With the current parade of teasers that have been unveiled for the Dodge Demon, interest and intrigue surrounding FCA and its SRT lineup is at an all time high. While we still have to wait until April 16th to see the Demon in person, Jeep has decided to cut to the chase by unveiling its first ever Hellcat powered offering, the 2018 Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.
The standard SRT Grand Cherokee is already a potent beast out on the street, but the Trackhawk can be considered a welcome evolution of this formula. Curious observers that are trying to spot a Trackhawk out in the wild will have to look very closely at the finer details to spot it. Jeep designers retained the bulk of the standard SRT’s exterior styling with the fender flares and bumpers carrying over mostly unchanged.
However, a trademark cue is the lack of fog lamps, which were pitched so that more cold air could make its way to the engine, especially on the drivers side. The Trackhawk also gets model exclusive supercharged badging, as well as “Trackhawk” badges scattered throughout. The interior also gets minor updates with black chrome and carbon fiber trim adorning the cabin. Occupants are also coddled by standard heated and cooled Nappa leather/suede seats which can be upgraded to full leather thrones as part of a leather package. Meanwhile, a separate metal package adds real metal accents to the cabin which in turn increases its performance oriented theme.
The star of the show lurks under the hood with all Trackhawks featuring the same 6.2 liter supercharged V8 that also sees duty in its sinister cousins the Dodge Charger and Challenger Hellcat models. Horsepower still checks in at a lofty 707 horsepower, but torque does drop a bit to 645 lb-ft versus 650 for the Hellcat twins. We don’t think many people will be bothered by that minor detail when they sign on the dotted line. Especially, since the Trackhawk can still lunge its way to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and post a scorching 11.6 second quarter mile time.
While the engine might be unchanged, the Trackhawk does offer one distinct difference when compared to its brethren, all-wheel drive. An eight speed automatic transmission helps channel all of the engine’s muscle to all four wheels, with Jeep engineers beefing up the single speed transfer case and adding an electronic limited slip differential. The transfer case also features a wider chain as well as forged sprockets that allow it to cope with the extra power demands wrought on it by the engine. Power is split 40/60 in its base setting, but the bias gradually increases in the more aggressive driving modes. Track mode serves as the pinnacle, and splits the power 30/70 while a snow belt friendly Snow mode delivers a perfect 50/50 split.
All of this raw power is good, but it wouldn’t mean too much if the Trackhawk lacked the handling manners to make full use of it. Thankfully, Jeep engineers answered the call, and gave the Trackhawk a high performance suspension with adaptive Bilstein shocks. The stiffer suspension lowers the Trackhawk by 1-inch when compared to other Grand Cherokee models, which helps improve its overall stance, as well as mitigating excess body roll.
20-inch wheels shod in either all-season or optional three season rubber are standard equipment, but buyers can opt for optional forged wheels. Jeep claims that this latter option helps cut 12 pounds of excess weight, which is a plus when the Trackhawk is being pushed hard at the track. Braking is achieved by Brembo brakes with six piston calipers and 15.75 inch rotors up front, and 13.73 in the rear with four piston calipers providing the stopping power. Jeep claims that the front brakes are the largest set that it has ever fit onto one of its vehicles.
Jeep has not released official pricing for the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, but with the standard SRT Grand Cherokee priced in the $60,000 range, look for the Trackhawk to command a price tag closer to $70,000-80,000 when it thunders its way into dealer show rooms. In the meantime, stay tuned to Autoinfoquest.com for our live coverage of the 2017 New York Auto Show, as well as our live look at the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.