Jeepers creepers it’s the Trailhawk

What is It?

Jeep’s Grand Cherokee Trailhawk is big, brawny and it’ll go up against Ali and Frasier combined – and win.

With a 184kW 3.0-litre diesel V6 and 570Nm of torque on tap from 2000 revs, the diesel drives all four wheels via an eight-speed auto with switchable off road modes, called Selec-Terrain – Snow, Sand, Rock, Mud, and the most commonly used mode, Auto.

And, being badged Trailhawk, it meets Jeep’s stringent off-road requirements, covering traction, articulation, ground clearance, water fording, and manoeuvrability.

With traditional bonnet blackouts, the Big Cherry is sizeable inside too, especially the cargo area at 782 litres.

It’s been refined slightly from the previous model, with a trimmer, slimmer looking bumper and grille, and lower air-intake that houses a forward facing camera.

When I say big, try 4828mm long, 1943mm wide and an imposing 1792mm high – with a massive 2915mm wheelbase.


What’s it cost?

There’s more than a few shekels involved, but not as many as you might think.

Jeep lists the Trailhawk at $78,229 drive away, with business rego a bit more – but there’s no extra impost for premium paint.

The range itself kicks off at $50,269 for the entry level Laredo 4×2 with a 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine.

What you get from Trailhawk is Jeep’s legendary off-road ability and a well appointed cabin that is functional ahead of stylish.

Starting with supportive cloth and leather trimmed seats, there’s good legroom for front seat passengers, but a widish transmission tunnel could intrude.

It’s only slightly less so for rear seat passengers, who also get heated seats and aircon vents.

There’s a memory function for the driver’s seat, with a button that is oddly situated low on the driver’s door.

There’s also console mounted drinks holders, a good-sized console bin, door-mounted bottle holders, and a power operated tailgate with a handy torch. 

The feel is of toned down luxury. It’s comfortable, but it’s obvious you’re in a capable off roader.

The dash is a broad, sweeping, expanse of plastic and wood trim, with a well designed centre console, 8.4-inch touchscreen and a thick, heated steering wheel.

The roof is a full glass unit, with two-stage sliding and a fabric sunscreen.

Overall, it’s feels nice but needs some extra appeal.

The tiller holds tabs to access info shown on the 7.0-inch colour screen that sits ahead of the driver, showing drive mode, vehicle orientation and radio station (DAB/FM/AM).

The screen is clear and easy to read, and is bracketed by two analogue dials that are just as easily read.

The sound system features nine speakers including a cargo area mounted subwoofer and does not disappoint in regards to clarity and quality.

Safety isn’t overlooked, to a point, with seven airbags including driver’s knee bag, plus Rain Brake Support and Tyre Pressure Monitoring.

But it misses out on the latest advances such as Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Rear Cross Path Alert.

It can however be fitted with a huge range of option packs for the interior and exterior, as well as the missing safety features.


What’s it go like?

It’s a hefty machine, with a gross vehicle mass of 2949kg.

That, however, includes a large 93-litre tank, that provides a surprisingly decent fuel consumption figure of a 7.5L/100km.

There’s a disconnect between pressing the accelerator and experiencing forward motion though, more so than the “normal” turbo lag from a diesel engine.

The eight-speed auto slurs nicely through the ratios and rarely felt out of step.

Downhill runs had the Trailhawk holding gear and, under braking, it would downshift almost invisibly.

Once it’s underway it is quiet, smooth, and will jump forward rapidly enough when required, with a throaty rumble from the exhaust.

Trailhawk rides on air suspension, with an independent double wishbone front and multi-link rear setup.

On start-up, a ride height icon flashes as the vehicle finishes rising to advise the driver that aerodynamic efficiency has been achieved.

On shut down, there’s a faint buzzing as the suspension lowers the vehicle once again.

The ride, as such, is pliable for the most part, but the suspension failed to catch a few solid bumps.

With a tight turning circle, at under 12 metres, the steering itself is lighter than expected – but there’s a real sense of being connected to what’s happening.

There’s prodigious grip too, from the Goodyear Wrangler 265/60/R18 rubber, that is surprisingly quiet given the chunky, off road tread pattern.

Trivia buffs will note the black alloys have a small Willy’s Jeep painted on them

Having made the Trailhawk grade, the wagon’s off road credentials are unquestionable, 

The drive mode programs hold up their end of the bargain, coupled with the air suspension that increases ground clearance from 205 to 260mm.

It gives the vehicle an approach angle of 36 degrees, departure angle of 27 degrees at the rear and it’ll go horizontally at 22 degrees.

If you want to get it wet, it will happily paddle through up to 502mm of water.


What we like?

  • Assertive, confident, look
  • Quietness on road, even when accelerating
  • Ride and handling belie its size
  • Better than expected fuel economy


What we don’t?

  • Front leg room may be a compromise
  • Close to top of the range but misses out on too much safety equipment
  • Lag between pressing accelerator and that request being received by the engine
  • Interior could do with more “vavoom”


The bottom line?

Trailhawk is an imposing, eminently capable off-roader that will ironically spend most of its working life on tarmac. It’ll do this well and the air suspension will intrigue the uninitiated with its unexpected ride height changes. For entertainment value alone it’s worth the price of admission. The gap between wanting to go and going however is a niggle. Although the interior looks good, it’s not as appealing as it could be – even with simple yet effective design. 

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, priced from $78,229 driveaway
  • Looks - 7.0/10
  • Performance - 7.0/10
  • Safety - 7.5/10
  • Thirst - 8.5/10
  • Practicality - 7.5/10
  • Comfort - 7.0/10
  • Tech - 7.5/10
  • Value - 7.5/10

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