Okay, so this should be the final installment of Dodge’s nutzoid Hellcat drivetrain we’ve previously seen installed on the Challenger and Charger. In a way, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has all the bases covered: They got your two-door coupe with the Hellcat Challenger, the practical sedan with the four-door Hellcat Charger (I know, Chargers should have two doors, and it pains me to write that), and now the ultra practical SUV with the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.
In a lot of ways, the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is just like a top of the line Grand Cherokee, only with a monster mill shoehorned under the hood. So trivial details like infotainment systems, the number of ways you can adjust the front seats, how many coolers you can fit in the way-back, and all that should still be the same or at least remarkably similar. Besides, that stuff is so boring to begin with – and me, like any other gearhead, will want to focus on the juicy, fast bits.
First, the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is the most powerful SUV ever made. The supercharged 6.2-liter V8 plant delivers 707 horsepower and 645 lb-ft. of torque, capable of moving the 2018 Trackhawk to very high speeds. Which, indeed, it does. 60 mph comes up in a meager in 3.5 seconds, you’re doing the quarter mile in 11.6 seconds, and topping out at 180 mph. Impressive numbers to be sure, but did I mention you’re doing this in a friggin’ Jeep?!
The supercharger has a drive ratio of 2.36:1, boasts a maximum speed of 14,600 rpm, and is sealed with a premium synthetic oil. The supercharger is fed in part by a cold-air scoop in the lower front fascia, replacing the driver’s side fog lamp. Finally, a new low-temperature cooling system, consisting of a pump, reservoir, heat exchanger, and lines keep the charge air cool during more aggressive driving. Intake air temperature is kept below 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) while allowing up to 30,000 liters of air flow per minute.
Transmission & Braking
Jeep says the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission and driveline components have been re-engineered to handle additional torque output with upgrades all around. And all that is good, cause that’s a lot of power, and snapping a driveline like a twig makes an awful sound. The TorqueFlite’s software takes into account variables like engine torque gradients, kick-down events, longitudinal and lateral acceleration, grade changes, friction detection, and downshift detection to determine the appropriate shift map.
But, okay, so you say you want to stop? Easy. The 60 to 0 mph braking performance happens in a scant 114 feet. There’s an all new Brembo braking system that includes the largest-ever front brakes on a Jeep. To which I say: No kidding Sherlock! The largest-ever? They’d have to be, since this thing weighs more than a half-loaded boxcar. A complete stop in only 114 feet from freeway speed? That’s a minor miracle. Brembo must have designed them with St. Peter.
The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk features the Selec-Track system, with Auto, Sport, Track, Snow, and Tow modes. Depending on a driver’s needs and the terrain ahead, the individual modes alter the four-wheel-drive system, transmission, paddle shifters, electric power steering, and suspension.
Jeep says their new baby has “world-class on-road driving dynamics” and honestly, even though I’m not clear as to what that means exactly – that phrase is subjective on so many levels – I’m willing to go with it. Functionally, the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is a big truck-like thing, so I’m sure any upgrade from solid beam axles to leaf springs will count as “world-class on-road driving dynamics.”
The vehicle also has a 7,200 lbs. towing capacity.
The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is not a total sleeper though. For starters, the fascia has been redesigned and optimized for better airflow and cooling while there’s a new, unique quad-tip exhaust system. Also new are standard 20 x 10-inch titanium wheels that show off the distinctive yellow aforementioned Brembo brake calipers.
Jeep says the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk has more than 70 safety and security features. A lot of those are what you’d already expect (seatbelts, crumple zones etc.) and a bunch are also what you would expect today (Adaptive Cruise Control, Advanced Brake Assist, Blind-spot Monitoring, and the like).
The 7-inch instrument cluster with a centered tachometer, a 200-mph speedometer, and an 8.4-inch touchscreen with Trackhawk Performance Pages are all nice touches. But really, who cares about all that stuff? You don’t. I don’t. None of us do. What we really care about, what would draw us to the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk in the first place, is that big ol’ whompin’ stompin’ ‘Murican V8 engine.
Everything else is number two or lower.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.