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Final Report: Long-Term 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk

Posted in Features on April 24, 2018
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“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 less than 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 Trailhawk flat black hood decal isn’t just for looks. It actually helps cut down glare, especially when wheeling in high-light conditions.
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.
Despite its off-road–friendly Goodyear tires, the Grand Cherokee gripped quite well on twisty mountain roads. While not overabundant, there is engine compression braking available if you toggle the transmission down a few gears either via the regular shifter or steering column paddles.
There’s no denying the Trailhawk is a sharp-looking Grand Cherokee package. We still love the front-end styling, but the rear is admittedly becoming a bit stale for us.
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.
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.
We kissed some dirt and rock.
To be honest, we rarely used the crawl control, which allows you to adjust your speed of descent 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.
It’s a new, modern feature, which will no doubt be standard on all fuel-sipping cars someday, but we found ourselves really loving the capless fuel filler. Just open ’er up, top off the tank, and slap the door shut.
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.

Report: 4 of 4

Previous reports: Nov. ’17, Feb. ’18; July ’18
Base price: $43,095
Price as tested: $53,515
Four-wheel-drive system: Full-time electronically controlled, two-speed

Long-Term Numbers
Miles to date: 19,146
Miles since last report: 4,127
Average mpg (this report): 16.75
Test best tank (mpg): 20.02 (all highway, no traffic)
Test worst tank (mpg): 11.22 (mountain and desert driving)

Maintenance
This period: None
Problem areas: Mystery “ding” warning from dash that doesn’t display…still

What’s Hot, What’s Not
Hot: The mpgs keep going up if you leave it in ECO mode
Not: Phone controls on steering wheel STILL massively frustrating

Logbook Quotes
“The fascia is lower than you think it is.”
“These rocker guards should be standard issue. Can’t imagine off-roading this without them.”

Options as Tested
Customer Preferred Package 28J: Trailhawk Luxury Group ($2,695); Automatic High Beam Headlight Control, Automatic Headlight Leveling System, Bi-Zenon HID Headlamps, Cargo Compartment Cover, Dual-Pane Panoramic Sunroof, LED Daytime Running Headlamps, LED Fog Lamps, Power Tilt/Telescope Steering Column, Rain Sensitive Windshield Wipers. Jeep Active Safety Group ($1,495); Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop; Advanced Brake Assist, Full Speed Collision Warning Plus, LaneSense Lane Departure Warning Plus, Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist. 5.7L Hemi V-8 Engine ($3,295); 3.09 Axle Ratio, 700-Amp Maintenance Free Battery, Anti-Lock 4-Wheel Disc Heavy Duty Brakes. Rock Rails ($895). Uconnect 8.4 NAV ($450); GPS Navigation, HD Radio, SiriusXM Traffic/5-Year Traffic Service, SiriusXM Travel Link/5-Year Travel Link Subscription. Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection ($595).

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