Well my wife and I drove and hour and a half to get to Jack Powell Jeep in Escondido yesterday so I could drive the first sighted Trailhawk on the ground in California. Well worth the drive, I was not disappointed. The number one requirement was met, my wife really likes it, she said "Looks like you picked a winner" So now that the hard part is out of the way, onto the highlights. Here are some observations and thoughts.
As we were driving into the dealership the first thing we saw was someone else was already test driving the Trailhawk and it was just pulling back into the dealership from the street. You could definitely see the higher lift of the Trailhawk and it has a very nice stance and presence, clearly a much bolder look than any of the other CUV competition.
Overall on the test drive we found the ride to be very comfortable and compliant, even on rough patches of asphalt. There was no noticeable flutter on the freeway concrete gaps that you find with some smaller vehicles. Convincing the sales guy I needed a long test drive with a mix of street, rough roads and freeway driving, he took me through some good areas. On the freeway, when he wanted me to get off at the first exit, I "missed it" as I intentionally accelerated up to 80mph and went over three lanes, darn, I had to drive further.
While at a turnaround I guided the right wheels off the pavement to at least get a sense of offroad, of course this was only two wheels, but even on the rutted dirt the ride was fine (can't do much with the sales person in the backseat).
The cabin was surprisingly very quiet, despite the boxy profile, we did not notice any wind noise, much less when compared to my 2000 Chevy Impala and it was easier to carry on a conversation.
This is a pretty basic Trialhawk, no electric driver's seat, not many options, I did notice on the test drive I wish I could adjust the lumbar, I hope the upgraded seats have this.
Auto Stick Manual Mode: As I pulled out of the dealership I had actually pulled the shifter over to the left, which put the automatic transmission into a quasi manual mode, as we pulled out, the engine was noticeably reeving up until I realized it and you just slip the shifter to the right and it goes back into normal auto shifting mode.
Engine: I did notice as I was accelerating on the test drive, pushing it, you could clearly hear the 2.4 four cylinder revving up, I guess you can't call it straining, as I guess it is typical of a four cylinder, but it was much more than the V-6's I'm use to driving.
Steering: I noticed while driving through a long sweeping curve, I hand to keep moving the steering wheel small incremental amounts back/forth, back/forth, must be a feature of the electric steering.
Backup Blind Spot: While in their storage lot, doing a three point turn, while backing up you could really tell the of the visibility limitations of the large rear pillar. You have to get use to using the backup camera, side mirrors and looking out the back hatch window.
Legroom: Always my number one concern for buying a vehicle since I'm 6'1" with long legs. My right leg never touched the center console during the test drive, thanks to the way they curved it in. My left leg rested against the door panel protrusion, as is typical for a door panel, I wish it was slightly more curved and sloped inwards as it flows towards the bottom, but I guess I can get use to it.
Left Arm: As my usual driving position is to rest my left elbow and forearm on the window sill, I was not disappointed, it is actually higher than a number of vehicles, but still comfortable to grip the steering wheel with the left hand (a habit of freeway stop and go driving).
Larger Tires: I carefully examined the wheel wheels to see the possibility of larger tires. I turned the steering to get the front wheels to be angled so the rear of the front tires were at their closet point to the rear of the wheel well, there is only about 3/4" clearance, maybe 2" on the front side. For the rear wheels, at the front side of the tire, there is a plastic protrusion that is only about 1" from the tire, maybe it is clearance for the seat bolts. There should be enough room for a 225/65R17 (28.52 inch diameter), but that may be the limit.
Spare wheel room: Looks like there is room for a 225, 235 may be pushing it.
Here is a photo I snapped while at their storage lot, looking for the Limited: