Jeep Grand Cherokee: Luxury and Performance in Trackhawk

By Sue Mead, December 16th, 2017

I've been a Jeep enthusiast for years, having owned a Jeep Cherokee. But I have never driven a Jeep with 707 horsepower, 645 lb.-ft. of torque, and a 0-to-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds.

Manufacturer photo: Injected with 707 horsepower from the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 engine, the most awarded SUV is transformed into the most powerful and quickest SUV
Manufacturer photo: Injected with 707 horsepower from the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 engine, the most awarded SUV is transformed into the most powerful and quickest SUV

If you're wondering about this new model and who will buy it, you're not one of the many enthusiasts who have been standing in line to purchase all-new, high-performance 2018 Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. You might change your mind, however, after you drive one.

I just motored this beastly beauty from the city of Portland, Maine, to the Club Motorsports Speedway in New Hampshire. The newest Grand Cherokee leaves its sprightly predecessor -- the 475-hp 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 Grand Cherokee SRT8 -- in the dust; the newest model handles the everyday roads with mannered driving and the track with true vigor that will indulge some buyers to competitive racing.

The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk that weighs in at 5,363 pounds is powered by a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 Hellcat engine and combines an upgraded high-torque-capacity TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission, world-class on-road driving dynamics, and new Brembo brakes to deliver Jeep's topmost level of performance ever. It clocks a quarter mile time in 11.6 seconds at 116 mph, with a 60-to-0 braking distance of 114 feet, and 0.88g capability on the skid pad, plus it can tow up to 7,200 pounds and comes standard with Jeep's Quadra-Trac on-demand four-wheel-drive system.

We liked the five driving modes that can be selected or customized (auto, sport, track, snow, and tow), as well as the wheel-mounted paddle shifters; selecting sport gives you more aggressive steering, suspension, throttle, and shifting, while track mode goes a step further.

Manufacturer photo: Injected with 707 horsepower from the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 engine, the most awarded SUV is transformed into the most powerful and quickest SUV

The instrument panel center stack contains new 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen boasting a Trackhawk-exclusive Performance Pages feature that showcases an array of performance timers and gauge readouts, including a new engine dynamometer screen that measures instantaneous horsepower, torque, and current transmission gear.

Outside, the Trackhawk rides 1-inch lower than non-SRT Grand Cherokee models and is further set apart with body-colored wheel flares, side sill cladding, and a sculpted hood with dual heat extractors. Up front, Jeep's signature seven-slot upper front grille is flanked by adaptive bi-xenon headlamps and surrounded by an LED character lamp treatment. The headlamps feature a unique Gloss Black background to accent their jewel-like appearance. Out back, a unique Gloss Black rear valence showcases 4-inch Black Chrome quad exhaust tips. A "Supercharged" badge on both front doors and a Trackhawk badge on the liftgate is crafted with a Liquid Titanium Chrome outline and Matte Black background.

At the corners, standard 20x10-inch Titanium-finish wheels with a Satin Chrome center cap showcase the distinctive yellow Brembo calipers underneath. Up front are 15.75-inch, two-piece vented rotors with six-piston calipers painted with a new distinctive yellow finish, and 13.78-inch vented rotors with four-piston yellow calipers in the rear for outstanding stopping performance, heat management, and durability. Available lightweight 20x10-inch forged aluminum Low Gloss Black wheels save a total of 12 pounds versus the standard Trackhawk wheel. Standard are all-new Pirelli 295/45ZR20 Scorpion Verde All-Season tires or optional Pirelli P Zero three-season tires, with an increased speed rating.

Priced starting at $85,900 (excluding $1,095 destination), the full-size utility vehicle comes in nine exterior colors: Billet Silver, Granite Crystal, Diamond Black, Ivory Tri-coat, Bright White, Velvet Red, and True Blue, as well as Trackhawk-exclusive Rhino and Redline 2. It competes with the upscale luxury players Range Rover SVR, BMW X5M, the Mercedes G-Class and the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S.

Luxurious and performance-oriented, the Grand Cherokee is an authentically capable SUV that has legendary off-road heritage that performs well in the backcountry, on the road, and even on the racetrack.

Specifications

Base price $85,900 (as tested: $86,995)
Curb weight 5,363 lbs.
Displacement 6.2-liter
Engine type 16-valve DOHC V-8
Epa mileage rating 11 mpg city, 17 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 22.0 gal.
Horsepower (net) 707 at 6000 rpm
Overall length 189.8 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 645 at 4800 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger 4WD SUV
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