Jeep has flashed some serious off-road muscle in both Moab and New York this month. While the bright lights and polished floors of the Jacob Javits Center don't make for quite as dramatic a Jeep reveal backdrop as the red cliffs and towers of Moab, that's where folks will find the biggest Jeep debuts right now. The new 2017 Grand Cherokee Trailhawk wears a raft of upgrades that make it the "most capable factory-produced Grand Cherokee ever," while the Jeep Summit debuts as the most luxurious.
Moab's Easter Jeep Safari isn't just notable to this story because it shares some of the New York Auto Show's dates once again this year, but because it was the birthplace of the official Trailhawk trim, with the Grand Cherokee serving as the launch vehicle. The Trailhawk name existed at Jeep for a while, and was used on an open-top, Wrangler-based 2007 concept car, but it really gained steam at the 46th Annual Jeep Safari in 2012. Jeep's annual slate of Safari concept models that year included the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk Concept.
Quite simple by Jeep Safari concept standards (especially compared to the Mighty FC also revealed that year), the 2012 Trailhawk concept was a look at a Grand Cherokee with elevated off-road readiness. It included Mopar rock rails, 18-in Goodyear off-road tires, and red, mineral gray and black accents throughout.
It wasn't nearly as radical or lust-worthy as other Jeep Safari concepts then and since, but the modest Trailhawk package was one of the more production-ready designs to come out of the annual Safari gathering. Jeep experimented with a short-lived production Grand Cherokee Trailhawk in model year 2013, then gave the "Trailhawk" a hard launch as the most capable of the four model options on the 2014 Cherokee redux. It followed up with a Renegade Trailhawk.
"Our Cherokee and Renegade Trailhawk models are among our fastest selling and most sought-after models, and we are following that successful formula to provide consumers even more legendary Jeep 4x4 capability for Grand Cherokee," explains Jeep chief Mike Manley.
The newest Trailhawk follows the original Grand Cherokee Trailhawk concept closely, sliding a set of burlier off-road-ready standard equipment under and around the driver. That equipment includes Jeep's Quadra-Drive II 4x4 system with rear electronic limited slip differential (ELSD), a tweaked, Trailhawk-spec version of the Grand Cherokee's Quadra-Lift air suspension, 18-in Goodyear Adventure off-road tires (20-in Adventures available optionally), skid plates and an anti-glare hood decal. Jeep says that the model has up to 10.8 in of ground clearance.
Of course, many folks aren't happy just knowing they have the most capable Grand Cherokee in the showroom – they want others to know, too. The new Trailhawk has a variety of distinct visual cues, including front and rear Trailhawk red tow hooks, a front fascia lifted from the 75th Anniversary Grand Cherokee, Trailhawk and Trail Rated badges, and gray accents on the mirror housings and roof rack. Mopar rock rails are available optionally.
The black Trailhawk interior includes leather and suede performance seats, red contrast stitching, a Trailhawk-badged steering wheel, and brushed piano black and gun metal-finish accents. The standard 8.4-in Uconnect infotainment system includes off-road-specific readings of things like wheel articulation, suspension height, and Selec-Terrain mode.
The Trailhawk will arrive in showrooms late this summer (Northern Hemisphere) in a variety of colors and with the full slate of Grand Cherokee engine options (minus the SRT 6.4-liter V8). Pricing has not yet been released, but for reference, the 2016 Cherokee Trailhawk is priced US$7,600 more than the Cherokee base Sport 4x2 trim and the Renegade Trailhawk is $8,750 more than the Renegade Sport 4x2 trim.
Rounding out the six-model 2017 Jeep lineup is the all-new Jeep Summit, also introduced in New York. If the Trailhawk is the brutish dirt rat of the Grand Cherokee family, the Summit is the posh urbanite. Jeep calls this one its most luxurious full-size SUV, and premium features like the full-wrap Laguna leather interior, 19-speaker, 825-watt Harman Kardon audio system, acoustic windshield and side glass, lighted door sill, headlamp washers and auto-folding power mirrors make it so.
Like the Trailhawk, the Summit tackles the ground ahead with help from the Quadra-Drive II 4x4 system with ELSD. It also comes standard with Quadra-Lift air suspension, Selec-Speed Control and driver assistance features like adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and parallel/perpendicular park assist. The exterior includes an updated front fascia, LED fog lamps and new 20-in polished aluminum wheels.
The Summit will roll out during the same late summer timeframe as the Trailhawk.