The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is a ridiculous proposition on paper.
Someone at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) seriously thought it would be a good idea to take the Hellcat engine out of Dodge models and put in a Jeep.
And not just any Jeep, the Grand Cherokee – you know, the largest family SUV the American specialist currently sells.
Because after all, what makes more sense than a high-riding wagon with a drag race-focused heart pumping out frankly stupid outputs?
Rhetorical question aside, it's about time we find out if the Trackhawk was best left on paper. Read on.
Jeep Grand Cherokee 2020: Trackhawk (4X4)
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Is there anything interesting about its design? 9/10
There is no mistaking the Trackhawk for anything but a Grand Cherokee, and that's a good thing because it's a great canvas to work with.
Your eyes are immediately drawn to the model-specific front fascia, which improves aerodynamics and increases cooling, both of which are handy for a muscle car on stilts.
Furthermore, the familiar adaptive bi-xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights get dark bezels to up the visual ante alongside a blacked-out version of Jeep's signature seven-slot grille.
However, the star of the show up front is the sports bonnet, which not only protrudes, but has functional air vents. Needless to say, you'll want to get out of the way.
There is no mistaking the Trackhawk for anything but a Grand Cherokee.
Around the side, the Trackhawk's sporty 20-inch alloy wheels (with 295/45 run-flat tyres) come intro frame, with yellow Brembo brake calipers tucked behind. And of course, there's the obligatory badging.
The rear is a lesson in subtlety, with the darkened LED tail-lights looking the business, but not quite as much as the diffuser element, which houses the sports exhaust system's quad tailpipes that are finished in black chrome and measure 102mm in diameter.
Inside, the Trackhawk is the absolute best expression of the Grand Cherokee, with its flat-bottom steering wheel, racing-inspired front seats and sports pedals obvious highlights.
However, it's the choice of materials that really excites us, with Black Laguna leather with Tungsten stitching covering the seats, armrests and door inserts in our test vehicle, while red seatbelts add a pop of colour.
The rear is a lesson in subtlety, with the darkened LED tail-lights looking the business.
It only gets better in our test vehicle, though, with Black Nappa leather covering the dashboard, centre console and door shoulders and bins. And then there's the black suede headliner. It's all very luxurious.
But fear not, the Trackhawk also acknowledges its performance-focused nature, with carbon-fibre and aluminium trim used liberally throughout.
Technology-wise, the Trackhawk does quite well for itself, with its 8.4-inch touchscreen powered by FCA's familiar UConnect multimedia system, which is among the best.
Even the 7.0-inch multifunction display wedged between the tachometer and speedometer is an all-rounder. Yep, aside from some cheaper switchgear, there's not much to dislike here.
Being a Grand Cherokee, you already know the Trackhawk will be very practical.
Measuring 4846mm long (with a 2915mm wheelbase), 1954mm wide and 1749mm tall, the Trackhawk is definitely a large SUV, which is a good thing.
Cargo capacity is huge, at a claimed 1028 litres (presumably to the headlining), but can expand to an even larger 1934L with the 60/40 split-fold rear bench stowed. Either way, the boot floor is completely flat, and there's even no load lip to contend with!
Being a Grand Cherokee, you already know the Trackhawk will be very practical.
This, of course, makes loading bulkier items easier alongside the boot's tall and wide aperture. Then there's the four tie-down points and six bag hooks. It's all made very easy. Oh, and let's not forget the 12-volt power outlet on hand.
Rear occupants are also treated to plenty of room, with four inches of legroom available behind our 184cm driving position, while decent toe-room and more than an inch of headroom are on offer, too. Yep, the panoramic sunroof doesn't impact the latter much.
And the low transmission tunnel means three adults won't be left competing for space, so the Trackhawk really can seat five in comfort. It can also easily accommodate child seats, with two ISOFIX and three top-tether anchorage points available.
The Trackhawk is definitely a large SUV, which is a good thing.
In cabin-storage options are okay, with the glovebox and front cubby both on the smaller side. Of note, the latter is partially occupied by two USB-A ports, an auxiliary input and a 12V power outlet.
The deep central storage bin almost makes up for them, with it containing a shallow tray and another 12V power outlet. We'd be making the most of its versatility.
Meanwhile, a pair of illuminated cupholders reside to the left of the gear selector, while the front door bins can each accommodate one regular bottle. Their rear counterparts, however, can only take one small bottle each.
Cargo capacity is huge, at a claimed 1028 litres.
The boot can expand to an even larger 1934L with the 60/40 split-fold rear bench stowed.
The Trackhawk comes standard with a space-saver spare wheel.
Passengers in the back do have another option, though, as the fold-down centre armrest has another two cupholders, so it's not all bad news on that front.
Rear occupants are also treated to two USB-A ports at the rear of the centre console, which are positioned below the central air vents. There are also storage nets either side, attached to the front seat backrests.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 10/10
The Trackhawk is priced from $134,900 plus on-road costs. Simply put, nothing comes close to it on price. Absurdly, the $390,000 Lamborghini Urus is a reasonable comparison, while the $209,900 BMW X5 M Competition is a little closer to home.
Standard equipment in the Trackhawk not already mentioned includes dusk-sensing lights, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding side mirrors, rear privacy glass, a power-operated tailgate and a space-saver spare wheel.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard on the Trackhawk.
Inside there's satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, digital radio, an 825W Harman/Kardon sound system with 19 speakers, keyless entry and start, eight-way power-adjustable front seats with heating and cooling, a heated steering wheel with a power-adjustable column, heated rear seats (outboard) and dual-zone climate control feature.
Our test vehicle is finished in Granite Crystal paintwork, which is an $895 option alongside the $9950 Signature leather upholstery package we mentioned in the first section of this review.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission? 10/10
As the most powerful SUV on sale in Australia, you'd expect the Trackhawk to have some seriously impressive headline numbers, so try 522kW of power at 6000rpm and 868Nm of torque at 4800rpm on for size.
Yep, these ridiculous outputs are produced by the Trackhawk's 6.2-litre supercharged Hemi V8 engine, which is aptly dubbed Hellcat.
As the most powerful SUV on sale in Australia, the Trackhawk boasts some seriously impressive headline numbers.
The engine is mated to an eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission and Jeep's Quadra-Trac on-demand four-wheel-drive system with a full-time single-speed transfer case.
With launch control engaged, the Trackhawk sprints from a 0-100km/h in a scarcely believable 3.7 seconds while on the way to its top speed of 289km/h.
The Trackhawk's fuel consumption on the combined-cycle test (ADR 81/02) is unsurprisingly very high, at 16.8 litres per 100 kilometres, while its claimed carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are 385 grams per kilometre, which also isn't great.
In our real-world testing, though, we averaged 22.6L/100km over 205km of driving skewed towards highways over city traffic. Yep, that's not a typo; the Trackhawk likes to drink more than its fair share, so be prepared to pay the steep price required to keep its thirst quenched.
For reference, the Trackhawk's 91L fuel tank takes 98RON petrol at minimum. Like we said, your wallet will hate you.
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating? 8/10
ANCAP awarded the Grand Cherokee the maximum five-star safety rating in 2014, but it doesn't apply to the Trackhawk, so there are some question marks hanging over it.
Other standard safety equipment includes seven airbags (dual front, side and curtain, plus driver's knee), anti-skid brakes (ABS) and the usual electronic stability and traction control systems.
Warranty & Safety Rating
5 years / 100,000 km
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered? 9/10
Like all Jeep models, the Trackhawk comes with a five-year/100,000km warranty, which falls short of the seven-year/unlimited-kilometre standard set by Kia. Interestingly, it also gets lifetime roadside assistance – so long as it is serviced by an authorised Jeep technician.
The Trackhawk comes with a five-year/100,000km warranty.
Speaking of which, the Trackhawk's service intervals are every 12 months or 12,000km, whichever comes first. Capped-price servicing is available for the first five services, with each visit costing $799.
Needless to say, despite the relatively short warranty and service intervals, that is a really strong aftersales package for a vehicle with that level of performance.
What's it like to drive? 8/10
Before we even got behind the wheel of the Trackhawk, we knew it would be a monster in a straight line, so what we really wanted to know was what it's like as an overall driving package. Turns out it's pretty good at most things.
Firstly, the electric power steering system is surprisingly direct and well-weighted, progressively getting heavier as you sample its other two settings.
That said, it's not exactly the first world in feel and requires a few too many turns of the wheel to perform low-speed manoeuvres, such as parking.
Secondly, the independent suspension (double-wishbone front and multi-link rear axles with Bilstein adaptive dampers) serves up a shockingly comfortable ride on most types of road surfaces.
Hear us out here. There's no denying its firm tune, which is particularly noticeable over potholes, but its more than liveable, even for families. Of course, this quality does start to deteriorate when putting the shocks in their sportier settings, but you don't really need to.
Before we even got behind the wheel of the Trackhawk, we knew it would be a monster.
Of course, the whole point of this varied stiffness is superior handling, because the Trackhawk has the word 'track' in its name after all, so it has to good around corners.
While having to manage a tare weight of 2399kg around bends sounds like a daunting task, the Trackhawk is actually reasonably tied-down when pushed hard. That said, there is no denying physics, with body roll a consistent variable.
Either way, grip is ironically plentiful thanks to the aforementioned four-wheel-drive system, which is complemented by a rear electronic limited-slip differential (eLSD) that's frankly necessary.
This set-up progressively becomes more rear-biased as you as explore its more aggressive settings, which makes for entertaining handling characteristics and therefore some oversteer-induced nervousness.
Overall, corner-carving isn't really the Trackhawk's thing, but savage straight-line acceleration certainly is. It's absolutely brutal off the line, hunkering down before (super)charging off towards the horizon.
And the sound it makes. Oh, the noise is incredible. While the piercing whine from the engine bay is undeniable, so too is the ferocious bark from the exhaust system. This combination is so good your neighbours will hate you from day one of ownership.
Overall, corner-carving isn't really the Trackhawk's thing.
At the same time, though, the Trackhawk is able to be driven easily around town by just babying the throttle, a skill that doesn't take that long to master. However, build engine speed up above 2000rpm and the supercharger will literally unleash hell.
The transmission is an almost-perfect dancing partner, relaxed and relatively slow-shifting by default, which actually plays well into the Jekyll & Hyde narrative.
That said, shift patterns and times can be markedly improved by choosing one of the two angrier settings. Doing so ensures exposure to the Trackhawk's full potential. And there are, of course, paddle-shifters if you prefer to take matters into your own hands, literally.
Given how high the level of performance is, you'd be hoping the Brembo brake package (400mm front slotted discs with six-piston with calipers, and 350mm ventilated rear rotors with four-pot stoppers) washes away speed with ease. Good news: it sure does.
We honestly weren't expecting the Trackhawk to be such a complete package, knowing words would fail to describe its sheer brutality off the line. That's not to say it's the best handler in class, because it's not, but it's a lot better than we had anticipated.
Then, of course, its Grand Cherokee origins come into frame, with tough styling and strong practicality the obvious hallmarks, so this combination makes for unrivalled bang for your buck. Count us in! We're ready to get familiar with our local petrol station's staff.
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