Having just been refreshed in 2016, FCA recently announced two new models to the Grand Cherokee for ‘17. The first, while welcomed, Grand Cherokee Trailhawk is no real surprise. The second, Grand Cherokee Summit as even more luxury to an already plush SUV.
2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk
The “Trailhawk” name was first used on a concept car at the 2012 Easter Jeep Safari; the actual Trailhawk appeared in 2013, on a more capable Grand Cherokee. The company created a tougher course for testing it, dubbed the Trailhawk course, as one might expect. The name was then used for the most off-road-ready Jeep Cherokee and Renegade.
The 2017 Grand Cherokee Trailhawk has standard skid plates, a retuned Quadra-Lift air suspension for better articulation and suspension travel, the Quadra-Drive II 4×4 system with a rear electronic limited-slip differential, and the usual Selec-Speed Control with Hill Ascent Control. The hood decal was designed to reduce glare and was also used on the 2013s.
Buyers have a choice of all of Grand Cherokee’s three engines: the newly upgraded V6, the 5.7 Hemi, and the diesel, whose fine 420 pound-feet of torque come in quite low, making for good off-road capability and towing, though not the best acceleration.
Ground clearance is oddly measured in the SAE standards; it does not go to the lowest point of the car. The official number for the Trailhawk remains unchanged, at 10.8 inches. It’s 11.1 inches at the rear axle, 9.7 at the front, and 10.7 at the fuel tank.
The Grand Cherokee Trailhawk uses the front fascia and grille from the 2016 Grand Cherokee 75th Anniversary edition, signature red tow hooks in the front and rear, 18-inch (or optional 20-inch) Goodyear Adventure off-road tires with Kevlar reinforcement, new red-accented badges, mirror caps, and a roof rack.
Inside, Trailhawks have a black interior with leather and suede seats, red accent stitching, a gun-metal finish on all painted interior parts, and a standard 8.4-inch Uconnect touch screen. This has updated off-road pages showing wheel articulation, suspension height, 4×4 and Selec-Terrain modes, and such.
Paints will be Redline, silver, white, Rhino, Granite Crystal, Velvet Red, and black. Owners can tow up to 6,200 pounds with the gasoline V6, or up to 7,400 with the diesel or V8.
2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit
The most well-trimmed big Jeep, the 2017 Grand Cherokee Summit has an updated front fascia, grille, and LED fog lamps, with new 20-inch polished aluminum wheels.
New for the Jeep Grand Cherokee are lane departure warning, parallel parking assistance, and perpendicular parking assistance. The Summit continues to get auto-folding power mirrors, headlamp washers, blind spot detection, forward collision warning, and adaptive cruise control.
Summit V6 buyers get a perfect 50/50 weight distribution — 51/49 with the 4×4 option. Even with the Hemi Trailhawk, the weight distribution is 54/46.
The new full-wrap Laguna leather interior has four color schemes, including Indigo-and-Ski-Gray, black, brown, and dark Sienna brown. The full leather interior has a Nappa leather-wrapped dashboard, center console and door panels, and Laguna leather seats with edge welting.
All Summits come with a suede premium headliner, lighted door sill, acoustic windshield and full side glass, Active Noise Cancellation, and Berber carpet mats. The Summit continues to use 19-speaker, 825-watt Harman Kardon “GreenEdge” audio system, which drives nine tweeters, five mid-range speakers, two mid-range woofers, and 3 subwoofers from a 12-channel Class D amplifier.
The Summit’s 4×4 system uses Quadra-Drive II, an electronic limited-slip rear differential, an air suspension, and Selec-Speed Control. Colors are Light Brown Stone, True Blue, white, Ivory Pearl, Granite Crystal, Velvet Red, black, and brown. Buyers can pick the gasoline or diesel V6 engines with rear wheel drive; 4×4 buyers can get the gasoline and diesel V6, or the Hemi V8. Owners can tow up to 6,200 pounds with the gasoline V6, up to 7,400 with the diesel and rear-drive, or up to 7,200 pounds with the 4×4 and diesel or V8.
Common to both 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokees
In 2016, fuel economy was boosted on both the V6 and V8 SUVs (not on the SRT) through lighter weight and other measures. The V6 came with a stop-start system, increasing real world mileage for most drivers. Overall, buyers of the diesel gained 1 mpg city; buyers of the gasoline V6 gained 2 mpg city, 1 mpg highway with rear drive, and 1 mpg city with AWD. The V6 went up from 290 to 295 horsepower.
Selec-Terrain terrain management system and Selec-Speed Control
The Selec-Terrain™ traction control system coordinates throttle control, shifting, the transfer case, stability control, hill descent control, and related systems on 4x4s. Its positions are:
Automatic with torque split at around 40/60 front/rear
Sand, Mud, and Snow (three separate options): traction control and lift are more sensitive to wheel spin, and torque is tuned for each particular surface’s attributes; there is a targeted 50/50 torque split
Rock: The suspension goes to its full height and the transfer case, differentials, and throttle coordinate to provide low-speed control; there is around a 50/50 torque split
Trailhawk Select-Trac control
Selec-Speed Control allows the driver to control the rate of hill ascent and descent without having to touch the pedals, for difficult off-road situations.
The 2017 Grand Cherokee Trailhawk and Summit will be sold in late summer.
Many of you know I have begun the search for my next work vehicle, and while I have zeroed in on the Cherokee Trailhawk, I have to admit the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk does open my sights a bit, especially with the towing capability and potential to haul one of our other Jeeps on our longer trips.
This said, I am not sure there are enough added benefits to overcome the price jump when comparing this Jeep to its younger sibling (at least for us).
Still, I’m happy to see both of these trim levels added to the Grand Cherokee and look forward to seeing them out and about.
Tell us what your thoughts are!