TRAILHAWK IS A SOLID RIDE OFF-ROAD AND IN THE CITY

Regina Leader-Post - - DRIVING - PETER BLEAKNEY Driv­ing.ca

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.

PETER BLEAKNEY/DRIV­ING

The 2017 Jeep Chero­kee Trailhawk has ev­ery­thing you need to get down and dirty.

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