by Matthew Scott

There’s little to not like about the latest Jeep Grand Cherokee, even in its stock form, the vehicle is surprisingly capable with the option of a rear locking differential, height-adjustable air suspension, a stellar traction control system, and a diesel engine with over 400 ft-lbs of torque. So when you’ve decided to turn an already fashionable and capable vehicle into a concept car, what is there to really do? Well, if you’re Mark Allen, Head of Jeep Brand Design, you take a Sawzall to it, put 35-inch tires on it, and paint it orange—amongst other things.

Let me tell you, this Grand Cherokee doesn’t suck.

At the 2012 edition of Easter Jeep Safari, we saw the concept for the original Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, a modest lift, factory rock sliders, and a larger, more aggressive tire was fitted. We were happy to see the vehicle go into production a few months later, but let’s be honest, the first concept wasn’t exactly earth-shattering.

With the Trailhawk II, the Jeep design team decided to take things a bit further, getting into the design details and really pushing the limits. Changing the looks of the vehicle by including an aggressive hood and bumpers from the lightning-fast SRT-8 Grand Cherokee. However, considering the SRT-8 derived parts are designed to make the car look aggressive in a street environment while being aerodynamic, custom changes had to be made to keep the off-road spirit of the Trailhawk II in order. 

When you’re trying to get 35-inch Mickey Thompson tires to stuff themselves far up into the wheel wells, there’s only so much the modest suspension lift and custom fender flares can do. Luckily, this is why they invented a sawzall—yeah, Jeep actually look a sawzall to the wheel wells of their concept car to make the massive tires fit. We’re not complaining, especially considering the vehicle has the new EcoDiesel engine that we’ve all been begging for. The vehicle is also fitted with custom front and rear skid plates, along with factory Mopar rock sliders that have been beefed up to add a bit more protection the rocker panels of the Trailhawk II. 

Oh, and it has Mopar slush mats.

We can only hope that Jeep is foreshadowing a future production vehicle just like they did with the original Trailhawk concept, because we certainly wouldn’t complain about 35′s and a diesel engine on a factory Jeep.

One-off roof rails were also fitted to the vehicle to allow for plenty of storage up above.

A skidplate and two rear recovery points are mounted to the rear of the vehicle.

Plenty of ground clearance and skid plates means the vehicle simply laughs at minor obstacles.

An aggresive hood pairs nicely with Jeep’s 10th Anniversary Rubicon, which is fitted with their Power Dome hood for a more aggresive look.

Custom steel coil suspension lets the vehicle soak up the high-speed bumps.

Smiles abound when the the 400+ ft-lbs of torque of the Trailhawk II meets sand.

Modified Mopar Rock sliders keep the vehicle protected, while the 35-inch Mickey Thompson Baja MTZ tires mounted on factory 2013 Rubicon wheels give you a few extra inches of clearance.

The 3.0L VM Motori EcoDiesel engine.

Images: Chrysler/Chris Collard

VFOTW: The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk II

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About the Author: Matthew Scott

Matthew Scott is a dedicated photographer, vintage car enthusiast, and regular contributor to Overland Journal. Growing up in Chicago in a family that valued “all things automotive” as much as exploring the region’s back roads, provided a solid platform for a career as an automotive journalist. He departed the Windy City in lieu of Prescott, Arizona, and the great open spaces and adventure opportunities of America’s Southwest. @matthewexplore