2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Trailhawk, its Off-Roading Cousin
September 12, 2012
Our SRT8 long-termer is obviously meant for street-only use. It's the extreme on-road JGC. But if you prefer to have a Grand Cherokee that's highly capable in the dirt, Jeep is bringing out a new special edition JGC for 2013 called the Trailhawk. Jeep showed it in concept form at the Moab Easter Jeep Safari and officially announced it last week.
A couple months ago, I was able to briefly drive a Trailhawk at a Chrysler press event.
The Trailhawk comes with the Grand Cherokee's top off-road equipment, which includes the adjustable air suspension (Quadra-Lift) and four-wheel drive with the two-speed transfer case (Quadra-Track II or Quadra-Drive II (V8 engine)). Unique to the Trailhawk are rock rails (steel bars that run underneath the body/doors to help prevent damage when going off-road), special reinforced tires and different styling details that include black-surround headlamps, a flat-black hood decal, gray-painted wheels and grille, red-painted tow hooks and leather/faux-suede seats.
So, yeah, it's pretty much a styling exercise other than the rock rails and tires. But it does look a bit more aggressive, which I like. And while it's been a long time since the JGC came with solid axles front and rear, it's still one of the most capable new crossover SUVs you can buy. Thanks to the adjustable air suspension, you can select the "Rock" mode on the terrain selection knob and have the ride height increase to provide 10.6 inches of ground clearance. That's more than the Wrangler Rubicon.
I did a bit off-roading with the Trailhawk at Chrysler's Proving Grounds where there are some short but challenging trails. The JGC did really well, never scraping on anything and providing plenty of traction thanks to its advanced electronically aided 4WD system. I guess I'd expect that considering Chrysler designed the trails, but I felt the trails were still a solid representation of what a typical owner might encounter and tackle off-road.
The Trailhawk should be at dealers next month with a starting MSRP of $41,995. What do you think -- would you rather own an SRT8 or a Trailhawk?
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor