Grand Cherokee Trackhawk Is a Dumb Idea But We Love it!
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is what would happen if a Dodge Charger Hellcat and a Grand Cherokee had a baby. This is an absolutely ridiculous concept but this is one of my favorite vehicles that I've driven in the past few years. Imagine all of the comfort and style that the Grand Cherokee is known for ... but with a 6.4L V8 707hp Hellcat engine up front propelling the vehicle to a blistering 0-60 of 3.5 second. Oh and since it's still the Grand Cherokee is has 7,200 lb towing capacity, super comfortable rear leg room, and plenty of trunk space for all the gear you need for a weekend getaway.
The only thing the Trackhawk doesn't have is off-road chops but rather than simply throwing the engine in the stock Grand Cherokee, the entire vehicle has been designed for performance. When I first drove it I was a bit nervous. While I've enjoyed the Charger and Challenger Hellcat models they are better going fast in straight lines than around curves. The thought of taking that much horsepower and putting it into an SUV sorta scared me since at 5,363 pounds it's a big car and that's a lot of inertia to keep under wraps.
While it can't avoid physics, the Trackhawk performs much better than I thought. It has a great combination of AWD, beefy Brembo brakes, electronic limited slip differential, and Bilstein Adaptive Suspension that can adjust to sport or track performance.
True to the designed-for-the-track feel of the vehicle, it also has a full suite of apps that are similar to what's found in the Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcat. While it is hard to find a safe area to test it's track apps (short of an actual track), we managed to find a secret spot on a dead-end street with no traffic or people to bother. Despite the slight incline, we managed to hit a 3.8 second 0-60 using launch control.
If there's one thing I wish that the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk did better, it would be the noise. It's got the throw you back into the seet acceleration and the exhaust sounds good too, but compared to the other vehicles using this engine it was almost "tame" sounding. There was no ROAR like you'd have in those or other sports cars like a Corvette or Mustang.
Similarly, the tradeoff for AWD providing excellent handling and great acceleration is that we couldn't get it to do a burnout or slide around corners like you might in other RWD sports cars.
That's a really weak complaint but it speaks more to the Grand Cherokee as a luxury-ish SUV than a purely performance sports car that your friends hear coming and going every time you start the engine.
Another thing you really can't do well in this vehicle is off road. It might be the first Jeep ever where getting muddy wasn't even a minor design consideration.
While only .5" lower (8.1" ground clearance), the tires are pretty clearly designed for pavement. That being said, I couldn't resist taking it off-road and it performed well in sand despite its weight and fairly smooth tires.
While performance really is the story here and Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is made for the guy that wants to go fast, Heather also loved driving it too. While she is much less aggressive than I am with driving and hasn't had as much exposure to performance vehicles, she simply enjoyed driving it around town. To her, while she did enjoy the power it was about comfort and style. Based on her reaction I had to re-evaluate my perception of the Grand Cherokee SRT ...
Is this just a dumb idea that some awesome engineers dreamed up "because they could"? Or is this actually the perfect vehicle for a family that needs a practical family car that works great for errands around town and picking kids up from school ... but can also go nearly 200 mph when you want?
Honestly at $92,000 (as equipped) and starting at $86,650 this car is a whole lot of awesomeness all wrapped up in one nice bundle. At this price point, while there are more luxurious name badges the Trackhawk holds its own in comfort but kicks everyone else in the ass as far as performance. Only cars like the Lamborghini Urus beat it's 0-60 (2.93 seconds) but at a wallet burning $200,000 starting price.
I get that's a Lamborghini but consider you are getting near exotic car performance at less than $100,000. Plus, you can smoke guys off the line at stop lights when they think you are driving "just another suburban suv".
- Written by James Hills
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