Today is Jeep® 4×4 Day, the annual celebration of the iconic American brand and the mental and physical freedom of off-road driving. Now in its fifth year, Jeep 4×4 Day is held on the fourth day of the fourth month and is enjoyed by Jeep® owners and enthusiasts worldwide. It recognizes the brand’s invention of the SUV and the 80 years of evolution and innovation that have followed, during which the brand has become synonymous with off-roading adventures and has come to embody the very essence of freedom and the spirit of adventure and the ability to overcome any obstacle.
This year, Jeep® is focusing Jeep 4×4 Day on the “Go Anywhere, Do Anything” attitude behind the brand’s “Trail Rated” badge (which is reserved for only the most off-road capable models in the Jeep lineup). Before earning its “Trail Rated” badge, each Jeep model is pushed to the limits to test its performance in five key areas (Traction, Water Fording, Maneuverability, Articulation, and Ground Clearance). Only when a Jeep model has passed all of the tests with flying colors, can the model claim to be among the most capable production off-road models on the market.
The testing process begins in Jeep’s research and development departments, continues in the icy temperatures of Northern Michigan and finishes on the boulders of the Rubicon Trail (the toughest off-road testing ground in the world). Trail Rated is an industry-leading methodology initially established by the Nevada Automotive Test Center (NATC) and the Jeep R&D team to objectively measure the off-road performance of all Jeep vehicles. Through a combination of natural and controlled field tests, as well as computer-simulated evaluation tests, this methodology provides a repeatable, consistent, and reliable measurement of off-road performance.
Today, the Jeep R&D team continues to improve the features and performance of its four-wheel-drive vehicles. The brand’s experience, combined with technological innovation, is what makes Jeep Trail Rated vehicles benchmark in terms of off-road performance. Even new Jeep models with plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) technology, with the soon to be launched Renegade and Compass 4xe models, have been developed in line with this methodology. As a result, from launch, both the First Edition’s Off-Road trim and the Trailhawk variants of both 4xe models will wear the prized Trail Rated badge.
New plug-in hybrid technology further enhances the off-road capability of Jeep SUVs, courtesy of the greater torque offered by the combination of electric and combustion engines. Thanks to the new Jeep 4xe technology, traction to the rear axle is not provided by a prop shaft, but through the dedicated electric motor. This allows the two axles to be separated and control the torque independently in a more effective way than a mechanical system.
The Five “Trail Rated” Categories:
- TRACTION – Trail Rated Jeep 4x4s feature a variety of four-wheel-drive systems to suit all kinds of off-road challenges and driving conditions. Trail Rated traction helps maintain a controlled forward motion in snow, ice, sand, and mud. Traction testing includes traction on untamed, slippery roads (wet, mud, snow) and on steep gradients. Crawl ratio is a key metric used to distinguish the traction and capability of Trail Rated Jeep 4x4s.
- WATER FORDING – Trail Rated Jeep 4x4s feature additional electrical and body sealing along with a high air intake to help navigate streams and flooded underpasses that stop others cold.
- MANEUVERABILITY – Trail Rated Jeep 4x4s have the capability to navigate narrow gaps, dodge emergency situations, and avoid cosmetic damage thanks to precision steering and optimized wheelbases. The smaller the turn radius, the more capable the vehicle is at negotiating narrow gaps.
- ARTICULATION – Keeping the rubber on the trail helps you stay moving. When one or more wheels are elevated, good articulation allows the other wheel(s) to maintain ground contact longer – allowing for maximum available traction at all times. Trail Rated suspensions enhance off-road performance by maximizing flexibility, axle articulation, and wheel travel, to ensure the tires grip the ground, even on steep surfaces.
- GROUND CLEARANCE – Jeep 4x4s are tested for their ability to drive over obstacles, and the criteria include ground clearance and approach, break-over and departure angles to ensure you can clear logs, rocks and uneven ground.
Even if the Jeep communities’ desire for adventure is limited by the difficult situation we are living, Jeep is celebrating this year’s 4×4 Day as the occasion to tighten its relationship with the community and share a positive mindset with users. On its social media channels, the Jeep brand will give “Jeepers” the opportunity to take on a series of virtual challenges indoors, in pure Jeep style. You can check out the various Jeep global Facebook and Instagram pages and using the hashtags #4x4Day #StayOffTheRoad