GREAT OPTIONS for TOWING
at Lake Norman Chrysler Jeep Dodge
by Joyce Deaton
Looking for a sturdy vehicle to tow
your prized boat to the lake? You're probably
shopping for a truck or SUV, since most of today's
cars are not built for towing. Only a handful
of automobiles can tow more than 2,000 pounds.
In recent years, however, trucks and SUVs have
become popular even among landlubbers, so there's
a wide range of models and features to choose
from. Trucks have grown roomy and comfortable,
with four-door extended cabs, strong construction
and suspension systems and robust engine power.
And SUVs combine stylish, adventure-ready good
looks with plenty of power for towing.
At Lake Norman Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Cornelius,
you'll find a wide variety of trucks and SUVs
that can make trailering your boat to the Piedmont
lakes a joy. The dealership recently combined
its two previous locations and moved into a new
showroom at 20700 Torrence Chapel Rd. , across
from the Southlake Shopping Center just off I-77
at exit 28. In the giant new facility, which
includes 50 service bays and a car wash, you'll
find plenty of tow-friendly models. Here are
a few of the most popular choices:
. Dodge Dakota Club Cab - This nimble pickup
offers towing capacities from 2,000 to 7,000
pounds, depending on the engine options you choose.
Jet-Ski crowd, the 3.7 liter Magnum® V6 engine
will do nicely. For mid-size boats you'll want
the 4.7 liter Magnum® V6. Transmission options
include a six-speed manual or four- or five-speed
automatic. Front-disc and rear anti-lock brakes
are standard, but the four-wheel ABS is a valuable
option for towing.
. Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab - A little heftier,
this pickup offers towing capacities from 7,200
to 8,750 pounds with three engine choices - the
3.7 liter Magnum® V6, 4.7 liter Magnum® V8
or 5.7 liter HEMI® V8. With the HEMI, you
add 100 horsepower and 10 percent more fuel efficiency
over last year's model. Choose from a six-speed
manual or a five-speed or multi-speed automatic
transmission. The Ram 1500 features the largest
brakes of any model in its class, with front-disc
and rear anti-lock brakes or four-wheel ABS as
Durango - This lean, muscular SUV will tow from
3,650 to 8,850 pounds with either four-wheel
or two-wheel options. Engine choices include
the 3.7 liter Magnum® V6, 4.7 liter Magnum® V8
or 5.7 liter HEMI® V8, and brakes can be
either front-disc and rear anti-lock or ABS.
. Jeep Grand Cherokee - This popular SUV offers
three different towing capacities, depending
on your engine choice. The 3.7 liter Power Tech
V6 tows 3,500 pounds, the 4.7 liter Power Tech
V8 tows 6,500 pounds and the 5.7 liter HEMI V8
tows 7,200 pounds. With four-wheel brake traction
control, the Grand Cherokee can brake up to three
wheels and direct all the remaining power to
the fourth wheel - a valuable feature on a mucky
boat ramp. It also features independent front
suspension and multi-link rear suspension to
accommodate heavier cargo inside the vehicle.
. Jeep Wrangler - The standard adventure vehicle
for decades, the one-of-a-kind Wrangler is geared
lower for off-roading. The four-cylinder 140-hp
engine can tow 1,700 pounds, while the beefier
inline 6-cylinder 190-hp model can tow 3,500
pounds. Four-wheel drive makes the Wrangler a
good launching machine.
"All these models are good for towing," says
Patrick Chambers, sales associate at Lake Norman
Chrysler Jeep Dodge. "The best choice depends
on what you do with the rest of your time - when
they're not using their boats. If you want something
fun and practical, the Wrangler is hard to beat.
You can take it off-road and have fun with it.
If you're a business person and you need to drive
something nice-looking, the Grand Cherokee or
the Durango fits the bill, and on the weekends
you can hook up your boat and take it to the
"Don't forget to include the weight of your
trailer when you consider the vehicle's towing
capacity," says Jeff Junker, general manager
of Wher-Rena Boatland in Cornelius and Lake Wylie
. And although furnished weights for boats and
trailers usually are accurate, they should only
be used as guidelines. A boat's furnished weight
may only account for the hull - not the engine,
accessories and supplies you will actually carry.
To calculate your boat's "wet weight," add all
these plus 6.5 pounds for every gallon of gasoline
and 8.3 pounds for every gallon of water on board.
To be sure you have an accurate figure for your
boat and trailer, weigh everything at a public
scale. But don't worry if your outfit comes in
right at the top of your desired vehicle's capacity. "Towing
capacities are figured very conservatively, with
plenty of room for safety added in," says Junker. "If
you're right at capacity, you'll be OK."
Many trucks and SUVs are available with an optional
tow package that includes an oversized radiator,
wiring to the rear end and special transmission
and oil coolers designed to protect vehicles
pulling a heavy load.
Four-wheel drive helps, but it's not really
necessary, says Junker. When you're slithering
up a slippery boat ramp it's a nice feature,
but because four-wheel-drive vehicles are heavier,
towing capacity is reduced, usually by about
Two-wheel drive usually means rear-wheel drive,
and if your rear wheels are underwater when you're
pulling your baby out of the lake, they can spin.
A good choice can be a two-wheel drive (with
greater towing capacity) with a locking differential
that eliminates the spin.
Braking capacity is probably the most important
factor in proper towing, and this figure goes
into the vehicle's calculated towing capacity.
If they're available on the truck or SUV you
like, ABS brakes are the most reliable, says
Chambers of Lake Norman Chrysler Jeep Dodge.
Remember your braking distance increases dramatically
when you're towing a heavy load, so allow plenty
of room. Slow down before descending a steep
grade and shift to a lower gear to control your
speed and save wear on your brakes. And of course
you'll need more time when accelerating to merge
with traffic or pass.
If you'll be towing a heavy boat, you may want
a braking system on your trailer as well, adds
Junker. "They're not always necessary, but a
trailer with brakes is safer and better for your
vehicle." Most trailer brakes are the surge-type,
a mechanical system that engages when the trailer
slides forward as the vehicle stops.
Whether you're headed for the lake with a floating
behemoth or a compact 16-footer, you're likely
to find the tow vehicle you need at the new central
location of Lake Norman Chrysler Jeep Dodge.
For more information, call 704 896-3800 or visit
the web site at www.lakenormanchrysler.com.