If ever there were a fall from grace, the Jeep Grand Cherokee would be it. It went from commanding a 15 per cent market share in 2014 to being a mere blip on the radar in its segment with less than four per cent share of sales in 2018.
But, sometimes the best sellers in the segment are far from the best cars in that segment. Could the 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk be one of them? Only one way to find out.
Priced from $73,950 (plus on-road costs), the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk sits second from the top of the non-performance Grand Cherokee range, with only the $78,450 Grand Cherokee Overland above it before you step into the $91,450 Grand Cherokee SRT and beyond.
As a result, it's pretty loaded with features. The exposed red recovery hooks, all-terrain tyres and 'Trail Rated' badge give you an indication of its off-road prowess – more on this later.
Sitting on 18-inch alloy wheels and 265mm-wide chunky rubber, the Trailhawk is designed to take the already capable Grand Cherokee and make it even more capable off-road, while retaining the luxury highlights.
Under the bonnet, the Trailhawk is powered exclusively by Jeep's grunty 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder diesel engine that pumps out 184kW of power and 570Nm of torque.
Sending torque through an eight-speed automatic transmission, it consumes an official combined fuel consumption figure of 7.5 litres of fuel per 100km. We managed to achieve fuel economy high in the eights after a mix of city and highway driving.
Using Jeep's Quadra-Drive II four-wheel-drive system, it's a permanent four-wheel drive with a low-range transmission and a built-in electronic limited-slip rear differential.
Being Trail Rated, it also picks up a number of drive modes to help it off-road. These include Auto, Sand, Snow, Mud and Rock. Additionally, there's also a hill descent control mode, plus height-adjustable air suspension.
In terms of off-road equipment, the Trailhawk's air suspension can be jacked up to offer an impressive 260mm of ground clearance to pass even the biggest of rocks (or kerbs) you could throw at it.
It's not all cosmetic either – if you discount the black decal on the bonnet and grey wing mirror covers – because the Trailhawk also gets underbody protection in the form of scrape-ready skid plates.
Step into the cabin and it's not hard to see why the Grand Cherokee has commanded so much appeal over the past few years. It's a properly luxury place to be seated with leather as far as the eye can see, along with soft-touch materials either side of any leather surface.
But, look a little closer and you'll spot things that begin to irritate fairly quickly. These include the misaligned glovebox (you can see the top-right edge out of alignment in the pictures attached to this review) and things like the foot-operated park brake, which has become a thing of the past in most modern vehicles.
These grievances aside, Jeep has done an impressive job of keeping the cabin modern. Most of that comes down to the infotainment system, which we'd rate as one of the best in the business.
UConnect uses an 8.4-inch colour touchscreen with an ultra-fast processor to transition between screens and accept virtually any voice commands thrown at it. It also includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with a host of installable applications that further its functionality.
We love all the hidden gems in there, too, such as the ability to change the satellite-navigation position cursor into an old Jeep or a bunch of other avatars.
The sound system also needs to be called out – it's sensational. Featuring nine speakers and a subwoofer, it offers plenty of punch and delivers an audio experience unmatched in this segment.
Also ahead of the driver is an LCD display that offers the speedometer, off-road controls (and handy off-road functions such as tilt angle and off-road status) and trip computer.
The only two options available are premium paint ($895 and that's every colour except white) and a dual-pane panoramic sunroof ($3250).
Hop back to the second row, and while it may look spacious from the outside, it can be a little cramped in there if your load is three adults side-by-side. But, there is plenty of legroom, even with the seats in the first row pushed back. We found the seats in the second row to be a little firm and uncomfortable for long-distance drives, though.
Separating your two rear passengers is a fold-down centre armrest with cup holders, and ISOFIX points on the two outboard seats. In addition to rear air vents, second-row occupants also snag two USB points and seat heaters for the outboard seats.
Drop the second row in a 60:40 split-folding configuration and you'll expose the big and usable cargo area. Offering 768L of capacity with the second row up, there's underfloor storage around the spare tyre, a bin to the side and a power outlet.
We've previously tested the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk off-road, but this test was focussed more on its ability on-road and whether the off-road bent affects the way it copes with day-to-day driving.
When you crank the engine over, it's surprising to not get a clattery diesel engine note in return. It's fairly civilised and quiet compared to a lot of other four-cylinder diesel engines in this segment.
Jeep has ditched the somewhat confused twin-position shifter for a conventional gear shifter – so finding reverse, drive or park is pretty straightforward now.
One of the big benefits of air suspension (aside from height adjustability) is the improved ride quality. The Grand Cherokee is no exception to this with a silky smooth ride over speed humps, cobblestones or imperfections.
That extends to highway and country roads where it feels sure-footed and smooth at faster speeds. While it's great in a straight line, it can feel a little ponderous with a steering rack that doesn't offer a great deal of communication with what's happening under the front end. There is occasional rack rattle when hitting bumps midway through a corner.
For the most part, Jeep has done a good job of developing a smooth ride that copes well when empty and also when loaded with passengers. It needs to be given that it's capable of towing 3500kg of load with a braked trailer (with a maximum 350kg down ball weight).
Road noise at speed is okay, but we did notice some whistling noises coming from the wing mirrors and a small amount of wind noise around the window seals. Outside of that, it was a quiet place to be seated.
That 570Nm of torque makes the Grand Cherokee fairly handy at overtaking and getting away from the traffic lights briskly. Peak torque comes on at 2000rpm, which means it can be a little laggy down low in the rev range, but once it comes on boost it gets along nicely.
It's quick enough to dash from 0–100km/h in 8.2 seconds, while consuming 7.5 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle. On the safety front you'll find low- and high-speed autonomous emergency braking, along with blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision warning, seven airbags and trailer-sway control.
Driving the Grand Cherokee in and around the city is a piece of cake, especially when it comes to parking. It features front and rear parking sensors, a high-quality reverse-view camera, along with a semi-automatic parking feature that can reverse the vehicle into a parking spot without interacting with the steering.
Most of Jeep's competitors in this segment can be a little underpowered in comparison (such as the Prado and ute-based four-wheel drives like the Everest, Pajero Sport et al) or lack the technology fitted as standard to the Grand Cherokee.
Therein lies the thing with the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk. Despite the way it appears on the sales charts, it's actually a really good vehicle to drive. It is absolutely loaded to the hilt with features, and while it doesn't offer seating for seven, it does everything else you need it to do. It has been around for donkey's years, but why change a good thing if it isn't broken?
Jeep offers a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, five years of capped-price servicing and lifetime roadside assistance (if you service the vehicle with Jeep). Servicing over a five-year period comes to $3285 with service intervals every 12 months or 20,000km, which is a little expensive compared to the competition.
While it may not be the newest kid on the block, the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk does everything it says on the box. It's hard to complain.