Winnipeg Free Press

Trackhawk leaves other SUVs in the dust

by Haney Louka . Feb 22 2019
The Trackhawk’s interior is uncluttered and the dash features an 8.4-inch touch screen.

The Trackhawk’s interior is uncluttered and the dash features an 8.4-inch touch screen.

The list of members in the 700-horsepower club is short — and exclusive.

Models such as Ferrari 812 Superfast, Lamborghini Aventador S, McLaren 720S and Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 may all come to mind. But like Vince Vaughn crashing a wedding, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is assaulting the market with some unruly characters that don’t look unlike those in your local Enterprise car-rental lot, but with one major difference: they’re packing a supercharged 6.2-litre V-8 shoehorned under the hood to transform them into obnoxious, pavement-rippling monsters.

While Dodge uses the Hellcat moniker to distinguish its Charger and Challenger with the boosted motors, the most audacious installation of this engine is in Jeep’s Grand Cherokee, which the company has christened Trackhawk.

Not to be confused with Jeep’s Trailhawk models, which have been designed to showcase the brand’s off-road capabilities, the Trackhawk puts the 2400-kg SUV on the pavement and lets ’er rip.

Let’s get the important numbers out of the way first: 707 horsepower, 645 lb.-ft. of torque, a 3.5-second sprint to 100 km/h.

And while the Trackhawk can haul plenty, it can also tow, to the tune of 3,273 kilograms.

There’s no question this Jeep is overkill in every respect, but it makes me happy the folks at FCA have allowed it to exist, and even happier that I’ve seen a few of them on the road. And they’re not easy to spot: there is little to betray what’s hiding under the hood. It takes a keen observer to notice the lowered ride height, flared wheel wells, hood vents, yellow brake calipers and quad exhaust pipes.

Oh, but there’s one other number which might surprise those whose interest I’ve piqued with the thought of a Jeep capable of embarrassing some supercars at the drag strip: six. As in, six figures. That’s right, the base price of this particular iteration of Jeep’s popular SUV is $116,590 including destination.

Never mind the price is 2½ times the base price of a Grand Cherokee Laredo, with which it shares its understated looks.

A Porsche Cayenne Turbo, with but 541 hp, starts at $140,000. The Lamborghini Urus out-muscles the Porsche by 100 horses, but still doesn’t match the Jeep’s output and will set you back a cool $242,000.

So now how is this Jeep’s price tag looking?

It’s also surprisingly user-friendly. I drove the Trackhawk primarily on highways and found I could get in and drive it (with a gentle foot, of course), and there was nothing particularly unusual about the experience. Which brings up another number that may be of interest, although, I expect it won’t matter to those who consider buying it, that number is 18.

That’s the fuel consumption I observed during my time with the Trackhawk. And before you start thinking 18 miles per gallon isn’t so bad, it’s actually 18 L/100 km, which is closer to 13 mpg. On the highway.

I will admit, though, it’s not like I set the cruise and droned along the highways between Ajax, Ont., and the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. I did drive that route a few times, but the cruise was hardly ever engaged and I found myself varying my speed often just to catch glimpses of the acceleration this sleeper is capable of.

I made sure to find an opportunity to launch the Jeep from a standstill in a controlled environment.

Launch control in the Trackhawk works something like this: with the gear selector in D and the wheels pointing straight ahead, set the console-mounted drive mode selector to Track and push the adjacent LAUNCH button. Place your left foot firmly on the brake pedal, with your right then introducing the accelerator pedal to the floor. At this point, the engine is held at a driver-determined engine speed while the transmission builds pressure in anticipation. Release the brake pedal and hang on for dear life.

When the Jeep springs off the line, you’re treated to 1.4g of acceleration as it snaps off shifts faster than any human would be able to manage. And after less than four seconds, you’re into triple-digit speeds.

It really is something to experience.

Of course, there’s a lot more to the Trackhawk than straight-line acceleration. The eight-speed automatic and four-wheel-drive system have been reinforced to handle the demands 645 lb.-ft. can exert on a driveline.

Adaptive damping from the fully independent suspension with Bilstein shocks does a commendable job of tuning the Trackhawk’s ride to the task at hand. And 400-mm, six-piston front calipers perform the lion’s share of stopping duties, courtesy of Brembo.

And let’s not forget about the Jeep’s cabin, which features everything one can expect from a Grand Cherokee. The dash possesses a clean, uncluttered design and the front occupants are treated to supportive and comfortable seats (red leather in our tester). The 8.4-inch touch screen keeps important functions within easy reach, and the 825-watt Harmon Kardon sound system with dual rear-seat entertainment screens keeps everybody entertained even when the g-forces are mild.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk possesses a truly rare combination of performance and utility, capable of innocuous transit until those 707 horses are released from the starting gate.

Photos by FCAThe Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk joins the ranks of Lamborghini, Corvette and Ferrari with its supercharged engine that boasts more than 700 horsepower.

Photos by FCA

The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk joins the ranks of Lamborghini, Corvette and Ferrari with its supercharged engine that boasts more than 700 horsepower.