Final Thoughts: Off road, Trailhawk impresses most when compared to other crossover models, and less so when compared to the Willys Wheeler. The electronic driver aids, on-road and off, are impressive, effective, and well-tuned. The off-road hardware upgrades are comprehensive. But with more toughness and confidence coming from the Willys in the sort of driving that both machines are meant for, those considering one of these models for frequent actual off-roading should have minimal issue with the Wrangler’s compromise. Of course, I know at least two people who have bought Trailhawk models and refuse to off-road them. Spending thousands on overkill like this is something many marketing departments would kill for.
Overall Value: If you’ll do most of your driving on the road, Trailhawk is the stand-out value here. It’s better to drive most of the time, has more features, a nicer cabin, more at-hand storage, and a sweeter, more eager powertrain. And if you don’t need collision warning, a self-parking system, and other driver safety assist electronics, you can cut about $1,200 out of the as-tested price.
For all but the most avid off-roaders, and especially those requiring flexibility and on-road comfort not compromised by off-road capability, it’s a near no-brainer – provided you’re accepting of some excessive suspension noise when the going does gets rough.
Which one for me: Decision time. Which machine would your writer spend his $35,000 on?
A note, first: I drive a Dodge Viper – so I’m not easily fazed by operation of a vehicle that’s noisy, somewhat compromised and difficult to keep full of fuel, in exchange for some high-capability cool factor.
And though I know I’d long for the Trailhawk on highway drives and at the gas station, the Wrangler Willys Wheeler’s availability with a manual transmission and convertible roof, as well as superior performance in the sort of driving Jeeps are meant for, really seal the deal for me.
I’ll take a four-door, with the stereo, and the stick, in black, please.