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Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk Edition Tackles the Rubicon

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.

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Chris spent his formative years riding dirt bikes with his dad in the deserts of Southern California and Baja, Mexico, which led to a lifelong quest for adventure. He is handy behind a viewfinder and at the keyboard, and brings four decades of international travel experience to Overland Journal as Editor-in-Chief. His career, which includes work for National Geographic Adventure, Four Wheeler, Hot Rod, and Autoweek, has taken him through 50-plus countries and to every continent. He has also served as correspondent to magazines in a dozen countries and in as many languages. In 2013 he was part of the Expeditions7 team that crossed Antarctica and he has recently been inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame as a pioneering journalist. When not behind the camera Chris can be found on The Office (his sailboat), or undertaking meticulous “research” for upcoming articles in locales such as Tequila, Mexico.

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