I was able to take the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk up to Ski Country and test out the 9 speed transmission we were so excited to get our hands on. Here are my impressions.
The spread is ideal, and more is better when it comes to mating a four-cylinder 2.4 to a heavier vehicle turning two transaxles. The Trailhawk, with its tow hooks and skid plates, comes in as the fattest Cherokee of the bunch at 4,100 pounds. However, the MultiAir engine only felt overworked going up steep hills.
Otherwise, I don’t know why you wouldn’t want the economy of the MultiAir. It puts out 184 horsepower and 171 ft-lbs of torque — which isn’t that far off from the 190 horsepower of the ubiquitous 4.0 liter engine of the Cherokee of yesteryear. It’s just a little down on torque, but the 9-speed more than makes up for the 4-speed on the old box. The spread is great, but unfortunately, you do get some clunks when certain gears engage. Nothing that is a dealbreaker, but if the transmission tuners could smooth out some of the shifts by working on timing it would be perfection. Upgrade that module!
What is perfection is the ride with the big sidewall Firestone P245/65 all-terrain 17-inch tires. The Grand Central Parkway in NYC now looks like something the lunar lander should be attempting. The potholes are virtual craters. But the Jeep handled them with ease when other motorists were washing out. The cabin is wonderfully quiet. Why anyone would want to go Wrangler after having this kind of luxury is beyond me. Well, I guess there is Land Rover…
I’ll get back to you later this week with the fuel economy numbers, but to tease so far so good. We are well into the 20s.