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Jeep Grand Cherokee (2013)

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The Jeep Grand Cherokee now claims the title “the most awarded SUV in history.” And for the third year in a row, the Texas Auto Writers Association has crowned it the “SUV of Texas.”

This coveted trophy doesn’t come easy. Not only does the Grand Cherokee master some brutal Hill Country terrain, but must garner respect of some pretty polished journalists.

These wordsmith’s gather once a year to drive almost every truck and SUV/CUV known to man, with some categories bulging with entrants. Styling –both interior & exterior, fuel economy, handling and value, among others, play an important role in judging. It’s not an easy road for manufacturer entrants.

New for 2013 is the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk edition, one of 10 specialty vehicles in the Jeep lineup. It features Jeep’s Quadralift air suspension that can adjust the Cherokee’s ride height for maximum off-road ground clearance or lower it for improved fuel economy and comfort. Finding the right suspension and gear-box setting is easy with the Selec-Terrain controller found on the center console. It’s as simple as turning a knob and punching a button.

For protection from unwanted rock crawling injuries, the Trailhawk edition also comes standard with skid plate and rock rail protection and Goodyear Silent Armor Kevlar tires. Model-specific suede and leather trim seating round out the features.

All 2013’s get either a 290-horse 3.6-liter V-6 or the stump-pulling 5.7-liter V-8 that produces 360-horsepower and 390-lb.ft. of torque, good enough for towing up to 7,400 pounds. Along with its Trail Rated nomenclature, now you can say “major travel trailer rated.” The Trailhawk model comes with the V-6, which is a perfect fit in our opinion.

We did put the Trailhawk on the Kinibbe Ranch off-road course, which included some pretty rough terrain, a dip in the Guadalupe River and a major rock out-cropping, all of which were handled with ease. A quick jaunt on a paved road then on to highway speeds proved very comfortable, not only in ride quality and handling, but also in interior quietness, proving to us that the statement “Most Awarded SUV Ever” lives up to the title.

The 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee starts at $27,495, the Trailhawk edition begins at $41,995.

We looked for competitors and found a few wannabe’s including the Toyota 4-Runner, Honda Pilot and Nissan Pathfinder, but when it comes to value for capability, you just can’t beat the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

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