Test Drive: 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
It's silly to ask if anyone really needs a 707 horsepower luxury SUV with four-wheel-drive that only gets 13 miles per gallon and can cost over $100,000.
The question is, do you want such a vehicle? For those who answer yes, Jeep presents the 2018 Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, the latest version of its SRT line of high performance vehicle. With an supercharged and intercooled 6.2-liter V8 borrowed from the Dodge Hellcat, a beefed up drivetrain and huge Brembo brakes, it is reportedly faster than a Corvette but can still go off-road and tow up to 7,000 pounds.
Not that I was able to test the Trackhawk's limits in a week of daily driving. For starters, I don't own a racetrack, which is where Jeep debuted it to automotive journalists earlier this year. Although I could have searched out a stretch of deserted road, the mere possibility of a career-ending ticket kept me from learning whether the 200 mph top end on the speedomoter can be reached. My off-road forays were also limited because of the risk of damaging the very large and very low front air dam. And I don't own a travel trailer.
But I can say that all the high performance promises seem realistic. Crushing the gas pedal launches the Trackhawk so fast off the line as to defy the laws physics. It weighs over two-and-a-half tons, after all. But the Brembos bring it to a safe stop whenever things threaten to get out of control.
Equally impressive is how easy the Trackhawk is to drive normally. For all its power, it handles like a regular Grand Cherokee when the gas pedal is used lightly. That is to say, it is smooth and quiet around town, even when set in the Track mode, which produces the quickest throttle response and stiffest ride. Driven carefully, the is still one of the most civilized midsize SUVs on the planet, a testament to its engineering excellence.
It is also comfortable, as should be expected with all the luxury features, like a full leather interior and an industrial-strength heating and cooling system. It doesn't skimp on the technology, either, not with an 8.4-inch display screen and advanced safety systems like Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection.
The 2018 Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is actually Jeep's third performance SUV. The company was never afraid to offer a big V8 in its largest vehicles, but, like other manufacturers, it downsized its line after the Arab Oil Embargo reduced the availability and increased gas prices in the mid-1970s. After mostly offering four- and six-cylinder vehicles for years, Jeep unexpected slipped a 5.9-liter V8 into Grand Cherokee in 1989, creating a one-year-only Limited edition. Although its 245 horsepower wasn't much by previous and today's standards, the result was considerable faster and could haul more, too. And it also had suspension upgrades, which improved handling and helped make it a hit with automotive writers and buyers.
Fast forward to the current generation of the Grand Cherokee, and Jeep began offering an SRT8 version in 2006. Unlike the previous Limited, this was a true high performance vehicle, with a 420-horsepower 6.1-liter V8, major suspension and brake work, and exterior changes that set it apart from other versions. With 0 to 60 in under 5 seconds, kit was quicker than the contemporary Porsche Cayenne Turbo and BMW X5.
But with the Trackhawk, Jeep has completely thrown caution to wind, determined to not only outdo itself but anything else competitive these days. It even feature a "launch" button that reportedly reduced 0 to 60 to under four seconds, properly used. That's beyond ridiculous for a vehicle with the aerodynamics of a brick.
Obviously, all the upgrades increase the cost of the Trackhawk well about that of even the most fully loaded Grand Cherokee. It starts at $85,900 and our test version was priced at $100,960 thanks to the Customer Preferred Package that included such features as a Dual-Pane Panoramic Sunroof.
That's not a surprise, since the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is obviously not for everyone. But if you're one of the lucky few who appreciates and can afford it, the value is likely to only increase.
2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
Base price: $85,900
Price as tested: $100,960
Type: Midsize luxury performance SUV
Engine: Supercharged and intercooled 6.2-liter V8 (707 hp, 645 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with manual shift mode
EPA estimated mileage: 11/17
Overall length: 189.8 inches
Curb weight: 5,258 pounds
Final assembly: Detroit, Michigan