2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk and Summit bow
Wrangler may be the quintessential Jeep, but the Grand Cherokee is the bread and butter player, and operating on the theory that too much of a good thing is probably just enough. In keeping with that sentiment, product planners have added two new models, expanding the lineup to six for model year 2017.
Grand Cherokee Trailhawk
The name dates to the 2012 Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, an annual festival that attracts hundreds of the faithful to the rocky terra cotta grandeur of the surrounding countryside. Jeep has been bringing a collection of concept vehicles to the Safari annually since 2002, and the 2012 array included a rugged Grand Cherokee dubbed the Trailhawk.
It was a name and concept that resonated well with the Moab crowd, and Jeep quickly decided to apply it to production models. Ironically, though, Trailhawk badges made their first appearance on the then new Cherokee, in 2014, followed by the subcompact Renegade in 2015. Thus the Grand Cherokee is the third in the Trailhawk series.
Consistent with the name, the Trailhawk is all about usefulness in places that lack pavement. In the Grand Cherokee this means an array of standard off-road hardware: Quadra-Drive II 4x4 system with electronic limited slip rear differential; Quad-Lift pneumatic suspension designed to improve suspension articulation and travel; Selec-Speed Control with a hill descent feature; and underbody skid plates.
Approach and departure angles, key elements for rock crawling, are substantial—36.1 degrees front, after removing the front fascia (29.8 with fascia in place), and 22.8 departure. Just as important, the package offers 10.8 inches of ground clearance.
Exterior cosmetic distinctions include Trailhawk badges, red tow hooks up front (a Trailhawk signature element), and a version of the front fascia Jeep seven-slot grille that adorns the Grand Cherokee 75th Jeep Anniversary Edition. The standard 18-inch wheels (20-inch optional) wear Goodyear Adventure off-road tires.
The Trailhawk interior décor runs to dark hues—black leather seats with suede inserts, piano black accents, and gun metal finish on painted parts. Seats, steering wheel, door panels, and center console are picked out with red stitching and the steering wheel sports a Trailhawk badge. Chrysler’s 8.4-inch Uconnect telematics screen is a standard feature, and includes off-road pages that allow the operator to track key roadless metrics such as wheel articulation, suspension height, and 4x4 operating modes.
Grand Cherokee Summit
Employed as a noun, the word summit can mean “the highest point of attainment or aspiration,” and that’s precisely what the new Summit trim represents in the Grand Cherokee lineup. Chock-a-block with just about everything in the Grand Cherokee feature inventory, the Summit is not only the fanciest of all Jeeps, but the “most luxurious vehicle in the full-size SUV segment,” according to the company’s New York press material.
While the Summit package doesn’t neglect Jeep all-terrain capabilities—Quadra Drive II with electronic limited slip rear diff, Quadra Lift air suspension, and Selec Speed Control with hill descent are standard features—the most seductive elements are inside.
For example, the interior—seats, dashboard, door panels, and center console—is swathed in hides, Laguna leather on the seats, Nappa elsewhere. Color combos include indigo, black, brown, and dark sienna brown. Other noteworthy features include a suede headliner, Berber carpeted floor mats, and lighted door sills, and acoustic glass. Another acoustic element: an 825-watt Harmon/Kardon audio system with 19 speakers.
Standard driver assist features: blind spot detection, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and park assist operating in parallel and perpendicular parking modes. Lane departure and park assist are firsts for Grand Cherokee. The Grand Cherokee Summit will also be offered in a California Edition appearance package. Both of the new Grand Cherokee trims will be on sale in late summer as 2017 models.