Among the wild and crazy concept vehicles on the trails in Moab, Utah, at this year’s annual Easter Jeep Safari was this sneak peek at a production model we’ll see later this year.

The WK2 Grand Cherokee Trailhawk will see the Trailhawk name applied to the latest GC. Jeep introduced the Trailhawk name on a Grand Cherokee concept vehicle at the 2012 Easter Jeep Safari. The idea was to deliver a unique and more rugged appearance, with a host of functional features that resulted in an increased level of off-road 4x4 capability. Since then we’ve seen it on the KL Cherokee and most recently on the Jeep Renegade SUV.

The Trailhawk will join the Grand Cherokee line-up as part of the upgrades to make the 2017 models. The bold exterior features a front fascia taken from the Grand Cherokee 75th Anniversary edition, Trailhawk-signature red tow hooks in the front and rear, 18-inch or optional 20-inch all-terrain tyres, new Trailhawk and Trail Rated badges with red accents, a roof rack, and optional Mopar rock rails for added protection. Skid plates and a Trailhawk-specific anti-glare hood decal are also standard.

The Grand Cherokee Trailhawk will be equipped with a host of standard off-road-capable features, including Jeep’s Quadra- Drive II 4x4 system with rear Electronic Limited Slip Differential (ELSD) for all powertrains and a unique version of Grand Cherokee’s Quadra-Lift air suspension that offers improved articulation and total suspension travel – something that has been a weak point for the current independently airsuspended GC.

Approach angles on the Jeep Grand Cherokee are 29.8 degrees or 36.1 degrees when the lower front fascia is removed for off-roading, while the breakover angle is 27.1 degrees and the departure angle is 22.8 degrees. Grand Cherokee Trailhawk models offer up to 10.8 inches of ground clearance.

Inside, Trailhawk models feature a unique black interior with leather and suede seats with red accent stitching, brushed Piano Black appliques, gun-metal finish on all painted interior parts, a Trailhawk badge on the steering wheel, and red accent stitching on the doors and console. A standard 8.4-inch touchscreen includes updated off-road pages showing wheel articulation and other vehicle 4x4 capability features including suspension height and 4x4 and Selec-Terrain modes.

When the 2017 model Grand Cherokee arrives in the third quarter of this year the range will continue with Laredo, Limited and Overland variants, plus the Trailhawk with the choice of petrol and diesel engines. It’s as yet unclear as to what powertrain will be offered in the Trailhawk, but we hope Jeep doesn’t continue its trend of only offering Trailhawks with petrol engines as per the Cherokee and Renegade models. The excellent 3.0-litre diesel V6 and eight-speed auto would be the ideal powertrain for the GC Trailhawk in Australia.