High performance in a sport utility? Jeep has it.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk for 2018 is a limited-run hot rod version of the Grand Cherokee, one of 11 trim levels available in this popular family hauler.
TrackHawk is the quickest and most powerful SUV ever, with a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 (Hellcat) engine delivering 707 horsepower and 645 foot-pounds of torque, and rocketing from zero-60 mph in 3.5 seconds and a quarter mile in an incredible 11.6 seconds. Top speed is 180 mph.
Jeep’s renowned performance engineering combines world-class on-road driving dynamics with luxury, refinement, and an array of innovative advanced technology.
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Cold-air scoops in the redesigned lower front fascia supply air for cooling and engine air induction, replacing the fog lights.
A new low-temperature cooling system helps keep the air cool during performance driving, and a new fuel-delivery system with two high-flow, multi-mode pumps, meets the high-performance demands of the engine.
Trackhawk has Jeep’s upgraded TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission and drivetrain with components to handle the additional torque. It also has the Selec-Track system and a Bilstein competition adaptive damping suspension for world-class on-road driving dynamics with improved control of the vehicle. TorqueFlite delivers improved shift response, quality and consistent performance and drivability.
The Jeep Quadra-Trac on-demand four-wheel drive system with Selec-Trac has a new full-time active transfer case with forged-steel chain sprockets and a wider chain for more strength and durability.
Selec-Trac has five dynamic modes – Auto, Sport, Track, Snow and Tow – to meet the driver’s requirements and ambient conditions, controlling the four-wheel-drive system, transmission, paddle shifters, suspension, and electric power steering.
Auto mode uses a 40/60 front/rear torque split and adapts automatically to any condition. Sport reduces shift times, enables paddle shifters, tightens the suspension, and uses a 35/65 torque split for enthusiastic driving. Track reduces shift times even further, sets suspension to full firm, and uses a 30/70 split for the ultimate track performance.
Tow mode adjusts the suspension to combat pitch and yaw, and uses a 60/40 split. Snow reduces engine power to maximize traction for best performance on snow and ice, using a 50/50 split. Custom mode allows the driver to choose parameters as desired to personalize the vehicle’s performance.
A new Brembo braking system, with the largest-ever front brakes on a Jeep vehicle, offers outstanding stopping performance, heat management and durability. It brings the Track Hawk to a stop from 60 mph in 114 feet. Yellow Brembo calipers peek through new standard 20-inch Titanium-finish wheels.
Exclusive 20-inch premium satin-carbon aluminum wheels with run-flat tires are available for $995. These lightweight wheels save 12 pounds over the standard wheels
Trackhawk has Ready Alert Braking to help reduce stopping distances in emergency situations. It senses when the driver abruptly lifts the foot off the accelerator. Advanced Brake Assist increases brake pressure if the driver is not braking hard enough; and Rain Brake Support removes water from pads by applying slight pressure, engaging when the windshield wipers are activated.
For this review, I drove a fierce-looking Trackhawk in Rhino Clear Coat ($85,900) with the carbon wheels (with five “Y” spokes), and race-inspired Black/Sepia interior.
Adaptive, bi-xenon headlights with unique Gloss Black background to accent their jewel-like appearance flanked the black signature seven-slot upper grille. Striking “Supercharged” badges on the front doors with Gloss Black “Grand Cherokee” and a winged Trackhawk badge on the liftgate featured a Liquid Titanium Chrome outline and Matte Black background. A Gloss Black “JEEP” badge finished the power liftgate.
A unique Gloss Black rear valence showcased four-inch Black Chrome quad exhaust tips. This new quad exhaust system provides an exhilarating and unmistakable note during maximum acceleration.
Trackhawk rides one-inch lower than non-SRT Grand Cherokees, and has body-colored wheel flares, side sill cladding, and a sculpted hood featuring dual heat extractors to complement cooling from the lower vents.
Nine exterior colors are available, including Velvet Red Pearl (soft, deep), Diamond Black Crystal Pearl, True Blue Pearl, Ivory Tri-Coat ($595). Rhino (medium gray) and Redline 2 (very red) are exclusive Trackhawk colors.
The exterior also featured headlight washers, automatic headlights with leveling and high-beam control; acoustic windshield with rain-sensitive wipers; power, auto-dimming side mirrors with memory; acoustic laminated tinted sunscreen door glass; LED taillights; rear window wiper/washer; and illuminated entry.
A Trailer Tow package ($995) brought a Class IV receiver hitch, compact spare, seven- and four-pin wiring harness and heavy duty engine cooling. My Trailhawk was capable of towing 7,200 pounds. The ParkView rear backup camera gives the driver a view of the trailer hitch for easier connection.
The interior started with an illuminated “Supercharged” sill plate. The race-inspired interior has a flat-bottom steering wheel (including comfort, convenience, and connectivity controls, and paddle shifters). Also inside were an 8.4-inch touch screen with Trackhawk Performance Pages (performance timers, dynamometer for instantaneous horsepower, torque, and current gear; drivers can save readouts to a USB), silver-thread carbon fiber accents, and unique Light Black Chrome finishes and textured aluminum center console/stack trim (new Premium Metal Package with upscale real metal accents).
Adding to the elegance were the Nappa Performance leather seats with suede inserts and embroidered “Trackhawk” logos. Also included was the driver-centered seven-inch instrument cluster featuring a central tachometer with a 200-mph speedometer on the left.
Other interior features included standard Active Noise Cancellation; premium headliner; leather-stitched instrument panel, doors, center console, and armrest; and Berber floor mats with metal Trackhawk badges.
A Trackhawk-exclusive Black/Dark Ruby Red interior with Laguna Leather Performance Seats is also available, with a Signature Leather Wrapped Interior Package and High Performance Audio for $6,990. Black Laguna Leather Performance Seats are also available with the same additions.
The steering wheel and all seats were heated, the front seats were also ventilated, and passengers had access to a 115-volt outlet, two 12-volt outlets, two USB charging ports, and illuminated cupholders in the front.
A new Uconnect system with an 8.4-inch touch screen and integrated voice command with Bluetooth included 4C NAV, Apple CarPlay (iPhone, featuring Siri Voice control – make calls, access music, send/receive messages, receive voice-guided navigation) and Android Auto (Google maps/voice-guided navigation, Google Play Music, place calls, send/receive messages, ask Google any question, popular apps). The system included easy-to-use features, pinch-to-zoom display, enhanced processing power, faster startup, and high-resolution graphics.
SiriusXM radio, Traffic, Travel Link, and Guardian Connected Services were standard, with two USB ports and an auxiliary port. A 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system ($1,995) with two subwoofers and 825-watt amplifier featured Logic 7 GreenEdge technology, for an intense surround sound experience while consuming 55-percent less energy than traditional amplifiers.
My Trackhawk had more than 70 standard safety and security features, including Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop, Advanced Brake Assist, Blind-spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Path Detection, Full-speed Forward Collision Warning with Crash Mitigation, Front and Rear Park Assist, Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist, Lane Departure Warning-Plus, Ready Alert Braking, Hill Start Assist, and a Roadside Assistance button.
A Valet Mode allows the driver to reduce horsepower, lock out first gear, maintain street settings for traction, steering and suspension, disable paddle shifters, maintain electronic stability control, and disable Launch Control, allowing only fundamental functions for parking the vehicle, using a four digit PIN.
Launch Control is for track use, allowing the driver to aggressively press both pedals at once, release the brake and “launch” to achieve the zero-60 mph in 3.5 seconds. New standard Torque Reserve generates a reserve of torque to be instantly delivered on accelerating from a stop.
The Hellcat engine reminds the driver of its presence when the gas pedal is pressed firmly and it lurches forward, producing a powerful sound.
With the speedometer located to the left of the dial cluster, with speed shown in 10-mph increments, exceeding the speed limit was much too easy.
Track experience aside, my Trackhawk was easy to drive, comfortable, eyecatching, and versatile – with 36.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the folding rear seat, 68.3 cubic feet with the seat folded flat – and powerful.
EPA ratings for the TrackHawk are just 11 mpg city/17 highway with average driving.
Starting at $85,900, adding $3,985 in options and $1,095 destination charges, my Trackhawk delivered for $91,180.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com