CHELSEA, Mich. -- On the 4.5-mile oval race track at Jeep's vehicle test facility in Chelsea, Mich., the 2018 Grand Cherokee Trackhawk sport utility vehicle is pumping over 700 horsepower from a supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8. Four Pirelli 295/45ZR20 Scorpion Verde tires rip down the blacktop at speeds up to 180 miles per hour to become the most powerful and quickest SUV on the planet.
How quick is Trackhawk quick?
Jeep's in-house tests reveal a Trackhawk runs from 0-to-60 mph in only 3.5 seconds and reaches the quarter-mile post in 11.6 seconds.
Obviously, Trackhawk is one serious track star yet it's packaged in the disguise of a practical full-size sport utility wagon and equipped with Jeep's go-anywhere Quadra-Trac active on-demand 4-wheel-drive transfer case.
Trackhawk's revised sheet metal styling looks sleek and trim -- and, yes, racy. There's the familiar 2-box format but corners are contoured, and horizontal lines appear chiseled and planed in a streamline fashion. Special gear includes body-colored wheel flares, side sill cladding and a sculpted hood with dual heat extractors.
Up front, a 7-slot Jeep grille mounts between bi-xenon headlamps with LED character lamps. Note that foglights are absent from the front fascia to enhance air induction.
In back the Trackhawk employs a Gloss Black rear valence to showcase 4-inch Black Chrome quad exhaust tips. (Watch out for the sound blast that roars out of those pipes during maximum acceleration, thanks to Jeep's new tuned quad exhaust system.)
Heart of the Trackhawk is that big-block Hemi engine -- a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 featuring a forged-steel crankshaft with induction-hardened bearing surfaces, high-strength forged-alloy pistons, and heat-treated aluminum-alloy cylinder heads, plus a screw-type supercharger with dual water-to-air intercoolers. The monster V8 produces 707 hp at 6000 rpm plus torque of 645 lb-ft at 4800 rpm.
The shifter is a Torqueflite ZF 8HP95 8-speed electronic automatic with driver-interactive manual control via steering wheel paddle shifters, plus an electronically-modulated torque converter clutch with seven selectable drive modes -- Auto, Sport, Track, Snow, Tow, Eco, Valet.
The full-time Quadra-Trac on-demand 4-wheel-drive system includes an electronic limited-slip rear differential and a single-speed active transfer case. The Selec-Track device lets a driver dial in one of four torque-split settings (40/60 Auto, 50/50 Snow, and Tow, 35/65 Sport, 30/70 Track) then the system tailors the vehicle's traction performance to fit the type of terrain covered by modulating powertrain response, transmission gear selections and electronic controls.
Further, the standard Launch Control system optimizes Trackhawk's performance by coordinating the engine, transmission, driveline, and suspension for a no-skid launch and consistent straight-line acceleration.
To rein so many ponies, the 20-inch wheels on Grand Cherokee Trackhawk carry large disc brakes. Up front, the 15.75-inch rotors team with Brembo 6-piston calipers painted bright yellow. Rear ones with 13.78-inch rotors get Brembo 4-piston calipers. All four discs are linked and controlled through the anti-lock brake system plus electronic stability control and traction control devices.
New standard 20-by-10-inch Titanium-finish wheels with a Satin Chrome center cap showcase the distinctive yellow Brembo brake calipers. Optional wheels are lightweight 20-by-10-inch forged aluminum Low Gloss Black wheels that pare 12 pounds from standard wheels. New tires include Pirelli Scorpion Verde all-season and Pirelli P Zero 3-season with boosted speed rating.
The 5-seat passenger cabin trimming with Light Black Chrome finishes and carbon fiber spears orients to a performance-focused driver. The instrument panel features a tachometer and 200-mph speedometer.
A new 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen in the dashboard center stack adds Performance Pages with a range of performance statistics, such as the vehicle's dynamic handling, braking, horsepower, torque, and acceleration. Also, a timer system records lap times, top speed, 0-60 mph acceleration, 0-100 mph acceleration, the elapsed time for quarter-mile distance, and more.
Jeep builds the planet's most powerful 2018 Grand Cherokee Trackhawk SUV with price points estimated to start around $84,500.