I'm looking for some information from Commander owners about their experiences as using it for a tow vehicle. Long story short, i'm looking to buy something to tow my ZJ with on a flat trailer to take it wheeling. I know a V8 Grand Cherokee can do it, but it's not pretty and lacks in the braking department. I've been looking into diesel trucks but the maintenance costs kinda deter me from them - and my new vehicle will be upgraded to my daily driver status.
I was doing some browsing and it seems Commanders with the Hemi and Class IV (?) package can tow up to 7400 lbs. My ZJ sits in around 5000lbs + 1000 for a trailer + 600 give or take in passengers and gear. It seems like it's up the task, especially with electronic trailer braking. But I want to see if anyone has some real world experiences they'd like to share as to whether or not this is a good route to take.
Towing a built ZJ on a trailer is really going to be pushing the safety limits of a WK/XK IMO. First, I think your estimates are a little on the light side as far as weights go. Second, they don't really have the weight or the wheelbase to make for a good tow rig for something that heavy. Personally, I think a 1/2 ton pickup would leave a lot to be desired when pulling a 7000lb trailer, though it would be worlds better than a XK.
I'd also recomend you assume the trailer weighs more. The lightest 7000 GVW car trailers I've seen are open-deck models which weigh in ~1650 lbs... Most 7000 lb GVW trailers with a full deck weigh 1900-2200 lbs.
I've been towing my '98 XJ (built for wheeling) a bit with a WK CRD on a 7000 lb GVW trailer... I've taken 1 long trip (~325 mi round trip) with it through fairly hilly country (highways and back roads) and several short trips on local country roads (15-20 mi at a time). I didn't get great mileage (~14 mpg), but I didn't have any problems going up or down hills at 70 mph on the highway either - I was passing other cars / SUVs on the uphills if I wanted to.
I figure the trailer I have (~23' long) is ~2000 lbs with the XJ + gear (tools, camping gear, etc...) the total load probably comes in around 6500 lbs, or a bit more. With a weight distributing hitch the WK + loaded trailer handles really well. With that much weight you need trailer brakes on both axles.
The ZJ is slightly heavier than the XJ, but not a lot... The WK or XK can tow it, but don't plan to be too aggressive driving. I don't know how well the Hemi tows, but the CRD is awesome!
1998 XJ - built for offroading
2007 WK CRD - DashHawk, for towing the XJ