You can never ignore the Jeep’s not inconsiderable unloaded weight during take-off and when braking, but the most surprising aspect of our diesel Jeep’s performance was the fuel economy. The Trailhawk averaged just 8.5L/100km and consistently dipped below 8.0L/100km on the open road, the eight-speed transmission with its free-wheeling characteristic when not under load again proving its worth. A 93-litre fuel tank is another good touring feature.
Trailhawk is most enjoyable and clearly right at home when touring on an open country road. Suspension settings are firm in order to provide suitable body control and yet it still manages to deliver good ride and handling compliance over rough roads. The electric power steering is well weighted and direct, which aids suburban driving, but you can never completely ignore or escape the effects of the vehicle’s bulk in daily commuting.
Solid and spacious
When you climb into a Grand Cherokee, there’s an overwhelming feeling of solidity, of thick pillars and chunky features. Entry and exit can be aided by the adjustable ride height as there’s no step. The five-seater cabin is spacious and very comfortable, with particularly good head and leg space up front thanks to long electric seat travel. There’s a large centre touch-screen, gearshift paddles and multiple steering-wheel switches, which all work well once you’re familiar with them. Alternative four-wheel-drive modes are easily selected via a dial in the console.
The usual hard plastic trim panels, which in our test car produced a constant buzzing sound, are thankfully broken up in presentation with a soft dash pad, and leather inserts for armrests and the like. The only truly disappointing aspect at the wheel is the antiquated left-foot park brake, which precludes the inclusion of a left foot rest, a particularly desirable feature for off-road driving.
Grand Cherokee is a good size with space and comfort for three across the rear seat, despite the appearance of two individual cushions. Features such as individual overhead lighting, two USB outlets, seat-back and door pockets, and easy-to-access childseat mounting points, including ISOFIX, are appealing for rear occupants. There’s a flexible load area with split-fold seating providing a proper flat floor. There are also protection rails in the rear compartment and an accessory power socket. Access is via a powered tailgate and it has a full-size spare wheel.
Trailhawk is the Grand Cherokee most ready and capable for off-road work. Engine and gearing easily cover all performance needs, and extra standard equipment is orientated to bush work. It has a new five-year warranty, but dealer backup is less prevalent in remote regions. Pricing puts it head to head with top-end competitors, yet you only get advanced safety features by optioning a $3250 safety pack.
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