TRAILHAWK IS A SOLID RIDE OFF-ROAD AND IN THE CITY
I have a good friend who was looking to replace her decrepit Volvo wagon with a crossover. She wanted something affordable and funky, and since she hardly ever escapes the confines of Toronto, all-wheel drive was not high on her wish list.
She was eyeing the Kia Soul in a festive colour to match her personality. I gave her a thumbs up on that one. A few days later and she announced with a big grin, “I bought a car! A Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk!”
Well, I almost fell over. “You know, that’s the one with all the serious off-road stuff.”
“I know. It feels solid like my Volvo.” She was still grinning, like a kid who got her hand caught in the cookie jar. Jeeps do that to people.
So Jenny, this review is for you. Know that if the Don River ever breaches its banks or the Eaton Centre falls in on itself, spewing debris and the contents of Nordstrom’s all down Yonge Street, your Trailhawk will deliver you from evil. Thank the all-terrain tires, increased ground clearance, skid plates, tow hooks and special front and rear fascias that allow for ridiculous approach and departure angles.
The 2017 Jeep Cherokee starts at just under $28,000 for the front-drive Sport with the 184-horsepower 2.4-litre Tigershark four-cylinder. The Trailhawk edition with the same engine is priced at $35,645 and gets Jeep Active Drive II allwheel drive along with all the aforementioned off-road kit. The Trailhawk is no poseur; it is capable of true Jeeplike shenanigans. We just scratched the surface of its abilities on this road test, playing in the slime and muck.
This tester’s bottom line gets pushed to $46,000, thanks to its optional 271-hp, 3.2-L Pentastar V6 and a load of luxury and connectivity packages. The Customer Preferred Package 27L ($2,995) adds premium leather, heated/ventilated front seats with driver memory, heated steering wheel, proximity key with push-button start, autodimming rear-view mirror, wiper de-icer, remote start, tonneau cover, 3.51 final drive ratio and power liftgate, among other items.
Driver aids in the Technology Group ($995) include adaptive cruise control, forward-collision mitigation, lane-departure warning/assist, rain-sensing wipers, auto high beams and parallel/ perpendicular park assist. Other standalone goodies include panoramic sunroof, deep cherry red paint, trailer-tow package, 8.4inch Uconnect with navigation, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts and upgraded audio.
OK, we know the Trailhawk can walk the walk, but how is it as a daily driver?
The V-6 engine is a strong and smooth unit, but it’s a bit hamstrung by the Trailhawk’s considerable mass (1,827 kg) and a nine-speed automatic transmission that is reluctant to downshift. Once the revs are up, the Trailhawk moves out smartly, but this crossover is thirsty; official EnerGuide numbers are 12.9 L/100 km in the city, 9.9 on the highway.
In all other aspects, the Trailhawk is a nice piece. There are plenty of well marked controls for audio and HVAC, but sadly the seat heater controls require too much touch-screen poking. The upgraded audio (nine amplified speakers with subwoofer, $450) sounded very good. For a
vehicle with such off-road bona fides, the loaded Trailhawk plays the coddling card remarkably well.
Where the Cherokee falls short of the competition is in interior space. Yes, the rear seats have six inches of travel, but in the rearmost position, legroom is just adequate. The hatch is small, it has a high load floor and the raked roofline cuts into its functionality. Cargo capacity with rear seats both up and down is about 25 per cent less than that of the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
The 2017 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk has everything you need to get down and dirty.