This Car Review Is About: The 2020 specification Cherokee Trailhawk from Jeep. It slots into the mid-sizer SUV market and in Trailhawk form comes well loaded with standard equipment. It’s the second generation of the overhauled model from a few years ago. Trailhawk tops a four model range, with Sport, Longitude, and Limited the other available options.
How Much Does It Cost?: $48,450 plus on roads. Head to the Jeep website for your local pricing due to varying state charges.
Under The Bonnet Is: A free spinning but thirsty 3.2L V6. Peak power of 200kW and peak torque of 315Nm can’t alleviate the fact that the around town economy figure of 11.5L we finished on is something to consider. That’s from a 60L tank, by the way. Jeep, however, quotes a higher figure for the urban cycle of 13.7L/100km. Tare (dry) weight is 1,889kg and that peak torque is at 4,300rpm meaning it needs a rev to get underway and haul that mass along.The run to highway speeds is quoted as 8.3 seconds. Stop/Start technology is on board and kicks in just when it’s not needed. There is a button to disengage. Emissions are a bit high too, at 236g/km of CO2. Drive is via a nine speed auto driving the front wheels with on-demand and electronic lock for the rear. Inside and located next to the passenger’s right knee is the drive mode dial including Snow, Rock, Mud, and Low Range. Towing is rated as 2.2 tonnes.
On The Outside It’s: A lightly reskinned of the version launched in the mid 2010s. The main visual difference is the integration of the formerly separate eyebrow LED driving lights and a lower mid-mounted headlight. It’s immediately a cleaner and frankly more normal looking design, and from a safety aspect it’s better as far too drivers were using the running lights as headlights. All lights are LED too.
The tail lights have been mildly worked over and it’s more a change to the framework in the cluster. The fuel access is on the right rear quarter and is capless, meaning the door is the cover. Body coloured mirror covers and window surrounds add to the imposing presence.
With the Trailhawk featuring some bespoke exterior detailing such as a bonnet blackout and black painted 17 inch alloys (with Yokohama Geolander 245/65 rubber), plus a different bumper to the other three models with each end featuring hi-vis red tow hooks, the Diamond Black paint and blacked out sections give the Trailhawk a menacing on-road presence.
There’s added ride and overall height (1,724mm vs 1,680mm/1,683mm for Sport, Longitude & Limited) and that different front bumper shaves 6mm from the overall length of the other three, down to 4,645mm. The Trailhawk also has a slightly longer wheelbase, with 2,720mm as opposed to 2,705mm for the Sport, 2,707mm for the other two.
There is a massive difference between the approach and departure angle for the Trailhawk as well. Departure is 32.2 degrees. Approach is 29.9 degrees. Breakover is 22.9 degrees. The Sport is just 24.6, 16.7, and 17.7, with 25.0, 18.9, and 19.5 for Longitude and Limited. Wading depth is 480mm, with the Sport not rated, and 405mm for the two L plated cars. To ensure minimal issues when getting dirty, there are bash plates for the fuel tank, front suspension, transmission, and the underbody.On The Inside It’s: A gentleman’s club in ambience. Soft, pliant, red stitched premium cloth and vinyl (leather is standard in Limited) seats with heating and (huzzah!) venting, and a two position memory for the driver’s pew. Tilt and fold rear seats lead to a cargo area that’s accessible by a powered tail gate. Oddly, the interior button to lower the door is placed on the left hand side of the pillar, not in the base of the door like…..everyone else. Nicely, though, a soft touch open and close storage bin is found high up in the centre dash.
There’s a boomy Alpine sourced sound system complete with nine speakers with DAB. It’s crystal clear when it counts and can be wound up quite a bit, with the 514L cargo area mounted sub/bass unit kicking some serious low end notes. Music can be streamed via Bluetooth, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The highlight of the view from the front seats is the 8.4 inch touchscreen with Jeep’s UConnect interface It’s the typically brilliant layout and information is easily made accessible, as are controls for items such as climate control and the seat venting/heating.The driver faces a mix of old school analogue dials with a metallic silver look to the centre LCD screen and it’s 7.0 inches in size. Steering wheel mounted tabs scroll information up or down, with each sub-menu numbered. There is a compass direction icon on display all of the time as well. Classy and smart? Just a bit. This is complemented by the soft touch materials covering the dash and doors, plus the elegant sweep to the lines of the dash itself.
Entering and exiting the Cherokee Trailhawk is mostly ok. There is a need to just dip the scone as one enters though. There’s plenty of leg, head, and shoulder room once in up front, with rear seat leg room adequate for most but if you’re six feet and above then it may be a mite squeezy.Ancilliaries such as 12V sockets are found in the cargo and centre console section. USB ports are available x 2 for the rear seats and console bin. There is a small net on the passenger side front console, a couple of nooks at either end, and cup holders. Each door has the now ubiquitous bottle holder. Switchgear has auto headlights and wipers too. Sunroof? An option. Full sized spare? Standard.On The Road It’s: Surefooted and confident in handling. Brakes need more immediate feedback. There’s a numbness to the feel and it’s not always intuitive enough in its travel to gauge how much pressure is needed versus distance to a point to stop. The steering is the same, with the front drive bias having a isolated and heavy touch to the beautifully leather bound tiller. Back to the handling and it’s a decently friendly machine at its worst, an excellent highway cruiser at best.
With the drive mode left in Auto, that front wheel drive is noticeable. Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud, and Rock are the other options. Unfortunately the schedule clashed with what Mother Nature had in mind and we were not able to venture safely to our normal off-road test track for the sake of prudence.
It takes some effort, thanks to the high rev point for torque and that two tonne mass, to get going, hence the fuel drinking figure. The 3.2L engine found across the Cherokee range is a free spinner and has a rasp that lends a bit more sport to the experience. The nine speed auto is great, but needs to warm up. From Drive to Reverse, there’s a pause, like a dual clutch auto thinking about just when it wants to engage. It’s not always crisp and swift either, with some dithering and indecision initially.There is a manual engagement of gear changing, with a simple pull on one of the paddle shifts mounted on the rearside of the steering wheel giving the driver more control. Shifts are marginally improved, and a gentle hold of the right paddle returns control back to the computer.
When everything has reached the optimal temperature, whether literally of figuratively, it’s a smooth talking, come hither looking, thing and wafts along on most surfaces without a hiccup. There are some road surfaces that get noisy but overall it’s beautifully damped, beautifully controlled, and for a vehicle rated to deal with some serious off-road work, it’s got some serious on-road chops. The front end is built on a well proven combination of McPherson Strut and long travel coil springs. This sits on a one-piece steel sub-frame which connect to aluminuim lower control arms. The rear is a four link with trailing arm setup that sits in a steel rear cradle. It handles being pushed into corners well enough. There’s minimal scrub on the front tyres, and understeer is almost non-existent. The Cherokee Trailhawk is an easy throttle steerer too in the curvy bits.
What About Safety?: Sensors front and rear. Parking assistance. Seven airbags including kneebag. The rear camera has dynamic guidelines. Forward Collision Alert, Pedestrian Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Active Front Passenger head restraints also make for a high safety package with a four star EuroNCAP rating. Then there is the Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, Roll Over Mitigation, Rear Cross Path Detection and Blind Spot Alert too. The forward collision system has a camera mounted in the lower section of the front bumper and it’s a bit trigger happy. Some corners would set it off thanks to cars being sensed on the entry apex.Warranty And Service?: Five years warranty or 100,000 kilometres. There is also five years capped price servicing, for which your Jeep dealer can confirm for you.
At The End Of the Drive. Jeep have ironed out most of the electrical bugs that plagued the brands a few years ago. We were on the receiving end of that with two products, one which resulted in the vehicle concerned left for a tow back to the pickup and return point of the time. This particular Cherokee exhibited none of the electric gremlins and aside for the recalcitrant cold auto, performed as a new car should. New because there was less than 2,500 klicks on pickup.
It felt solidly screwed together, the proverbial “tight as a drum”, with no squeaks or discernible movement of things that shouldn’t. For a car that has a well proven off-road pedigree, on road it simply plants and goes. As a family vehicle too, it does that job admirably. However, no diesel option and a thirsty petrol V6 engine don’t make the appeal level go any higher. Overlook those and there’s pedigree, history, and a decent enough drive package to suit most. Organise your own test drive to form your own opinion and check out which of the Cherokee range may suit you best.