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Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk ready to climb to new heights

The Wrangler may be king of the 4x4 mountain, but the Jeep is hawkish about the Grand Cherokee’s off-road chops.

The 2017 Grand Cherokee Trailhawk unveiled at the New York Auto Show is the most extreme version of the SUV ever made.

The Trailhawk features a specially-tuned air suspension that can jack up the ground clearance to 10.8 inches, a maximum 36.1-degree approach angle with the front lower bodywork removed (29.8 degrees when it's not,) standard Goodyear Adventure Kevlar-reinforced off-road tires, a Quadra-Drive II 4x4 system with electronic limited slip rear differential, hill ascent control that works like a low-speed cruise control, skid plates, front and rear tow hooks, and a matte-finish hood decal aimed at reducing glare out in the desert.

When it goes on sale this summer, the Trailhawk will be available with a choice of gasoline V6 and V8 engines, along with the Grand Cherokee's EcoDiesel V6. Suede sports seats, red stitching, gunmetal grey trim and piano black accents give it a unique look inside.

According to Jeep CEO Mike Manley, the Trailhawk has no problem completing the grueling Rubicon Trail, long a benchmark for Jeep performance. Although the Grand Cherokee is primarily purchased as an everyday street car, Manley says about 15 to 20 percent of its owners use their SUVs for serious off-roading, and the Trailhawk was designed with them in mind.

Pricing has not yet been announced, but expect the Trailhawk toward the higher end of the Grand Cherokee lineup, likely in the $40,000-$45,000 range.

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