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The Journal Gazette

  • Courtesy Jeep: The electronic throttle allows for pretty docile driving in city traffic or while cruising on the freeway, reviewer Casey Williams says, but slam it hard and it will remove your stomach to the back seat.

Monday, February 12, 2018 11:44 am

Review: Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk -- more power, but docile

CASEY WILLIAMS | Special to The Journal Gazette

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

  • Five-passenger, all-wheel-drive SUV

  • Powertrain: 707 horsepower 6.2-liter SC V-8, eight-speed automatic transmission

  • Suspension f/r: Elect. Ind/Ind

  • Wheels f/r: 20-inch/20-inch alloy

  • Brakes f/r: Brembo disc/disc

  • Must-have features: 707 horsepower, Comfort

  • 0-60 mph: 3.5 seconds

  • Quarter-mile: 11.6 seconds

  • Fuel economy: 11/17 mpg city/hwy

  • Assembly: Detroit

  • Base/as-tested price: $85,900/$90,880

The engine rumbled and my daughter grinned. She doesn't remember, but she's heard this symphony of bottled swagger before -- in the Dodge Challenger Hellcat.

But we're not in a Challenger; we're in a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I rev the engine again, rattling everything inside of pre-school, but now my daughter is cackling. I love her. Time for a drive.

Stuffed behind Jeep's familiar seven-slot grille, and beneath a hood with snarling dual heat extractors, is an absolutely sinful 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine delivering 707 horsepower and 645 foot-pounds of torque. I'm getting misty.

Power Zeus could only faintly fathom is routed to the four-wheel-drive system through an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. As if anybody cares, fuel economy is rated 11/17-MPG city/highway.

Upon seeing the debauched Jeep, a co-worker asked whether I had floored it. I began snorting uncontrollably.

“There's dry asphalt outside,” he said.

I snarled at him and asked, “Do you have any idea what happens when you floor over seven-hundred horsepower?” The electronic throttle allows for pretty docile driving in city traffic or while cruising on the freeway, but slam it hard and you may well dig four holes to China. It will remove your stomach to the back seat!

Let's put it another way: The big Jeep runs 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and crosses the quarter-mile in 11.6 seconds. Electronic Launch Control manages the brakes and powertrain for a clean sweep while five driving modes adjust the chassis, steering, and powertrain on a continuum from Eco to Demonic!

Just looking at the Trackhawk when skipping out of pre-school, my daughter knew something was amiss. Painted a color called “Rhino”, our fly wagon also had 20-inch black alloy wheels fronting yellow Brembo brake calipers, HID headlamps and LED taillamps. It sits an inch lower than other Grand Cherokee SRTs, adding to its contrary demeanor.

Inside there's more evidence of mischief…and luxury. The thick leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel, camel leather and suede front seats, carbon fiber dash trim, and flatscreen instruments with large tachometer betray the Trackhawk's potential. Leather dash stitching and 825 watts of Harman Kardon audio speak up for luxury -- as do heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel.

There's also quite a technology suite. Chrysler's touchscreen is among the best with easy-to-understand icons for radio, climate, navigation and phone plus redundant buttons and knobs below. Proper volume and tuning knobs simplify adjustments. Or bark orders by voice.

Beyond that, safety is enhanced by adaptive cruise, rain-sensing wipers, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, rear cross path detection and forward collision mitigation.

On my last day with the Trackhawk, I was confronted by an ice storm. I thought, “Holy Snow Monster, I have to deal with this frizzle driving a 707 horsepower supercar!”

But you know what? It was as docile as a lamb, never putting a wheel wrong. If there's a downside, it's the $85,900 base price ($90,880 as tested), but go find a Mercedes-Benz GLE, BMW X5 or Audi Q7 that will wiggle your giggle so much.

Casey Williams is an Indianapolis automotive journalist. Watch Casey's video of the Trackhawk at ; follow him on Twitter and YouTube: @AutoCasey.