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The Dodge Demon made a smoky entrance at the New York Auto Show with a wheelie pop’n 840-horsepower! Backed by an 8-speed automatic that works with the traction controls and suspension to make it a sub 10-second street car from the factory…yee haw! Amidst all the fumes, smoke, and joyous motorhead comradery, one of the FCA cousins was also making some quiet noise. With a history of building rock solid vehicles that serve a purpose for those with an adventurous soul, the JEEP clan also rolled out their version of street performance.

The 2018 ‘Jeep Grand Cherokee TrackHawk’.

It is hard to argue with the claim of being the most powerful and quickest SUV ever when there is 707-horsepower 6.2-Liter HEMI under the hood. Torque? Try a rating of 645 lb.-ft of stump pulling power. The new Trackhawk pushes the power through an upgraded TorqueFilght 8-speed tranny to spin the 20×10-inch Titanium wheels that are wrapped in Pirelli 295/45ZR Scorpion Verde rubber. Riding 1-inch lower, the exterior of the Trackhawk includes a unique front facia that is designed to aid in cooling the supercharged engine, but does retain all the classic features of the Jeep family.

There is also unique badging that includes a supercharged identifier and the new quad exhaust system will be road music to the ears of any HEMI head. While the Grand Cherokee family can range from an off-road efficient type of interior on up to a luxury ride that will rival any mid-size luxury SUV, the Trackhawk is race inspired – including a 200-mph speedometer. Things that make ya’ go hmmmm….

Not that this is not a Grand Cherokee! The seats are Nappa leather and suede with the “Trackhawk” logo embroidered on the back. The seats are also heated and the front are ventilated for those oh-so hot track days. The 8.4-inch monitor in the center stack provides a home for the latest UConnect software which could include the optional 8250watt Harmon Kardon audio system with 19-speakers and two subwoofers. Go big or go home! To further demonstrate the Trackhawk is also a very streetable ride, there are five drive mode configurations that should meet just about any driving style:

• Auto — Automatically adapts to any condition; uses a 40-percent front/60-percent rear torque split

• Sport — Transmission shift times are reduced by 50 percent versus Auto Mode; stability control, four-wheel-drive and steering systems are set for typical enthusiast driving style; paddle shifters are enabled and suspension is tightened up without increasing impact harshness to deliver increased vehicle performance capability over Auto Mode; uses 35/65 torque split

• Track — Transmission shift times are reduced 68 percent versus Auto Mode to 160 milliseconds; stability control, four-wheel-drive and steering systems are set for ultimate track performance; paddle shifters are enabled and suspension is set to full firm to deliver maximum vehicle performance capability on smooth, dry surfaces; uses 30/70 torque split

• Tow — Alters torque delivery off the line for greater smoothness and adjusts suspension to combat pitch and yaw to deliver maximum towing performance: uses 60/40 torque split

• Snow — Maximizes traction to deliver optimized performance on snow and ice with reduced engine horsepower; uses 50/50 torque split.

Of course if that is not enough choices, step into the ‘Custom Mode’ to create a unique driving experience.

With all this ultimate power comes ultimate responsibility – to be able to stop.  There are new Brembo brakes that operate on 15.75-inch two piece vented rotors up front with six-piston calipers. For the rear, there is a 13.75-inch ventilated rotor with four piston calipers.

Taking things a step further, the calipers painted a distinct yellow instead of the traditional Brembo red. Of course the new Trackhawk makes use of the safety and security technology that has been developed. There is a Trailer Hitch Camera View at speed, and to prevent any Farris Bueller reenactments, in Valet mode, there are a few adjustments as well:

• Engine is remapped to significantly reduce horsepower and torque; limited to 4,000 rpm • Transmission locks out access to first gear and upshifts earlier than normal

• Transmission will treat the manual shifter position the same as the drive position • Traction, steering and suspension are set to their Street settings

• Steering-wheel paddle shifters are disabled

• Drive Mode functions are disabled • Electronic stability control (ESC) is enabled to Full-on

• Launch Control is disabled

The new Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk should be enough to get your fix of a performance driving experience, even if it is just a trip to the grocery store. Need to go further and the Grand Cherokee heritage should provide a nice luxury sport ride. We will let you know more…when we get behind the wheel…

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