By Shari Prymak
Most who think of the Jeep Grand Cherokee picture an upscale family SUV or perhaps a competent off-roader. Very few would ever suspect that a large 4×4 with a Jeep badge could possibly serve as the base for the most powerful performance SUV on the planet. And yet, as odd as it may sound, that is exactly what you get with the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.
While most Grand Cherokees are built to conquer cottage runs and work commutes, the Trackhawk is designed to light up the drag strip much like a full-blown muscle car. In fact, the supercharged 6.2L V8 under the hood is the very same engine used in the Dodge Challenger Hellcat. Here it produces a tire-melting 707 horsepower and 645 lb-ft of torque, far more than what you get from a BMW X5 M Competition or Lamborghini Urus. An 8-speed automatic transmission, sport-tuned suspension, and a standard all-wheel drive system with extra-wide section tires round out the high-performance package.
Managing such an enormous amount of power in a rear-wheel drive muscle car such as the Hellcat is downright scary. The Grand Cherokee’s significant heft and all-wheel drive system make it a somewhat more manageable task. Still, nothing can quite prepare you for relentless thrust as the power shoves you back in your seat. 0-100km/h comes in about 3.7 seconds, which is mind-blowing for an SUV of this size and weight. It’s an aural delight as well with the engine emitting a loud supercharger whine that quickly evolves into muscular roar as the engine reaches peak power.
Driven in a more relaxed manner, the Trackhawk could almost pass for any other Grand Cherokee. The styling s rather tame with only the large wheels, Brembo brakes, and quad exhaust tips being the major performance standouts. The V8 rumble is present and pervasive while cruising, but totally fine when driven in a calm fashion. The ride is a bit on the firm side, but still tolerable for daily driving. The interior is comfortable and appropriately luxurious feeling with plenty of nice upscale finishes. The features list is quite extensive and Jeep’s uConnect infotainment system remains a straightforward, well-designed piece of tech to master. It is also quite practical with excellent cargo room and a towing capacity of 3,265kg.
The Trackhawk’s one major impediment to daily use is its exorbitant fuel consumption. I averaged just under 30.0L/100km during my week-long test, a dismal figure which may make it the new record holder. Another hurdle is the starting MSRP of $113,745, rather hefty for a Jeep which lacks the country club cachet of its European rivals. Then again, performance SUVs from luxury brands such as Porsche or Maserati command far more, without delivering much more in terms of everyday excitement. The Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is a wild, unique, and somewhat bizarre offering, but one we should be delighted exists nonetheless.