What is it like taking the most powerful SUV currently in production out on the road?
I’ll admit, when I was first handed the key to the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, I was a bit worried. This is, currently, the world’s most powerful SUV. Some folks at FCA thought it would be a brilliant idea to stuff a 6.2-liter, supercharged, 707 horsepower Hellcat V8 under the hood of a Jeep Grand Cherokee. “They must be completely mad,” I thought. Putting that much power in a 5,300 pound SUV makes it difficult to control, at the very least.
Pulling away from our office, I had this impression in the back of my mind that the laws of physics were going to punish my hubris if I wasn’t extremely careful. Sure, a professional driver may have the skills to wrestle the Trackhawk into submission without much issue. But how does the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk treat your average everyday driver?
Corrupted by power
I’ll remind you, this Jeep has 707 horsepower and 645 lb-ft of torque. That’s 62 more than the recently-departed Dodge Viper. The first time I hit the throttle, I was expecting to back off immediately out of fear. Of course, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is quick: 0-60 comes up in 3.5 seconds, according to FCA. But here’s the thing: rather than being alarmed by all that power, I found myself making sounds that, even now, I can’t identify, and grinning like an idiot all the way home.
To my amazement, the Trackhawk’s permanent four-wheel drive system sorted out the power, and the electronic limited slip differential also helped. No fuss, no drama – just ballistic acceleration. That’s this car’s party piece: while you’d expect to have to corral the car into line, like the rear-wheel drive Hellcat, all that grip just catapults you up to speed like nothing else on the road. I wasn’t even in Sport or Track mode, and I howled as the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk just took off from the lights. Not only that, but I felt more confident as the massive Brembo brakes brought this 5,300 pound leviathan to a quick halt.
Even in normal conditions, this car’s no slouch. You add Launch Control and Sport mode into the mix, and that changes the game. Full disclosure, I never used Track mode for any significant time on the road, as that does disengage the traction control. Nevertheless, the sensation of speed coupled with the thundering exhaust shocked me as much as it did other drivers on the road. The massive supercharger whine and pops from the exhaust with every upshift sent shivers down my spine. And that was it – I’d become corrupted by all that power, and I jabbed at the throttle every chance I could.
Despite the speed, it’s practical…well, almost
As I came down off the adrenaline rush from the first few times I hit the throttle, I looked around the cabin. “Wait”, I thought. This is still an SUV. It’s still practical. You can haul five people in comfort thanks to heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear seats. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk also has ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and an 8.4-inch version of FCA’s 4th generation Uconnect infotainment system. For $1,995, you can get an 825-watt, 19-speaker Harman/Kardon stereo system. It even gets one more point in the practicality department, as you can tow up to 7,200 pounds.
If I have complaints – and I do, actually – one’s with the interior. For $90,880, you’d expect the interior to be pretty nice inside. It’s not terrible, by any means, as the Nappa leather and suede seats are supremely comfortable and the steering wheel feels nice and chunky. However, the silver trim pieces surrounding the center stack and climate vents is a bit chintzy for something in this price range. While the center knobs and buttons may stay the course, they also didn’t feel particularly high-grade. The gear shifter was also a point of mild frustration for me. Sometimes when I’d go for the lower buttons – Park Assist, Eco mode – or the climate controls, I’d accidentally bump the shifter and knock the car into neutral.
Then there’s the dreaded topic we must address with a massive, 707 horsepower V8 Jeep: fuel economy. Yes, the Trackhawk has all the feature’s you’d want: Forward collision warning, brake assist, adaptive cruise control, park assist, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also has selectable drive modes – Auto, Sport, Track, Snow, and Tow (all of which are customizable). However, during my time with the Trackhawk, I averaged 10 MPG. Ten. 1 – 0. With a 24.6 gallon tank, I spent nearly $70 filling it up after 240 miles here in Colorado. Naturally, if fuel economy’s your concerned, this isn’t necessarily the family truckster for you.
Here’s the thing: With a 707 horsepower supercharged V8, I’d expect a slightly cheaper interior. I’d expect abysmal fuel economy. Not only that, but at a starting price of $86,000 for a freaking Jeep, this car defies most reason and common sense. Reasonably, if you want a powerful (and quick) Jeep, you’d buy the SRT and save nearly $20,000. If you want a better handling performance SUV, you can have a BMW X5 M for not much more money.
And yet, I came away from the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk with the sense that I just can’t live without that supercharger in my life. The whole sensory experience with this car, from the speed to the sounds, are seriously enticing. This may be crazy, but it’s a good kind of crazy. It’s the crazy that brings out your inner child, and for that reason, you can’t help but love it.
Check out the video below to see the Trackhawk drag race against the Challenger Hellcat and the BMW M5. The results may surprise you! Subscribe to TFLcar and TFLnow on YouTube for more news, views, and real-world reviews. Donate to our Patreon account so we can continue to make even more great content for you to enjoy!
SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
|As Tested:||$90,880 (including destination charges)|
|Engine:||6.2-liter supercharged V8|
|Drivetrain (Layout):||Front engine, all-wheel drive|
|Horsepower:||707 hp @ 6,000 RPM|
|Torque:||645 lb-ft @ 4,800 RPM|
|Transmission:||8-speed automatic w/ paddle shifters|
|0-60 Acceleration:||3.5 seconds (at sea level)|
|Top Speed:||180 MPH|
|Tires:||Pirelli P-Zero P295/45 ZR20 110Y|
|Fuel capacity:||24.6 gallons (premium fuel only)|
|Fuel economy (EPA):||11 City/13 Highway/17 Combined MPG|
|Width:||84.8 inches (w/ mirrors)|
|Turning Circle:||38.0 feet|
|Curb Weight:||5,363 pounds|