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Great Braking Matters: Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

The Jeep Cherokee (KL) is a crossover SUV manufactured by the Jeep marque owned by Stellantis North America since 2021. It was introduced for the 2014 model year and was positioned between the smaller Compass and larger Grand Cherokee in the Jeep lineup. Production of the Jeep Cherokee at its assembly plant in Belvidere, Illinois ended on February 28, 2023. The Trailhawk was a trim level of the Jeep Cherokee that was offered for the 2014 to 2022 model years, which was a more off-road capable version of this model. Owners who modify their Trailhawks with off-road features like heavy-duty suspension, larger tires and built-in camping gear should also consider upgrading their stock brakes.

great braking matters jeep cherokee trailhawk 1 - Great Braking Matters: Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk


The Trailhawk is part of the fifth generation Cherokee that Jeep introduced for the 2014 model year. The size of these vehicles was increased from a compact to a midsize crossover SUV to make room for the Renegade, which was positioned immediately below the Cherokee in the Jeep lineup. The Trailhawk is Trail Rated, meaning it has passed a series of tests for off-roading categories that include traction, water fording, maneuverability, articulation and ground clearance.

The Trailhawk is only available in a four-wheel-drive (4WD) drive configuration, and it also has wider 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires than the standard Cherokee. Additional off-road features of this trim include suspension tuned for driving on dirt, rear-locking differential, skid plates, recovery hooks for towing stuck vehicles and a rear locker. Additional features of the Trailhawk include dark alloy wheels and Uconnect touchscreen radio with emergency assistance and roadside assistance.

Tow Package

The Cherokee’s factory tow package includes features that further enhance the Trailhawk’s off-road capability. The most notable of these is a Class III receiver hitch with four- and seven-pin hookups. This package also includes an upgraded alternator and auxiliary transmission cooler.

great braking matters jeep cherokee trailhawk 2 - Great Braking Matters: Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

Aftermarket Braking Upgrades

A number of aftermarket upgrades are available to improve a Trailhawk’s braking, especially when going off-road. Braking components that off-road enthusiasts often install include rotors, controllers and brake controllers.


Rotors are one of the most important braking components to upgrade if you want to take a Trailhawk off-road, as they’re prone to overheating in dusty conditions. Look for bolt-on rotors to minimize the work needed to install them. It’s also important to look for aftermarket rotors that are precision cross-drilled and slotted, which increases the airflow over the rotor’s contact surfaces. Rounded slots also help direct debris and water away from the contact surface, which is essential for smooth, consistent braking.

Some aftermarket rotors have integrated bearings, which help them resist rust and other types of corrosion. Models without this feature should have a silver zinc dichromate plating for corrosion resistance.


Calipers are another braking component that can easily overheat during off-roading. Heavy-duty calipers are typically made of ceramic materials that are highly effective at dissipating heat. Ensure that your aftermarket calipers are suitable as direct replacements, while exceeding the performance standards of the stock calipers. They should also allow you to customize the brake pads, which are especially useful for challenging driving conditions.

Brake Controller

A brake controller allows you to activate the electric brakes of a towed trailer. Without them, the Trailhawk’s own brakes would have to provide all the stopping power for the trailer, which is unsafe in off-road conditions. Installing a brake controller generally involves setting up the controller to account for load size and adjusting the brake sensitivity, along with a few other settings. The Trailhawk comes with a pigtail that connects to a seven-pin plug under the dash, which includes the wiring for the brake controller.

great braking matters jeep cherokee trailhawk 3 - Great Braking Matters: Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

Big Brake Kit

Finally, the Big Brake Kit. If you’re taking your Jeep Trailhawk off-road and you want the best performance out of your vehicle, this is the mother of all solutions to get your rig to stop when you absolutely need it to. Supercharge your car with our Big Brake Kit, which boosts both the look and performance of your vehicle. When you upgrade your vehicle’s stock parts, you need a more powerful braking system where all the components work together to help you stop quickly without straining your system.

The brake caliper is the driving force behind your brake system (or rather, the stopping force). Calipers press the brake pads against the rotors to slow your wheels. If your calipers and rotors are not big enough, it will take longer for your vehicle to stop. Our calipers grip intensely for the fastest possible stop from high-speed driving or if your rig is facing a steep incline/decline and you need to hold position.

R1 Concepts’ larger, more powerful brake pads perform better in all weather conditions. The more powerful brake rotors withstand the pressure without overheating, so they last longer and contribute less wear and tear to the overall system.

Finally, our Big Brake Kits are big and powerful. The bolt-on design makes for easy installation, although stock wheels may not be large enough to accommodate these brakes (bigger wheels or spacers may be required). You may request a template to confirm fitment of your wheels. R1 Concepts is not liable for wheel fitment.

If you’re interested in R1 Concepts’ Big Brake Kit please visit our website here and get a quote today!

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