Caraganza First Drive Review 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk: The Grandest of the Grand

(FCA)

(FCA)

I get a phone call every Monday morning. It’s then that I find out what car I will have delivered later that day and have for the upcoming week.  Some weeks the phone calls are good, others no so much.

It was a good call when I learned that Jeep was sending me a Grand Cherokee for a recent week.  This was a good call because I am a fan of all things FCA and Jeep as well. And among the Jeeps, the Grand Cherokee is a personal fav.

So after the good call, I knew it was going to be a good week.

I was in for a surprise however.

You see, the Grand Cherokee that was delivered wasn’t the normal Cherokee, it was the new kid on the block. The new for 2018 roguish, bratty, ready to get in trouble, Trackhawk. It is the top of the lineup slotting above the SRT like the one I had in 2014. In comparison  to the SRT with its now wimpy 400 horsepower the Trackhawk  is the accomplished master of the Cherokee domain.

Not keeping up with the latest news all the time, given that I am so busy doing other things like, well, like other things, I didn’t know such a thing existed.  But it does.

If the Dodge Demon and a Grand Cherokee had a baby, this would most certainly be it.  It would be that kid however who is always getting into trouble; shooing people in the butt with a slingshot, or in these modern times hacking into a website to get a free movie.

What the Trackhawk is, is a loaded Grand Cherokee with the same supercharged 6.2-liter 707 horsepower engine under the hood that is found in the Hellcat.  The difference is there is no black key, only a red one meaning that those 707 horses are available all the time.

There is also 645 lb-ft of torque which also means that this 5363-pound curb weight SUV can go from 0-60 in about 3.4 seconds with a top speed of 180 mph.  That, as they say in my favorite movie, is ludicrous speed.

Distinguished by the yellow Brembo brake calipers, the exterior of the Trackhawk resembles that of the “regular” Grand Cherokee with the exception of the special SUPERCHARGED and Trackhawk badging.  The fog lights are also missing giving way to allow for more air inlets for the supercharger, and the duel exhaust tips are black chrome.

Inside the interior is swaddled in Nappa leather and suede with Trackhawk stitched throughout and accented with carbon fiber.  There’s the familiar 7-inch driver information display and a new 8.4-inch touchscreen on the center stack.  The system includes the track pages found in the SRT models and the Hellcats.  The Trackhawk also includes all of Jeeps safety features, including adaptive cruise control, advanced brake assist, rear cross-traffic detection and blind spot monitoring.

(FCA)

(FCA)

The engine note is a sweet symphony of power sent out to the world through a new quad exhaust system.  And while you can hear that sweet sound inside, the 825-watt Harman Kardon high performance sound system with 19-speakers and two subwoofers can cover it up very nicely should you choose to do so.

On the road, the Trackhawk has selectable driving modes: Auto, Sport, Track, Tow and Snow.  There is also a custom mode that allows for specific settings.

Like the Challenger Demon, the Trackhawk gets the Torque Reserve function that allows this SUV to explode off the line (did I mention 0-60 in 3.4 seconds).

This big SUV in the Trackhawk configuration will do things a big SUV shouldn’t. It will mash you back in the seat, stick to the corners with the 4-wheel drive and fat tires and 20-inch wheels, and shoot down a straight line like a bullet.

It’s something that shouldn’t be, yet it is.

And it’s not for everyone.

Yes, the Grand Cherokee is high on my list of SUVs. But as I have said before, anything over 500 horsepower shouldn’t be in the wrong hands. The Hellcats can retard the power when only the black key is used, the red key gives the driver full on 707 horses. The Trackhawk has only a red key.  Yes, you can use the valet mode with a four-digit PIN, and this will reduce the horsepower, but unless you enable that all 707 horsepower is available.  And that can be dangerous; on the street in everyday driving 707 hp can be a frightening thing to have.

There is also the price. The base starts at $85,900 but to get all the goodness you will be shelling out over $100,000; for a Jeep.  Insane thought, but in the right hands and with the financial ability to do so, the Trackhawk could be the most fun you’ll ever have with an SUV.  It can tow (up to 7200 pounds), haul the groceries (over 1300 pounds worth) or throw you back in your seat.

It’s not for everybody; it may be the wild child that needs constant minding, but the proper parent will be rewarded with the joy of power and speed unlike just about any SUV ever created.

The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

MSRP: $85,900
MSRP (as tested): $101,555
Engine: 6.2-liter 8-cylinder supercharged 707 horsepower @ 6000 rpm, 645 lb-ft torque @ 4800 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 11 mpg city, 17 highway, 13 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested mixed conditions): 15 mpg
Base Curb Weight: lbs     5363

Exterior Dimensions
Wheelbase: in     114.8
Length, Overall: in     189.3
Width, Max w/o mirrors: in     76.5
Height, Overall: in     67.9
Track Width, Front: in     65.7
Track Width, Rear: in     64.8
Min Ground Clearance: in     8.1
Liftover Height: in     32.6

Interior Dimensions
Passenger Capacity:     5
Passenger Volume: ft³     105.4
Front Head Room: in     39.9
Front Leg Room: in     40.3
Front Shoulder Room: in     58.7
Front Hip Room: in     57
Second Head Room: in     39.2
Second Leg Room: in     38.6
Second Shoulder Room: in     58
Second Hip Room: in     56.2

Warranty
Basic: 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain: 5 Years/60,000 Miles
Corrosion: 5 Years/Unlimited Miles
Roadside Assistance: 5 Years/60,000 Miles

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Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.

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