Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk: Fun but not that frugal

CherokeeWhat is it?

Cherokee is the name of one of North America’s prominent native tribes.

It’s been applied to the workhorse, if you will, of a brand born from providing dogged, rugged, do anything and go anywhere vehicles.

The entry level Sport, Longitude, and Limited, all have their own distinct features. Sport is the only version to offer a four cylinder engine.

Trailhawk sits at the top. It’s the one given the coveted “Trail Rated” badge that certifies it’s able to pass some stringent tests — almost like a tribal initiation, if you will.

CherokeeWhat’s it cost?

Recommended retail is $48,450. State charges will vary but the on-road cost will be somewhere between $51K and $52K.

Premium paint adds $645 and includes virtually all of the available colours, which begs the question of why a charge?

There’s a sweet exterior, a luxurious interior, and a solid, if thirsty drivetrain.

The front end of this second generation model has been resculpted to integrate the headlights and driving lights into one. 

The lower section of the bumper is bespoke for the Trailhawk and a pair of stand-out red tow hooks are smartly placed.

The rear has received a slight tidy up for the tail light design and there’s a separate tow hook here also.

The Trailhawk provided was in Diamond Black and this along with body coloured handles, mirror covers, and body mouldings, plus full black alloys, looks evil and menacing on road.

It’s compact, at 4645mm in length, while the wheelbase is slightly longer than the others too, at 2720mm.

The front and rear overhangs provide better approach and departure angles too.

Departure is 32.2 degrees. Approach is 29.9 degrees. Breakover is 22.9 degrees.

Wading depth is 480mm, with the Sport not rated, and 405mm for the two L plated cars.

To ensure minimal issues when getting dirty, there are bash plates for the fuel tank, front suspension, transmission, and the underbody.

The inside is a lovely place to be.

The seats aren’t leather, with a vinyl and cloth covering. They have heating AND venting.

The driver’s seat has two-position memory and is eight way power adjustable.


The upper dash and door coverings are all soft touch and the centre-most section of the upper dash has a soft-open storage section.

An 8.4 inch touchscreen is fitted with the Jeep UConnect multimedia system.

There is a high power, nine speaker, DAB audio system from Alpine, and it’s an absolute cracker.

There’s also the usual assortment of apps such as Apple CarPlay. Climate control, seat temperature settings, satnav etc — all controlled from here.

The driver has a 7.0 inch info screen that sits between a pair of standard analogue dials.

It’s a silver metallic hue and a little different in layout.

The now standard steering wheel tabs move through the sub-menus and are numbered.

It’s a simple touch but adds a bit of humanity to it. Compass direction is always shown.

The tailgate is powered but Jeep have deviated from the norm by placing the button for lowering the door on the left hand rearmost section of the 514-litre cargo section.

The spare is a full-sizer.

There is a 12V port up front, one in the cargo area, and there are two USB ports for the rear seat passengers.

A pair of cup holders sit behind the gear selector and all four doors have the standard bottle holders.

Safety is comprehensive with seven airbags, Forward Collision Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Alert, and dynamic line guidance for the reverse camera.

CherokeeCherokeeWhat’s it go like?

The Trailhawk, like the rest of the range, has a 3.2-litre petrol V6, with 200kW and 315Nm along with a final economy figure of 11.5L/100km.

With a 60-litre tank, that is an around town figure yet, scarily, betters the official figure 13.7L/100km.

Dry weight is a downer. Knocking on the door of 1900kg, the Trailhawk is no lightweight and this contributes to the high fuel consumption.

The auto is a nine cogger and is mostly a well thought out and engineered unit.


Cold, it’s hesitant and uncertain.

Engage Drive, move forward, slide into Reverse. There’s a dual clutch auto hum hah before the transmission decides to engage, and the same back to Drive.

When it’s warm it’s a different story, sliding through the ratios like a warm spoon into ice cream.

When everything is on temp, the run to 100km/h takes 8.3 seconds.

Peak torque is at a typically petrol high at 4300rpm, which translates to the need for some pedal work to move the two tonne mass. 

There’s a subtle snarl to the engine when pressed, but nothing from the rear.

The brakes have a numb feel and it’s not always able to say: “Okay, in this part of the travel the pressure required will be . . .”


That applies to the steering as well. Trailhawk has a front-drive bias and it’s noticeable in the weight the tiller feeds back. 

Inside the cabin is a dial shaped set of four buttons.

This is mounted on the front left of the centre console and engages the different drive modes, whether it’s Mud, Snow, or Rocks.

Our normal testing procedure with an off-road capable vehicle is to find our well proven bush track.

During the time we had the Trailhawk, however, weather conditions were bad enough that for the sake of prudence and not potentially bending the Trailhawk — we opted not to test it.

Having had prior exposure to the Trail Rated, we’ll take it as said it will do the job.

But in an area that copped 600mm of rain across four days . . . nope.

Another consideration was the Yokohama Geolander rubber.

On full black painted alloys, with a 245/65/17 profile, the tarmac-oriented tread also would not have coped well.

On the tarmac, where it will probably spend most of its life, the suspension is taut and tight.

Damping is beautifully controlled, with little pogoing over the usual bumps and ruts.

The suspension is a McPherson strut and coil spring front, a steel cradle holds a multi-link rear.

Lane changing, considering the mass, is surprisingly without issue and easily accomplished.

CherokeeWhat we like?

  • Gentlemen’s club ambience inside
  • Imposing on-road presence with black on black scheme
  • Teeth rattling audio system

CherokeeWhat we don’t like?

  • It’s weighs a lot for a car that isn’t that big
  • Economy suffers as a result
  • Transmission quirks
  • Numbness in brakes and steering


The bottom line?

In Diamond Black the Cherokee Trailhawk is a menacing, imposing looking machine.

Is off-road ability is unquestionable and its on-road ability is suitable enough for Australian roads.

It’s also roomy enough for the average Aussie family.

But for a mid-sized SUV it’s too heavy, and with the typical American disdain for diesel, and a small tank — around town economy isn’t family friendly.

That kinda mitigates the undoubted fun factor.


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Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, priced from $48,450
  • Looks - 7/10
  • Performance - 7/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 6/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
  • Tech - 7.5/10
  • Value - 7/10

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