When Jeep confirmed that it would debut something at the 2016 New York Auto Show, everyone assumed it would be the 707-horsepower, Hemi Hellcat-powered Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. But that’s apparently not what Jeep was planning.
Leaked images of a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk off-road model were posted last night by Jalopnik. No details or specifications were leaked with the photos, so they’re all we have to go on for now. While it probably doesn’t have a Hellcat engine under its blacked-out hood, the Trailhawk could still be pretty cool.
Jeep currently uses the Trailhawk name for the most off-road-ready versions of the Renegade and Cherokee, but it was actually associated with the Grand Cherokee first. The original Grand Cherokee Trailhawk was a special edition offered only for the 2013 model year, and was based on one of the concept vehicles Jeep built for the annual Moab Easter Safari.
The new Trailhawk actually looks pretty similar to that model. It’s got virtually the same hood graphic, and the red tow hooks that have also become a trademark styling feature on the Renegade and Cherokee Trailhawks. The latter two models get some significant mechanical upgrades as well, but we will have to wait until next week to see if that will also be the case with the new Grand Cherokee Trailhawk.
As crossovers based on front-wheel drive car platforms, the Renegade and Cherokee needed those substantial upgrades to achieve the hardcore off-road performance of more traditional Jeep models. The Grand Cherokee is already pretty capable off road, but there likely is room for a more hardcore variant.
Fans will probably be disappointed at the apparent substitution of Trackhawk with Trailhawk. But Jeep will debut a Grand Cherokee Trackhawk eventually, and in the meantime the Trailhawk makes a little bit more sense. The Trackhawk will surely be both awesome and hilarious, but with its focus on off-roading, the Trailhawk will be more relevant to the typical Jeep buyer.