The updated Jeep Grand Cherokee has true local appeal
As a brand that only produces SUVs, Jeep has a relatively small footprint in Australia – even smaller out in “Toyota country”. But things are changing.
The manufacturer backs its vehicles with a five-year warranty, plans to test cars locally and is finally building cars that Australians can warm to, like the updated Grand Cherokee. The five-seater now comes with a redesigned nose, aluminium suspension components, a quieter cabin and a new model called the Trailhawk.
With Kevlar-reinforced tyres, bright-red tow hooks (front and rear) and upgraded steel protection underneath the body, the Trailhawk is designed to venture off-road. The adjustable-height air suspension and Quadra-Drive II four-wheel-drive system give the Trailhawk its biggest leg-up over boulders, sand dunes and mud holes.
The ability to increase ground clearance from 205 to a towering 260 millimetres means it can go where many very capable off-roaders can’t. And the clever 4WD system does a stellar job, carefully feeding drive to the wheels with traction.
Small gripes include the occasional clunk from the air suspension and a foot-operated parking brake that lines up perfectly with the driver’s left shin.
The Trailhawk’s real talent shines through on paved roads, where the independent suspension delivers good control and comfort. Having some
2.3 tonnes sitting high off the ground ultimately reduces its ability to behave like a lower-riding sedan but progressive steering makes for easy cruising.
The familiar 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel is muscular, unleashing a useful 570Nm torrent after a brief hesitation. The engine is matched to an intuitive eight-speed auto for smooth, fuss-free touring – and the ability to tow up to 3.5 tonnes.
That split personality makes the Trailhawk pretty tempting for those planning big drives in variable terrain.