In 2005, there were two monumental things I remember that I associate with Chicago: the White Sox won the World Series and I got an opportunity to drive the all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 along the lakefront. While I saw the momentum of the potential White Sox championship building over the season, I wasn’t really prepared for the 420 horsepower (hp) that was offered by Jeep’s strange mix of SUV and big performance.
I remember being a bit giddy with the experience of thumping the SRT8’s accelerator and having such a big vehicle jump to attention. You don’t forget that experience – especially while driving on Lake Shore Drive. For that weekend – the world was perfect.
Since 2005, the 2018 Grand Cherokee SRT8 has increased its hp to 470, which is an amazing number and an absolute thrill to drive for an hour, or a week. Then the 2018 Jeep Trackhawk comes along and says ‘hey, what if this Challenger Hellcat engine was put in the Grand Cherokee?’.
I will tell you ‘what if’ – it would be a new reality. And it is.
A long list of buyers have been in line to purchase the 2018 Grand Cherokee Trackhawk since the moment it was announced. Delivering 707 hp from the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine, Jeep’s most awarded SUV is now the most powerful SUV, with numbers that stun and satisfy even the hardiest of speed demons.
The new engine meshes with an upgraded high-torque capacity TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission and new Brembo brakes to provide performance numbers that make enthusiasts grin – 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds, quarter mile in 11.6 seconds at 116 mph, and a top speed of 180 mph.
At 5,363 pounds, the Trackhawk not only offers up to 7,200 pounds towing, but it comes standard with Jeep’s Quadra-Trac on-demand four-wheel-drive system. So, it can do what average SUVs tout, as well.
The Trackhawk rides an inch lower than standard Grand Cherokee models and it gets lots of exterior cues to set it apart from anything else Jeep.
Look for a stunning sculpted hood with dual heat extractors, body-colored wheel flares and tight side-sill cladding. Jeep’s signature front grille slotting is flanked by bi-xenon headlamps and a sharp LED lamp treatment. A unique Gloss Black background accents the headlamps, while in back a Gloss Black rear valence showcases 4-inch Black Chrome quad exhaust tips.
Wheels & Brakes
Starting at ground level, standard 20×10-inch Titanium-finish wheels are but a backdrop for the bright, yellow Brembo calipers that call-out between spokes. These brakes are for real and deliver world-class stopping power.
Up front, 15.75-inch, two-piece vented rotors with six-piston calipers and 13.78-inch vented rotors with four-piston calipers are in the rear for outstanding stopping performance, heat management, and durability.
Available lightweight 20×10-inch forged aluminum Low Gloss Black wheels save a total of 12 pounds versus the standard Trackhawk wheel. An all-new Pirelli 295/45ZR20 Scorpion Verde All-Season tire (or optional Pirelli P Zero 3-season tires) offer an enhanced speed rating.
One of the great things I found in the Trackhawk was the ability to change modes between five different selections (auto, sport, track, snow, and tow), and operating the cool wheel-mounted paddle shifters. You can get as aggressive with steering, suspension, throttle, and shifting, while the track mode pushes things even further (it goes to 11!). Trackhawk is priced starting at $85,900.