5 Reasons Why the 2017 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is the Best Midsized Off-Roading SUV
If you are at all familiar with the modern Jeep lineup, you likely know that the Trailhawk trim line has become the go-to package for anyone shopping the brand with off-roading in mind. The Renegade, Compass, Cherokee and Grand Cherokee are all offered in this ultimate Trail Rated trim line and each of the modern Jeep Trailhawk models offer great off-roading capabilities combined with excellent on-road manners. In fact, each of these vehicles are the leaders in their respective segment when it comes to off-roading capabilities and they all offer those capabilities without compromising daily drivability.
Aside from their driving dynamics, each of the Trailhawk Jeeps have their own unique advantages and for the Cherokee – which resides in the popular midsized SUV segment – the advantage over the competition is actually a group of individual advantages which combine to make for one great, off-road capable SUV with a relatively low price. There are SUVs in the midsized segment which might offer better on-road drivability, more interior features, more interior space or a lower purchase price, but nothing brings all of these aspects together like the Cherokee Trailhawk.
A Roomy, Premium Cabin
The Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk L Plus is a premium package and that is very apparent as soon as you climb into this sleek midsized SUV. The front and rear seats are all wrapped in plush leather and the front buckets seats are both heated and cooled, with power controls for the driver. There is also a heated leather steering wheel with a wide range of controls for the driver information display and the premium UConnect 8.4 infotainment system.
With heated and cooled front seats, leather throughout the cabin and one of the industry’s most awarded infotainment systems, the Cherokee Trailhawk L Plus doesn’t leave you wishing for much, but in addition to offering plenty of premium features – this midsized SUV also offers plenty of space.
Whether you are seated in one of the front bucket seats or one of the rear outboard seating positions, you will find plenty of space in every direction. Even taller passengers will be able to sit comfortably in the rear seats, so the Cherokee Trailhawk L Plus can serve as a great carpool vehicle for coworkers while a family with a few small children will find this Jeep to be the perfect size. It isn’t quite as big as the Grand Cherokee, but with a slight reduction in rear seating space and rear cargo space, the smaller Cherokee doesn’t require much compromise from the bigger, pricier Jeep.
The standard engine in the 2017 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk L Plus is the 2.4L TigerShark 4-cylinder with 184 horsepower and 171lb-ft of torque, but for just $1,745, buyers can opt up to the 3.2L Pentastar V6. This newer Pentastar delivers 271 horsepower and 239lb-ft of torque, making this midsized SUV surprisingly peppy. Really, this larger engine makes the Cherokee Trailhawk a much better daily driver for charging through Detroit rush hour traffic, as the added power makes this Jeep far more responsive and far more willing to climb up to highway speeds in a hurry.
That Pentastar power proves to be crucial when playing off-road, as the 3.2L V6 allows the Cherokee Trailhawk to greater hill climbing and mudding abilities.
Also, when equipped with the Trailer Tow Group, the Cherokee Trailhawk with the 3.2L Pentastar V6 is capable of towing 4,500lbs, which makes it strong enough to tow a small horse trailer, a midsized utility trailer or a fairly large boat.
A Great Off-Roading Midsized SUV
Like the rest of the Trailhawk models, the 2017 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk L Plus is the most capable off-roading trimline for the model, but there are certainly critics of the Cherokee’s off-roadability. Yes, there are more extreme off-roaders on the market today and if you are really that concerned with the ability to drive everywhere in any condition, you should be buying a Jeep Wrangler. The Wrangler is superior to every other SUV on today’s market when it comes to off-roading capabilities and that is why it is the most common Jeep at your local mud bog.
However, the Wrangler lacks some of the space and some of the comfort level that you get with the likes of the Cherokee and that is why some people want an off-road-friendly Cherokee rather than the more hardcore Wrangler.
Wrangler aside, the Cherokee Trailhawk uses the unique off-road suspension setup and the Jeep Active Drive II four wheel drive setup featuring Selec-Terrain to drive to the head of the midsize off-roader segment. The stiff dampers allow the Cherokee Trailhawk to cruise comfortably down the roughest public dirt roads in the Metro Detroit area, taking the ruts and grooves of an old farm road as well as any midsized SUV I have tested. These are roads which require most midsized SUV drivers to drive very slowly in an effort to avoid bottoming out or losing control, but the Cherokee Trailhawk handled these roads as well as the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk I had tested a short time earlier.
Taking the off-roading ability a step further, I spent some time driving around the marshy footing of a friend’s farm, which would be impossible for most midsized SUVs. Lots of comparable SUVs struggle to make their way down my local unpaved roads, but many of those vehicles could never dream of doing any real off-roading or mudding. On the other hand, I was able to confidently blast through the muddy fields with the Cherokee Trailhawk, showing that it is deserving of the Jeep Trail Rated badge.
Great On-Road Manners
The 2017 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk L Plus is a great SUV on rough roads and in off-roading situations, but as I mentioned above, the Jeep Wrangler offers even greater off-roading capabilities. Where the Cherokee Trailhawk stands out from the likes of the Wrangler or other SUVs designed for serious off-roading is in its on-road manners. The Cherokee Trailhawk offers a far smoother ride on paved roads, it handles better in every on-road driving situation and it is overall a more comfortable vehicle for daily driving than the Wrangler. While this on-road comfort won’t matter to the hardcore off-roading crowd who don’t mind feeling every little bump in the road, the on-road feel of the Cherokee Trailhawk will appeal to far more buyers who want a great daily driver which can go off road with confidence.
Really, the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk L Plus is just as smooth and as comfortable as the far less capable options in the midsized SUV segment, but it combines those expected road manners with the ability to blast road rough dirt roads and to dig through deep mud.
Low Price, Well Appointed
The 2017 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk L Plus in its standard form has an MSRP of $35,195, which rises to $36,290 when you add in the destination fees. The 3.2L Pentastar V6 adds $1,745 and the Trailer Tow Group adds $795, but the heated/cooled leather seats, the other premium interior features and the off-road-friendly functional bits are all part of the standard feature list. Adding the premium navigation software to the UConnect 8.4 package also adds $1,195, but for just over $40,000, the Cherokee Trailhawk L Plus can compete with any vehicle in the midsized SUV segment whether it is romping in the mud or sitting in morning rush hour traffic.
As a quick comparison, figure that the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk with the standard V6 engine starts around $44,000 and the Ford Edge Titanium – which is in the same segment and has comparable features yet is completely incapable of the off-road fun – is closer to $41k when equipped with the same interior goodies.
The Final Word
The 2017 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk L Plus competes in one of the most densely popular segments in the US auto market and honestly, there are lots of vehicles which do some things better than the Cherokee. There are midsized SUVs which are better off-road. There are midsized SUVs which are better on-road. There are midsized SUVs with more interior space and more gadgets. There are midsized SUVs with more power and there are midsized SUVs which cost less.
There are no midsized SUVs which combine great off-roading abilities, comfortable on-road manners, gobs of interior space, a long list of interior features and a low purchase price like the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk L Plus – and that is what makes it dollar-for-dollar the best midsized SUV sold in America today.
If you are looking for an SUV which you can drive to work every day in the lap of luxury and take to the mud pits or your favorite desolate fishing spot on the weekend – there is no midsized model which can compete on every level with the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk L Plus.