If anyone were to say we have the best jobs in the world, they’d be right. This week I found myself in Northern California on the Rubicon Trail with two Grand Cherokee Trailhawks and 13 miles of trail in front of me. I joined Pearse Umlauf and his crew from Jeep Jamboree USA, who were hosting the Trailhawks and a few folks from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. It is well known that the Rubicon has long been the proving grounds for Jeep vehicles. In fact the entire Georgetown divide, home to the Jeep Jamboree and Jeepers Jamboree, is Jeep central for the West Coast. Although the Grand Cherokee has been appointed with opulent features like a 500-watt sound system, heated and air conditioned seats, and plush leather interior, the boys in Auburn Hills haven’t forgotten why it bears the Jeep name…and a seven slot grille.
I have to give credit to the Jeep executives that ponied up two Trailhawks for what I thought might be a Rubicon bashing. But it is evident that they know what the vehicle is capable of and have the guts to put its reputation on the line. Not only is the Trailhawk available with a 5.7-liter V8 that generates 360 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque, it has a legitimate 2-speed transfer case, 2.72:1 low range, electronic limited slip, and an adjustable height suspension.
Navigating the 9 miles of the trail to Rubicon Springs turned into a long day. The JJUSA crew tossed a few rocks and were careful not to strafe too much sheet metal (very little in fact), but at the end of the weekend the sleek Trailhawk earned its wings, and rightfully went home wearing the Trail Rated badge with pride.