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2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4X4 Review By John Heilig

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2017 Jeep Cherokee Traihawk

By John Heilig
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

REVIEWED MODEL: 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4X4
ENGINE: 3.6-liter V6
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic with paddles
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 295 hp/260 lb.-ft.
WHEELBASE: 114.8 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 189.8 x 84.8 x 69.3 in.
TIRES: P265/60R18
CARGO CAPACITY: 36.3/68.3 cu. ft. (behind 2nd row/behind 1st row)
ECONOMY: 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway/17.1 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 24.6 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 4,869 lbs. #/HP: 16.5
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Ford Explorer, Acura MDX, Volkswagen Touareg
STICKER: $50,620 (includes $1,095 destination, $6,330 in options)
BOTTOM LINE: The Standard, The Benchmark, call it what you will. The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been at the forefront of the standard SUV segment for more than 20 years and continues to lead.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been the benchmark for standard SUVs ever since the second one came out more than  30 years ago. There are many reasons for this. 

To begin with, Jeep all-terrain capability is legendary. The Grand Cherokee has: Quadra-Drive II 4WD, Quadra-Trac II 4WD, Quadra-Lift air suspension and a Selec-Terrain system. All this allows the driver to select from among five different terrains (four actually) - Snow, Sand, Automatic, Mud and Rock. You can raise or lower the vehicle from the center console as well as shift into 4WD Low easily. For chassis protection there are underbody skid pads as well as skid pads for the transfer case and fuel tank. All these are important. We recall rallying in some hotsy-totsy sports cars that were so low you had to be careful not to drive on roads with high crowns.

All this is kind of a waste without a solid underpinning. The Grand Cherokee’s 3.6-liter V6 is rated at 295 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, and is connected to the road through an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters behind the wheel if you are so inclined. The engine has plenty of power for hard acceleration, especially merging onto highways. 

“Trailhawk” is a $2,995 luxury group accessory package designation that is valuable. It includes automatic high beam control, automatic headlamp leveling, a cargo compartment cover, LED daytime running lights and fog lamps, and rain sensitive wipers. The $1,495 active safety group adds adaptive cruise control, full-speed collision warning, lane departure warning, and parallel and perpendicular parking assist. The blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert add another $595.  I’ll be the first to complain about over-accessorized vehicles, but these are all a good combination of features.

Now, down to my nitty-gritty. Ride quality is excellent. The Grand Cherokee has the basics of a long wheelbase and weight to ensure a good ride. We took the Grand Cherokee over all manner of roads at all speeds and were never uncomfortable. 

Front seats offer good side support and the Uconnect audio system provides good entertainment. There are two assist handles over the front doors for ease of entry. In the rear, assist handles are mounted on the B pillars. Rear seats offer good legroom and visibility. The rear seats are comfortable with some side support. The rear of the center console has a pair of USB outlets as well as a 110-volt outlet, plus rear HVAC and heated seat controls. 

The rear seats fold easily to extend the already substantial cargo area. We found this necessary because we had to transport a desk to the UPS Store for packing and shipping.

We found the navigation system easy to program. It led us to destinations correctly without having to input a particular address. Along with an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment display, the instrument panel was clear.  

A large sunroof allows sun into the vehicle on the right kind of days.

Along with a reasonable sticker price for all that it offers, the Jeep Grand Cherokee remains the benchmark by which all other standard SUVs will be judged. My only complaint, and it’s a minor one, is that I would have hoped for better fuel economy, since we did a fair amount of highway and Interstate driving.

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