With the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the names tell a lot of the story: Summit Reserve and Trailhawk. The former sounds more like a locally produced Merlot than an off-road machine. It is the wine country’s touring medium of the Grand Cherokee series. This is largely confirmed by a quick scan of its pavement-oriented tire and clearance specifications, not to mention our test results. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, on the other hand, sounds like a machine that wants nothing more than a dirt bath. It also looks like a more promising off-highway partner on paper, so we had to get our hands on one to better explore its capabilities.
We had ridden the new Grand Cherokee Trailhawk earlier, during the product launch event in Moab, Utah. It cleared extremely well on a short tough terrain course just outside the city. But when we say “just outside the city” we mean no more than 20 km from the home base. Very little pavement was involved in the Trailhawk part of the program, so we did not learn much about living with it from day to day.
At $ 56,030, the Trailhawk 4×4 is just above Volume Selling Limited and below Overland in the Grand Cherokee pricing and equipment hierarchy. That price gives you full-wheel drive, full-length air suspension and adaptive dampers, electrically heated and ventilated leather front seats, a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats. The logically arranged controls are placed over a background of piano black, which means that fingerprints are apparently standard, with faint scratches as optional if you use the wrong type of cleaning cloth. Such marks were so clear on our test vehicle’s folding cup holder lid that we simply left it open. Can we snap into this trend, please?
You can also equip a Trailhawk with options that are higher up the food chain, such as the Uconnect 5 10.1-inch screen with navigation, a panoramic sunroof with double windows, a front passenger screen and a complete set of advanced driver assistance functions and luxurious meetings. Our test sample had all that and more, pushing the price to an eye-catching $ 65,535. It would have been $ 3795 more expensive if we had added the optional 5.7-liter V-8, and the Trailhawk is also available with a 4xe plug-in. hybrid driveline at a starting price of $ 64,280.
Our test copy instead had a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, which is such an impressive base engine that it is standard in all models – up to and including Summit Reserve. Its 293 horsepower and 260-pound-feet of torque feel more than adequate in the Trailhawk, including terrain, where low-speed multiplies the torque by a factor of 2.72. Its output flows through the same smoothly shifting eight-speed automatic and 3.45-to-1 final shift as the Summit Reserve, so it’s no surprise that its 7.7-second 60-mph sprint, 15.8-second quarter-mile, and 5.5 seconds 50 to 70 mph passing times are within 0.2 to 0.3 seconds from the results we measured with Summit Reserve.
Trailhawk times are a fraction slower, which makes sense when you consider the extra tread that comes with its chubby 265 / 60R-18 Goodyear Wrangler Territory All-Terrain tires. We are frankly surprised that Summit Reserve’s wider, sidewalk-oriented 275 / 45R-21 Continental CrossContact LX Sport rubber did not give it a major advantage. However, we saw a larger performance gap in our brake and cornering tests, where the Trailhawk pulled out its 70-mph stop to 185 feet against 163 feet for the Summit Reserve, and at the ski pad managed only 0.78 g stick compared to the Summit Reserve’s more robust 0.85 g.
However, such shortcomings at the border do not amount to much in the real world, mainly because terrain-oriented customers expect just as much. In addition, off-road tires do not undermine the predictability and agility of the steering, as the Trailhawk benefits from the same revised multi-link (single upper control arm and dual lower link) front suspension and improved steering adjustment found throughout the Grand Cherokee series. Trailhawks standard air springs and adaptive dampers also fit well with the higher side walls of its 18-inch Wranglers to remove the edge from cracks and seams in the sidewalk.
Terrain cutting is what the Trailhawk was built to handle, and on that front it is not only much better equipped than the Summit, it also overshadows the previous generation Trailhawk. It starts at the chin. Summit’s street-oriented front panel offers only 28.2 degrees of approach clearance in the suspension’s highest terrain position, and last year’s Traihawk was a little better at 29.8 degrees. However, its front air dam was designed to be detachable, resulting in 36.1 degrees if you were willing to: a) go to the trouble and, b) live with the ugly result. At the same time, this new Trailhawks reworked front end delivers 35.7 degree clearance from the box, without having to remove anything.
The new Trailhawk also differs from last year’s model in that its front anti-roll bar can be disconnected, just like a Wrangler Rubicon. We measured its suspension on our test ramp and recorded a ramp-travel index (RTI) score of 365 with the bar connected and 478 with it disconnected, a huge increase of 31 percent that resulted from an extra 4.5 inch suspension flex over the wheel. front axle. We have not measured the outgoing Trailhawk, but it would probably get lower points because the new Trailhawks’ revised front suspension also includes an extra inch of suspension travel.
These two characteristics are the reason why the new Trailhawk excelled in Moab and on our own trails near home. To overcome an obstacle, you must first clear it at the nose. After that, the traction provided by the off-road and low-interval gears in the Quadra-Drive II full-time four-wheel drive system helps it climb up the face, as the accessible (and skillfully disguised) Mopar rails protect the lower edges of the body when the suspension bends to keep all four tires connected. soil. When that is no longer possible, the Quadra-Drive II system’s electronically controlled differential with limited slip can move as much as 100 percent of the rear axle torque to the tire that is still on the ground. Forward visibility is maintained throughout thanks to the Trailhawks standard front-facing terrain camera, which can be cleaned with a flushing system if you succeed in sprinkling it with mud.
It’s obvious that not everyone needs this type of off-road performance, not even in a Jeep Grand Cherokee. But the Trailhawk formula exists precisely because there are a large number of Grand Cherokee customers who want their Jeep to do Jeep things. On this front, the Grand Cherokee delivers Trailhawk, and it delivers a higher level of that kind of capacity pretty seamlessly. Its plump tires can dampen the ultimate dynamic performance a bit, but the extensive improvements made to the entire Grand Cherokee range ensure that its road behavior and general courtesy are completely pleasing. Even enough for a trip to Merlot country.
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