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  1. #1
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    The Trackhawk Really is That Good

    By Patrick Rall, LXFORUMS Editorial Staff

    The Trackhawk Really is That Good

    Last month, I traveled to Portland, Maine to drive the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and I can comfortably say that this is the Hellcat SUV which the Mopar community has been dreaming of – combining the luxury of the SRT Grand Cherokee with the performance of the Dodge Hellcat car, but with an advanced all-wheel drive system making that power a whole lot more usable.


    If you have driven a Hellcat car or any other 700+ horsepower, rear wheel drive vehicle, you know what it feels like to put all of that power to the ground and to accelerate with incredible urgency. At the same time, if you’ve driven a car with that kind of power, you know what it is like to try to launch with all of that power – without roasting the tires. The “worst thing” about the Hellcat cars is trying to get traction, which is quite a chore with the stock tires.


    The difficulty in getting good traction was one of the reasons why the early rumors of a Hellcat-powered SRT Jeep Grand Cherokee proved to be so popular. The idea was that an advanced all-wheel drive system coupled with the supercharged Hemi and the 8-speed automatic transmission from the Hellcat cars would make for one of the greatest performance SUVs in the world and one of the greatest American performance cars of all time.


    Those ideas were accurate, as the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is the easiest Hellcat-powered vehicle to drive, affording this high performance SUV incredible acceleration capabilities whether you are launching at the drag strip or throttling hard out of a tight turn on a road course. As we all expected, an AWD SRT Jeep with 707 horsepower and 645lb-ft of torque is the kind of vehicle that you can just hammer the throttle without any real concern of traction. It will spin the tires a little, but the tires bite quick and away you go.


    Although the Trackhawk weighs more than 5,300lbs, the combination of the AWD system and the 707 horsepower Hemi allows this supercharged SUV to dash from 0-60 in 3.5 seconds officially, but during my test session, I was able to get down to a 3.4 with only a handful of runs, so to say that 3.5 is easy with the Trackhawk is a big understatement.


    The trick to those smokin’ fast 0-60 times (and mid-11 second quarter mile times) is the combination of the Launch Control system and the Torque Reserve system. When you launch a Hellcat Challenger or Charger, there is almost no boost pressure right at the point of launch, so they make around 100lb-ft of torque right at the point of launch. The Torque Reserve system in the Trackhawk allows you to launch with around 5 pounds of boost, so the torque output at the point of launch is considerably higher. If you launched with those torque levels with an otherwise stock Hellcat car, it would just smoke the hell out of the tires, but the Jeep’s advanced AWD system allows you to make use of all of that power as soon as you let off of the brakes.


    Running a 3.5-second 0-60 with a Hellcat Challenger or Charger takes some experience and skill, but the Trackhawk’s Launch Control system with Torque Reserve makes those numbers fairly effortless. In other words, this is a vehicle that is going to be an absolute beast in a stoplight sprint, so street racers will want to avoid these supercharged Jeeps, unless you are confident that you can pull 3.5 0-60s on the average street surface.

    While the odds are good that most Trackhawk owners will spend most of their racing time in straight line sprints, my time at Club Motorsports in New Hampshire proved that the supercharged Jeep is not a one trick pony. The AWD system and the supercharged Hemi allowed the 5,300lb SUV to rocket out of corners and up the steep hills of the flowing road course, while the adaptive suspension and the Brembo brakes allowed the big ute to cut through the corners as well as any vehicle in the class. I don’t expect that many Trackhawk owners will spent much time on a road course, but in addition to being a drag racing beast, the Hellcat-powered Hemi handles remarkably well, so it is a vehicle that owners will be able to push hard on a twisty road.


    Finally, when you aren’t looking to outrun just about any production car on the road, you can set the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk to a milder drive mode (rather than Track Mode) and you have a perfectly smooth ride for the daily drive. Really, the Trackhawk offers all of the interior comforts and the on-road manners for an ideal daily driver, but unlike other daily drivers – Trackhawk owners will have 707 horsepower and the ability to hit 60 in the mid-to-low 3-second range at their fingertips.
    I have logged thousands of miles on Hellcat test cars including the new Widebody Challenger, I own a Hellcat Challenger and I’ve made mid-to-low 10-second passes with the new Demon. Even with all of that time in modern supercharged Mopar machines on the road and various tracks, the performance capabilities of the Trackhawk are truly awe-inspiring simply because it is so easy to use the power. It is a drag racing monster, it is remarkably strong on the road course and it is comfortable enough to serve as the perfect daily driver.

    The Trackhawk is every bit as good as we had all hoped.
    dave
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  2. #2
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    Nov 2008
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    Athens, Ohio
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    Will LXFORUMS include the new SRT8 Durango in it's acceptance of SRT8 vehicles?

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