Fi­nal re­port: Well that year flew by like a Trailhawk


Fi­nal re­port: Well that year flew by like a Trailhawk

“HUH, WHADDYA MEAN YOU’RE COM­ing to pick up our Trailhawk on Mon­day? It’s only been a cou­ple weeks, right? A year? Al­ready? Rats.” It seems like only yes­ter­day our bright red Grand Cherokee was get­ting de­liv­ered to our doorstep, and in the blink of an eye it was torn from our clutches. A full 12 months passed quickly with our 2017 SUV of the Year win­ner, and maybe that’s be­cause the ve­hi­cle gave us vir­tu­ally no cause for dis­lik­ing it. There were no re­cur­ring me­chan­i­cal is­sues, no off-road draw­backs, no on-road com­pro­mises, and no rea­son to leave it in the drive­way for an­other ve­hi­cle in the fleet. Gotta pick the kids up at school? Take the Trailhawk. Gotta pick up Grandma at the air­port? Take the Trailhawk. Gotta go shoot a fea­ture 20 miles down a desert wash? Take the Trailhawk. Gotta go pre­run for the 2018 SUV of the Year to make sure the field of com­peti­tors can make it through? Take the Trailhawk. It’s been the fun run­ner, the work­horse, the daily driver, and the week­end fun ma­chine, and we’re some­what sorry to see it go.

Dur­ing our time with the ve­hi­cle we’ve used it to tow a 6,500-pound trailer, haul tires and wheels, and even slept in­side of it on cold nights while camp­ing. On-road, the mileage just keeps climb­ing as the 5.7L Hemi breaks in. On our high­way-only runs we were start­ing to see some true 20-mpg fill-ups. That’s pretty darn good out of a pow­er­ful V-8. And

we felt like the en­gine power was get­ting a bit stronger as well. On the chas­sis side, although we only had just un­der 20,000 miles to get ac­quainted, we didn’t have any rat­tling, shimmy, or other neg­a­tive at­tributes—de­spite giv­ing the Jeep a good off-road spank­ing with some reg­u­lar­ity. And in the dirt, apart from fre­quently want­ing a bit more ap­proach and de­par­ture an­gle, the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk al­most al­ways made it far­ther than we thought it could…and prob­a­bly a bit more than it prob­a­bly should. We tat­tooed a few mi­nor scrapes in the front fas­cia plas­tic, but thanks to the Mopar steel rocker guards we avoided any per­ma­nent in­juries to the ve­hi­cle’s body. The heavy un­der­car­riage skid­plat­ing got a work­out with­out fail­ing. And for no lack of try­ing, we didn’t have to take a strap once. We were al­ways able to mus­cle down the trail or back out and find a bet­ter route. So, thank you, Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, for reaf­firm­ing our 2017 SUV of the Year choice. You were a wor­thy re­cip­i­ent of the pres­ti­gious ti­tle.

->The af­ter­mar­ket Mopar steel rocker guards are a life­saver when you’re re­ally wheel­ing. The Grand Cherokee’s off-road sys­tem will def­i­nitely get the ve­hi­cle into sit­u­a­tions in which it can do harm to it­self. Although the un­der­car­riage is well skid­plated, the rock­ers aren’t on a reg­u­lar Trailhawk, and we found our­selves scrap­ing the Mopar rocker guards on more than one oc­ca­sion. Thank­fully our tester had the op­tional dealer-in­stalled item, or our doors might not open and close so eas­ily.

|> As we said pre­vi­ously, the Trailhawk is a very ca­pa­ble off-road ma­chine. So much so that it tends to put it­self in harm’s way. We’d re­ally wel­come a re­mov­able front fas­cia that al­lowed more ap­proach an­gle for tech­ni­cal off-road work. As is, even with the sus­pen­sion in the max off-road height set­ting, we kissed some dirt and rock a bit more than we’d like.

<-Off-road there are a num­ber of fancy-schmancy modes to se­lect from, but we nor­mally just left the sys­tem in Auto, wor­ry­ing more about the sus­pen­sion height. We usu­ally rocked (no pun in­tended) the mid-height, find­ing the lower street set­ting put the front valance into ob­sta­cles and the high­est set­ting de­liv­ered an overly harsh ride in the rough stuff.

<-To be hon­est, we rarely used the crawl con­trol, which al­lows you to ad­just your speed in 1-mph in­cre­ments. And for the most part, other than the Auto mode we re­ally only found our­selves se­lect­ing “Rock” mode, which di­min­ishes throt­tle sen­si­tiv­ity, holds First gear longer, and sharp­ens the ve­hi­cle’s trac­tion sys­tems.

|> The dual-pane panoramic sunroof lets in a ton of light and al­lows the back seat oc­cu­pants to feel less trapped and cooped while off-road­ing. We dig the shark dor­sal fin satel­lite an­tenna for the sat/nav sys­tem.

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