Face lift adds ap­peal to Trail­hawk

North West Telegraph - - Motoring - Vani Naidoo

Looks may be sub­jec­tive but when they pre­vent sales, car man­u­fac­tur­ers have lit­tle choice but to take no­tice. The Chero­kee, Jeep’s mid­sized SUV, has been at the cen­tre of this kind of talk for a cou­ple of years with its po­lar­is­ing nose find­ing lit­tle favour with buy­ers.

Now, how­ever, Jeep has taken steps to put the Chero­kee back in the race with smart new ex­te­rior styling and a bet­ter all-round value-for-money of­fer­ing. We put the range-top­ping Trail­hawk through its paces.

This new Jeep Chero­kee de­buts a more con­ven­tional look, for­go­ing the pre­vi­ous head­light de­sign for an ap­peal­ing LED ar­range­ment and sleek front bumper. The trade­mark seven-slot grille gives more of a Grand Chero­kee feel and there is a new look for the rear too with a com­pos­ite mo­tion sen­sor bumper and fresh tail light ar­range­ment.

It cer­tainly looks ap­peal­ing enough and the tough boy im­age of the Trail­hawk is re­in­forced by un­miss­able red re­cov­ery hooks in the front and rear.

In­side, the changes are min­i­mal yet prac­ti­cal. There is a big­ger phone tray, new trim colours and flash pi­ano black and chrome high­lights that make the over­all feel a touch up­mar­ket. Jeep claims the fit and fin­ish is bet­ter too, and we can at­test to bet­ter-feel ma­te­ri­als all through the cabin.

There are com­fort­able lodg­ings for the driver and front pas­sen­ger with elec­tron­i­cally ad­justable sup­port­ive seats and good vis­i­bil­ity en­sur­ing it is easy enough to find that ideal po­si­tion. The kids didn’t mind the com­forts of the rear seat al­though adults might find legroom a lit­tle less gen­er­ous. Head­room, too, might be tricky if you go for the op­tional sun­roof.

Wa­ter bot­tles fit in deep door pock­ets and there are two cuphold­ers in the front and two more in the rear with a cou­ple of stor­age com­part­ments.

The boot is slightly big­ger than the out­go­ing model with a two-level floor giv­ing added prac­ti­cal­ity.

Clev­erly, the elec­tric boot but­ton is placed just above the wheel arch rather than on the top of the boot lid which makes it eas­ier for the kids to reach.

Perched at the top of the range, the Trail­hawk fea­tures Jeep’s Ucon­nect multi-me­dia sys­tem with an 8.4-inch colour touch­screen and sat nav. The sys­tem it­self is in­tu­itive and su­per-easy to nav­i­gate and re­spon­sive to quick com­mands.

Blue­tooth pair­ing is un­event­ful and sound qual­ity for calls is re­as­sur­ingly clear. For those who can’t do with­out their phone screens, there is Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto as well.

You also get four USB ports, a 12V out­let and in a nod to tech­nol­ogy proof­ing two USB-C ports as well.

The four-wheel drive Trail­hawk is pow­ered by a 3.2-litre V6 nat­u­rally as­pi­rated petrol unit that pro­vides 315Nm of torque and a use­ful 200kW of power. A nine-speed au­to­matic gear­box com­pletes the of­fer­ing and while it is quite ca­pa­ble, you can some­times hear it hunt­ing for gears es­pe­cially when you are go­ing up or down a hill.

As a point of dif­fer­ence in this ac­com­plished mid-sized SUV class, the Trail­hawk sports a proper 4WD driv­e­train with triple diffs, lowrange trans­fer case and hill as­cent and de­scent con­trol.

The Select Ter­rain fea­ture al­lows you to choose from Auto, Sand/Mud, Snow and Sport set­tings with the abil­ity to lock all three diffs which makes its ex­cel­lent off-road per­for­mance pos­si­ble.

Stan­dard safety in­clu­sions have stepped up across the Jeep Chero­kee range with the Trail­hawk fea­tur­ing all many driver sup­port aids.

In ad­di­tion to six airbags, park­ing sen­sors and a rear view cam­era with guide­lines, you also get au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing, ac­tive for­ward col­li­sion warn­ing, lane de­par­ture warn­ing, rear cross traf­fic alert and blind spot mon­i­tor­ing. There are three IsoFix points if you are car­ry­ing young chil­dren, al­though it is tricky to use all three at once.

Re­fine­ments to the sus­pen­sion, chas­sis and steer­ing equates to an all-round bet­ter per­for­mance for this lat­est Jeep Chero­kee.

On the road, it is eas­ily man­age­able, ac­cel­er­ates well, is happy to change di­rec­tion quickly and feels well bal­anced and re­laxed.

Given the con­straints of an SUV, the Chero­kee re­acts well when pushed into cor­ners, is de­ci­sive when fol­low­ing a line and never tot­ters around look­ing for its feet.

It is com­posed over poor ur­ban roads, is ma­noeu­vrable in tight con­fines and seems ea­ger to please. It can some­times take a tad long to get go­ing and the gear­box can miss a beat.

There are no dis­ap­point­ments to be had off the road ei­ther, with the Trail­hawk im­press­ing with its poise and fleet­ness of foot. The sus­pen­sion of­fers 221mm of ground clear­ance and the steel un­der­body skid plates com­bine with the Trail­hawk’s 4WD un­der­pin­nings to give it clear con­fi­dence when tack­ling all sorts of ter­rain.

While the course we tested the Trail­hawk on wasn’t dif­fi­cult, it was muddy and slip­pery and re­quired a bit of thought to nav­i­gate. The Trail­hawk just went about its busi­ness, crawl­ing and scram­bling with­out fuss.

De­spite its charms, the Chero­kee is quite a thirsty unit. We strug­gled to get the of­fi­cial 10.2L/100km and had to set­tle for 12.9L/100km dur­ing our week in the seat. Jeep of­fers the Trail­hawk with a five year/100,000km war­ranty, a fixed­price ser­vic­ing pro­gram and free road­side as­sist if you ser­vice the car at a Jeep dealer. Ser­vice in­ter­vals are 12,000km or 12 months.

Jeep has upped its game with the lat­est Chero­kee range. It looks and drives bet­ter, has im­pres­sive in­clu­sions and in the Trail­hawk, you have a car that can in­tro­duce you to real off-road ad­ven­tures. How it fairs against seg­ment favourites re­mains to be seen.

The Jeep Chero­kee Trail­hawk shows off its stylish new looks.

The boot is big­ger, with a two-level floor.

There are com­fort­able lodg­ings for the driver and front pas­sen­ger.

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