engine?

With the 2.4L Tigershark 4-cylinder engine, max towing is 2,000 lbs on lower Cherokee trims without the trailer tow package.

Can the Cherokee tow a pop-up camper or small RV trailer?

Yes, with the V6 engine and factory tow package, the Cherokee can tow small camping trailers up to about 4,500 lbs total weight. Just be sure to calculate tongue weight ratings.

Do I need a special license to tow heavy loads?

Most states don’t require special licensing for towing under 10,000 lbs total trailer weight. But always check your state’s regulations to be sure. Additional endorsements may be required for RV trailers in some states.

Can I use a weight distribution hitch if my trailer only has a ball coupler?

You can install a special adapter that replaces the ball mount and couples with the trailer’s ball coupler. This allows you to still use a weight distribution hitch. Proper installation is critical.

What is the tongue weight capacity on the 2020 Cherokee?

Tongue weight should be kept between 10-15% of total loaded trailer weight. On a 4,500 lb trailer, aim for 450-675 lbs of tongue weight for best stability and handling.

How accurate is the 4,500 lb tow rating – can I actually tow that much?

The tow rating is established by Jeep engineers based on the Cherokee’s powertrain, cooling, and chassis capabilities. But optimal control occurs at around 80% of the max rating. Towing the full 4,500 lbs is possible but places more stress on components.

2017 Jeep Cherokee V6 towing 3300lb RV

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