People buy SUVs because they want the flexibility to carry passengers or lots of cargo. Sometimes SUVs are also worthy off-road vehicles you can take into the mud, but they’re not the kind of thing you think about taking to the track. Tracks are for sports cars with wide, low bodies and powerful engines. Jeep decided to change that perception by putting the 707-horsepower Hellcat engine into its Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.
That engine gained fame as the power behind the Dodge Charger and Challenger Hellcats, but FCA decided to take it from the Dodge lineup and give it the guys at Jeep. The guys at Jeep decided to put it in their largest vehicle to create a fantastic Frankenstein that can off-road as easily as it can take a high-speed turn.
It sounds crazy, so Jeep gave us time behind the wheel of the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk at the newly-opened Club Motorsports in Tamworth, New Hampshire. Everyone trusts that a Jeep will go off-road without issue, but Jeep wanted to prove the Trackhawk was up to handling a track.
Power comes from a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 with 707 horsepower and 645 lb-ft of torque. It does 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds with a top speed of 180 mph. There’s no arguing it’s fast, but how well it would manage that speed on a track was the question.
Jeep gave us a little road time ahead of our track drive to experience the Trackhawk as a daily driver. It is as powerful as you’d expect given its numbers, but what was unexpected was how smooth a ride it provided. Track vehicles can be stiff and uncomfortable on the road, but the Trackhawk was neither. Whether managing the daily commute or a family road trip, this is a comfortable and relaxing ride, unless you ask it to let all that horsepower loose. Then it becomes a beast of a car that will set your heart racing.
Yes, yes, but how does it fare on the track? This is a big, top-heavy SUV. It looks like it should be awful on the track, but Jeep engineered this car to be a track champ and it shows. Push the Trackhawk hard and there’s very little body-roll, even in a tight corner at speed. The Brembo brake system, which has the largest front brakes of any Jeep, brings you to a solid stop and gives you the confidence to push a little harder.
The Trackhawk isn’t just a Grand Cherokee with a big engine. This SUV is designed to handle all that torque and provide an inspiring track drive. The Selec-Track system has Auto, Sport, Track, Snow, and Tow modes and there’s even a launch control system that operates with a single button.
If you think Jeeps are only suited to the road or the dirt, then think again. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk adds track driving to the mix and will have you struggling to choose between weekends in the dirt or weekends burning rubber.
The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is available to order right now with deliveries expected to start in the fourth quarter of the year. Pricing starts at $85,900.