What it Takes to Earn Jeep’s Trail Rated Badge

Trail Rated

Have you ever shopped for a Jeep? You may have noticed that the majority of the vehicles are accompanied by the ‘Trail Rated’ badge, indicating that the SUVs are capable of traveling off-road.

These vehicles have to go through some extensive testing before they can qualify for this distinction (although, considering the ability of the brand’s SUVs, these tests are often successful). While you may assume that the badge is simply a way to separate the off-roaders from the non-off-roaders, the entire process is actually a lot more complex.

If you’ve been thinking about heading into a Jeep dealership, continue reading to understand what it takes to earn the brand’s ‘Trail Rated’ badge…

Traction

Traction

You’re going to want your Jeep’s tires to be kissing the ground, providing the driver with the best possible traction. This means your vehicle will be able to stay on its intended course without slipping and sliding along the path. Traction will also prove to be essential in bad weather, as the tires will do everything it can to grab hold of the road, preventing you from skidding on the icy or wet roads.

Jeep’s traction tests include riding the vehicles “on untamed, slippery roads (due to rain, mud, and snow) and up steep grades.” If the vehicles successfully complete these trials, they’ll earn one check on the list.

Each of the brand’s vehicles offers some of the best traction in the class:

  • Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon: 73.1:1
  • Wrangler Rubicon: 73.1:1
  • Cherokee Trailhawk: 56.1:1
  • Grand Cherokee: 44.1:1
  • Renegade: 20:1
  • Compass: 19:1
  • Patriot: 19:1

Water Fording

Water Fording

You never know when that random path is going to suddenly stop at a small creek or river. Most drivers would have to turn around and end their journey. However, due to the Jeep’s engineers desire to have water fording capabilities, you’ll be able to keep trucking on ahead.

Thanks to the 4×4 system, the brand’s vehicles are more than capable of overcoming any water obstacle. Plus, Jeeps have been specifically designed to travel through the elements, as the electrical components have been sealed and protected. Meanwhile, the high air intake feature will allow you to easily travel through these paths.

So how deep does the water have to be before you should give up?

  • Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon: 30 inches
  • Wrangler Rubicon: 30 inches
  • Cherokee Trailhawk: 20 inches
  • Grand Cherokee: 20 inches
  • Renegade: 20 inches
  • Compass: 19 inches
  • Patriot: 19 inches

Maneuverability

Maneuverability

Have you ever driven down a narrow, uneven path? You’ve probably found that your vehicle was unable to travel around some random obstacles, forcing you to turn around.

Luckily, Jeeps have been built to maneuver around any hurdles. If there’s a narrow opening, your SUV should be able to squeeze on through. Meanwhile, the Jeep will also prevent you from getting into any “emergency situation.” We can attribute these preventative safety measures to the advanced steering abilities, as well as the revamped wheelbase.

Some of the brand’s vehicles are bigger than others, but they’re also still nimble, regardless of their exterior dimensions:

  • Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon: 116-inch wheelbase, 184.9-inch length, 20.4-foot turning radius
  • Wrangler Rubicon: 95.4-inch wheelbase, 164.3-inch length, 17.3-foot turning radius
  • Cherokee: 107-inch wheelbase, 182-inch length, 26.8-foot turning radius
  • Grand Cherokee: 114.8-inch wheelbase, 189.8-inch length, 18.5-foot turning radius
  • Renegade: 101.2-inch wheelbase, 166.6-inch length, 17.7-foot turning radius
  • Compass: 103.7-inch wheelbase, 175.1-inch length, 17.8-foot turning radius
  • Patriot: 103.7-inch wheelbase, 173.8-inch length, 17.8-foot turning radius

Articulation

Articulation

While traction is one of the most important attributes of a Jeep off-roader, those capabilities wouldn’t even be possible if the tires weren’t attached to the road. Due to the vehicle’s excellent articulation, you know that the tires will consistently be traveling on the pavement.

Now, this may seem like a bizarre capability, but remember that you’re going to encounter some odd terrain when traveling off-road. A normal car would be tipping all over the place, and it’s doubtful that all four tires would consistently be touching the ground. Thanks to the engineers at Jeep, the vehicles will always be attempting to establish this relationship with the pavement. If one tire is elevated over the others, the vehicle compensates to keep you safe.

These capabilities can easily be attributed to the brand’s unique suspension system, which provides added flexibility. Meanwhile, the axle articulation and wheel travel also play an important role.

An RTI (ramp travel index) is the best way to measure a vehicle’s flexible abilities, proving whether it’s ultimately capable of traveling offroad. 1000 is the maximum score, with 400 to around 500 being middle of the road.

  • Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon: 540 (with sway bar), 644 (without sway bar)
  • Wrangler Rubicon: 638 (sway bar), 822 (no sway bar)
  • Cherokee: n/a
  • Grand Cherokee: n/a
  • Renegade: 361
  • Compass: 360
  • Patriot: 360

Ground Clearance

Ground Clearance

As we’ve mentioned multiple times, it can be difficult traveling over those pesky obstacles, especially when they’re giant boulders or logs. You’re going to need optimal ground clearance, and Jeeps certainly deliver in that regard. Similar to these other tests, you can rest assured that you’ll never have to end your adventure early.

The engineers specifically test for clearance, approach, departure, and breakover angles, ensuring that your SUV can overcome any natural hurdle.

How much ground clearance does each of the Trail Rated Jeeps offer?

  • Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon: 10-inches of running ground clearance, 42.1-degree approach angle, 21.2-degree breakover angle, 32.5-degree departure angle
  • Wrangler: 10-inches of running ground clearance, 42.2-degree approach angle, 25.8-degree breakover angle, 32.3-degree departure angle
  • Cherokee Trailhawk: 8.7-inches of running ground clearance, 29.9-degree approach angle, 22.9-degree breakover angle, 32.2-degree departure angle
  • Grand Cherokee: 11.3-inches of running ground clearance, 34.3-degree approach angle, 23.1-degree breakover angle, 29.3-degree departure angle
  • Renegade: 8.7-inches of running ground clearance, 30.5-degree approach angle, 25.7-degree breakover angle, 34.3-degree departure angle
  • Compass: 9.1-inches of running ground clearance, 29.6-degree approach angle, 23.6-degree breakover angle, 31.2-degree departure angle
  • Patriot: 9.1-inches of running ground clearance, 29-degree approach angle, 23.7-degree breakover angle, 33.9-degree departure angle

Jeep’s qualifications for earning the Trail Rated badge are probably a lot more complex than you had expected. These vehicles are put through the ringer to determine whether they’re actually capable off-roaders. As a customer, you couldn’t hope for anything better, as you’ll be getting one of the most tested and proven, durable SUVs in the class (as long as its accompanied by the Trail Rated badge).