2016 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Test Drive and Review

Jerry Reynolds | October 20, 2015
2016 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Test Drive and Review

This week, I bring you the 2016 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, a very capable off-road small SUV.  I reviewed the 2014 Cherokee Limited when it first came out and liked it a lot. This Trailhawk package is now the top-of-the-line, price-wise.

Although you can get it in a 4 cylinder engine, this one has the 3.2 liter V6 that is producing 271-horses.  It also has the 9-speed automatic transmission, which is now entering its 3rd year of production and seems to be performing well after a bit of a shaky start.


2017 Cherokee Trailhawk Is Trail-Rated

Cherokee Trailhawk is also Trail-Rated, a badge of honor for Jeeps that get tested on the world-famous Rubicon Trail, and it is a grueling testing ground.  You can watch a short film on how they test it at

Cherokee comes in five packages, starting with the Sport, the Latitude, the Altitude, the Limited, and then this one.

Looks Great Inside and Out

Although it was controversial when it came out in 2014, the exterior of the Trailhawk looks great and people seem to have accepted it.  The Trailhawk has a flat black panel on the hood, the grill accents are in gray, and you get red tow hooks on the front.  Jeep abandoned the typical round headlights and slotted grill on this vehicle, yet it still has enough of a Jeep look to know what it is from the front.

Moving inside, Jeep put a lot of thought into the interior of the Cherokee, and it looks great.  They used all soft-touch materials and it feels more like a luxury compact SUV than one capable of climbing a mountain.  The leather seats are comfortable and the Cherokee has surprising headroom.  There is red stitching on the dash and the seats that really set it off.

From behind the leather-wrapped steering wheel, you have a large round tachometer on the left of the gauge cluster, a matching speedometer on the right and a programmable color driver information display in the center, which gives you a ton of information.

Drive Modes

The center console houses the controls for off-roading, including an electronic locking rear differential.  SelecTerrain lets you choose the driving mode you want including snow, sport, sand & mud, rock, or you can leave it in auto and the Cherokee will change as necessary.

There is also a nice glove box that sits on top of the dash above the screen, which is where everything runs from.  I find Uconnect to be one of the easiest to operate systems in the industry.  It gives you a host of apps including real-time traffic, gas prices, movie times, weather, and sports scores.  You can also turn the entire interior into a WiFi hotspot.

Trailhawk Standard Features

Being the top-of-the-line, the Trailhawk comes standard with notable features like backup camera, keyless entry with remote start, steering wheel controls, Bluetooth with voice activation, electric emergency brake, and a fold-flat front passenger seat for more cargo capacity.

Review Vehicle Options

This particular Cherokee has $8600 worth of factory options including a navigation system, park assist warning, blind spot monitoring, power liftgate, keyless entry, heated and air-conditioned front seats, a heated steering wheel, 9-speaker stereo, and 17” black painted wheels.

Other options include climate-controlled air conditioning, a power seat for the driver, universal garage door opener, and automatic dimming rear view mirror.  All in all, this one is completely loaded with the exception of a power moonroof.

Backseat room is fairly tight, but I like the way the rear seats slide forward and back, and the seats also fold flat in a 60/40 configuration.

Cargo area is smaller than some of the Cherokee’s competitors like CRV, RAV4, and Escape.  It does have a pretty nifty cargo management system in the back with hooks to hang or secure items back there.

Great Daily Driver

The Cherokee Trailhawk handles great, with no body roll in tight cornering.  Trailhawk has a beefed up suspension for off-roading, so you do feel more of the bumps than the Limited I reviewed a couple of years ago, but this one would make a good daily driver.  It has 8.7” of ground clearance, which is very good for an SUV in this class.

Fuel economy is 19 in town and 26 on the highway, and surprisingly it is rated to tow 4500 pounds, which is exceptional for an SUV in this class. It even has a full-sized spare tire!

What You'll Pay

MSRP is $40,200 which at first hit me as sort of high, but the 4-wheel drive system and level of equipment would seem to justify that kind of window sticker price.

If you don’t have a desire to go off-road, I’d choose the Limited model for the better ride and $2000 savings.  However, if you want to leave the pavement, this is a real Jeep and I recommend it.

2016 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

  • What I liked most:  Exterior looks and 4-wheel drive capability.
  • What I would change:  It could use a little more back seat room.
  • MSRP: Base price $30,595, as equipped $40,200.
  • Fuel Economy:  EPA rated at 19 city, 26 highway, 22 combined.
  • Fuel Tank:  15.9 gallons.
  • Dimensions:  182” long/75” wide/68” high.
  • Weight: 4028 Pounds  
  • 2016 Cherokee Trailhawk in a few words:  A very capable small Jeep! 
  • Trailer Towing:  4500 pounds
  • Warranty:  3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper with roadside assistance, 5-year/60,000 miles on the powertrain.
  • Miles When Tested:  450
  • Manufacturer’s website: 
Tags: 2016, cherokee, jeep, trailhawk, vehicle reviews
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