August 16, 2022


Motoring Magazine

Going from point A to near Death


Trackhawk jeep: one ridiculously powerful SUV

By Costa Mokola

On this planet you’re going to find two kinds of car passengers – those who think a “simple car” refers to a silent, plush vehicle that takes you from point “A to B”, and those who think it refers to a loud, plush, yet aggressive car that takes you from point “A to near Death”. I’m in the latter group.

When it comes to SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicles) it’s common to see people run to the Germans for a family car that offers speed and comfort. But what if you don’t want the family to ride in the usual German SUV? Or what if there is something else out there that you could convince your old man to get so the family has something different to ride around in?

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is not only a mouthful of American jargon, it’s one ridiculous SUV that is effectively a dragster for the family man who has kids and a dog.
If you’re new to Jeep and don’t really understand the craze around the Grand Cherokee, then sit back for a brief history lesson.

Way back before the beloved SRT-8 (Street and Racing Technology V8) version we have now, AMC (who owned Jeep) used to produce the Cherokee from 1974. It was aimed at the youth and was a more affordable two-door version of the bulky Jeep Wagoneer.

Only in 1984 did the Cherokee debut with a four-door design and completely separated itself from the Wagoneer. The brand did so well that Chrysler was falling behind Ford and Chevrolet in vehicle sales. So they purchased the AMC brand in 1987 to keep up with competitors by producing a car that already exists. The Cherokee sold like hot cakes, and with the looming demand for a luxury SUV that could compete against the Land and Range Rover, Chrysler and Jeep gave birth to the Grand Cherokee.

Today the markets have changed and not only can you play with SUVs on the trail, but they have become aggressive enough to prowl the streets and drag strips. The Grand Cherokee SRT-8 came with a 6.4 litre Hemi V8 that gave 344kW and 624Nm of torque. These are not bad numbers but when compared to other expensive SUVs like a BMW X5M, whose owners boast about that impressive 423kW output, it sounds like Jeep lacks in the performance department.

So some time ago, Chrysler’s SRT performance division revised their Hemi engine. Now with a 6.2 litre displacement and a supercharger, it was produced for the Dodge Challenger and Charger Hellcats. It launched the cars with 875Nm and produced 527kW (707hp), that’s 706 more horse power than a horse. The same engine was later given to the Grand Cherokee and branded as the Trackhawk. Not only does that make it the most powerful SUV on the market, but a desirable one in the eyes of those who love American muscle.

The Trackhawk boasts an assortment of tech that you would most likely find in other competitor vehicles, but what grabbed my attention was the practicality. I was blown away by its infotainment system, which is definitely over-engineered, with options that allow you to see the owner’s manual and set the number of revs you want the car to launch at when using launch control.

Now, as a short man – nature decided that – feeling claustrophobic isn’t something I really experience in this car. In fact, the Trackhawk has so much space at the back that the kids or someone older could recline the back – and let’s not forget to mention “heated seats”. In many ways, it feels like a very expensive Jeep Cherokee, which it is, as its price new is R2.2 million. And for an SUV one could say its simply too fast when you feel its 4-wheel drive system takes you from 0-100kph in 4.4 seconds.

But why should you convince Dad to get one, or in some cases, buy one to be driven around in? Because it’s not your everyday BMW X5M or Mercedes G 63 AMG. It looks like a bully and it reacts like one – its American, after all.

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