Jeep engineers are crazy people. Who would come up with the idea to take a simple Grand Cherokee that comes standard with a 295-horsepower V6, and is a serious off-road machine, and build it into a corner-carving hot rod SUV with a motor from the Hellcat Challenger? Our kind of people, as it turns out. After driving the TrackHawk for a few minutes, you just can’t help but giggle like a kid. This is a machine that makes you smile and reminds you how much fun driving can be.

The centerpiece of the TrackHawk is under the hood. Powering the TrackHawk is a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine delivering 707 horsepower and 645 pound-feet of torque. The supercharged engine uses a cast-iron block with water jackets between the cylinders for optimal cooling. The TrackHawk hemi uses a forged-steel crankshaft with induction-hardened bearing surfaces. It is so strong it can withstand firing pressures of nearly 1,600 psi and 13,000 rpm. Forged-alloy pistons are coupled to powder-forged connecting rods with high-load-capacity bushings and carbon-coated wrist pins. Heat-treated aluminum-alloy cylinder heads are optimized for superior thermal conductivity. Sodium-cooled exhaust valves feature hollow-stem construction and special steel-alloy heads that can withstand up to temperatures as high as 1,652 degrees Fahrenheit.

The massive 2.4-liter supercharger is bigger than many small-car engines and includes integral charge-air coolers, and an integrated electronic bypass valve to regulate boost pressure to a maximum of 11.6 psi. The twin-screw rotors are specially coated to allow tighter clearances between them. This reduces internal air leakage, delivering improved compressor performance and higher efficiencies. The coating can withstand the temperatures generated by compression and provides superior corrosion resistance.

The supercharger is sealed for life with synthetic oil, uses a drive ratio of 2.36:1 and has a maximum speed of 14,600 rpm. Air sources for the supercharger include a cold-air scoop in the lower front fascia, which replaces the driver’s side fog lamp and helps to feed the 92 mm throttle body. A high capacity oil cooler is standard and helps control oil temperatures during hard-driving conditions.

- Advertisement -

All of that results in the 6.2-liter V8 producing 707 hp at 6,000 rpm and 645 pound-feet of torque, the same as what you get in the Challenger and Charger. It is not easy to find a transmission that can put up with those numbers, and Jeep equips the TrackHawk with an eight-speed automatic. The TrackHawk is equipped with the Jeep Quadra-Trac, on-demand four-wheel-drive system, which includes an electronic limited-slip rear differential and a single-speed active transfer case. The new, full-time active transfer case uses forged steel chain sprockets and a wider chain for added strength and durability.

A strengthened rear drive shaft connects to a new, stronger rear axle. The differential features a revised housing design, revised ring-and-pinion tooth geometry and new four-point axle-mounting scheme for better load distribution, additional torque capacity and overall durability. Torque is delivered to the rear wheels via new ultra-high-strength 300M low-alloy vacuum melted steel half-shafts with upgraded eight-ball outboard constant velocity joints.

Standard Launch Control optimizes the Grand Cherokee TrackHawk’s performance by coordinating the engine, transmission, driveline and suspension for a textbook launch and consistent straight-line acceleration. A new standard Torque Reserve system provides improved engine torque response and quicker vehicle acceleration in Launch Control by pre-positioning the supercharger bypass valve to generate boost and minimize manifold filling time while cutting fueling to individual cylinders and managing spark timing. This generates a reserve of torque that can be instantaneously delivered upon acceleration from a standing stop.

The AWD system really differentiates the TrackHawk from the Challenger Hellcat. Driving the Hellcat is difficult because it is not easy to put down the power with only two driven wheels. The AWD system really makes the TrackHawk more fun to drive. Activate the Launch Control and the Jeep will squat down its rear wheels and almost do a wheelie as it rockets to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and through the quarter mile in 11.6 seconds. Despite the boxy SUV body, the TrackHawk keeps pulling to its 180-mph top speed.

Beefy brakes are also standard to haul this beast to a stop. Jeep fits the largest standard front brakes ever offered on a Jeep vehicle, using 15.75-inch two-piece vented rotors with six-piston calipers painted with a new distinctive yellow finish, and 13.78-inch vented rotors with four-piston yellow calipers in the rear for outstanding stopping performance. The brakes can stop this big SUV from triple digit speeds without breaking a sweat and can haul it from 60 mph in 114 feet.

Jeep also has upgraded the suspension heavily, using short- and long-arm independent front suspension with coil springs, Bilstein adaptive damping suspension, aluminum lower control arms, aluminum knuckle, aluminum clevis and hollow stabilizer bar. The rear suspension is a multi-link design with coil springs, Bilstein dampers, aluminum lower control arm, and a hollow stabilizer bar.

The result is a Jeep that is not only fast on a drag strip, but also can hold its own on a road course. The steering provides ample feedback and the 295/45ZR20 Pirelli tires provide impressive grip. You have to keep in mind that this is a 5,300-pound SUV that can keep up with sports cars on a road course and it is very impressive. Even more impressive is the fact that this hot rod can tow up to 7,200 pounds.

The TrackHawk is an impressive beast. It is insanely quick and makes you giggle like a child with its soundtrack. It handles like a sports car and can embarrass some serious machinery while towing your trailer and carrying your family in comfort. It is the most expensive Jeep ever sold, with a starting price of $87,150 and our test car was close to $100,000. But that is a bargain if you compare it to other similar German competitors that will cost you about $60,000 more. If you want a vehicle with over 700 horsepower that is actually usable, the Jeep is your best bet.

Specifications

Engine:6.2-liter Hemi V8
Horsepower:707 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque:645 @ 4,800 rpm
Front Suspension:Short and long arm, with coil springs
Rear Suspension:Independent, multilink
Transmission:Eight-speed automatic
Axle Ratio:3.70:1
Curb Weight:5,300 lbs.
Base MSRP:$87,150
Image courtesy of Jeep

Join the Discussion