Jim Meachens’ Motorway America

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk — Supercharged fury

By Jim Meachen
Motorway America

The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk may be the most politically incorrect vehicle on the planet. It’s the antithesis of the electric mobility craze that’s sweeping the world’s automobile manufacturers. The only range anxiety with this beast comes from the many stops it takes to keep the tank loaded with high octane gas.

Virtually all automakers are jumping on the all-electric bandwagon with steady announcements outlining grandiose plans to charge up their entire lineups, and some are even proclaiming the end of the gas-engine vehicle in the decades ahead. Electric, electric, electric — it’s the current mantra.

But there are pockets of resistance. Look no further than the all-new 2019 Chevy Corvette ZR1 with 755 horsepower or the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon that exceeds 800 horsepower. This horsepower comes without the aid of electric motors — just good old fashioned American iron. But these are sports cars — and sports cars are expected to lead in performance.

But wait, there’s more — a lot more — thanks to the Dodge and Jeep brands of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles we have the smile-inducing Godzilla of the motoring world in the form of the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. This 5,363-pound mid-sized SUV is, indeed, a monster sporting the famous Dodge Hellcat Hemi 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 under the hood. That’s right — a large sport utility vehicle with 707 horsepower and 645 pound-feet of neck-snapping torque running through a fortified eight-speed automatic transmission and putting the power to the ground with all four wheels.

Select launch control and then slam the accelerator and the front end of the big beast rises up and hunkers down snapping through the gears as the supercharger wails like a banshee on a mission from hell taking you from a standstill to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds according to Jeep. A major publication instrument-tested the big guy in 3.3 seconds, and that’s the number we like. It’s guaranteed to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. And what about the quarter mile — 11.7 seconds @ 116.2 mph.

The Trackhawk is even four-tenths seconds faster than the Dodge Challenger Hellcat that weighs about 1,500 pounds less. How can this be? The big reason is that the Trackhawk eliminated the tire-smoking off-the-line burnouts with power locked at 50/50 front to rear by putting all its fury down with all four wheels.

For the best daily driving experience where you enjoy blipping it every so often (just for giggles and grins) and taking a 45 mph curve at 80, run the beast in Sport mode from the five-mode dial on the dashboard. We found out early on that the Trackhawk overwhelmed the standard Auto setting, which gives you a normal SUV feel. Then there’s the Track setting that is so much over the top its best used sparingly — like when you are actually on a track. The other two modes are for the more mundane SUV chores of life — Tow and Snow.

You might have to look hard to spot the Trackhawk on the road. First, the Trackhawk doesn’t have fog lights to optimize airflow to cooling modules. The signature seven-slot upper front grille is flanked by adaptive, bi-xenon headlamps and surrounded by an LED character lamp treatment. The headlamps feature a unique Gloss Black background to accent their jewel-like appearance. The Trackhawk has four-inch quad exhaust tips at each corner in the rear as opposed to one big one on each side like the SRT version. And finally, it sports large yellow brake calipers. If you see a Grand Cherokee at the stoplight with yellow calipers, best reign in your urge to hit it.

Jeep has created a special interior for the Trackhawk featuring premium soft-touch materials, unique Light Black Chrome finishes and carbon fiber spears, and a 7-inch driver information display instrument cluster featuring the tachometer in the middle. The 200-mph speedometer is on the left side of the cluster.

The instrument panel center stack with new 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen features Trackhawk-exclusive Performance Pages that showcase an array of performance timers and gauge readouts, including a new engine dynamometer screen that measures instantaneous horsepower, torque and current transmission gear. The dynamometer screen also includes a new snapshot function for owners to save their readouts on a USB.

And then there’s the cost — beyond your inflated insurance premium — of all this unbridled fun. Base price for a well-equipped Trackhawk is $85,900 including the $1,095 destination charge. It is possible to option-out the Trackhawk into $100,000 territory. Our test vehicle with a couple of options came to $90,860 including destination.

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