All new Cherokee models – and this is what has some hardened 4WDists turning up their noses – are built on the Fiat Chrysler group’s ‘Fiat Compact Platform (FCP for short), the same common traverse front-engine spot-welded monocoque as (believe it or not) the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and US market-only compact 2WDs, the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200.
Articulation, obviously, is limited compared with a purpose-built 4WD, and in researching this article I noted that US mag 4 Wheel & Off Road said that ‘lack of ground clearance was an issue.’
That said, the magazine was otherwise quite complimentary (particularly about the excellent engine and impressive ZF-designed/Chrysler-built 9-speed automatic transmission). A good thing because not long after 4 Wheel & Off Road’s multi-vehicle 2015 model shootout was published, Four Wheeler magazine name the Trailhawk its ‘Four Wheeler of The Year!’
“The judges,” the magazine said, “appreciated Cherokee Trailhawk’s cutting edge technology, fresh styling, and luxurious interior amenities packed in a vehicle designed for the 21st century that still maintains true off-road capability.”
So, no pressure as to my (and by definition NZ4WD magazine’s) opinion then!
It’s easy, of course to cock a snook to something, new and different, particularly in a world as opinionated as ours. Jeep itself sets the bar high with the strictly limited Trail Rated badge that adorns the Trailhawk’s flanks.
I checked and ‘Trail Rated’ indicates that the vehicle is ‘designed to perform in a variety of challenging off-road conditions identified by five key consumer-oriented performance categories: traction, ground clearance, manoeuvrability, articulation and water fording.’
To test these Ashley and I paired up and buddied down to the fantastic Tect Park facility half way between Tauranga and Rotorua, me in the ‘Hawk, he is NZ4WD’s trusty (but definitely ‘old skool’) 1995 Cherokee.
What we have here then is truly the best of both worlds. A genuinely off-road capable ‘car’ as much at home on the 9-5 commuter or school run as it is getting down and dirty in the weekend.
Whether someone spending $65K on a new ‘car’ would want to go bush-bashing is the question many of you will no doubt be asking.
To help you answer it, let me paint you a little word picture.
Many years ago now I was exploring Waitaia Rd, east of Kuaotunu in the Coromandel Peninsula on my mountain bike. The road starts off like any other narrow, gravel one on the peninsula but is no longer regularly maintained and has deteriorated to the point where even in the dry a 4x4 with low range is essential.
After having followed the track to its eastern end near Waitaia Bay I was grinding my way back up the hill when around a corner scrabbled a circa ’95 Jeep Cherokee.
In chatting with the driver (as you do) I found that he was a city boy who had bought a round parcel of regenerating bush near the summit and had bought the Cherokee for the weekend run to and from it.
If he still owns the property, and is in the market to replace his faithful original he need look no further than the Trailhawk!
JEEP CHEROKEE TRAILHAWK
Engine: Pentastar V6 VVT petrol
Gearbox: 9-speed automatic
Suspension front: Independent McPherson strut type w/ coil springs & antiroll bar
Suspension rear: Independent, multi-link w/ anti-roll bar, coils and gas shock absorbers
Brakes: Discs, ventilated front
Turning radius: 11.46m
Tyres: Yokohama Geolander SUV 245/65R17
Average fuel: 10L/100km
Length/width/height: 4626 x 1904 x 1686mm
Kerb weight: 1936kg
Towing capacity (braked): 2200kg
Approach angle: 29.9
Departure angle: 32.2
Breakover angle: 22.9
Ground clearance: 221mm
Airbags: 7 incl. driver, passenger and side curtain
Electronic Stability Control: Yes
Hill descent control: Yes
Traction control: Yes