Jeep’s Grand Cherokee has been a stalwart in the true sport utility market since its 1993 inception. Strength and sufficient power, together with the ability to go anywhere have marked this machine for success from the start. There have been four generations of Grand Cherokee and this latest model has been modestly updated, over the course of its run to make it visually and mechanically welcome in both the garage and over the road. Or wherever fantasy takes you.
The opportunity to test a 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4X4 arrived with a trip to Pennsylvania for NHRA’s annual Reading race. Usually, Reading – Maple Grove Raceway – is a mess of mud, thanks to fall weather patterns, so our friends at FiatChryslerAutomobiles (FCA) elected to loan us this particular vehicle, thinking it would be easier to get into and out of the bog that parking normally becomes.
We were drawn to the clean aesthetics of this machine, dressed in Redline 2-coat pearl with perforated Trailhawk black leather-trimmed seating with red accents. With very little overhang, front to rear and clean lines accented by an upwards lilt on the side view that stops mud from arching to the windows, the black-rimmed lower body presents a cohesive look, accented by matte black across the hood. When clean, it’s a lovely-looking vehicle. The Grand Cherokee Trailhawk sports a small, rear window-cleansing winglet and a pair of ominous pipes peer out from below the power-operated hatch.
Power is obtained through a 3.6-liter V6 engine that emits 295 horsepower at 6,400 rpm together with 260 lb-ft of torque at 4,000. An optional V8 with 360HP/390lb-ft) is available, but you’ll pay at the pump. Redline is at a healthy 6,500 rpm and there is no true speedometer; it’s electronic. There is a tachometer, together with both temp and fuel gauges in the cluster. FCA fits an eight-speed automatic transmission for either engine package.
Jeep’s Quadra-Life air suspension uses short and long arms at the front and multilinks at the rear, together with Jeep’s selec-terrain system that allows adaptation to all manner of surface through centrally mounted controls. There’s a full-size spare under the hatch’s floor to complement the 265/60R all-terrain rubber mounted on twinned, five-spoke black and chrome alloy wheels. While the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk does tend to understeer, the steering itself is spot-on and the brakes work exceptionally well in traffic situations.
The 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk is no lightweight SUV, clocking in at 5,004 pounds, but it will tow even more than that, rated to accept 6,200 pounds behind it. Jeep fits red tow hooks to the front, together with skid plates for underbody, transfer case and the 24.6-gallon fuel tank. There is no fuel filler cap for this machine, which happily accepts regular fuel. It’s rated at 18/25/21 mpg, but this driver significantly gained better mileage, averaging 28mpg through mostly back-road and highway driving.
The inside of the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk is all business – even if that business is luxury. The leather seats are exceptionally comfortable and supportive, and the driver’s got two memories in case there’s a reason to let someone else drive. The 8.4-inch navigation and information screen is exceptionally crisp and the system itself works really well. Never getting lost is wonderful and this Jeep makes it easy to get from one place to another, even when traffic is diverted.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk’s driver has the best of all worlds. Not only are the seats heaven on short and long drives, but they’re heated and cooled. The steering wheel has a heater and shifting can be done using paddles attached to the steering wheel. A massive number of trip info features are accessed on the left side of the steering wheel, along with phone controls (paired in less than 30 seconds), while cruise control and following distance are controlled on the right side of the steering wheel.
This SUV has full keyless entry/exit and the hatch has both an interior release and a touch release at the rear, while a button inside the vehicle returns the hatch to closure. There is also remote start from the fob – unused on this trip. Jeep fits a number of driver aids as standard equipment. including rear park assist with stop, blind-spot and cross-path detection. Others are included in the Jeep Advanced Active Safety group ($1,495): adaptive cruise control, advanced brake assist, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, parallel and perpendicular park assist.
Other options increase the 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk’s entry fee from $45,540 (including freight) to a final pricing of $50,925. Jeep fits the Trailhawk luxury group: automatic high-beam control on the Bi-Xenon HID headlamps (which are excellent on back-country roads), an amazing dual-pane panoramic tilt/slide sunroof, LED daytime running lights, LED front fog lamps, power tilt/telescope steering column and rain-sensitive windshield wipers for $2,995. Rack rails at $895 are the only other option.
The infotainment hound is not neglected here. As stated, the navigation system is excellent and, in addition there’s Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SiriusXM with a year-long gratis subscription (5 years for traffic and travel link service). A set of nine speakers with subwoofer keeps the sounds amplified well throughout the cabin. The Grand Cherokee Trailhawk is a 4G LTE WiFi hot spot and sports dual USB plugs at the front. The gauge cluster has an off-road display page of its own, while second row seats are heated and offer 2 USB plugs and a 115-plug.
There’s a 60/40 fold for the rear seats that increase cargo capacity from 36.3 cubic feet to 68.3 cubic feet. A nice indentation on the left side of the hatch was perfect to secure a spare bottle of wine (just in case), while the spare and tools are retained under the nicely-carpeted rear, which is covered, as are all footwells, by heavy-duty rubber guards.
Made in Detroit, the 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk retains its stance as the mid-size sport utility vehicle that actually has utility, can be sporting as desired and contains sufficient luxury and technical features to please those that want or need to go off-road or travel over the road. Although the weather cooperated this particular visit with minimal muck in the Maple Grove infield, this Jeep’s steady feet, its economical manner (auto stop at lights kept that mileage up) and its ability to be whatever the driver needs makes it a winner. Giving it back was the only sore spot.
Words and photos by Anne Proffit