Why would you take an already capable off-road 4WD and make it more off-road capable?
You can read our drive impressions on the new Grand Cherokee Trailhawk here, but the addition of solid metal rock rails, four underbody bash plates, and specially designed off-road focused tyres all illustrate that the Grand Cherokee means business off-road, but didn’t it always?
It’s certainly always been perceived as a capable off-roader. As such, we asked Collin Shaw, global Jeep marketing and brand management chief, why Jeep had added the Trailhawk grade to the burgeoning Grand Cherokee portfolio.
“Because we’re Jeep, basically. Why not?” Shaw said. “We started the ‘Trailhawk‘ grade on Cherokee back in 2012, so it comes naturally after that, that at some point we would do it with Grand Cherokee.”
It seems then, that the Trailhawk grade might take the focus away from sealed surfaces and more toward the heavier duty off-road work.
“The Grand Cherokee Trailhawk naturally fits with our off-road image,” Shaw said. “However, it has to be able to tackle heavy terrain off-road, but remain comfortable around town.”
Shaw says the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk will help Jeep reach a customer who wants a modified and capable off-road vehicle, but who doesn’t want something as hardcore as a Wrangler.
“We’re also trying to keep as much of the after purchase modification as we can in house,” Shaw said.
He recognises the importance of the aftermarket and, in fact, supports anyone wanting to modify their Jeep – but suggests that third party product isn’t for everyone.
“Some customers don’t want aftermarket,” Shaw said. “They want those modifications kept in-house and that’s a part of why our presence at the SEMA exhibition is so important.”
Why not go with a ‘Rubicon’ rating for the Grand Cherokee then? After all, it is the ultimate off-road statement under the Jeep banner.
“We see the Rubicon name as being special to Wrangler,” Shaw said. “It is set apart from the other models – an example of what we stand for. A little bit different and a little bit special.”
Shaw went on to explain that the Trailhawk is no soft option and has been purpose built to tackle serious off-road terrain.
“Trailhawk has special attributes as you will find out, but we want to keep Wrangler separate,” he said.
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