Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk wins Four Wheeler 2017 SUV of the YearPosted in Vehicle Reviews on January 26, 2017
World-beating capability is practically a trademark for the Jeep brand, and upholding the family tradition is the new Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, which was named Four Wheeler’s 2017 SUV of the Year. Eligible for the competition were all-new or significantly revised SUVs, leading the Trailhawk to a victory over the 2017 Nissan Armada.
According to Four Wheeler Editor Ken Brubaker, the Trailhawk is a worthy addition to the Jeep Grand Cherokee lineup, adding specially tuned Quadra-Lift air suspension, unique Goodyear Adventure tires, and extensive underbody skidplates to the midsize SUV. As such, its off-road performance was nearly unstoppable, aided by impressive approach, departure, and breakover angles, plus a formidable first-gear crawl ratio with the transfer case in low range.
The team spent a five days with both vehicles, evaluating them through one day of track testing, three days of off-road driving, and one day of highway driving. As such, judges were able to develop a well-rounded evaluation of the 2017 Nissan Armada and 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, leading them to their conclusion. Four Wheeler experts evaluated the Armada and Grand Cherokee in five weighted categories: off-road performance, empirical performance testing, on-road comfort, interior function and styling, and exterior function and styling. The Trailhawk took four of the five categories, leading it to a decisive victory over the still-capable Nissan.
Thanks to its strong all-around performance, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk is a worthy recipient of Four Wheeler’s 2017 SUV of the Year award.
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Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk Wins FOUR WHEELER’S 2017 SUV of the Year Award
A Host of Off-Road–Centric Trailhawk Features Combine With the Grand Cherokee’s Capable Platform to Help Jeep Earn Top Honors
LOS ANGELES, January 26, 2017—FOUR WHEELER, the world’s leading 4x4 authority since 1962, has selected the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk as the winner of its 44th annual SUV of the Year award.
FOUR WHEELER’s SUV of the Year award event (formerly known as Four Wheeler of the Year) is an invitation-only competition that is only open to all-new or significantly revised SUVs for the upcoming model year. For 2017, the field of vehicles included two entries, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk and Nissan Armada.
“The addition of the Trailhawk to the Grand Cherokee model lineup is yet another example of Jeep’s commitment to producing vehicles that are just as nimble and capable in the dirt as they are on the paved road,” says FOUR WHEELER Editor Ken Brubaker. “The Trailhawk model, which includes a unique version of Grand Cherokee’s Quadra-Lift air suspension to improve articulation and suspension travel, takes a capable vehicle and makes it even better. The Grand Cherokee is the third model in the Jeep lineup to be paired with Trailhawk features. The first Jeep vehicle to receive the Trailhawk treatment was the all-new 2014 Cherokee. The second Jeep vehicle to get Trailhawk features was the 2015 Renegade. On each model, the Trailhawk package enhanced off-road performance and added to its fun factor, and those great attributes continue to the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk. In addition to the great functional upgrades, the Trailhawk package adds a number of visual tweaks to create a handsome and rugged appearance.”
The road to winning FOUR WHEELER’s prestigious 2017 SUV of the Year award was actually more of a rutted, rocky, snow-clogged two-track. Since FOUR WHEELER is the leading 4x4 authority, the majority of testing was done off-road in a variety of challenging terrains. FOUR WHEELER combined this extreme testing with on-road and track testing. The weeklong test covered approximately 1,000 miles and scoring factored in a number of areas, including price, fuel efficiency, tire size, ramp travel index (RTI) results, and more. The competition began in the Los Angeles area with ramp travel index (RTI) testing to gauge each vehicle’s suspension articulation. Following RTI testing, the SUVs were driven to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, for track testing. Sophisticated electronic equipment was used to record each vehicle’s 0-60-mph and quarter-mile acceleration, as well as 60-0-mph braking distance. Following track testing, the vehicles were driven to the Southern California desert on paved roads. As was standard throughout the test, experienced judges rotated between vehicles on a regular basis, which provided equal testing time. Judges included staff from various brands within TEN: The Enthusiast Network, including FOUR WHEELER, 4-WHEEL & OFF-ROAD, JP, and DIRT SPORTS + OFF-ROAD. The multi-hour drive to the desert allowed judges to gather important information on each vehicle’s on-road manners in stop-and-go and open-highway driving. It also provided fuel efficiency data for this type of driving.
The next three days were spent primarily off-road. Each judge drove each vehicle in a variety of off-road conditions, including sand, rocky trails, loose-surface trails, and snow. The test also included a loose-dirt hillclimb and water crossings. This testing provided the judges with a wealth of information, including each vehicle’s off-road visibility from the driver seat, four-wheel-drive system selection and performance, tire performance and durability, engine power and cooling, transmission function and cooling, suspension tuning and performance, traction control system function, and much more. Night driving was also integrated into the competition to gauge each vehicle’s lighting equipment.
The final day of testing included a long highway test section returning to the Los Angeles area, during which additional important highway data was gathered, including fuel economy, interior comfort, and on-road handling.
The Grand Cherokee Trailhawk package includes a unique version of Grand Cherokee’s Quadra-Lift air suspension that improves articulation and suspension travel; rugged, 18-inch Goodyear Adventure with Kevlar tires; skidplates; an antiglare hood decal; red front and rear towhooks, new Trailhawk and Trail Rated badges; a unique black interior with leather and suede performance seats; brushed piano-black appliques; a gunmetal finish on all interior painted parts; a steering-wheel Trailhawk badge; and red accent stitching on the seats, doors, and console.
The Trailhawk-package interior features made the Grand Cherokee’s cabin an even better place to be, both visually and from a comfort and convenience perspective. Judges loved the standard heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear seats; the heated leather-wrapped steering wheel that included a bevy of controls from transmission shift levers to audio controls; the 506-watt, 9 speaker, 8.4-inch touchscreen Uconnect audio system; and the instrument cluster with off-road display pages. Judges were especially fond of the Trailhawk’s dual-pane panoramic sunroof. The sunroof created an open, airy feel to the interior, which was especially welcome on the trail.
Powering the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk was the 5.7L Hemi V-8 engine that generated 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. The engine was mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Judges found the engine and transmission to work seamlessly together, providing ample power in every situation. At the track, the Hemi V-8 powered the Trailhawk through the quarter-mile in 15.6 seconds at a speed of 90.9 mph. During 0-60-mph acceleration testing, it achieved a time of 7.3 seconds. The Trailhawk’s four-wheel disc brakes helped to bring the SUV to a complete stop in only 132.8 feet from 60 mph.
On the trail, judges appreciated the Quadra-Lift adjustable suspension and its ability to easily raise vehicle height to improve approach, departure, and rampover angles as well as general ground clearance. The Trailhawk’s transfer case low range ratio of 2.72:1 combined with the eight-speed transmission’s First gear ratio of 4.71:1 and axle ratio of 3.09:1 to offer a crawl ratio of 39.6:1. This helped to make technical low-speed crawling over obstacles child’s play.
Prior to SUV of the Year testing, each judge was issued an official judging book, which included areas for the judges to grade vehicle criteria and log comments. With testing completed, the vehicle criteria data provided by the judges was combined with performance and other data to create a score for each vehicle. The scoring was weighted, prioritizing off-road performance. The five weighted categories include 30 percent Trail Performance, 20 percent Empirical (RTI, acceleration, braking, price, and so on), 20 percent On Pavement (handling, ride quality, steering feel, and so on), 15 percent Interior (instrumentation, ingress and egress, seat comfort, storage, and so on), and 10 percent Exterior (appearance, stance, body protection, and so on). When the calculations were complete, the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk emerged the winner in four of the five categories to give it a decisive win and the title of 2017 SUV of the Year. “FOUR WHEELER’s SUV and Pickup Truck of the Year awards are the most prestigious and longest-running four-wheel-drive awards in the industry,” says Sean P. Holman, content director for TEN: The Enthusiast Network’s Truck and Off-Road Group. “Our experts use an emphasis on the enthusiast perspective to find the world’s most capable out-of-the box vehicles. These vehicles are not only competent in their own right, but lend themselves to being great foundations for the enthusiast to build off of. Based on a comprehensive evaluation, our readers can be sure they are getting the most capability and fun for their money when choosing one of our winners.”
Public Relations Contacts:
Sean P. Holman
Truck Trend Network
PR & Social Media Manager, Marketing
TEN: The Enthusiast Network
About FOUR WHEELER
Launched in 1962, FOUR WHEELER is the world’s first and longest-tenured off-road enthusiast brand and has since become the halo brand for the Four Wheeler Network, which includes other storied off-road–centric titles, such as JP, PETERSEN’S 4-WHEEL & OFF-ROAD, and DIRT SPORTS + OFF ROAD. Whether you are looking for tips and how-tos on making your off-road vehicle more capable or want to stay up to date on emerging off-road trends and the most capable vehicles from the factory, the world’s leading 4x4 authority will bring it to you. With a total audience of 24 million, the Four Wheeler Network keeps off-roading enthusiasts informed and entertained. Please visit fourwheeler.com.
Built on more than 75 years of legendary heritage, Jeep is the authentic SUV with class-leading capability, craftsmanship, and versatility for people who seek extraordinary journeys. The Jeep brand delivers an open invitation to live life to the fullest by offering a full line of vehicles that continue to provide owners with a sense of security to handle any journey with confidence. The Jeep vehicle lineup consists of the Cherokee, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Renegade, Wrangler, and Wrangler Unlimited. To meet consumer demand around the world, all Jeep models sold outside North America are available in both left- and right-hand-drive configurations and with gasoline and diesel powertrain options. Visit the Jeep website at jeep.com.
About TEN: The Enthusiast Network
TEN: The Enthusiast Network is the world’s premier transmedia network of enthusiast brands, such as MOTOR TREND, AUTOMOBILE, HOT ROD, SURFER, TRANSWORLD SKATEBOARDING, and GRINDTV. With more than 60 websites, 50 publications, 50 annual events, the Motor Trend OnDemand subscription video-on-demand service, as well as the world’s largest automotive and action/adventure sports media platforms, TEN inspires enthusiasts to pursue their passions. For more information, visit enthusiastnetwork.com.