Driving Jeep’s 2018 Grand Cherokee Trackhawk on the streets of our city requires restraint. But when you take Jeep’s newest Grand Cherokee onto a race track, you can let it all hang out.
That’s because the new Trackhawk is a supercharged version of the Grand Cherokee you already know and love. It’s much like a regular Grand Cherokee on the inside, but under the hood it’s, well…different.
This Grand Cherokee will tear up a racetrack while rocketing you from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in just 3.5 seconds. It can put a quarter mile of pavement behind you in just over 11 seconds on the way to a top speed of 180 miles per hour.
When you think of Jeep, you automatically think “off-road.” The Wrangler, the Renegade and even the regular Grand Cherokee can handle some tough terrain. But the 2018 Trackhawk isn’t your regular Grand Cherokee.
In the words of Jeep Brand Director Scott Tallon, “This one is a little bit different.”
Jeep put a Hellcat engine in a track-prepared Grand Cherokee, and the result is the most powerful and quickest SUV ever, a hunk of tire-smoking, track-busting, non-off-road, supercharged fun.
“When you get to the track, that’s where the real business begins,” Tallon said. “It’s like an animal on the track, but very civil on the roads.”
I drove the Trackhawk at the new Club Motorsports racetrack in New Hampshire when it was launched several months ago. I got it up to 121 mph on the 2.5-mile road course. The Trackhawk was steady as a rock and felt planted in the 15 challenging turns on fresh asphalt at Club Motorsports. New Hampshire’s newest racetrack has 250 feet of elevation, and the Trackhawk felt right at home across the scale.
I didn’t get a chance to take the Trackhawk on a racetrack during the test week here in Louisiana, but I did take a couple of friends for rides in this beast, and both were astonished.
One friend was knowledgeable about cars, the other wasn’t, but admitted she liked to go fast. After three seconds of a matted pedal on a deserted street, she literally had to catch her breath.
And that sums up the 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk: it’s a roomy and comfortable daily driver that can tear it up on a racetrack. The bonus is that it can tow 7,200 pounds of your favorite toys.
Now that I think about it, you could use the Trackhawk to tow a racecar to the track, unhook the trailer, and then the Trackhawk would probably beat your racecar on the track.
The engine in the 5,500-pound Trackhawk is a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 that delivers 707 horsepower and 645 lb.-ft. of torque. The transmission is an 8-speed automatic.
New Brembo brakes with yellow calipers (the largest front brakes ever on a Jeep vehicle) bring the Trackhawk to a stop right now (60-0 mph in 114 feet).
An 8.4-inch touchscreen has performance pages to allow the driver to keep track of G-forces, speeds, 0-60 times and other functions. Uconnect, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all standard equipment.
There are five driver-selectable modes: auto, sport, track, tow and snow, each doing its job well.
A launch control feature is standard. All the driver needs to do is mash the brake, select “track,” mat the pedal, count to one, release the brake and hang on.
Otherwise, the Trackhawk is a luxurious Grand Cherokee. There are no fog lights, however, because engineers needed that space for additional cooling and heat extraction vents.
2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
6.2-liter supercharged V8
$85,900 ($99,965 as tested, including freight)
EPA mileage estimates:
11 mpg city/17 mpg highway/13 mpg combined