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2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk Review: Crazy Sophisticated

by Chad Kirchner
2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk Review: Crazy Sophisticatedzoom in

    2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

  • Engine: 6.2L Supercharged V8
  • Horsepower: 707
  • Torque (lb-ft.): 645
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Drive Configuration: 4WD
  • 0-to-60 Time (secs): 3.5
  • 1/4 Mile Time (secs): 11.6
  • Top Speed (mph): 180
  • City/Hwy/Combined MPG: 11/17/13
  • Curb Weight (lb): 5,364
  • Base Price (USD): $86,200
  • Price as Tested (USD): $91,530

On the surface, the idea of putting a 707 horsepower engine into a Jeep Grand Cherokee is insane. Like the folks who shoehorned the 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI into the truck need to be put in straight jackets and locked up for good. Yes, it’s bonkers.

But here’s the thing – it’s actually really good. Perhaps too good. Let me explain.

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In the other Hellcat-powered FCA products, power is sent to the rear wheels only. In the Trackhawk, it get Jeep’s 4-wheel drive system. That addition means the Trackhawk has excellent traction, even in the wet, and tames the power in a way that you wouldn’t expect from a mainstream brand.

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Keep in mind that this is still a Grand Cherokee, which means it’s been around for a while. The interior is familiar and comfortable, though it’s not as spacious as a Durango. It’s a vehicle that you can live with everyday inside. Our test unit didn’t have the upgraded interior leather package, but I’ve been in ones with it, and it’s a nice place to be. The infotainment system is the latest version of Uconnect, with Track Apps because it’s a Trackhawk.

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For a Jeep that’ll do 180 mph, it’s surprisingly civil. Bumbling around town, you can hear the exhaust note or the whine of the supercharger, but it’s fainter than that of a Hellcat Charger or Challenger. Jeep went to great lengths to ensure that this car, at nearly $100,000, is quiet on the inside.

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Put your foot down, especially with the vehicle’s Launch Control engaged, and it’ll feel like you’re strapped on to a Saturn V rocket heading for Earth’s orbit. Unlike the Hellcat twins, the Trackhawk doesn’t spin the wheels. It just grips. From a dig, it’s faster to 60 mph than the others. It’s probably faster than anything you’ll run into on the street at any given time.

During my time with the Trackhawk, I didn’t take it to a track. Though you could, if you wanted to. Massive 6-piston Brembo brakes work well on the Trackhawk, but I’d still be a bit nervous about taking a vehicle this heavy on repeated lapping sessions. Though if you swapped out the brake fluid and were careful, it could handle a track day.

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Living with the Trackhawk every day is the dream of a car enthusiast. It’ll haul everything your family needs, tow a boat, and still be a hoot after you drop the kids off at school. And in theory, it’s all true. But there are some caveats.

If you’re getting better than 13 miles-per-gallon you’re doing well. On the highway, it might creep a bit higher, but I’ve been in Hellcats that I can get 26 mpg on the highway with. Permanent all-wheel drive and weight really do hinder fuel economy in this application.

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Also for nearly $100,000, there are more luxurious cars out there. Both the Germans and the British will both sell you more swanky vehicles for less. While it’s a bit ridiculous to recommend a car that’s $20,000 more expensive to start, the Mercedes-AMG E63 S wagon is just as bonkers as the Jeep, but with the interior appointments that you’d expect from a Mercedes-Benz. AnĀ Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio has a lower starting price, and comes with an Italian badge on the bonnet.

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But none of those will have the performance of the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. It’s not Trail Rated. It won’t ford a lake. It will, however, beat nearly anything at a traffic light – even vehicles twice as expensive. It might be a bit more subdued in feel than its Charger or Challenger cousins, but it’s easier to live with every day, and is faster off the line.

I can’t fault anyone for finding that appealing.

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