The name Jeep is a synonym for real off-road vehicles, not just for fashionable SUVs, which often only have front-wheel drive and normally get nothing under the wheels apart from asphalt and a little gravel. Even if the cult brand - owing to fleet consumption - also offers front-wheel drive for the Renegade and Cherokee, most Jeep customers choose the 4 × 4 versions. There is no choice for the newly refreshed Grand Cherokee, all-wheel drive is standard here. On the contrary: From the end of February, the Trailhawk equipment line, which specializes in off-road driving, is new in the portfolio. In conjunction with the 3,0-liter V6 diesel with 184 kW / 250 hp, it costs at least 64.400 euros. 2.000 euros less are due for the 3,6-liter V6 petrol engine with 213 kW / 290 hp offered in this off-road variant.
Actually logical: After the Trailhawk versions for the small Renegade and the compact Cherokee may now decorate the 4,83 meter SUV Grand Cherokee with this name. This variant now also carries the badge, which distinguishes the vehicle as a "trail rated". That said, with the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk you could conquer the very demanding California Rubicon Trail without any additional equipment. Well, that does not necessarily have to be, an (approved) exit through the local forest area and a groomed off-road track must be enough.
At minus 10 degrees, it starts on snowy forest roads. The rotary knob of the Quadra-Drive-II four-wheel system with electronically controlled limited slip differential is therefore previously set to "snow" (mud, sand, rock and automatic are the other underground variants), activates the terrain reduction and disabled the traction control. In addition, the standard air suspension is raised, so that the ground clearance is now 27 centimeters.
The test course starts harmless. Still, the SUV does not have to work hard. Small climbs and descents do not cause any problems, nor do you feel more like a refinement driver than an off-roader. But the path leads deeper into the forest. The ranger paths are soon off, now the Trailhawk can show what he can do. And he "can" a lot. Thanks to a downhill and uphill driving assistant, the driver only has to concentrate on steering in a difficult run, after all, a full and wide SUV wants to be circled through narrow and confusing passages. Meanwhile, the electronics provide constant speed, so that the vehicle crawls slowly uphill or downhill. If it seems too slow, you can increase the speed of the paddle a little, the main thing the foot is away from the accelerator and brake pedal. Here, the way is the goal and that slowly; Constantly wisely it is best and safest to move forward.
The six-cylinder diesel impresses with its lush torque of 570 Nm. Although the maximum is only at 2.000 revolutions, but even in the lower areas, sufficient torque comes into play. The eight-speed automatic transmission ensures relaxed driving with its smooth gearshifts. Relaxation is also needed when the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk proves its other off-road talents. The test track goes over gradients with 80 percent and slopes of 30 grade. This means that you only see the bonnet and the horizon when you go uphill. If it goes into the lateral position, one is glad that one only has to steer. Extreme entanglements are also no problem for the vehicle, but rather uncommon for the driver. To prevent larger stones or branches from damaging the tank or the front suspension, the vehicle is of course factory-fitted with underbody protection.
But most riders will rarely let their Trailhawk Grand Cherokee climb the terrain. That's why he does not drive with rough terrain tires, but with 18-Zoll-Pneus with kevlarreinforced sidewalls. These are enough for occasional excursions off the beaten path.
In addition to the knowledge that the vehicle can do more than you will probably ever experience, it also appeals to off-road fans with its rustic look. Chrome, no thanks, it says in the exterior design. Instead, there is a black anti-glare film on the bonnet and matt gray accents for the roof rails, front grill, front apron and exterior mirror housing. The interior is also not too classy. Dirt-smeared footsteps - they don't have to come from a muddy off-road terrain - can be easily cleaned away and the leather-velor-upholstered seats also forgive one or the other stain. The predominant color black in the interior is loosened up by red stitching on the steering wheel and on the door panels. (Elfriede Munsch / SP-X)