There are many, many things one could spend $99,500 on in this life. Homes, boats, jewelry, companionship in a city filled with casinos for, well we guess that depends, but nothing you can spend $99,500 on will bring you anywhere near the joy of hauling your family around in the 717hp bundle of awesome known as the 2020 Jeep Cherokee Trackhawk. You think you know fun? When your wife is struggling against the sheer brutality of all-wheel-drive launches that get you to sixty in nary over three seconds and your kids are cackling like a couple of monkeys in the back seat, that’s fun. Oh sure, there’s usually a talking to afterwards, but if you dive back into the Marians Trench of horsepower and torque that the Trackhawk has while you are being balled out, it usually stops the stern speech and replaces it with terrified cursing. The everyone gets quiet and you get to have a nice drive.
Having had seat time in the SRT Durango with its near 500hp naturally aspirated 392ci V8 and a couple of Hellcats over the years, including a Redeye, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect out of the most “family friendly” version of FCA’s hemi-fied line-up. Let me be the first to tell you that this rig does not disappoint. You capture the attention of fellow Jeep Grand Cherokee owners who wish they were you, kids who just about pedal their bicycles into trees mouthing the words, “Duuuuude, that’s a Trackhawk,” and the envious stares of every guy driving something that’s the automotive equivalent of penny loafers down the road.
I have driven just about every possible configuration of the late model Jeep Grand Cherokee ranging from the loaded up diesel version to this Trackhawk now and I have not found one in the bunch that I dislike on its own merits. The diesel Grand Cherokee ferried my family and I on a 3,000 mile road trip a few years go delivering an astonishing level of fuel economy, complete comfort, and the room that kept us from turning on each other like the kids in the book Lord of the Flies. You get almost all of that with the Trackhawk. The only thing you are not getting is the fuel economy. To be brutally honest, I drove this thing like Tom Hoover, father of the Gen II hemi would have wanted me to. I did not care about fuel economy, I did not attempt to get decent fuel economy and frankly I succeeded.
Now, I’d argue that fuel economy is not even in the top 15 concerns of someone getting ready to drop nearly $100,000 on an SUV. The eight speed Torqueflite transmission does do its job handling more than 840 lb-ft of torque that this 6.2L supercharged engine makes and getting it to the transfer case which then moves the power through both ends of the Jeep. If you drive with a light foot, the Jeep is as docile and normal as anything else you’ll ever drive. My wife cruised it without issue around town for some errands (“Is this thing special? Kids were taking pictures…”) and said that it didn’t take “much gas” to get going. Thanks, honey.
The Jeep is constantly battling physics and at least in my estimation, it wins. How? This all-wheel-drive version of Mjolnir crosses the scales at 5,300lbs and change. Even with the eight speeds, the size and girth of the Jeep are going to keep fuel economy numbers in an area where those that sing and hug tree trunks will declare this machine a part of the ruination of society and the destruction of the Earth. They usually say that while flying in large airplanes. The EPA rates the Trackhawk at 11mpg around town and 17mpg on the highway. We’re sure someone could get that kind of mileage. We didn’t, but hot damn we had some fun.
Part of the fun is tailoring the Trackhawk to your needs. You can go into one of the pre-programmed drive modes that range from Track to Towing with Sport, Auto, and Snow in the middle or you can click the Custom button which we did. Through the touchscreen you can set the individual elements of the rig to your own preferences. How did we do it? We set every single setting to Track with the exception of ride, which we kept in normal street mode because the roads here are bombed out and we got the best of all worlds. All the performance, snappy shifts, and throttle sensitivity with the comfy (and nicely composed) ride of a performance SUV. Ride settings are noticeable, especially when the going gets choppy. Yes, we did employ the Launch button once or ten times in controlled circumstances. It’s like owning your own roller coaster that you can launch at any second of any day. It’s freaking awesome.
Our Trackhawk was Redline Two red on the outside and just plain red on the inside. As my parents were once the proud owners of a 1986 Ford Taurus station wagon with near this color combo inside and out, it had me flashing back a lot to my childhood…then I would crack the throttle open and forget all that junk. Jeep does not go over the top inside the Trackhawk. There are nice supportive seats, carbon fiber accents everywhere you can see, and Trackhawk floor mats to complete the look. We like the K.I.S.S philosophy here and wouldn’t care if there were Albanian Ostrich leather seats or some kind of “hand wrapped” leather steering wheel. Give us the horsepower, somewhere nice to sit, and let us be on our way.
The Grand Cherokee Trackhawk’s back seat is as roomy and nice as any other Grand Cherokee you have been in, a smidge more comfy maybe. You cannot see the spatula marks that I left peeling my youngest kid off the leather after a few of the scientific “Launch Control” test blasts. Science, people. Science.
The kids are still barking about the fun we had in this rig and perhaps that’s an important point. My kids get to see and experience a lot of cars and trucks, not many of them leave an impression as indelible as this one. Both agreed that this was a top five vehicle that they have ever enjoyed from a manufacturer. Buying one of these because your kids will like it sounds like an excuse you can sell to your spouse. “Honey, the BangShift guys said their kids behaved, spoke properly, didn’t curse, and ate their vegetables after riding in the Trackhawk…this is what we have been waiting for!”
The glorious rumbling heart of the beast right here. You know it, you love it, maybe you hate it, but you respect it. The supercharged 6.2L Gen III Hemi that has been busting heads and snapping necks since it first hit the American public, too many years ago for us to admit. The engine is right at home in the Jeep and with 717hp and 645 lb-ft of torque we’re not quite sure what else you can ask of it. Air conditioning? Yeah, no sweat, it handles spinning that pump with zero sweat.
Driving dynamics? One of the amazing things that I have encountered over the years is a certain uniformity in driving experience among the Dodge performance models. I honestly think that the regular joe with a blindfold on would not be able to tell the difference between a Hellcat, a Trackhawk, and a Scat Pack in “normal” driving conditions. Now, when you floor them you’d know BUT as far as tooling around town, all the vehicles have a solid weighty feel (and they are heavy) that relays a sense of confidence to the driver. This Trackhawk has 295-width tires on the corners and the wide body SRT machines have even larger meat than that but when you get down to steering weight, suspension feel, and cornering in the real world? I dig the fact that these machines play the same pleasing note.
The brakes on this thing are massive and they are incredibly effective. Deceleration at a rapid rate is not as fun as acceleration at a rapid rate but I’m telling you here and now that when you want to stop RIGHT NOW, the 5,300lb Trackhawk is going to throw you through the front glass if you do not have a seatbelt on. Massive Brembo calipers do their best to completely squash rotors that are just shy of 14″ in the rear and just shy of SIXTEEN INCHES in the front. The Pirelli tires are the other integral part of the system and they do a Jim Dandy of a job to get this Trackhawk stopped.
So the long story short? If you are someone capable of spending $99,500 on the baddest ass performance SUV on Earth (pound for pound) do it and don’t you dare think twice. The money you have to spend to buy something even remotely close to this Jeep Trackhawk’s performance is so big, so ridiculous, that it is comical. Lots of money, yes. Lots of fun, hell yes. Given the right cashflow and the circumstances I’d have one tomorrow.