Over many decades, Jeep has been a pioneer of off-road prowess, while at the same time its Dodge sibling has been building powerful modern-day American muscle cars. One would think that these two vastly different vehicular paths would never cross; but they have, and the result is nothing less than spectacular. In equal strokes of genius and madness, Jeep takes the massively powerful supercharged engine from the Dodge Hellcat and transplants it into a Grand Cherokee, creating the shockingly spectacular Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.
With this all-new Grand Cherokee, car buffs have no need to decide between buying an SUV or a muscle car — the Trackhawk is both. The Grand Cherokee Trackhawk retains the utility associated with Jeeps —towing ability, ground clearance, spacious interior — but the performance is extreme. Our tester had myriad options including a panoramic sunroof, a Blu-ray entertainment system, leather trim, a high-performance audio group and a towing package. Total sticker price is $100,960 — yes, this is a $100,000 Jeep. Competitors to the Trackhawk include the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, Mercedes-AMG GLE63, BMW X5 M, Range Rover SVR and perhaps the upcoming Lamborghini Urus.
The Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is unbelievably quick, thanks to its borrowed Hellcat engine: a 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8 that produces 707 horsepower and 645 lb-ft of torque. The 8-speed automatic shifts quickly and seamlessly, sending power to all four wheels. With excellent traction and enormous power, the Trackhawk can leap to 60 mph in a mere 3.4 seconds.
We’re suckers for a raw exhaust note, and the Trackhawk certainly doesn’t disappoint. The combination of supercharger whine with the HEMI V8 roar is fantastic — and certainly unique among SUVs.
At first glance many might dismiss the Trackhawk as simply an everyday Grand Cherokee. However, on closer inspection there are plenty of clues indicating that this Jeep is anything but common. Up front are bi-xenon HID headlights with LED running lights framing the black grille. At the back are quad tailpipes as well as a liftgate spoiler. The best performance indicators are massive brakes with yellow calipers behind 20-inch forged aluminum wheels. And the “supercharged” label on the front doors.
Although Trackhawk has the heart of a muscle car, it is still a Grand Cherokee. That means there’s more than 8 inches of ground clearance, full-time all-wheel drive with snow setting and the ability to tow more than 7,000 pounds. There’s plenty of cargo space so hauling toys, luggage or other cargo isn’t a problem.
Surprisingly Fine Handling
The Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is no lightweight, tipping the scales at almost 5,400 pounds. While the supercharged V8 is easily up to the challenge of getting the Jeep moving, the trick is getting all that mass to change direction at high speeds. But with a sport suspension, Pirelli P-Zero tires and full-time all-wheel drive, this big Jeep offers impressive handling. Steering is precise and the big SUV changes direction quickly with excellent agility.
Like Dodge muscle cars, the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk comes with the ability to track performance stats. Performance pages can be displayed, which will measure acceleration to 60 mph, 100 mph as well as one-eighth mile and quarter-mile times. Without much effort we were able to record a sprint to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds.
The Trackhawk comes with full-time 4-wheel drive, which not only aids in controlling the 707 horsepower coursing through the drivetrain, it also gives the Jeep great traction in wet conditions. We achieved 60 mph in a quick 4.2 seconds in the rain. The drive system offers different settings for different conditions: a 50/50 split for snow, a 30/70 split for the track.
Although it would be a misnomer to call the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk luxurious, it is nicely appointed inside. The big leather seats are comfortable and the stitching in the seats and dash give the Jeep a high-end appearance.
Rear-seats offer a decent amount of legroom — even the middle rear position is usable by an adult. Two USB ports and a standard 110-volt outlet are in the rear-seat area, so passengers will keep their gadgets powered.
Easy to Drive — Every Day
Even though it has 700-plus horsepower on tap, the Trackhawk is actually easy and comfortable to drive every day. The ride is smooth, the audio system is good, and the Jeep is perfectly content to putter along in traffic — if it must.
Of course a cost exists for extracting power from a supercharged V8 engine — and that cost comes in fuel economy. The EPA rates the Trackhawk at 11 mpg city / 17 mpg highway and 13 mpg combined; however, during our drive the average never passed 10 mpg, staying around 9.5 most of the time.
No question: The Trackhawk is an amazing all-around performance vehicle, but it is still hard to stomach a $100,000 Jeep.
The idea of a high-performance SUV is nothing new — Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-AMG have offered them for years. But the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk not only outperforms every other SUV on the market, it does so without losing any of the utility expected of an SUV. For those looking for the ultimate in performance but need the utility of an SUV, the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk may be the perfect solution if you have the means.