New Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Looks Rugged But Does the Interior Stack Up?
The familiar Cherokee name returned to the Jeep line in 2014, attached to a vehicle that looks like nothing that has graced the brand’s showrooms before. There’s that well-known seven-slat grille, but bracketed by squinty lights that make the Cherokee look like a character from the animated movie Lilo and Stitch.
Designed and positioned to compete against vehicles such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5, the Cherokee starts out in plain sub-$25,000 Sport trim, but can be optioned through North and Limited trims before arriving at the Trailhawk model I tested. As its name suggests, this is the variant that best fits Jeep’s off-road-ready image with more aggressive bodywork, underbody skid plates, bright red recovery hooks front and rear, knobby tires, and a starting price approaching $32,000.
Regardless of trim, a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine is the starting point, but the one Jeep sent me included the optional 3.2-litre V6 that’s one of the most powerful engines in the compact crossover class, with 271 hp and 239 lb-ft of torque.
It’s a smooth, strong motor that makes refined noises as it hauls the two-ton Trailhawk up to speed. This is a heavy little crossover, the most basic front-drive Sport model outweighing some of its competitors done up in fully-loaded AWD trim, so this engine is to be praised for feeling more powerful than it is, and for its respectable fuel economy: my tester averaged a respectable 10.7 L/100 km in a week of mixed city and highway driving, against ratings of 12.2/9.0 (city/highway).
Not everything about the way the Cherokee goes over the road is as positive. The nine-speed transmission showed a tendency toward clumsy shifting, a well-known problem in the other Chrysler family vehicles it’s used in.
On paved surfaces, hard acceleration from a stop prompted significant front wheelspin before the rears hooked up and got into the action. Off-roaders will be grateful for Jeep’s lockable rear differential, selectable off-road modes, and low-range gearing. Less of a surprise is the noise the Trailhawk’s knobby tires generate at highway speeds; this is an obvious trade-off for off-road ability, one worth considering if your Cherokee will do frequent road trip duty.
2015 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Gallery:
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