A 1320 Weapon
Starting with the obvious, if you're looking for one of the fastest SUV's in a straight line for a reasonable price, you found it. Out of the box FCA claims you can pass the 1/4 mile marker in an impressive 11.6 sections and with performance modifications being worked on as we speak, sub 10-seconds will be possible. Already interest for more speed is becoming very clear.
FCA claims the Trackhawk will do the quarter mile in 11.6 seconds with a top speed of 180 mph (290 km/h), necessitating a speedometer that goes to 200 alongside the tachometer in the 7.0-inch instrument cluster. The 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen is where you find the Trackhawk Performance Pages that confirm your track prowess. The SUV has new six-piston front Brembo brakes (largest standard front brakes on a Jeep) and four-piston rear Brembos with yellow calipers, which bring the SUV from 60 mph to a stop in 114 feet.
- Motor TrendJeep claims it will do 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds. I did it in 3.4 seconds on my first try. Don’t give me the credit. On this Jeep it is that easy, and the launch is that good.
Put your left foot on the brake, and hold it down tightly. Press the launch button in the center console below the leather-wrapped shifter. Watch the brake pressure build as you watch it rev from 700 rpm to an ideal 1,800-2,200 rpm. The new torque reserve system makes it possible to hold the engine at 2,200 rpm and develop 6.4 psi of boost standing at the line. The system prepositions the supercharger while cutting fuel to individual cylinders and manages the spark timing to generate a reserve of torque. Essentially, it gets the air moving while you are standing still so it is primed and ready for launch.
Use your right foot to push the accelerator to the floor. Hold both feet steady, and then quickly dump the brake. The front wheels will lift, your helmeted head will snap back, and the 5,300-pound (2,404-kg) SUV will shoot forward. You will hold on and giggle. You will never feel out of control with the traction that a four-wheel-drive vehicle provides. Engineers say this is why a Jeep can actually launch faster than a Dodge Challenger Hellcat. Jeep officials just don’t do much bragging about it.
Scott Tallon, director of the Jeep brand, reminds us that Jeep has a history of high performance vehicles dating back to the 1998 Grand Cherokee 5.9 Limited that did 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds and was considered an animal. The first-gen SRT for 2006 did the sprint in 4.8 seconds.
Compared to other high performing vehicles on the market today that look faster than they actually are, the Trackhawk takes on a tamed approach without giving away all the details. Aside from some loud colors as seen on hellcat-powered Dodge products, the recipe of subtleness remains relatively the same; colored calipers, quad exhaust tips, Trackhawk badging, a stealthy wheel/tire package and a two-tone interior are just some of the differences you'll notice from the regular SRT Grand Cherokee. Overall most owners and potential owners seem content with design.
- Car and DriverThose yellow calipers are one of the Trackhawk’s few exterior tells. Others include the deleted fog lights, their nests hollowed out for an oil cooler on the passenger’s side and a cold-air intake on the driver’s side. A new rear fascia accommodates the quad exhaust outlets. There’s a subtle “Trackhawk” badge on the lower right corner of the liftgate and “supercharged” script below the usual Grand Cherokee lettering on the front doors.
Inside, there are Trackhawk logos on the seats, a Trackhawk-exclusive red-and-black two-tone interior option, and a 200-mph speedometer. That’s optimistic by only 20 ticks, according to Jeep, but by its orientation the speedo always downplays your speed: 0 is straight down, 200 is straight up, and at 100 mph, the needle points horizontal. To most of us, a declined pointer is asking for more mph, but this one only starts to close on flat at extralegal speeds.
The rest of the interior is standard Grand Cherokee SRT fare: spacious, with comfortable seating front and rear and a sizable cargo hold. There’s a reason the Grand Cherokee is one of the best-selling SUVs in the country, and those 200,000 or so annual buyers aren’t making a bad decision. While the Trackhawk’s stiffer ride is noticeable on New England’s bumpy country two-lanes, it’s not so harsh as to be a turnoff. Better not try to turn off those roads, though, because while the Trackhawk is a Jeep, its approach and departure angles are more like those of a Toyota Camry.
Long gone are the days of high-performing American cars only being 1320 weapons. The SRT GC was already a prime example of this shift which the Trackhawk builds on with stiffer spring rates. Your choice of four driving modes ensure that once switched into Track mode by shortening gear rations, tightening up the suspension with a rear bias torque split. Journalists have reported how well controlled the Trackhawk remains for a large SUV, not just with handling but stopping power to bring this +7000 LB, +700 horse beast to a stop. Its nothing short of impressive.
- Car and DriverBarreling down Club Motorsports’ hills emphasizes the rest of the Trackhawk’s skill set. It retains the SRT’s control-arm front and multilink rear suspension layout, but the springs are 9 percent stiffer up front and 15 percent stiffer out back. Not surprisingly for something so heavy and with so much rubber at each corner, it’s quite stable—a desirable trait on a course with lots of camber variances. But toe into the brake and it’ll rotate—or lay into the brake and it’ll dance disconcertingly, even in a straight line. The steering is a touch slow but heavy enough for perceptible weight to bleed off as the nose starts to wash out. Although the brakes always felt strong, pedal travel increased to an alarming degree over the course of our lapping session.
- MotorTrendMany of the modifications are to keep things cooled, especially on the track. There is also a new fuel delivery system with two new pumps to feed the demands of the engine. Track is one of five modes, and it reduces transmission shift times by 68 percent compared with the Auto mode and tightens the suspension to firm; stability control, four-wheel drive, and steering are set for track performance with a 30 percent front and 70 percent rear torque split. The other modes are auto, sport, snow and tow.
Off-road capability is not overly compromised just because the SUV goes like a bat out of ****. It has Jeep’s Quadra-Trac, on-demand four-wheel-drive system with an electronic limited-slip differential and a single-speed active transfer case with a wider chain. There is also a stronger new rear axle, and the SUV can tow 7,200 pounds (3,266 kg).
Even at around $100,000 out the door its hard to find any alternative to the Trackhawk. Yes BMW, Mercedes, and even Range Rover have great products for a similar price but aside from maybe the Range Rover Sport SVR, nothing in an SUV package will give you the sort of thrills this will. When just strictly looking at performance numbers, the Lamborghini Urus comes close but falls behind even at over double the MSRP.
- Car and DriverBut the Trackhawk does offset its 707-hp mating call with an unavoidable wart: its $86,995 base price. That’s $17,905 more than you’ll pay to get a Hellcat engine in a Charger and $20,405 more than it costs in a Challenger. The Trackhawk is very nearly as quick as either of those, and it’s far more drivable. Plus, it’ll tow 7200 pounds, enough to let you bring the Hellcat of your choice along on a trailer—even if it’s a spare Trackhawk. The hang-up comes when you start adding options and look at similarly priced performance SUVs. It’s not hard to top $100,000 with a Trackhawk. No, the BMW X5 M and the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 don’t have horsepower ratings starting with lucky number seven, but they’re in the same performance ballpark and offer more polish and greater—if wholly different—prestige. Unless, of course, a buyer just wants the Hellcat mania in a manageable package. Because it’s an awful lot of fun defying physics in this Jeep.
- TopSpeedThe Jeep Cherokee Trackhawk takes this one by a landslide. Even if you fill it to the brim with features and other what-have-you’s, the Trackhawk’s price barely goes over $100,000. I know it’s a steep price to pay for a Jeep, but it’s a pittance compared to the $200,000 you’ll have to pay for a Lamborghini Urus. I get it that part of paying that $200k has to do with the Lambo’s pedigree as the creator of exclusive performance cars, but can you really justify paying that amount when you can get an equally capable SUV in the Trackhawk for half the amount?