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Jeep’s Trackhawk offers all dream checkboxes


So, you’re looking for a new car? You like the Charger SRT Hellcat; you drool over a Camaro ZL1; and you wouldn’t mind an F-150 Raptor; well, while you are dreaming, how about taking the car to the track to win a few races?

The reality is that you need easy access to five seats, cargo room for the kids sporting gear/golf clubs and occasional weekend DIY project materials. Well then, your dream car, actually an SUV, has arrived. I tested a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk that incorporates all of those dream checkboxes – and many more.

While the body lines are familiar, they are softer, or rather, they look like they’ve been melted a bit. Trackhawk’s trim is blacked out, the wheels are black, and the grille is black and bolder. Trackhawk sits about an inch lower than a stock Grand Cherokee and rolls on fat 20×10” P295/45ZR20 Pirelli rubber.

Inside, the Trackhawk looks like a slightly flashier Grand Cherokee, though it’s no match for British and German performance utilities in terms of luxury or refinement. As the driver, you are front and center in premium soft-touch materials, leather, power controls and charcoal chrome trim and carbon fiber accents.

You get the performance vitals from a 7-inch driver information display instrument cluster. There’s a 200-mph speedometer that’s not as optimistic as you might think. Overall, the Trackhawk isn’t about luxury, convenience or refinement.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is about strong, heavy-duty power.

The 6.2-L supercharged Hellcat V8 engine is a marvel of modern day – heck, futuristic engineering. Jeep has taken the legendary HEMI V8 and fortified its cast iron block using water jackets between the cylinders for optimal cooling and a forged-steel crankshaft with induction-hardened bearing surfaces. The changes make the engine strong enough to withstand firing pressures of nearly 1,600 psi – the equivalent of five family sedans standing on each piston, every two revolutions.

The 2,380cc-per-revolution supercharger includes integral charge-air coolers and an integrated electronic bypass valve to regulate boost pressure to a maximum of 11.6 psi. When bolted to the HEMI, it helps deliver 707 horsepower and 645 lb.-ft. of torque. Directing the power is a crisp-shifting, 8-speed, paddle-shifted automatic. An added bonus of the supercharger drive system is a powerful sound that delighted me, passengers and fellow motorists alike.

A big surprise is that Jeep stuck with a four-wheel-drive system. My test Trackhawk came with Jeep’s Quadra-Trac on-demand four-wheel-drive system, which includes an electronic limited-slip rear differential and a single-speed active transfer case. With it, you can configure and distinguish five drive modes, including Auto, Sport, Track, Snow, and Tow, that allows you to select the right mode for conditions.

Jeep indicates the new, full-time active transfer case uses forged steel chain sprockets and a wider chain for added strength and durability. Using the launch-control function wrings-out Trackhawk’s performance by managing the engine, 8-speed transmission, driveline, and suspension to deliver perfect launch, straight (hard) acceleration blasts.

So, those acceleration blasts mean 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and a top wheelman can achieve an 11.6-second quarter-mile pass. The wide tires provide a sticky footprint and allow you to take some aggressive curves with some speed.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk has only a small handful of competitors – and their all pricey. The competitors include FCA cousin Dodge Durango SRT, Range Rover Sport SVR, Porsche Cayenne, and some AMG spiced-up SUVs.

This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication