The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a practical New England vehicle. So it may seem like an odd choice to receive a host of on-road performance upgrades, and the insane 707-horsepower supercharged V8 out of the Dodge Charger and Challenger Hellcat.
But that’s exactly what Jeep did with the all-new Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. Jeep stuffed the intense V8 engine under the hood, added a performance suspension, and revised the vehicle’s body work.
We recently spent a week with Jeep’s super-SUV, and here is what we love (and loathe) about the Trackhawk.
The best features:
1. It’s a value — if you consider the competition.
The Trackhawk may seem like some kind of vehicular unicorn — until you consider other vehicles that fit this mold. The Trackhawk competes with vehicles like the BMW X5 M ($101,700), Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 ($102,550), and Porsche Cayenne Turbo ($118,100). All of these vehicles are expensive, upscale SUVs, outfitted with lots of (also expensive) high-performance equipment and drivetrains. Event at $86,000, the Trackhawk is a solid value.
2. It has outstanding acceleration.
Have we mentioned it makes 707 horsepower? The Hellcat-sourced powertrain is a 6.2-liter V8, fitted with a supercharger and making 645 pound-feet of torque. Paired to an eight-speed transmission and a four-wheel drive system designed for on-street acceleration, the Trackhawk can launch from a standstill with staggering authority. Zero to 60 happens in a supercar-fast 3.5 seconds on the way to a top speed of 180 miles per hour. You can’t help but laugh when laying into the throttle as this vehicle accelerates faster than a Chevrolet Corvette.
3. The exterior styling is menacing.
There’s no confusing the Trackhawk for the rest of the Grand Cherokee lineup. It features heavily reworked body panels, 20-inch wheels, and a new hood with large vents for heat extraction.
4. The exhaust note is amazing.
One other tell that this is not your ordinary Grand Cherokee is the split-dual exhaust, resulting in four large exhaust outlets. They emit a seriously sinister roar and the neighbors might hear on startup.
5. Its interior leather is supple and beautiful.
Our test model’s cabin features a two-tone interior aesthetic. The black dash and controls are complemented by a saddle leather interior, giving it a rustic-yet-upscale feel.
The worst features:
1. There’s no third row.
Despite all its performance, the Trackhawk is still an SUV. It suffers from the same issue as the rest of the Grand Cherokee lineup: no third-row seating. The BMW X5 and Tesla Model X offer an optional third row.
2. It’s thirsty.
All that acceleration comes at a price, and the Trackhawk’s supercharged 6.2-liter V8 consumes fuel at an impressive rate. EPA estimates for the Trackhawk are 11 miles per gallon in the city, 17 on the highway, and 13 combined. But in our week of enthusiastic driving, we observed fuel economy closer to 10.7 miles per gallon.
3. Cargo space is lacking.
Once again, this is an issue for all models of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. With the rear seats folded, it only has 68.3 cubic feet of total cargo space. That’s not much for an SUV. In fact, the 2018 Subaru Outback, a wagon, has 73.3 cubic feet of cargo space.
4. It doesn’t have the off-road capability of other Jeeps.
When considering a Trackhawk, it goes with the territory that you’ll give up some of the Grand Cherokee’s storied off-road prowess for on-road performance. But if you’ve driven Jeeps in the past, it will feel a little weird to see an obstruction or slight berm and realize you can’t climb over it.
5. The price.
Compared with its rivals, the Trackhawk is a bargain. But $86,000 for a Jeep is still $86,000 for a Jeep. With all options and packages, our test model came in at over $90,000. The Trackhawk is attention-grabbing and has outstanding performance, but lacks the fit-and-finish and quality interior of the X5 M or GLE 63.