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Open Roads Forum  >  Tow Vehicles

 > Towing with our 2006 Jeep Liberty CRD (turbodiesel)

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chrispitude

Allentown, PA

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Posted: 09/24/07 07:19am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi all,

My wife and I are first-time RVers. We own a 2006 Jeep Liberty CRD, which has a 2.8L VM Motori turbodiesel tractor motor. We have wanted to get into RVing for the longest time. Last weekend, we did it - we picked up our 26' Rockwood 2605 Ultralight travel trailer from the RV dealer. We also purchased a Hensley Arrow hitch and TruControl brake controller.

This weekend we tested out both our TV/TT combination as well as our skill as newbie RVers. We stayed at a campground/amusement park:

Knoebel's Grove

It's an old-fashioned amusement park that uses tickets for rides, with a campground adjoining it. Since admission to the park is completely free, you are basically free to walk into the park anywhere where the campground borders the park. The food is great and the people are very friendly. We had our dogs with us and they even allow dogs in the park (on a leash).

The CRD has a towing capacity of 5000lbs. This exact same vehicle (same engine, suspension, chassis, etc., but with a manual transmission) is rated at 7400lbs in Europe. The Rockwood brochure weight on the 2605 is 4028lbs, with a hitch weight of 301bs. When we picked up the Rockwood, the first thing I did was head inside the unit to look at the weight sticker. Our Rockwood weighed in at an actual 4799lbs dry weight. Gulp. This seems like an awful lot of option bloat even by RV marketing standards. (Did they weigh this thing without wheels??) To our actual weight, add 190lbs for the Hensley hitch, plus two full 20lb propane tanks and battery. On top of this, we probably added a couple hundred pounds for various gear (we kept it light). Yes, we are a bit over our 5000lb limit, and no this was not my intent. I'd like to get to a scale soon to measure our trailer weight, and see where the weight distribution and total weight stands.

Although the transmission in the Jeep Liberty CRD is the same stout 545RFE from the Dodge Ram, the CRD-specific factory torque converter is a known weak point. Our CRD has an upgraded Suncoast torque converter. This low-stall converter is a better match to the VM 2.8L, and has been proven to be an excellent towing upgrade. The CRD merges into traffic from a stop impressively well with the improved torque conversion. The CRD tows great at highway speed, and on flat ground I have to be careful not to cruise at 65-70mph in 5th by accident. With the Hensley, the ride was very stable despite winds and tractor trailers. We had the CRD's tires aired up to 40psi, but you can definitely feel the Jeep squirming around due to wind and rough roads. Higher load rating tires would improve the ride.

It does struggle a bit up the longer, steeper grades. Even in 3rd, we couldn't pull one steep grade without falling down to about 45mph after a couple miles. We are getting an Inmotion Stage 2 calibration next (click here for dyno curves), plus considering an exhaust upgrade which helps even more. These two upgrades really wake the little tractor motor up and help with power in the 2000-3000rpm band, exactly where it likes to tow. Even stock, on flat ground and slight grades it was perfectly happy to maintain 65mph locked up in 5th at 1800rpm. Since we were not in a hurry, I kept it at 60mph locked up in 4th at about 2000rpm and it was a bit happier handling the hills there.

The stability with the Hensley hitch was surprising. Wind gusts and tractor trailers were not an issue. It got really gusty at one point, and I noticed some sway in some other RVs on the road. In fact, the part that took the most attention was dealing with a very truck-rutted section of asphalt highway that wanted to tramline the tires, but even that was no worse than driving without a trailer. I think the fact that there is so little rear axle overhang is a big plus, since the Hensley is able to project the pivot point to just about the rear axle itself. (The rear axle on the Jeep Liberty CRD is basically a shorted variant of a Dodge Durango rear axle.)

As far as the TruControl goes, it did great except for some occasional funny behavior during low-speed stops along bumpy roads. When I would hit a bump, the controller got a little paranoid and tended to lock up the trailer brakes. I am wondering if this is the nature of inertial controllers, since they don't know what the brake pedal is doing, and it's tough to tell the difference from a pothole-induced bump and a stab at the brakes?

My CRD did not come with a standard Dodge brake controller pigtail, although the needed wires are available under the dash. I grabbed a factory-side pigtail from a junkyard Dodge Ram and installed it into my CRD for a cleaner brake controller install. To read more about this, you can see my pictures and comments here:

Hensley TruControl brake controller installation into our Jeep Liberty CRD

The short 104" wheelbase of the CRD really paid off in spades when backing the trailer into the site. It was trivially easy to push the trailer into a sharp turn, then "catch back up" to it to maintain that angle. It also made for easy turns around sharp bends in normal surface road driving.

The trip was about 200 miles round-trip, and we got 14.2mpg during the trip. This was with switching between 3rd and 4th on the highway as the grades required it, plus dealing with traffic and hills for the last 20 miles to/from the park (not much time spent in lockup). The tune will help it stay locked up more and the mileage should improve.

More than a few times we got, "Did you pull that trailer here with that Jeep??" from folks walking by. I always responded "Yep, it's a diesel" and they either began asking us lots of questions or just walked away scratching their heads.

I do have to relate one humorous towing-related anecdote from our weekend. As we were unhitching, a couple fellas walked up to have a look at the setup. One guy watched me unhitch the Hensley for a bit, then proceeded to begin a dialogue something like this:

him: "What kind of hitch is that?"
me: "It's a Hensley Arrow hitch."
him: "So all that stuff stays on the trailer?"
me: "Yep, you just undo these levers here and pull the stinger out."
him: "Boy, that must have cost you what, a couple thousand dollars?"
me: "A little more than that, yeah."

him: "Boyyyy, I hate to tell you, but they saw you coming a miiile away. You woulda been just fine with a set of bars instead of that big fancy setup."

I decided it wasn't worth getting into four-bar linkage theory and such. He later admitted it seemed like a good setup although he had doubts about the price. On Sunday he drove by me with his 5er as we were hitching back up, and he gave me a friendly wave.

What a great weekend. We were glad to be home, but we're already looking forward to the next trip in two weeks.

[image]

- Chris

chrispitude

Allentown, PA

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Posted: 09/24/07 07:22am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Oh yeah, I think our two puppies enjoyed it more than we did:

puppy in front, puppy in back

- Chris

theextricator

Newton NJ

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Posted: 09/24/07 07:39am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

[emoticon]

rock077

NM

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Posted: 09/24/07 09:38am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

That thing is WAAAYYY too big for a Libby!!!

Please be careful out there.

From the 2007 Liberty Brochure: (CRD and the 3.7 have same tow rating)

TOWING DATA
Max Loaded Trailer Weight – kg (lb)
3.7L V6, 6-speed manual 1588 (3500)
3.7L V6, 4-speed automatic 2268 (5000)(1)
Class III Towing
Maximum Gross Combined Weight Rating 4701 (10,364)(2)
Tongue Load Limit 340 (750)(2)
RESTRICTION: Trailer frontal area limitation of 5.9 sq. m (64 sq. ft) with 2268 kg (5000 lb) trailer; maximum trailer length of 7.6 m(25 feet); trailer sway control recommended. This chart is meant to serve as a quick and easy reference guide on how to properly
equip your Jeep® Liberty for towing. For specific details, discuss your plans with your Jeep retailer, who will help you select the
right equipment to meet your specifications.
(2) Requires automatic transmission and trailer tow group.

From the Forest River website: Your trailer has a length of 27 feet and a frontal area of 70 sq. ft.
The GVWR is 6449, which is the number that should be used when looking at the tow rating of your vehicle.

I would be very upset with your RV dealer, want to tell us who it is??

* This post was last edited 09/24/07 11:56am by rock077 *   View edit history


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donn0128

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Posted: 09/24/07 09:42am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You really got sold a bill of goods didn't you? The Liberty is really qualified to tow a tent trailer and not much more. Waaayyy too short a wheel base for that trailer. Once you get on the interstate you will find out really fast how wrong that combination is.





TXiceman

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Posted: 09/24/07 09:49am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

There is a lot more to towing a trailer than just enough power. The Liberty is too small to handle much more than a small pop up...and I do not care if Jeep rates the thing to tow 20,000#.


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cruiserjs

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Posted: 09/24/07 10:04am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Yup I agree with the above folks. Please do NOT clutter our western mountain roads. 200 miles is hardly a good test. The biggest question - can that little machine actually stop that trailer when really needed??
Check out, and question, the good folks at www.rvsafety.org


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McDonoughDawg

Peachtree City, GA, USA

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Posted: 09/24/07 10:53am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Only suited for a pop-up comments are just plain dumb. How is that helping the situation?

Fast Mopar

Houston, TX

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Posted: 09/24/07 11:58am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

cruiserjs wrote:

The biggest question - can that little machine actually stop that trailer when really needed??


The trailer brakes will do that.

I personally do not like the Jeep Liberty. I think the wheelbase is too short, the center of gravity is too high (typical SUV), the interior space is too small (typical SUV), and the tires and suspension are probably more suited for off-road driving than trailer towing (again, typical SUV). But, these people have a Hensley and have obviously taken this setup very seriously. And, to top it all off, they said it tows quite well. Their setup is probably safer than the same trailer being towed by a Chevy Tahoe with nothing more than a 2" hitch ball, but everyone would say the Tahoe would be fine because it would be within the magical factory tow rating limits.


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donn0128

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Posted: 09/24/07 11:38am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

McDonoughDawg wrote:

Only suited for a pop-up comments are just plain dumb. How is that helping the situation?


About as much as this post!

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