10 Apr Introducing the Jeep Grand Cherokee TrailHawk – The AWD Hellcat
The head of Jeep confirmed Wednesday that the brand will reveal its high-powered Grand Cherokee Trackhawk in April at the New York Auto Show. “That is going to be quite a special vehicle,” Jeep boss Mike Manley said. “Very difficult for one not to smile.”
Speaking at an event at FCA US headquarters in Auburn Hills, MI, to preview the 2017 Easter Jeep Safari vehicles for Moab, he didn’t provide further details. The Trackhawk has been expected to bow in New York, and the confirmation comes after months of rumors and spy shots.
What’s under the hood? The blown 6.2-liter Hemi Hellcat from the Charger and Challenger is the overwhelmingly obvious choice. The V8 engine makes 707 horsepower in the Dodges. The most potent current Grand Cherokee, the SRT model, is rated at 475 hp. Jeep also already sells a Grand Cherokee Trailhawk for off-road adventures.
Meanwhile, Manley reiterated the next-generation Wrangler will debut by the end of the year, as expected.
The New York show is shaping up to be a blockbuster event for FCA US, which will also debut the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon on the eve of the show next month.
If the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT was the venerable SUV cranked to 10, the new Trackhawk goes to 11. Actually, make that 707, because the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is a Hellcat by another name. Under the hood is the same 707-horsepower supercharged V8 from the sinister corporate cousins Charger and Challenger. The torque rating drops just a bit to 645 pound feet, versus the 650 of the Hellcats, but we don’t think many people will be too upset. Especially since Jeep claims the Trackhawk is capable of a 3.5-second 0-60 mph run and a quarter-mile time of 11.6 seconds. The former is right in line with the Challenger Hellcat.
The Grand Cherokee Trackhawk also offers a unique difference to the Hellcats, and its not the SUV body style. The Trackhawk is all-wheel-drive. Power goes from the supercharged V8 to an 8-speed automatic and a single-speed transfer case. There’s also an electronic limited slip differential at the back. Jeep beefed up the transfer case with a wider chain that features forged sprockets. The rear drive shaft and half shafts have been strengthened to handle the extra power. Power is split 40/60 front and rear in the default automatic setting, and becomes more rear biased in more aggressive driving modes. In the sportiest “Track” mode, power is split 30/70. In the least aggressive “Snow” mode, power is split 50/50. The sportier drive modes also firm up suspension and decreases shift times.
Helping manage all the power is a high-performance suspension with adaptive Bilstein shocks. The suspension lowers the SUV a full inch compared with normal Grand Cherokees. Wheels are 20 inches in diameter and 10 inches wide wrapped in 295-millimeter wide tires, either all-seasons or optional three-seasons. An optional forged set of wheels is available, too, which Jeep says will save 12 pounds of weight. The wheels are stopped by Brembo six-piston calipers and 15.75-inch rotors up front, and four-piston calipers and 13.73-inch rotors out back. Jeep says the front brakes are the largest ever fitted to one of its vehicles.
Visually, you’ll be hard-pressed to tell a Grand Cherokee Trackhawk from the current SRT variant. The bumpers and fender flares are roughly the same. But a tell-tale sign is the lack of fog lights. This is necessary for additional air flow, and on the driver’s side, the space a fog light would’ve taken now supplies cold air to the engine. The Trackhawk also gets “supercharged” and “Trackhawk” badges throughout. The interior also gets some subtle updates. Black chrome and carbon fiber trim adorn the inside, and heated and cooled Nappa leather and suede front seats are standard. However, these can be upgraded with an optional real metal trim package and a leather package available in black or the “Dark Ruby Red” shown above. A panoramic sunroof, matching red seatbelts, and an 825-watt sound system are available. All Trackhawks come with “Performance Pages” with timers, gauges, and driving settings.
Pricing has yet to be announced for the Trackhawk, but it will be available toward the end of the year. Stay tuned for more from the New York Auto Show, where this Jeep is sure to be a star.