Words: Stephen Spyropoulos
Photography: Stephen Spyropoulos
Published: March 29, 2017
“Is she clear?” I bellowed. “Yep, take it slow!” responds my spotter. I carefully maneuver through the narrow passage that has 50-foot steep hills on either side. One side leads down towards a set of ominous train tracks that look to be in heavy use. A wrong turn of the wheel and this Trailhawk could fall and become a wounded parakeet in a heartbeat. But luckily I manage to make the most out of my friend and we get into the perfect position for some photographs.
As the cold air hits my lens and brushes up against my cheeks, I depress the shutter button and begin to think to myself, “what a clever machine.” Knowing that your rig is more than capable to bring you back to civilization after exploring a deserted trail is a humbling feeling, one that lets you push the boundaries without worry.
Despite the quirky front end of this Jeep, the Cherokee Trailhawk is a sport-ute that I would gladly prefer on any off- or on-road adventures, nine times out of ten (if it involved rock climbing I’d opt for the Wrangler). The Trailhawk’s duality about tackling the road ahead gives it a unique charm that will even appeal to people who wouldn’t be caught dead “off-roading.” The “Trail Rated” badge serves like a stamp of approval, letting prospective buyers know that they can hit up just about any terrain, even if that means mall parking lots.
Detesting the stereotypes associated with people who drive their off-road beasts exclusively to parking lots, I immediately gave the Trailhawk a baptism by mud the first day I took it home. Switching the Cherokee into the 4WD “mud/sand” mode gave the SUV more than enough prowess to get down and dirty. The Terrain Select knob changes the throttle and brake algorithms within the computer-controlled traction control system.
The Trailhawk doesn’t have solid axles since it’s basically a front-wheel-drive SUV with a tag axle on the back end. In fact, it doesn’t even have a real transfer case, but it does have low range and a unique way of distributing power via a power transfer unit. With an effective 48:1 low range, it can crawl better than any other crossover, and the selectable locker is spot-on in function. The locker allows this little gem to go where it has no right to be.
In the Trailhawk trim, the Cherokee receives plenty of ground clearance thanks to the added ride height – 220 mm to be exact – and has great approach and departure angles thanks to the unique styling of the front and rear fascias. The skid plates on the undercarriage are fully functional. The only issue off-road wise were the flimsy Firestone A/T tires, which pale in comparison to the ability of the BFGoodrich T/A KO2s.
Right away I could say that the Cherokee Trailhawk’s styling is polarizing. The lizard-like face belies the fact that it really does have round headlights—the squinty lights are actually DRLs. Its compact and swoopy design is modern and inventive, without the boxy look of earlier Cherokees.
In fact, if Jeep hadn’t used the used the Cherokee nameplate on this model, the outcry from the old-timer Jeep fans would not have been as loud. I appreciate the new look and yes, it takes some getting used to, but the size and style is compact and sleek, and I like that in an SUV.
The interior is also spot-on. The Leather Plus trim adds full leather seating. It’s well laid out, comfortable on road trips, and has an instrument cluster that you can see and manipulate easily. The quality of materials and design isn’t cheap or tacky either. It feels like a nice leather glove when you settle in. Sound deadening material further helps to reduce the noise level but the annoying mute button on the radio is by far the Cherokee’s worst feature. It defaults back to “on” after engine shutdown, so after a drive change it blares on startup.
An overlooked aspect is the power from the 3.2L “baby” Pentastar V-6 motor. While small in stature, it can pull the car with power and authority, especially in Sport Mode. Coupled with the ZF nine-speed transmission, and there’s a ratio for everything. With 271 horsepower and 239 lb-ft. of torque, the V-6 isn’t high output by any means but it can certainly hold its own in the concrete jungle.
Storage space in the Cherokee is plentiful. The front passenger seat can fold completely flat forward, adding to the cargo capacity. Even during the Canadian International Auto Show this year, I was able to make the most of the Cherokee by assisting in moving some items for a vendor. I managed to fit twelve rims inside, and all were paired with tires. Although its suspension was lowered due to the added weight, the Cherokee trucked the cargo like it was nothing but a chip on the shoulder.
Starting at $35,645, the Cherokee Trailhawk Leather plus is priced just right. You can add in some extra niceties to round off the price just over $46,000. For that amount you’re getting a more than capable platform that is fun in the city, and gifted off the beaten path. Just don’t forget your spotter.
型号 Model: 2017 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Leather Plus
顏色 Paint Type: Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $35,645
試車售價 Price as Tested: $46,090
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,719
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,624 / 1,904 / 1,683
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,863
引擎 Engine: 3.2-Litre Pentastar V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 271 hp @ 6,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 239 lb.-ft. @ 4,400 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 9-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, 4X4
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 12.9 / 9.9 / 11.6
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 11.5
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P245/65R17; Firestone Destination A/T