Jeep officially released images and information about the 2018 Grand Cherokee Trackhawk today, giving the world a glimpse at the hyper-SUV before its public unveiling this week at the 2017 New York International Auto Show. Calling it the most powerful and quickest SUV ever, Jeep’s newest offering is powered by a supercharged 6.2L V-8 producing 707 hp and 645 lb-ft, with an estimated 0-60 mph time of just 3.5 seconds.
We’ve seen it, we’ve heard it, and now it’s official.
First Things First: Performance
Built from the bones of the Grand Cherokee SRT, the Trackhawk swaps out that model’s 6.4L V-8 for the mill found elsewhere in Dodge’s Hellcat lineup. The supercharged engine produces an additional 232 hp and 175 lb-ft, giving the Grand Cherokee acceleration that rivals just about every car on the road costing less than $150,000. In addition to 0-60 acceleration, Jeep says the grandest Grand will launch to a top speed of 180 miles per hour, hitting the quarter mile in 11.6 seconds at 116 mph along the way.
Helping cope with the added power are upgraded components in the eight-speed automatic transmission and Quadra-Trac all-wheel drive, and a new Brembo braking system features Jeep’s largest-ever front brakes for improved control. Expect those stoppers to arrest the Trackhawk’s 0-60 sprint in just 114 feet, numbers that would be impressive on a Porsche, much less a 5,000-pound SUV.
Carried over from the SRT is a drive-mode toggle is called Selec-Track. Five modes (Auto, Sport, Track, Tow, and Snow) carry out changes to the vehicle’s calibration. Selec-Track can alter engine output (which is reduced in Snow mode), torque split (ranging from 50 front/50 rear in Snow to 30/70 in Track), suspension firmness, and power-assist from the electric power steering.
In addition to the five standard modes, the Trackhawk also features a custom setting that allows the driver to personalize its performance using several different configurations. And a useful Valet Mode remaps the engine to reduce power and torque, limit revs to 4,000 rpm, set stability controls to full-on, disable launch control, and lock out First gear.
Coil-sprung on a short-long arm independent front and multilink independent rear suspension, the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk also gets Bilstein adaptive dampers. Hollow stabilizer bars and extensive use of aluminum in the front and rear suspension imbues the Jeep with 0.88g of grip on the skidpad. While respectable, that number is the only one on the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk’s spec chart that doesn’t embarrass its super-SUV foes: The Porsche Cayenne Turbo S is capable of 0.93g, while the grippy BMW X6 M hangs on for 0.98g.How’d They Do It?
In order to extract such impressive performance from the supercharged 6.2L V-8, SRT engineers started with extremely high-strength materials like a cast-iron engine block with water jackets between the cylinders for better cooling. A forged steel crankshaft, forged-alloy pistons, and heat-treated aluminum cylinder heads withstand supercharger boost pressures of up to 11.6 psi.
The supercharger itself is engineered for longevity and high performance. Integrated charge-air coolers help lower temperatures and an integrated bypass valve prevents ‘charger-killing overboost. The blower’s twin-screw rotors are designed to reduce friction (and therefore heat buildup) thanks to special coatings that include polyimide, wear-resistant particles, and Teflon. Those coatings also enable tighter clearance between the rotors, meaning the blower operates more efficiently, with less power draw from its accessory drive.
The lubrication system includes eight piston-cooling oil jets and a high-flow georotor oil pump. A front-mounted heat exchanger helps keep oil temperatures low for better protection. Helping performance and protection are the aforementioned charge air cooler and two high-flow, multi-mode fuel pumps.A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
While no one would call the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT understated, we’re a bit surprised stylists adopted its appearance for the fire-spitting Trackhawk, rather than turning the aggression knob up to 12. Indeed, the Hellcat adds little to the styling of SRT, which was facelifted for 2017. The Trackhawk gets a unique front fascia that swaps the foglamps for additional airflow, and its headlamps have black bezels to give it a more sinister glower. A unique Gloss Black rear valence includes bazooka-like 4-inch exhaust tips, which are finished in black chrome.
Wide 20x10-inch wheels are finished in Titanium, with a satin chrome center cap, while 12-pound–lighter forged aluminum wheels are optional. Those aforementioned Brembo brakes get unusual yellow-painted calipers. And there are “Supercharged” badges on either front door. But other than those minor changes, it’s anyone’s bet as to whether that hunkered-down Jeep sitting next to you at the stoplight is an SRT or a Trackhawk. Don’t go racing for pinks unless you get a second look.
Fitting its mission as a driver’s Jeep, the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk gets a 200-mph speedometer, standard Nappa leather seating with suede inserts and an embroidered Trackhawk logo, and red metallic accents. Luxury niceties include active noise cancellation, leather upholstery on the doors and dashboard, Berber floormats, and optional panoramic sunroof and rear-seat entertainment.
Pricing for the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk isn’t locked in yet, and we’re still waiting on official EPA fuel economy numbers. However, expect the Trackhawk to represent a significant performance bargain compared to other hot-rod SUVs—we anticipate a starting price of about $85,000. The Trackhawk will hit dealers late this year, built right in Detroit.
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