2016 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk
Starting Price: $33,695
Price as Tested: $40,695
The Gist: This is the top-line Cherokee variant where off-road capability is concerned. With low-range gearing, a locking rear differential, gnarly all-terrain tires, a lifted suspension, skid-plates, recovery hooks and high-clearance bumpers, it adds an unheard-of level of equipment to an already capable crossover, and creates the one of the most adventure-ready CUV’s anywhere in the process. CR-V? RAV4? Escape? Forget it: those guys would be on a speed-date with a smashed-in floor-pan tackling the sort of terrain the Trailhawk is built for. Here’s another niche Jeep product, for the shopper after top-line on-road manners combined with off-road capability that leaves virtually all competitors in the dust.
Interior and Features: Where Wrangler’s cabin is a well-updated take on a long-lived design that’s simple, pure and utilitarian, Cherokee Trailhawk’s cabin is nearly posh by comparison. Access is a cinch: just slide sideways into your seat. The outward visibility and driving position aren’t as commanding, though a full array of safety radar and cameras keeps drivers well-apprised of their immediate driving environment.
Seats are chunky, supportive and comfortable. Trim and accenting gussies up the cabin with contrasting textures and colours, and without looking overdone. A giant central command screen houses one of the market’s best infotainment systems, a big advantage over the unit in the Willys, which is a warmed-over copy of the very first touchscreen ever installed to a Jeep. There’s a large, full-colour computer in the instrument cluster too.
In all, Trailhawk is more generously appointed with feature content, at-hand storage, connectivity and recharging implements, and creature comforts. It also feels more car-like from the driver’s seat, and though the cabin is less rugged and backwoodsy, it’s considerably more high-tech, modern and accommodating.