2016 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk
Class: Compact Crossover
Miles Driven: 148
Fuel Used: 7.6 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 19.5 mpg
Driving mix: 75% city, 25% highway
|CG Report Card|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Room and Comfort||B|
|Power and Performance||B+|
|Fit and Finish||B|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 19/26/22 (city/highway/combined)
Base price: $30,995 (not including $995 destination charge)
Options on test car: SafetyTec Group ($1045), Comfort/Convenience Group ($1695), 3.2-liter V6 ($1745), navigation system ($945)
Price as tested: $37,420
The great: Class-leading off-road capabilities, rugged character that stands out from other compact SUVs
The good: Acceleration from V6 engine
The not so good: Mediocre fuel economy, rear cargo area is smaller than many class competitors
For the 2014 model year, Jeep dusted off its Cherokee nameplate and attached it to a new compact SUV that shared its basic platform with the Dodge Dart compact car. The Cherokee’s radical front-end styling ruffled some feathers when it was first shown, but most people seem to have warmed to the unconventional look over the last couple of years.
The Cherokee hasn’t seen any major updates, styling or otherwise, since its introduction. The only changes of note for 2016 are a luxury-oriented Overland model, Siri Eyes Free functionality for iPhone users, and a “Do Not Disturb” feature that can route incoming calls to voicemail and autoreply to text messages. The 2017s are essentially unchanged, save for standard high-intensity-discharge (HID) headlights on all models.
Among its class competitors, the Cherokee comes up a bit short in many areas. The Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Toyota RAV4 are notably more spacious for both people and cargo. The Mazda CX-5 and Ford Escape are a bit sportier and more engaging to drive. And all of the above-mentioned rivals boast a cabin ambiance and overall refinement levels that are a step ahead of the Cherokee.
But when outfitted in Trailhawk trim, like our test vehicle was, the Cherokee trumps most every compact SUV when it comes to off-road capability—save for other Jeeps, of course. Cherokee Trailhawks come standard with Jeep’s Active Drive II four-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing and a locking rear differential. Also standard are 17×5.5-inch aluminum wheels on P245/65R17 white-letter tires, hill ascent and descent control, chassis skid plates, and red tow hooks (two in the front, one in the rear). The off-road suspension raises the ride height to provide 8.7 inches of ground clearance, and the Jeep Selec-Terrain system includes driver-selectable settings for snow, rocks, and sand/mud. Unique rugged-looking interior and exterior trim are also part of the package. All of this hardware endows the Cherokee Trailhawk with off-road prowess that approaches the level of the legendary Jeep Wrangler, but with a higher level of everyday refinement.
Our test vehicle was also equipped with the SafetyTec Group—which includes rear park assist, blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, and exterior mirrors with integral turn signals—and the Comfort/Convenience Group, which adds a power liftgate, remote start system, keyless access and starting, dual-zone climate control, auto-dimming rear-view mirror with microphone, power 8-way driver seat, power 4-way driver lumbar adjust, security alarm, and universal garage door opener.
Those packages, along with the $1745 optional V6 engine, pushed the $30,995 base price all the way up to $37,420. At that price, the Cherokee Trailhawk doesn’t make much sense for shoppers who intend to use their compact SUV for simple commuting and hauling the kids to soccer practice. But for buyers whose agenda includes some serious off-the-beaten path excursions, this rugged little rock crawler is more or less in a class of its own.