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2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Long-Term Update 3

The Trailhawk Gets a Tow Hitch and a Transmission Reflash

Rory Jurnecka
Jan 8, 2015
Photographers: Motor Trend Staff
With more than 12,000 miles on the Jeep's odometer in just five months, it has become a popular vehicle among our staff. On the odd nights that I haven't taken it home, it's been requisitioned by other staffers for everything from the daily grind, to local camping trips, to long-haul road trips over the Rocky Mountains. (More on that in a future update.)
It also took a trip into the local dealer not only for its scheduled 10,000 mile service (consisting of an oil change, tire rotation, and inspection), but also for a few updates. The first update was a recall regarding the software that controls the adaptive cruise control module. Apparently, in some cases, when the accelerator is used while cruise control is active, the vehicle could continue accelerating for a moment even after the throttle is shut. A simple software reprogram was the solution, as it is for the other models affected, the Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango. I never experienced the issue.
Photo 2/12   |   The Yakima HoldUp 2 folds away when it’s not being used, but for ease of tailgate operation, I’ll probably detach it when it’s not carrying bikes.
The second update was to a newer version of the transmission programming software. In a previous update, I'd mentioned that I wasn't entirely happy with the way the Jeep's nine-speed transmission operated. It occasionally felt sloppy when moving off from a start and would sometimes be reluctant to shift, hunt for gears, or shift harshly. It's been a couple thousand miles since the new transmission software was installed, and the Cherokee's transmission is definitely improved. Gone is the slop and hesitation from a standstill and I've yet to encounter a particularly rough shift. There's still a bit of gear hunting, especially at freeway speed on inclines, and I still notice a reluctance to get into ninth gear, but this latest software revision is a major step forward. Hopefully there is another revision coming to get it perfect.
Photo 3/12   |   Yakima’s HoldUp 2 bike rack in action with the Jeep’s new tow hitch installed. Loading and securing bikes takes about two minutes.
The final update was the addition of a tow hitch. One option box I didn't check on my otherwise well-equipped Trailhawk was the tow package. In addition to a hitch and the associated wiring, that package includes a heavy-duty alternator, different final gearing, heavy-duty transmission and engine cooling, and a few other odds and ends. Because the changes are so significant (they ramp up the vehicle's tow rating from 2000 to 4500l pounds), the full factory tow package must be installed -- you guessed it -- at the factory. Fortunately, all I was really concerned about adding was a rack to carry a couple bicycles, and the dealer was happy to install a 2-inch receiver hitch and wiring. Note to the wise, though: If you want a tow hitch, order it from the factory. You'll get the full tow package (with upgraded tow rating) for approximately the same cost as just the hitch and electronics after the fact.
Hitch installed, I set about hooking up Yakima's HoldUp 2 bicycle carrier. The process was straightforward enough, taking about 30 minutes to go from pieces in a box to full assembly on the vehicle, with two bikes ready to hit the trails. A major advantage of this style of rack is that no bike disassembly is required for mounting, and it takes just a couple minutes to load a couple bikes securely (locks are also included). Also nice: The rack folds up when it isn't in use, though I'll likely be removing it altogether when I don't have bikes to haul.
More on our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 4X4 here:

Our Car
Service life 12,727 mi
EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ 18/25/20 mpg
Real MPG 19.2 mpg combined
Average fuel economy 14.9 mpg
CO2 emissions 1.01 lb/mi
Energy consumption 176 kW-hr/100mi
Unresolved problems None
Maintenance cost $0 (oil change, tire rotation, inspection)
Normal-wear cost $0

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