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Jeep Trackhawk: it’s official!

by Patrick Rall on

After what seems like years of speculation, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk powered by the Hellcat Hemi is finally here and as we had hoped – it packs the same 707 horsepower as the Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger.

We have known since the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit that there would be a Hellcat-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee by the end of 2017, but at the New York Auto Show later this week, the Trackhawk will finally make its official debut. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait until Wednesday morning, as all of the information on the supercharged Jeep was released early this morning.

Really, the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is not as extreme as I had expected in terms of appearance – looking a great deal like the less powered Grand Cherokee SRT with the 392 Hemi. The Trackhawk has unique badging inside and out, larger brakes and unique wheels, but the changes are slight enough that the average person may not be able to distinguish between the current SRT Jeep and the new Hellcat Jeep. Fortunately, what the Trackhawk lacks in unique styling is more than made up for in terms of performance.

Hellcat Power – All of It
There had long been rumors that the Hellcat-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk would offer less power than the Challenger or Charger with the same engine because, according to these rumors, the all-wheel drive bits wouldn’t handle the full force of the Hellcat Hemi’s fury. Fortunately, those rumors proved to be incorrect, as the Trackhawk offers the same 707 horsepower as the Dodge cars. The Hellcat Jeep does have slightly less torque due to exhaust flow differences, but with 645lb-ft of twist – it will still do just fine in ripping away from the starting line.

Speaking of ripping away from the starting line, the Jeep Trackhawk will do that nearly as well as the Hellcat cars, even though it is almost a thousand pounds heavier the Challenger and Charger. The Jeep will dash from 0-60 in just 3.5-seconds, just one tenth slower than the Hellcat cars, and it is able to achieve those stunning acceleration times thanks to all-wheel drive and some magic from the upcoming Dodge Demon.

The Trackhawk’s AWD system provides far better traction than what the Hellcat cars can get and on top of sending power to all four wheels, the Hellcat-powered Jeep has larger tires than the Dodge cars – measuring 295-wide to the Challenger and Charger standard 275-wide rubber. More importantly, the Jeep Trackhawk is equipped with the Torque Reserve system from the new Dodge Demon, allowing the supercharged SUV to leave the line at a higher boost level and a higher torque level. Thanks to this system, the Hellcat Jeep can launch much harder than the Hellcat cars thanks to the AWD, but it is almost making far more power for those monster launches – all of which helps make the heavier SUV just as quick as the cars.

As you might expect, that smokin’ quick 0-60 time leads to an impressive quarter mile time, laying down a best time of 11.6 at 116 miles per hour. While this is a few tenths slower than the Hellcat Challenger or Charger, I would bet that the supercharged Jeep will prove to be far easier to get to those best times, since the AWD system should make launching the blown SUV far easier than the rear-drive cars.

In addition to adding some high tech Demon gadgets, the Jeep team has also beefed up the internal workings of the 8-speed transmission and paired it with a heavier duty transfer case than the one used in the 392 Hemi-powered Grand Cherokee SRT. The rear driveshaft and rear axle shafts have also been replaced with stronger units to help handle the 30f/70r power balance in track mode.

So, with the addition of the supercharged Hemi, a stronger AWD system, a stronger transmission, stronger rear drive train components, wider tires and some new components from the Demon, the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is one of the most stunning performance SUVs in the world. It gets to 60mph from a stop in just 3.4 seconds, it runs the quarter mile in the mid-11 second range and it has a top speed of 180 miles per hour, but for those who want an all-around SUV – get this:

You can tow up to 7,200lbs with the Hellcat-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. You could literally tow a Hellcat Challenger to the track, unhook the trailer and run mid-11s with your tow vehicle while your muscle car runs low 11s (if stock). How awesome is that?

More than Just Power
Power and acceleration times aside, the Trackhawk is a proper SRT machine, so the engineers made sure that this monster SUV could brake and corner (almost) as well as it will stop. The front brakes are bigger than the Hellcat Challenger or Charger, with 6-piston Brembo calipers clamping down on 15.75-inch, 2-piece rotors while the rear binders are a 4-piston Brembo setup over13.73-inch rotors. This is the biggest braking setup ever offered on any production Jeep and it makes it the best-stopping Jeep ever, coming down to a standstill from 60mpg in just 114 feet.

Next, while the Trackhawk features the same basic adaptive suspension setup as the existing SRT Jeep, the Hellcat-powered SUV is 259lbs heavier, so the engineers retuned the active dampers in addition to adding springs which are 9% stiffer up front and 15% stiffer out back. When combined with the wider front and rear track, the Hellcat Jeep offers incredible cornering capabilities (for an SUV), reaching 0.88 Gs on the skidpad.

The only things that we really don’t know about the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk right now is the pricing and production volume. We can expect that the Hellcat Jeep will be priced similarly to the Charger and Challenger, relative to their SRT 392 models. If that is the case, look for the Hellcat Jeep to start around $81,000 when it arrives later this year.   More photos

Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.

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