Sometimes I wonder if the word “or” will disappear from our native tongue in the coming decades. Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me, given our affinity for “and.” The former indicates a choice is to be made, but Americans hate making choices — it means we’re not getting everything we want. The latter — and — means we get it all, and boy do we love more. Forget “having our cake and eating it too.” We’ll take our cake baked inside a pie, topped with a banana split, please and thank you.
Automotively, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk ($86,200) is one of the latest physical manifestations of this mentality. It’s a batshit crazy muscle car baked inside an excellent SUV, topped with handling capabilities that would surely elicit an eyebrow raise from even the sternest clipboard-wielding German engineer. It’s unapologetic in its purpose, which is to be the most wildly entertaining SUV on sale — to make people reconsider what Jeep is capable of. That’s not some marketing jargon either. Those are my own words, after having spent some time on a track and then doing a road trip between Phoenix from Los Angeles.
The Trackhawk is one of those special vehicles that doesn’t put me at a loss for words; rather, it brings them, accompanied by a range of emotions, flooding into my consciousness. My friends, pinned back in their seats when I took us from an urban crawl up to freeway passing speed in a matter of seconds, experienced an emotional range too: terror and joy. I found myself an opportunity to find the car’s “limit” in a straight line, and subsequently couldn’t stop laughing. (It’s been awhile since I’ve hit the fuel cutoff in a vehicle.)
I can easily imagine a future in which we have a Jeep that does 200mph. That’s a future I want to live in — a future I can believe in. Given that the Trackhawk’s top speed is only 20 mph lower, I won’t be the least bit surprised when that mark is hit and likely passed.
Back here in the present day, we don’t have it so bad though. The Trackhawk is among a very small group of vehicles that have utilitarian roots but are now as entertaining as any ground-hugging supercar. It’s a different brand of entertainment than driving a sports car or a supercar, one that’s ultimately far more accessible to the average person looking for a rush. The joy of running a race car around a track is tough to convey to someone who has never done it themselves. Turn loose the Trackhawk with a couple friends in the back and they’ll get a general idea. You’ll want to clarify that “No, race cars don’t normally have cooled front and rear seats” or “No, race cars can’t comfortably carry a Bernese and a Yeti cooler.”
However, there’s plenty you won’t have to explain because the car does it all for you: it’s equipped with on-demand vehicle performance data and a supercharged engine that’s cut out for hours and hours of abuse. As it turns out, the Trackhawk has more in common with a race car than it does with its peers in the mid-size SUV segment. It falls into that elite class of vehicle that is envelope-pushing while remaining relatively accessible in the same vein of the Raptor or Corvette ZR1. Unlike those two vehicles, however, the Trackhawk is primed for use in daily life in a city. It excels at being comfortable, manageable transportation and it just so happens to excel at accelerating quickly. Really, really, really quickly. Right up to the limit.
2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk Specs:
Engine: 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8
Transmission: eight-speed auto
Torque: 645 lb-ft
0-60: 3.5 seconds
Top Speed: 180 mph
MSRP: $86,200 (base)