These are wild times we’re living in, pardner. The burnout smoke from the ongoing horsepower war still hangs heavy on the 1/4-mile tarmac, and American cars are only getting beefier and meaner. Heaven forbid you try to impress any God-fearing American with a V-8 putting out less than 600 hp. Haven’t you heard? 450 hp is the new 300, and 300 is for the Europeans.
Leave those candy-colored coupes to the youngsters. Nowadays, you’ve got boats to haul and (grand)kids to shuttle. Forget the four-door Charger SRT Hellcat, you’ve got a gravel path leading up to that south Florida McMansion–you need four-wheel-drive. Fuel economy? Who cares?! Let those Tesla-driving hipsters in California worry about it.
No, you, a true patriot, drive a 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. Screw the status quo—push the envelope of normalcy to the point of splitting. In 2018 a 707-hp Jeep is not only unsurprising, it’s also almost conventional. The precedent for this power-mad dystopia was set back in 2011 at the debut of the second-generation of Grand Cherokee SRT, and again in 2014 when the Hellcat twins dropped. Now we’re caught in an accelerated game of “Yes, and…what’s next?” where we Americans firmly believe we deserve more than 400 hp in an SUV. Don’t worry, undoubtedly future versions of the Trackhawk will receive the new Redeye package, likely boosting power to the 797-hp mark. When the time comes, you’d better upgrade, lest someone think you’re weak for a nanosecond.
Or, maybe, just be glad we’re able to enjoy cars and trucks like the Trackhawk before things go south for internal combustion
In terms of outright power, the Trackhawk is king of the performance SUVs—for now. That 6.2-liter supercharged Hellcat V-8 is as vicious as ever, now hooked up to four-wheel-drive for gnarly mid-three-second 0-60-mph sprints that edge out even the Challenger/Charger Hellcat twins. No more feathering the throttle here; this is point-and-squirt at its best, excellent for dusting Mustang GTs and Volkswagen GTIs at stoplights regulating rough city streets.
It’s very shouty, but it’s equally stealthy, even with big-ass yellow calipers, blacked-out exterior trim, and the ever-present lub-lub-lub engine lope. I pulled up next to a car-minded couple who live in my area, and had a conversation through the open window without them ever once asking why in the world my family-friendly Jeep made such a racket.
It’s not too shabby on curvy mountain roads either, as far as mid-size SUVs go. The Trackhawk certainly handles better than it has to, considering this bruiser prioritizes a low quarter-mile time rather than tire-ripping cornering speeds. It’s refreshingly honest, even in an age where you can roll up to an Alfa Romeo dealer and drive away in a Stelvio Quadrifoglio crossover that cracked a 7-minute, 51-second lap on the Nurburgring.
The Trackhawk is every bit as fun as a muscle car—better, even. With a focus set for stoplight digs, you wouldn’t expect it to remain composed on the ever-curvaceous Angeles Crest Highway, but you’d be surprised. This is the fourth SRT product I’ve driven up that mountain in recent times, and short of the Challenger Hellcat Widebody, good luck leaving a Trackhawk behind in a family race. It’s not as hunkered-down and flat-cornering as most German performance SUVs, but that meaty four-wheel-drive system works in tandem with the stability control to keep things under control, and it’s mostly effective. Don’t push too hard, though, as this is still 5,300 pounds on stilts. As a result, because the traction and stability control work hard to keep things pointed in the right direction, there’s a chance the brake pedal goes soft within a few turns if you’re not careful.
Back on city streets, it’s got that same dual-purpose cruiser capability possessed by most muscle cars that makes them so well suited for American roads. Only in this case, your trip won’t be sidelined by inclement weather, extra luggage, or washed-out cabin trails. Your ears and butts won’t be blown-out, either; even with that 6.2-liter screamer, it settles down to a dull rumble when you pootle around town, and the ride is supple enough once forced into comfort mode. It’s genuinely one of the best all-arounders available, despite its unrelenting thirst. Around town, the EPA expects 11 mpg, and that’s if you treat it with kid gloves.
Of course, all this absurdity comes with a similarly absurd price tag of $88,145. Fully loaded, the Trackhawk will set you back a smidge more than $100,000. That’s a lump of cash, but it’ll cost you the same six-figures for a base-spec BMW X5 M, and roughly $20,000 more to set foot in a stripper Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Even then, both the Porsche and the BMW will have their chrome trim blown right off by a Trackhawk in a head-to-head sprint.
In the end, that’s all you should really hope from a 707-hp SUV. It’s not meant for corners, and that’s part of its identity—something sorely missing from other hyperspeed haulers. The Trackhawk makes no bones about its red-blooded muscle-car identity, and that’s what sets it apart.
2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
ON SALE: Now
PRICE: $87,695 (base)
ENGINE: 6.2L OHV 16-valve supercharged V-8/707 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 645 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, 4WD SUV
EPA MILEAGE: 11/17 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H: 189.8 x 76.5 x 67.9 in
WHEELBASE: 114.7 in
WEIGHT: 5,363 lb
0-60 MPH: 3.5 sec
TOP SPEED: 180 mph
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