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Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
7.5
Jeep has updated the Grand Cherokee for 2017, and added the Trailhawk to the line as a full-time model. We grabbed one for a few days in New Zealand, and came away pretty impressed.

As Jeep soldiers into its seventh year with its current Grand Cherokee, it's fair to say it's been a difficult past few years.

After a blazing start, reality has set in, and sales have been in freefall for a couple of years.

There are a number of reasons for this, but there's light at the end of the tunnel. A re-focus on the core elements that make Jeep... well, Jeep-like, as well as some navel gazing at a reliability and dealer service level, should start to turn the ship around.

The company has updated the range for 2017, and added a bespoke off-roader called the Trailhawk to the line as a full-time model. We grabbed one for a few days in New Zealand, and came away pretty impressed.

Jeep Grand Cherokee 2017: TRAILHAWK (4x4)
Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency7.5L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$56,888

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

Jeep has tweaked the visage of the Grand Cherokee for 2017, narrowing the headlights and front grille, while the Trailhawk also gets items like an anti-glare bonnet decal, badging and special 18-inch rims.

  • Alloy suspension knuckles up front replace steel items. (Image credit: Tim Robson) Alloy suspension knuckles up front replace steel items. (Image credit: Tim Robson)
  • As for specs, the Trailhawk comes standard with LED lights front and rear. (Image credit: Tim Robson) As for specs, the Trailhawk comes standard with LED lights front and rear. (Image credit: Tim Robson)

At its heart, though, it's still a big, brash and honest five-seat SUV, where size takes precedence over subtlety. That's not to say it isn't handsome in its own way, though.

The interior has also been lightly made over, with the biggest change being a switch back to a T-bar style automatic shifter. The previous iteration worked more like a rocker switch, and was implicated as the cause of several nasty incidents over the last couple of years.

The multimedia screen has also been updated, and there's thicker windscreen and side glass to reduce noise intrusion.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The Grand Cherokee is a straight five-seater in a category that's full of seven-seat rivals like the Toyota Prado and Ford Everest. It might lose the ability to take the neighbour's kids to cricket, but it frees up cargo space for more stuff.

The Trailhawk scores a set of 18-inch Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tyres. (Image credit: Tim Robson) The Trailhawk scores a set of 18-inch Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tyres. (Image credit: Tim Robson)

Drop the seats and you'll easily jam a full sized mountain bike in the back. Small tie-down hooks also allow you to secure it.

Jeep says there's 782 litres of space behind the rear seats, and 1552 litres when they're laid flat.

A pair of cupholders supplements  bottle  holders, while a medium-depth centre bin can hide the largest of phones.

The seats themselves are big, well bolstered and very comfy front and rear, with three adults able to sit across the back with ease. They can also recline the seatbacks, charge devices and control their own climate, while sipping from bottles stashed in the doors.

If you leave a friend behind, the fold-down centre armrest hides two cupholders, and ISOFIX child restraints can be added to the outside rear pews.

Up front, the comfort is similar, with Jeep's excellent digital dash facing the driver. It can be configured in a number of ways, and is amongst the clearest and most easy-to-read dashboards on the market today.

Jeep's digital dash is amongst the clearest and most easy-to-read dashboards on the market today. (Image credit: Tim Robson) Jeep's digital dash is amongst the clearest and most easy-to-read dashboards on the market today. (Image credit: Tim Robson)

A pair of cupholders supplements bottle holders, while a medium-depth centre bin can hide the largest of phones.

Given the nature of the Trailhawk name, you'd be forgiven for thinking the car would be more biased towards dirty climes, but with carpet throughout and leather trim everywhere else, a set of rugged floor mats might be a good thing to grab before going bush.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The Trailhawk retails for $74,000, which is a $5000 lift over the Limited model on which it's based.

Various modes can be activated including mud and gravel. (Image credit: Tim Robson) Various modes can be activated including mud and gravel. (Image credit: Tim Robson)

It scores a locking rear diff, longer travel air suspension and a set of 18-inch Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tyres, along with unique rims, underbody protection panels, the matt black bonnet decal and distinctly coloured tow hooks front and rear.

The electric power steering system that debuted in the Chrysler 300 in 2015 has been added to the Cherokee line-up for 2017, and there have been changes to the front and rear suspension, too.

Alloy suspension knuckles up front replace steel items, while hollow sway bars front and rear also take weight out of the big Jeep.

The multimedia screen has also been updated. (Image credit: Tim Robson) The multimedia screen has also been updated. (Image credit: Tim Robson)

As for specs, the Trailhawk comes standard with items like leather trim, powered tailgate, LED lights front and rear, automatic headlights and wipers, four USB ports (with two for rear seaters), dual zone climate control, heated steering wheel, heated seats (front and rear), as well as an 8.4-inch multimedia touchscreen, nine-speaker stereo, and more.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The Trailhawk runs Jeep's well known 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel engine, which produces 184kW at 4000rpm and a hefty 570Nm at a low 2000rpm.

The Trailhawk comes standard with leather trim. (Image credit: Tim Robson) The Trailhawk comes standard with leather trim. (Image credit: Tim Robson)

It also uses a second-generation ZF eight-speed automatic transmission with flappy paddles (now standard across the Grand Cherokee range), along with a new electric steering system that's been poached from the Chrysler 300.

The engine is a beauty, with quiet operation and loads of go right off the bat. The ZF auto, designed in conjunction with Chrysler, is a ripper as well, with plenty of gears available when needed.

The Grand Cherokee also offers low-range off-road capability via its two-speed transfer case and electronic rear diff. Various modes can be activated inside the cabin depending on the terrain, including mud and gravel modes.

The seats themselves are big, well bolstered and very comfy front and rear. (Image credit: Tim Robson) The seats themselves are big, well bolstered and very comfy front and rear. (Image credit: Tim Robson)

There's a very clever hill descent feature that also works as a hill climbing mode, with the driver adjusting the speed of the descent and ascent via the wheel paddles.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

Jeep claims a combined fuel economy figure of 7.5 litres per 100km, and after 940km of on- and off-road testing, we used 77 litres of diesel, which equates to a combined fuel economy figure of 8.1L/100km.

Thanks to its 93 litre fuel tank, the Grand Cherokee has a theoretical range of over 1200km.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

The Trailhawk uses air-sprung suspension, which naturally softens and smooths out the ride. The all-terrain tyres do feel a tad stiffer, but given the deeper sidewalls on the 18-inch wheels, it doesn't impact on ride comfort at all.

Jeep says there's 782 litres of space behind the rear seats. (Image credit: Tim Robson) Jeep says there's 782 litres of space behind the rear seats. (Image credit: Tim Robson)

The electric steering is good, albeit a bit remote, while the drivetrain is essentially custom designed for long journeys. The diesel is quiet and smooth, while the eight-speed auto always has the right gear to hand.

Even through the wilds of New Zealand – where any straight bit of road is a rarity – the almost three-tonne Grand Cherokee is an unflustered touring companion.

Drop the seats and you'll easily jam a full sized mountain bike in the back. (Image credit: Tim Robson) Drop the seats and you'll easily jam a full sized mountain bike in the back. (Image credit: Tim Robson)

Off-road, the new hill descent/ascent control system is brilliant, while the Jeep's 260mm maximum ground clearance helped us clamber over some solid climbs. The tyres are biased towards on-road work, though, and need pressure taken out of them to work at their best when the going gets dirty.

About the only complaint we had was the failure of the front USB panel – which really shouldn't be happening on cars that are seven years into their life-cycle. Jeep also insists on keeping the antiquated foot-operated parking brake, which is annoying.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / 100,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   6/10

The Grand Cherokee comes with seven airbags, front and rear parking sensors, a rear view camera, trailer sway control and brake pre-fill and rain-prepping.

The 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel engine produces 184kw and 570Nm. (Image credit: Tim Robson) The 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel engine produces 184kw and 570Nm. (Image credit: Tim Robson)

It misses out on Jeep's driver aid systems that include radar cruise control, AEB, blind spot monitoring and more as standard. Jeep offers it as part of an 'Active Safety Group' kit, but the $3250 asking price is a real eye opener, especially on a seventy grand car. AEB, at least, should be offered as standard.

It still earns a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, which was issued in 2011.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Jeep is ramping up its warranty and service efforts on the back of a few years of lacklustre results in customer satisfaction surveys and a raft of technical recalls.

It now offers a comprehensive five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty that can be transferred to private buyers for $99 if the car is sold, while lifetime roadside assist is also available for Grand Cherokees serviced through a Jeep dealer.

Fixed price servicing costs over the first five years equals $4285, with service intervals set at 20,000km or 12 months.

Verdict

The mid-life changes to the Grand Cherokee range, along with an overhaul of its warranty offering and (as it claims) a ground-up look at the way it deals with customers, should help to put the car back onto shopping lists.

At its heart, the new Trailhawk offers more off-road chops that don't come at the expense of on-road civility.

For us, Jeep could have taken the Trailhawk idea even further, with a more utilitarian interior, a spare wheel on the rear door and the like, while the addition of driver aids like AEB should be a given at this price point.

If you're looking for a distance eater that's quiet, can tow like few others and still looks pretty sharp seven years on, it's definitely worth a look.

Jeep's working hard on fixing its reputation. Are you convinced it's worth looking at a Grand Cherokee again? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$57,970
Based on 138 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$34,990
Highest Price
$88,888

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
75th Anniversary (4x4) 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $52,580 – 60,500 2017 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE 2017 75th Anniversary (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Blackhawk 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $43,992 – 52,880 2017 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE 2017 Blackhawk Pricing and Specs
Laredo (4x2) 3.6L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $34,990 – 43,700 2017 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE 2017 Laredo (4x2) Pricing and Specs
Laredo (4x4) 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $36,990 – 66,990 2017 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE 2017 Laredo (4x4) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Design7
Practicality8
Price and features8
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption8
Driving8
Safety6
Ownership7
Tim Robson
Contributing Journalist

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