Seeing the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk parked in my driveway last week, my first thought—right after admiring the massive snow tires and sleek silver-grey styling—was this: How can I get this crossover stuck in a snowbank?
I wanted to try the Selec-Terrain dial. I’m not sure how Jeep comes up with the names for these things—let’s just call it Select Terrain, OK? The dial is located on the center console, near your right kneecap. You crank it over to Snow mode, and the Trailhawk stays in second gear, with more power to the front tires. Choose Sand/Mud mode for more power to the rear tires, or Rock mode (more power in general), depending on your mood and the weather conditions.
In Minnesota in February, my choice was easy and immediate. I drove into about eight inches of snow. And I became hopelessly stuck.
I imagined the awkward conversation with the roadside assistance driver. “So, you test cars and you just got this stuck in your yard?” he’d ask me, with a bemused look that says “entitled journalist” on his face.
Before facing that, I decided to try the old trick my dad taught me, where you rock the vehicle forward a bit, then back. That seemed to create even more problems. The path I had created driving into the snow just got deeper and more insurmountable.
It was about this time I noticed the 4WD LOW button. There’s also a button that looks like a car stuck in, say, eight inches of snow, called (what else?) Selec-Speed. Eureka! Hitting this button combination caused the Trailhawk to lock the axles, pump more torque to the tires, and bust me out of there.
I could get used to this Selec-Terrain. On a slick winter road glazed over with ice and windswept snow, the Trailhawk felt like a tractor: gripping tightly to the road, never slipping in Auto mode. Switching to Snow mode on a highway packed with snow and ice, the back end never fishtailed even once.
I admit to being a skittish wintertime driver, wondering if I’m about to hit a patch of ice or a snow bank and go flying through the air like in National Lampoon’s Vacation (see the end of this trailer). You can add the Selec-Terrain option to the Trailhawk and the car still costs just $29,495 MSRP, a bargain compared to the $41,675 MSRP you’d have to spend to get the same feature with the Ford Explorer. You may not drive into snowbanks intentionally like I do, but in any case, there’s a button to get you out.
This story, "Snow, sand, mud, rocks: The 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk has a button for that" was originally published by TechHive.