The Jeep Trail-Rated badge is a symbol of safety and adventure. It’s given to Jeep models that pass a series of rigorous tests to ensure rugged, off-road capability. Trail-Rated Jeeps are guaranteed to withstand the toughest terrains and harshest weather conditions, making sure that your Jeep really can “Go anywhere. Do Anything.”
The Trail Rating process tests Jeep models on treacherous trails across the US. Wranglers, Trailhawks, and the other Trail-Rated Jeep models undergo a grueling vetting process to ensure they can ford streams, climb boulders, and avoid those unexpected obstacles you might find on the trail. They also test for maneuverability and traction to give you the best driving experience on your road to adventure.
Why Trail Rating Matters
Jeep’s Trail Rating is far more than just a badge on your vehicle. It guarantees the safest and most impressive driving performance for your Jeep, whether you’re using it as a daily driver or an off-road mudding machine. Icy roads? A log in your way? A bog up ahead? All will be easily defeated with your Trail-Rated Jeep.
Jeep has built its reputation on rugged off-road prowess but the Trail-Rated Badge takes that promise one step further. It certifies your Jeep’s off-roading capability, giving you confidence and peace of mind the next time you find yourself in harsh weather conditions or on rough terrain. Jeep’s Trail-Rated Badge guarantees a safer ride and ensures that your Jeep will be able to handle any adventure.
The History of Trail-Rated Jeeps
First introduced in 2004, Jeep’s Trail-Rated badges have since become symbols of honor. The badge promises your Jeep is prepared for everything. In the almost 20 years since they were first developed, Trail Rating tests have become even more rigorous as engineers take their Jeeps through the most challenging terrain across the United States.
The Rubicon Trail, the most popular testing location, has been an iconic Jeep hotspot since the 1950s and is a famously difficult trail for off-road adventures. This 22-mile trek in the Sierra Nevada mountains puts every Jeep model to the test with boulder-filled rocky terrain. But it’s far from the only challenging location. Jeep also runs its vehicles through the icy, treacherous trails of Northern Michigan and the famous red rocks of Moab, Utah, among other locations, putting Jeeps through the worst to make sure yours can give its best.
Requirements for Making a Jeep Trail-Rated
Jeep tests their Trail-Rated vehicles over five different categories.
Vehicle traction is essential, no matter the environment you drive in. The Trail-Rated Badge ensures your Jeep can maintain a controlled forward motion in all types of terrain, from rocky roads to muddy trails to simple highway driving. For traction testing, the Trail-Rating process focuses on all possible road and weather conditions, ensuring a safe and confident ride.
Whether it’s a snowy trek through the cold or a quick drive across an unmaintained trail, every off-roading adventure has already been tested on your Trail-Rated Jeep. The badge makes sure your Jeep is ready to run whether it’s dry, icy, muddy, or everything in between.
Jeeps are designed to have precision steering and maneuverability like no other. The Trail-Rating process performs grueling tests on Jeep’s optimized wheelbases, four-wheel drive, and rear-wheel steering, making sure it can navigate narrow gaps and avoid obstacles.
The result is a truly impressive performance. Whether you’re taking your Trail-Rated Jeep out for everyday driving or onto rocky terrain, you won’t have to fret about its road performance. Jeep understands the importance of every turn your vehicle makes, and it shows in their Trail-Rating tests.
“Articulation” refers to the flexibility of your vehicle’s suspension. In short, articulation is your vehicle’s ability to move over uneven terrain, even when all of your wheels might not be touching the ground. It helps maintain your traction no matter how rocky or uneven the ground gets. As you can imagine, good articulation comes in handy while on the trail and is an important factor in Jeep’s Trail-Rating process.
Jeeps are designed and tested to keep moving, even when only two or three wheels are touching the ground. While it’s not recommended that you park your Jeep with one wheel hanging over a cliff, Trail-Rated Jeeps are articulated to withstand it.
It’s usually a good rule of thumb to keep your vehicle away from bodies of water. Flooding can cause electronic processors to malfunction. It can also prevent airflow to the engine since most vehicle’s air intakes are at a lower position. But Jeeps defy this logic, up to a limit. Trail-Rated Jeeps are designed for water fording. They have sealed-off electrical connections, wires, and everything else you don’t want to get wet. The air intakes are also positioned at the top of the body, ensuring air flow to your engine even as you’re tire-deep in a bog, stream, or flooded underpass.
Jeep engineers also test the underside of your vehicle to make sure it can drive over obstacles without getting damaged. If you run over debris in an average car, you’ll quickly find yourself needing roadside assistance. But Jeeps with the Trail-Rating Badge are built to climb and crawl over most obstacles. Jeep tests for approach, breakover, and departure angles. With increased ground clearance, Trail-Rated Jeeps are high enough to avoid damaging their precious parts underneath. For example, the Jeep Wrangler starts out at roughly 10 inches of ground clearance, and that’s before the lift kit. So if you have a Trail-Rated badge, you’ve got the necessary ground clearance to go ahead and climb that log or boulder. Can you still get stuck? Yes. But it’s harder, and that’s the point.
Steps for Getting Your Jeep a Trail-Rated Badge
Unfortunately, there aren’t any options for getting your Jeep Trail-Rated after it's left the manufacturer. Jeep tests all their Trail-Rated vehicles before selling them, guaranteeing customers the safest and most capable SUVs possible. If you bought a Jeep model that was not Trail-Rated, there’s no way to correct it.
If you have a Jeep vehicle that doesn’t carry the Trail-Rated Badge but was Trail-Rated, replacement badges are available online. A single Jeep Trail-Rated badge currently sells for between $25 to over $50 on Amazon, for example. If you do buy a Trail-Rated badge online, don’t forget to double-check that the badge is genuine.
5 Best Trail-Rated Jeep Models
Jeep is slowly expanding their Trail-Rated vehicle line-up. With their new Trailhawk trim, they’re making models that previously weren’t eligible to be Trail-Rated. Here are the five best Trail-Rated Jeep models currently available.
The Jeep Wrangler is the iconic Jeep, and for good reason. Every Wrangler on the market is a Trail-Rated model, more capable on-and-off-road than any other available Jeep Brand vehicle.
Jeep Wranglers are designed for the trail with removable roofs, removable doors, folding windshields, and stronger suspensions. The Rubicon probably earns its Trail-Rated Badge the most, with an upgraded transfer case and four-wheel-drive system, rock rails, locking front and rear differentials, sway bar, and oversized all-terrain tires. The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 features a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 engine to add serious muscle to your mudding.
With options starting at $29,995, the Jeep Wrangler will put a dent in your wallet, but that may be the only dent you ever see thanks to its Trail Rating and resistance to body damage.
Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk
The Cherokee Trailhawk is regarded as the best of Jeep’s Trailhawk SUVs. The larger build of this model offers more interior space and gives the Cherokee an all-around intimidating design. The Cherokee Trailhawk’s off-road suspension is raised one inch higher than other Trailhawk trims, providing superior off-road ground clearance.
Although it may not be as durable on the trail as your Wrangler, the Cherokee Trailhawk is still a great choice to take off-roading. With a Trail Rating that still offers superior traction, ground clearance, and maneuverability, the Cherokee Trailhawk will more than handle any terrain that you throw at it.
Jeep Compass Trailhawk
The Compass has always been among Jeep’s most reliable vehicles, and the Compass with Trailhawk trim is no exception. Though they look like they’re built for everyday driving, Jeep Compass Trailhawks have been Trail-Rated to withstand the toughest terrains in any weather condition.
Jeep Renegade Trailhawk
Among the most compact models Jeep has to offer, the Renegade Trailhawk is just as capable on and off-road as other SUVs. Its 17-inch aluminum wheels, skid plates, and other features help the Renegade handle every trail almost as if it were a Wrangler.
The twin sunroofs at the top of the Renegade Trailhawk models allow you and your passengers to take in the fresh air and sun while on off-road adventures. The Renegade Trailhawk is also among the cheapest Trail-Rated Jeep models available.
For those looking for a pick-up truck with muscle to take off-roading, the Jeep Gladiator is a wonderful Trail-Rated option. The Gladiator is built with stellar articulation, featuring all-terrain tires, Fox off-road suspension, lower off-road gearing, and locking front/rear differentials. Slippery roads, rocky terrain, and other dangerous road conditions are no match for the Gladiator.
Aside from its impressive Trail-Rated features, Jeep Gladiators are also incredibly spacious, offering spacious seating in the back and a larger truck bed than you’ll know what to do with. Starting at $36,480, Jeep Gladiators are more than worth it.
Whether you’re a current Jeep owner or looking into getting a new Trail-Rated Jeep, it’s important to know both the limitations and the potential of your vehicle. When you're on the road, you can't afford any disruptions, whether bad weather, a mechanical breakdown, or uneven terrain. With Trail-Rated Jeeps, you can drive with confidence, knowing that your Jeep will be able to handle any road or weather condition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are All Jeeps Trail-Rated?
No, not all Jeeps are Trail-Rated. Only Jeeps with the Trail-Rated badge are Trail-Rated, which only includes the Jeep Wrangler and Jeeps with Trailhawk trims.
What is the Purpose of Trail Rating?
The purpose of Trail Rating is to make sure your Jeep can handle every kind of terrain and challenging driving condition. When you have a Jeep that has been vetted by the rigorous Trail Rating process, you can be confident that your Jeep is safe and capable, no matter what obstacle or weather event is up ahead.
Are All Jeep Wranglers Trail-Rated?
Yes, all Jeep Wranglers are Trail-Rated. Wranglers are the only Jeep model to be entirely Trail-Rated. Wranglers are designed to be the Jeep brand's best vehicles for off-road adventures.
Which Grand Cherokee is Trail-Rated?
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk is the only Trail-Rated Grand Cherokee available. Jeep’s “Trailhawk trim” gives the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk more off-road capabilities than other Cherokee models.
Is the Trail-Rated badge on both sides?
No, the Trail-Rated badge should only be placed on one side.
Are There Any Disadvantages to Buying a Non-Trail-Rated Jeep?
If you buy a non-Trail-Rated Jeep, your off-road capabilities will be limited. You’ll be more likely to get stuck on the trail and damage your vehicle. If you stay off the trail, however, you won’t notice much of a difference. However, if you want to off-road and drive in any weather condition, you should invest in a Trail-Rated Jeep.