Jeep has long been the most-powerful brand name in SUVs, and now it makes the most-powerful SUV.
Although it doesn’t use their devilish name, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk borrows the 707 horsepower supercharged V8 from the Dodge Challenger and Charger Hellcats. This is the first time that the 6.2-liter supercharged motor has been paired with an all-wheel-drive system, which has been strengthened to handle its 645 lb-ft of brute force torque.
Not designed for off-roading (unless you count race tracks as off-road,) the Trackhawk comes equipped with a computer-controlled Bilstein adaptive suspension system and five performance modes (Normal, Sport, Track, Snow and Tow) that tweak the ride stiffness, steering, 8-speed automatic transmission, AWD, limited-slip rear differential, etc., to suit the occasion.
In Track, for instance, the stability control system sends 70 percent of the power to the rear tires and loosens up the stability and traction control systems to enhanced handling, while Tow is 60-percent front-biased and manages the torque delivery for smooth takeoffs from the boat dock.
The Trackhawk’s tow rating is 7,200 pounds, but you’re probably more interested in the other way it hauls. Jeep says it will do 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds and cover a quarter-mile in 11.6 seconds on the way to a 180 mph top speed. The slightly less-powerful Tesla Model X P100D might take it at the drag strip, but the Trackhawk's top speed will leave the electric SUV breathing its fumes.
On the subject of breathing: the Trackhawk's vented hood and front fascia help cool the engine and reduce aerodynamic lift at speed, and a set of 15.75-inch Brembo front brakes – the largest ever fitted to a Jeep -- slow the 5,363-pound beast down when you’re done with the fun.
Pricing for the Trackhawk hasn’t yet been announced, but it’ll come fully-loaded with a leather interior and all of the safety and entertainment tech goodies available on the Grand Cherokee when it goes on sale later this year. Based on the premium commanded by the Dodge Hellcats, the Trackhawk will likely start somewhere above $80,000.
NEW JEEP WAGONEER AND WRANGLER PICKUP CONFIRMED: