2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk Test Review

The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee should, perhaps more than any car it competes with, be many things to many different buyers. In its base Laredo and mid-level Limited trim, it offers buyers in the heart of the market a solid two- or three-row choice with legitimate dirt-road capability. In their Summit and Summit Reserve trims, we said, they compare favorably with the luxury offerings from Audi, Lincoln, Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz. Then there’s the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, the model we spent a week driving on and off the curb. It ostensibly competes with off-road-biased SUVs like the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro, but as we’ll show, it throws in a much wider grille than that.

Jeep made sure casual observers could tell the Trailhawk is no ordinary Grand Cherokee. The matte hood decal stands out immediately, punctuated by bright red tow hooks and unique 18-inch wheels shod with large Goodyear Wrangler off-road tires. But what you don’t immediately see underneath and inside the car is what really makes the Trailhawk tick.

As you’d expect from a Jeep that wears a Trail Rated badge on its fender, the 2022 Grand Cherokee Trailhawk comes equipped with a full set of steel plates to protect its thin belly. Hopefully, it won’t be needed, however, as the height-adjustable Quadra-Lift air suspension raises the Grand Cherokee to a maximum of 11.3 inches of ground clearance. That’s more clearance than a Wrangler Rubicon (without the 35-inch tires in the Xtreme Recon package) and offers up to 24 inches of water depth. The suspension will adjust itself based on the selected Selec-Terrain Traction Management mode, or it can be set manually with a toggle to the right of the knurled disc that acts as the gear lever.

Jeep’s Selec-Terrain traction management system includes snow, sand/mud and rock modes as well as an automatic that will stay on most of the time and, oddly enough, sport mode. These modes are selected with a switch to the left of the rotary transmission. Selec-Speed ​​Control keeps the vehicle at a constant (slow) speed regardless of the slope or incline, without additional driver intervention.

Like the Wrangler Rubicon, Ford Bronco, and certain versions of the Toyota 4Runner, the Trailhawk offers a swing-bar disconnect. Essentially, pressing a button on the console electronically disconnects the front sway bar that normally connects the driver and passenger side wheels. This allows the two wheels more freedom of movement and thus increases the articulation of the suspension. It automatically reconnects to normal driving speeds to provide safer control on the pavement.

Also standard is the Jeep Quadra-Drive II full-time all-wheel drive system, which features an active transfer case and an electronic rear limited-slip differential. It is capable of sending up to 100% of the engine’s total torque to one rear wheel. Naturally, there is a 4 low setting that locks the front and rear differentials down and shifts to 2.72:1 gearing for low speed crawl. There is also a neutral setting that allows for flat towing on the road.

Now would be a good time to point out that all of these excellent high-shelf hardware are mostly designed to help the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk excel off-road. Sure, there’s a Sport mode, but the fact that this SUV wears slick tires and is basically designed to be at its best while crawling over rocks, shoveling in mud, snowboarding or any kind can’t be overlooked Another offroad scenario you can dream of. That’s not to say it’s not a good idea to drive on the road, but buyers who don’t know what a separate sway bar is or why it might be useful—things that add significant cost—should look at one of the other great Grand Cherokee trim levels. We’ll dive a little deeper into that discussion a bit below.

Our test vehicle was powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine producing 293 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. We never felt the Trailhawk was hurting power, but for those buyers who want more, there’s a 5.7-liter Hemi available that cranks out 357 horsepower and 390 pound-feet. Both engines send those little horses through an eight-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels. The EPA rates the V6-powered Trackhawk at 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 22 combined, which is true about what we were able to achieve over the course of a week. The V8 engine is rated in 14 cities, 22 highways, and 17 communities. That’s not very good, but it’s actually on par with the EPA’s rating of the least powerful V6-powered Toyota 4Runner of 16 city, 19 highway, and 17 community.

There’s a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe coming this spring, and it looks promising on paper. It’ll produce 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor. Jeep estimates drivers will get 25 miles of electric range from a full charge, and the EPA says drivers should expect 23 mpg after the battery runs out of enough juice to power the vehicle without engine assistance. As always with a plug-in hybrid, you should charge as much as possible to increase its efficiency.

The standard six-cylinder engine is not only handy for power, but also has smooth performance. We’ve always been fans of the eight-speed gearbox that Jeep uses in the Grand Cherokee (and a number of other Stylantis cars), and it works well in the Trailhawk. There are dark paddle shifters on the steering wheel; We tested it to make sure it worked, and it worked, but we found little use for it afterwards while on the road.

Entering Sport mode lowers the Trailhawk’s center of gravity, which already provides the driver with more car-like responses, and we wouldn’t complain about that. However, bulky, bulky tires still flop a lot more than low profile, street-oriented tires, and there really isn’t any other electrical trick that Jeep can do about it. We were content with leaving the Trailhawk in Auto most of the time, allowing it to control itself and fall into a lower aerodynamic mode at highway speeds.

We mentioned the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro as a competitor to the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, and it’s probably the closest thing to a stealth we have in today’s market. Compared to the $56,030 Trailhawk, the $53,635 TRD Pro appears outdated—both in terms of design and because it’s been around for so long. The 4Runner may be a charming old beast, but it’s less powerful, less precise, and more rugged and noisy than the Trailhawk. Its in-house technology doesn’t even compare to the range of monitors Jeep offers, its gauges are, well, gauges rather than customizable digital readouts, and the suspension doesn’t increase or decrease ride height. You also don’t get a split effect bar on TRD Pro. Both will get drivers to their off-road destinations, but Jeep will do so with greater comfort and precision on and off pavement.

We made good use of wet spring road conditions to test the extra traction provided by those thick tires and our heavy-duty off-road technology. Despite making our way through ankle-deep mud and mush, we never came close to tripping. The low-range gearing did a quick job of the steepest slopes we could find in central Ohio, and although we didn’t need to use the split bar, we tested it anyway on a two-row boat ramp divided by a thick concrete wall. Not surprisingly, it increased the amount of suspension articulation and thus the distance we could reach while overlapping the gap.

The $56,030 price for the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk includes a mandatory and seemingly exorbitant $1,795 destination fee. Add $395 for any paint other than a solid white—our test car featured a Zynith silver and black that we wished was something brighter or deeper. We’d consider the $1,295/Luxury Tech Group mandatory in order to get things like a close entry and a tilt/out steering column with memory. Our poster price swelled to $61,040 with a dual-panel panoramic sunroof, a $1,095 front-passenger interactive display, a highly recommended $1,495 Uconnect infotainment system on a large, impressive 10.1-inch screen, and a package for the price of 1 $995 adds a handy night vision mode and a surround-view camera bundle. Buyers who want a third row are out of luck because there’s no Trailhawk version of the Grand Cherokee L available – it’s only two rows.

We’ll repeat here that we’ve tested all this great off-road kit, and it works just as advertised. But we never do that It had to be tested, although looking specifically for the largest slope, we can drive on fishing routes only that are occupied by ATVs and people in rubber boots. All of this means we applaud Jeep for offering a truly off-road-capable Grand Cherokee, but a Limited SUV that costs $5,000 less or an Overland that only costs a bigger or two would be better options for drivers who don’t. I don’t know why they need a Trail Rated badge.

But for those buyers who know exactly why they need nearly a foot of ground clearance, the ability to cross two feet of water, or enough suspension articulation on a small stretch of Mount Rushmore, well, there’s nothing else on the market that also offers luxurious finishes and refinement at a price. Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk.